The Olympus OM-D E-M5 adds a built-in electronic viewfinder to a new line of micro four thirds cameras as the brand makes a fresh bid to return to its historic roots.

Olympus officially lifted the OM-D?s global press embargo at 2am UK time today, following weeks of speculation on the internet.

Toshi Terada, Olympus?s SLR planning manager, said the company wants to go back to its origins with a design echoing the traditional OM series of film-based SLRs launched around four decades ago.

The ?lightweight, compact? body echoes that of its analogue predecessors, according to Olympus.

UK photographers are expected to get their first look at the E-M5 when it goes on show at the Focus on Imaging show in Birmingham, which starts on 4 March.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

The E-M5, expected to be the first of a series, will run alongside Olympus?s current Pen-branded micro four thirds models.

?The integrated 1.44-million-dot, high-definition electronic viewfinder lets the photographer check manual adjustments to brightness and colour tones on-screen. And it has a new interface for exceptionally easy viewing,? claimed the firm in a statement.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) incorporates a claimed 100% field of view and maximum magnification of 1.15x.

Olympus UK?s national marketing manager, Mark Thackara, said that the company was responding to calls from film camera users who asked: ?Why can?t a camera be more like a camera??

Thackara described the OM-D E-M5 as ?classic? and a ?logical consequence of evolution in design?.

He added: ?A familiar, well-loved shape with controls where they should be.?

Olympus points out that, unlike an optical viewfinder, the EVF also displays the effects of manual adjustments and art filters.

Olympus OM-D

An EVF Creative Control mode allows the user to alter highlight and adjustment brightness, white balance, magnification and aspect ratio without taking their eye away from the viewfinder.

The E-M5, which will be compatible with current micro four thirds lenses, includes an eye sensor that aims to allow photographers to automatically switch between rear panel monitor and EVF viewing.

The launch comes on the back of a Japanese survey of Olympus Pen E-P3 users, in which almost 40% declared a desire for a built-in EVF.

The E-M5 features a 16.1-million-pixel imaging sensor and a TruePic VI image processor. It also boasts what Olympus claims is the world?s first ?five-axis? image stabilisation, designed to correct for horizontal and vertical shift and rotary motion (rolling).

?Current image stabilisation systems can keep an image sharp in the centre but not in the corner,? claimed the firm, adding that this feature should be useful for macro shooting.

The newcomer is claimed to possess faster AF communication between the camera and lens than the Pen E-P3, with a maximum burst rate of 9fps. In continuous AF mode this rate drops to 4.2fps.

Claimed to have the same ?proof performance? as the Olympus E-5 [four thirds DSLR], the magnesium-alloy-bodied OM-D is designed to be dust and splashproof.

New, optional, accessories will include a ?dust and splashproof? HLD-6 power battery holder grip and FL-600R electronic flash (GN 36m @ ISO 100), plus an MMF-3 four thirds adapter.

The flash will include an LED light, designed to help video shoots, and the grip includes an extra shutter release for portrait-format images, as well as an additional lithium-ion battery.

The E-M5 is due to go on sale in April, as a £1,149.99 kit that includes an M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens.

It will also be out body-only at a price yet to be confirmed.

Features also include a tiltable, 3in OLED touchscreen (610,000-dot resolution), top equivalent ISO sensitivity of 25,600 and a new ?Key Line? filter, designed to enhance edge lines and ?allow the picture to look more like an illustration?.

Also on board is a full HD (1920×1080-pixel) movie function that adopts the MPEG 4 file format.

Two new lenses will follow ?later this year? at prices yet to be announced: an M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 and a ?dust and splashproof? M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 macro.

The camera will be available in a choice of black or silver.

Olymous MM-D with flashOlympus OM-DOlympus OM-D