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Cute as pie. Cheap as chips. Well, on the latter count: nearly.
I’m still figuring out why Olympus has launched virtually the same camera in three different guises that this Micro Four Thirds system gear encloses. It beats me!
Look around the DPS site and you’ll see my recent views of the E-P3 and Lite E-PL3. Now we have the Mini E-PM1 with very similar specs and varying prices. Oh! and body sizes.
This is the Mini of the range. And, as an entry level model, it is surely a delight. If you feel fashion is allied to function, then you’ll be delighted: the Mini can be acquired in six body colours: black, brown, pink, white, silver and purple. The review model was in silver and, with the silvery f3.5/14-42mm lens attached, simply glowed.
Aimed at the novice, the Mini is small and light: with 14-42mm kit lens, clip-on flash, memory card and battery, it weighs just 401g.
Noticeable is the fixed 16:9 screen, ideal for shooting wide screen stills, not so cool for catching 4:3 shots but terrific for shooting Full HD 1920×1080 movies in AVCHD and 1280×720 in MPEG4. The bad news is that shooting a still mid-movie will cause the movie to stop and restart.
Maximum still capture with the 12.3 Live MOS sensor is 4032×3024 pixels, so you can make a print measuring 34x26cm.
The camera gives shooting modes such as iAuto, Program AE, aperture or shutter priority and manual operation … located in the finder menu.
External controls are minimal with the upper surface carrying the power and shutter buttons, backed up by the movie record button. To my mind these three are far too close, barely a thumb width apart.
The rear has the large LCD screen as well as a four way rocker wheel, and buttons for menu, info (display options) and replay … again, all far too close, small — and near-illegible.
The viewfinder menu is very decorative but a beast to get around. Some actions, like erase, image size, file format etc are accessed via the finder menu.
Others, such as ISO setting, white balance, AF options are accessed via the LCD display.
There are six Art Filters for the fiddler: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy, Pin Hole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone. I have to admit being a fan of these and appreciate how deft use can make magic out of an otherwise mundane shot.
An attraction is its ability to shoot at a continuous rate of 5 fps: ideal for kids, sports and animal shooting.
Power on and I was ready to shoot; follow-on shots as fast as I could hit the button.
IMHO you could use ISO settings all the way up to 1600; after 3200 noise increases; by ISO 12,800 it is too intrusive.
Quality: above average as a snapshot camera.
Why you’d buy the Mini: small, light beginner’s interchangeable lens camera; excellent burst rate.
Why you wouldn’t: you want a tilting LCD;
For the record, an adjustable, accessory flash is supplied but there is no eye-level viewfinder; the flash has a Guided Number of 10 at ISO 200. You have to remove the viewfinder if you want to attach the flash to the accessory shoe.
Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels. Live MOS.
Lens: Micro Four Thirds system.
Exposure Modes: iAuto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm Live MOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second, Bulb. Flash sync: 1/60- 1/160 sec.
Sequential Shooting: 4.1/5.5fps. (Max: nine RAW images).
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC/EyeFi cards. Class 6 recommended for movie shooting.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4032×3024 to 640×480. Movies: 1920×1080 to 1280×720.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D) AVCHD, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 12,800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 109.5×63.7×34 WHDmm.
Weight: 265 g (inc battery and card).
Prices: Get a price on the Olympus Pen E-PM1 with 14-42mm II Lens or Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 with a 14-42mm Lens and a with 40-150mm Lens + 32GB Card + Battery + Case (and more)