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Olympus E-PL1

Olympus PEN E-PL1 Micro Four-Thirds camera

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Compared to the previous models the E-PL1 loses the Levelling feature and the built-in mic is now mono, rather than stereo. Top shutter speed is 1/2,000 second instead of 1/4,000 second and the fastest ISO setting is 3200 instead of 6400. The screen has also been reduced to 2.7in from the 3in of the E-P1/2 models, which is a bit of a disappointment.

Olympus E-PL1

The only real gripe is this PEN's screen is smaller at 2.7in.

The resolution is an average 230,000 dots but the LCD screen is quite bright and has a very wide viewing angle. In truth this new PEN should be considered more like a sophisticated compact camera with interchangeable lenses than a DSLR alternative. It offers more creative control than a point-and-shoot but not the flexibility of a DSLR. The optical viewfinder – a detachable accessory that slots into the hotshoe and included with the E-P2 kit – is extra.

The menu layout is simple and intuitive for the most part. You can access all the options in the menu via the four-way pad but the E-PL1 also offers what Olympus calls the Super Control Panel. This function groups together all the key settings in a grid on the LCD screen, that you can navigate to directly.

Another innovative addition to this latest PEN is the Live Guide mode. When the camera is in iAuto mode you can activate Live Guide by pressing the Start/OK button. This will bring on the display six icons, which, replacing photographic terms with results-based names, allow you to change key camera settings according to the outcome you want to get.

The options are Colour Saturation, Colour Image, Brightness, Blur Background, Express Motions and Shooting Tips. It is an ingenious way to make the usual program mode work in a more creative and personal way, letting anyone take better pictures without necessarily having to understand the principles of photography.

Olympus E-PL1

The 12.3Mp Micro Four-Thirds sensor is the same across the range

Despite its cheaper price tag the E-PL1 sports the same excellent 12.3Mp Live MOS sensor and the 324-point ESP metering system of the previous PENs and also retains their very effective Image Stabilisation system and Supersonic Wave Filter that protects the sensor from dust particles. Other features inherited from the previous models are: four different aspect ratio options (4:3; 3:2; 16:9 and 6:6), Face Detection with the ability to handle up to 8 different faces, Red-eye fix, two custom setting modes and the iEnhance mode that automatically boosts the dominant colour in a scene, i.e. reds in a sunset.

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