I can't show you a photo because I've already sent the box full of beta test gear back but I talked to my legal counsel and we decided, "What the hell. Let's scoop all the rest of the people on the web and be the first to make some announcements." I'm a bit nervous but here goes:
The e3 replacement: I was amazed when I opened the discreet, cardboard box with no markings. If you've done beta testing before you know that you get the camera long before the manuals are written etc. I did get a thumbdrive with some engineers notes and that really helped. The e1000 will seem familiar to anyone who has worked with the e1 camera in the past but this time the battery grip is a non removeable, integrated part of the body design. The finder.....get ready for this.....is a 2.2 million pixel EVF with zero noise to EV 1. That's right. EV 1. It's a cleaner images, with auto ramp up gain, than the view through my close friend's Sony a900 finder, the previous champ of great optical finders. You heard it here: The optical finder is dead.
The reason the Olympus people built the battery casing as an integral part of the camera has less to do with rapid frame rate (the camera doesn't have a moving mirror so there's not much to slow down the recharge sequence of the beryllium bladed shutter...... 12 fps!!!) it's so they could add a discreetly covered interface that has two XLR microphone inputs. Oly, according the the marketing people I talked to in Lubbock, Texas, have decided, based on the Canon success with video, to provide video. But in true Oly fashion they took it to the next step. Instead of 1080i or 1080p they've matched the RedOne camera and gone with 4k video. They are actually positioning this system as competition for the Red by giving it all the professional video controls you'd need to be able to make a feature film.
This, of course, called for a brand new Sensor, and here's where the surprise comes in. They switched to a proprietary sensor created by the NSA for high altitude surveillance and brought onto the market by a new and very secretive company in Israel. Olympus is one of the first companies to take advantage of the new technology which uses photon enhancement and lossless amplification of nano band interference patterns to yield clean ISO into the 64,000 range. In a white paper that is still proprietary the chip company said they choose Olympus as the first company to roll out the new consumer sensors because no other company could make lenses that would take advantage of the characteristics of the new 22 megapixel imager.
The battery grip also houses a treasure trove of ultra fast ARM chips that pull off video signals across 16 channels and write it to proprietary SQUAM memory. I don't have all the details on that other than the transfer rate is somewhere in the terabytes per second range. Thankfully, for all of us who don't routinely make feature films, the camera also has dual slots for both CF and SD memory cards.
Interestingly enough the camera is aimed squarely at professionals with only two mode settings on the top mounted dial: Aperture and Manual. Seems that those are the go to settings for 90% of the real professionals. They mentioned that they could add a "P" setting via firmware if the market of whining babies insists. (Their words, not mine....).
Moving on from the video attributes of the camera it's interesting to note that there have been some changes to the actual sensor geometry. The sensor is now circular and is a precise match for the optical circle cast by the lens. Powerful algorithms take the peripheral information and remap it over whatever aspect ratio you choose actually giving the images about 27.5% more surface area than the APS-C chips.
The camera should be out in time for Photokina and a similar camera which I haven't had time to play with is being readied for the m4:3rds market. When I first printed a few of the files from the m4:3rds (called the Pen Screaming Eagle) on an Epson 10800 printer at 40 by 60 inches the files at ISO 200 blew away files of similar subjects taken with the new Phase One back. Seems 22 great mega pixels beat 60 okay megapixels any day of the week.
Olympus has a great ad campaign getting ready for the new cameras. They already have DXO certified tests that show they have achieved the first sensor and support electronics to test over 100%. The measured dynamic range exceeds 18.5 stops and can't be printed on any conventional device.
New Lenses: Look. I know the camera announcement is almost unbelievable but I was even more shocked by the new lens announcements. Without further ado:
The new Ultra High Grade lenses are all f1. But get this, at f1 they out test similar focal length lenses from Leica used at f5.6 and f8. Most of the new f1 UHG lenses are made for the traditional e camera (the 1000) and consist of the following focal lengths. 10mm, 12mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 44mm and 50mm. They have also introduced a legendary 29 mm lens with an f stop of .5. Yes that's (point) five!!!! and they are calling it the Noctozilla. Apparently it is sharper wide open at 0.5 than the previous 50 macro lens was at f4.
The delightful thing about all the lenses is the AI (or artificial intelligence) enhancement for rapid focus (AIERF). Which uses a complex matrix of camera movement, topological readings and even barometric readings to accelerate focus. From infinity to close focus is now measured in nano seconds. In fact, many times the camera and lens combination focused on things I was thinking about photographing several minutes or even hours in the future.
It's a brave new world. Happy 1st of April..............