Olympus to flesh out pro lens line with supertele, ultrawide

The good news for those committed to Olympus' Micro Four Thirds camera line: two useful new professional-grade lenses are on the way. The bad news: they won't arrive until 2015.

The Japanese camera maker announced Wednesday it's developing the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 Pro ultra-wide zoom and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4 Pro supertelephoto. In 35mm camera terms, those have the focal-length equivalents of 14mm-28mm and 600mm, respectively.

The lenses will be the third and fourth models of Olympus' new Pro line. The first arrived in 2013, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm … Read more

Best mirrorless cameras for less than $1,000

Editors' note: This story was originally published in January 2012. The latest update adds the Fujifilm X-M1.

The category of interchangeable-lens cameras subsumes a variety of capabilities and designs. You have the familiar dSLRs, large-bodied models that use a reflex mirror to enable the use of a through-the-lens optical viewfinder. Then there are Sony's SLT (Single-Lens Translucent) models, which incorporate the same phase-detection autofocus system as dSLRs, but with a fixed mirror that requires the use of an electronic viewfinder (EVF) rather than an optical one. And then there are the mirrorless models, which generally use contrast-detection autofocus and, if they have a viewfinder, it's an EVF. Though they're sometimes referred to as "compact system cameras," they're not all compact; in fact, only a handful could really be classified as such.… Read more

Always On Best of Season 4!

Season 4 was definitely the most fun we've had since Always On started one year ago. That being said, we're hitting the road in hopes of making next season give Season 4 a run for its money. In the meantime, here's our three favorite stories from the last couple months.

We couldn't help but notice Jeff's perma-smile and what seemed like an emotional journey back to his childhood when he visited NASA in Texas. Driving the SEV with an astronaut who's spent more than a month in space can have that effect on a … Read more

Episode 41: Underwater iPhones and rugged cameras

Most of you are probably just gearing up for your summer vacations, but we here at Always On have already had ours. It's all for you, dear viewers; it's all for you. On this week's episode, we visited Hawaii's Big Island to road-test gadgets meant for sun and water fun. And not to be all lowest-common-denominator, but that last sentence basically translates to an entire episode filmed in swimsuits. Just saying.

First up, we went snorkeling with three underwater cases for the iPhone: the $20 Proporta BeachBuoy, the $89 Hitcase, and the $329 iGills SE-35, to … Read more

Olympus XZ-10 adds another fast-lens compact to Stylus line

Like all its competitors, Olympus continues to bulk up on higher-end compacts, going after consumers who are willing to pay for better features to get better photos. Enter the Stylus XZ-10, a $400 point-and-shoot with a bright lens.

The XZ-10's lens will actually be better for some than the one on Olympus' $600 enthusiast compact, the XZ-2. It starts at a bright f1.8 26mm and zooms in to f2.7 130mm -- a 5x zoom that's tough to beat in this class of camera. By comparison, the XZ-2 has a 4x f1.8-2.5 28-112mm lens, so … Read more

Pentax f2.0 WG-3 rugged camera to challenge Olympus

While there are plenty of rugged digital cameras to go around these days, Pentax and Olympus have been making them the longest. The new WG-3 is Pentax's 15th-generation ruggedized camera and it's going directly after Olympus' top models, the Stylus Tough TG-1 iHS and TG-2 iHS.

The key features of the Olympus are its 4x f2.0-4.9 25-100mm lens and the option to attach a lens adapter for add-on conversion lenses. And that's exactly what you get with the WG-3; the exact same lens specs, and you can put on a lens adapter and wide-angle conversion … Read more

Olympus' new street-shooter-friendly prime lens

Olympus continues its trend of releasing fast, Micro Four Thirds-mount (MFT) prime lenses with the 17mm f1.8 (34mm equivalent). Incorporating the same design as the 12mm f2 -- metallic finish and a pull-down ring for distance-based focusing -- the lens sounds like a solid addition for street-shooting MFT photographers.

Mount Micro Four Thirds Focal range 17mm Aperture range f1.8 - f22 Aperture blades 7 Minimum focus distance 9.8 Angle of view 65 degrees Elements 9: 3 aspherical, 1 high-refractive index Filter diameter 46mm Minimum length 1.4 inches Maximum length 1.4 inches Weight 4.2 (est) … Read more

Olympus gives in, settles with Intellectual Ventures

Intellectual Ventures, the giant patent-holding company that's become synonymous with the term "patent troll," says it has settled a contentious infringement suit with camera-maker Olympus.

The suit, filed in Sept. 2011 against Olympus and fellow camera-maker Canon, claimed the companies infringed on nine image sensor patents, the first of which was filed in 1995 and granted three years later. Intellectual Ventures, founded by ex-Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold, is still pursuing the case against Canon, as well as a similar suit, filed a month later, against Nikon.

Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. But the deal highlightsRead more

Sony invests $645 million into ailing Olympus

Sony has decided to help out Olympus.

The Japan-based companies announced today that Sony will acquire over 34 million shares in Olympus through a third-party allotment to the tune of $645 million in cash. The deal, which both sides are calling a "capital alliance," is designed to help keep Olympus afloat following a scandal that has brought the company to its knees.

To consumers, Olympus is best known for its cameras. But the company also produces optical equipment for medical, scientific, and industrial uses.

Olympus' troubles started -- on paper, at least -- last year when its dismissed … Read more

Olympus primes its Micro Four Thirds lens selection

Cameras are nice, but to me, lenses are where the rubber meets the road, and Olympus has been turning out some very nice Micro Four Thirds lenses these days. At Photokina, the company is showing off a new moderately priced 60mm f2.8 macro, odd 15mm f8 body-cap lens, a black limited edition version of its 12mm f2, and announced development of a new 17mm f1.8

Optimized to be used in conjunction with the OM-D E-M5, the 60mm macro is weather-resistant to match that camera. It's relatively large -- 13 elements -- and Olympus makes use of all … Read more