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Customer Review

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resurrect your manual focus lenses, April 16, 2012
This review is from: OLYMPUS 262855 12.3 Megapixel E-PL1 Pen Camera (Black camera body) (Electronics)
If you have manual focus lenses from your SLR days, this is currently the best deal on a camera body to bring those lenses back to life. There are inexpensive adapters for using lots of SLR lens types, and some old rangefinder lens types, with Micro Four Thirds cameras such as this one. With your old lens mounted, just set the camera mode to A for aperture priority, set the aperture on the lens to your desired f-stop, and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter and ISO for a good exposure. Manually focusing your lens is made easier because the viewfinder can magnify the subject you're focusing on.

Moreover, the camera has in-body image stabilization, so the sensor compensates for camera shake. You just choose your lens's focal length from a menu, and the camera will permit slower shutter speeds without blur. Other camera lines put their image stabilization in their lenses, but the Olympus PENs have it in the body, so it can be used with any lens you mount on the camera.

The camera has a full range of other digital features, and it produces images of excellent quality.

Note that the Micro Four Thirds sensor, while several times the size of the sensor found in point-and-shoot digital cameras, is half the size of a frame of 35mm film. Consequently, any lens on an MFT camera will have the same angle of view as a lens with twice the focal length on a 35mm film camera. For example, a 50mm lens on an MFT camera will give the angle of view that a 100mm lens would give on a 35mm film camera.

I should add that the lenses Olympus makes for its PEN cameras are excellent. The combination of the 14-42mm and 40-150mm zooms would cover a range equal to 28-300mm on a 35mm film camera, and with crisp autofocus and full autoexposure. I actually have both those lenses, and they're great. But I'm also enjoying again the great lenses I had for my old SLR, which had been sitting on a shelf since the last millennium. Film is still dead, but good lenses can live again.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 21, 2012, 10:45:06 AM PDT
M. Enfelder says:
Nice, helpful, informative review. Good job!

Posted on May 28, 2012, 5:19:41 AM PDT
I appreciate your positive review, Rico. I'm trying to make up my mind on buying this and your opinion was helpful.

I have a question for you on chance you bought your E-PL1 camera body from Cameta, but ALSO here on Amazon:

Did your E-PL1 camera body arrive in a normal printed box, as you would find in a store . . or were you shipped the camera body in a white box??

The camera body costs a little more here because you have to pay for shipping. But the camera body offered on the Cameta website, with free shipping, is "white box", which I don't like at all. Refurbs often come in white boxes. That's why I'm asking. It might be worth paying for shipping here on Amazon to get a camera body you know is top shelf and "right".

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012, 1:42:40 PM PDT
Rico says:
I bought the E-PL1 as part of a kit, and its box was printed. I don't know what packaging Olympus uses for the camera by itself, or even whether Olympus sells the camera by itself. Cameta sometimes repackages items, either to make a kit or to separate items from a manufacturer's kit, but their ads say whether the item was repackaged, so I'd be inclined to believe them if they say it's in the manufacturer's box. Make sure you get a blank manufacturer's warranty card for the camera. You can also check whether the shutter has been fired by accessing the hidden diagnostic screens as described at www dot biofos dot com slash cornucop slash hidden dot html in the second section. A few shutter actuations might be normal for testing, but I'd suspect a refurb if the number is more than 100.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012, 5:28:38 PM PDT
Rico, I appreciate the reply. Thank you!

And FWIW I agree with what you wrote. I definitely plan to follow through in accord with your thinking. Thanks again.

Posted on Jun 11, 2012, 1:35:47 PM PDT
tedolph says:
You can just leave the camera in P mode when using old manual lenses. It works just like it would in A mode. So, if you are using P or A with the kit lens, you don't have to change anything except the manual focal lenght in the IS menu. Use the INFO button to change it.

Really, at this price it would be insane not to get one of these if you have access to manual lenses.

Tedolph, RIP

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2012, 8:29:10 AM PDT
tedolph says:
Why are you so concerned about the color of the box?
You have raised this issue in evey review posted here?

Why do you care?

