Other Olympus announcements

I have already blogged about the OM-D E-M5 Mark II here along with some of my thoughts. Whilst the updated E-M5 was the main news Olympus also announced or pronounced some other photographic goodies too. You can see a few of these at 43rumors here.

7-14mm f2.8 PRO Lens
This is the third PRO designated lens to be released and will complete Olympus’s “Holy Trinity” of f2.8 glass, similar to Nikon’s Holy Trinity (14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm f2.8), Canon have a similar set as does Sony now for their A7 series cameras. Panasonic have had their 7-14mm lens out for some time now; however it is only f4.0 whereas the Olympus variant is f2.8. The downside to being faster is that that the Olympus lens is much larger and heavier; in fact it’s about the same size as the their 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Even though it is larger than Panasonic lens it is much smaller and lighter than the 35mm “full-frame” f2.8 glass from Canon, Nikon and Sony.

8mm-FE-Lens2

Like the other PRO lenses the 7-14mm is fully weather-selaed as well as dust and freeze proof, it has the clutch mechanism for manual focusing and also sports the lens function button too. The petal lens hood is built in and although it does not internally focus, the bulging lens element does not protrude outside the permitter of the integral lens hood.

There are still no details on pricing and the release date is scheduled for this summer (2015). If the lens is priced competitively I would certainly like to add this to my lens collection but we’ll have to wait and see and to be fair I would rather have another lens that probably won’t be released until the end of 2015 – the 300mm f4.0 PRO lens.

8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO Lens
This is a new lens addition to the PRO range and until just a few weeks before the announcement was unknown of. Whilst the lens is weather sealed, dust and freeze proof it does not have a lens function button and does not have the manual focus clutch mechanism either. However, this probably isn’t a problem as the depth of field of lenses this wide do mean that you won’t need to adjust the focus much if manually focusing.

7-14mm-Lens

Until recently if you wanted a fish-eye lens for your M43 system you had two real choices. One was Panasonic’s 8mm f3.5 lens which is an expensive lens at £555, this does provide full autofocus and on Olympus bodies is stabilised too. The other option is the Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fully manual lens – there is not autofocus or metering, the aperture is controlled manually too, this lens is priced rather competitively at £256 and also comes in Silver or Black as required. Now we have a third choice and bearing in mind that this is f1.8 compared to f3.5 I suspect that it will be quite expensive, this lens is also coming this Summer too.

14-150mm f4.0-5.6 Mark II Lens
Olympus also released the second version of their extreme wide to telephoto M.Zuiko lens, this was no surprise as the previous original version had all but disappeared from stockist shelves. The lens will be available soon for £549 (ouch!!!) and is also dust and splash proof too.

m14-150-2_blk_stand

Lens Roadmap
With all of these additional lenses, Olympus had to update their roadmap too:
10_1

OM-D E-M1 v3.0 Firmware update
The final “big” announcement were the details that there would be another firmware update for the OM-D E-M1. Although I welcome anything that improves the performance of the camera I’m not sure that this warrants a major release number of v3.0. The firmware gives the following improvements:

  • 9-fps sequential autofocus on top of the OM-D’s benchmark Dual Fast AF, refocusing for each frame to deliver pin-sharp stills with zero blur
  • Compatibility with the latest version of OI.Share (v2.5), which in turn enables Live View control during video recording via a WiFi-connected smartphone

The upgraded firmware will be available from 24th February 2015 free of charge via the Olympus Digital Camera Updater. The updated Olympus Image Share app (v2.5) was released on 5th February and is already on my iPhone and iPad and now also supports iOS8.

Dot-sight Viewfinder
Olympus released a whole plethora of accessories for the new EM-5 Mark II (like the new flash, battery grip, usual cases, etc) but also an item first seen on their superior compact cameras, the externally mounted (via a hot-shoe) “dot-sight viewfinder:

PDP_EE-1_BLK_open_back

When shooting at full telephoto with a long lens it can be very difficult to ensure that the subject remains in the viewfinder particularly if that subject is in motion such as a bird in flight (or BIF as it is known); this is due to the very narrow field of view of telephoto lenses. This accessory assists in framing when photographing far-away subjects. The brightness and position of the reticle can be adjusted. Because it is powered by a coin-type battery, it can be used when attached to the hot shoe or cold shoe. This accessory has the following features:

  • Dustproof and splashproof dot sight
  • Compatible with any camera with a hot/cold shoe mount
  • Slide lever style opening mechanism
  • Reticle brightness and position can be adjusted
  • Perfect for super telephoto shots of wildlife

What is not known at this time is how this works in conjunction with different telephoto lenses, I will have to wait and see for reviews of the device which still isn’t listed on the Olympus UK site; the only mention is on the Olympus US site. The availability date and UK price are also unknowns at this time too. If this is priced correctly and is truly a useful device I may invest in one.

wrap-up
So after a very quiet time at CES earlier this year Olympus have pre-announced a lot of new stuff for the Japan based CP+ show, this runs from the 12th to the 15th February. There are more than a few items that I am interested in here but I will only invest in an item if it solves a photographic problem that I have, this is something that Moose Peterson preaches and is a rule that I have started to follow.