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Olympus' Pen Lite E-PL1s digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus Corp. Olympus PEN PL1s, M.Zuiko 14-42 II announced in Japan
(Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 14:28 EST)

Olympus Japan has today announced updated variants of two existing Micro Four Thirds products -- its Pen E-PL1s single-lens direct view digital camera following on from the current PL1 SLD, while the M. ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II zoom lens improves upon the previous M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom.

Neither product has been announced outside the Japanese market at the current time. Of the two announcements, the more significant is probably the new M.Zuiko 14-42mm II lens, which features an updated design for its optics, autofocus drive, and barrel.

Focal range and maximum aperture are unchanged from the previous lens, but the previous model's collapsing mechanism has been replaced with a new two-stage design. In our testing of the previous lens, we found that its collapsing design induced some issues with vertical blurring in images shot at shutter speeds of between around 1/100 and 1/200 second. If the new lens corrects this issue, it could prove a particularly noteworthy addition to Olympus' Micro Four Thirds lineup.

A change in optical formula for the new lens allows a reduction in weight of some 25%, which falls from 150g in the old model to 112g in the new one. Where the previous lens had nine elements in eight groups, including two aspheric lenses, one extra-low dispersion lens, and one high refractive lens, the new model has an updated optical formula with one less element. With eight elements in seven groups, the new design has no ED or HR elements, but adds one additional aspheric element, for a total of three. The new lens also has a smaller barrel diameter of 56.5mm (down from 62mm), but increases the collapsed length from 43.5mm to 50mm. Filter size has been reduced from 40.5mm to 37mm, which should somewhat reduce the cost of filters.

Another significant change in the new lens design is the adoption of Olympus' MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) design, as seen previously in the M. Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 and M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 lenses. Olympus MSC lenses have autofocus motors which are tuned to focus quickly and accurately, as well as silently, making them better-suited for high-definition movie recording. Minimum focusing distance is unchanged at 25cm, but the maximum magnification is now 0.19x (equivalent to 0.38x on a 35mm camera), versus 0.24x (0.48x equivalent) in the previous design. As with the old design, the new lens has a seven-bladed circular aperture.

Compared to the lens, changes in the Olympus Pen Lite E-PL1s are relatively modest. The Olympus PL1s is near-identical to its predecessor externally, with the only visible change being a reduction in the number of silver body panels, with more of the camera matching the coloring of the front and rear panels. Only the thin silver trim piece that spans the camera's width adjacent to the top of the hand grip has been retained as an accent that matches the Pen PL1s' silver main controls on the front, top, and rear panels. Under the skin, there are only two significant differences between the Olympus E-PL1s and its predecessor. Where the E-PL1 offered up a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3,200 equivalent, the E-PL1s reaches a maximum of ISO 6,400 equivalent.

The Olympus Pen PL1s also uses a new BLS-5 lithium ion battery pack, which is intended to ready the PL1s for compliance with new requirements of Japan's Electrical Appliance and Material Safety law. Accompanying the new battery, an updated BCS-5 battery charger is included in the Pen Lite PL1s product bundle. The final change in the Olympus Pen Lite PL1s bundle is perhaps the most significant, from the point of view of potential owners. In place of the Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens from the E-PL1 kit, Olympus Pen E-PL1s kits ship with the aforementioned Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II optic.

In other respects, the Pen Lite E-PL1s is essentially unchanged from its predecessor. Other features of note include a pop-up flash, dedicated Movie Record button, Live Guide mode, support for both the VF-2 electronic viewfinder and EMA-1 Microphone adapter accessories, and SD/SDHC card storage.

The Olympus PL1s has only been announced in the Japanese market, where it is available in three body colors -- black, white, or red. List pricing hasn't been announced, but street pricing for the Pen E-PL1s in Olympus' web store is set at ¥64,800 (US$780) for a single-lens kit with the Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II lens, or ¥84,800 (US$1,020) in a dual-lens kit that also bundles the M. ZUIKO Digital ED 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 lens. The Olympus M. ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II lens is also available separately in Japan, with pre-tax list pricing set at ¥35,000 (US$420), and web store pricing of ¥29,400 (US$350).

For more details on both lens and camera, read our Olympus PL1s preview.

Olympus Pen Lite E-PL1s
Olympus' Pen Lite E-PL1s digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus Corp.
Camera TypeSLD
Model NumberNorth America: E-PL1s
Dimensions4.5 x 2.8 x 1.6 in.
(115 x 72 x 42 mm)
Weight16.1 oz (456 g)
Image Capture
Sensor TypePanasonic N-MOS
Four Thirds (approx. 0.85 in. diagonal)
13.10 megapixels (total)
12.30 megapixels (effective)
Filter TypeRGBG
Focal Length Multiplier2.00
Aspect Ratio4:3
Image Dimensions4032 x 3042 (12.3 megapixels)
2560 x 1920 (4.9 megapixels)
1024 x 768 (0.8 megapixels)
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
LCD2.7 in. diagonal
230,000 dots (approx. 77,000 pixels)
100% field of view
Playback Zoom14.0x max
Lens TypeOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II Zoom Lens
3x optical zoom
37mm lens thread
Lens MountMicro Four Thirds mount
Image StabilizationYes
Focal Length14.0 - 42.0mm (actual)
28 - 84mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/3.5 (wide) / f/5.6 (tele) - f/22
Focusing System11-point contrast detection w/ tracking
Does not have AF assist lamp
Manual focus possible
Focusing RangeNormal: 10" - infinity (25 cm - infinity)
ISO SensitivityAuto (200 - 6400), 100 - 6400 (1/3, 1 EV steps)
Shutter Speed60 - 1/2000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes324-zone Digital ESP, Center Weighted Average, Spot (with Highlight/Shadow mode)
Exposure Compensation+/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceImage Sensor - Auto, Lamp, Fluorescent 1/2/3, Daylight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, Custom WB, One-touch WB
Internal FlashModes: TTL-Auto, Auto, Manual, Off
Range: Depends on lens aperture
Flash Exposure Compensation+/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Scene Modes19 Scene Mode, 8 Art Filters
Self TimerYes, 2 or 12 seconds
Time LapseNo
Movie FormatAVI (Motion JPEG) with audio
Max. clip length: 420 seconds () / 840 seconds ()
Recording MediumSD/MMC including SDHC
File SystemFAT16, FAT32, complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File FormatRAW (.ORF), JPEG (EXIF 2.2)
VideoStandard definition: Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
ComputerUSB 2.0 High Speed
OtherAccessory port, Multi Connector (USB/AV), Mini HDMI
Battery TypeLithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form FactorProprietary BLS-5
Product Bundle
SoftwareOLYMPUS Master 2 Software CD-ROM
Battery / Charger1 x proprietary BLS-5 lithium ion rechargeable battery and charger
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Internal MicrophoneYes
Internal SpeakerYes
Tripod MountYes, Metal
Remote ControlNo
Operating System CompatibilityWindows, Mac OS
More Photos
Olympus' Pen Lite E-PL1s digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus Corp.
Olympus' Pen Lite E-PL1s digital camera. Photo provided by Olympus Corp.

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