Olympus announces the E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds camera

Olympus just announced their latest Micro Four Thirds digital camera – the E-PL1.

The E-PL1 combines the high quality 12.3 megapixel image sensor of the E-P1 and E-P2 in a more compact body, but also manages to find room to add a pop-up flash.

In addition to the flash, the E-Pl1 also features the accessory port found on the recently released E-P2 allowing for users to add the optional viewfinder and microphone adapter.

Best of all, the E-PL1 is the first sub-$600 Micro Four Thirds digital camera, retailing for just $599.99 when it hits store shelves in March.

The camera loses some of the metal bulk of the first two PEN cameras, opting for a little more plastic in its exterior. While the camera feels a little cheaper, it still has plenty of weight to give you sense that you are holding a semi-professional camera.

One other cool feature worth pointing out is an array of “live guide” tips. If you are just beginning to enter the world of digital photography, you’ll love these. The tips assist with every aspect of making good photos, explaining how to control brightness, focus, white balance and more.

As can be expected from any camera in this price range, the E-PL1 shoots video in 720p HD, and offers a one-click way to switch to video mode, making it really simple to capture spur of the moment videos.

The E-PL1 weighs just 10.4 ounces (about three ounces lighter than the E-P1), and measures 4.51″ x 2.84″ x 1.63″.

The $599.99 package includes the camera body, the fantastic M. ZUIKO 14-42mm Micro Four Thirds lens, a battery with charger, usb and video cables, shoulder strap and software CD. It’ll be available in three colors; black, Champagne Gold and Slate Blue.