Cameras basically fall into two camps. There are those that get tossed into a bag and used to take snaps at the press of a button. Then there are the much larger ‘serious’ cameras that give greater control and image quality, but are heavy and cumbersome. And they’re almost invariably black. But the Olympus E-P1 or Pen, which has just been launched after much anticipation, aims to blur the categories. It crams most of what a single lens reflex camera offers into the smaller form of a compact camera, while also offering diminutive interchangeable lenses and high-definition video. The original Olympus Pen, a small-format camera launched in 1959, was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani, remembered fondly by photographers as the designer of the OM series of film SLRs. The new Pen’s styling is appropriately retro, as is its build – made of metal rather than the usual plastics, it has a nice, quality feel, almost luxurious. As well as silver and black, it comes in a white and fawn colour combination, aimed no doubt at making the Pen as much a fashion accessory as serious photographic tool, which it is more than capable of being. The Pen does for cameras what the new Mini does for cars, and could, despite a fairly hefty price tag (£699 for the basic kit), be just as successful.
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