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Just posted: Olympus E-PM1 (PEN Mini) preview and video

By dpreview staff on Oct 4, 2011 at 20:00 GMT

Just Posted: Olympus PEN Mini preview and video. Behind the bluster of the latest announcements, the Olympus E-PM1 has started hitting the shelves. In many respects it's pretty similar to the E-PL3 (and it features most of that camera's enhancements over the previous PEN models). It's built around the familiar 12MP sensor, shoots 1080i60 HD video and features an array of Olympus' Art Filters. It stands out in one respect though - it's the least expensive mirrorless interchangeable lens camera we've yet seen (in terms of list price). We're working on a review but, in the meantime, have put together a preview article and video.

Click here to read our hands-on Olympus E-PM1 preview

Olympus E-PM1 hands-on preview video

111
I own it
6
I want it
45
I had it
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Comments

Total comments: 40
rocklobster
By rocklobster (Oct 6, 2011)

If you look at the RAW files from the E-Px and the G3 there is not much difference in noise levels at ISO 1600 for example and while the G3 does a better job with JPEGs and noise at this setting, I believe that the Olympus JPEGs are superior at ISO 800 and lower. Colour, white balance and tonal quality are at least as good AND the Olympus cameras have IBIS so those small pancakes and any other (older legacy) lenses without IS give the E-Px an advantage. Size wise, the E-PM1 with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (or the 14mm F2.5) has no peer for low-light performance because of IBIS.

1 upvote
BKK Street
By BKK Street (Oct 7, 2011)

All good points. And the E-PM1 is better looking too. I just couldn't live without the swivel LCD, and love the touch screen. If/when I get the Oly 45 1.8 I will really miss the Oly image stabilization though (not as much of an issue with the 20 1.7

They are both great cameras.

0 upvotes
BKK Street
By BKK Street (Oct 5, 2011)

As a very satisfied (thrilled actually) Panasonic G3 owner (with 20 1.7) I thought the Pen Mini would be significantly lighter than the G3. According to the respective Panasonic and Olympus websites, G3 is 9.31 oz w. battery and SD card and E-PM1 is 9.34 oz. And the G3 has a built in flash, EVF and tilt/swivel LCD touch screen. And a new generation sensor. All for about $200 more. It's well worth the price difference.

0 upvotes
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 5, 2011)

Yes a bit jealous of that sensor!

0 upvotes
Looleylaylow
By Looleylaylow (Oct 5, 2011)

Thanks for posting about your surge in self esteem.Cognitive dissonance and buyer's remorse can indeed be painful. Glad you worked it out.

0 upvotes
bryanbrun
By bryanbrun (Oct 6, 2011)

Yeah, but the E-PM1 will go into my pocket and the G3 with the DSLR hump and protruding EVF will not.

0 upvotes
BKK Street
By BKK Street (Oct 7, 2011)

Agreed. And since I rarely use the EVF, I wish it wasn't there. But my S95 Canon is my "always with me" pocket camera. I use the Panny when I am actively out taking photos and have it on a neck strap. Sure beats lugging a DSLR!

0 upvotes
MGJA
By MGJA (Oct 5, 2011)

A video review that really shows some interesting and relevant features. Particularly enjoyed the AF speed and superscreen demos.

Well done, dp!

0 upvotes
eddie_cam
By eddie_cam (Oct 5, 2011)

If only Olympus provided us with a nice E-PM1-20/1.7 bundle at a discount (when compared to being sold separately) ...

2 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Oct 5, 2011)

Congrats on a really great video preview.

As one of the big features of these cameras is portabilility, I would love to see a size comparison (especially against the 5n) equipped with a pancake lens.

Someone on the thread is really defensive about the lack of a PASM/mode dial.

For myself, I'm biased towards having a PASM/mode dial, preferably on the top, so I can just look down at my camera and see which mode it is in and switch it to the mode I need, reducing my time to first shot when I actually turn it on to take a picture.

Also I love that it appears the few buttons it has are programable. Can any of the buttons be set for ISO and if not can ISO be set quickly without navigating a menu tree (as nikon makes you do)?

