Olympus announces flagship E-3 digital SLR camera

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The Olympus E-3

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October 17, 2007 Olympus has announced the launch of the E-3, the new flagship of the company's E-system digital SLR camera range and as expected - the specs are very impressive. The 10.1 megapixel unit includes body-mounted image stabilization that works on every lens, a dual-axis flexible-angle 2.5 inch live-view LCD, high speed sequential shooting at 5 frames per second, shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 sec and an 11-Point-Full Twin Cross AF detection system that delivers what's billed as the world's fastest auto-focus to date. The camera's magnesium alloy body has been designed for harsh environments with dust and splashproof sealing of all major parts, including the built-in flash, LCD monitor, and switches, adding to its durability. That's a whole lot of functionality to explore when the E-3 becomes available - along with a new range of high-speed lenses - from November this year.

The built in image stabilization mechanism boasts a compensation range of up to 5 EV steps through the use of Olympus’ Supersonic Wave Drive (SWD), which compensates for camera shake by shifting the image sensor by the equivalent of up to 5 shutter speed steps and enables blur-free, handheld shooting even under low light or when using a telephoto lens. An advanced gyro sensor detects camera shake, and the SWD devices immediately shift the image sensor unit accordingly. As the E-3’s image stabilization mechanism is mounted in the camera body, the image stabilization effect can be obtained with any FourThirds lens.

Other features included an advanced 10.1 megapixel High Speed Live MOS Sensor, TruePic III image processing engine, Advanced Detail Reproduction and Advanced Proper Gamma III Technologies to improve picture quality, gradation, expression and color reproduction. The unit also includes a built in flash with commander functionality to give wireless control of multiple flashes using the optional FL-50R and/or FL-36R flashes, while dual slots are provided for using a Compact Flash (CF Type I or II) or Microdrive card and an xD-Picture card.

The dual-axis flexible-angle Live View HyperCrystal LCD monitor with free horizontal and vertical swiveling offers photographers expanded shooting possibilities as it enables shooting while viewing the image displayed on the 2.5 inch (17.3mm by 13mm) rear-panel LCD monitor in real time. The high-res (230,000 pixels) LCD monitor features 176° viewing angles in both vertical and horizontal directions and the camera can magnify the area of focus by 5, 7, or 10 times to aid with fine focus adjustment for macro or studio shooting, while the large optical viewfinder gives a reliable 100% field of view and 1.15x magnification.

The advanced AF detection system is comprised of 11 points, each composed of two horizontal and vertical lines to improve accuracy and dual sensing arrays on both vertical and horizontal axes. These are arranged in a unique half-pitch shifted pattern that improves autofocusing precision, making it possible to detect contrast in both horizontal and vertical directions and prevent subject patterns from interfering with AF operation. The speed of the AF comes courtesy of a dedicated AF data processing engine that can process data from all sensors simultaneously, and a sophisticated new distance-measuring algorithm which gives improved processing speed, object capturing and tracking performance. A unique pixel addition technology is used to expand the distance-measuring brightness range from -2 to 19 EV, ensuring high precision autofocusing performance even in low light.

The highest AF speeds are attained when coupled with three new ZUIKO DIGITAL Supersonic Wave Drive™ Lenses (SWD) which will also be released later this year.

New accessories including electronic flashes, eye cups, a power battery holder and a Zuiko Digital 2x Telconverter EC-20 - an ultra compact, high-performance teleconverter lens capable of doubling the focal length of the master lens – will also hit the market later this year at an asking price of US$479.99.

The camera's Dust Reduction System kicks in when the camera is turned on or the Live View function is activated. A Supersonic Wave Filter (SSWF) installed in front of the image sensor removes any dirt attached to the image sensor by generating over 30,000 supersonic vibrations per second. The removed dust is trapped by a dust absorber and Olympus claims this system is powerful enough to remove dust attached by intermolecular force that cannot be removed just by shaking the image sensor or by discharging static electricity. The unit’s body is made of a dust and splashproof thixomold magnesium alloy that is built to withstand use in challenging shooting conditions, with all major parts, including the built-in flash, LCD monitor, and switches, sealed to resist sand, dust, rain and splashes.

The E-3 also features high speed sequential shooting at 5 frames/sec and high speed shutter of up to 1/8000 sec. The shutter, which has been tested to 150,000 cycles, is also compatible with X-sync shooting at a speed of 1/250 sec and Super FP flashing at 1/8000 sec.

The E-3 will be available from November 2007 with the body going at a cost of US$1699 ( AUD$2,499 in Australia).

For further info visit Olympus.

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