Along with two new stable mates (E-P3, E-PL3) the Olympus PEN E-PM1 (PM1) is the latest addition to the Olympus mirrorless fleet, targeting "first-time interchangeable lens digital camera users." The PM1 is the smallest, lightest, and most portable PEN camera to date - and has been dubbed the "PEN mini" by Olympus.
"Mini" also applies to the MSRP of $500, making the PM1 the lowest priced of the current PEN offerings (although Olympus has recently established a $500 "sale" price for their E-PL1 model). The three new cameras share image capture hardware basics: a new 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, the latest generation TruePic VI image processor, high ISO settings of 12800, full 1080i HD video with Dolby Digital sound recording and reengineered autofocus systems. The camera has a RAW shooting capability. Feature sets (and in the case of the EP-3 body shape) are the major points to differentiate the models with the PM1 being the least feature-rich of the three.
Olympus claims the new FAST (frequency acceleration sensor technology) autofocus (AF) system provides a "speed rivaling that of the professional Olympus E-5 DSLR" - the system features 35 separate focus points spread over nearly the entire sensor, "enabling pinpoint focusing accuracy on small subjects wherever they appear in the frame." Additionally, selectable 3 x 3 groups within the 35 point area are reported to be especially effective when shooting active subjects.
Elsewhere, the camera features in-body sensor-shift stabilization; a 3.0-inch LCD monitor; automatic, scene, full manual, and 3D shooting options as well as an accessory port that can accommodate a number of optional devices including an electronic viewfinder. High speed continuous shooting is at 5.5 frames per second (fps) at full resolution. The camera utilizes SDHC, SDXC or UHS-1 memory media, and comes packaged in kit form along with the M.ZUIKO Digital 14-42mm zoom lens. With the PM1's 2x crop factor that translates to a 28-84mm focal range (35mm equivalent) - here's a look from both ends of the zoom.
Olympus includes a strap, USB and A/V cables, lithium-ion battery and charger, flash and flash case, basic printed instruction manual and CD-ROM software with each camera. A complete camera manual is available on the CD-ROM.
While the PM1 may have the most basic feature set of the three new Olympus mirrorless models, the image capture stream is composed of the same parts as the flagship E-P3. Let's see how this junior member of the new PEN offerings does in the field.
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