Year 2016 started exceptionally for Olympus, as it expanded its line-ups of mirrorless and rugged cameras, as well as of lenses. The photo-equipment market will be enlarged by the Olympus PEN-F, Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Limited Edition, with a brown leather-effect cover, Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870, and the lens Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO.
By launching the new Olympus PEN-F, Olympus made a revolutionary move, since this MILC represents a reincarnation of the legendary Olympus PEN-F, an analog camera from 1963, but in digital form. The digitalized successor of the first ever half-frame SLR camera took over classic body lines (the body is made of magnesium and aluminum), yet it brings a completely new 20MP CMOS sensor, paired with a TruePic VII processor. What is more, the PEN-F represents the first PEN model featuring a built-in viewfinder - a 2,360,000-dot electronic OLED viewfinder with 1.23x magnification. Tracking subjects is also carried out via a tilting 3" 1,037,000-dot LCD screen.
The clearness of images and smoothness of Full HD videos (1920 x 1080 at 60 fps) are guaranteed by the 5-axis optical image stabilization VCM (Voice Coil Motor), which is borrowed from the last year's model Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. With this technology, shooting night scenes and those with a low percentage of light takes place with minimum noise, without raising the ISO.
Since it took over the design of its 83-year-old predecessor, the Olympus PEN-F offers a great number of manual controls, among which are a locking mode dial, an exposure compensation dial, a Creative Mode dial housing direct access to color and Art Filter modes, etc. For lovers of monochrome photography, there is the Monochrome Profile Control with five photographic effects, and for those enjoying macro photography, the new Olympus MILC offers Focus Bracketing.
As for the other characteristics, the PEN-F boasts 10 fps continuous shooting, built-in Wi-Fi; however, it is not sealed, it does not feature a built-in flash, but comes along with an external one.
As far as the limited edition of the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II (which was originally introduced last summer) is concerned, this MILC camera now comes covered in leather, in combination with a leather strap, and (like the original E-M10 II) the lens Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ. When it comes to its internal properties, the story is the same as with the original Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: a 16MP Live MOS sensor, a TruePic VII processor, Full HD video at 60 fps, 8.5 fps continuous shooting, 5-axis VCM stabilization, a 2,360,000-dot electronic viewfinder with 1.23x magnification...
Olympus also improved its line-up of rugged cameras by launching the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870. With a couple of minor enhancements, this tiny, but very strong and robust camera kept a great majority of the characteristics from its predecessor Olympus Stylus Tough TG-860, including: a 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor, a TruePic VII processor, a lens 24-105mm f/3.5-5.7 with 5x optical zoom and optical image stabilization, Full HD video at 60 fps, 7 fps burst rate, Wi-Fi support, built-in flash, 37MB of internal storage... As for its durability, the new Tough TG-870 is also waterproof to 50 ft/15m, crushproof to 220 lbs/100kgf, shockproof to 7 ft/2.1m, and freezeproof to 14°F/-10°C, and it is dustproof as well.
The Olympus Tough TG-870, like the predecessor, is equipped with built-in GPS, but it was enhanced and positioning is now under 10 seconds. In addition to the improved GPS performances, the screen is new, too - a tilting 3" LCD, with the resolution twice as large as the one of the predecessor (921,000 dots) and the ability to tilt upwards by 180 degrees. There is still no viewfinder.
The other innovations offered by the Olympus TG-870 are the nighttime Live Composite Mode, which automatically combines the brightest areas of several images taken with interval shooting and it brings magnificent photos of cityscapes, star trails and light painting. For lovers of videos in the dark, there are the Nightscape Movie and the Nightscape Mode, by means of which the camera settings are automatically optimized for low light.
Olympus also broadened its lens class by introducing the new Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO. This 600mm equivalent fixed telephoto lens sports 5-axis image stabilization (IS), which in combination with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II brings 6 stops of stabilization, according to CIPA standards, which is the best result so far. In comparison to lenses of its rank, the Olympus 300mm f/4 IS PRO is much smaller and lighter (with the dimensions 227 x 93 mm and weight 1270g) and it is very handy for handheld use. Furthermore, it can also be combined with tripods, as it comes packed with a rotating tripod collar. The lens is also equipped with a retractable hood.
Another plus for this telephoto prime lens intended for the MILC class is the fact that it is hermetically sealed in 17 places, splashproof and dustproof, and it can endure temperatures down to 14°F (-10°C) - it is superb to combine with the said E-M1 and E-M5 II. As for its interior, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO features 17 elements in 10 groups, three of which are Super ED, one is Extra-High Refractive, while three are High Refractive (they reduce color bleeding and chromatic aberrations). What is more, the lens elements are covered with the brand new ZERO (Zuiko Extra-low Reflective Optical) coating, which suppresses reflected light to minimize ghosts and flares for extremely sharp details of images, even when the stress is on e.g. car headlights. The diaphragm consists of 9 blades, whereas the filter diameter is 77mm.
The availability and pricing of the new Olympus products are the following:
- Olympus PEN-F (body-only, silver and black): already available, $1199.99;
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Limited Edition: already available, $899.99;
- Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870 (three color combinations): April, $279.99;
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO: already available, $2499.99.