Compared to... Canon PowerShot G10
Let's leave the SLRs behind for a moment now, and see how the E-P1 compares to the Canon G10, one of the tiny handful of small sensor compact cameras that can currently claim to offer a true enthusiast feature set (the other main contender being the Panasonic LX3). To produce a slightly more level playing field we're going to use the E-P1's kit zoom for this comparison.
Studio scene comparison (JPEG)
Olympus E-P1 (kit zoom) vs. Canon G10
- Olympus E-P1: Olympus 14-42mm lens (@32mm), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
- Canon PowerShot G10: Aperture Priority mode (f/4.0), ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
Manual white balance, Self-Timer
Canon PowerShot G10
7.4 MB JPEG (4032 x 3024)
5.2 MB JPEG (4416 x 3312)
At base ISO in good light there's not a huge difference in what you can get from the very best compacts and most mid to entry level digital SLRs, and looking at the crops above it's obvious that in a print you'd be hard pushed to see any difference at all. The E-P1's output is a bit cleaner (the G10 shows some distinct artefacts at this magnification), but the G10 has visibly more resolution (so all those 15 million pixels aren't totally wasted).
Of course the advantages of the E-P1 over the G10 come into play when you actually put the cameras to the kind of uses that require a larger sensor or interchangeable lenses; for everyday shots of 'easy' subjects at base ISO using the kit zoom the differences are very slim.
Olympus Pen E-P1 Micro Four Thirds Digital SLR Camera (14-42 mm Black Lens...
Olympus Pen E-P1 Compact System Camera (14-42mm Silver Lens Kit) - White
Olympus Pen E-P1 Compact System Camera (Body Only) - Silver
Olympus Pen E-P1 Compact System Camera (14-42mm Silver Lens Kit) - Silver
Olympus Pen E-P1 Compact System Camera (Body Only) - White