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Beneath the retro styling of the Olympus Pen E-PL1 is a new Live Guide designed to aid beginners, but does it make photography any easier? We put it to the test

Olympus Pen E-PL1 at a glance:

  • 12.3-million-pixel Live MOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds system
  • In-camera stabilisation
  • New Live Guide feature
  • Street price around £550 with 14-42mm kit lens

One of the many advantages of cameras now having LCD screens is that it allows a new level of interactivity between the camera and the photographer. As well as allowing photographers to preview the effects of altering the image settings, some manufacturers are now taking this a stage further by using the screen to explain the effects of adjusting the exposure settings.

In its Micro Four Thirds Pen E-PL1 camera, Olympus has introduced a new Live Guide. The feature is designed to make it easy for those not familiar with photographic principles to change the camera settings without having to worry about technical terminology.

Similar in specification to the Olympus E-P1 and E-P2 Micro Four Thirds models, the E-PL1 has a full complement of manual-exposure options that will allow entry-level photographers to develop as their knowledge advances.

When these features are combined with a built-in pop-up flash (a notable omission from the two previous Pen models), the E-PL1 may be ideal not just for those wanting to invest in the Micro
Four Thirds system, but also more generally for photographers moving up from compact cameras.

  • White Balance: Auto, 8 presets, plus custom setting and Kelvin adjustment
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Viewfinder Type: VF-2 EVF with 1.4 million dots
  • Shutter Type: Computerised focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD/SDHC
  • Output Size: 4032x3042 pixels
  • LCD: 3in with 230,000 dots
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • AF Points: 11 points, auto or manual selection possible, plus face detection
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/180sec or 1/2000sec in Super FP mode
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, over 3 frames in steps of 2, 4 or 6 mired
  • Sensor: Live-MOS with 12.3 million effective pixels
  • Focal Length Mag: 2x
  • Weight: 300g (without battery or card/s)
  • Exposure Modes: iAuto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, plus 19 scene presets and 6 Art Filters
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery BLS-1 supplied
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/2000sec in 1⁄2 or 1/3EV steps plus bulb
  • Drive Mode: Max 3fps for approx 13 JPEGs or 10 raw files
  • Dimensions: 120.6x69.9x36.4mm
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Metering System: 324 zone Multi-Pattern, Digital ESP, centreweighted and spot, plus highlight/shadow spot metering
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3, 1⁄2EV or 1EV steps
  • RRP: £499.99 (body-only street price) £549.99 (with 14-42mm kit lens, street price)
  • Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • ISO: 100-3200
  • Focusing Modes: Manual (with focus assist magnification), AF-S, AF-C, AF tracking
  • DoF Preview: No
  • Tested as: Entry-level hybrid

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