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
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
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.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more