E-PL1 Questions from a Nikon DSLR user

Started Sep 7, 2010 | Discussions
fermy
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Re: I'm not just talking about AF...
In reply to Sam Bennett, Sep 9, 2010

Sam Bennett wrote:

I think part of the problem here is defining what's an "action shot"

Agreed

The place I found the E-PL1 to be problematic is where either you or your subject is moving and you need to be able to track with that movement.

Right. I didn't realy try focus tracking myself, but I've read plenty of comments from other users that all are saying pretty much the same thing "focus tracking is unusable" to not even try.

What unstable liveview feed? You mean Live view is not stabilized as in IS not working in liveview? Otherwise live view on my E-PL1 is exactly what my lens sees at any given moment, not something it saw 2 seconds ago. There must be some major difference between out settings because I just don't understand what you are writing about. I really don't.

It may come down to Face Detect, that's all I can think. But you can see by the video that the Live View is "jerking" as you move around and re-focus. That's what I mean by "unstable". There's also a exposure "ramping" effect that's distracting.

I think it is the face detect, because I never experienced such jerkiness myself.

Yeah, that's the silliness I was talking about. Actually any filter (not just ND) will take you to the same exposure as you'd get on GF-1. You need only one filter too as there is only one native fast lens. If all other problems that you are talking about are of the same magnitude...

I often go between shooting indoors and outdoors, and removing and replacing an ND filter just isn't going to happen. I take my GF1 everywhere, usually sitting on my hip in a holster - I don't have a bag with me unless I'm out specifically to shoot. Again, since the GF1 gives me both a real ISO 100 and a 1/4000th shutter speed, it its just better suited to me in this regard.

Sure, one can easily come up with scenario where 1 extra stop of shutter speed is useful and I would rather have that stop than not. However, when this is presented as a major advantage/disadvantage, I am incredulous since it's very straightforward to deal with.

Coming back to the original discussion, I think we can agree that if Face detect + AF tracking are important, then E-PL1 is not the best camera. However, when you stick to single frame AF, the performance is good enough.

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Sam Bennett
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Re: I'm not just talking about AF...
In reply to fermy, Sep 9, 2010

fermy wrote:

The place I found the E-PL1 to be problematic is where either you or your subject is moving and you need to be able to track with that movement.

Right. I didn't realy try focus tracking myself, but I've read plenty of comments from other users that all are saying pretty much the same thing "focus tracking is unusable" to not even try.

Argh! Okay, sorry... shouldn't use the word "tracking" since it also means different things to different users. I'm not talking of a feature of the camera, I mean that as my subject moves, I move as well. "Action" to me is much faster - you may have to "track" a crawling baby, but that's not what I would call "action". I don't use AF-C at all, I just refocus if I think the shot is being pulled out of focus.

I often go between shooting indoors and outdoors, and removing and replacing an ND filter just isn't going to happen. I take my GF1 everywhere, usually sitting on my hip in a holster - I don't have a bag with me unless I'm out specifically to shoot. Again, since the GF1 gives me both a real ISO 100 and a 1/4000th shutter speed, it its just better suited to me in this regard.

Sure, one can easily come up with scenario where 1 extra stop of shutter speed is useful and I would rather have that stop than not. However, when this is presented as a major advantage/disadvantage, I am incredulous since it's very straightforward to deal with.

The difference between ISO 100 and 1/4000th and ISO 200 and 1/2000th is actually 2 stops . All I can say is I found it in practice to be problematic. It's especially painful since MFT as a format is already pretty poor in the DR department.

You are right that it's "easy" to deal with, but even as a very experienced photographer I don't feel like it's a limitation I'm willing to accept in my gear. For people just using the kit lens, it's not going to be that big of a deal. But if you're going to be using fast glass, I definitely think it's something to keep in mind.

Coming back to the original discussion, I think we can agree that if Face detect + AF tracking are important, then E-PL1 is not the best camera. However, when you stick to single frame AF, the performance is good enough.

I'll take your word for it. I'm such a Face Detect junky that I honestly just don't remember the performance improving dramatically - but I may not have played around with it enough to tell. Typically if I'm using Single Point AF I'm doing close-up shots of inanimate objects, where the performance "problem" wouldn't really be as apparent to begin with.

