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156 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first micro four thirds camera
Update (4/27/2012)
==============
Note about Olympus service. It turns out that my camera had an issue with taking picture at fast shutter speed (1/4000s). I called the service and sent it in. It was fixed by week's end, and was shipped it out by 2nd Day Air. It was all for free as my camera is still under warranty. I did not get a refurbished unit; I got mine...
Published on September 24, 2011 by mypotbelly

versus
30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Panasonic GF3 might be better for those upgrading from point-and-shoot
The E-PM1 is compact for its class and takes good shots, but my wife spotted a deal on the GF3 (which I hadn't researched that much)--I'm glad she did cuz I'm happier with the GF3. In comparison,the E-PM1 had some disadvantages:
-Stabilization seems to create lots of audio noise when recording video--in this respect, in-body stabilization appears to be a...
Published on December 7, 2011 by SmartShopper


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156 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My first micro four thirds camera, September 24, 2011
By 
mypotbelly (Maple Grove, MN United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
Update (4/27/2012)
==============
Note about Olympus service. It turns out that my camera had an issue with taking picture at fast shutter speed (1/4000s). I called the service and sent it in. It was fixed by week's end, and was shipped it out by 2nd Day Air. It was all for free as my camera is still under warranty. I did not get a refurbished unit; I got mine back. When I tested my 'fixed' camera, I found everything was working as expected and no more problems at high shutter speed. Big kudos for Olympus service!

Update (2/6/2012)
==============
One key feature I forgot to mention is the in-body image stablization (IBIS). Olympus has the IBIS whereas Panasonic only supports the IS built into the lens. There are PROs and CONs of IBIS. However this comes in handy in many cases, and I prefer camera having IBIS where some lenses do not come with IS built-in (OIS). Some of my lenses do not have OIS, and if I do not use IBIS on Olympus, images would not be as sharp. On the other hand, people say that IBIS is not ideal for the video recording. I have not noticed much, but I can see how.

On the other hand, Olympus will announce E-M5 (OM-D family) this week. This one will support 5 axis IS (still an IBIS) which is expected to be much better than the IBIS that current models have. Some on the DPREVIEW forum say that this one will be better than OIS... we'll have to wait for some product review for the verdict.

Important Update (11/21/2011)
=====================
Firmware version 1.1 is now available from Olympus. It was surprising from a company that is going through a financial trouble :) The firmware version 1.1 is supposed to address an issue with EyeFi (Wifi SD + memory) card. Although I do not use the EyeFi card, I thought I will give it a try and updated my camera with some worries as one reviewer on DPREVIEW.com reported that camera became 'brick' after the update.

I used 'Olympus Digital Camera Updater' software that came with my camera. I used my Mac Mini to update the firmware. Everything took less than 2 minutes, and I got large "OK" sign on the LCD display. Upon recycling the power, the camera reported firmware version 1.1 correctly. I took about 50 shots after the update, and so far so good.

My original review
============
This is my fourth camera purchase this year... yet this is the best one. My other three cameras were point-and-shoot cameras that gave me some good photos but in-door shots with high iso gave me very grainy images. Nikon P300 is pretty good with F1.8; however image sensor was little too small and that results in lower image quality in some occasion.

I also have Canon T1i which takes photos with really good image quality; however I run into the portability issue. I'm not as big of a photo enthusiast (I know... I just love buying new camera) and I do not feel comfortable carrying my Canon T1i everywhere. It is simply too bulky.

My definition of 'perfect' camera is one that I can take most everywhere and take photos with good image quality in every situation.
I did a lot of research for the 'perfect' camera, and I quickly came down to the following selections:
1) Sony NEX family - Sony NEX 3, 5, C3, 5N, and 7.
-------------------------------------------------------------
These are wonderful camera. Small, and versatile, and especially with APS-C size image sensor, image quality (IQ) rivals regular dSLRs. However the limitations are the fact that they use Sony proprietary lenses and there are limited number of NEX lenses.

2) Samsung N100/N200
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These are similar to Sony NEX. I haven't seen them in person; however these should deliver similar IQ with the APS-C size sensors. However they do have the same issue of using Samsung proprietary lens mount + format.

