Olympus is gearing up for the launch of its first Micro FourThirds camera.

Based on a similar design to its original 35mm PEN film camera, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the new Olympus model will be its first compact digital camera to use the FourThirds technology introduced in digital SLR cameras.

Precise details of the camera remain under wraps, though sample images appeared on the Gizmodo blog site yesterday and is widely expected to be named the EP-1.

Last month Olympus revealed that the compact camera will be marginally smaller than the Panasonic G1 bridge camera (one that combines elements of a digital SLR with the smaller proportions of a compact camera) which also uses the Micro FourThirds lens and has been garnering rave reviews. Olympus' model will measure 119x64x31mm and will be able to take alternative lenses. It will have a separate viewfinder

Olympus says the Micro FourThirds model will be an "ultra-compact interchangeable lens type digital camera system unlike anything seen before".

Olympus and Panasonic jointly created the FourThirds standard. The technology allows digital SLR cameras to offer a similar 4:3 aspect ratio to compact cameras, whereas dSLR cameras generally mimic the 3:2 aspect ratio of 35mm film cameras. The Micro FourThirds lens is 6mm smaller than the original FourThirds design and is able to accommodate 16:9 aspect ratios too.

Olympus is offering digital photo fans to get a sneak peek at what the new camera will be like via its registration page at: http://www.olympus-consumer.com/en/promotions/mft.popup