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Compared to...

The E-PL1, with its Live Guide and compact-camera-like button control system, is the first mirrorless camera to really try to bridge the gap between point-and-shoot compacts and the DSLRs (and DSLR-like mirrorless cameras), on which a point-and-shoot mode has been added onto a camera mainly designed to be used in a semi-automatic or manual mode.

As such, it's hard to find direct peers for the E-PL1. The most obvious competitor is Nikon's D3000, which offers a similarly results-orientated guide mode for first-time DSLR users. Just to show how it stacks up against the other mirrorless offerings (though one aimed at a slightly more experienced user, with all the buttons that can bring), we'll also have a look at the Panasonic GF1.

Just for our own curiosity we'll also compare it to the Olympus E-P2 - just to see what difference the lighter anti-aliasing filter Olympus says it's fitted makes.

Camera Kit
price
Video LCD Anti
Shake
Sensor
(effective pixels)
Olympus E-PL1 $560 720p 2.7" / 230k pixels In-body 12.2 MP NMOS (2.0x crop)
Nikon D3000 $450 No 3.0" / 920k pixels Lens option 10.0 MP CMOS (1.5x crop)
Panasonic GF1 $750 720p 3.0" / 420k pixels Lens option 12.0 MP NMOS (2.0x crop)
Olympus E-P2 $900 720p 3.0" / 230k pixels In-body 12.2 MP NMOS (2.0x crop)

Olympus E-PL1 advantages

  • In-body image stabilization
  • Compact dimensions (compared to D3000)
  • 720p HD video (not present on D3000)
  • Easy-to-use Live Guide mode (not present on GF1)
  • Built-in flash (compared to E-P2)
  • Direct movie record button (unlike E-P2)
  • Highly configurable (compared to GF1 and D3000)
  • Inexpensive compared to GF and E-P2

Olympus E-PL1 disadvantages

  • No control dials mean slower operation
  • Fewer external controls (compared to E-P2 and GF1)
  • Smaller screen than E-P2 or D3000, lower screen resolution than GF1
  • Less solid construction (compared to E-P2 and GF1)
  • Limited fastest shutter speed (1/2000th, rather than 1/4000th for others)
  • Less effective IS (than E-P2)
  • No orientation sensor unlike E-P2, D3000 (and GF1 with kit lens)
  • No wired or wireless remote shutter release option
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