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Monday, February 22, 2010 

Four Thirds for UW!

Olympus's new 4/3rds camera the EPL1 is here (or nearly so). I met with my Olympus reps today and got a through briefing.

The camera is awesome, but is very "dumbed down" out of the box. It has some great features, many of which are more easily accessible from their Super Control Panel. It works much better after a good tune-up.

Auto focus is very reasonable, and can be sped up by limiting it to spot focus. It is much, much faster than a P&S, a little slower than a DSLR. The 14-42 kit lens that ships with it, is ok, and will work for a variety of shots. It close focuses to about 4", better uw, but it will need a 2x macro diopter. The 9-18 is much better, is an internal focus lens (the barrel doesn't extend) but still an f4 lens - it seemed to focus faster and would focus to 15cm.

I think that this camera would benefit from some better quality lenses - the Oly 17mm is awesome, but is not compatible with the housing, it will vignette. I think I might look at some of the Panasonic oferings. Like the Zeiss 45mm macro - a whopping $899. I've asked them to try to see what other lenses will fit the housing and they said they would. Be prepared with your biggest c.c. Good glass costs cash.

A couple of cool things. Two "My Modes", switch the whole camera around at a flick of a button. A programmable function button. One button movies and this is really cool - it will continuously auto focus while filming - something that the DSLRs can't do in video mode.

The PT-EPL-1 is budget housing, no doubt, but still is quite functional. They were after a price point and I think hit it. The package for $1200 street price is awesome for the quality it will do, but it's best for macro and wide angle. All functions are accessible, it's compact and easy to handle. I have to question adding in the electronic viewfinder, we'll have to see how usable it is uw.

Ship dates are still up in the air a bit. Some cameras may get here earlier for pre-orders, but housings and most of the line probably won't hit until late March.

But all-in-all I think Oly has a real winner.

many thanks, quite informative

I'm very happy to see Olympus and other manufacturers getting more interested in catering to the UW photography market. Now that we have the entry of an affordable prosumer UW setup like this, we're going to get more and more people who are able to try their hand at underwater photography. Thanks for the review, Jack!

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About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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