(FT5) First (front-) picture of the new Olympus E-PM1.

This is the very first picture of the upcoming new E-PM1. When I first saw the picture I noticed the camera looks like a mix between the Olympus XZ-1 (Click here to see that cam) and the Samsung NX100 (Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBayClick here to see that cam[/shoplink]). The design is certainly more modern and elegant compared to the current PEN series. We have been told the E-PL3 has exactly the same design (but with more buttons and tilt LCD screen). The E-PM1 is less high and less wide than the Panasonic GF2. But unlike the GF2 it has built-in image stabilization. The E-PM1 shares the same fast AF and same new 12 Megapixel Olympus sensor and TruePic VI engine of the upcoming E-P3, but has a 410 milion dot LCD instead of the E-P3 OLED screen. What I don’t know yet is the price. My speculation: During the last two weeks there were price drops on the Olympus XZ-1 (from $499 to $420 on Amazon). So will the E-PM1 cost $499 (body only) and $549 with kit lens? But I would like the camera to be even cheaper. The Samsung NX100 with lens costs $427.00 only !!! (Check at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay).

Reminder: Olympus will announce the new products tomorrow (Thursday June 30th) at 6am London time. Follow us live on 43rumors! We will update you with all the first news, previews images samples and so on! And don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter! Subscribe our RSS feed!

P.S.: The just announced GF3 will be still smaller than the E-PM1 (preorders on Amazon (Click here)).

Reminder -> Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

Olympus patent do show the new AF system and sensor (Infrared is the key?)


Image source: Mirrorlesscam

UPDATE: Now that Olympus announced the new PEN’s we know that Olympus isn’t using the IR technology for the autofocus sytem. But what remains true is that Olympus filled a patent with that technology.

Here is the “old “article:
—-
Anton Rahmadi contacted me to share his idea on how the new Olympus AF system works. He found an Olympus patent (See google patents) that describes a new type of AF system. Anton shortly descirbed how it works:

(1) TruPict VI consists of two cores. “Left brain” is for image processor, “Right brain” is for focus processor.
(2) The new Focus Processor:
a. During focus attempt, image is recorded once and stored in “buffer memory”.
b. Focus prediction will be calculated based on reading in two channels: in visible band (“G” of the R-G-IR-B) and IR band (“IR” of the R-G-IR-B)
c. Predictive focus is opted and sends message where the focus drive should move.
(3) Tweaked sensor: Olympus adds IR channel onto Green channel in R-G-G-B sensor (making it into R-G-IR-B). The tweaked channel occupy some area at the focus points.
(4) Microlens design: IR band should not be filtered.
(5) New lens: Coating should allow IR band to enter the sensor. Previously, Olympus patented special glass (in 2002) and coating (in 2008) to block IR band completely.

This patent also shows that Olympus (E-P3) will have IR assist focus.

Possible weakness? any filter attached to the lens may block IR band, resulting AF to slow down “as before”.

More thoughts about the “new” Olympus sensor.

The real mystery about the upcoming new PEN’s is the new 12 Megapixel sensor. I have been told that Olympus markets it as a “completely new” sensor. And I know for sure that it is not going to be used by any future Panasonic camera. But I don’t know yet how deeply Olympus redesigned the sensor. There are basically two options:
1) The sensor is 100% from ground up new.
2) The basis is the same 12 Megapixel Panasonic G2 sensor and Olympus only did make some kind of changes on it.

The truth is that my sources tested the jpeg quality only so it’s difficult to say if the changes in image quality are the results of the sensor or of the new Truepic VI engine. The good news is that my sources noticed a visible improvement. Dynamic range has been increased (more in the dark areas than in the highlights) and so the colors (with better blue). They told me it’s the best Micro Four Thirds sensor to date. But let’s not get too enthusiastic. The improvement is here but not extraordinary. The best news is the fact that Olympus recognized the need to become independent from Panasonic sensors. Anyway, I am reposting a comment from Thom Hogan about the posisble future Oly sensor:

I don’t have the original source to look at for that statement, but…those three specific things say to me that this is a sensor redesign, not a from-scratch design. Let’s do it backwards:
* Autofocus speed: highly dependent upon how fast you get data off the sensor. There are two basic ways to do this: up the frame rate and sub-sample the pixels, preferably both. This is work mostly in the add-on circuitry in a CMOS sensor. It doesn’t touch the sensel itself (other than how fast it is taking information from it).
* Color fidelity: highly dependent upon the Bayer filtration. We’ve been all over the map on this one during digital’s history, increasing filtration, decreasing it, flipping it to CYMG instead of RGBG, you name it. It’s an optical issue, and Olympus is an optical company.
* Dynamic range: can be dependent upon a lot of things, including sensel efficiency, read noise, microlenses, and so on. But read this and the previous one together and I get “Olympus changed the layers on the top of the sensor.”
I’m guessing here, but it’s quite possible that Olympus really meant it when they said 12mp is enough (it isn’t, but for different reasons than most people think, and Lytro is a good example of that). With Panasonic showing them sensors with similar traits but more pixels, Olympus might have simply asked to be given access to the original sensor design for improvement. So they put engineers working on the two easiest things to tweak: the photosite support circuitry (goosing the bandwidth) and the filtration layers (Bayer, microlenses). This would also explain why Panasonic is the fab.