0 upvotes
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 5, 2011)

In any of the PASM modes you can assign ISO to the down button on the back dial. One press of that and you can control ISO from the same dial.

ps, I wouldn't say I'm defensive about the lack of a dedicated PASM dial. Yes, perhaps defensive when people interpret the lack of a dial as meaning it isn't for people who care about shooting modes! I just think that could mislead other people.

But I understand what you are saying about being able to easily see what mode you are in. I can see that as a tangible benefit.
Cheers
Nic

0 upvotes
Erik Neu
By Erik Neu (Oct 5, 2011)

That looks like a great back up camera for my dslr. With an adapter for Nikon I will be able to keep the weight of my kit low and carry more photo paper for my project ''Childhood Memories''.
Have a look at http://www.gofundme.com/6n2tk

Erik
Vietnam

1 upvote
jerrycambuk
By jerrycambuk (Oct 5, 2011)

I was torn between the Mini and the EPL3, and went for the EPL3 as a result of the direct control PASM dial. Having now shot the camera for a couple of weeks with the Panny 20mm f1.7 being permanently on the front, all I can say is I love it. It makes an excellent lightweight alternative to my D700, and is great for citybreaks or days out.

So, I'm a Pen convert, and the sensor is quite OK for me. I'm sure the Mini will sell really well to those not fussed about stuff like PASM.

1 upvote
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 5, 2011)

Really glad you're enjoying the E-PL3, but do you understand that the Mini does have PASM shooting modes? It's just that they are accessed via the menu button, not a PASM dial. Not sure how that could translate to Mini users not being fussed about them. As several have said, they are not fussed about the dial.

Just wanted to clarify that, so other readers are not confused.

0 upvotes
Albino_BlacMan
By Albino_BlacMan (Oct 5, 2011)

Also note that the E-3/E-5 does not have a PASM dial. But it definitely has the modes. So I think this may be a part of the camera that is talked about a little too much.

1 upvote
Theelderkeynes
By Theelderkeynes (Oct 5, 2011)

A price of $500 over there they translate to £450 here, interesting given the pound at 1.55 dollars. Or is it just greed?

0 upvotes
harrisoncac
By harrisoncac (Oct 5, 2011)

These cameras cost well below USD100.00.
Not only are the manufacturers insatiable, but the retailers are too.
I found that for anything that a retailer sells, they can sell it at 1/3 of their price and still makes money.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Oct 5, 2011)

It just keeps on improving for the better!

0 upvotes
Camp Freddy
By Camp Freddy (Oct 5, 2011)

Simple and impressive demo' of the improved AF on this and presumably the PEN EP3.

I like the flash idea, and this is standard in the box right ? A neat bounce flash wil beat a direct inbuilt with flcikering red eye IMHO

There is a nice afternarket bond-on grip BTW for those who think it is a bit spartan.

0 upvotes
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 5, 2011)

yeah the flash comes standard.

0 upvotes
makemonay
By makemonay (Oct 5, 2011)

āļ·nice camera my wife like it very much

0 upvotes
Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (Oct 5, 2011)

nice preview video, would like to see these more than the written previews.

0 upvotes
AgentK64
By AgentK64 (Oct 4, 2011)

I've had this camera for a couple days, and I loved it. I don't think the lack of a mode dial is an inconvenience at all; switching modes via the buttons is very quick.
But while I've tested two units, both had an issue where IBIS would degrade image quality, causing vertical blur, as described here: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=39498974
I was wondering if you, being far more knowledgeable, could test your unit for this? It would be interesting to hear you thoughts on that matter.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 4, 2011)

We've not experienced anything that bad, though we're aware of the issue and will be keeping an eye out for it during the review process.

0 upvotes
BayAreaWZ
By BayAreaWZ (Oct 4, 2011)

Finally, video previews. Hopefully that means video reviews too. The host of the video is never identified unless I missed something.

0 upvotes
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 4, 2011)

Also, re controlling playback, you can change the button behaviour in the settings menu.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 4, 2011)

True. Though they should give out prizes for finding it.

We've corrected the preview text and are adding a note to the video.

