Olympus E-PL1 Review
Effects / Color modes
The camera offers a series of Pciture Modes, including the selective brightness and contrast boosting 'iEnhance' mode that is default in iAuto mode.
|Olympus E-PL1||Compare to:|
The E-PL1 offers six of the creative effects (called Art Filters), that Olympus has been including in its recent cameras. There's a slight change with the E-PL1 - it gains Gentle Sepia and the Diorama mode we first saw on the E-P2. All six are available in movie mode, as well as shooting.
- Pop art
- Soft Focus
- Grainy Film
- Pin Hole
- Gentle Sepia
The three we liked most are Grainy Film, Pin Hole and Diorama. The latter pair cause slight delays and require a couple of second pause before you can shoot again - these delays extend to creating a rather more laggy preview and a lower frame rate for movies. The E-PL1's lack of orientation sensor means that the diorama mode always puts its in-focus stripe up the middle of the frame (half way up the short edge), but is still a great deal of fun to play with. The grainy film mode, with its very high-contrast tone curve can also be a little bit difficult to use.
Even with these slight hitches, we rather like the Art Filter concept. For people inexperienced with Photoshop or who need a little reminder that representative imagery isn't the sole purpose of photography, it's really nice to have access to these filers sitting on the control dial.
|Pop Art||Soft Focus||Grainy Film|
|Pin Hole||Diorama||Gentle Sepia|
The E-PL1 is the first PEN to include a built-in flash. It's not a very highly powered unit (just Guide Number 7 at ISO 100), but it's certainly better than nothing. It's enough to provide a little fill-flash or for close-quarters photography. In addition, of course there's a standard hot shoe to allow more powerful flashes to be added on and, surprisingly for a camera at this level, there's the ability to use the internal flash to remotely control the output of compatible offboard flashguns (such as the Olympus FL-50R or FL-36R),=.
The E-PL1 offers the same 720p HD video as previous PENs, compressed in the inefficient but easy-to-use Motion JPEG format. Movie mode allows you to select between program, aperture priority and full manual mode, depending on how much you wish to remain in control of depth-of-field.
As with the other PENs the quality is good, though without the optional adapter, you'll have to make do with Mono sound recording. The first video sample shows examples of white balance and exposure changing, both of which are easily visible and, towards the end of the clip, rolling shutter effect. The E-PL1 isn't particularly prone to the skewed verticals of rolling shutter but with a subject this fast moving, this close to the camera, most cameras would struggle.
Highlight clipping / dynamic range
Dynamic range has traditionally been one of the shortcomings of the Four Thirds system but this has been addressed on recent cameras by changing what part of the sensor's dynamic range is used to represent middle gray (for more details, see here). As a result, you get significantly greater dynamic range at ISO 200 and above than you do at ISO 100 - an effect also seen on Nikon DSLRs.
However, unlike the other PENs and the E-30 and E-620 DSLRs that do the same thing, Olympus has decided to specify ISO 200 as the lowest 'recommended' ISO setting. ISO 100 is now described as 'low-noise priority'. The Auto ISO setting also uses ISO 200 as its lowest setting.
|ISO 100||ISO 200|
|100% crop of above image||100% crop of above image|
What this all means is that there's a considerable dynamic range advantage to shooting at ISO 200 rather than 100. You pay a small price in terms of noise in the shadows (most likely to be visible if you also use the Auto Gradation dynamic range enhancement option), but overall the effect is more detail and a more gentle transition between bright and over-exposed regions.
The only time this is likely to be a problem is in really bright light, because the E-PL1's shutter doesn't allow short enough exposures to prevent ISO 200 overexposing (and you'll not protect that highlight information by switching down to ISO 100).
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
The most positive thing you can say about the E-PL1 is that there's so little to criticize about its image quality. Its pictures are detailed and sharp (if perhaps a little over-sharpened by default), and its colors generally vibrant without being excessive. Noise reduction is also well balanced, providing detailed images and retaining contrast without them being overly noisy.
We're not completely sold on the iEnhance Picture Mode - it 'analyses the colors and brightness [and] mimics what the naked eye sees,' according to Olympus US but can occasionally get a little carried away, particularly with blue skies. In most modes you can specify how strong an effect iEnhance has, in three steps: Low, Standard and High but it's inescapable in iAuto mode - so you have to decide if you like iEnhance Standard.
|Natural||iEnhance (Effect: Standard)|
|iEnhance (Effect: High)||iEnhance (Effect: Low)|
Just as our only gripe about autofocus appears to be a lens issue, rather than a camera problem, the biggest flaw we regularly found in the images was the chromatic aberration (colored fringing) seen towards the corners. Because it's a lens issue we usually wouldn't raise it in a camera review but, because the target audience for this camera likely to only use the kit lens and because the Micro Four Thirds standard allows for chromatic aberration to be corrected, we thought it was worth mentioning.
We also saw the occasional hot pixel with the E-PL1 we tested - these were removed using the camera's Map Pixel function but appear in some of the provided sample images. This is a sensor we've encountered many times in recent years, so we have no reason to suspect it's a particular problem for the E-PL1.
