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Olympus has apparently been busy over the last few months. The company is opening up Photokina with a packed announcement consisting of a trio of M.ZUIKO Digital ED lenses, including a 30mm f/3.5 Macro, 25mm f/1.2 PRO, and 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO, the stylish PEN E-PL8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Camera, and the new flagship FL-900R Electronic Flash. This new set of lenses adds some unique and specialized options for Micro Four Thirds shooters, while the E-PL8 becomes the entry-level option in the company lineup, and the FL-900R flash dramatically improves Olympus’s lighting capabilities.
The most versatile option in the bunch is the 12-100mm f/4 PRO lens, with its wide-angle to telephoto 24-200mm equivalent zoom range. Combining that with a constant f/4 maximum aperture provides shooters with a lens that will deliver consistent results throughout the entire range. Also, this lens embraces the compact nature of the MFT system by providing a single lens that takes the place of a couple of large zooms in your bag. Built-in image stabilization adds to this lens’s abilities with 5 stops of compensation, which can be further improved to 6.5 stops by working with in-camera stabilization in a Sync IS configuration. The lens also offers maximum equivalent magnification of 0.6x, due to a minimum working distance of just 5.9".
Fitting of a PRO prime, the 25mm features outstanding optical quality along with a super-fast maximum aperture of f/1.2. With an equivalent focal length of 50mm, this normal lens is an excellent choice for a variety of situations, thanks to its ability to create sharp images, as well as deliver photos with shallow depth of field. To ensure optimal performance even when shooting wide open, this lens uses a 19-element-in-14-group design that incorporates a variety of aspherical, low dispersion, and high-refractive glass throughout to combat aberrations and minimize distortion. Users can also get quite close to their subjects with a minimum focus distance of just 11.8".
Both PRO series releases sport some similar features, including dust- and splash-proof construction that makes them able to perform in inclement weather with ease, much like Olympus’s line of Micro Four Thirds cameras. Also, they utilize an advanced Z Coating Nano to minimize flare and ghosting and maximize light transmission. In terms of physical design, the lenses both feature a manual focus clutch for quickly switching from AF, and a programmable L-Fn button. An MSC High-Speed AF motor provides fast, accurate focusing for stills and video.
A more specialized offering is the 30mm f/3.5 Macro, which offers an impressively close minimum focus distance of just 3.7" for a 35mm equivalent magnification of 2.5x. Featuring a 60mm equivalent focal length, this lens is very versatile and compact, making it a great option for a range of shooters looking to get into close-up photography. Olympus also makes some additional accessories for underwater use: a PRZR-EP07 Focus Gear for manual focusing while the lens is in a housing, and a POSR-EP11 Anti-Reflective Ring that cuts down on any reflections from the lens on the housing.
For those seeking a capable camera that matches their fashion style, the PEN E-PL8 might be the right option. With a refined and enhanced body, the E-PL8 looks unique with its compact grip, embossed logo, premium dials, and matching shoulder strap. It is no slouch when it comes to imaging either, using a 16.1MP Micro Four Thirds MOS sensor with a sensitivity range of up to ISO 25600, a continuous shooting rate of 8.5 fps, and the ability to record Full HD video at 30p. Also, for those inclined to take selfies, the 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen flips down 180° so you can compose your shot easily.
The E-PL8 adds a variety of new features over its predecessor that should make taking photos more fun, including an Art Filter Live View selection, updated Photo Story function, and the ability to create movie Clips set to music tracks, including the Happy Days theme song. Other improvements include magnified icons, an exposure-adjustment icon, and a dedicated record movie icon that should help make operation a much simpler affair. The camera will be available as a body only, in white, as well as in a kit with a 14-42mm lens in black, brown, or white. Some new accessories will also be available, including white versions of the CS-45B Body Jacket and LC60.5 Lens Cover, black and gray models of the CS-20SF Soft Case, and black and beige options of a new CS-50 Multi-Purpose Case.
Another important addition to Olympus’s Micro Four Thirds camera system is the weather-resistant FL-900R Electronic Flash, a powerful TTL-capable flash that is loaded with features that will make photographers and videographers happy. Its primary features are a high guide number of 190' at ISO 100 and the 100mm position, as well as an LED video light with a maximum output of 100 lux at 3.3'. On top of this, the flash offers a Commander mode for wireless flash control, a zoom range of 12-100mm (24-200mm equivalent), and a relatively compact design for its power. Additionally, it can work with a variety of advanced camera functions, such as High-Speed Sync, High Res Shot, and Focus Stacking, where its fast recycle time will improve capture speed.