Olympus Pen E-PL1 digital camera hands on

Olympus launched its "budget" Micro Four Thirds camera on Wednesday and Pocket-lint was on hand (in a coffee shop) to bring you the low down on the third instalment in Olympus' "hybrid" Pen range.

The new model, which swaps metal for plastic, will cost £549 in the UK but comes with a 14 to 42mm kit lens and the promise that you'll look "Kevin Spacey" cool.

Specs include an Olympus TruePic V Image Processor, 12.3-megapixel Live Mos sensor, a 2.7-inch LCD and a direct video record button on the back of the camera for capturing HD film footage.

The Olympus Pen E-PL1 gets 19 shooting modes and various arty special effects with a Live Guide to help preview the result, face detection, panorama options and an image stabiliser.

What that means in the hand is a rather large, but equally capable, camera that will let you shoot in a variety of different environments without you having to mention "single lens reflex" once.

In fact, aimed at complete newbies to digital photography, the camera even goes that one stage further in de-mystifying common jargon like white balance, aperture, shutter speed, colour hue and saturation, with easy to understand terminology and sliding graphs for the non-photography geek within you.

Yes there is a retro feel to the model, but then that's what you expect from Olympus and the Pen range. 

Expected in March, the camera will cost £549 in the UK or $599 in the US.

We will keep you posted on the camera's performance once we get a production-ready unit in the office. In the mean time, if you're into the full-fat versions head over to our full review of the Olympus Pen E-P2.