It hardly seems like it's been three years since the E-3 replaced the then-ancient E-1. Today Olympus has announced the E-5, the E-3's successor as the top-of-the-line 4/3rds system camera. As is the case with Pentax, Oly's top camera competes with mid-line cameras from the bigs, such as the Nikon D300s and Canon 7D.
It's not competing on price, at $1,700. A number which might hamper its career in the world.
However, it's got a lot going for it in other ways. Many of the tasty features of the E-3 carry on, such as live view, an articulated viewing screen, excellent body-integral image stabilization, weatherproofing (Olympus has a number of weatherproof lenses to match, too), and a good-for-4/3 1.15X, 100% viewfinder. The new refresh gets a new 12.3-MP sensor and the now-inevitable video mode, 720p for up to 7 minutes, and has dual Compact Flash and SDXC card slots.
The Pentax is the only competitor that has weatherproofing and body-integral IS. Nikon's and Canon's offerings have neither.
Olympus is known for luscious, industry-leading color (especially with skin tones, a minor weakness of many digital cameras), but high-ISO performance that is a step behind its APS-C competitors. We'll have to wait till October to see if those stereotypes continue to hold true. Also, Olympus makes what we consider the best digital lenses in the business, although the lineup is limited—basically, you have to like really good, fast, pricey zooms to be happy in the system. But if you do, you'll be very happy.
The new E-5 is also the perfect big-rig conterpart for the lovely, petite E-P1 and E-P2.
Go to the E-5 page on Olympus Global for the whole story. I also recommend Simon Joinson's commentary about what the E-5 says about the 4/3 system, over on dpreview.
Hot on the heels of Nikon's nice me-too camera, the P7000, Canon has evolved the popular and category-leading G11 with the (what else?) PowerShot G12. (It was leaked on Cnet Asia last month, which kind of takes the shine off the surprise. You know what they say: oh well.) The differences are few: apart from a new front control dial and SDXC card compatibility, the major refresh is in the video capability, which (can you tell?) we don't care about all that much around here. (Your mileage may vary, as they say out on the forums.) 720p HD and "stereo sound."
Nifty as ever, except of course for the becoming-obsolescent fingernail-sized sensor.
Here's Canon USA's PowerShot G12 page.
Meanwhile, Samsung has announced another entry into its "mirrorless" NX range which does not have a fingernail-sized sensor. It doesn't even have a 4/3 sensor—it has a full DSLR-sized APS-C sensor. The same 14.6-MP CMOS sensor that can be found in the NX10, to be precise. The new NX100 is more compact than the NX10, paralleling the Olympus E-P[x] cameras and the Panasonic GF1 in the Micro 4/3 world. Samsung says that "all [the NX100's] key components are 100% produced by Samsung" (Samsung being the world's largest conglomerate by revenue; they made my refrigerator). That's going to be good for competition, if it isn't already, and it's got to be making for some sweaty palms over in the Land of the Rising Sun. Introduced with the NX100 are an electronic viewfinder (EVF10), flash (SEF15A) and GPS tracker (GPS10).
However, the press release also announces "a completely new way of controlling your camera" based on "detailed and extensive program of consumer research"—which right off the bat makes us wary wary suspicious. The "i-Function" lens supposedly "allows" you to set basic camera functions such as shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and ISO by first selecting the parameter in a menu and then spinning the dial on the lens. That sounds convenient. (Not to be catty—well, okay, to be catty—it looks like maybe the same electronics engineers who were responsible for BMW's iDrive were turned loose to create Samsung's i-Function. They could all go together to a photo shoot, we suppose, except how would they get there, and what would they shoot with once they arrived? Me-yow.) Our feeling is that cameras are best designed by individuals who understand photographing (the Maitani paradigm), not by committees of engineers and certainly not by consumer research. But we'll wait and see.
You're not supposed to be negative when reporting introductions. We'll go sit in the corner for a while.
...And we're back. Lens news for the NX system (here, we perk up and start behaving): Samsung already has a lovely 30mm ƒ/2 pancake lens for its NX10. The i-Function lens is a 20–50mm ƒ/3.5–5.6. A 20mm ƒ/2.8 (remember, it's wider than the Panasonic 20mm because the sensor's bigger) will be along shortly, and planned for the not-too-distant future are an 18–200mm ƒ/3.5–6.3 Super Zoom lens (April 2011) and a 60mm ƒ/2.8 Macro (July 2011). Three more as-yet-unspecified lenses are promised for the later months of 2011.
The camera pictured is brown. It will also come in black.
Send this post to a friend
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ed Gaillard: "Well, I enjoy reading you being snarky, but the NX100 'i-Function' lens thing actually sounds good. It seems to be like the control ring on the Canon S-90—you want it to be an aperture ring, it's an aperture ring; rather have it be a shutter speed dial or ISO or exposure compensation, you can make it be that instead. That means that using those lenses you have a very small camera with three control dials. Put it in manual and you can change aperture, shutter, and ISO all without pushing a button. And I think it's an awfully pretty camera."