The Olympus EP-1 has received tremendous amounts of press since its release as the camera is truly the digital rangefinder that many people have been looking for. However, according to the British Journal of Photography via Photo Rumors there is both a pro Pen camera and a lower grade Pen camera in development.
I shot the above photo at last year’s PhotoPlus Expo. It was the prototype of the EP-1, or at least it was supposed to be. Olympus said that it was the prototype of their Micro 4/3rds camera. However, they never said which one it was a prototype for. Could it possibly be the one that will be aimed more towards consumers?
Akira Watanabe, who is in charge of SLR planning over at Olympus, confirms that the EP-1 is aimed squarely at amateurs and that Olympus understands that professionals and entry-level camera users are looking for a camera such as this one for their own usage. Further, Watanabe says that, “If customers request a prime lens the most, then it will be the first one to be made.” Olympus is planning to release a new wide-angle zoom lens next spring, he says.
The Micro 4/3rds format allows for a larger selection of lenses than some realize. For example, Canon FD lenses can be used, Leica M lenses, 4/3rds lenses, and perhaps soon Zeiss video lenses. The Canon FD lenses can control how large the aperture is open on the lens itself, meaning that they can be used very well for taking video as the auto-focus motors will not be picked up by microphones (whether internal or external). In general though, I’ve learned as a film student that auto-focusing is usually something that you shouldn’t do when filming professionally.
Also addressed is the fact that many users want an optical viewfinder. Watanabe says that some lenses will come supplied with a clip-on optical viewfinder, fitted via the hotshoe, or users can use live view to compose via the camera’s rear screen. The only current optical viewfinder works with the 17mm prime lens available for the format.
Users may be able to expect more of Olympus’s professional features in their pro m4/3rds camera. By that, perhaps we may see a throwback to the E-330 and having a more prominent grip on the camera body. Additionally, we are bound to see electronic viewfinders, bodies that can take a beating (like the E-3 can), faster frame rates, external microphone inputs, and more technological integration of Olympus’s audio recorders into the Micro 4/3rds bodies. Who knows, we may even see a waterproof m4/3rds camera of some sort with extremely tight water-sealing and waterproof lenses.
Given that Olympus is still holding themselves true to the “12MP is enough” statement, perhaps we can expect to see better High ISO noise control as well. This is something that Olympus seems to have been lacking in. It is what their user base has been asking for for a very long time as well.
Additionally, 43rumors says that we could see an expensive contribution from Leica in the future to the Micro 4/3rds format. So we could be on the lookout for that.
More of the interview with Watanabe can be read over at the Journal (linked above.)