New Olympus gear — a preview of coming attractions

Olympus just announced some interesting new items in the high end of their micro-4/3 system line-up.  I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with Oly gear since I went digital years back, so thought I could add a useful thought or two based on my experiences.

First off, Olympus announced a special, limited edition of the OM-D E-M5 Mark II.  The E-M5 was just “refreshed” to the Mark II model (with lots of interesting new capabilities) a few weeks back — this new special edition is limited to 7,000 copies world-wide, and comes in a special titanium finish (for the top and bottom plates).  E-M5 MarkII Ti ensemble

You also get a special-edition leather strap, a numbered card showing your place among the lucky 7000, and a card holder.

Ti cameras -- old and newContinuing with Olympus’ recent trend to borrow on “retro” styling cues, their sales material drives home the point with a number of comparisons of the modern-day Titanium gear with the OM-3 Ti model from several decades back.  The bottom line is that this is the same capable, rugged camera as all the other E-M5 II models — it just has a special look you won’t see hanging around every odd soul’s neck.

BTW, if you live in the U.S., this new special-edition kit will cost you $1199 at retail — just $150 more than the black and silver models of the E-M5 II that mere mortals will be carrying (note that those two models also cost $1199 originally).

The next item of interest is the M. Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro Lens.  This is by far the optically-fastest fisheye you’ll find for sale anywhere, and it’s weather-proof and freeze-proof to boot.  Its closest focusing distance is 4.7″ / 12 cm, so you can incorporate some really crazy close-ups in your fisheye shots with this little gem (it only weighs 11.11 oz / 315 gm, and sizes up at 2.44″ x 3.14″ / 6.2 x 8 cm).  Oh, and it has a 180 deg. diagonal field of view, along with Olympus’ new anti-reflection coating — the latter particularly useful since it’ll be hard not to get the Sun in daylight shots you take with it.
8mm Fisheye "Hero shot"This is definitely a special-purpose lens, but it appears to be well-implemented, so I’ll have to save up for a copy (I currently use the older Olympus 4/3 system fisheye and 4/3 – to – micro-4/3 adapter, and this new lens weighs about half of their total weight).  The new fisheye lens will be available in June (Adorama quotes a shipping date of June 20), and cost $999 in the U.S.

Finally, there’s the new  M. Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 Pro Lens (I’ve been saving for this one for months).  Like a number of Oly’s pro lenses, the new 7-14mm has a manual focus slide-back ring with distance scale (so, great for zone focusing).  It’s also rectilinear, so it should do well on architectural shots.

7-14mm "Hero shot"

Like its fisheye brother, the 7-14mm has a large number of internal and external seals, so it’s dust- and splash-proof, as well as freeze-proof.  Its closest focusing distance is 7.85″ / 20 cm, it weighs 18.9 oz / 534 gm, and is 4.2″ x 3.1″ / 10.6 x 7.9 cm in size.  It also will ship in June (again, Adorama quotes a shipping date of June 20), and retail for $1299 in the U.S.

So here’s the whole Olympus micro-4/3 weather-sealed pro-grade lens lineup as it stands (including the 300mm lens on the left, even though it won’t be released until later this year):

Pro lens lineup

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