Olympus PEN E-PL1

Olympus PEN E-PL1
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Olympus PEN E-PL1

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Our Price: $239.00 - $882.08
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OLYMPUS 262856 12.3 Megapixel E-PL1 Pen Camera (Black with M. Zuiko 14-42mm lens)

Product Details:
Average Customer Rating: based on 284 reviews

Customer Reviews:
Average Customer Review:4.0 ( 284 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

734 of 751 found the following review helpful:

4Be honest about your priorities before you buy a camera  Mar 18, 2010
By Paul Bianchi
I've had the camera for a few days now, have been going out each afternoon experimenting with it, and so far I'm very happy with the purchase. But I think there's a lot of personal taste involved in buying any expensive camera, and you should try out several cameras "live" before buying this or any other one. I'm not going to repeat the pros and cons listed in other reviews - by and large I think others have done a good job pointing those out. I'm probably the target market - I was looking seriously at a Canon G11 or a Lumix LX3 before deciding to plonk down a bit more cash for this. I am happy with this camera because my priorities are:

- small size: I hike a lot, and want a light camera that will happily go in my backpack with lunch. DSLR's were just a little too too bulky for my taste. I really like the size of the camera, was willing to pay a bit extra for it. At some point I will probably spring for the 17mm "pancake" lens to trim it down even more. But when I have more cash. :-)
- SLR quality pictures: I was into hobby photography in school and got away from it when work got busy. I want the ability to take some nature and travel pics that can withstand some enlargement. The pictures I'm getting out of the E-PL1 are gorgeous, and I'm really excited about "taking it on the road".
- speed isn't an issue: a major complaint about the camera is that the autofocus isn't as fast as on some other cameras. For sports photography, that's probably an issue. For scenery and portraits, who cares. It's not so bad that I'd have noticed if the reviewers hadn't mentioned it, but then I'm not used to using a DSLR.
- don't care about a viewfinder - I've got astigmatism and with glasses, viewfinders are a pain. I went out shooting at sunset and intentionally shot with the sun on the LCD screen, and while it wasn't ideal,I could still work with it.

Read the reviews at dpreview, steves digicams, photographyblog - lots of good information and analysis. Frankly, I'd ignore most of the message boards and blogs, too many people getting ridiculously passionate about minutia. If you are THAT serious a photographer, this isn't the camera for you. But 95% of us AREN'T so into photography that we will sacrifice our firstborn rather than give up our allegiance to Panasonic/Canon/Nikon/whoever. So be thoughtful about your priorities, and go handle it in a store for a while. For my needs, it just fit.

726 of 759 found the following review helpful:

5Alot of camera in a small package and smaller price tag  Mar 24, 2010
By Mario Antoine

296 of 318 found the following review helpful:

4A Nice Camera But A Bit of A Mixed Bag  Mar 09, 2010
By shuTTL3bus "shuTTL3bus @gmail .com"
What do you get when you take Olympus PEN and mix it with a stripper (Of course I mean someone who strips features from a camera). You get the E-PL1 camera which is a little bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand you have one of the best versions of the m4/3 sensor to date. From what I have read it is better than both the E-P1 and E-P2 sensors. It is hard to tell the difference at normal screen and printing resolutions and I take a picture at its whole and don't pixel peep so I cannot verify that. What I can say is this camera is capable of producing world class images. Additionally, this camera has the Olympus JPEG engine which is regarded in the business as one of the best. This camera is also relatively small and light and includes a fill flash. Additionally, it has image stabilization (IS) built into the camera. It is not pocketable and the size of this camera has more to do with the lens that it is wearing then the actual camera itself.

On the other hand, you have a camera that is slow to focus. It appears to me that it zooms to infinity (and beyond) and then catches the focus on its way back in. If you are taking pictures of forever-in-motion kids you can be sure you will miss quite a few decisive moments. Additionally, this camera lacks the most important camera control there is. This is the control wheel used to change exposure, aperture, and shutter settings in a quick efficient manner. Instead this camera uses buttons which is an unwieldy way of making these changes. Most higher end Point and Shoot (P+S) cameras have some version of this control wheel. I think anyone transitioning to this camera from a DSLR or high end P+S will be frustrated by this. I've seen this billed as a good thing as there are less controls to get confused over. That may be so but all m4/3 cameras can be used as point and shoot by just keeping in the intelligent Auto(iA) mode. This simplifies the menu options and takes great pictures a majority of the time.

