Olympus Introduces New Cameras and Printers

Hot on the heels of the many product announcements at MACWORLD Expo NYC2K, Olympus recently held a press event in New York City to announce their upcoming digital photography and printing products. John F. Braun and Bill Troop attended, along with many other representatives from the computer, professional photography, and national press.

Two upcoming products immediately caught our eye. First was the C-211 Digital Zoom Printing Camera, which can take 2.1 megapixel digital photos as well as generate instant Polaroid prints. This revolutionary joint technology venture with Polaroid will be available in October for $799. The other was the P-400 Printer, a USB and parallel dye sublimation printer which can print an 8 by 10-inch image in 90 seconds--many times faster than an inkjet. It has SmartMedia and PC Card interfaces, and can also accept Memory Stick and Compact Flash storage. What makes this printer particularly interesting is the use of dye sublimation technology, which remains the one color printing technology capable of producing the 100% continuous tone photo-realism which makes a digital print indistinguishable from a pure photographic print. This printer is priced at $999 and is available now. (Look for our review soon.) Perhaps the most important announcement was the two new E series of cameras. The first was the Camedia E-100 RS, a 1.5 megapixel camera with 10x optical and 2.7x digital zoom. Among the notable features of this model are shooting speeds of up to 15 fps, a 6.4-70 mm (35-380 mm equivalent) lens, and support for both SmartMedia and CompactFlash storage. The E-100 RS will be released in October 2000 at a price of $1499. The other E series camera is the Camedia E-10, a professional 4 megapixel camera with 4x optical zoom. Special features include a 1.8" LCD screen which can tilt from -20 to 90 degrees (a brilliant feature destined to be widely imitated), a novel dual autofocus mechanism, NTSC video output and add-on lenses for a total range of 28 to 540 mm (35mm equivalent). The zoom lens is fixed onto the system as Olympus has concluded that CCDs are too sensitive to dust and humidity to permit lens changing under the unpredictable conditions most photographers work in. Durability was a prime concern in this camerais design. The body is all-aluminum--a rare feature in todayis professional cameras. This unit will be available in November 2000 and be priced at $1999.

Also announced was the Camedia P-200 Printer, the worldis first portable dye-sublimation printer. This compact gem can print up to A6 size images (3"x4") in 90 seconds. Like the P-400, it accepts both SmartMedia and Compact Flash. It will be released this month at $599.

The large range of products shown here, when taken into consideration with Olympusis already considerable line, shows the depth of Olympusis commitment to the digital photographic market. The E-Series stakes out new ground: entry level high end professional photography. Previously, Olympusis highest-end digital camera, the Camedia 2500 SLR, could best be described as a prosumer model. And thatis not to say that Olympus digital cameras are not already widely used by professional photographers: the 2000/2020/3000/3030 cameras, originally intended as high-end consumer cameras, unexpectedly took the professional photography world by storm. Their combination of high image quality, professional features, and great ergonomics makes them todayis outstanding handheld cameras.