3) Nikon 1, Pentax Q, and Fujifilm X100
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Ok, Fujifilm X100 has APS-C size sensor; however it has a single fixed lens on the camera. Good lens, but you cannot replace lens. Nikon and Pentax recently announced their new compact system cameras, however their system uses smaller size sensor. Pentax uses even smaller and Nikon uses sensor about 1/2 of Micro Four Thirds. I like Nikon but I felt the lens collection + size sensor was disappointment at this time.

4) Then there are Micro Four Thirds cameras... these include Olympus e-P1,P2,P3, e-PL1,PL2,PL3, and e-PM1 and Panasonic GF1, GF2, and GF3, and other G series cameras.
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Micro Four Thirds cameras can use any lenses that adhere to the Micro Four Thirds standards. Therefore there are more lens selections available at the time of my research than any other compact system cameras.
My decision was more of my budget and my future direction... I want to build my lens library first; however I wanted to get best value for my budget. In my opinion, Olympus e-PM1 was the best choice.

My selection of Olympus E-PM1 was for its compact size and versatility of the camera. yes, it may not have all physical control buttons. That was problem when I was looking at the camera; however it's not as bad as I thought. You can get to the settings quickly and you actually have control of most of settings that you can think of... And you can easily set your focus area, if you don't want the camera to choose for you :)

Based on my research Olympus E-PM1 has pretty much the same hardware as more expensive and little bigger E-PL3. This means that it now has new dual core image processor (TruePic VI) and very fast auto-focus system. This all means that this Olympus E-PM1 is very responsive and good performer in everyday use.

It's been about a week and I took almost 900 photos with single battery charge(battery life is good). I now have Panasonic 20mm F1.7 pancake lens on the camera and that one is really good for photo taking. (I won't recommend it for video.. due to noise issue). With my F/1.7 lens, I haven't really had need for a flash on the camera. In fact, I have not even tried it yet. Camera takes good IQ and very fast auto focus. I love how i can control so many settings on the camera. I don't think I had this much fun with my Canon T1i.
NOTE: For Mac users out there, this ACHVD format on 1080i video would be little problem as there are no native support for the format yet.

Pros for Olympus E-PM1
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- Compact size (smaller than other micro four thirds)
- Good Image Quality (comparable to dSLRs)
- Fast auto focus speed
- large number of available lenses (micro four thirds)
- Available Hot Shoe; you can use external flash

Cons for Olympus E-PM1
--------------------------------------------------------------
- no built-in flash (having something is better than nothing)
- not pocketable, unless you are talking about your winter jacket
- Limited availability of button control; it's ok but for some this would be strong 'con"
- Video format (ACHVD MTS format is not for computer... Mac software not as widely available)
- Built-in image stabilization may not work perfectly for the video; it works well for still images.
- (UPDATE 11/15/2011) It may be my camera, however I cannot use shutter speed 1/3200 or 1/4000s. Images get too dark at the bottom of picture. However I rarely need these shutter speed; therefore I do not see this is a show stopper.

* Image Sensor size discussion
--------------------------------------------------------------
Here are some measure of image sensors used on various digital cameras today:

Typical point-and-shoot, sensor=1/2.33", sensor size=~28.5mm^2, crop factor=5.62
Advanced point-and-shoot, sensor=1/1.6", sensor size=~48.6mm^2, crop factor=4.3
micro-four-thirds, sensor=MFT, sensor size=~225mm^2, crop factor=2
Canon dSLR, sensor=APS-C, sensor size=~329mm^2, crop factor=1.6
Other dSLR (Nikon,Sony), sensor=APS-C, sensor size=~369mm^2, crop factor=1.5

Olympus E-PM1 has micro four thirds format sensor, i.e. it has surface area of 225mm^2 which is significantly larger than typical point-and-shoot camera. Olympus E-PM1 has more than 4.6x bigger image sensor to pick up more lights than advanced point-and-shoot camera.

* Comparison between Point-and-Shoot and Olympus E-PM1
------------------------------------------------------------------
Olympus E-PM1, as a micro four thirds camera, has significantly bigger MOS sensor and you can go to ISO1600 and still have good image quality. I posted an example of image that was taken with ISO1600 with F11. This still has fairly good image quality even with high ISO. Of course, the image quality would be less accurate in dimly lit condition. However Olympus E-PM1 still has much better image quality than other point-and-shoot camera. I compared picture taken with Olympus E-PM1 and Nikon P300, and Olympus wins hands down.

