Photography

Olympus Air A01 turns your smartphone into a mirrorless camera

Olympus Air A01 turns your sma...
The Olympus Air A01 lets users take DSLR-like images and use interchangeable lenses with their smartphone
The Olympus Air A01 lets users take DSLR-like images and use interchangeable lenses with their smartphone
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The Olympus Air A01 lets users take DSLR-like images and use interchangeable lenses with their smartphone
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The Olympus Air A01 lets users take DSLR-like images and use interchangeable lenses with their smartphone
The Olympus Air A01 can be bundled with a 14-42-mm EZ lens for US$500
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The Olympus Air A01 can be bundled with a 14-42-mm EZ lens for US$500
The Olympus Air A01 will cost US$300 body-only
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The Olympus Air A01 will cost US$300 body-only
The Olympus Air A01 features a built-in battery which is said to be good for 320 shots on a full charge
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The Olympus Air A01 features a built-in battery which is said to be good for 320 shots on a full charge
The Olympus Air A01 has a tripod mount on the bottom, which could be handy when shooting remotely
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The Olympus Air A01 has a tripod mount on the bottom, which could be handy when shooting remotely
The Olympus Air A01 will be available in the US from July, and Canada from August
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The Olympus Air A01 will be available in the US from July, and Canada from August
The Olympus Air A01 features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
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The Olympus Air A01 features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
The Olympus Air A01 can be used with Micro Four Thirds lenses
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The Olympus Air A01 can be used with Micro Four Thirds lenses
The Olympus Air A01 features the same 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (17.3 x 13 mm) and TruePic VII image processor as cameras like the OM-D E-M5 II
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The Olympus Air A01 features the same 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (17.3 x 13 mm) and TruePic VII image processor as cameras like the OM-D E-M5 II
The Olympus Air A01 only features very minimal controls on the body
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The Olympus Air A01 only features very minimal controls on the body
View gallery - 10 images

Olympus has announced its Air A01 add-on camera for smartphones, which turns your Android or iOS device into a very capable mirrorless camera, will be getting a wider release and heading to the US. Previously only available in Japan, the Olympus Air A01 is a smartphone-controlled camera similar to the Sony QX1, but features a Micro Four Thirds lens mount with a matching 16-megapixel sensor and is an open platform for developers.

We've previously seen a number of add-on cameras for smartphones which claim to offer DSLR-like features, including the Sony QX100, Kodak Smart Lens and more recently the DxO One. However, because they all feature built-in lenses they're more like compact camera equivalents rather than interchangeable lens cameras. The Olympus Air A01 is different in that it allows users to mount Micro Four Thirds lenses, in the same way the Sony QX1 uses an E-mount.

In addition to its Micro Four Thirds mount, the Air A01 features the same 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor (17.3 x 13 mm) and TruePic VII image processor as cameras like the OM-D E-M5 II. This enables a burst speed shooting at 10 fps (frames per second) an ISO range up to 12,800 and Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps. RAW capture is also possible, and the Air A01 features a silent electronic shutter with a 1/16,000-second maximum shutter speed.

The Olympus Air A01 can be bundled with a 14-42-mm EZ lens for US$500
The Olympus Air A01 can be bundled with a 14-42-mm EZ lens for US$500

Once the Air A01 is wirelessly connected to a smartphone or tablet users can then control it using a dedicated OA.Central for Olympus Air app. This allows focusing, using a FAST 81-point AF system, by tapping the screen of the smartphone, and making changes to settings such as exposure, white balance and ISO speed. Smartphone photographers can also use the app to access to the same P, A, S and M modes as on an interchangeable lens camera, apply filters, or instantly transfer images.

While the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled Olympus Air A01 can store images and video on a microSD card, they can also be automatically uploaded and securely stored on Amazon Cloud Drive. The device itself measures 56.9 x 57.1 x 43.6 mm (2.2 x 2.3 x 1.7 in) weighs 147 g (4.2 oz) and can be clipped onto a smartphone using the included smartphone holder. The built-in battery is said to be good for 320 shots on a full charge.

The Air A01 can also be used when not attached to a smartphone, enabling use in situations and positions it might be difficult to use a traditionally shaped camera, and automatically knows which way around the cylindrical device is being held. It also features a tripod mount which could be handy for remote shooting.

The Olympus Air A01 only features very minimal controls on the body
The Olympus Air A01 only features very minimal controls on the body

In addition to appealing to smartphone photographers who want better quality and the creative freedom allowed only by an interchangeable lens system, the Air A01 will also be of interest to developers and makers as it's an open platform. This means developers can produce their own apps for the camera using the available software development kit and makers can easily create accessories.

The Olympus Air A01 will be available in the US from this month in black or white for US$300 body-only, or $500 bundled with a 14-42-mm EZ lens. It will also launch in Canada in August, unfortunately no other international availability has been announced yet.

You can check out the Olympus Air A01 in the promo video below.

Product page: Olympus Air A01

Olympus AIR A-01

View gallery - 10 images
9 comments
morongobill
Very interesting.
I have used Olympus cameras but now have a Nikon system. Sure wish that Nikon had come up with this idea so my existing lenses could be utilized.
Really thinking about jumping in and buying this along with a fast prime to start or perhaps a wide angle.
DXHaime
It doesn't turn your phone into a mirrors camera. Phones are already mirrorless cameras.
Essentially it's a wireless m4/3 adapter to your phone.
Gadgety
50% more than Sony's QX1. And the Sony's got a bigger sensor, a built in flash and an exchangeable battery. The Air a01 has the open platform going for it, and smaller size. I expect it will take a while before the open platform produces anything significant, and it's also dependent on uptake.
yawood
I can't see much point to this. If you want a camera, buy a camera. Why bother with some hybrid phone/camera where you have to carry both the phone and the lenses/attachments anyway. You may as well carry the phone and a separate camera.
icykel
This is an interesting play around but is it really serious ? For my style of photography I find detachable lenses enough of a fumble without adding another detachable to take care of. For that reason I find myself using my Sony DSLR less and less often and instead use a very nice Sony compact camera. So sorry but not for me.
Timelord
I disagree with all the naysayers. I've owned a Micro 4/3 camera and would be interested in this. Many of their complaints don't make sense anyway. How is a $300 A01 body 50% more expensive than a $400 Sony QX-1 body? Is that the new math? Calling a smartphone a "mirrorless camera" shows ignorance of what that kind of camera really is. I just wish this had the 40-megapixel mode of its brethren.
phissith
This silly why come out a new toy with only 16mp this is 2015. This does not entice me and I am using Sony nex 6.
Pierre Collet
Looks very nice for my Leica-M and LTM glass when I don't want to carry my M8... (and 16MP is plenty enough for me... 40MP is a nonsense on a 3/4 frame sensor, because pixels are then smaller than the wavelength of visible light... pure marketing hype for super-heavy blurred photos when viewed at full resolution)
John Banister
Sounds like this could use the 1/4-20 screw eye tied to a piece of string image stabilization system.