Joining the family of Olympus Pen products is the lovingly nicknamed "PEN Mini," or E-PM1. Compared to its big brothers the PEN E-PL2 and E-PL3, this little guy packs some serious punch in a tiny body, with a similarly small price tag of $500. But can this ILC that Olympus claims offers "DSLR quality in a compact camera design" stack up against the big boys in the pit at the US Open? The 12.3 megapixel camera comes with a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and includes a Micro Four Thirds mount, enabling it to accept compatible lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic -- something that was really easy to get the hang of for speedy switching between sets. Check out our impressions as we go hands-on with the camera at one of the biggest tennis matches of the year.
With RAW shooting and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800, this baby is no slouch when compared to its larger (and more expensive) cousins -- it captured nice images at dusk and superb burst action shots at 5fps during the match. With a dedicated HD video recording button on the back, it's cake to switch between capturing stills and video (1080i at 60fps, or 720p at 30 fps).
Olympus took many of the manual features we love about our DSLRs and simplified them graphically using 23 scene-select modes within the UI. We found it quite intuitive, and got the hang of things moments after picking up the camera. For example, to get shots of the tennis players in action, we were able to adjust the shutter speed by scrolling between "motion" for blur or "stop motion" for no blur -- easy peasy.
Aspiring paparazzi can customize settings like white balance and others, plus you can add artsy effects like "fish eye" and "pop art" via the 3-inch LCD without learning the inner-workings of a high-end shooter or Photoshop. Overall, our impressions of the PEN Mini: affordable, adorable and it took some pretty darn good photos. We really enjoyed this cam -- it was easy to use and the end result was pretty bomb, even if the snaps aren't exactly Ansel Adams quality. It strikes us as the kind of device that's perfect for the amateur photographer hoping to step it up a notch, or for more experienced photogs looking to ditch the extra weight (don't worry, you can also operate the camera manually too). Available in pink, brown, white, silver and black, it is slated to ship sometime in September. To check out more photos snapped with the E-PM1, download the untouched originals here.