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SaltLakeGuy
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From a Nikon user
In reply to snegron, Sep 9, 2010

that also happens to have a D5000 AND the PL1. First and foremost as I've seen so much whining over the months since the PL1's release regarding it's lack of speed and such, I can say that if one were attempting to buy one with the intent of shooting fast moving subjects, be they brats, animals or jet aircraft they should perhaps look elsewhere. If their intent is to shoot reasonably static subjects and landscape look NO further. It will render the sweetest large prints ANY of the current offerings of m4/3 cameras can or will with the exception of perhaps the GH-1 Panasonic. I trusted the PL1 and a grouping of nice m4/3rd lenses on my last vacation to the Northwest and I must say it really impressed me. The color quality and low noise of the output of this camera is more than I expected. The 13x19 prints are virtual equals to most if not just many of those taken from a D300 and D700 I used prior. My D700 is getting real lonely as the PL1 is just so fun and easy to use for my outdoor and indoor shooting these days. A 20mm f1.7 does some amazing stuff indoors with NO flash needed, and the 14-140OIS or 45-200OIS do the trick for the extra reach stuff. The 14-140OIS by the way on a PL1 with continuous focus enabled tracks as well as my Sony camcorder for focus which really surprised me. So the bottom line for ME is it made the most sense to get a PL1. I tried a GF-1 and sent it back. I prefer the feel of the grip on the PL1 as well as the OOC Jpegs and built in image stabilization. If fast moving subjects is your thing, frankly I wouldn't even go anywhere else BUT with a Panasonic GH-1 at this point. Otherwise the PL1 will fit the bill.

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snegron
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I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to sean000, Sep 9, 2010

I went to Best Buy and tried the E-PL1 today. Ironically, the salesperson wanted to sell me a Nikon DSLR! I politely informed him that I was there to try the E-PL1, but he was pretty persistant.

Anyway, I got to play around a bit with the E-PL1 finally. It was a bit larger (and lighter) than I expected. My impression was that in terms of speed (from the time I press the shutter release button to the time it captures the image) it felt pretty much the same as my LX3. The kit lens was longer and larger than I thought it would be. The battery went dead halfway through my testing, so I couldn't play around with all of its features. Also, the salesman was starting to get on my nerves.

I would love to try the GF1, unfortunately Best Buy doesn't carry it so I might not get the chance. I really like the idea of getting a M4/3 camera, but I think I will have to do more research (and wait until I have more cash) before I buy into it.

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Sam Bennett
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Re: I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to snegron, Sep 9, 2010

snegron wrote:

My impression was that in terms of speed (from the time I press the shutter release button to the time it captures the image) it felt pretty much the same as my LX3.

That probably includes AF time, so unless you know you were working with an E-PL1 that has the newest Firmware, that can be very misleading.

Also, keep in mind that once the E-PL1 is focused, its shutter lag is very low - lower than some dSLRs.

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sean000
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Re: I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to snegron, Sep 9, 2010

snegron wrote:

I went to Best Buy and tried the E-PL1 today. Ironically, the salesperson wanted to sell me a Nikon DSLR! I politely informed him that I was there to try the E-PL1, but he was pretty persistant.

Heh. Since you already own Nikon DSLRs, maybe he had you pegged?

Anyway, I got to play around a bit with the E-PL1 finally. It was a bit larger (and lighter) than I expected. My impression was that in terms of speed (from the time I press the shutter release button to the time it captures the image) it felt pretty much the same as my LX3. The kit lens was longer and larger than I thought it would be. The battery went dead halfway through my testing, so I couldn't play around with all of its features. Also, the salesman was starting to get on my nerves.

Bummer. The battery probably lasts a long time, so it's unfortunate you got there when it needed a recharge. I think my GF1 battery lasts as long as the batteries for my DSLRs. On the speed thing: As Sam said this E-PL1 probably didn't have the latest firmware, but I would bet the GF1 will feel snappier to you anyway. I never feel like I'm waiting on it.

The GF1 will also seem larger than expected...and probably just as heavy as you expect. It's a lot like an LX3 on steroids. The interface is similar to my old LX2, but with some improvements that make it pretty fast to change just about any setting.

