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It's time we had a splash of colour about the place. The Olympus Pen Mini E-PM1 is one of the smallest lens-swapping cameras around, and it brings with it a rainbow of colour options -- even if it is missing a flash.

The Pen Mini is a 12.3-megapixel snapper that lets you swap lenses for different situations and effects. Features like a handy 'live guide' and special effects, including soft focus and colourful pop art, make it easy to use for beginners.

It's packed with features, however, and would function as a back-up for any advanced photographer not put off by the cheerful colours. Maybe paparazzi should carry around more colourful cameras, and brighten the place up. Click through our photo gallery for a look at the different colour options.

The Pen Mini's size puts it up against the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 and the newly-announced Lumix DMC-GF3. They're all pushing the boundaries of how small a camera can be and still provide room for the lens mount on the front. With a slim-line pancake lens bolted on, they're very small indeed.

The price of small size is usually a reduction in features, and the Pen Mini is lacking a couple of things you'd think of as standard -- primarily, a flash and viewfinder. If you want a flash or a viewfinder, you'll have to stick one on the hotshoe, and it's only one accessory at a time up there, so you have a dilemma if you need both.

Fortunately, Olympus has learnt its lesson from earlier flash-related controversy, and is supplying a tiltable, adjustable flash accessory with the Pen Mini, rather than making you purchase it separately. The first digital Pen, the Pen E-P1, didn't have a flash built in, but some subsequent Pen snappers have added them.

Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic aren't the only lens-swapping snappers in town. Sony has its beginner-friendly NEX range, Samsung has the NX line, and Pentax has just weighed in with the Q system.

The Pen Mini launches today alongside the Pen Lite E-PL3 and Pen E-P3, which offer the same kitsch, retro styling as their predecessors in the Pen range.

The three cameras will launch in the autumn. Pricing information for the Pen Mini hasn't been announced yet.

Does this new Pen get your ink flowing? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

Here's the more conservative black model.
Here's a model for polar bears.
Good old-fashioned silver.
The hotshoe supports a flash or viewfinder or other accessories.
This one will go nicely with a chilled glass of Rose.
The 3-inch screen at the back.
Brown. Who wants a brown camera?


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