* Olympus E-PM1 User Interface
-----------------------------------------------------------------
As noted above, Olympus E-PM1 does not have as many manual control buttons. You don't even have 'mode' button. P/A/S/M has to be selected via menu button. Although this may be problem for some users, many users will find it adequate. There are even customizable buttons that you can assign "video record" button as "DOF preview". Other controls, such as changing ISO, aperture value, shutter speed, are fairly simple. Olympus E-PM1 gives you so much control over camera settings.

* RAW image format (Updated 11/15/2011)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Olympus E-PM1 has good RAW image setting (.ORF format). Included Olympus Viewer 2 software can be used to develop RAW images into JPG format images.

I am happy to report that the following software support E-PM1 ORF format:
- Adobe Element 9 with the latest update (ACR 6.5 and later)
- Aperture 3.2.1

Summary
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Olympus E-PM1 is a solid camera with good functionalities. It is small enough to be almost pocketable yet provides many advanced functionalities that rivals entry level dSLRs. As a micro four thirds camera, there are good set of lenses from multiple manufacturers, and Olympus has built very responsive camera with good image quality (IQ) sensor with this E-PM1. This camera should appeal to those of you looking to move up to more advanced camera from their point-and-shoot camera or someone with dSRLs looking for a smaller, competent camera. I do admit that this camera is not 'perfect' camera; however this camera is one of the best value for a compact system camera today.
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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things that Olympus won't tell you, September 29, 2011
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
I've owned this camera for a few weeks now, so I just wanted write a few notes about this camera that get neglected.

1. The image stabilization is only good up to 4 fps, but the default multi shot modes are 5 fps or 3 fps. To get 4 fps, you have to use a custom menu setting.

2. Always shoot in multi shot mode. Single shot mode will cause camera lag (my guess is that it waits for the SD card to finish writing in single shot mode). This lowers your shot to shot times down to about 1.5 fps as the camera will just ignore your shutter press. Shooting in multi shot mode solves this problem, at the expense of not always seeing your next shot.

3. Buy the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens if you want to take any indoor shots without a flash. The kit lens, at f3.5, is just not fast enough indoors. Your shots will come out at 1600 ISO and contain blur or noise, depending upon your noise filtering setting, usually both, because f3.5, just doesn't cut it. Okay, that might be a little harsh - if you reduce the photos down to 25% of their original size, they will be good enough to put up on a web page, but you wouldn't want to print them. In comparison, the 20mm f1.7 lens takes great indoor shots.

4. Nearly all the pictures you see on websites that review this camera required custom menu settings. Custom menu settings require information from the manual before you figure them out. I must have played with the custom settings for a solid two hours with the manual by my side, before I got things close to the way I wanted them.

Edit (03-Oct-2011)

5. The auto focus speed using the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens is slower than with the 14-42 kit lens. While the 20mm focuses nearly instantly in bright light, it can take up to 2 seconds to focus in low light. Comparatively, the 14-42mm has a worst case focusing time of about half a second in low light.

Edit (28-Nov-2011)

6. Buy a grip for this camera. I got a small Flipbac G2 and it made a world of difference.

7. These days I would recommend the fast focusing Panasonic/Leica 25mm/f1.4 (or Olympus 45mm f1.8) over the 20mm/f1.7 for low light photography.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5-star, great value!, September 26, 2011
By 
Alex (San Franciso, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
I've been using E-PM1 for a couple of weeks. It's very nicely build and appears to be metal front, back or sides and the top (E-PL2 has only metal front panel). The menu is cleverly designed so you won't miss the additional external controls all that much. Rec button and "right" & "down" buttons can be customized. E.g., you can set Rec button to serve as AEL/AFL, AF/MF switch, "Magnify", "Tele-converter", etc. In addition, if you turn off "keep WB warm" in the menu (it's on by default), the colors will be much better especially indoors. Don't forget to dial flash exposure compesation "+1EV" (the camera will remember this setting) for proper exposure because the bundled flash is always in semi-bounce position when activated.
Overall, great little camera with super fast AF (incl. continous AF in HD video), fast buffer clearing with a huge number of customizations available. 5.5fps burst mode and art filter bracketing is really cool. So far my basic settings: Noise filter off, "keep WB warm" off, Sharpening -1, Natural picture mode, right button - ISO, down button - WB, LSF jpeg, Rec button set as AF/MF switch, LCD set to max brightness. Also, don't forget to enable SCP (Super control panel) by clicking OK, then pressing Info in live view mode. This will allow you a one-click access to all important settings for changes on the go. E-PM1 feels like a very thoroughly designed camera with well thought out menu. It does require some setting up to do initially for best resutls. It has a hot shoe and supports standard flashes as well as wireless flashes (with bundled flash attached). Buil-in Image stabilization is very effective especially with Panasonic 20mm lens you can easily shoot sharp pictures of non-moving objects at 1/10s w/o any blur. Priced at $499 it's definately the best value for the money in the m43 format.