I would love to try the GF1, unfortunately Best Buy doesn't carry it so I might not get the chance. I really like the idea of getting a M4/3 camera, but I think I will have to do more research (and wait until I have more cash) before I buy into it.

Perhaps by the time you are ready to buy one there will be even more options. Panasonic is expected to release a GF2 in 2011, and 2011 will bring more mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras in general. Maybe even something from Nikon.

I sold my LX2 and a couple of Nikon lenses that would have been redundant to get my GF1 kit. I still have far more DSLR kit than m4/3, but I'm thinking about selling a another Nikon lens so I can get another m4/3 lens. It's nice that I can at least use my Nikon lenses on the GF1 with an adapter, but of course the field of view is a lot tighter.

Sean

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Gregm61
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Re: I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to snegron, Sep 9, 2010

snegron wrote:

I went to Best Buy and tried the E-PL1 today. Ironically, the salesperson wanted to sell me a Nikon DSLR! I politely informed him that I was there to try the E-PL1, but he was pretty persistant.

Anyway, I got to play around a bit with the E-PL1 finally. It was a bit larger (and lighter) than I expected. My impression was that in terms of speed (from the time I press the shutter release button to the time it captures the image) it felt pretty much the same as my LX3. The kit lens was longer and larger than I thought it would be. The battery went dead halfway through my testing, so I couldn't play around with all of its features. Also, the salesman was starting to get on my nerves.

The kit lens, of all the made-for-micro-lenses, is going to be the worst performing of the lot in terms of speed, optically (f3.5-5.6) or focussing. It's also the cheesiest in terms of just how it feels. It is probably no faster than a camera like the LX3 and not a really good indicator of how good the system can be when used with the better, more expensive lenses, which you may not be wanting to buy.

It's when you start comparing files shot at ISO 800 and higher where you start appreciating it over an LX3.

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Sam Bennett
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Re: I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to sean000, Sep 9, 2010

sean000 wrote:

I think my GF1 battery lasts as long as the batteries for my DSLRs.

The GF1 definitely doesn't last as long as my D700 - it's usually good for about 400 shots, depending on whether I'm using IS or not, etc.

The GF1 will also seem larger than expected...

Hah! After having to use the D700 while my GF1 was out on loan I was just shocked at how light it felt when I got it back! LOL But you're right, some may go into it expecting it to be like a P&S, which it's not. The E-PL1 is definitely chunkier - has more of a "My First Camera" feel to it. That's not to say it feels cheap, it doesn't - but it's not quite as slick (literally and figuratively) as the GF1, imo.

I sold my LX2 and a couple of Nikon lenses that would have been redundant to get my GF1 kit. I still have far more DSLR kit than m4/3, but I'm thinking about selling a another Nikon lens so I can get another m4/3 lens.

Since I've essentially stopped shooting professionally, I'm about 95% sure I'll be selling the rest of my Nikon gear after I shoot my last event scheduled this year, next weekend. Spending the last two weeks with the D700 was pretty eye-opening. Not only is the D700 big, heavy and awkward to wear around town, but... I don't like shooting portraiture with it, it's as simple as that. The D700 has absolutely outstanding IQ - especially in terms of DR and noise - but I almost exclusively shoot "socially" at this point, and the D700 is just feels like a somewhat archaic burden at this point. Looking through a viewfinder might make you look cool to others, but it's actually very limiting in a lot of ways. I enjoy the act of photographing more with the GF1, by and large. This has been the most surprising aspect of owning the GF1.

Selling my D700 will coincide with about a year spent with the GF1, so I'll be starting up a thread exploring my experience more. Needless to say, there's some shooting I used to do frequently where I wouldn't even consider shooting with the GF1 and the D700 was and is still fantastic for that kind of work. But like the E-PL1, even the venerable D700 doesn't quite fit my needs right now.

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Guy Parsons
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Re the LX3 comment.....
In reply to snegron, Sep 9, 2010

snegron wrote:

I really like my LX3, but I find it to be a bit slow.

Now that is what I don't find, my LX3 seems quick enough either shot to shot or focus time etc is all good. On the other hand my E-PL1 with Oly 11-22mm lens via adapter can take for ages to find focus especially in low light.

