Olympus has today released details of its soon-to-be-launched Pen E-PL1, a new ‘hybrid’ camera boasting ‘SLR performance’ and a built-in flash.

The 12.3-million-pixel Pen E-PL1 is billed as the ideal camera for consumers who are put off buying a DSLR because they are ‘too complicated’.

Out in ‘mid-March’ priced £549 (including a 14-42mm lens), the Micro Four Thirds model houses the same imaging sensor and image processor as previous Pen digital models, said Olympus UK’s Consumer Products marketing manager Mark Thackara.

He said: ‘Shooting great pictures has never been so easy. Quality, size and ease of use, these are the key messages.’

The Pen E-PL1 includes a new Live Guide which is designed to give the user easier control over key image features.

The Live Guide aims to help consumers control ‘SLR effects’ such as depth of field, and monitor the changes on the 2.7in LCD screen.

In a statement Olympus said: ‘i-Enhance, for example, makes sure all colours in your picture spectrum are vivid and rich. It is automatically applied in conjunction with i-Auto mode, which recognises what kind of scene or subject you’re taking and adjusts settings accordingly, or can be used alone.’

There is also a ‘one-touch’ [HD] video button. The Pen E-PL1 can record up to seven minutes of 1280×720 pixel video at one time, according to Olympus.

Also on board are six Art Filters, including Gentle Sepia and Pop Art.

The Pen E-PL1 is compatible with Olympus’s optional electronic viewfinder (VF-2).