updated 01:00 am EDT, Thu June 30, 2011
Olympus intros E-PL3 and E-PM1 as tiny MFT cameras
Olympus went well beyond the E-P3 in its PEN camera introductions Thursday by launching two small models, one of which might claim a record for interchangeable lens cameras. The PEN Mini or E-PM1 is the star and is smaller even than the E-PL series, more closely approaching the size of a point-and-shoot camera. Even so, the Micro Four Thirds camera has the exact same upgraded 12.3-megapixel sensor and dual-core TruePic VI processor as the E-P3, giving both a very quick 35-point autofocus and better image quality.
To make up for the lack of room in the body for a flash, Olympus bundles a hot shoe flash in the box.
The new Mini mostly trims down in controls. No physical model dials exist; instead, a "stripe" on the left side of the three-inch, 460,000-pixel screen takes its place and is brought up with the menu button to be steered with the input dial. The E-P3's new software menus make an appearance here and are both more visually appealing as well as easier to navigate.
In between the two extremes is the E-PL3 or PEN Lite. A direct replacement for the E-PL2, it gains both the new sensor and processor and the new software. Some areas, however, give it an edge over either of its two siblings: its three-inch LCD tilts vertically for off-angle shooting, and a new high-speed shutter takes continuous shots at up to 4.1FPS with stabilization and 5.5FPS without.
Like the E-PM1, the E-PL3 has to use a hot shoe for its included flash, although it keeps a hardware mode dial up top.
Both cameras have yet to get hard release dates or prices. The PEN Mini will come in just one kit with the new 14-42mm, f3.5-5.6 II R lens but will have its choice of six colors. PEN Lite buyers have the choice of kits with either the same lens or a 17mm f2.8 prime.
E-PL3 PEN Lite