Olympus Air first look-1

The Olympus Air is a strange little lens sized package. It’s not really a full fledged camera and yet it’s not really a toy. In away it’s very similar to the concept behind the Sony DSC-QX100. However, unlike the QX100, the Olympus Air is equipped with a Micro Four Thirds lens mount as well as the same 16 megapixel sensor seen in other Olympus bodies.

Olympus Air first look-2

Olympus really seems to offer up a strange mix of features with the Air.  As a camera you can actually put a lens on this thing lock in some settings and use the button at the top of the air to half press for focus and full press to blindly take pictures of the world, no cell phone or tablet required. It might sound strange, but there is an interesting and attractive appeal to shooting blindly and discovering what you’ve collected at the end of the day. I’ve take this out a number of times with a couple of primes and just snapped off random shots all day long. It’s fun to do, but you really have to get a feel for what your images are going to look like.

Olympus Air first look-3

They haven’t skimped on image quality with the Olympus Air. You have a very nice M43 sensor that’s capable of 1/16,000 of a second shutter speeds which reduces the need for ND filters in full sunlight. Olympus also provides 10 frame per second burst mode so that even shooting blind something is bound to turn out. These features are very impressive for something this size and price. On the other hand you have very simple things like ISO and aperture settings stuck behind a clunky menu system on a wifi tethered phone or tablet and an app that’s a bit painful to use.

Olympus Air first look-6

Charging the Olympus Air is very simple, it uses the same micro usb connection that’s seen on most modern cellphones. If you want to shoot blind, you can save battery life by turning off Wifi and if you really get desperate for power, 4 screws will allow you access to the battery for somewhat labor intensive change out.

Olympus Air first look-5

The 1/4 20 mount at the bottom of the Olympus Air and it’s tiny size allow you to mount this thing anywhere. Combine that with wifi controls via your cellphone and you have an interesting option for both video and stills. If you need to use this like a Gopro with an interchangeable lens, the Olympus Air could easily be mounted in a car, refrigerator, glove box, or anywhere else a tiny remote camera would come in handy. It isn’t an action camera, but it comes close.

Olympus Air first look-7

While the Olympus Air is a very interesting concept you have to ask yourself “who’s it really for?” If you are looking for a fun affordable camera to play around with, the Olympus Air isn’t actually ready to go out of the box. You’ll need to invest in at least one lens if not more and you’re still working with a capable yet crippled little camera.

For me, the only way the Olympus Air really makes any sense is if you already own an m43 camera and lenses. At $299, it’s a great little backup stills/video camera if you are willing to put up with the headache that is the Olympus O.A. app. After all it’s cheaper than a actual camera body and the 16 megapixel sensor does a great job with stills and video.

What do you guys think, is it worth a video review?

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