My LX3 uses a Class 6 card that tests at Class 10, I usually shoot jpeg but last holiday was jpeg plus RAW and didn't notice any delays, except when turning off the camera, as it waited until the RAW was written before shutting down, added a second or so to shutdown but not a problem at all.

I use P mode maybe 90%, A mode maybe 9.5%, M mode maybe 0.5% with foreign flashes.

Focus is 1 area centre, never use face recognition or iA mode or scene modes which do slow things down. Focus is slow if in macro mode but that's normal.

I use 2 second auto review after shot but can reshoot any time as no need to wait for review to finish or for RAW to finish writing.

I do maintain some ratty pages on LX3 that may be of interest http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~parsog/panasonic/01-intro.html

All in all I find it the fastest camera that I have ever used.

Meanwhile if considering E-PL1 it is a must to figure in the cost of the VF-2 electronic viewfinder as the LCD is hopeless in sunlight.

Regards............... Guy

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sean000
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Re: I tried the E-PL1 today
In reply to Sam Bennett, Sep 9, 2010

Sam Bennett wrote:

sean000 wrote:

I think my GF1 battery lasts as long as the batteries for my DSLRs.

The GF1 definitely doesn't last as long as my D700 - it's usually good for about 400 shots, depending on whether I'm using IS or not, etc.

The D300 is supposed to get much better battery life than my D200, despite using the same battery... so maybe the same is true for the D700? Not that I really have any complaints about battery life on my D200, and my GF1 seems to do just as well if not better. Tough to say though since so much depends on how you use the camera.

The GF1 will also seem larger than expected...

Hah! After having to use the D700 while my GF1 was out on loan I was just shocked at how light it felt when I got it back! LOL But you're right, some may go into it expecting it to be like a P&S, which it's not. The E-PL1 is definitely chunkier - has more of a "My First Camera" feel to it. That's not to say it feels cheap, it doesn't - but it's not quite as slick (literally and figuratively) as the GF1, imo.

I don't think I would want the GF1 to be any lighter or smaller. It's a nice size for me. Definitely more portable than my DSLR, but not so small that I hate using it. But since the GF1 resembles the LX line, it looked big to me at first when compared to my old LX2...but in a good way.

Since I've essentially stopped shooting professionally, I'm about 95% sure I'll be selling the rest of my Nikon gear after I shoot my last event scheduled this year, next weekend. Spending the last two weeks with the D700 was pretty eye-opening. Not only is the D700 big, heavy and awkward to wear around town, but... I don't like shooting portraiture with it, it's as simple as that. The D700 has absolutely outstanding IQ - especially in terms of DR and noise - but I almost exclusively shoot "socially" at this point, and the D700 is just feels like a somewhat archaic burden at this point. Looking through a viewfinder might make you look cool to others, but it's actually very limiting in a lot of ways. I enjoy the act of photographing more with the GF1, by and large. This has been the most surprising aspect of owning the GF1.

I totally understand where you are coming from Sam. I have a part-time photography business and last Fall I was planning to take it full time because I expected to get laid off from my day job. So I was getting ready to invest in some additional photography gear that included a D700, some additional studio and event gear, etc. When it turned out that my day job would be spared, I decided to avoid professional gigs for awhile since we had a baby on the way (who was just born four weeks ago). I already knew that for my own personal photography I wanted a m4/3 kit, and based on reviews and some of the posts I read here (including yours) I was pretty certain I wanted a GF1.... which I finally bought in January with the 20mm f/1.7. Since then I've probably taken more photos with my GF1 than with my D200, and most of my favorite photos of the year so far have been taken with the GF1. The first photos of our baby girl were taken using the GF1 and 20mm... as well as most of the photos of her since then.

Selling my D700 will coincide with about a year spent with the GF1, so I'll be starting up a thread exploring my experience more. Needless to say, there's some shooting I used to do frequently where I wouldn't even consider shooting with the GF1 and the D700 was and is still fantastic for that kind of work. But like the E-PL1, even the venerable D700 doesn't quite fit my needs right now.

