Olympus Rolls Interchangeable-Lens Camera

Olympus unveiled two new impressive point-and-shoot cameras for novice and advanced photographers.

At CES in Las Vegas, Olympus got off to a hot start by announcing two new digital cameras that are among the most interesting we've seen at the show so far. The fixed-lens Olympus XZ-1 is a high-end pocket camera that offers full manual controls and impressive hardware, while the Olympus PEN E-PL2 is a well-priced interchangeable-lens compact camera that's designed for casual shooters who want to learn photography on the fly.

Olympus XZ-1: A Pocketable Powerhouse

The compact, pocketable XZ-1 is a high-performance point-and-shoot that's geared to go toe-to-toe with Canon's PowerShot S95. The 10-megapixel CCD-sensored XZ-1 has a fast, bright F1.8 aperture at the wide-angle end of its 4x optical zoom (28mm to 112mm) that's an F-stop wider than any other pocket camera on the market. It also boasts an equally impressive F2.5 aperture at full telephoto -- that's a wider aperture than most compact cameras have at their wide-angle end.

The XZ-1 is the first Olympus fixed-lens camera to offer a Zuiko lens, which is bolstered by dual optical/digital image stabilization. Olympus is touting the camera's low-light capabilities, thanks to its wide aperture, autofocus-assist lamp, and ISO adjustments that reach up to 3200. The camera also boasts a 3-inch OLED screen.

Olympus's new flagship point-and-shoot also employs a similar control ring around the lens as the Canon PowerShot S90 and S95, which allows fast access to aperture, shutter, and ISO settings. Other key features include full manual controls, RAW shooting, an extensive range of Olympus's digital art filters (such as the tilt-shift-lens simulating Diorama Mode, Dramatic Tone, Pop Art, and Soft Focus), 720p high-definition video at 30fps, and the same in-camera Live Guide tutorials that are found in Olympus's PEN series of interchangeable-lens cameras.

The XZ-1 also serves up a hot shoe on top of the camera that can be used with Olympus's attachable electronic viewfinder for the PEN series, an external microphone, and the new Macro Arm Light extension (more on that below).

The Olympus XZ-1 is priced at $500 and is slated for availability this month.

Olympus PEN E-PL2: An Interchangeable-Lens Camera Built for Novices

The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is the company's fourth Micro-Four Thirds system compact interchangeable lens camera, and it's a beginner-friendly follow-up to last year's PEN E-PL1. The 12-megapixel PEN E-PL2 offers a slightly sleeker, thinner body and more-comfortable hand grip than the E-PL1, as well as slightly redesigned menu-navigation controls that use a scroll wheel rather than push-buttons.

The camera includes a few new shooting features, as well. Olympus has revamped the helpful Live Guide tutorial controls in the camera, and the camera now lets you combine and tweak art filter image effects to give shooters a bit more manual control over the look of in-camera special effects.

The E-PL2 shoots 720p HD video, has a pop-up flash, and comes with a new Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens that has been optimized for video capture via a revamped, quiet autofocus system. The E-PL2 also gets an ISO boost from the E-PL1's maximum ISO of 3200; the E-PL2's maximum ISO is 6400.

The PEN E-PL2 also offers a pair of interesting new accessories, both sold separately: the PENPal Bluetooth transmitter, which pairs with mobile phones to offload images from the camera to the phone instantly, and the Dr. Octopus-like, dual-LED lamp Macro Arm Light extension is designed for illuminating small objects for macro photography.

The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is also due out this month, priced at $600 as a kit with the new Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zoom Lens.

For more up-to-the-minute blogs, stories, photos, slideshows, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PC World's complete coverage of CES 2011.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Canonconsumer electronicsdigital camerasOlympusCESPoint-and-Shootcompact interchangeable lens cameraCES 2011

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Moynihan

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?