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Sometimes looking to the past to inspire designs of the future is inspired by nothing more than fashion, but sometimes, it actually serves a functional purpose. Enter Olympus’s freshly announced EP-1, which recreate a form factor we haven’t seen a lot of since the film era: a sleek, compact body with interchangeable lenses.

This made possible by the Micro Four Thirds system–Olympus and Panasonic’s joint specification for smaller digital cameras with electronic viewfinders, slightly smaller image sensors and interchangeable lenses. The only camera available now using the system, Panasonic’s G1, retained all the design tropes of a traditional SLR camera, including the larger size and bulge up top for a pentaprism optical viewfinder, even though there was no pentaprism to be found.

The EP-1 though delivers on a new form factor lots of enthusiast photographers have been wanting (including, ahem, me)–a small camera they can stick into a small bag or even in large pocket for portability that still has interchangeable lenses. All of the lenses designed for the Micro Four Thirds system will work with the EP-1; and even more exciting is the availability of an adapter for the system that connects lenses with the Leica M-mount–some of the best rangefinder-style lenses ever made.

And the EP-1 also does something no vintage film camera could ever dream of–capture HD video at 720p/30fps.

The EP-1 will be out in July–$749 with the body only, $799 with a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, or $899 with a nice looking 17mm f/2.8 fixed focal length lens. DP Review has a hands-on preview for more info.

DP Review

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