The things I would miss about owning the DSLR gear mostly have to do with professional shooting or types of shots I don't take very often: The convenience of fast f/2.8 standard and telephoto zooms, being able to control the output of multiple off-camera flashguns, etc. I will also use my D200 and pro lenses in harsher conditions than I would my m4/3 gear, but I don't need to shoot in the rain that often. Same goes for sports. I just don't shoot a lot of action, but when I do I appreciate having a camera that can keep up. Then again for most of the "action" shots I take, like my nieces playing soccer or our dogs running around, the GF1 does just fine. For 90% of my personal photography the GF1 is just as good, and I prefer using it in a lot of situations... especially now that we have baby gear to haul around. It's usually the camera I reach for first, even when my D200 is right there. My wife and other friends/family would much rather use the GF1 as well. Even when I set my D200 up so someone just needs to point & shoot, it still intimidates them. So the GF1 is better for times when I want to be in the shot, except for the fact that I can put the D200 on a tripod and program it to shoot a series of timed shots. That's always been handy for impromptu group shots and self-portraits.

So I plan to keep my D200, but thin out my DSLR gear. I have a lot of redundancy, but that's because I've needed backup gear when I shoot a gig. Right now I'm not advertising my services and may not do so for a long time...so I'm thinking about selling some of it so I can get an ultrawide for the GF1. The two systems also compliment each other very well. I love using my Nikon 50mm and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 on the GF1 for portraits, and I like to use the GF1 as an additional camera when I'm shooting with my Nikon. I can keep a telephoto on the D200 and wear the GF1 with the 20mm around my neck. Of course then I really look like a camera dork

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Sam Bennett
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Glad to see someone knows where I'm coming from...
In reply to sean000, Sep 10, 2010

sean000 wrote:

I don't think I would want the GF1 to be any lighter or smaller. It's a nice size for me. Definitely more portable than my DSLR, but not so small that I hate using it.

Yep. I feel like the GF1 could slim down a bit more, but not a lot. Like what Sony's done with optimizing the space between the back of the LCD and the lens mount. I think if the GF1 shrunk in that dimension it would make it even more pocketable. If they shrunk it "around" the battery, they could leave a nice grip. In any case, the GF1 still has a pretty "just right" size to it for me.

The things I would miss about owning the DSLR gear mostly have to do with professional shooting or types of shots I don't take very often: The convenience of fast f/2.8 standard and telephoto zooms, being able to control the output of multiple off-camera flashguns, etc.

Absolutely. Being able to shoot with f/2.8 zooms and still have great DoF control on the shallow side is fantastic, especially for event work where you need the flexibility of a zoom for the situations you find yourself, the speed needed to "get the shot" in some all while maintaining a good amount of separation with your subject, even at moderate distances. There's no doubt that FF is a really powerful tool for some kinds of work.

I will also use my D200 and pro lenses in harsher conditions than I would my m4/3 gear, but I don't need to shoot in the rain that often.

Yep. The times I've used my D700 over the past year outside my pro work has been in rain/snow.

Same goes for sports. I just don't shoot a lot of action, but when I do I appreciate having a camera that can keep up. Then again for most of the "action" shots I take, like my nieces playing soccer or our dogs running around, the GF1 does just fine.

I'm definitely a little concerned that as Al gets older I'll regret not having a camera with a competent continuous focusing mode. As much as I love the GF1, I think its AF-C mode is pretty pathetic when it comes to action shooting. Al's running around a lot and so far I'm able to keep up with him pretty well with the GF1 just by being smart about focusing - moving with him once focus is locked, etc.

My wife and other friends/family would much rather use the GF1 as well. Even when I set my D200 up so someone just needs to point & shoot, it still intimidates them.

Yep, same here. My wife shoots a lot more now with the GF1 in the house than she did with the D50, and certainly the D700 (although she was very familiar using the D700 since she'd help me on shoots).