Listen, even if it is a refurb, it would still be a steal at this price-it produces fabulaous images, especially with good lenses.


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2012, 9:52:13 AM PDT
Ctman2 says:
Totally agree. This is like getting a digital back for your legacy lens which I have lots of Nikon ones. The camera also has built in motion prevention that makes these lens better than new from that aspect whereas all others have shake reduction built into the lens only. You can aperture priority but I find the auto setting works just as well. This is the deal of a lifetime for photographers..................go for it.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 28, 2012, 4:20:06 AM PDT
Runion says:
I am confused with your problem with a camera body being sent in a white box. It is completely packaged as if it were the normal print box. I bought the E-PL1 camera body and it was sent in a white box. Perhaps you have a misunderstanding about REFURBS. Refurbs can range from a simple product being returned because someone did not like the color. These products are put on the testing table and are thoroughly tested, more so when they are manufactured so they are guaranteed to perform better than new. BETTER THAN NEW and you are getting it for a cheaper price. DUH, you are questioning that fact? You get the full warrentee on top of that, how can you go wrong?

Posted on Jun 13, 2013, 11:53:24 PM PDT
G. Morrison says:
When I received mine from Cameta, it was in the Olympus packaging--the standard-issue zoom lens was missing, though--it was removed by Cameta for sale separately. I forget exactly what the packaging was like. Naturally, things may have changed recently.

The price has gone up--mine was $150+. I'd say at $220+, or a decent value used, it's still a great deal, though. I have to posit this: Why not?! I've also enjoyed other lenses--old-school Japanese glass. (People thought that resurrecting these proved impossible!) To obtain such lenses, you may need to obtain an associated film camera body, as well--given it's from an individual. I like the standard Rikenon 50mm I own. It shares the Pentax PK mount. A 40mm Hexanon proves fine, too. I also like the Tempo (Sigma) 28-210--a lens from the past I really liked--this uses a Nikon mount. Other telephoto zooms I own really emphasize the term "telephoto," too--given the sensor magnification. One may end up owning many adapters: I prefer to leave the best attached to the particular-mount lens. Thus, it's a good idea to get some micro 4/3 lens and body caps! I'd like to try old-school Minolta, someday, too.

A problem is obtaining a good wide-angle old-school lens that's well usable as such--especially given 2X magnification--those may prove pricey. Given adapters, sometimes lenses may not focus correctly at infinity. Some adapters feature better design than others--depending upon the particular mount.

I'm thinking native, now--I may as well. Good old-school glass still entices me, though. Those old lens-makers proved quite competitive--sometimes, they proved extraordinarily innovative! That's why they still have a fine reputation--they still warrant veneration from some users--even given that some such manufacturers have left the biz! Konica-Minolta decided to focus on copiers. Their lenses still sit on JVC camcorders, though. Ricoh owns Pentax, nowadays. Perhaps success with copiers made that possible. Pentax is pushing their new DSLRs quite strongly, now.

In any case, I don't regret purchase of the E-PL1 body in the least. Also, I'd consider obtaining better--E-P2, E-P3, E-PL2, E-PM2--or even upgrades. Personally, I'd stick with Olympus for the bodies--as indicated, you get body image stabilization--a useful feature. In my opinion, the company proves the "wise ones" who get "it" (micro 4/3)--they have quality, value fabrication down pat--they have it sewed! Naturally, the company proves quite talented with optics, too! Their digital optics may prove quite more expensive than camera bodies--that's nothing new! (Olympus is well known as the camera make behind the famous picture of Mt. St. Helens exploding. Zuiko lenses often prove highly prized--in any era.) Lumix shares the heritage of Leitz-Wetzlar and legendary German optics, though. The option of using old-school glass is possible with any micro 4/3 camera one desires. The lens mount lacks the mirror nearby in that cavity--that makes design for possible mounts a lot simpler. Old-school Japanese, German, and Soviet-era lenses prove possible mounts!--even old movie camera lenses are possible--adapters for such certainly prove available!

