Special editions with ridiculously expensive extras must be all the rage among well-to-do gadget fans — that’s the only real explanation we can imagine for Harrods’ new Olympus PEN Art Edition. The kit includes two PEN E-P5s (one hand-painted), but it also bundles prime lenses, accessories, a training session… and a customized Vespa scooter. You’ll have both the gear you need for amateur photography and the transportation to your photo shoots. Mind you, we’d expect nothing less when the Art Edition costs £16,000 ($24,814) — more than some cars. If you’re eager to acquire both a new camera and a new ride in one fell swoop, though, the limited-run PEN bundle is available from Harrods today. Check out a photo of the Vespa after the break.
If you’ve been spooking subjects or failing to focus on them with your Panasonic Lumix GH3 or G5, you might feel like you got a brand new camera today thanks to a firmware update. Its new features include low-light (-3EV) autofocus and a “silent mode” setting that’ll turn off the electronic shutter, all sounds and the flash emission in one go, leaving subjects like deer or golfers undisturbed. You’ll also get an exposure compensation shutoff reset option, better AF performance with certain lenses and a WiFi fix for Mac computers. You can grab it at the source, proving it’s not only hackers that bring free goodies to pricey cameras.
Sure, Olympus’ PEN E-P5 brings the OM-D E-M5’s fast autofocusing to a smaller body, but it’s not really cheaper when both cameras cost $1,000 lens-free in the US. Thankfully, the PEN Lite E-PL6 is on the way to democratize the technology in earnest. The new Micro Four Thirds model shares the 16-megapixel sensor, TruePic VI engine and fast focusing of its cutting-edge cousins, but makes a few sacrifices to keep the cost in check. The E-P5’s built-in WiFi and five-axis stabilization are missing, and the camera otherwise behaves more like its E-PL5 ancestor: it shoots at a slower 8 frames per second with a lower-resolution 460,000-pixel, 3-inch swiveling touchscreen. Not that Americans comfortable with the E-PL6’s frugal features can pick one up, mind you. To date, Olympus has only committed to a Japanese launch in late June.
Last year, Olympus’ release schedule danced around the E-P3: the camera maker launched the semi-pro OM-D E-M5 and refreshed its smaller PEN bodies, but didn’t touch its original mirrorless form factor. We know the company won’t be forgetting its roots this year, as its Chinese branch has posted a teaser for a next-generation, flagship PEN camera. There are no official details beyond superlatives about “classic” textures and “unprecedented control,” but rumors suggest it will be called the E-P5 (E-P4 skipped due to superstitions) and might be joined by the mid-tier E-PL6. We won’t have long to learn the full story when Olympus is showing off its new PEN in four Chinese cities between May 11th and June 1st — in-person demos require more than just a silhouette, after all.
Panasonic’s micro four-thirds Lumix DMC-GF6 is finally official after a leakystart, and the news is good for social types with high photo standards. The mirrorless cam’s standout feature is without a doubt its connectivity, letting you pair it to a smartphone or tablet via NFC, then transfer photos and video automatically over WiFi with an included app — which can also remotely control the camera. The GF6 also sports an updated 1040k-dot screen that can tilt and flip 180 degrees for self-portraits, along with a new mode dial from it’s GF5 predecessor, a welcome change for more serious shooters. Other highlights include 1080/60i full-HD AVCHD video, a 25,600 ISO range, JPEG and RAW shooting, built-in flash, a new Venus Engine image processor, 3.7 fps burst shooting, low-light autofocus and a 0.5-second start-up time. You’ll be able to grab one in black, white, brown or red, and while Panasonic hasn’t officially announced a price or arrival date, it’s expected to hit shelves in the next month or so for around £449 with a 14-42mm kit lens ($680). Check the PR after the break for the full dope.
Panasonic’s support for WiFi in its Micro Four Thirds cameras has so far skewed toward the high end. Thanks to a new filing at Taiwan’s National Communications Commission, though, we know the entry level should be covered as well. The regulator has been looking at a DMC-GF6 camera with with built-in WiFi, hinting that the Lumix GF5’s sequel will make networking one of its centerpiece upgrades. Other clues aren’t quite as forthcoming — there’s nothing imaging-related at the NCC, so we don’t know if the GF6 is an optical revolution or another subtle refresh. It’s mostly safe to presume that Panasonic will watch out for celebrity leaks this time around.
Stepping across the great DSLR divide into the land of mirrorless cameras always requires some compromise. Focusing speed, image quality, lens compatibility and battery life are frequent casualties, but for everyone except professional shooters, the size and cost benefits of swapping a full-grown beast for a compact ILC surely help soften the blow. The latest Micro Four Thirds model from Olympus, the OM-D E-M5, adds functionality that expand that list of betterments even further, allowing more versatility than larger DSLRs have to offer. These perks include a water-resistant design, for starters, along with a nifty lens that offers macro shooting and both manual- and powered-zoom in one compact package.
One area where the 16-megapixel E-M5 does match the footprint of its full-size brethren is in price: you’ll drop a cool grand for the body alone, while the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens kit will bump that tag up another $300. Make no mistake, the E-M5 is a fantastic camera, but $1,300 is mighty steep for any mirrorless model, especially one with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. This, however, is no ordinary MFT camera. As the first model in Olympus’s OM-D line — taking design cues from the company’s popular line of OM film cameras — the E-M5 is in a class of its own, at least as far as Olympus’s portfolio is concerned. Besides physical appearance, perhaps, the most notable selling point is its focus speed: press the shutter release, and your subject comes into clarity with rapid-fire precision, whether you’re shooting in bright sunlight or a dark restaurant. But though the E-M5 has already received accolades for its powerful focusing, you might be wondering how the whole package performs. Meet us past the break to find out.