The main menu is also more like that of a compact camera, with a somewhat limited range of options. Image aspect ratio can be adjusted, but since the Four Thirds sensor has a native 4:3 aspect ratio this gives the largest picture size. For colour control it has the Picture Mode option, a set of tone adjustment pre-sets that can be customised for contrast, sharpness, saturation and tonal gradation, but that is the limit of the creative control.
Exposure options are also more restricted than on the previous Pen E series models, with shutter speeds of only 60 seconds to 1/2000th of a second available, rather than the 30 minutes to 1/4000th of a second found on the E-P2. The aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22 with the standard kit lens does at least offer more versatility than most compacts, and both aperture and ISO setting can be adjusted in 1/3EV increments.
One of the features of the E-PL1 that is significantly cut down relative to the E-P1 and E-P2 is the video mode. It can shoot in 1280 x 720 HD resolution at 30 frames per second, but audio is only recorded in mono, via a small built-in microphone located just in front of the flash hot-shoe. Both video and audio quality are very good, but the microphone lacks directionality, picking up sounds from behind the camera just as loudly as in front. It has a dedicated button to start video recording. Video is recorded in Motion JPEG format, with a maximum recording time of 14 minutes or 2GB.
The range of Pen E lenses is rather limited, with only four currently available, but there are two adapters to allow both Olympus DSLR and older OM 35mm SLR lenses to be attached, offering a much wider range.