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Olympus develops new (Micro) Four-Thirds digital cameras

Olympus is developing a new interchangeable lens D-SLR to expand its E-System line-up. Positioned as a mid-level model, it is intended for anyone wanting to express their creativity through photography – no matter if an amateur just starting out, or a professional with years of experience already behind them. The new camera can be expected in the first quarter of 2009. Olympus has also begun development of a camera based on the "Micro Four Thirds System". A concept mock-up of the camera will be exhibited at Photokina 2008...
Panasonic's DMC-G1 camera based on the Micro Four Thirds SystemNew Olympus D-SLR camera based on Four Thirds System

Olympus is developing a new interchangeable lens D-SLR to expand its successful E-System line-up. The new Four Thirds System-compliant camera reinforces the company's commitment to the standard which was specifically designed for digital SLR photography. Positioned as a mid-level model, it is intended for anyone wanting to express their creativity through photography – no matter if an amateur just starting out, or a professional with years of experience already behind them. The new camera is expected to be introduced in the first quarter of 2009. It will be exhibited as a prototype model at photokina 2008, the world's biggest trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries held in Cologne, Germany, running from 23 to 28 September.

At the last photokina in the autumn of 2006, Olympus declared that the next major chapter in the story of the Olympus E-System would commence in 2007. Among the highlights of this new chapter was the incorporation of “Full-time Live View” as a standard function for the first time in the industry. This added to the excitement already generated by other distinctive features of the Olympus E-System such as the “100% Digital-Dedicated Design” and “Dust Reduction System.” At present, the E-System camera line-up contains models including the E-420 and E-520, as well as the flagship E-3. Each of these cameras provides D-SLR camera users with high picture quality, superior reliability and exceptional portability.

The prototype model displayed at this year's photokina is being developed as an advanced amateur model that will be positioned between the E-520 and E-3. In terms of quality and performance, however, there is nothing mid-level about this model. It will inherit all the outstanding features of the E-3 such as the high-speed AF system using an 11-point full twin-cross sensor and the built-in image stabilisation mechanism with a correction effect of up to 5 EV steps*. Other highlights will include a new and updated feature to replace the current splash and dustproof function of the E-3.


New Olympus D-SLR camera based on the "Micro Four Thirds System."

Development of the camera will bring dramatic reductions in size and weight to the Olympus E-System, and will comply with the new Micro Four Thirds System standard jointly announced with Matsushita Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic) on August 5. A concept mock-up of the camera will be exhibited September 23-28 at "Photokina 2008," the world's largest trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries held September 23-28 at the Cologne Trade Fair in Cologne, Germany.

The global market for interchangeable lens type digital cameras is growing steadily, but still only accounts for approximately 7 percent of the total digital camera market. Considering the much larger share held by interchangeable lens type digital cameras when film was the dominant imaging medium, it seems that there is still ample room for sales growth in this category. Market surveys, however, indicate that more than a few customers choose compact models because they find digital SLR cameras to be “big, heavy, and difficult to operate.”

The Micro Four Thirds System standard was established to meet this need by enabling the development of radically more compact and lightweight interchangeable lens type digital camera systems. The camera currently under development will be the first Olympus camera to comply with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, and interchangeable lenses that comply with the standard are also moving ahead. In addition, users will be able to mount existing Four Thirds System wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lenses on Micro Four Thirds System bodies via an adapter. Product name, launch date and retail price of an interchangeable lens type digital camera based on the “Micro Four Thirds System” are not determined.

Olympus Imaging is also committed to the Four Thirds System, and will continue to expand its lineup of digital SLR cameras to satisfy a broad spectrum of customer needs. This includes the professional photographer, aspiring artist, hobbyist, and everyday consumer.

Outline of the Micro Four Thirds standard The Micro Four Thirds standard was designed and developed to maximize the performance potential of digital imaging technology, and to extend the benefits of the Four Thirds System standard for digital camera systems.

When compared to the Four Thirds System standard, the primary distinguishing features of the Micro Four Thirds standard are:

1. Approximately 50 percent shorter flangeback distance (mount-to-sensor distance)
2. Lens mount outer diameter approximately 6mm smaller
3. Electrical contacts in mount increased from 9 to 111

The Micro Four Thirds System enables users to capture the same high-quality images of the Four Thirds System's 4/3-type image sensor in a much more compact body. It also takes advantage of significantly more compact lenses, particularly in the wide-angle and high-power zoom range. The Four Thirds System offers the benefits of compact, lightweight performance, and the new Micro Four Thirds System takes this even further to enable development of ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera systems unlike anything seen before. The new Micro Four Thirds System also incorporates a greater number of lens-mount electrical contacts for the support of new features and expanded system functionality in the future.

Additional information: Panasonic's DMC-G1 camera based on the Micro Four Thirds System
September 23, 2008
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