Just over seven months after announcing the Olympus E-P1 Digital Pen, and three months after announcing the E-P2, Olympus unveiled the first consumer model in their rapidly expanding Micro Four Thirds digital camera line. Dubbed the Olympus E-PL1, the new model leans more modern in design, moving away from its predecessors’ retro designs.
The Olympus E-PL1’s basic specs are quite similar to the P2, with a few omissions and a few additions to make the camera better suited for the consumer market. First, the Olympus E-PL1 has the same excellent 12-megapixel LiveMOS sensor and the same TruePic V image processor, a combo we found quite compelling on the previous models. Two kits are available — either body-only, or with a less expensive version of the collapsible 14-42mm zoom lens, featuring a polycarbonate mount instead of metal. Most menu items are the same, although some of the menu layout has been restructured, but the physical user interface and body design are noticeably different.
New to the line is the one common element left out of previous Digital Pen cameras: a pop-up flash. Another addition is the dedicated Record button to activate movie recording in any mode. Place the Olympus E-PL1 into iAuto mode, and you can also activate the camera’s new Live Guide mode, designed to make complex decisions about image quality as easy as moving an onscreen slider.
The Olympus E-PL1 will work with the two accessories announced with the E-P2, namely the VF-2 electronic viewfinder and the EMA-1 Microphone adapter, which allows use of an external stereo microphone when recording audio.
A few key items left out of the Olympus E-PL1 include any kind of dial for adjusting exposure, the Leveling feature, and the built-in stereo mic (there’s a mic, but it’s mono). The top shutter speed is 1/2,000 second, reduced from 1/4,000 second; and the highest ISO is 3,200, down from the E-PL1’s predecessors, which top out at 6,400.
The Olympus E-PL1 uses an SD/SDHC card and ships with the same BLS-1 7.2v 1,150mAh lithium-ion battery.
Retailing at $599, the Olympus E-PL1 and its 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 L ED lens are available in three colors: Black, Champagne Gold, and Dark Blue. A body-only version is also available for $549 in the US, with the only body color choice being black.