Wednesday 17 November 2010

Olympus Cameras - Nice but not naughty

Olympus is the third largest manufacturer of cameras in the world, just behind Sony and Canon. They've got some pretty cool stuff going on what with mirrorless technology in their DSLR and the new PEN sub-brand.

Q: What's the biggest complaint about a DSLR?
A: It's too heavy

What do Olympus do about this? Well they address the problem by developing a compact DSLR and when a photojournalist got hold of it, within 3 months it was awarded camera of the year!

Listening to their sales rep he would have you believe that the straight forward DSLR's days are numbered. Well they may be but I remember how resistent the market actually was when Digital first came out, even when you could prove that costs were saved. It might happen but it won't happen overnight and there will be those purist, fanbois who won't hear a word of it.

Olympus have a strategy for this though, they understand as many camera manufacturers do, that the DSLR users drive the market, although you'll never totally convert the top end. We are going to be seeing a lot of PEN or new generation cameras over the next two years. They want to be clear, it's not a revolution it's an evolution.

Olympus have basically taken the best bits of a compact camera and put them into the DSLR, removing the mirrors and shrinking the lenses. Although, never fear you can still use old lenses using a clever little retro-adaptor.

This product is attracting people who want a DSLR but with the benefit of being lightweight and portable whilst not losing any of the quality. So let's introduce the award-winning E-P1 PEN camera.

It has a Hi-Def video which is complemented by Olympus' dedicated, specialist sound manufacturers or their audio division. There is a versatile accessory port so that you can clip on an external microphone. This means you can take it to a gig or record little Gemma's violin recital and play it back in all its earsplitting glory.

You can change from the screen view to an electronic clip-on view-finder which comes as standard with the E-P2 and is an optional extra with the E-P1. It is, apparently the best on the market Diopter.

It has AF tracking (Auto-Focus), an easy to navigate menu system, PCM linear stereo sound and you can activate the video via a button on the back rather than having to try and find it on the menu, when you want to record something quick.

The Image Stabilisation is in the body so any range of lenses can be used with the adapter, without compromising quality. It won't surprise you to know that black is the no. 1 best seller closely followed by silver, then red and oddly in the Channel Islands only, White (If anyone knows why please get in contact).

There is also a pop-up flash, a live guide e.g. light and dark changes and it takes pictures in realtime. There is a choice of menu graduation or colour saturation which is also realtime. One of my fave features is the level gauge with roll and pitch which acts as a spirit level.

It has something called a 'Supersonic Wave Filter Dust Reduction System', which for me is right up there with flux capacitor. It means it cleans itself.

You can get an underwater kit for it and a standard or wireless flash gun. You can also get two adapters to make it backwards compatible.

This bit of kit would be perfect for a hobbyist photographer, someone who is out on location a lot and budding, young photographers who are just starting out.

For those of you with larger households that need to factor in disasters such as sticky fingers, sand, dribble and sibling rivalry the tough Olympus Compact range might be more up your street and you have a hope in hell of the camera surviving from precious shot capturing through to computer upload!

They've got HD video and all moving parts are internal. There is a floating electronic board, shock absorbers, they are freezeproof up to -10˚c which judging by the weather forecast will be useful very soon. It is scratchproof. To test this mighty, indestructible instrument of pixel capturing we threw it across the room and kicked it against the wall. It passed the test.

The 3000, 5000 and 8000 all have face detection and shadow adjustment.

One of the last things that impressed me was the Spider case. It's a camera holder that means you can easily pull your camera out and it automatically retracts, which is perfect for those on-piste skiing shots!!

The range is also competitively priced so if you are searching for a Christmas gift get your hands on one of these bad boys.

Sony Vaio Z12 & Z13

Sony Vaio's are good but they are expensive and this new range is no exception.

I do like Sony Vaio's. I had the misfortune of working (albeit fairly briefly) for a very cross-tempered multi-millionaire who would only use top of the range Vaio's and by proxy I would get one.

I'll admit it was nice to get my hot little hands on something more expensive than the run of the mill corporate laptops and have a bit more power / functionality. Whilst based out in Spain for the work it was useful in my apartment to use in the absence of a TV to watch films. It was a good work laptop, reliable, sturdy and reasonably good-looking.

This new generation of Vaios takes it to the next level. I reviewed the Z12 and since that the Z13 has arrived. Now, I'll hit you with the painful bit. Without knowing anything about the product first, the price will make you do a hasty and sharp intake of breath, quickly followed by a long slow whistle.

But give it a chance and you'll perhaps realise it is no different to fanbois of Mac products spanking extra cash for that something special.

It's quick. I mean frighteningly quick. Turn it on, you practically blink and it's ready to go. Opening applications and using the internet (depending on your connection speed of course) is a dream. Although through experience I appreciate most new equipment is quick whilst uncluttered by apps and programmes etc.

It's disturbingly light and whilst I personally feel not as good looking as some kit, it's still attractive in a very aluminium, carbon fibre masculine to the 'nth degree sort of way.

The screen is superb and just shy of HD quality, the keypad a little odd-looking but user friendly and the very slim screen seems to bear some tenuous link to russian gymnasts. It's a very flexible ultraportable.

For a more detailed technical specification visit the dedicated MoreFrom page or the PCPro review. Also look out for the Sony 'VAT back' offer, we think it's pretty darn good!!