Hands-on With the Olympus E-PL1

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Somebody spilled the beans earlier today, but Olympus has just officially unveiled the E-PL1. If you’re familiar with the PEN series from last year then this is the updated version that’s a tad stripped down, cheaper and a heck of a lot faster when it comes to auto-focusing. It even has a built-in flash that reminds me of Johnny 5. I seriously fawned over the hinge for about five minutes during my meeting with Olympus today.

The 12-megapixel micro 4/3 shooter records HD (720p) video and comes with 19 scene-select modes and an interface they’re calling Live Guide that dumbs down the basics of operating a camera. Want some motion blur in those action shots? Adjust the shutter speed, I mean, add some artistic blur to it. The feature breaks down aperture adjustment, shutter speed, EV compensation and the like into terms that are easy for the luddite to understand. It’s actually pretty cool.

And let me tell you, the auto-focus is leaps and bounds better than the E-P1. It’s also a bit beefier than the slim and trim E-P1 and E-P2. Firmware on the device I tested wasn’t final, so I’ll reserve judgement until I receive a production unit for review. The E-PL1 ships with a M. Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 lens in March for $600.

Press release after the jump.

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