Olympus intros new digital SLR system

The Olympus Digital SLR System with Digital Specific LensesTM is an uncompromising realization of the full benefits of pure digital technology with body and lenses designed to perfectlymatch the image sensor.

“The Olympus Digital SLR System sets a new standard for the future of digital photography,” said Mark Gumz, president and chief operating officer of Olympus America Inc. Professional photographers today are mainly working with film-digital hybrid systems because – until now – no digital camera manufacturer has been able to offer a completely digital solution that meets all their needs. “Our new system was designed to be digital from the ground up without making compromises for a film legacy system, a significant limitation for our competitors. The Olympus Digital SLR System is designed to meet the needs of the most demanding pros, offering powerful advantages in terms of image quality, durability, speed, and camera and lens size.”

Until today, digital photography has lacked a common standard for image sensor sizes and lens mount configurations, resulting in an unwieldy array of specifications. The new Olympus Digital SLR System overcomes this by setting a standard for image sensor and lens mount. Based on this new Four Thirds open standard, the Olympus Digital SLR System achieves an optimal balance between image quality, camera and lens size, and system expandability, maximizing the performance of image sensors and lenses with a 100% digital-from-the-ground-up design.

The Olympus Digital SLR System delivers unsurpassed image quality with a high-performance Full Frame Transfer CCD for improved dynamic range, better color, and less noise. The system’s interchangeable Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses are designed specifically for digital capture with smart technology that delivers edge-to-edge sharpness with reduced distortion and shading. The lenses perfectly match the imager so light strikes the sensor directly, ensuring rich, accurate colors, sharp contrasts and bright images even at the edges.

When 35mm film lenses are used with digital cameras, insufficient light at the edges of the image sensor can result in reduced color definition, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses. Olympus’ dedicated digital optics outperform film lenses paired with digital cameras, rendering sharpness and contrast more consistently at any given f-stop.

It took nearly four years of intensive research and development for Olympus to bring its digital SLR system to market. “The Olympus Digital SLR System was developed for professional photographers with extensive input from professional photographers at every step,” said John Knaur, senior marketing manager, Olympus America Inc. The result is one of the most significant technological innovations in the history of Olympus, one of the world’s top digital camera brands based on digital camera unit sales.

The E-1
The first camera being introduced in the Olympus Digital SLR System is the professional E-1. The most technically sophisticated, computerized digital camera built to date, the revolutionary E-1 is designed to deliver the best digital images for professional photographers today and into the future. It is a dynamic camera that can handle many types of photographic situations and deliver superior results in a wide range of settings, from indoor to studio, fashion to journalism, sports to portrait photography, and more.

The camera features a new, high performance Super Latitude Full Frame Transfer CCD from Kodak, the KAF-5101CE, which delivers the highest dynamic range, lowest noise levels and best color of any camera in its class. This innovative 5 Megapixel CCD outperforms many higher Megapixel count imagers.

In addition, the E-1 utilizes new and existing technologies like the exclusive Olympus TruePicTM Technology to achieve the highest image quality and most realistic digital photographs. Newly developed Noise Filter technology and the existing Noise Reduction technology produce clear, clean files. A newly developed Supersonic Wave Filter significantly reduces the chances of dust settling on the CCD or image and blocking pixels.

The E-1 offers build and features quality equal to or better than the top professional quality cameras at the extremely competitive price of $2,199 MSRP.

Lenses & Accessories
Initially, Olympus will introduce five Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses, one flash system, and a power grip set for the E-1, as follows:

  • 14-54mm f2.8-3.5 (28mm – 108mm equiv. for 35mm film camera) at $599.00 MSRP
  • 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 (100mm – 400mm equiv. for 35mm) at $1199.00 MSRP
  • 50mm f2.0 1:2 Macro (100mm Macro equiv. for 35mm) at $599.00 MSRP
  • 300mm f2.8 Super Telephoto (600mm equiv. for 35mm) at $7999.00 MSRP
  • TC14 1.4X Teleconverter (1.4X – 1 stop equiv. for 35mm) at $549.00 MSRP
  • FL-50 Flash and Accessories $499.00 MSRP
  • Power Battery Holder Set $549.00 MSRP

Olympus will introduce the E-1 and this initial round of Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses and E-Accessories to the market in October 2003. Over time, Olympus plans to introduce a wide range ofbodies, lenses and accessories for its digital SLR system, beginning with an 11-22mm f2.8/3.5 zoom, as well as a Ring Flash and Twin Flash later this year. Olympus has also begun work on a consumerdigital SLR camera for 2004.

Durable, Fast & Compact
The E-1 is built to last with a magnesium alloy metal body that is lightweight and durable for heavy daily use by the most demanding professional photographers. A splash-proof body and lenses provide maximum protection against dust and moisture, allowing photographers to shoot in the most difficult conditions without concern for the performance or life of the product. The system delivers a true film-like experience with fast shooting and operating speeds, dramatically reducing the lag time often associated with digital cameras. The E-1’s high speed performance shortens the time it takes to capture an image and transfer data to the memory card. Second generation coreless motors in the Digital Specific Lenses achieve focus speeds comparable to or better than the best film SLR lenses.

The E-1’s new progressive Full Frame Transfer CCD with separate camera control SDRAM and large SDRAM buffer, coupled with the E-1’s parallel data processing 3 ASIC Digital Processor engine, overcomes many of the bottlenecks in image processing and camera operations. The E-1 can capture images at 3 frames per second for a burst of 12 frames in all image quality modes. New capture software delivers another boost in shooting speed, allowing direct capture of data to a computer.

Body and lenses for the Olympus Digital SLR System are sized to meet the needs of professional photographers. Zuiko Digital Specific Lenses deliver higher resolutions, faster aperture speeds and focusing, and more compact sizes than equivalent 35mm lenses built for digital. “Lenses for the E-1 are more compact across the product line than their 35mm equivalents,” said Knaur. “If you built a 35mm lens designed for CCD capture to match the focal length of one of the Olympus digital SLR lenses, it would be much larger.”

The Four Thirds System
The new Four Thirds System is an open standard for digital SLR cameras and interchangeable lens systems that utilize a 4/3-type image sensor. Adopted by a consortium of leading manufacturers including Olympus, Kodak and Fuji, the Four Thirds System is designed to achieve an optimal balance between image quality, camera size, and system expandability. The system maximizes the performance of image sensors and lenses, and establishes a common standard for lens mounts, allowing photographers greater flexibility with a choice of bodies and lenses from different manufacturers using the Four Thirds System.

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