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October 22, 2008 - 2:00 PM
I had a 2pm appointment with Jeff Hluchyi and Andrew Bausk of Olympus, who represent PR and marketing for underwater products, respectively. Andrew is a diver himself, which gives him good insight into what photographers want out of an underwater housing.
Olympus was showing a few new products. First, was the FE-360 compact camera, which is 8 megapixels and has digital image stabilization, a 3x optical zoom, and three underwater scene modes (UW WIDE1 for flash, UW WIDE2 for ambient action, and MACRO). It fits inside the PT-044 underwater housing, which has full access to the FE-360’s buttons. The combination runs for $279 retail, which is impressive because it is within reach of a great number of divers. We applaud Olympus for coming out with a quality, mass-market underwater camera for casual divers.
Jeff and Andrew also showed me their E-520 digital SLR in a PT-E05 housing. The E-520 features global image stabilization at the chip level, live view with autofocus, underwater scene modes (which detect strobes and do the right thing when connected through optical sync), and face detection. The E-520 features something called “RC Mode”, which stands for “remote control.” In RC mode, the E-520 can control 2 channels of external strobe power, and gives you one-screen access to the camera’s mode, shutter speed, aperture setting, and flash power. RC mode can only control Olympus strobes (below) when connected via fiber optics.
Although the E-520 has a manual mode, it is an entry level SLR (~$600) and only has one control dial.
In manual mode, the E-520 has a button that toggles between shutter speed and aperture, which means that you simply have to press the button if you are in shutter speed mode and want to change aperture.
The PT-E05 housing features a single recessed o-ring with dual sealing surfaces, 2 fiber sync bulkheads, and 1 Olympus TTL wired bulkhead.
Olympus was also showing their UFL-2 and UFL-1 strobes. The UFL-2 is a larger strobe (GN 32), and features optical or wired sync. The UFL-1 is meant for small cameras (GN 16) and can be triggered by optical sync only.
Personally, I am really excited about the new Micro Four Thirds standard, and Olympus should have a camera out sometime next year. Micro Four Thirds is currently the standard that will likely produce the smallest cameras with the cleanest sensor. We’ve all been waiting for a Nikonos V replacement; Micro Four Thirds may be it!