Sep. 17, 2012 at 5:16 PM ET
Two new interchangeable-lens cameras and a luxury point-and-shoot were announced by Olympus Monday at Photokina, a major European trade show. All of them feature more advanced sensors than their predecessors, along with a few handling improvements.
The PEN cameras are Olympus' series of compact mirrorless cameras, with interchangeable lenses like DSLRs but more compact. The new E-PL5 and E-PM2 are the latest, and add a powerful new 16-megapixel sensor to the lineup, the very same one from the far more expensive E-M5.
Both cameras also get touchscreens, allowing users to take a picture by tapping the screen — a feature that we found worked quite well on the E-M5. They can shoot at 8 frames per second and of course can be fitted with any of the many lenses already offered. Olympus also introduced a new combination wide-angle lens and lens cap that could be both fun and practical.
As for the differences between the two, the E-PL5 has an articulating LCD, an extra control dial, and can be combined with a number of screw-on handgrips. At $699 with a zoom lens included, it's also $100 more expensive than the E-PM2.
The XZ-2 replaces the venerable and popular XZ-1, which was considered a standout among point-and-shoots at the time of its release for its fast F/1.8 lens. The new camera keeps the lens but adds an improved sensor, an articulating touchscreen, screw-on grips, and an interesting all-purpose control dial around the lens.
Its specs are impressive, but the $599 price may put people off; Canon, Nikon, and Sony all offer similarly high-performance cameras at competitive prices.
The new PEN cameras will be available in October, and the XZ-2 should ship in November.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.