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Olympus Announce Air 01, Wireless Smartphone Controlled Camera

February 5, 2015 - Written By David Steele

One of the coolest accessories that I had to play with in 2013 were the two Sony lens, the QX10 and the QX100, that could be controlled by a smartphone and took good pictures, too. We’ve news today that Olympus are offering their town take on the concept with the new Olympus Air 01. This is a wireless “three quarters” digital camera with a 16 MP Live MOS, described as “SLR quality,” and enough juice to take 320 pictures to a single charge. The camera comes with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth radios and has a 1/16000 ultra high speed shutter, plus offers continuous shooting of up to 10fps. As with conventional SLRs, the Air 01 has interchangeable lenses and allows the photographer full manual control of shutter speed and aperture settings. The camera may be controlled by a smartphone too, which Olympus suggest works great when you mount the Air 01 onto a tripod.

Writing of the smartphone, there will be eight unique smartphone applications to allow a number of special features, but essentially will allow the Air 01 to behave as though it is a conventional camera. The device includes fourteen art filters and nine art effects as part of the built-in image processing features. Other features include built-in color and tone adjustment. It can also take six photographs to combine into one still image, or ask the photographer to select his or her favorite. Olympus will be including the ability to create a PhotoStory, this being one scene photographed from a number of different viewpoints to be combined into one piece. Olympus have designed something called the “Hack & Make Project,” which allows developers to write their own applications to work with the Air 01.

As a product, something like the Air 01 strikes me as a decent compromise between a DSLR and a smartphone with a bias towards photography. Interchangeable lenses, solid battery life plus a shutter fast enough to spot me with a full coffee cup, combined with MicroSD card for image storage (this means that pictures may easily be viewed on other devices without connecting to the device, or if the battery has run dry). However, whilst Olympus has confirmed that the Air 01 is due to be released into the Japanese market on the 6 March, we don’t know if it’ll surface elsewhere around the world. In Japan, the basic camera body will be sold at a price equivalent of $290 for the basic kit, but there’s a lens kit available that increases the cost to $425, and it’s available in either black or white.

Would you be interested in acquiring the Air 01? Or do you prefer to keep your smartphones and cameras completely separate? Did you buy one of the Sony lens accessories? Let us know in the comments below.