Olympus PEN E-P1 review
Normally, I am a Canon Man, and my preferred kit is my EOS-400D C/W 17-85mm IS lens, backed up with a Canon G10 compact whose lens' focal length just happens to exactly match that of my DSLR - perfect!
Well, not quite. The only cloud on the horizon is the rather small and somewhat noisy sensor of the G10, restricting my available sensitivities to ISO 200 or less. With the arrival of the G11 with a lower pixel density and improved noise performance I was all set to upgrade when Olympus threw down the gauntlet with the EP-1.
After examining the sample images from both contenders, there really was now a compelling case for changing my compact to the EP-1, its larger sensor afforded greater ISO flexibility, its interchangeable lens afforded greater creativity, and it was still a compact camera.
The technical features and performance has been well covered, so I will not repeat them here. After several months with this beautiful instrument, I have to say that I am well pleased. The images are excellent, the 14-42mm kit lens, although showing some minor compromises, performs extremely well, and overall I find it a delight to use.
Having said that, I make no use of the Art Filters. Indeed, I consider that image editing as such is better performed with an editor rather than being an in-camera facility. I would be quite happy to see this "feature" removed. Similarly, I make no use of the video capabilities, and again would not be sorry to see this extraneous feature removed.
It was quite a steep learning curve to adjust to the Olympus menu system from the Canon, but with that behind me, I am appreciating the logic of this system, and in particular I really like the super control panel feature. True, as an old-fashioned photographer, I would much prefer knobs to twiddle, but the super control panel is an excellent compromise for a small camera with limited real estate for knobs. Indeed, the comprehensive depth of customisation and overall control capabilities are amazing, and greatly appreciated.
All is not perfect, the exposure system has a tendency to under-expose by about 0.3EV, not necessarily a bad thing as it errs on the side of caution; the contrast detection auto-focus, whilst fine in good light, although a little slow, often fails in poor light, but this is somewhat offset by the ability to set the AF to S-AF-MF so that a twist of the focus ring immediately gives an enlarged display and easy manual focus override. The display tends to get washed-out in bright sunlight, which makes accurate framing difficult. These factors pale into insignificance however when the overall capability of this instrument and its excellent images are all taken into account.
In the end, it is the quality of the images that count - the camera is simply an image recording tool, not a fashion accessory, and its ultimate utility stands or falls on its images. This camera could well become as iconic as its PEN predecessors.
None so far!
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