Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big and Small II

This week, various shops across the globe started stocking Olympus's new camera, the E-410, a gently updated version of the E-400 that enjoyed a Europe-only release back in September.

Whether or not it's better than the E-400 remains to be seen. Certainly, it has a larger buffer, faster autofocus, all things that make it good. But I wonder whether we've seen the last of a breed with the E-400, which had a lovely but expensive and rather scarce 10 megapixel sensor made by Kodak, similar to that used in the illustrious E-1. The E-410 sensor's a bit like the Panasonic one in the E-330, which seems to yield slightly more muted images.

The forums, this week, were filled with the usual chatter: people who found themselves incapable of holding the camera because it didn't have a grip on the right side (digital newbs); people who had the hands of giants grafted onto them at birth who couldn't operate the new miracle of rare device; and the usual nay-sayers telling folks like me that we'd wasted our money on a dead-end digital system that was to go the way of the dinosaurs.

A whole bunch of other people, however, rather cautiously welcomed the little camera and were eager to find out whether they could get away with carrying a little less gear if they got one. But then came the advertising, over at the specially constructed olympus-wonder.com site. And then the same people started wondering whether they had, after all, been lusting after a girl's camera.

Because, look, the well-known Japanense actress, Aoi Miyazaki, stars in the advert. And she's little, and quirky, and talks to small children, and giggles at dogs.

Having decided the E-410 was, indeed, a camera for young women, the community moved on... "Fworgh", they said in unison, "Would you just look at that strap?"

And, then, they wondered whether, if they bought the new camera, Ms Miyazaki would like them better.

If I was a camera designer, I'd be rolling my eyes right now. Presumably, they'd been running around, sourcing new sensors for the new global camera, presumably they'd been stressed about putting the finishing touches on the E-410's new cousin, the E-510, presumably there were software modifications to the end with the new TurboPic III image processing engine which promises less digital noise at high ASAs without sacrificing too much fine detail, presumably they'd been wondering how to cram all this in into the smallest digital SLR ever made in the history of photography.

And, all that time, they could have just impressed the world with crochet.


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