I’ll be watching the details in the Japanese press when the release happens. What I’m looking for is evidence that the sensel is changed or different, or that the underlying transistor type is changed. Differences in substrate materials or flipping the sensor (BSI) are also fundamental design changes. Those are all things that would indicate a ground-up sensor design. But based upon what we’re hearing as leaks, I’d bet this is a reconfiguration of an existing sensor.

(FT5) First non blurred E-P3 picture with 12mm lens (+ FT5 Olympus rumor summary)


Pictured above you can see the new Olympus E-P3 with 12mm f/2.0 lens. Cute or not?

The last couple of weeks I posted so many info that it’s time for a rumor recap! Olympus is going to announce the new products on Thursday June 30th at 6am London time. You can follow the announcement live on 43rumors where I will post all news, reviews and image samples we can find. If you want to help me send me interesting links at 43rumors@gmail.com. Thanks!

Those are all the products Olympus will announce on Thursday:

1) Common features of all three new PEN cameras
– Very fast autofocus
– Truepic VI engine
– New Olympus designed sensor
– All three PEN cameras do have AF assist lamp
– Old lenses will focus faster on the new Pen cameras (although not as fast as when using new lenses).

2) Olympus E-P3
– It has the new Olympus “tweaked” 12 Megapixel Sensor
– Truepic VI engine (two processor in one)
– ISO 100 to 12.800
– 1080i 60frs AVCHD or JPEG video
– 35 point autofocus
– OLED touch Display (610k resolution). Sounds like it is almost the same screen used for the Olympus XZ-1.
– pop up live guide
– dual dials
– flash is remote trigger capable, but no free bounce like Olympus E-PL1.
– fastest AF to date for any mirrorless cam (and I have been told that it is considerably faster that the Panasonic GH2!).
– updated art filters
– effects to combine with art filters (like starlight)
– 3D still images
– built-in Eye-Fi support for controlling the Eye-Fi cards (Click here to see the cards on eBay)
– Interchangeable grip. I have been told there are two different grips you can buy (and more will come after).
– Design changes: The top dial is now placed instead of the ON/OFF button of the E-P2. To make room for the built-in flash. There is a video recording button over the AEL button.
– Price somewere between $799 and $899 dollars

3) Olympus E-PL3
– Same sensor and af speed as the E-P3
– no built-in flash (Will have bundled external flash that uses the hotshoe+accessory port)
– tilting LCD screen
– Screen is LCD and not OLED.
– looks EXACTLY like the Olympus XZ-1 (Click here to see that camera)

4) Olympus E-PM1
– It is as small as the Olympus XZ-1
– No tilt screen, no built-in flash

5) 12mm f/2.0 lens
– It’s the very first High Grade lens for Micro Four Thirds and is made in Tatsuno (Japan)
– All metal construction with distance scale. You see the distance scale when you pull the focus ring from autofocus to manual mode.
– Lens size similar to the new Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4.
– Filter size 46mm
– Already in production since April and will be in Stock in July.
– Close focusing 20cm (0.67 feet)
– Price around $799

6) 45mm f/1.8 lens
– No macro
– Price around $299

7) New Olympus FL-300R
It works like the Sony’s F20AM (Click here to see the Sony flash on eBay). For example you fold down to turn off.

8 ) New external EVF
– cheap build quality, cheap price (Compared to the current VF-2 viewfinder (around $279.95)).

9) Olympus 14-42mm II R
Same price and optical performance as the current 14-42mm lens but with a much faster autofocus performance.

10) Olympus 40-150mm II R
Same price and optical performance as the current 40-150mm lens but with a much faster autofocus performance.

What are you going to buy? (You can select more than one product!)

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Reminder -> Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

(FT5) First pictures of the E-P3 with 12mm lens!

Here are the first pictures of the upcoming new Olympus E-P3 with 12mm f/2.0 lens attached! As you see the E-P3 is very similar to the Olympus E-P2. The main difference is the new built-in flash. We have been told the 12mm lens has a focus ring you can pull in a different position to allow manual focusing. Once pulled the focus ring on manual position you will see the distance scale! Cool!!! And as you see the new 12mm f/2.0 lens has almost the length of the Panasonic 45mm macro.

 

Those are the full E-P3 specs:

– It has the new Olympus “tweaked” 12 Megapixel Sensor
– Truepic VI engine (two processor in one)
– ISO 100 to 12.800
– 1080i 60frs AVCHD or JPEG video
– 35 point autofocus
– OLED touch Display (610k resolution). Sounds like it is almost the same screen used for the Olympus XZ-1.
– pop up live guide
– dual dials
– fastest AF to date for any mirrorless cam (and I have been told that it is considerably faster that the Panasonic GH2!).
– updated art filters
– effects to combine with art filters (like starlight)
– 3D still images
– built-in Eye-Fi support for controlling the Eye-Fi cards (Click here to see the cards on eBay)
– Interchangeable grip. I have been told there are two different grips you can buy (and more will come after).
– Design changes: The top dial is now placed instead of the ON/OFF button of the E-P2. To make room for the built-in flash. There is a video recording button over the AEL button.