Update: After 2 months of heavy use, it's hard for me to go back to E-PL2 now (my back up camera). E-PM1 trumps it in every way: better looking images (due to outstanding AWB performance), much faster AF and face detect especially in low light or when shooting from a distance. Much improved shutter lag and very useful 5.5 fps burst mode. The bundled flash is tiny and provides great results; I don't hesitate to leave it attached most of the time (good in the sun too to lift the shadows).

However, IBIS is disappointing compared to E-PL2 so I simply disabled it (I'm mostly taking pictures of people anyway and prefer at least 1/30s so no biggie. I heard E-P3 IBIS is way better - different implementation).

I sold Panny 20mm because this lens is slow and noisy to focus (especially in low light it's often inaccurate) and it doesn't take advantage of E-PM1's fast AF at all. Panny 14mm works way better for me including in low light (good DoF in tight indoor spaces). I used to keep Panny 20 for shallow DoF but now I got Oly 45mm f1.8 which is way better at that.

Absolutely breathing pictures from E-PM1+Oly 45mm combo with creamy smooth bokeh and surgical sharpness in plane of focus (have to use e-portrait function to smoothen the skin, LOL). 35 small AF points covering the whole screen are indispensable when shooting wide open with this lens. Also, E-PM1 eye detect is very useful for artistic portraits (e.g. the focus is on the left eye).

I really think that with m43 and Oly 45mm (I also recommend ND filter) anyone can now take pro grade shallow DoF (with 3D pop) pictures w/o any training at all because no PP required! E-PM1's jpegs are superb, very colorful and especially fantastic skin tones even under mixed indoor lightning! You can spend hours editing raw files and still not achieve the Oly colors (especially skin tones).

I also wanted to add that E-PM1 is fun to use. Not only because of the cute form factor but also thanks to some useful art filters, e-portrait function, burst mode and full manual control over video. If you use non-TTL external flash, you are no longer restricted to 1/160s flash sync speed. You can now use 1/320s in 4:3 native aspect ratio and 1/400s in 16:9 format. Very few cameras are capable of such high native flash sync speeds (w/o power-reducing FP mode). For those who can't afford Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, Olympus Viewer 2 which is bundled with the camera is a very capable editor albeit works slower than those two. It allows you to apply any of the art filters after the picture is taking (if shot in Raw) and you can apply most of the in-camera settings to your raw images later (picture mode, WB, art filter, noise reduction, sharpness, etc.). It's probably the best free image editor I've ever seen.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fits My Niche, January 25, 2013
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
Olympus has marketed this camera as a step up for a P&S user, but I think it's really most appealing to the experienced DSLR user who sometimes wants to carry lighter gear.

I use a Nikon D200 DSLR as my main camera, with a lot of legacy manual-focus Nikkor glass. For casual snaps/travelling light I have a Canon G9 P&S, which has good manual controls, but a very small sensor, a poor optical viewfinder and a non-interchangeable zoom lens.

Recently I saw a very good deal on the e-pm1 with 14-42 kit lens, and decided to try it. What might turn off P&S shooters, but really intrigued me, are the extensive options for customization. It takes some time to go through the entire setup menu, but if you are an experienced photographer, it's easily understandable. Finally, what sealed the deal for me was that micro 4/3 cameras (because of their very short flange-focal plane distance) can be fitted with adapters to use just about any DSLR lens you might already have (though of course the FOV will not be the same, except with 4/3 lenses).

What I've learned since buying the camera:

1) Handling is easy after a little acclimation;
2) New users should check the micro 4/3 forum and other websites for user advice/experience to help customize the settings for your particular preferences;
3) An optional electronic viewfinder is really nice to have in bright sunlight, when composing (and even more so, manual focusing) using the LCD can be difficult;
4) Cheap adapters for manual focus lenses work just fine (though expect the lenses to actually focus a bit beyond infinity);
5) Autofocus with the kit lens is very fast, and this lens has a nice throw for manual focusing, too.

