By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Seeking to overcome the limitations of hybrid film-digital interchangeable lens digital camera systems, Olympus has introduced the first all-digital SLR system based on the Four Thirds standard.
The 5-megapixel E-1 and accessory Digital Specific Lenses are designed from the ground up specifically for digital cameras with an entirely new CCD and lens system designed to negate the limitations inherent in previous digital SLRs (which have had to rely on 35mm lenses designed for film cameras).
The camera is based on the Four Thirds standard, an open industry specification for image sensors (CCDs) and lens that are specifically designed to optimize digital photography. The standard has been accepted by Olympus, Kodak and Fujifilm, among others.
The Olympus Digital SLR system features a Full Frame Transfer CCD for improved dynamic range, better color and less noise. The system's interchangeable Zuiko Digital Specific lenses are designed specifically for digital capture with technology that delivers edge-to-edge sharpness with reduced distortion and shading. The lenses match the imager so light strikes the sensor directly.
Contrasted to 35mm film lenses used with digital cameras (which provide insufficient light at the edges of the image sensor, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses) the new system provides improved color definition.
In addition, the E-1 incorporates new and existing technologies, like the exclusive Olympus TruePic technology and newly developed Noise Compensation technology for improved image quality and reduced digital noise. A newly developed Supersonic Wave Filter reduces the chances of dust settling on the CCD or image and blocking pixels.
The E-1 is built with a magnesium alloy metal body, can capture images at 3 frames per second for a burst of 12 frames in all image quality modes, features USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 connectivity, and takes Compact Flash memory.
The E-1, which is aimed principally at the professional photography market, has a suggested retail of $2,199 and will ship in October. The company expects to introduce a more consumer-friendly Four Thirds-based digital SLR in 2004.
Initially, Olympus will introduce five Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses, one flash system, and a power grip set for the E-1. The lenses include a 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 (28mm–108mm equivalent for 35mm film camera) at a suggested $599; a 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 (100mm–400mm equivalent for 35mm) for $1,199; a 50mm f2.0 1:2 Macro (100mm Macro equivalent for 35mm) for $599.00; a 300mm f2.8 Super Telephoto (600mm equivalent for 35mm) for $7,999; and the TC14 1.4X Teleconverter (1.4X–1 stop equivalent for 35mm) for $549.
The FL-50 Flash and Accessories will have a suggested retail of $499, while the Power Battery Holder Set will retail for a suggested $549.
The company plans to introduce a wide range of bodies, lenses and accessories for its digital SLR system, beginning with an 11-22mm f2.8/3.5 zoom, as well as a Ring Flash and Twin Flash later this year.
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