[font color=\'#000000\']Before the interview with general managers of R&D I was given the opportunity to shoot some showdance presentation of Olympus compact cameras (the kind every company seemed to do at this show - beautiful girls acting like they know how to turn on the camera and singing/dancing at the same time)
well anyway, I had the camera with the new 40-150 lens for about 1h in all (30min of "serious" shooting) and the impression I got was very positive if you keep in mind who they had in mind as the end user. They're after the highend compact digicam user used to cameras like 8080 and such and for those people this will be a very attractive upgrade. Essentially a digicam with interchangeable lenses.
If I put it into perspective - definitely not for Michael (I think that explains a lot)
It looks ugly, it has some handling issues limiting its functionality but with an attractive price we can overlook the shortcomings.
It fits rather elegantly in hand (although you'd think otherwise just by looking at it) menus and setting are straightforward, viewfinder is pretty much average and you don't realise there is no pentaprism.
but how does it handle when you're shooting?
The first thing I noticed that due to the construction of the mirror (flips sideways) you get quite a shake. It pulls to the side in a very unusual way.
We tried to determine why it happens togerther with R&D guys but couldn't get a definite answer. Judging by their interest I'm sure they will do something about it before the release of production model.
I'm guessing it is either because the torque is greater than with upwards flipping mirror (longer vs shorter side and same mass will give you more torque)
It could be insufficient damping with this early pre production sample (there was a looooong list of limitations, many things not working yet so it is very early in development)
It could also be a mirror balance issue (perhaps some couterweights could solve the problem)
As I said earlier... they were very interested in what we had to say and I'm confident they will fix it in the next few months.
The other issue I had is from the useability point of view (I was probably the only one outside Olympus staff that actualy used it on "assignment" and didn't just fool around).
Again - you must not look at it from the viewpoint of a serious shooter who would find it seriously flawed.
In my opinion they made a mistake by placing twoimportant buttons right next to the viewfinder on the left side of the LCD.
Canon and Nikon use that spot for buttons used in reviewing of images (delete, play, info etc) not for setings used while taking photos.
Olympus placed exposure compensation and WB buttons right underneath and a bit to the side of the viewfinder.
So if you want to change WB or EV you HAVE to take your eyes off the subject and look at the LCD. Of course you can do it while looking through the viewfinder but your left thumb will be in the way. An even bigger problem if you're wearing glasses like I do.
R&D guys jumped up in (almost) panic when I mentioned it but we managed to reassure them it doesn't realy limit the functionality for the target consumer since they can easily take their time and are used to looking at the LCD all the time anyway. For them it won't be much different that it is right now.
Olympus team probably won't do anything about it now but I'm willing to bet they won't make the same mistake again unless it proves to be something custumers like.
I was unable to shoot with my card inserted and they wouldn't let me view images on their computer screen (understandable considering the development stage) so I can't say anything about image quality yet. I actually don't care at all about image quality but I'm still kind of pissed I couldn't have a look because I know I made some great shots and I'd be happy to have them for personal use
BTW they are planing to use optical IS sistem in the next couple of year but will probably move to body based sistem after 5-7 year (as will all others we talked to)
more about photokina, all the interviews etc will follow next week when we translate or just get things into written form[/font]