Body & Design

The PEN Mini has fewer control points than most compact cameras, and as such you might be forgiven for assuming (mistakenly) that its rear LCD screen must be touch-sensitive. Four functions are assigned to the cardinal points of the rear control dial, and a degree of customization is available, but arguably the Mini is at its most well-behaved when you don't try to take too much control.

The shortage of external buttons is not really problematic when shooting (and the option to engage the Super Control Panel interface, while well-hidden, does make it possible to take control over key shooting parameters if you want to). Things do get slightly frustrating in playback mode, though. By default, pressing left and right on the four-way controller doesn't scroll between images, but zooms in and out instead. Scrolling through your shots is achieved by rotating the control dial, which took us some getting used to. This behaviour can be changed, but the relevant custom option is buried deep in the settings menu.

It won't take a reasonably seasoned photographer long to get to grips with the Mini's handling idiosyncrasies (especially if they're used to the Olympus 'way of doing things') but we do get the feeling that some of the functions that on the E-PL3 are controlled by physical buttons have simply been grafted onto the Mini's UI wherever Olympus's designers found room.

Add-on FL-LM1 flash unit (supplied)

The PEN Mini comes with a clip-in flash, just like its near-twin the E-PL3. It's a compact unit that slides onto the hot shoe and draws its power from the accessory port.

The benefit is a smaller camera body when you're not using flash, but the down-side is that you can't use flash alongside any other accessory, such as an EVF or the PENPal Bluetooth unit.

Body elements

The E-PM1 has a dedicated movie button on the back, which allows you to start recording at any time (you don't have to switch the camera into a separate movie mode).
Like both the E-P3 and E-PL3, the Mini has an AF illumination lamp. This can be disabled if you're trying to be unobtrusive in your shooting, but can really help with low-light focusing.
The Mini has the AP2-spec accessory slot, allowing use of add-ons such as the PENPal Bluetooth image sharing unit.

It also means you can use either the VF-2 or less expensive, lower-resolution VF-3 electronic viewfinder. These are handy for working in bright light and encourage a more stable to-the-eye shooting position.
The E-PM1 uses the same connectors as the other PENs. There's a multi-purpose USB/AV out/remote control socket (compatible with Olympus' RM-UC1 cable release), and a mini-HDMI connector for connecting to your TV.
The E-PM1 uses the same BLS-5 battery as used in all the recent PEN models, but is also fully compatible with the older BLS-1 type as used in several previous PENs and E-system cameras. (The company isn't specific about which battery the camera comes with - it seems you could get either one)

The memory card slot as usual is beside the battery, and accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC types.

Hands-on video*

*Note that this video was prepared as part of our original preview content on the PEN Mini