Olympus Pen E-PL1

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At $649.99 (suggested), the Olympus Pen E-PL1 is a little more downmarker than the  original versions introduced last year. This third-generation Pen, says Olympus, is built for shutterbugs who always wanted better pictures and considered a DSLR, but were intimidated by the bulky size and complex interface, yet still want interchangeable lenses.

Recording HD movies is simple, thanks to an easy-to-reach red “direct button” (red record button) on the back of the camera body. If you are about to snap a photo and you realize a video would capture the spirit of the scene even better, simply press the record button and instantly you are capturing videos. Easily toggle back and forth between capturing stills and videos by using your index finger to press the shutter button or your thumb to press the red record button.

Select Live Guide and press the up and down arrows on the back of the camera to slide through numerous photographic effects. Make adjustments and watch the LCD as the effects are made live, before the image is captured.

From portraits to sunset shots, the E-PL1 is equipped with 19 Scene-Select modes, including Fireworks, Sunset, Children, Macro and Panorama, and ePortrait Mode lets you smooth your subject’s complexion.

Intelligent Auto (iAuto) Mode automatically identifies what you are shooting and adjusts settings.

Face Detection recognizes up to eight faces, tracking them within the image area, and automatically focusing and optimizing exposure for sharp portraits.

In-Camera Panorama captures three images and stitches them together to create a seamless panoramic picture. Or use the included [ib] software to stitch up to 10 images together.

iEnhance enhances the warm yellow and orange colours of a sunset, in any mode, and automatically engages when using iAuto to enrich colour in any subject.

Aha! The E-PL1 is the first camera in the Olympus Pen series with a built-in pop-up flash. The camera is also compatible with a range of optional external flashes.

At the heart of the E-PL1 is a large-size image sensor, the same as inside the E-30 and E-620 DSLRs – 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, eight times larger than the average point-and-shoot camera sensor, said to deliver excellent dynamic range, accurate colour fidelity, and with an amplifier circuit to reduce noise and capture fine image details in both highlight and shadow areas.

Image stabilization is built into the body of the E-PL1.

Continuous Autofocus (C-AF) Tracking and Autofocus (AF) Target Registration lock your subject into focus and constantly adjust focus and brightness whether you or your subject is moving. Imager Autofocus in Live View enables you to compose, focus and capture the shot without taking your eyes off the camera’s 2.7-inch LCD. The LCD also provides a viewing angle of 176 degrees.

Of course the cameras as the Olympus Dust Reduction System with Supersonic Wave Filter.

The TruePic V Image Processor handles the camera’s image processing duties.

The E-PL1 has six in-camera Art Filters, including a new one called Gentle Sepia. This filter gives your images and videos a soft, warm sepia cast similar to historical images from the early days of photography. The sepia tones are softer and the blacks are a true black, unlike traditional sepia images. The new filter joins Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pin Hole, Grainy Film and Diorama.

Other features: multiple exposures; four aspect ratios; mix stills and movies inside the camera to create a multimedia slideshow, and dub in one of three built-in dramatic background music options to provide a soundtrack.

The ED 14-42 mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens (28-84 mm equivalent) comes with the E-PL1.

Available in March, it will come in three new body colours: black, champagne gold and slate blue.

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