The $499 Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 : The best value in interchangeable lens cameras?


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Olympus recently introduced three new PEN Micro Four-Thirds cameras and as might be expected, the top-of-the-line E-P3 ($899 with kit zoom lens) received the most attention. Rave reviews quickly followed, praising the E-P3’s image quality, focusing speed, and 1080i video as well as its beautiful touch screen and built-in flash. Advanced photographers will undoubtedly be drawn to the E-P3 and I am buying one myself.

Looking past the E-P3 for a minute, though, I have to wonder if the PEN Mini E-PM1 is the one that will be remembered as a worldbeater in the interchangeable lens camera market, and the model that makes the biggest splash. At only $499 list, the PEN Mini E-PM1 packs the E-P3’s good stuff… the image quality, 1080i video, and super-fast focusing… into a very compact body about the size of an iPhone, for $400 less. There is no built-in flash but a removable flash is included, and the camera works with all the PEN accessories such as the lenses (from both Olympus and Panasonic) and removable viewfinders.

Most family photographers would probably prefer the smaller camera body anyway. Olympus is known for producing pictures that are pretty much perfect right out of the camera with no tweaking necessary, making it ideal for anyone wanting professional quality results with little effort. The fast focusing (said to be on a par with very expensive professional digital SLRs used for photographing sports) makes it perfect for photographing children. It looks to be a real winner and could be one of the biggest hits of the holiday season.

The E-PM1 is shipping soon and is available in six colors. You can read more at the links below.

E-PM1 at

E-PM1 at Olympus website

I will have more on the E-P3 and the middle model, the $699 E-PL3, in future posts.

Questions? Email Don

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