So I plan to keep my D200, but thin out my DSLR gear. I have a lot of redundancy, but that's because I've needed backup gear when I shoot a gig. Right now I'm not advertising my services and may not do so for a long time...so I'm thinking about selling some of it so I can get an ultrawide for the GF1. The two systems also compliment each other very well. I love using my Nikon 50mm and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 on the GF1 for portraits, and I like to use the GF1 as an additional camera when I'm shooting with my Nikon. I can keep a telephoto on the D200 and wear the GF1 with the 20mm around my neck. Of course then I really look like a camera dork

Sounds like a smart approach. It will be interesting to see if I can really make the break - I've thought about getting rid of the D700 before but talked myself out of it! If I'm going to have a dSLR, there's no doubt I'd want it to be FF, so financially just hanging on to the D700 probably makes the most sense. If someone down the line comes out with a significantly more portable FF, well....

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2005magnum
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Re: E-PL1 Questions from a Nikon DSLR user
In reply to snegron, Sep 10, 2010

Here is an article from Popular Photography. E-PL1 used at U.S. Open Tennis by an editor from the magazine:

http://www.popphoto.com/us-open/2010/09/shooting-us-open-olympus-e-pl1
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http://digitalphotonut.zenfolio.com

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MNE
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Re: E-PL1 Questions from a Nikon DSLR user
In reply to snegron, Sep 10, 2010

I had many Nikons over the years with heavy lenses. They stayed home most of the time and I didn't look forward to lugging around a 40lb backpack + tripod when hiking.

I did a lot of research and decided on the E-PL1. I also looked seriously at the Olympus E-620 and the Panasonic DF1.

Image quality on the E-PL1 is top-knotch, even with the kit lens. I agree with the others that the prime lenses (Panasonic 20mm and Olympus 17) are better for IQ. I plan to add some better lenses in the future.

My brother who is a new photo enthusiast is using a Nikon D90 with SB-60 (I think), flash cord (SC-17?) 60 2.8 micro, 18-70 -- wants to get a 300 2.8 AFD VR. He will be sick of lugging around the weight also. The E-PL1 photos are just as sharp as the D90 and I think that the Auto Gradation with the E-PL1 gives it an edge on highlight and shadow detail.

As many sau, the best camera is the one you will carry with you.

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amalric
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Re: E-PL1 Questions from a Nikon DSLR user
In reply to MNE, Sep 10, 2010

MNE wrote:

The E-PL1 photos are just as sharp as the D90 and I think that the Auto Gradation with the E-PL1 gives it an edge on highlight and shadow detail.

Yes, this is important and works very well. As I live in a high contrast country, it is an essentail feature

As many sau, the best camera is the one you will carry with you.

Especially when you are using public transportation, as I do most of the time.

Am.

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Dr 2011
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Re: I'm not just talking about AF...
In reply to Sam Bennett, Apr 6, 2011

Sam Bennett wrote:

the 20mm is not a magic bullet for the E-PL1's ability to focus in low light. Certainly it helps and will give you better results than the kit lens, but if you're focusing in truly low light the E-PL1 will poop out regardless - that's where the GF1's AF assist lamp can really save the day.

I completely agree with you here.

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jalywol
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Re: I'm not just talking about AF...
In reply to Dr 2011, Apr 6, 2011

Dr 2011 wrote:

Sam Bennett wrote:

the 20mm is not a magic bullet for the E-PL1's ability to focus in low light. Certainly it helps and will give you better results than the kit lens, but if you're focusing in truly low light the E-PL1 will poop out regardless - that's where the GF1's AF assist lamp can really save the day.

I completely agree with you here.

WOW, you had to go back SEVEN MONTHS to dig up a post to troll about!!!! WOW, you must have a ton of time on your hands!!!! I am very impressed with your dogged determination!

-J

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tedolf
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In reply to jalywol, Apr 6, 2011

jalywol wrote:

Dr 2011 wrote:

Sam Bennett wrote:

the 20mm is not a magic bullet for the E-PL1's ability to focus in low light. Certainly it helps and will give you better results than the kit lens, but if you're focusing in truly low light the E-PL1 will poop out regardless - that's where the GF1's AF assist lamp can really save the day.

I completely agree with you here.

WOW, you had to go back SEVEN MONTHS to dig up a post to troll about!!!! WOW, you must have a ton of time on your hands!!!! I am very impressed with your dogged determination!

-J

now this is the kind of effort I expect form a dedicated Troll.

Good work Dr. 2011, carry on.

Tedolph,

Formerly King of Trolls

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