You can change the lenses just like you can with a digital SLR, however, the Olympus E-P1 works more like a compact camera. Since a viewfinder is lacking, you're forced to use the LCD screen on the back. This means that you have the camera in front and away from you. For most users this won't cause any problem, but if you normally only work with a digital SLR, you will just have to get used to it. The pancake does allow you to use an external viewfinder, but all it displays is the image frame. You cannot see the settings in the external viewfinder, nor whether the camera is focusing precisely.
INFO button on the Olympus E-P1 PEN
You can directly access several settings via a button, however; for most of them, you have to rely on the menu. Personally, I encounter difficulties to get used to the menus of Olympus; they are not really well-structured in my opinion. Fortunately, there is the INFO button. It offers quick access to many settings. If you press the INFO button and then press OK for the first time, even more settings will become available. This is very nice to work with. You can browse the settings and change them immediately.
Focussing with the Olympus PEN E-P1
The screen of the Olympus P1 is pretty big, but its resolution is somewhat on the low side. This is not too bad for the autofocus. However, if you want to use the manual focus, the resolution does not suffice. When focusing manually, a 7x zoom is applied for precise focus. This is quite useful in itself, but a tad more resolution would have made it perfect. The autofocus is nice. It is not as fast as a DSLR, but comparable to an average compact camera. As long as you don't want to take fast action pictures, it won't be a problem in my opinion. The Olympus E-P1 seems more suitable for reflective photography.
Olympus EP1 LCD screen
I ended up not missing the optical viewfinder. Even in bright sunlight, the LCD monitor can be viewed reasonably well. Not as good as a viewfinder in front of your eye without unwanted light on your image, but still good enough to be able to take a picture. In fact, you can't judge the color retention and exposure on a camera monitor. The information displayed can be either extensive or minimal, whichever you like to select. The electronic level that is found on several other Olympus DSLR cameras can come in handy at times. Unfortunately, there is no alert during shooting informing you whether there are blown highlights and blocked shadows. This blink indication does show up after taking the picture, however.
Olympus E-P1 PEN auto focus
Those who upgrade from a compact will not find the AF speed of the Olympus E-P1 an issue. If you really need a very fast autofocus, you'll still need to use an SLR. An SLR camera is equipped with a special sensor for that, whereas the E-P1 uses the image sensor. The experienced street and photo journalist will know how to work his way around the slower autofocus. A lot can be calculated with, mainly thanks to experience, and then it is a matter of focusing beforehand and waiting. Unfortunately, there is no sharpness indication displayed in the lens nor is this possible, due to the electronic operation, but that would have made things even easier. What the Olympus E P1 has in common with an SLR is the minimal shutter lag. Once you press the shutter release, the picture is taken. Sequential shooting is also acceptable. The camera does take its time writing the pictures to the memory card when shooting in RAW, but it does not affect you.
Olympus E-P1 command dial
Most buttons are placed in the right spot and are easy to operate. With one exception, and that is the dial on the back of the camera. It rotates a little bit too smoothly for my liking. This button standard controls the exposure compensation; in manual mode, the shutter speed or aperture. It happened to me more than once that my exposure turned out wrong because the dial had rotated by itself. I carry the camera around my shoulder at all time to ensure I am ready when a photo moment appears. The dial can be programmed, fortunately, but it can't be deactivated. Ultimately, I made it the dedicated flash correction controller, since the Olympus E-P1 does not have a flash it didn't matter whether or not correction was carried out.
Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds system camera
The points mentioned above are not meant as heavy criticism on the Olympus E-P1. For everyday use, it is a great camera to work with. Its response is swift enough, and since the buttons can be programmed to a certain level, the Olympus will become your extended eye soon enough. And that is exactly what a camera should be.