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Olympus Enhances Autofocus In High-End Digital SLR

The battle for the advanced amateur and professional photographer intensified earlier this month as Olympus introduced its newest, top-of-the-line E-series digital SLR.

The 10-megapixel E-3 incorporates a redesigned autofocus system which, when paired with a new lens, offers industry-leading autofocus speed, the company said. The 11-point cross-type AF system uses a new microlaminate technology to provide redundant autofocus data, which improves the performance of the system, said Sally Smith Clemens, Olympus product manager.

The E-3 also features a CCD-shifting image stabilization system and a 5 fps burst mode up to 16 RAW files and an unlimited number of JPEGS using supported memory cards.

Like previous Olympus d-SLRs, the E-3 will incorporate a live-view LCD and a supersonic wave filter dust-reduction system. The 2.5-inch, 230,000 pixel display can be swiveled on a dual axis and the camera offers an optical viewfinder with 100 percent accuracy.

Its magnesium alloy body is dust- and splash-proof and the camera accepts all Four Thirds system lenses. Its shutter is rated up to 150,000 cycles and it uses UDMA CF cards and xD-Picture Cards.

A body-only kit will retail for an estimated $1,699. There were no plans as of yet for a body and lens kit, Clemens said.

Joining the E-3 are several new Zuiko digital SWD lenses that use the company’s Supersonic Wave Drive motor technology. The ED 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 SWD (24-120mm, 35mm equivalent) will ship next month for an estimated $999. According to Olympus, when paired with the new 12-60mm lens, the E-3 offers the fastest autofocus speed in the industry.

The ED 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD (100-400mm, 35mm equivalent) lens will sell for an estimated $1,199. The ED 14-35mm f2.0 SWD (28-70mm, 35mm equivalent) will ship in the first quarter of next year for $2,299.

A 2x teleconverter will also be added to the Zuiko lineup in December for $479.