|Olympus E-P1 digital camera review : It's not an SLR camera, not a compact, but a PEN. This is the name Olympus gave their latest camera model, the E-P1. And it might just be the most discussed camera lately. During the Photokina 2008, the Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus was already a hot topic. The mock-up that was showcased reminded of earlier times, some fifty years ago. It resembled a PEN, and everyone hoped that the camera would indeed turn out to look that way. This hope was fulfilled; as Olympus, contrary to Panasonic, opted for a unique design for the Micro Four Thirds System.
Olympus E-P1 system camera
The Olympus E-P1 differs from other cameras. It is really difficult to place the camera in a segment, which also applies to Micro Four Thirds in general. It is not a digital SLR, since it lacks a mirror. Nor is it a compact, since exchanging lenses is allowed. Nor is it a rangefinder. So what is it? You could consider the Micro Four Thirds a separate segment at this moment. However, even that presents a problem, because Samsung has announced a similar concept, but with a conventional APS-C sensor. Perhaps 'Full Digital Camera System' (FDCs) or simply 'system camera' says it all.
12 Megapixel Olympus E-P1 PEN camera
Whatever name you use; the Olympus E-P1 certainly is special. The camera looks like a compact and is barely larger than, for example, a Canon PowerShot G10. Striking is the lack of a built-in flash. Also, a viewfinder lacks (available as external viewfinder accessory), which means you have to settle for the large 3 inch LCD screen on the back of the camera. Possibly so because the Olympus E-P1 is designed for the amateur or enthusiast photographer. Fortunately, the sensitivity of the E-P1 is able to reach ISO 6400. That makes the Olympus Pen very interesting for available-light photography, or at least on paper. Olympus has developed an entirely new sensor to enable a sensitivity setting this high. The resolution is limited to 12 million pixels, in line with what was stated by Olympus earlier. This is more than enough for most photographers.
Recording videos on the Olympus PEN E-P1
The Olympus E-P1 has almost everything you may expect from a modern camera. And indeed, also video capture, in 720p HD with stereo sound. When it comes to sound, Olympus uses the technique of the LS-10 audio recorder, one of the best pieces of compact recording equipment currently available. For video capture, you can also use the built-in art filters, such as black & white and pinhole. We have come across this feature before on other DSLR cameras in the E-series. Naturally, you can also apply the filters to pictures, and since recently you can use the special software of Olympus instead of having to do it in-camera.
Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds lenses
The Micro Four Thirds System requires special lenses constructed especially for this system. Due to the tiny distance to the image sensor, regular Four Thirds System lenses cannot be used. So far, Olympus has developed two compact lenses for the E-P1: the 17mm pancake and the 14-42 mm zoom. The latter is particularly special because you can push it in when not in use. This saves hugely in terms of size. The 17 mm pancake is extremely compact. You can use this lens on the camera including an optional external viewfinder. If you want to use other lenses, you can purchase an adapter for regular Four Thirds lenses, for Leica M lenses and even for the Olympus OM lenses. However, auto focus will not work for the latter two lenses and you will have to set the exposure manually.
Olympus E-P1 review
A compact camera, interchangeable lenses, a good resolution, RAW and a relatively large sensor, make the Olympus E-P1 not only interesting for consumers but also for the professional photo journalist. We had the Olympus E-P1 in the office for quite a while, and our findings can be read in the following Olympus E-P1 review.
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"During the time prior to the Olympus P1 introduction, the press speculated hugely about this eagerly-awaited camera. The night everybody actually saw the Olympus E-P1, however, the opinions proved to differ immediately. One person would be enthusiastic, whereas the other would be negative in response to the camera’s retro design. Only a couple of hours after the worldwide announcement, Olympus had hundreds of test samples ready for the international press, to provide a few hours of shooting in practice instead of just theorizing about the P1. Relaxed shooting was ensured by providing a short tour around the most interesting areas of Berlin, during which various shooting moments were offered."
Continue to see our Olympus E-P1 test photos.