195 of 201 people found the following review helpful
Small camera, big performance
, July 6, 2009
This review is from: Olympus PEN E-P1 12 MP Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens (Silver Body/Black Lens) (Electronics)
This past holiday week-end I made the decision not to take my Nikon DSLR with me on a 3 day road trip to Minneapolis. The majority of my time was spent wandering the Mall of America, and the E-P1 was an absolute delight the entire time.
This little camera makes me smile each time I use it!
If you don't care to word a long, winding review let me summarize it. The E-P1 doesn't have to make any apologies for being petite, its a full fledged camera on its own merit.
* Great photo quality!
* Built in image stabilization (works pretty well too)
* Customizable and responsive interface/buttons
* HD movie mode with autofocus
* Low profile, doesn't get you noticed
* Quiet. I'd say quieter than my old rangefinders and way more quiet than my DSLR's
Could be better
* Battery life
* Perhaps almost too customizable (pretty good learning curve). Keep the manual handy!
I'm not a people shooter and certainly not a "street" shooter but my week-end was spent at the Mall of America, which is enormous but all in doors. It was an interesting challenge. I found that although I fumbled with the interface and settings a bit, it became very engrossing and almost mesmerizing to shoot publicly with the E-P1. It never drew attention, not once, where as I saw people clearing out from the obvious DSLR guys like fish around a barracuda in the reef.
Lens: My only lens is the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6, which doesn't sound too exciting. However in practice it has been a great general utility lens that has rendered quite nicely, showing nice resolution and sharpness. I can only anticipate what the E-P1 will do with a quality, wide aperture prime. I'm up in the air about my next move, but the 50mm f/2 sure looks tempting. But then again it would be great to try OM mount too! Arg....
Auto-Focus: I've read some questions about the auto-focus performance of this camera, but in normal operation haven't see an issue yet. Granted I haven't tried to shoot a basketball game or dance recital yet so take this with a grain of salt. For my people shooting in the mall the AF performance has been wonderful and spot on. When I've gone to outdoor settings or even just trying to snap something quick from my car, I've found that the autofocus is quite a ways behind my D90. I think it is real world quick, but it is probably a step slower to focus than any DSLR on the market. Not saying that's a bad thing, some worth knowing.
Sensor: The sharpness I see from this camera is well beyond what I expected, so there may be something to the talk that Olympus removed the strong anti-alias filtering most DSLR's are plagued with. The jpg results thus far haven't required any post process sharpening and the Olympus color engine is a breath of fresh air in my opinion.
Handling: Coming form a DSLR will make you take a little time to get used to the difference. Getting used to shooting with a LiveView display will also take some getting used to. There isn't a front/rear two wheel control system as I'm used to with the D90, but there are two primary controls for manual shooting and they can both be worked while shooting one handed. Very nice design! The buttons and functions are all fully customizable but expect to be nestled up with the manual a wee bit to do it. All in all composing from the LiveView LCD became very natural and fluid after a day. High marks to Olympus in designing such a usable system. The only thing I still have to figure out is a button to disable auto-focus so I can go fully manual.
Results: The bottom line to any camera is what it can produce. The E-P1 is not a D700, A900 or 5DII. Those are different kinds of cameras that excel at higher ISO and extreme resolutions. What the E-P1 is to me is a system capable of going toe-to-toe with any DX sensor system on the market in terms of deliverable results. No it doesn't shoot 8 frames per second. Again not that kind of camera.
This is a practical camera whose size and form factor make it usable in places that larger cameras wouldn't work as well or possibly not at all. I'm seeing very detailed and sharp results up to ISO 1,250. After years of shooting 35mm, DSLR and even large format I'd have to say this is the most fun I've had with any camera I've owned. Its a camera guy's camera that the beginner can use as well.
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