The world?s first digital SLR to feature a live colour view on its LCD screen has been unveiled by Olympus.

Due out in March, the E-330 boasts a new 7.5-million-pixel Live MOS sensor to capture images and is compatible with Olympus E-system lenses.

The E-330 appears to be the first digital SLR to include a genuinely usable colour live view screen. Though Fujifilm?s FinePix S3 Pro digital SLR included a live view feature, this was a relatively primitive version.

The E-330 features a live preview mode, which allows the use of AF when framing shots. This uses a separate 5MP CCD that is mounted in the viewfinder?s optical path to display what, in theory, should be a good-quality image on the LCD monitor due to the use of a relatively high-resolution sensor in this way. Olympus claims this mode enables a 92% field of view on the LCD monitor.

A second mode uses Olympus?s new 7.5MP MOS sensor and is claimed to deliver a ?live view with a 100% field of view?. The mirror is locked in the up position and the photographer must focus manually using this feature, which is claimed to be particularly useful for focusing on macro subjects ? a situation where framing the subject could be awkward using a conventional viewfinder.

?It provides the freedom of complete manual focus control aided by the facility to magnify the central section of the displayed image by 10x?, says the company.

Olympus hopes the ?tilt and swivel? 2.5in screen will mean macro photographers in particular ?won?t need to bend themselves into uncomfortable positions to look through the viewfinder when framing low-level shots?.

The HyperCrystal (215,250 pixel) LCD display is claimed to deliver a 160° viewing angle.

Full details of this groundbreaking camera will appear in next week?s issue of AP, in shops on 31 January.