Other thoughts: All sorts of stuff proves possible--Petri, Praktica, Rollei/Zeiss, Miranda, Konica-Hexanon, Minolta, Canon FD/FL, Nikkormat, Nikon F and G, Pentax K and m-42 "screw-mount," (used for the good 'ol K-1000--a great "learner"camera for so many), Chinon, Ricoh/Rikenon, Leica--both rangefinder and reflex lenses, Contax/Zeiss, Contax/Yashica, certain add-on lenses prove even more than OK. Venerated medium format--Pentax 6X6, Mamiya, Bronica, Hasselblad--old-hat stuff to those who learned in the '70s or earlier--some of the companies may prove long gone, though. View camera lenses, etc. Practically anything which proves interchangeable and removable!

After-market old-school lenses are numerous, of course: They use major-manufacturer mountings--Sigma, Tokina, Tamron, Vivitar, Soligor--some of that still is considered as great. Clever, yet cheap new lenses prove usable in narrow ways--pin hole, body-mount fixed-aperture, etc. Such cheap lenses put out specialized results which may prove quite useful, nonetheless. For people desiring new and quality, Zeiss also markets new German-make lenses that fit micro 4/3 cameras--natively--those likely still prove easily obtainable here, too (never money-wise, of course). Needless to say, those lenses also prove well-liked! (Still, they're manual focus, etc.: Still, these sell!)

Another problem with micro 4/3, at this early point, is the need for viewfinders/digital rangefinders--LCDs may prove unusable in good sunlight--they always are! Less expensive optical-only viewers (VF-1, VF-3) intended for the PENs and Lumixs, are best usable with the popular 17mm lenses--those viewers work better with that digital focal length, in any case. This current viewer solution is makeshift, proprietary, and too expensive--a necessary convenience for pros and others in these early-adopter times. The true digital viewfinder (VF-2) even proves a great deal more expensive and, reportedly somewhat unwieldy. Analogous Lumix items are "outer space," price-wise.

Apparently, creating the prototype for this external digital viewfinder proved difficult and expensive--after all, it must integrate, externally, with the camera's electronics--it uses an electronic (LCD) screen, after all: Forget the mechanical rangefinder from long ago!: That's never to return! Thus, Lumix and Olympus desire for pros and other serious users to help defray such costs now--thus, the makeshift viewer offerings. Given this new digital creation of the VF-2, though, these well-regarded manufacturers now know well how--in the future--to mimic the mechanical rangefinder feature of the past--a feature which so many users have fervently desired! The point on the "learning curve" has risen!

In the future, it's likely that digital viewfinders will be integrated--thus, they'll no longer prove that big an issue. Meanwhile, this VF-2 viewfinder may prove better in the more-recent future--given incremental improvements--better resolution, weight, and size--better design and almost-certain innovations. (The model name may well, change also.) Manufacturing tech, screen innovation, and costs--value--should improve markedly. (Screen-quality and general usability should go up--prices may stick around: That's been the pattern.) Maybe aftermarket alternatives will step in, too--to save the day for those of us still using these!

Manufacturers note this all-too-well: They prove "Wise as serpents!": They also wish to rid themselves of prisms and swinging mirrors for most consumer and even most pro-level cameras--this shaves many costs! Other significant manufacturers in the biz are honing in for the kill of DSLR! Much like vultures on high, they see the "writing on the wall"--it's written in blood! Most are swooping down with something, now!: This is merely the beginning of that! Offerings will get better and better--many more will later prove "on target!" (Probably DSLR will stick around at some level--maybe with a less prominent "footprint"--the TTL feature still will entice many--just as it did in the past. It's the "real McCoy!": "What you see is what you get!": Fine!)

Posted on Dec 19, 2013, 3:07:47 PM PST
D. S. Perrin says:
Nice review, thanks. What is also nice about the manual SLR lenses (mine were from my Minolta SRT 101 and are 40 years old) is that the light/image/picture is processed through the middle of those lenses, "the sweet spots", since the old SLR manual lenses are for full frame 35mm film.

Not only that, one of my manual lenses (200mm) has a large spec of dust on the glass near the outer perimeter of the lens, but the spec does not interfere with the picture quality on my micro four thirds Olympus E-PL1 because the light is traveling down the center of the lens and avoids the dust spec!
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