Tiny Olympus PEN E-PM1 interchangeable lens compact will sell for under $500

Olympus announces pricing, availability, and detailed specs for its most compact -- and lowest priced -- interchangeable lens compact camera.
Written by Janice Chen, Inactive on

Olympus has finally announced pricing and availability (and revealed more detailed specs) for its tiny Olympus PEN E-PM1, originally announced last month along with two other new cameras in Olympus' PEN series of interchangeable lens compact (ILC) cameras, the PEN E-P3 and PEN E-PL3. The E-PM1 will start shipping in September (like its midrange sibling, the E-PL3) and will be priced at just $499.99 with a 14-42mm (f/3.5-f/5.6) zoom lens.

Dubbed the PEN Mini -- to distinguish it from the PEN Lite cameras (i.e., the E-PL3 and its predecessors) -- the E-PM1 is by far the smallest and lightest of the PEN cameras, at just 4.3x2.5x1.3 inches and 9.34 ounces with battery and SD card installed.  The Pentax Q is the only ILC camera that's even smaller, but the Q is saddled with a tiny compact-camera sized sensor (vs. the E-PM1's dSLR-sized sensor), not to mention a much larger price tag at $800.  In fact, the E-PM1 is the least expensive of the Olympus PEN cameras (though the two-generations-old E-PL1 is also still listed on the Olympus site for the same price).

Its also about $100 less than the similarly sized Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 announced earlier this summer. The E-PM1 looks even more like a compact point-and-shoot than the GF3, but out-specs the GF3 in a few areas, such as a broader sensitivity range (ISO 200-12,800), more white-balance presets, faster burst-mode shooting of 4.1fps (or 5.5 fps with image stabilization turned off), and a 35-area autofocus system.

Though I personally prefer shooting with slightly larger ILC cameras like the PEN Lite line (I just find the larger lenses to be kind of awkward on tiny bodies), size aside, the E-PM1 inherits a lot of the E-PL3's excellent features at a lower price and a more simplified interface (catering toward point-and-shooters who are looking to upgrade). The E-PM1 takes great advantage of Olympus' Live Guide, for example, which helps newbies get SLR-like control over images without having to understand things like white balance, aperture, or shutter speed. And it comes with the same six special effects filters (Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, and Dramatic Tone) as the E-PL3, though it doesn't offer the new variations on the various effects as the E-PL3 and E-P3 do.

Other key features and options include:

  • External optional flash included (hotshoe mount)
  • 1080i AVCHD video recording
  • Dedicated video recording button
  • Face detection with eye detection autofocus
  • Built-in autofocus illuminator
  • 3D shooting mode
  • Purple, pink, brown, white, silver, and black body color options

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