Comparing the E-PM1 with the larger and more expensive cameras in the Olympus Pen series, what's really different is that the E-PM1 LCD is not a touchscreen, and it's fixed; there are also fewer buttons, meaning that it will take two or three button pushes rather than one to change mode (PASM), for example. Since I don't use most buttons often anyway (even on the D200), I actually like the less cluttered layout of the Mini.

The E-PM1 is now my favorite camera for urban photography - it's no effort to carry it everywhere I go, on foot or by bike. It doesn't attract attention, and delivers the kind of images I want.

To sum up, a newbie could use this camera as a P&S with interchangeable lenses, and have fun with it. But it has a lot more to offer than that for an experienced photographer - especially one who wants to see, not be seen. The ability to use pretty much any legacy glass is a nice plus for us old-timers.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, October 26, 2011
By 
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This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
Background:
I've owned quite a few Olympus four-thirds cameras. My first was an E-420, which was compact for it's time, but performed horribly in dim lighting and I refused to go beyond ISO 400. My next purchase was an E-620 which was a good improvement and I was comfortable at going up to ISO 800. My last purchase was an E-5, which in my opinion is perhaps the best four-thirds camera thus far. The E-5 addressed many of the issues I had with four-thirds, and I currently use it for my portrait/fashion work as the detail and colors are outstanding.

Build Quality:
Similar to all my Olympus purchases, the E-PM1 is very well built. It has a nice metal body, reasonably light and small. I do wish it had a better grip for one handed use, though those instances are very rare. If you hold the camera like a DSLR (one hand near the shutter and the other underneath the lens), it is very easy and comfortable to hold.

Controls:
At first, I was hesitant to use a camera that didn't have individual wheels for shutter and aperture as well as a lack of other dedicated buttons, but I found the menu interface quite intuitive and I was able to change settings quite quickly. I believe seasoned DSLR owners as well as people upgrading from point & shoots will be comfortable with the controls.

Image Quality:
I decided to pick up the E-PM1 to supplement the E-5, since the sensor and and anti-aliasing filter was reported to be similar. Compared to the E-5, the images seem to have more shadow noise, but it's more refined grain. In some instances, I have also noticed some blotching as well, whereas images from my E-5 would not have them at all. Quite perplexing, since the sensors are supposedly quite similar. While the noise seems more apparent, I'm still comfortable going up to ISO 1600 without noise reduction, and up to ISO 3200 with noise reduction. Beyond ISO 3200, images become unusable.

Lenses:
My current glass for the E-5 consist of the Olympus 50mm f/2 macro and Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 - both of which are quite sharp. Which is why I was a little disappointed in the kit 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. While small and compact, it doesn't do the sensor justice. I received the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and am very pleased with the quality and sharpness of the images it's producing in conjunction with the new sensor. I also have the 45mm f/1.8 on order and I expect it to produce outstanding images as well. The kit 14-42mm is fine for the general consumer and as a travel lens, but if you're serious about photography, I recommend fast prime lenses: Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, Panasonic 25mm f/1.4, Olympus 12mm f/2, or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

Summary:
Great little camera, and if you want to get everything it has to offer, new lenses would be in your cart as well.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased-, January 18, 2012
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
I won't go into the nuts and bolts of what the micro four thirds format is about, as there are plenty of resources out there to consult if you want to learn about system cameras. The short of it is that this is part of a standardized format of system cameras-meaning it has interchangeable lenses-that are meant to put a large image sensor into a small camera body, giving users the ability to get high quality shots without having to carry a DSLR around. The recent trend with these small system cameras seems to market them toward the more casual user looking to step up from the ailing point-and-shoot market to something a bit more capable. Despite the fact that the functionality of these new small system cameras is downplayed (I am sure as to not appear intimidating to people who are not devoted to intensely learning about camera operation and photography), these models, this one included, are entirely capable of taking very, very high quality photos and allow a great amount of control over every aspect of your shot, should you desire it.
Honestly though, with the advances in auto-focus accuracy, white balance metering, etc. etc., these cameras will be just fine when left on "P" mode (automatic settings), or just used with simple shutter or aperture priority modes, since they do a fine job at handling the technical stuff; you don't need to constantly fiddle with them to get excellent results.
If I am doing a more formal photo shoot, I will use my DSLR, but for the kinds of picture I take most of the time, I just want a camera that is fast and ready, and not a chore or liability to carry around. This camera doesn't draw attention to itself, and is very fast- but at the same time, can take serious quality photos that will not leave you disappointed, even if you are a serious photographer with fairly high expectations (just remember to use a good lens if you really want to push things).

