Photokina 2012 is in full swing and the major camera manufactures have announced their new goodies. Olympus unveiled their Pen E-PL5 and E-PM2 cameras. A steady trickle of rumors have all but revealed most of the specifications of the new line. The E-PL5 and E-PM2 have received solid updates. The most important being the adoption of the OM-D’s outstanding 16MP sensor and corresponding image processor.
I was disappointed.
I was hoping for an update to the E-P line. In a post last month called The Olympus E-P4, what I’m hoping for, I outlined my ideal next camera. It is a long-winded post but to summarize, I basically wanted a E-P3 with the OM-D E-M5 sensor. For me, the E-P3 form factor is just about perfect for a small mirrorless camera. Compact yet solid, it exudes a premium feel without showing off. It echoes just enough of a retro design that I get comments from people all the time. For me the dials and controls of the E-P3 are better than the OM-D EM-5. All they needed to do was drop in the new sensor and I would have jumped at the camera.
Olympus appears to have simplified the Pen line into two cameras. A move that I applaud. I found having 3 Pen models in the narrow price range, confusing. It’s just that I was hoping for the continuation of the E-P and the E-PM line. However, from Olympus’ point of view, I can understand why they did this. They upscaled the two Pen cameras and raised their prices. With a $350 price difference between the E-PL5 and OM-D, I think they adequately positioned the feature set and price. Don’t get me wrong, I think Olympus made some very solid updates and created two very desirable Pen cameras. As an advanced user however, I want more controls and features than the E-PL5 but don’t want the bulk and interface of the OM-D.
Many of my readers will probably say, big deal, why not get the OM-D instead. I’ve been thinking about this long and hard, but here is the problem. I use multiple Olympus Pens on the same outing. Even if I buy a new camera, I will still continue to use the E-P3. The problem is the E-P3 and the OM-D have very different physical interfaces. Switching between the two cameras will be a hassle. The ideal situation, of course, is two have two identical cameras. That way, you can switch between the two cameras mounted with different lenses and not lose a beat. That is the reason I used to carry two Olympus E-PL1s with me. And while the E-PL1s are nice cameras, I certainly like the E-P3 better. What I wanted is a E-P4 or E-P5 (the number 4 is unlucky in Japan so sometimes it is skipped) with the identical controls to pair up with my E-P3.
Now I’m stuck between the upscale OM-D E-M5 model with a different interface and the E-PL5 with fewer features. Do I go upscale and take the usability hit or do I downscale and lose a few features that I really like in my E-P3? Sorry for all this whining over a camera but I’m sure the photographers out there will understand. Dear Olympus, please just release a E-P5 with that OM-D sensor so I don’t have to make this decision. Thanks.