Smartphone makers keep trying to cram better cameras into their phones. But even phones with 20 megapixel sensors, quick shutters, and wide angle lenses can only take you so far. There’s just not enough room for a large image sensor or a high quality optical zoom lens in most smartphone cases.

So some companies including Sony, Oppo, and Kodak have introduced clip-on cameras that you can attach to a smartphone and pair with a wireless connection to snap higher-quality images than you’d get using your phone’s built-in camera.

Now Olympus is getting in on the action with the Olympus Air A01. But this camera is a bit different, since it supports interchangeable lenses.


The Olympus Air A01 launches in the United States this month for $299 and up, and it should be available in Canada in August.

What you get for $299 is a camera that has no lens or display. But you can use any lens that supports the Micro Four Thirds standard and use your iPhone or Android device as a display.

If you don’t already have a collection of lenses, there’ll be a $499 bundle that includes the Air A01 and a 14-42mm EZ lens.

The Olympus Air A01 features a 16 megapixel sensor, TruePic VII image processor, and support for:

  • RAW image capture
  • Consecutive shooting mode with 10 frames per second
  • 1080p video capture
  • 1/16,000th eof a second maximum shutter speed

The system has a built-in battery, a microSD card for saving images, and it’s designed to work with mobile apps so that you can save images to your phone and/or share pictures via email, social networks, or other apps. The app also supports Amazon Cloud Drive for automatic cloud backup of your photos.

You also use the mobile app to control the camera’s settings by adjusting exposure, white balance, ISO speed or other settings.

Olympus also offers a software development kit which could enable support for third-party apps that work with the Air A01.

via Slashgear


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6 replies on “Olympus launches $299 camera with interchangeable lenses for your smartphone”

  1. putting 20 megapixels on a tiny little phone sensor is nuts. But I guess people have been brainwashed into believing that more mp means better images.

    I’m an Oly m43 user. But I am having a hard time seeing the use of this. You can already wirelessly link several cameras to your phone or tablet these days (including OM-D models) with controls in the app and a larger screen. The app lets you upload jpg to social media or save to the “cloud” So if you already have m43 lenses and a body I don’t quite see the point of this thing. It’s not all that small. Why not just get a Panasonic GM5 if you want small and wireless control?

    Just like the others you mention I don’t expect this will sell many units. The new DxO thing might do better but its giant pricetag will keep buyers away (as well as the whole iphone only thing).

  2. Not sure there is a market for this type of product. Smartphones are used for so many pictures because it is the “camera” you always have with you. If you are going to have to carry more hardware there are point-and-shoots, super zooms, micro four-thirds, and DSLRs. I think they are targeting a very small market.

    1. I think there’s an argument for it, both in terms just of using it (remote viewfinder, e.g.), and in terms of what saving to a phone and not a dedicated camera gets you (instant upload to the cloud, etc.). You could tether to your phone with an EyeFi card in a dedicated camera to achieve the latter, but that seems like a fair amount of trouble.

  3. The cost of a really decent zoom lens probably is enough to justify a good camera to mount it on. Personally, unless you are doing nature photography, I find a good prime and using your feet is the best way to get a good picture.

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