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.
|Street Food 2017 by ziggyzag|
from Your City - Fast Food
|Running free by LassiM|
|Treacherous Land- "Dune " by Frank Herbert by Domenick Creaco|
from Sci-Fi or Fantasy Film Titles
|1969 Oldsmobile 442 Resto-Mod by J Warren|
from O is for...
GoPro has inked a multi-year licensing deal with manufacturing services company Jabil that will allow Jabil to incorporate GoPro sensor modules and camera lenses into third-party products.
It's not just fashion magazines. It seems some major Instagram accounts with tens or hundreds of thousands of followers are pitching photographers, offering to feature their work... for a fee.
Canon Rumors has reportedly "confirmed from a couple of good sources" that Canon's full-frame mirrorless camera is currently being tested in the field by select Canon pro photographers.
In a ‘the world’s gone crazy’ role-reversal Sheeba magazine's submission guidelines specifyl that photographers lucky enough to have an image selected for the cover will have to pay $860 for the privilege of having it used.
A Russian drone pilot took his little camera drone to an altitude of 10 kilometers (~33,000 feet), and while the flight didn't break any local regulations and was done in a remote region, it's still an incredibly reckless and stupid thing to try.
Zach Sutton over at Lensrentals has put together this very useful on-location lighting tutorial for beginners, complete with five sample lighting setups to experiment with as you get more comfortable using artificial light.
Instagram has revealed some interesting updates this week, including a return to a slightly more chronological newsfeed where "newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed."
The 10 Open category winners revealed this week will duke it out for $5,000 in prize money and the title of Open Photographer of the Year. The winner will be revealed on April 19th, alongside the Professional category winners.
The new Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is "the world’s widest rectilinear f/2.8 lens for mirrorless APS-C cameras." It boasts a 113° angle of view, fast F2.8 aperture, and a Zero-D design that promises "close to zero" distortion.
YouTuber Devin Graham recently got to do something very few of us will ever get to: he purchased and unboxed nearly a quarter million dollars worth of cinema lenses.
We're looking for a Software Development Engineer to join our Seattle-based team. Bring your creativity, passion and talent to help us build the next generation of our web and mobile experiences.
If you're on a budget and looking to get into Fujifilm's X-system, the X-A5 is likely on your radar. We've been out shooting with this updated entry-level camera.
A report from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that photography and photo-finishing services contributed $10.2 billion to the US economy in 2015.
According to unnamed sources, Google will acquire Lytro's technology and patents, with Lytro employees already having left the company.
Our review of the Sony a7 III is well underway and, as part of this, we're publishing our studio test scene. We'll be building out the review in the coming weeks as we test and shoot the camera in a series of situations.
The new ExaDrive offers a three times higher capacity than the previous largest SSD, a 30TB model by Samsung.
A pair of images show what may be the upcoming DJI Phantom 5 drone featuring an interchangeable lens camera. Update: Comparing this image to the size of previous DJI lens mounts, and noting the 3:2 aspect ratio of the sensor, we're confident the leaked image shows a 1"-type sensor
We were saddened to hear of the death last week of Chuck Westfall, a 35-year veteran of Canon USA, and a legend in the photography industry.
Nikon looks to be positioning its D850 as a serious video rig with today's announcement of its D850 Filmmaker's Kit. The kit includes the body, 20/35/85mm F1.8G lenses, an Atomos Ninja Flame external recorder, two microphones and an extra battery.
Photographers shopping around for Lightroom alternatives have likely encountered Alien Skin's Exposure X3. Here's an overview of its organization and editing controls, and how they differ from the competition.
Alien Skin has released a significant update for its Exposure X3 image editor, adding greater precision to adjustment tools and more printing capabilities, among other improvements.
The FAA has ordered helicopter pilots and operators to halt certain doors-off flights in the wake of a tragedy that killed five passengers.
Analysts TechInsights have torn down a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to have a closer look at the device's internal components and their cost.
Oppo's new high-end phones bear an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X, with features like face unlock to a portrait lighting mode.
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.