I think for anyone who wants to step up from a P+S to take better Image Quality pictures but plans to stay in the iA mode 90% of the time, then this camera will serve you well and will take some amazing images. Just remember P+S type focusing speed.

Anyone, who has a E-P1or E-P2 who want a sensors with a weaker Anti-Aliasing filter (i.e. less detail lost to the AA filter) and a fill flash will enjoy this camera for the IQ but will probably be frustrated with the loss of the control wheel

Anyone either stepping up from a high end P+S such as the LX3, S90, or G11 will be impressed with the images, but not blown away by the difference, unimpressed with the P+S focus performance, and frustrated in the P, A, S or M shooting modes. Additionally, you will be unimpressed with the bigger size of the camera but will enjoy the flexibility if your budget includes other lenses.

Anyone, getting this as a second carry around camera to a DSLR, will be happy with the smaller size and weight but unhappy with the slower performance. And frustrated by the clumsy controls but happy with the video capabilities.

If you don't need or want the video, don't mind IS in the lens instead of the camera, and can put up with a slight decrease in you IQ, ISO, and JPEG performance, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 12.1MP Digital Camera with Lumix G Vario 14-45 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Lens (Red) offers many upgrades at the same price (Integrated 1.4mp EVF, Swivel Screen, 460k screen, Grip for bigger lenses, faster focus performance, etc)

For the same price, the newly announced G10 matches the E-PL1 with video, and new processing engine (cross your fingers for a JPEG improvement). Additionally, it has a 2kp EVF (I'm not sure how useful that will be), a grip, a control wheel, a 1/4000 shutter speed and faster focus performance. It does not have in-camera IS.

For those planning on getting the EVF at some point or with an ~$200 greater budget, check out the newly announced G2. Take the G1, add 720P 60/50fps video, an improved processing engine, a new dial to change focusing modes, touch screen controls that look to work as slick as an iPhone, and touch screen focus, and you have a really really nice full featured camera.

Finally, if you don't need interchangeable lenses or don't plan on buying any more lenses and you don't mind a degradation of IQ, then the Canon S90, Canon G11, and Panasonic LX3(Leica D-Lux 4) are easier to carry around everywhere (especially the S90) and are cheaper(the gap will close when the price of this camera falls).

Here is a quick list of pros and cons of the E-PL1

The best Olympus implementation of the m4/3 sensor
One of the best JPEG engines in the business
Relatively small and light
Built in flash
In camera Image Stabilization(IS)
Price (The cheapest m4/3 yet)
Optional EVF (A very nice 1.4mp unit but very pricy at $279)
Its available
Nice build quality

Slow Autofocus (Panasonic has this figured out. Olympus, not so much)
Missing Control Wheel slows down aperture, shutter, and exposure changes
Only 230k screen?!
1/2000 shutter speed?! A lot of P+S go to 1/4000
Locking lens is annoying to deploy and stow

A competent and nice camera that will take stunning images. Slow autofocus and clunky controls will make this camera frustrating to many people.

54 of 54 found the following review helpful:

4Very good quality  Apr 10, 2010
By R. Hagen "RMH"
I think this camera is a good option for a certain niche of photographers. Let me first say that I have a lot of photographic experience. I have had several film SLRs (Nikons and Canons), I understand lighting, depth of field, ASAs(ISO), etc. My point and shoot pictures with compact cameras usually come out pretty good. But I felt the need to get an SLR again to go back to my old creativity. I looked at several. I held them in my hand. I looked at the lenses, I read the reviews, and in the end, I just don't want to lug those things around anymore. I know that when I travel, which is where I take most of my pictures,I want to be comfortable. I could fool myself into thinking the size and weight won't matter to me, but I know that it will. So when I saw the micro four thirds cameras I checked them out. I looked at the Lumix and Olympus ones and even the Samsung NX10. For the most part they ARE smaller than SLRS, but not all that much, and they are a bit heavy. This might not bother most people, but as you can tell I'm getting lazy in my older years (I'm 60). Then I saw the new PL1 and it is smaller and lighter than any of them. I was intrigued. Well I bought it and just took it on a trip. I liked it ALOT. It's light and small, although obviously not pocketable. With the lens off, it travels well too. In my hands it took great pics. I used the aperture and shutter speed priority modes alot. It also has useful scene modes and an auto "point and shoot" setting. The clarity of the photos for the most part is very good. Is it as good as a $3000.00 Nikon? Obviously not. But for most people, it's MUCH better than any compact camera they have ever had. I think that should be the comparison. I'm happy with my purchase.