Overall the performance is excellent, though. The target user for this camera is unlikely to want to engage in RAW processing and, with a JPEG engine this good, it's hard to see why anyone would bother - the results coming out of the camera are about as good as you'll get.
|I see you by Phocal|
from Animal eye reflection
|Apocalyptic Sunset by Impact Photo|
from A wheel good photo!
|AU4_6418_BB-35 by DaveInHouston|
Wiral LITE is an affordable, easy-to-use cable cam system that can do things a portable slider simply can't do, and go places no slider would dare go.
Not happy with the recent demise of Lightroom as a stand-alone, subscription free service? Macphun's got your back... or they will in 2018.
Once connected to a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, Pholio automatically searches through the device storage and backs up all images and videos—complete with auto-tagging and intelligent search capabilities.
The 360 Round uses eight horizontally positioned camera pairs and one upward-pointing single lens to capture and livestream panoramic 4K 3D content.
Introduced just three years ago, the Samsung NX1 was both a technological tour-de-force and a great camera to use, earning one of the highest scores we've ever awarded and winning our 2015 Innovation Award. But its short-lived run in the photo world leaves us wondering what could have been.
The Fujifilm X-E3 is styled like a classic rangefinder, but features a built-in touchscreen, AF joystick, and electronic viewfinder – truly an old school meets new type of camera. Lay some eyes on our sample gallery to see how it performs in the real world.
Like it or not, Adobe is embracing a cloud-centric, AI-rich future with the introduction of Lightroom CC. And that's a great thing, though you may not see it now, argues Rishi Sanyal.
The announcement of a more cloud-integrated Lightroom product sees the death of the company's standalone version. This need to make payments in perpetuity (whether you choose Lightroom Classic or CC), chips away at the idea that your Lightroom library is a long-term solution, argues Richard Butler.
The XPro-C 2.4GHz wireless flash trigger that Godox released for Canon users last month now has a Nikon equivalent—the aptly named XPro-N. Sony, Fujifilm and MFT versions are in the works.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, camera and lens maker Sigma is extending its standard product warranty to cover damage caused by these three natural disasters.
The F4 Plus can can capture 360° stills, videos and broadcast livestream footage at 8K resolution... that's 7680 x 3840 pixels!
Lightroom is hogging the spotlight at Adobe MAX, but Photoshop CC got some substantial improvements as well. Find out what's new in the latest version of Photoshop CC.
The aptly-named 'Nude' app automatically detects NSFW images on your iPhone, moves them to a protected vault and deletes the original files in the camera roll and on iCloud.
The Zeiss Milvus family of manual-focus full-frame lenses just gained a new member. Meet the Zeiss Milvus 24mm F1.4: a fast, rugged new lens designed primarily for landscape and architecture photography.
Lightroom has built a brand new Lightroom CC from the ground up to be faster, easier to use, and cloud-based. The application formerly known as Lightroom CC will continue to exist, and will go by "Lightroom Classic CC."
Google Research did a deep dive on the Pixel 2 smartphone's background-blurring portrait mode that uses neural networking and dual-pixel technology instead of a dual-camera setup.
With the arrival of the PowerShot G1 X III, there are now seven Canon cameras built around the 24MP Dual Pixel sensor and Digic 7 processor. We take a look at the differences and what might prompt you to choose one over the others.
Meet the HP ZBook x2. The so-called 'world's most powerful and first detachable PC workstation,' it was built with creative professionals in mind, and is being debuted at Adobe MAX.
PDN sat down with Ahmed Fakhr, director of photography at RollingStone.com, to talk about how the famed publication is adapting to the changing photo and video needs of the modern era and how he 'evaluates the skills of potential contributors.'
Kudos to Canon. Earlier today, the camera giant announced that it had produced its 90 millionth EOS camera and 130 millionth EF-series lens.
The ROV Slider is a portable, motorized slider that promises to bring 'beautiful cinematic video and time-lapse' shooting to anybody with a smartphone, GoPro or DSLR that weighs less than 5lbs.
The new Surface Book 2 laptops come with Intel's 8th generation quad-core processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 GPUs. In other words: they pack a serious punch.
Leica is resurrecting a portrait lens from the 1930s: the Thambar-M 1:2.2/90. This lens features just 4 lens elements, and was famous for its spherical aberration that creates extremely soft images.
Google's Visual Core is an Image Signal Processor designed to power and accelerate HDR+ processing and other imaging tasks in the new Pixel 2 devices (and beyond).
The Google Pixel's camera is among the best we've reviewed, and its successor has already been hailed as class-leading. With expectations set high, the Pixel 2 has nonetheless left a very good first impression on us as we shot some initial sample images.
Leica is one of the oldest names in photography, and has long been one of the most prestigious. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Wetzlar, to see for ourselves how Leica's lenses are put together.
Canon went and put an APS-C sensor in a G series compact. The result is a mighty tempting camera for travel.
Google Photos is adding a few pet-friendly features that will make it easier to find photos of your favorite pooch. Now, you can organize your pet photos by facial recognition, and you can even search your library by breed.
Colorful tripod maker MeFOTO has launched a new tripod... and a whole new brand name. Meet the GlobeTrotter travel video tripod, the first product to be released under the MeVIDEO brand.
If you own a Moto Z, you'll soon be able to attach a Polaroid instant printer to it. Check out the unreleased Moto Mod, which was leaked earlier today.