Compared to...

let's start by stating the obvious; the E-P1, currently, has nothing you could really call a direct competitor. It straddles the great divide between high end compacts like the Canon G10 and low to mid-range digital SLRs, such as the Nikon D5000 and Canon EOS 500D. At the moment the nearest equivalent is the Panasonic DMC-G1 (or GH1 if you want HD video) - the only other members of the nascent Micro Four Thirds system. You could also argue that it appeals to the same audience as the Sigma DP1/DP2 (the world's only 'large sensor' compacts) - despite the Sigma's lack of zoom or interchangeable lenses - so we'll include one of these in our comparison too.

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Working on the principle that potential purchasers of the E-P1 come from both SLR and compact camps, but recognizing that it offers a completely unique proposition, we decided to compare it with a range of cameras that could be conceivably be on the same shortlist for someone with $7-800 burning a hole in his or her pocket. For the most part these are SLRs offering a similar feature set in a more conventional form factor, but we've also included a couple of comparisons with the Canon PowerShot G10, one of the dwindling band of true enthusiast compacts, just to see how much of an advantage the larger sensor brings at higher ISO settings.

Camera Kit
Viewfinder LCD Video Anti
(effective pixels)
Olympus E-P1 $799 None 2.7" / 230k pixels 720p, MJPEG In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS (2.0x crop)
Olympus E-620 $700 SLR, 0.48x * 2.7" / 230k pixels None In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS (2.0x crop)
Nikon D5000 $780 SLR, 0.52x * 2.7" / 230k pixels 720p,
Lens option 12.3 MP CMOS (1.5x crop)
Canon EOS 500D $830 SLR, 0.54x * 3.0" / 920k pixels 1080 @ 20fps, 720p, H264. Lens option 15.1 MP CMOS (1.6x crop)
Panasonic DMC-G1 $650 Electronic, 0.7x * 3.0" / 460k pixels None (GH1: 1080p AVCHD) Lens option 12.1 MP CMOS (2.0x crop)
Sigma DP2 $649 None 2.5" / 230k pixels 320 x 240, MJPEG None 4.6 MP x 3 X3F (1.7 x crop)
Canon G10 $480 Non-SLR, Optical 3.0" / 460k pixels VGA, MJPEG .MOV Lens 14.7 MP CCD (1/1.7")

* the viewfinder sizes have been corrected for sensor size.

Olympus E-P1 advantages

  • Size (vs SLR)
  • Sensor size (vs compact)
  • Optimized live view AF (vs SLR)
  • Interchangeable lenses (vs compact)

Olympus E-P1 disadvantages

  • No viewfinder
  • Low res screen (at this price)
  • Only has Contrast-Detect AF (therefore slow, compared to SLR)