I have been a big fan of the m 4/3 format over other small system cameras for some time now. As we are seeing the release of other competing models with larger APS-C sized sensors (the same size as in Canon's non full frame DSLR's), such as the Sony NEX series, there is a temptation to give them a go (the NEX cameras are very nice, by the way, but the lenses leave something to be desired when it comes to sharpness, in my humble opinion).
But... there is another factor to consider- unlike other large sensor, small system cameras, m 4/3 is widely supported in terms of lens availability, so the range and quality of lenses you can get for m 4/3 is in another league compared to proprietary systems such as the ones from Sony and Samsung. If you are familiar with cameras, you will know that the camera body is only part of the equation, and that the quality of the lens used can make a HUGE difference...

Anyway, this is my second m 4/3 camera, and is a replacement for an Olympus EP-2. Olympus has priced this camera (the E-PM1) very, very competitively. In my opinion, this is the best bang for your buck out there with small system cameras. As soon as I learned this camera shared many key electronics with the EP-3, but packed into a smaller package, I knew I had to upgrade. The auto-focus is very, very fast, noticeably more so than the EP-2. I cannot comment on the kit lens this comes with, since I went straight to using the fan favorite Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 with this; though I hear good things about the kit lens.
Another major selling point for me in regards to this camera is the size. I am pretty sure this is the smallest m 4/3 camera out there, and with a pancake lens it is easy to carry around in a coat pocket, unlike the more classically styled, but bulkier, heavier EP-1/2/3.

This model also benefits from having Olympus's "new" type of menu system, which is mercifully simple to use compared to their older cameras.
The image quality is fantastic, as is to be expected from most any modern m 4/3 camera, and if you are used to point and shoots, the pictures this takes will be a revelation in detail and richness. JPEG's look great, and RAW files are even nicer, and like past Olympus cameras, the color rendition is exceptionally pleasing. Because of its compact size, I use this more often than my DSLR, and I would definitely buy it again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DSLR user Bought this for a Trip, June 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this camera for a trip, not wanting to carry my Nikon DX DSLR around, but I was worried about image quality with a four-thirds, so I took it out and shot about 50 or 60 pics with it, and the same ones with my Nikon before my trip. I was very impressed. Honestly, even pixel-peeping at full-size images on the computer, the differences are negligible. I have no problem recommending the Olympus to ANYONE. I had no issues finding controls without ever looking at the manual, and, after a little more practice,
I think I could do almost anything with it that I can do with the Nikon.

This camera is ideal for a semi-pro shooting for fun- it's a LOT lighter than a DSLR- and, as much as I really wanted to like the Nikon better, I'd recommend this camera whole-heartedly, while giving the Nikon a list of "but"s. The Olympus, for instance, focuses MUCH faster than the Nikon, even in low-light situations, and on full auto "guesses" more accurately what part of the scene to focus on.

If you're just getting into photography, or want to move up from a point&shoot- you will LOVE this.

More interesting info-bits:
It also has HD video and stereo sound.
before I bought this, I didn't know about the "PenPal" accessory Olympus makes for this, which attaches to the camera for direct mobile uploads
ALSO, when this is hooked up to your TV, most TV remotes can be used to control the camera as well as the TV!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great camera, great value, but slightly crippled user experience, December 30, 2011
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I purchased my E-PM1 as an "upgrade" from my 2-year old Olympus E-P1, which of course is a more high end camera in some respects, but was simply getting a bit old and felt slow to me. I put "upgrade" in quotation marks because the E-PM1 isn't really meant as an upgrade from the E-P1 because the two cameras target separate customer audiences. But -- and I hope my review will be able to demonstrate this -- it certainly is possible to take this upgrade path if you've used the E-P1, as long as you're aware of what you're gaining and losing during the upgrade.

