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Dennis Hissink : July 16th 2003 - 22:20 CET

Olympus introduces the Four Third System

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OlympusDuring a well-visited press day Olympus Europe introduces finally the long awaited new Olympus E-System. The Four Thirds System (4/3 System) is introduced as a new standard for next-generation digital SLR camera systems that ensures interchangeable lens mount compatibility. Mr Hans Thiele, Marketing Communications Olympus Europe, expressed the importance of this new standard for SLR systems. The Olympus E-System breaks the mould of previous digital SLR solutions and frees itself from the obstacles of the past. All components and accessories of the Olympus E-System, from the camera body, through flash units, to inter-changeable lenses have been expressly designed for digital use.
The new Olympus E-System has to get rid off problems such as a loss to wide-angle capability, insufficient lens resolution and cornershading, these problems are a thing of the past. The Olympus E-System adheres to the guidelines defined by the Four Thirds Standard that regulate type and diameter of the lens mount as well as the size of the image sensor and the flange back distance. These guidelines not only guarantee complete lens interchangeability between any manufacturer complying with the set norms but also enable production of lenses fully optimised to digital camera requirements.

The world's first Four Thirds Standard camera is the new Olymps E-1. This new SLR camera is equipped with a 5 Megapixel 4/3-type CCD. This new CCD ensures the light transmitted by the lens is captured in flawless detail. A five megapixel 4/3-type CCD ensures the light transmitted by the lens is captured in flawless detail. This means more electrons can be captured. A high signal/noise ratio can therefore be achieved together with a wider dynamic range. Final images benefit from more exposure latitude, greater detail and less noise. The Olympus E-1 solves a problem that has long been an Achilles heel of interchangeable lens-type digital SLRs – dust contamination of the camera insides from changing lenses. The Supersonic Wave Filter causes an ultra-high-speed vibration to occur, making dust and/or other particles literally fall off the imager, which are then captured on a special adhesive tape. This function is invoked at each start-up of the camera but may also be manually effected.

Designed to be a trusted, dependable companion, this digital SLR camera features a high-endurance focal plane shutter. Outstanding accuracy at any of the exposure speeds ranging from 1/4,000 sec to 60 sec is assured - and that for a guaranteed minimum of 150,000 releases. Thanks to dual USB2.0 and IEEE1394 interfaces, PC connectivity is easy and extremely versatile. The Olympus E-1 is the first digital SLR camera to incorporate both of these interfaces. Users will therefore not be hindered by long waiting times while their image files are downloaded.

The Olympus E-1 is a camera ready for all assignments bar none. Its robust die-cast magnesium-alloy body is not only tough, it is also light. In fact, the camera body weighs in at just 660 g – enough to give a very solid feel, yet still the lightest model among all current professional digital SLRs with interchangeable lenses. The high-speed 3-point TTL phase difference detection autofocus system has a wide range of 0 to 19EV. Manual and automatic selection of the AF zones is possible. Users can choose single or continuous autofocus to meet their needs. For exposure metering, the E-1 features a 3-zone multi-pattern sensor system. Photographers can chose between electronic spot metering (ESP), centre-weighted average and spot metering. P/A/S/M modes are on hand to suit the situation.

Versatility is a recurring theme with the Olympus E-1. High ISO equivalent sensitivity values of between 100 and 3,200 ISO can be selected. With its hybrid detection system using a dedicated white balance sensor and the image sensor, automatic white balance is incredibly accurate. The pre-set white balance features very detailed steps of approximately 300°K which can additionally be compensated by two mired steps. Thanks to an impressive 128MB buffer and high-capacity working SDRAM memory, up to 12 frames of sequential shooting can be captured at 3fps in every format (JPEG/TIFF/RAW). The Olympus E-1 features a CompactFlash slot for image storage. It is compatible with both CF cards of up to more than 2GB and Microdrive. The use of xD-Picture Cards by means of the optional CF adapter is possible too.

But the Four Thirds concept does not merely comprise of a camera. A whole system of accessories exists to provide serious photographers with the solutions to their needs, whatever these may be. Whitin the new Four Thirds Standard are FL50 flash, Ring flash, Twin flash, Power Battery Holder HLD-2, Battery Pack BLL-1, Battery-Charger BCL-1 dedicated BLL-1 battery charger and a AC Adapter AC-1. The new ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses are designed to maximise the performance of digital SLRs based on the Four Thirds Standard. The list of ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses currently available includes: ED 300mm, f2.8 - ED 50mm, f2 Macro - E 14-54mm, f2.8-f3.5 - ED 50-200mm zoom, f2.8-f3.5 zoom and the E 11-22mm, f2.8-f3.5 zoom.

Besides the new ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses the system also offers a teleconverter (EC-14) and a stepring (EX-25). Furthermore it is possible to tweak the camera to your own wishes with the FS-1 and FS-2 (focussing screen) and the EP-1 or EP-2 (eye shield). Four Thirds is the first professional standard for digital SLR photography. The Olympus E-1 is the first and currently the only camera to make use of the advantages of this new standard. We are very curious who is following with a new Four Thirds Standard product. The availablity of the new Olympus E-1 will be around September 2003.

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