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The Olympus PEN E-PL1 was one of the first digital system cameras for interchangeable lenses in compact camera style. That means that it got a rectangular compact plastic body with built-in pop-up flash in one ot the upper corners. Thus it was cheaper than it's metal-bodied predecessor Olympus PEN E-P1, but it was even better. It appeared in the last moment before Sony launched another even smaller compact digital system camera, the Sony NEX. Thus Olympus has the chance to get its share in the new market for digital system cameras. That prediction is based on the fact that Olympus' digital PENs use the Micro Four-Thirds bayonet which is also used by Panasonic for similar and other digital system cameras.
The camera's small flash isn't sufficient for all situations - guide number 7. Thus the E-PL1 has a hot shoe, but a special one which can be used to attach a flash, or a stereo microphone set, or even an optical or an electronic viewfinder. Only one of these accessories can be attached at once. The optional electronic viewfinder would show a 100% view of what the image sensor catches as image. The camera has a real shutter, a focal plane shutter. The image sensor is a "Live MOS" sensor for 12.3 Pixel images. It is mounted on an image stabilizer mechanism. Operation controls of the camera are almost like that of a common compact digicam.
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