Published on September 21st,2009 at 11:57 AM
By >Daimaou - G.G-B

Olympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise: The Review

We were all impressed by the Panasonic GH1 and its amazing Video Mode and acceptable photo quality… Well at least way better than many other point and shoot or bridge available, but still a tiny little bit under a Nikon D90 (both the GH1 and D90 are sold at the roughly same price in Japan). Yes Micro Four Thirds Technology is impressive, and had high expectations for the Olympus E-P1 as well.

The Olympus E-P1 comes from a long line of cameras sold by Olympus under the name Pen (starting in 1959)… Compact and stylish the E-P1 wants to bring the good old stuff to the 21 century with the Micro Four Third Technology… And I can tell you that right now… Yep the E-P1 is a great little camera!

First Impression
The PEN E-P1′s aesthetic is carefully crafted to give users the feeling that they are using a compact professional camera. The body is well built, has an amazing metallic touch and feel, as well as a gorgeous retro design that we are completely found of. Made of stainless steel, the E-P1 will give you by definition a robust camera. Robust yes, but pretty heavy… If the stainless steal body was a wise choice when it comes to a quality build, the added weight on the overall camera setting could be uncomfortable, especially when you are used to playing with a point and shoot or even a bridge… Ok I’m a bit picky here and I’m sure that most of you will find the E-P1 perfect.

Besides its elegant design, the E-P1′s interface is also impressive, simple and easy to use, with well-placed buttons, 4 way directional pad and rotating scroll wheel, the E-P1 is really well thought out and made to be easily handled.

Just one criticism however, if the E-P1 seems robust and with a wonderful feel, I love the metal, I was somehow disappointed by the lenses that seem to be built of cheap plastic and feel weak compared to the body. It seems Olympus worked on reducing the lens weight ito compensate as much as possible the E-P1 body’s weight.
While the lenses look weak, pictures taken with them were impressive.

Let’s Shoot Baby
Now it’s time to give the E-P1 a little try by shooting around in Jiyugaoka where I live. As you maybe aware I’m more of an DSLR user, and I rarely play with the automatic settings on my cameras. While this gave me good results on Nikon or Canon DSLRs, the Manual Setting on both my GH1 and the E-P1 didn’t give me what I was expecting… However setting my GH-1 iA gave me great results… After some unsuccessful shots with the E-P1 I decided to jump on the iA mode… And WOW, iA makes a huge difference in picture quality.

But the E-P1 itself doesn’t only provide good picture quality, and despite the fact that they look cheap with their plastic feel, the E-P1 lenses take really great pictures in an amazingly small and ligh package. It’s important to note that these lenses also give the Lumix impressive photo and video results.

If I was very pleased with the E-P1 and its lenses, we have to warn you, and despite the great photos, you may not achieve the result provided by a Nikon D90 or a Canon 50D… However, I’d like to stress again the E-P1 is an impressive little camera and will give you great pictures in a small and compact body.

In low light the E-P1 is pretty much like the GH-1, not so great, and you’ll have to really learn what you can do and what you cannot do… It’s also important to remind you the E-P1 doesn’t have a flash. Yep the flash is an optional accessory. Like its predecessor, the PEN E-P1 is a camera for the enthusiasts or real amateurs who want to roam the world and capture it at the speed of light.

Here below is an example picture taken under a spotless sky with some shadow area… The camera is set on iA ISO 200 and shot with the 17mm. As you can see the dark areas are far from perfect (100% crop).

Original Photo can be downloaded here on our Flickr Account



Video Mode
Unlike the GH-1, the E-P1 didn’t amaze me much, yep the E-P1 is a 720p capable camera but does not use the excellent AVCHD codec even in its lite version.

Unlike the GH-1 the E-P1 doesn’t give much place with manual settings and you may not be able to play, as you like, with your camera settings. The Video Mode is here too limited for use like a GH-1. It will give you acceptable resultd in good condition (mostly outdoors) but the E-P1 Video Mode is definitly something I wouldn’t use.

Conclusion
Extremely well built, with great lenses, the E-P1 is a good surprise… You will finally be able to reach DSLR photo quality in an extremely compact, but heavy camera. However, its price, as well as its limited video capability makes the E-P1 a bit difficult for anyone wanting to jump into the removable lenses camera world. At the same price you may get a better DSLR giving you better pictures if you go with a Canon or Nikon.

But the E-P1 isn’t your average camera, it’s a camera for the real amateur who knows that time will help to master the E-P1 to get the most of it… The E-P1 is more of a secondary camera that you own and leave in your bag rather. But then again, I know some people who bought the E-P1 as a primary camera and are very happy with it… So like usual… before jumping into a camera, make sure you test it well enough at the store before you purchase it.

Category Review Cameras
              
Olympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The Review
Olympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The Review
Olympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The Review
Olympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The ReviewOlympus E-P1, a Really Nice Surprise:  The Review
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Comments
 

  • Gobalino

    There’s a bit of Engrish in this review. Please take it as constructive criticism.

    The metal is ‘stainless steel’.
    You are used to ‘playing’, not ‘plain’.
    You don’t ‘found’ something, you ‘find’ it.

    On to the review, can you comment on the autofocus and the LCD? I’ve read elsewhere that both are quite poor?

  • http://www.akihabaranews.com Daimaou

    No Engrish here since there are no Japanese but thanks for correction…

    As far as the LCD is concerned I really don’t have anything to say about it, maybe in direct sunlight you may struggle a bit with it but otherwise it does what it is suppose to do quite well.

    Same thing for the Auto-focus… It does its job pretty well.

    Not sure what are the complains here on these 2 aspect of the camera.

  • Alkit

    Any idea whether it can use Leica M lens with proper adapter? Looking for a compact size camera which can use Leica M. (Dun feel like to afford a M8 or R-D1)

    Wish this can be direct compare with GF1 or GH1 for ISO performance.

  • Gobalino

    @Daimaou: Cool! Ok, other review said the AF would search a bit, and for the LCD – yes, it was for viewing in sunlight – since there’s no flash, and performance isn’t so good in the high ISO, its a camera designed for lots of light, but hard to see the LCD in sunlight… maybe its being picky, but an interesting point
    @Alkit: So I’ve read, yes! One of the big draws of the camera is being able to use other lenses, but apparently you lose AutoFocus and the images aren’t really any better from the old lenses.

  • http://www.akihabaranews.com Daimaou

    Oh I see for the AF… actually with the Olympus lenses, the AF is slower than with the 14-140m from Panasonic, so yep maybe a bit lazy but not that much. Also the Olympus Lenses are not made for video they are VERY noisy and you will recoard this noise each time the camera is focusing on something.

  • tenshi

    Nice review. I hope you get your hands on an Panasonic GF1 soon and see what your thoughts are between those two nice almost pocketable cams

 

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