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Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2 announced

New PEN Lite and PEN Mini launched at Photokina

The two lower-end models in the Olympus PEN range have been updated. The E-PL3 and E-PM1 were the mainstay of the PEN range for the last year, but the new E-PL5 and E-PM2 will now take over as direct replacements. It’s a big update too with touchscreens and a ‘new’ sensor among the improvements.

Japanese companies often skip number four in a series of products, as it’s pronounced the same as the word for death, so there’s no E-PL4

Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

Here’s the E-PM2 with its new handgrip

The most obvious update to both is the addition of touchscreens, with spot focus and shutter release at a tap, plus easier menu navigation. The screens remain 3in across with 460,000 dots, but the flexibility of the E-PL5 has been increased over the E-PL3, with the screen now able to point forward for self-portraits. The E-PM2 still has a fixed screen, though the camera has gained one additional button – delete.

Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

The new highly-flexible screen on the E-PL5 is a big plus

The E-PL5 now has the removable hand grip concept from the more-expensive E-P3 (see below), while the E-PM2 gains a small integral hand grip, which should make it easier to keep hold of compared to its predecessor.

Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

Here’s the E-PL5 with and without the screw-on handgrip

Inside, both cameras are now using the same 16-megapixel sensor as was in the recent, flagship Olympus OM-D EM-5. It’s a great improvement from the last-gen 12-megapixel sensor, as you can see in these test shots. There’s also the same True Pic VI image processor, so you can expect the same speed and excellent JPEG quality as on the EM-5.

Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2

The rear of the E-PM2, with its single extra button

Unlike its immediate competitors, again such as the Sony NEX-5T, Olympus has chosen not include integrated Wi-Fi. However, UK cameras will come bundled with a Toshiba FlashAir 8GB Wi-Fi memory card, which will work with the menu system to provide upload capabilities.

New sensor aside, the touchscreen, self portrait display and Wi-Fi, all show how our use of traditional cameras has been changed by our love affair with smartphones.

Both cameras will be available mid-to-late October, with recommended prices of £600 for the E-PL5 and £500 for the E-PM2 – both with the FlashAir card included. These prices are likely to drop significantly though once retailers start competing for business.

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