After I'd recovered sufficiently, I then went out on the hunt for something I'd seen in my RPS journal and become mildly obsessed by - the Olympus E-P1. Olympus has revisited their concept form the 60s and 70s of shrinking down camera technology into the smallest parcel possible, resulting in a high-tech tiny parcel of photographic goodness - for example the 35RC, which contained more features than cameras twice its size; the E-P1 itself is based on the micro-SLR Olympus Pen. Happily, I got my hands on one to try it instead of rushing straight to Amazon to buy.
So, great idea revisited; fit a fully functioning SLR into a tiny body. It feels great in the hands, is small, lightweight, balanced and has a great shutter sound (never underestimate this!). The main draw for me was manual focusing; but I was sadly disappointed by the feature. It has been so clumsily executed, it stopped me in my tracks to the cash register. In full manual mode the LCD screen (no viewfinder) zooms in to aid focus, however the screen resolution is so low it's hard to see if you've been successful. In auto-assist manual, you half depress the shutter to get an autofocus lock, then repeat the manual process to adjust. However, the screen stays zoomed in, meaning you can't see the whole frame when you take the picture - anything could have changed outside the focusing area and you wouldn't know. The only way to get the whole screen again is to release the shutter, which causes the autofocus procedure to start again. Not good. (The autofocus itself is also quite poor, not so much for its low-ish speed, but for the fact it always locked on to the wrong target for me). Things that could be easily fixed, but weren't even thought through it seems. A great idea spoilt.
The idea is fantastic, and I'd love to buy one, but I'm going to wait for Olympus to sort this out before I part with any cash.