The Olympus E-Pnext

Olympus launched a teaser site for the next E-Pnext:

Coming Soon
When I first saw this yesterday, it said “You can’t hide creativity…” and it’s since been changed to the unimanginative, “YOUR next camera is coming soon…”

For reference, I decided to see if I could glean it for MY last camera which came last month… the E-P2

MY last camera came last month…
MY last camera came last month…
San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D
1/5sec @ ƒ4, ISO200, 85mm

I didn’t have a 17mm pancake like in the picture and my “man-hands” are blocking some of the details, but the E-P2 extends out to my palm, while the photo shows the next one extending out to the woman’s knuckles. The length of my hand should be about right so it’s at most about an inch smaller and just as tall.

Where did the inch go

If it’s an inch smaller, albeit in a dimension that still won’t make a difference in terms of pocketability. The left side of the deck (right in the picture) of the E-P2 is taken with the mode dial which you can see was moved to the right size. It also means the LCD shifted over to the right and there is less control deck space in the rear. My guess is the main dial was removed and this is a more menu-driven model than the other.

The other thing to note is that it probably has the tripod mount on the edge since there is no room anymore towards the center. Also, it may be using a smaller battery than the BLS-1—either one of their pocket camera 900mAH batteries or a new gumstick style that hopefully brings the battery technology into this decade—there is no reason they couldn’t fit a 1500 mAH battery in that space now. It all depends on if moving the tripod mount to the edge got them the space they needed—after all it may be less than an inch shorter, in which case you can get away with a BLS-1 and just moving the tripod screw.

Making it cheaper

Removing controls means this market for this must be a price point under the E-P1 so we have to ask what does Olympus throw out?

Let’s start with image stabilization—you can charge $100 less if you get rid of that feature. The next thing to get rid of is video, because you can. Also, you can provide the accessory port for the electronic viewfinder, but don’t provide for the $300 VF-2 which you can sell for $300 as an accessory. This brings us to a list price of $699 with a kit lens. Unfortunately the E-P1 kit is $640 street price, and you can’t really unring that bell, so let’s say you replace the all-metal construction of the E-P1/E-P2 with high grade plastics and drop the price to $499-599 list. (You could get rid of or cripple the art-filters, but the market has shown, with the failure of the E450, that it doesn’t care one way or another about them.)

One thing it does add, if you look closely, is a flash like the Panasonic GF-1. That’ll be nice for some and I believe it’s something they promised last year.

Given that it’s smaller, probably plastic, missing a lot of control dials in the rear, and the success of the Pentax K-x, one thing I’d like to see—but probably won’t—is be a zillion body color options. This camera is small enough that it’ll be a seriously cute camera—adding a choice of body colors will make it a great camera to target at style-concious people. The Olympus Stylus was a very stylish 35mm point and shoot, and I hope Olympus returns to that market with gusto.

In any case, whether $500 or $600, at that price and even without image stabilization, you’d be stupid to the max to plunk down a $430 for a Canon G11 at this point—those things are going the way of the dodo for serious enthusiasts. The Panasonic LX4, with it’s more compact body, 16:9 native and ultrawide-fast lens, I’d understand. And heck, who knows, maybe the LX4 will have a 4:3 sensor in it. (In light of this, let’s throw the video back in to entice some people back.)

Overall, I’d put my money on a micro 4:3 with a popup flash, simplified menu-driven rear, no IS, tripod mount on the edge (a la LX3), plastic case with a retail price of either $549 or $699 with a 14-24mm kit the same price for the 17mm (but without an optical viewfinder).

New lenses

In addition, one should expect new lenses as part of the announcement. Unlike Nikon and Apple, Olympus destroys all the suspense, by telling us that they’ll be among of the following lenses: Zuiko ED 9-18mm f4-5.6, ED 14-150mm f4-5.6, a 50mm macro lens, a 8mm fisheye, and a 12mm prime. Yawn.

2 thoughts on “The Olympus E-Pnext

  1. Hmm, 4-3 Rumors has the leak:
    <img src="http://43rumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/e-pl11.png&quot; />

    If true, let’s see how I did.

    Spot On:
    – micro 4-3 with E-P1 sensor
    – smaller body same height
    – $599.99 (Check!)
    – introduction accompanied by new lens announcement
    – new lenses are 9-18mm f4-5.6, and 14-150mm f4-5.6
    – popup flash
    – comes with accessory port, but VF-2 not bundled with it
    – plastic body
    – simplified rear missing control wheel

    Wish-Wash:
    – takes movies (I couldn't decide one way or another)
    – Art filters (I was right they'd include it, but they only have 6, I'd have thought 8)
    – Live Guide (like GUIDE MODE on the Nikon so this falls in line with simplified UI, but I thought it'd be more menu based)
    – bundled with kit lenses (14-24mm only sold with it, not the pancake—it actually makes a lot of sense now that I think about it. I should have caught it)
    – two new lenses (I gave five choices in the order of likelihood, they launched my first two)
    – available in 3 body colors (I was hoping for more, but not expecting it)
    – missing both dials (I only called one dial, should have called the other)

    No guess or dead wrong)
    – image stabilization (!)
    – name is E-PL1 (I didn't guess)

    Not bad. But the in-body image stabilization was a big miss. 🙁

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