Olympus Pen E-P1 In-depth Review
From the OM system 35mm SLRs and lenses to the XA series rangefinders and the half-frame Pen models, Olympus has for at least half a century been notable for producing cameras that are smaller than their competitors without sacrificing quality or functionality. And they haven't stopped; the E-450 and its predecessors are still the world's smallest digital SLRs, and the new E-620 is considerably smaller than similarly specified competitors (finally realizing the 'smaller format, smaller camera' promise we were all sold on when Four Thirds originally launched).
The apex of this miniaturization was surely the Pen F and its variants - the interchangeable lens versions of the hugely popular Pen series (over 17 million of the various models were sold between 1959 and the mid 80's when half-frame finally died out). A fully-fledged single lens reflex camera that was smaller than most rangefinders (thanks to its half frame film format), the Pen F was innovative, it was stylish and, in 1963 when it was launched, it was universally lauded, and 45 years later enjoys true classic status.
The first Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus pays unabashed homage to the Pen F; from the classic styling to the long running teaser campaign running in print and online, the E-P1 doesn't just wear its influences on its sleeve; it shouts about them from the rooftops (and is referred to in some parts of the world as the 'Digital Pen'). There's even a subtle engraving on the chrome edge of the top plate that reads 'Olympus Pen Since 1959'.
Not that we're complaining; for years now we've been imploring every manufacturer who would listen to us to build a non-reflex interchangeable lens camera around a large sensor, and the E-P1's styling (and all metal exterior) harks back to the glory days of the mechanical camera in the 60's and 70's, when men were men and cameras were built like swiss watches (a design trend started by Panasonic with cameras like the LC-1 and LX series, if truth be told). Perfect it ain't, but when we first saw the E-P1 we couldn't have been happier, and we just wanted to run off with it and start taking pictures.
|It's not hard to see where Olympus got the inspiration for the 'Pen Digital'' the Pen FT was an innovative half frame SLR that won many fans (despite its flaws) and remains a highly collectible classic 40 years later.|
The E-P1 was designed from the outset to be as small as possible using current components and this philosophy led to the decision (not, I'm sure, taken lightly) to leave out both viewfinder and built-in flash. The FL-14 flashgun overcomes the latter, but the optional viewfinder attachment won't help anyone using the zoom lens, and the lack of anything to peer through, especially on bright days when the LCD gets washed out by the sun, will undoubtedly put some potential purchasers off. Though, once they get their hands on the camera, I suspect many will be won over by its undoubted charms.
The E-P1 is, essentially, an Olympus E-620 (and by extension an E-30 in most respects) crowbarred into a compact, rangefinder-style body. Aside from the changes necessitated by the removal of the mirror and optical viewfinder - and a slight firmware upgrade (for new live view features, improved image processing) it is as fully fledged as any mid-range SLR. This is quite an achievement.
Interestingly Olympus hasn't just popped the sensor from the E-30 into a smaller body; they've been working hard under the hood too, and the 12.3 MP sensor has had a bit of an upgrade to increase resolution and sharpness - plus a few fixes that show they've been listening to reviewers and users (such as adding the option to apply Art Filters to raw files in-camera). The image quality boost been achieved by the use of a lighter low pass filter and a powerful new processor (the TruePic V), which offers better moiré removal and improved high ISO performance - plus of course the ability to capture HD movie clips. Otherwise the key feature list is pretty similar to Olympus's latest DLSR offerings.
- 12.3 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor
- Two new kit lenses (M. Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 and 17mm F2.8 Pancake)
- TruePic V image processor
- 3.0" LCD screen (fixed, 230k dot resolution)
- HD movies (720p) with stereo sound
- Linear PCM sound recording
- 3.0 fps sequential shooting
- Built-in IS with max. 4 EV steps efficiency
- Optional Adapters for all ZUIKO DIGITAL & OM lenses
- Newly developed GUI for easier operation via Live Control
- Automatic recognition of common scenes possible with i-Auto
- Dual control dials
- Face Detection & Shadow Adjustment
- Art Filters, multi-aspect ratios, multi exposure
- In-camera raw conversion (including application of Art Filters)
- Small & stylish design
Micro Four Thirds
Olympus and Panasonic announced the new, mirrorless format / lens mount based on (and compatible with) Four Thirds in August of last year. The Micro Four Thirds system uses the same sensor size (18 x 13.5 mm) but allows slimmer cameras by removing the mirror box and optical viewfinder. The new format has three key technical differences: (1) roughly half the flange back distance (distance from mount to the sensor), (2) a smaller diameter lens mount (6 mm smaller) and (3) two additional contact points for lens-to-body communication (now 11 points). Removing the mirror mechanism allows this shorter flange back distance, meaning lenses for the new mount can be considerably smaller than current Four Thirds designs. The format requires framing to be carried out using Live View on either the LCD monitor or an EVF. Existing Four Thirds lenses can be used on Micro Four Thirds cameras using an adapter.
Below you can see the advantage of Micro Four Thirds; the E-P1 is considerably smaller than the E-450, itself no giant (it's the smallest SLR on the market). Shown here with the new collapsible M. Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens, it's surprising to think that the E-P1 is actually a considerably higher spec camera (with a bigger screen, in-body image stabilization and a feature set closer to the semi-pro E-30).
So is this the camera we've been waiting for? After years of hectoring all the manufacturers to give us what we had in the days of film (a small camera that takes pictures as well as an SLR) is the E-P1 a camera we'd actually reach into our own pockets for? Read on to find out.
|The E-P1 shares its nostalgic design philosophy with the Panasonic Lumix LX3; a camera popular with precisely the same enthusiast photographers that Olympus is targeting with the new system.|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Lenses
- 3 What's New
- 4 Specifications
- 5 Body & Design
- 6 Body & Design
- 7 Operation & Controls
- 8 Operation & Controls
- 9 Operation (live view)
- 10 Displays
- 11 Menus
- 12 Menus
- 13 Performance
- 14 Video
- 15 Art Filters
- 16 Photographic tests (RAW)
- 17 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 18 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 19 Photographic tests (DR)
- 20 Photographic tests
- 21 Lens tests
- 22 Lens tests
- 23 Compared to
- 24 Compared to (JPEG)
- 25 Compared to (JPEG)
- 26 Compared to (JPEG)
- 27 Compared to (JPEG)
- 28 Compared to (JPEG)
- 29 Compared to (JPEG)
- 30 Compared to (RAW)
- 31 Compared to (RAW)
- 32 Compared to (RAW)
- 33 Compared to (RAW)
- 34 Compared to (RAW)
- 35 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 36 Compared to (Resolution)
- 37 Conclusion
- 38 Samples
- 39 Movie Samples
Aug 6, 2009
Jul 29, 2009
Aug 6, 2009
Jul 26, 2012
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
Google has updated its Photos mobile apps to support the recently announced service for creating and printing physical photo books.
Europeana Photography is a new online image archive that includes more than 2 million historical photographs from European collections in 34 countries, covering the first 100 years of photography. Read more
Manufacturers love to state CRI (color rendering index) numbers to prove that their LED lights will provide great color, but a single CRI score doesn't tell the whole story.
NASA's Juno spacecraft is sending back its first images from Jovean orbit, and they're beautiful. Read more
We got our hands on the first zoom lens available for Fujifim's new digital medium format system. Check out the samples
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.