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Olympus is still committed to the Four Thirds DSLR standard and will continue to develop it in tandem with its Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, says the company's US DSLR product manager. In response to press speculation, John Knaur told dpreview.com: 'We still plan to develop full size DSLRs and both, side-by-side.'
The PEN range addresses different needs, he said: 'With the P1 and P2, we were selling to existing DSLR users but with the launch of the E-PL1, we're expanding that to a group of people who feel disenfranchised. We found about 20% of digital camera buyers wanted better image quality but didn't want the size and weight of a traditional DSLR.'
His comments are backed up by an official statement from Olympus Japan in response to suggestions that both systems might move over to a mirroless design: 'While [mirrorless Four Thirds] is possible from a technology standpoint, Olympus is committed to both the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds standards. In the future, you will continue to see new cameras based on both standards.'
Knaur also talked about the forthcoming lenses for Micro Four Thirds: 'The new 9-18 and 14-150 lenses both include internal focus which is faster and quieter than on the existing 14-42, which will help overcome a lot of the concerns people had early on about focus speed.' However, he did not think the company was likely to rush to replace the relatively recently developed 14-42mm kit lens to provide that same faster focusing for everyday shooting situations: 'at the moment it's more about filling the gaps in the lens range than replacing the existing ones.'
A working prototype of the forthcomingn 14-150mm F4-5.6 Micro Four Thirds
lens, featuring faster, quieter internal focus.