I am still not 100% about some aspects of the new “mysterious” Olympus designed (or tweaked) sensor. What I know for certain is that Olympus kept the promise and will not join the Megapixel race which lead Panasonic to announce cameras with 16Megapixels (for the [shoplink 22077]G3 and [shoplink 16254]GH2[/shoplink]). The new sensor has 12.1 Megapixels! I have been told that this is not the same “old” 12 Megapixel sensor which you can find inside the current Olympus PEN cameras. The sensor has been “tweaked” (and some sources say “redesigned”) by Olympus. What that word “tweaked” means is a big and yet unanswered question.
The second news is that the new PEN cameras will indeed use the new TruePic VI engine which has two cores. Olympus worked on all aspects of the camera, sensor, internal circuity, imaging processor with the main goal to increase the dynamic range and ISO performance. Sources said that we should expect an image quality that is at least on par (but more likely even slightly better) than the current top [shoplink 17163 ebay]Olympus E-5 model[/shoplink]. First reports I received from testers said that there is a visible step forward in image quality (with pre production models and unfinished firmware!).
In summary, Olympus may made a bit of mess with the product naming and specs (See for example missing tilt screen on the E-P3) but we have to give credit to Olympus for working on the key aspects where many of our 43rumors wanted to see an improvement:
1) That sensor is designed by Olympus and that means that they will no more have to rely on second generation sensors from Panasonic.
2) It’s nice to see that Olympus worked to improve dynamic range and ISO performance instead of increasing Megapixel numbers.
3) AF speed is amazing. And that’s going to impress many potential m43 buyers!
4) Finally some amazing lenses! The high quality 12mm f/2.0 and the cheap ($299) and fast 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens.
Overall I am very happy with the steps Olympus made with the new PEN’s. Of course there is still room for improvement. But guys, they are finally going in the right direction or not?