Equipment TestDrive: Olympus E-1
Check out the completely new digital-SLR system from Olympus
The Olympus E-1 is a completely new "from the ground up," professional-level digital SLR. The camera represents one element in a new, complete system. Rather than take previous SLR bodies and lenses and convert them to digital, Olympus has chosen to start from scratch.
At the heart of the system is the new Four Thirds System image sensor. The format corresponds to the size of the sensor, and it has been designed as an open standard—the standard is available for any company that wishes to use it. The idea is that companies that may not have the inclination or resources to develop their own "from the ground up" digital SLRs can design and build equipment, like lenses, that will be usable on many different cameras. The image sensor is 18x13.5mm and a total of 5 megapixels. It's slightly smaller than most other D-SLR image sensors, and gives the lenses a 2x magnification factor.
The size of the image sensor makes lens design easier, and lens manufacturing can be less expensive than 35mm lenses of the same focal lengths. The lenses also can be considerably lighter than their 35mm counterparts. Taking advantage of these benefits, Olympus plans a full range of lenses, including a recently announced 300mm ƒ/2.8. Note that the 2x magnification factor turns this lens into an effectively 600mm ƒ/2.8!