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June 24, 2003
* The information contained in this news release applies only to the Japanese market.
Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. (President: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa) is pleased to announce the late-September 2003 introduction of a digital SLR camera system that offers the highest level of image quality. The new system represents a fusion of proprietary Olympus optical technologies and the latest in digital imaging technology. Designed and built to comply with Four Thirds System standards for digital SLR cameras, the new interchangeable lens type digital SLR camera system includes bodies, lenses, flash units, and other accessories that have been developed specifically for digital camera use. The first wave of product introductions for the new system will include the professional-use E-1 body, four interchangeable lenses, a flash unit, and other accessories. In addition, further products will be added to the lineup in the future.
Ever since Olympus introduced Japan's first domestically produced microscope in 1920, we have applied our optical technologies to the development of a wide range of cameras, endoscopes, and other high-quality optical products. As our traditional optical technologies evolved, we set out to combine them with the latest electronic technologies, and entered the consumer-use digital camera market in 1996 with the introduction of the CAMEDIA C-800L digital camera. We were also quick to initiate development of a single lens reflex type digital camera, and were able to confirm our commitment to the highest standard of image quality with the 1997 introduction of the CAMEDIA C-1400 digital SLR with integrated lens, a camera that did much to fuel rapid expansion of the digital camera market. We continued to develop integrated lens type digital SLR cameras aiming for ever-higher image quality, and in 2001 introduced the CAMEDIA E-20, which was widely acclaimed by professional photographers and other users worldwide.
In tandem with these efforts, we also sought to expand the photographic potential of digital imaging technologies by developing an interchangeable lens type digital SLR camera system. Having carefully reviewed what it would take to satisfy the needs of professional photographers and other users, we determined that the best solution was to develop bodies, lenses, flash units, and other accessories that were specifically designed for digital camera use. The result was the Four Thirds System standards for interchangeable lens type digital SLR cameras, which, together with a design philosophy that places the highest priority on digital image quality, led to the development of a dedicated, interchangeable lens type digital SLR system that represents a fusion of the highest level of optical and digital technological excellence. This is the system that will go on sale at the end of September 2003.
In addition to the professional-use E-1 body, lenses and accessories to be introduced in September, a wide variety of bodies, lenses, and accessories are planned for the future. With the introduction of a complete digital SLR camera system lineup for the digital age, Olympus aims to create an entirely new world of digital imaging.
Main Features of the Olympus Digital SLR Camera System
A Dedicated Digital System Born of a Design Philosophy that Places the Highest Priority on Digital Image Quality
The Olympus interchangeable lens type digital SLR camera system maximizes the inherent characteristics and benefits of digital cameras, and was developed in compliance with the new Four Thirds System standards and a design philosophy that places the highest priority on digital image quality. It is a digital SLR system that uses a 4/3-type image sensor to achieve both outstanding mobility and superb image quality, and it features dedicated interchangeable lenses specifically developed to maximize the performance capabilities of digital cameras.

Dedicated High-Performance Digital Camera Lenses: A Fusion of the Finest Conventional Optical Technology and the Most Advanced Digital Imaging Technology
Dedicated digital camera lenses demand an even higher standard of precision than conventional film camera lenses, but by drawing on our extensive expertise in optical technology in an effort to achieve the ultimate in digital image quality, we were successful in developing a new line Zuiko Digital high-performance digital SLR camera lenses. Zuiko Digital lenses feature large apertures and light, compact design that greatly extend photographers' shooting capabilities, and they are manufactured using ultra-high-precision production technologies to assure superior resolving power and contrast. Four lenses will be offered in the first wave of product introductions, but various other interchangeable lenses will be added to the lineup in the future.

About the Zuiko Brand
It was in 1936 that the Takachiho corporation, forerunner of today's Olympus Optical Co., Ltd., introduced its first camera, the Semi-Olympus I. The camera's lens was given the name Zuiko, a Japanese word that means "light of the gods." It was an auspicious name, chosen partially because the lens had been developed at the Mizuho Optical Research Laboratory (in Japanese, the first character of the name "Mizuho" can also be read "zui"), and partially because the corporate name, Takachiho, is a Japanese word that means "mountain of the gods." But more than the name, it was the extremely high quality of the lens that sparked comment at the time. And ever since, Zuiko lenses have been featured on succeeding generations of Olympus cameras. The Zuiko lenses for our OM SLR system 35mm film cameras, for example, were widely acclaimed for their remarkable resolving and imaging power, and became one of the world's most respected high-performance lens brands.

Now, drawing on traditional optical and lens production technologies, as well as the most advanced digital technologies, the Zuiko brand has evolved. The result is the Zuiko Digital lens lineup, a series of dedicated high-performance lenses developed specifically for the next generation of digital SLR cameras.
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About the Four Thirds System
The Four Thirds System is a next-generation digital SLR camera system that features a 4/3-type image sensor and a line of interchangeable lenses specifically developed to match the optical characteristics of digital SLR cameras without being constrained by the design demands of conventional 35mm film SLR cameras. In addition, the Four Thirds System establishes an open body and lens mount standard to ensure compatibility between bodies and lenses produced by different manufacturers.

Currently available interchangeable lens type digital SLR cameras are basically based on conventional 35mm camera systems. As a result, they must be equipped with CCDs or other image sensors that are comparable in size to 35mm or APS film. However, because the imaging characteristics of these large image sensors are fundamentally different from those of film, a number of issues can prevent them from achieving their full performance potential. These issues include:

(1)  Although film is capable of responding to light that strikes it at a high angle of incidence, a high angle of incidence can prevent sufficient light from reaching sensor elements at the periphery of an image sensor, resulting in poor color definition at the outer edges of the image, particularly when shooting with wide-angle lenses.

(2)  To achieve the resolutions required by the milli-micron pitch of image sensor elements, the demands of optical design require the use of much larger lenses. Moreover, manufacturers of digital SLR camera systems have until now adopted the lens mounting systems used on their respective 35mm film SLR cameras, making bodies and lenses produced by different manufacturers incompatible with one another.

With the Four Thirds System, it is possible to produce lenses that maximize the performance potential of digital camera image sensors while also offering high mobility, handling ease, and the wider range of choices that lens mount standardization assures. It is an entirely new digital SLR camera system standard that was designed and developed specifically to maximize the imaging characteristics and performance advantages of digital cameras. Announced by Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. and the Eastman Kodak Company in September 2002, the Four Thirds System is an open standard that other manufacturers are being encouraged to support. Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. has already announced that it will support the standard.

4/3-Type Image Sensor
The Four Thirds System defines a standard for 4/3-type CCD, CMOS, or other image sensors to allow the use of dedicated digital SLR camera lens systems that maximize image sensor performance and ensure outstanding image quality while also being smaller, easier to handle, and higher in mobility than 35mm film SLR camera lens systems.

Lens Mount Standardization
The Four Thirds System is an open standard with standardized camera body and lens mounts, assuring a level of mounting compatibility that has been impossible to achieve with digital SLR cameras that utilize existing 35mm film SLR lens systems. In addition, the new system defines standards for image circle size (the diameter of the area in which the subject is resolved) and back focus distance (the distance from the lens mount to the image sensor).

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*Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. was changed to OLYMPUS CORPORATION as of October 1, 2003.
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