|One of the strong points of the E-P1 was the design. It was truly a camera that you could fall in love with. For the new Olympus PEN E-PL1, Olympus has left the beautiful retro design behind and made the camera a bit more angular. Therefore, the Olympus PL1 appears to be a bit bigger than the E-P1, but in reality it isn’t. Personally, I think it's too bad that the retro look is gone, but the choice for a more common appearance is understandable. |
|Olympus E-PL1 camera design
Just like the P1, the Olympus PEN PL1 is available in different colors. I think the black body is the most elegant, but the white variant is also quite appealing. A noticeable difference with the other cameras in the PEN series is the grip on the front of the camera. It has a clearer shape and feels comfortable to hold. That grip makes the Olympus E-PL1 a bit thicker than the first PEN. But the camera is narrower and just a couple of grams lighter. That becomes noticeable when you hold the cameras side by side.
Olympus PEN E-PL1 lens
The Olympus E-PL1 is very small, especially with a pancake on the camera, and the standard 14-42mm zoom is also very compact when it is folded up. When you take the lens off of the camera, then you immediately see the sensor. You can see that everything is built very compact. The lens mount has more contacts than the regular Four Thirds cameras, to make data transfer faster. Just above the handle, there is a small LED for when you use the self-timer.
Olympus E-PL1 main dial
On top of the camera, the shutter release button is found, and to the right is the main dial. When the camera is switched on, a blue light turns on. I am not such a fan of lights on the camera, as they are too noticeable. However, the blue is not too obvious. To the left of the shutter release button is the dial for the different metering modes. In the middle a hot shoe is found, and just next to that is a microphone for the captured videos. New for the PEN is the built-in flash. It can be tilted upwards, just like in Panasonic’s first Lumix SLRs, but it cannot perform indirect flash. Tilting the flash upwards makes for less red eye problems, compared with a compact camera.
|Olympus E-PL1 operation
The angular appearance of the camera is most noticeable on the back of the camera, as the Olympus PEN E-P1 had rounder buttons. The display on the back is a bit smaller than in the E-P1 and now measures 2.7 inches. The resolution of 230.000 pixels is a bit on the low side; 460.000 pixels would have been preferable. Immediately next to the display there are buttons for playback, menu and display. To the right, there is a circle of buttons for exposure compensation, flash settings, shutter speed, self-timer and focus points. In the middle, the Start/Ok button is found.
Capture videos with the Olympus E-PL1
Just above it is the loudspeaker, and above and to the right is a special start button to play the captured videos. This was not present in the Olympus E-P1. Farther above are the buttons for zooming in on the image in the review mode. The button on the right-hand side also serves as a function button during photography. It lets you turn on the OneTouch White balance, for example. Very handy. Under the hot shoe is the connection for the accessories and all the way to the left is the switch to tilt up the flash. That doesn’t happen automatically.
Olympus E-PL1 memory card and battery
Both the battery and the SD / SDHC flash memory card are inserted underneath the camera, where the tripod mount is also found. Olympus does not yet offer support for SDXC (48GB and 64GB capacity with coming capacities up to 2TB), but that is not necessary. The connections for HDMI and USB are found behind a cover on the side. The E-P1 does not have any seals against dust or rain. I don't really expect this from a consumer camera, but it is still good to keep that in mind if you shoot mainly outdoors.