54 of 56 found the following review helpful:

5Nearly perfect solution  Apr 15, 2010
By Amazon Customer "ariel42"
I was looking to replace the trusted Fuji-F31FD point-and-shoot, which was getting a bit old after 3 years of heavy use. My other camera is Canon 450D DSLR, which is most often used with Canon L EF 24mm 1.4 lens.
I became intrigued by micro 4/3 standard and checked reviews for the latest offerings by Panasonic and Olympus with the following priorities in mind:

1. Picture quality (both JPEG and RAW)
2. Size
3. Price
4. Ease of use
5. HD video

I did not care for a super-quick AF since will continue using Canon for sports pictures. Built quality is not as critical since I do not expect the camera to last more than 5 years anyway. In the end, I bought Olympus EPL1 with the kit 14-42mm lens and an additional Panasonic 20mm 1.7 pancake lens.

I find the initial results truly amazing:

1. Picture quality with Panasonic lens is much better than expected. In many cases, IQ is better than my Canon DSLR. Panasonic lens is incredibly sharp while the Olympus colors are gorgeous (may be a bit over-saturated). Actually, some of my friends are complaining that there is to much detail in their portraits taken with EPL1. Brought the camera to the local pro-photo store and the owner (professional newspaper photographer) could not believe picture quality from EPL1. Panasonic lens is excellent in low-light and Olympus in-body stabilization makes the combination even better.
2. The size is not as small as a regular P&S but comparable to super-zooms. I think it is good for hiking, skiing, city, and restaurant photos (people do not really like a huge DSLR lens pointed at them in a restaurant)
3. The price is good in comparison with the results
4. The camera is very easy to use. It has some learning curve due to many options (more than Canon). I find that AF speed with Panasonic lens is not an issue and the latest Olympus firmware upgrade is supposed to eliminate the problem completely (Update: 24-Apr-10 According to the latest DPReview comparison after the firmware upgrade, Olympus auto-focus with Panasonic lenses is the fastest in the class).

5. HD video is great (though MJPEG with 720P or 1080i and not MPEG4 or H.264 with full HD)

1. The screen is relatively low resolution. Still the displayed image is clear and in my opinion better than Canon 450D.
2. I do not care much for the included IB software, prefer using Lightroom3 Beta2 instead.

Since the camera is new, it is a bit difficult to find the right accessories. After some shopping on the internet and in a local photo-store, I added the following:

1. A couple of MaximalPower replacement batteries
2. Transcend 16 GB Class 6 SDHC Flash Memory Card
3. B&W 46mm Sky filter and Hoya 46mm multi-coated UV filter (for Panasonic lens)
4. Opteka Professional Wrist Grip Strap
5. Tamrac 5693 camera bag with belt loop. Perfectly fits the camera with either kit lens or the 20mm pancake with an extra pocket for spare battery and filter (but not much more).
6. Lens cap keeper

In short, I really enjoy the camera and with the accessories it is a nearly perfect solution for my needs

PS 17-Apr-10

After about a thousand pictures and one hiking trip:
1. Pictures are still amazing, both JPEG and RAW. I noticed that the camera encourages me to take more creative shots
2. Great improvement in camera size over 450D particularly for hiking
3. A wheel would be useful for quick aperture changes during hiking trips
4. A non-standard USB cord is a nuisance

Finally, I think EPL1 is a great little camera, may need to upgrade my 450D though

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