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Olympus E-P2 Adds EVF, Art Filters

York – Listening
to suggestions of photographers and Micro Four Thirds camera enthusiasts, Olympus released Thursday the E-P2 PEN-style camera,
which offers a handful of more professional level extras to the compact E-P1
introduced five months earlier.

The E-P2 features the same compact PEN retro styling of the E-P1
and adds a new black cosmetic over the stainless steel body, two additional
built-in art filters, a newly-developed
Continuous Autofocus (C-AF) tracking system that tracks the subject across or
back-and-forward through the frame, an iEnhance color and contrast
adjustment effect, and a removable high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF)
that mounts on the camera’s hot shoe-like accessory port.

To reduce body
size in designing the current E-P1, Olympus
dispensed with an integrated hand grip and a top-mounted digital viewfinder
that would complement the 3-inch Live View back-chassis LCD screen. But some
photographers missed the EVF found on digital SLRs and competitive Micro Four Thirds
cameras prompting the update.

The E-P2’s EVF features twice the brightness of competitive
viewfinders and two times the contrast level, Olympus
said. It also offers 1.15x magnification, 100 percent field of view and is also
articulated to allow angled shooting or to adjust the positioning for the most
comfortable use. It also features a diopter adjustment for glasses wearers.

The color EVF was requested by some users to enable better
shooting in bright sunlight while providing additional stability in holding the
camera up against the photographer’s face when framing a subject.

The accessory port that holds the EVF can also be used for other
accessories including an external mic for video shooting.

Like the E-P1, which will remain in the line, the E-P2 Micro Four
Thirds camera is presented as a hybrid between a digital SLR and a point and
shoot compact camera. The
standard is promoted as packing a d-SLR’s picture quality and
interchangeable-lens capability into a smaller package that will encourage
point-and-shoot owners to step up.

The camera
eliminates the bulk of a d-SLR, as well as many of the intimidating buttons and
controls, while offering both manual and fully automatic control options.

Both the E-P1 and E-P2 cameras capture images in up to
12.3-megapixel resolution, have stereo
CD-quality 16-bit, 44.1kHz PCM recording, 30fps 720p HD video recording, and
selectable built-in melodies for slideshow and movie playback.

Also featured
are a digital voice recorder, dust-reduction system, multiple exposure
capability, and HDMI output.

For HD video,
the camera supports 720-by-1,280 resolution with progressive scanning at a
30fps frame rate. The camera records video in AVI format rather than AVCHD for
compatibility with more PCs.

Also included
in both models is mechanical image stabilization built into the camera’s body,
enabling the feature to be used with multiple lenses, including older
film-camera lenses, compared to electronic image stabilization built directly
into lenses.

Other features added in the E-P2 are two built-in art filters including
“diorama,” which can be used to make big objects shot at distance appear
smaller, and “cross process,” which simulates the effect photographers achieved
in processing color negative film to add creative tints and hues to the image for
a “surreal, dreamlike quality.”

Both are added to the six built-in art filters of E-P1, including
pop art, soft focus, pale & light color, light tone, grainy film and pin
hole. The effects are viewable on the LCD when using the E-P1 in Live View or
when reviewing images.

All of the art filters can be applied to the high definition
video clips as well as still images recorded by the camera.

Also new in
the E-P2 is an iEnhance feature that records the value of the dominant color in
an image, looks for that color reference in the entire image area and codes it for
color and contrast saturation just in that color area. Olympus
said the feature replicates the way the human eye and brain distinguish colors
and objects against certain backgrounds in nature, and helps objects standout.

Other extras
in the E-P2 include full manual control of shutter/aperture in movie mode and
HDMI control of the camera’s playback functions using the TV
remote when the camera is connected to an HDTV.

The E-P2 body will be packaged
with either an ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko digital zoom lens and EVF or with a 17mm
f2.8 Zuiko digital zoom lens and EVF at an $1,100 estimated selling price,

Olympus also introduced two new Micro Four Thirds System
lenses for delivery in the first half of 2010. The new super wide-angle zoom M.
Zuiko Digitial ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 lens (18-36mm equivalent) and high-power wide
to telephoto zoom M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 lens (28-300mm
equivalent) offer a compact and lightweight design to match with the Olympus
PEN cameras.

The Micro Four Thirds System
lenses are designed to allow light rays to strike the imaging sensor nearly
head-on for optimum edge-to-edge image reproduction. The lenses use a much
smaller design than the Four Thirds System standard by reducing the outer
diameter of the lens mount by 6mm, and the distance from the lens mount to the
focal plane (the flange back distance) by approximately half, Olympus

Both lenses will use ED
(Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements to suppress the color aberration that can
degrade image quality, particularly at wide-angle focal lengths.