Because of this, I'll focus this review on the differences (good and bad) between the old E-P1 and this new E-PM1:

E-PM1 advantages:
* Much faster focus algorithms - even with the same lenses, the PM1 focuses noticeably faster. With the new lenses, it's faster than any non-dSLR camera I've ever used.
* Extremely lightweight and small - I think I managed to shave off another 100 grams of total weight in my camera bag with this upgrade!
* Much improved kit zoom in terms of size and focus speed/noise. Although the lens mount is in plastic, it doesn't seem like there will be any problems with worn out mount connections.
* Slightly, slightly better high ISO performance, though this is only confirmed by reading professional reviews.
* Up to 5 fps burst mode - really impressive.
* Nicer menu interface (though menu layout is mostly unchanged).
* Comes with a useful snap-on flash that I've really missed on the E-P1 at e.g. very dim party nights. Now I just have to remember to bring it along with the camera. :)

E-PM1 disadvantages:
* I definitely preferred the retro design of the E-P1, but I was happy to give it up in favor of a much more portable package.
* There is absolutely no grip on the E-PM1, making it a bit hard to hold. You can essentially forget about holding the camera with just one hand.
* For some reason, Olympus leaves out a basic orientation sensor in their simpler models, which means that if you take photos in portrait mode, you have to manually rotate the photos on your computer. Not a big deal, but I can't understand why they would take out such a basic feature -- there's not a single mobile camera phone out there that doesn't include it, so it can hardly be a size (or cost) issue.
* I really miss at least *one* more programmable Fn button, or at least the freedom to assign *any* feature to the one that exists (the Rec button). For some reason, Olympus decided to omit certain essential features that you can assign, which means that some combinations of direct button access aren't possible.
* The video mode is crippled in the sense that it's no longer possible to re-focus while recording by e.g half pressing the shutter (or assigning the AEL/AFL lock button to focus). It's possible to program the AEL/AFL function (which can be assigned to the Rec button) to re-focus while in Manual mode when taking photos, but for some reason Olympus forgot to inherit that feature when switching to video mode. So, the only way to re-focus while recording a video is to give the control over entirely to the camera's hunting focus algorithms by switching over to continuous focus. This is a shame, really, and it makes the video feature much less useful to me.
* The screen, while higher resolution than on the E-P1, actually ends up being a disappointing experience because of its aspect ratio. This is a widescreen (16:9), while the E-P1 had a lower resolution 4:3 screen. Because both screens are labeled as 3" sized, the widescreen actually ends up being a lot smaller if you still shoot your photos using the sensor-native 4:3 aspect ratio. (This is the same thing that happened a decade ago when you compared an old 28" TV with the, then, new 28" widescreen TVs -- the latter ended up being a much smaller screen in most practical purposes.) If would be nice if Olympus gave you the option of only seeing 16:9 cropped version of the view when framing a photo, while still actually recording the full frame (this is admittedly possible if you shoot in RAW, which I never do).

Overall, by selling my old E-P1 and buying the new E-PM1, I ended up spending an additional ~220 USD, which, all in all, feels like a pretty cheap upgrade. The E-PM1 is better than the old E-P1 in many important respects (to me) such as overall size/weight, autofocus speed, and flash -- but it's admittedly a step back in some others. As an interim upgrade until the "next big thing" comes out, it feels like a good choice to me in the end. But if you own an E-P1/E-P2 and plan to hold on to your next camera upgrade for a long time, I would suggest you wait until sometime like a future E-P4 is announced, which may be a far more significant upgrade with (supposedly) a much improved sensor.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Camera, LCD Vulnerable, Needed Extras Costly, semi-compatible with FL-600R flash, August 4, 2012
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I've taken a few dozen pictures so far, and I see that I bought what I wanted - a point-and-shoot camera that allows the use of different lenses. I even bought an adapter ring to use the lenses from my 1985 Pentax Program Plus 35mm slr (manual focus, but that's what they were back then). The camera allows greater and greater manual control as desired. The pictures are rich and vivid. I also bought the 45mm f1.8 lens for portraits.

When I am using the E-PM1, I find that the only place for my thumb is right on the lcd screen. There is a screen protector film that's made specifically for this camera, but you'll need to buy 10 or 20 of them so you can keep replacing them as they rub loose, especially around the buttons. The camera is small enough that even holding it by the lens is tricky. I bought a flash bracket to give my left hand a way to hold the camera.

