Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The New "Leica"?

Olympus unveiled its latest Micro 4/3 camera, the Olympus Pen E-P1. They are calling it a Digital Pen, in reference to their half-frame 35mm cameras of the 60s and 70s, most famously the Olympus Pen-F and other models. Like the vintage camera line, the new E-P1 is small, sleek, and stylish. Decidedly old-fashioned looking, in fact, but filled with the latest digital camera technology, including HD video.

What strikes me about the E-P1 is how much it looks like what I thought Leica could come up with if they tried to make a digital camera from scratch. Taking the good ideas from their M-series cameras, like small bodies and lenses and economical design, but not being needlessly married to existing designs and guidelines that are now quite ancient, which is how I see their M8.2. I don't know how this camera will perform, though Photography Blog has several images from the camera online here and frankly the results seem mixed to me, but this design has a lot of potential for serious photographers. Especially, documentary photographers. The E-P1 could be the Leica M for the 21st Century. We've needed something like this, so let's hope that this it it.

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