DPReview have a preview up of the soon-to-be released Olympus E-P1. I was thinking seriously thinking about getting a Panasonic LX3, but this looks like the perfect travel companion:
Perhaps the only barrier could be the price – I’d expect it to be somewhere around the level of current prosumer DSLRs (50D, D90) which is a bit of a step up from the LX3 (close to double, probably more once you add lenses). But image-wise this is more DSLR than compact, whereas the LX3 is much more of a compact. In a portable camera I wouldn’t miss the viewfinder so much, but the poor contrast-detect autofocus would be its major downside compared to the 40D, and the Panasonic G1 which is based on the same system has much better autofocus.
And even with the 17mm “pancake” prime lens it’s still bulkier than the LX3, so there’s definitely room for both models. But with the E-P1 the micro four thirds system just got a whole lot more interesting, and this is tempting as a “do-it-all” camera to replace both my point ‘n shoot and DSLR.
Either way, I can definitely see myself owning a micro 4/3rds camera at some point in the future, but it might be worth waiting for the E-P2, which will hopefully refine the concept (and include Panasonic’s autofocus system).
It’s available on pre-order in the states at $799 US. Using the Canon 50D as a price index, the cost here at retail for the 14-42mm kit should be about $1450-1500 NZD. Which is about what I paid for my 40D body, so not too bad, in fact slightly cheaper than I was expecting. It’s quite a lot to spend on a downgrade, but for traveling it might just be worth it.