Two New Olympus DSLRs Offer Live Preview

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One of the ironies of the high end digital camera market—as represented by digital single-lens reflex shooters—is that they long failed to offer a useful feature common on consumer point-and-shoot models: live previews on the camera’s built-in LCD display, enabling users to frame shots without peering through a viewfinder. The reasons are complicated, but boil down to traditional SLR camera designs actually framing images through the lens, rather than a separate viewfinder mechanism.

Last year Olympus worked around this problem using a second CCD sensor, and became the first camera maker to offer live LCD preview on a DSLR. This year, it adds two more live-preview DSLRs to its lineup, the Evolt E410 and E510. Both cameras offer 10 megapixel resolutions, 2.5-inch LCDs, dust reduction systems, a more-powerful image processor, and a more compact design than their predecessor&mdashland, of course, being DSLRs they’re compatible with a wide range of accessories and digital-specific lenses, including lenses manufactured to the Four-Thirds Standard from makers like Sigma and Leica. The base price for the E510 is $100 higher, with the main difference between the two models being that the E510 offers mechanical image stabilization.

The E410 will be available in May for a base price (body only) of $699; the E510 will be available in June with a body-only price of $799. Kits with one or two lenses (for everyday and telephoto use): the one lens kit adds $100 to the cameras’ respective prices; the two lens kits add $200.

Olympus has also unveiled a new consumer-oriented camera, the Stylus 780. The compact camera offers a 7.1 megapixel resolution, 2.5-inch LCD, a new shadow adjustment technology to bring out subjects hidden in shadows, and both mechanical and digital image stabilization for blur-free photos. The Stylus 780 also packs a 5× optical zoom, built-in help guides, a dust- and moisture-resistant casing, 23 shooting modes, and video capture capability running up to 30 frames per second at VGA resolution. Expect to see the Stylus 780 at retailers for $349 this May.