3 upvotes
Nic Walmsley
By Nic Walmsley (Oct 4, 2011)

I got the Mini about 10 days ago, so early days. I didn't buy the Mini because it's simpler. I bought it because it's cheaper. And I was't concerned about budget. I was interested in cheaper because series 3 of the Pen lineup is sub-par with regards to sensor performance (DR, ISO).

So I figured get the Mini, save a few hundred bucks, spend it on lenses. Which I did, the 20mm 1.7.

I've chatted with others on Twitter, and I don't think I'm alone in this idea - save on the body, spend on the lens. Which is the opposite of what your review is getting at.

The plan is, when the Pen Pro is released, I sell the Mini on eBay, and get the Pro. And use it with the lenses I acquired on the way.

Also, I don't get the idea that the PASM dial offers more direct control. If anything I think of it as a distraction. I select shooting mode with a button, just like WB, ISO, etc. No PASM on NEX7. I think PASM dials will fade away.

Now if you could select PASM mode from the SCP, that would be nice :)

0 upvotes
Richard Biffl
By Richard Biffl (Oct 8, 2011)

Nic, I see in your nice portfolio here that you also have an XZ-1, which looks like a direct alternative to the PEN Mini. Does the Mini's sensor make a real difference, or is the XZ-1's lens more important?

0 upvotes
HeavyDuty
By HeavyDuty (Oct 4, 2011)

It's a mistake to pigeonhole the E-PM1 into the beginner/intermediate category - some of us consider the streamlined UI to be an advantage for serious shooting when compared to the models that have masses of tiny buttons that festoon every surface! Not everyone needs single button access to all functions - I'm personally happy with only shutter release, AF on or lock, aperture and/or shutter speed and exposure compensation being top level.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 4, 2011)

I think it's fair to say it's primarily aimed that audience. The fact that, once you've spent your years on a mountaintop, learning all the settings menus, you can get a lot more out of the camera is a good thing, which we've tried to make clear in the video.

0 upvotes
TANK_JONES
By TANK_JONES (Oct 6, 2011)

One could also read the manual instead of spending time on a mountain top.

Does anyone do that anymore?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 6, 2011)

It's easier to concentrate on the manual if you're on a mountain top, though - no distractions.

0 upvotes
WT21
By WT21 (Oct 4, 2011)

I've already read up on the mini, but I think this is a pretty good preview. The only criticism is that much of this info is already out there. It'd be helpful if DPR was a but further out on the beginning of the info curve.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Oct 4, 2011)

The last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy but, as we gain experience of shooting these things, we should get quicker.

2 upvotes
dunkreid
By dunkreid (Oct 4, 2011)

Ladies and Gents from Olympus

Pretty please give us a C3040,4040,5050 form factor for M43. Ditch the rangefinder notion.

Thank you.

1 upvote
Traciatim
By Traciatim (Oct 4, 2011)

I would love this. I really miss the usage of my C5050 now that I'm on an E-PL2. I just found everything so much faster and easier to use with my C5050.

0 upvotes
patcam7122
By patcam7122 (Oct 5, 2011)

you must be joking. I own a C5050 and while the photo quality is outstanding the operation of controls, focusing, etc. is glacial at best.

1 upvote
Traciatim
By Traciatim (Oct 7, 2011)

The only thing glacial setting was manual focus. I had my modes set for my main photo settings. Ran full manual always. Need ISO change, one button+dial. Shutter Speed? Dial. Aperture? One button + Dial. Exposure Com? One Button + Dial. Flash Intensity? One Button + Dial.

You realize you didn't have to wait for the menu on the screen to change settings if you know where they are right?

Sure the auto focus and flash recharge are slow (which is why I rarely use a flash). But that would generally be fixed if they kept the form factor with the new tech. I want 1 dial, with lots of programmable buttons so you can just Touch+Dial and you're all set.

0 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (Oct 4, 2011)

Great idea (for video previews) ... And nice clip.

With a video preview, we can get a far better feel for the camera than text only review.

Hopefully all future reviews would come with a video preview/review too.

8 upvotes
Total comments: 40