The little flash that comes with the camera does well for close shots (5-10 feet), but the reviews point out that, as with any camera, a much stronger flash is needed for long telephoto shots. Usually, a flash is put on the camera's hot shoe, but here lies a mystery. The little flash has a plastic foot that slides into the hot shoe, but it has no connections at all through the hot shoe, but rather is powered and controlled by an "accessory port" behind the hot shoe. Luckily there are also contacts on the hot shoe to control a dedicated flash. What does this "accessory port" offer that the hot shoe doesn't? The owner's manual doesn't mention anything about it other than a bluetooth-style file sharing gadget that plugs in there. Has Olympus released the power and signal patterns of this "accessory port" so that other companies can offer compatible products?

Olympus would like people to buy one of their name-brand strong flashes (FL-50R, FL36R, etc.) that work with the camera's so-called RC signal. Reviews say that this is not "radio control", but a special-signal-light-trigger (supposedly avoiding the slave-flash vulnerability of popping whenever anyone else's flash goes off). The second flash has to be able to "see" the little flash mounted on the E-PM1. That puts the second flash forward of the camera, possibly in the field of view. Why put such a restriction on a second flash?
I bought a 4-channel radio-control kit to control the newest FL-600R mega-flash. This solution lets the flash sit anywhere in the room, on a tripod, or on a bracket with the camera. Another option is to buy a hot-shoe extension cable, to control the mega-flash, which would be mounted on the bracket with the camera.

Altogether, it's the age-old trick: make an excellent product, but don't include things that would make it complete, then charge double the price for these necessary accessories. It's not unusual - alot of companies do this. And pretty soon other companies will begin making equivalent accessories that are priced way less than the name brand (I'm writing this in August 2012.) You'll be pleased with this camera - just make sure you make a list of what you want so you know the total cost when you decide to buy it.

Four months later (Demeber 2012), I'm concerned about the LCD panel on the back of the camera. It is not recessed - there is no frame around it that might hold it up off a tabletop if the camera were laid on its back. It is so prominent that a screen protector is essential, crucial, vital to the safety of the screen, yet the protector I used was also vulnerable and rubbed loose in a few weeks. Surely camera designers should think of such things - am I expecting too much? I'll support the screen protector industry as long as I have this camera.

Five more months later (May 2013), I have learned from Olympus Technical Support that the E-PM1 is not able to ask the FL-600R flash to light up its LCD light to augment the camera's little orange auto-focus lamp. The FL-600R flash has to have its LCD light turned on manually, but that leaves it on durinig the shot, which can confuse the auto-exposure on the camera. Luckily, the newer E-PM2 does make use of the FL-600R LCD light for auto-focus. The E-PM2 has a slightly recessed screen, touch-screen capability (including touch-focus change during movie recording!) and other features not available on the E-PM1. Reader be aware!

Other than the vulnerable LCD, the camera is great, but they've now made one better. That's why the price is half what it was. It's last year's model, and the company has moved on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool shooting in a small package, May 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-PM1 12.3MP Interchangeable Camera with CMOS Sensor, 3-inch LCD and 14-42mm II Lens (Black) (Electronics)
I am really enjoying this camera. The auto focus and shutter response are very fast, color is excellent, and with a little tweaking and getting used to the sparse buttons and wheels, most of the settings you'll use a lot are within quick reach.

Its small size is a giant asset, making it very easy to take with you anywhere. To compliment this, it only takes about two seconds from cold/off to be on and ready to shoot. I have larger than average hands (without a lens I can almost hide the body itself in my hand), and while I wish there was some sort of snap-on grip out there, I don't feel klutzy shooting with it.

The one downside is performance in low light, especially at the higher ISOs -- anything over 1000 and you can pretty much expect some noise. Also, the auto focus speed suffers dramatically, even when it fires a red LED as a sort of flashlight to find something to focus on.

I haven't had occasion to play with the detachable flash much as of yet, but at first blush it works about like any point-and-shoot flash. I know you can adjust it via the camera's setup menus but I haven't toyed with that yet.

I've taken a couple short videos at 1080p and it performs alright, although that feels more like an afterthought. There aren't many options there and the little built-in mic is better than a cell phone and not as good as a low-end camcorder, particularly if there is any wind or background noise.

All in all, it's great for a small camera to carry with you and take great stills under most circumstances. The 4/3 form factor is gaining popularity and there are a LOT of lenses and accessories for this camera, so for the price, you might be able to do better but I can't see how. If I could, I would probably rate it 4.5 stars for the low light performance and vanilla video shooting, but the value overall is so high I can easily rounding it up.
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