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Olympus E-PL1 | Digital Camera Review | Control
Although you can change the lenses just like an SLR camera, the Olympus PEN PL1 is more similar to a compact camera. Especially if you use the optional electronic viewfinder. You have to hold the PEN camera at an arm’s length. For the generation that grew up with the compact camera, that is not a problem, but if you use the E-PL1 next to a DSLR, it can take some getting used to. You will soon notice that this way of photography is very pleasant and ideal to simultaneously keep a watch on your surroundings.
Olympus E-PL1 | Digital Camera Olympus E-PL1 | Digital Camera
Olympus E-PL1 for a wide range of photographers
If you haven’t been practicing photography for very long, terms like aperture and white balance can appear very confusing. If you want everything in focus, do you want the aperture closed or open? And is that a small or a big number? I should hope that this is matter of fact for the advanced hobbyist. They can use the traditional P, A, S or M mode. If you are not so familiar with photographic terms, then you will most likely photograph in the iAuto mode, and Olympus has thought up a smart interface for that.

Olympus E-PL1 adjust photo settings
Instead of adjusting the aperture to have everything in view be sharp, or have very little sharp, you just indicate how much sharpness you want. By moving a button upwards with the use of a command key, the photo gets more depth of field. Everything becomes sharp. Moving it down causes selective sharpness. There is s similar functioning for the exposure compensation (lighter or darker), the white balance (cooler or warmer), color saturation (vivid or duller) and shutter speed (movement or frozen). Every step influences several settings, of course, as warmer or cooler does not only adjust the white balance. What exactly is being adjusted isn't really relevant. I find it a very smart and easy way to modify a photo, especially if you don't know or don’t want to know so much about photography. The only small disadvantage I find is that you can only adjust one thing at a time. You can’t choose a lighter photo with lively colors.

Olympus E-PL1 mini manual for hobby photographers
The iAuto has a very handy mini user’s guide. It gives you all kinds of tips about how you can photograph certain subjects. It’s not just about the setting, but also practical instructions. For example, that with children you can get on your knees, to be at their eye height. This is logical for an experienced photographer, but perhaps not for someone who is just starting out. I think Olympus did this pretty smart, as the target group is, after all, the beginner photographer. You actually wonder why such effective help has not been developed by the industry previously. A successful move for Olympus!
Olympus E-PL1 autofocus speed
The autofocus speed is fast enough for most users. However, whoever has photographed a lot with a DSLR camera, will have to get used to the slower AF. Truly fast action photography will not go smoothly, although the Olympus PEN E-PL1 does have autofocus tracking. But if you practice a bit with anticipation, it won’t be a problem. Still objects, such as buildings, will of course not be a problem either. For these, focus speed is not up for discussion. The shutter lag is nice and short, just like in a DSLR. You push the button and the photo is taken.

Olympus PEN E-PL1 LCD display
The lack of viewfinder is not really problematic; personally I don’t even miss it in most instances. You aren’t as noticeable as a photographer with your camera at arm’s length. The Olympus E-PL1’s monitor may be a bit smaller than those of the other PEN cameras. That is not too troublesome either, although a monitor can never be too big, of course! The resolution is relatively low and you especially notice it when you zoom in on an image. It’s handy that you can see a live histogram on the display. It is kind of chunky, which is typical for Olympus, but at least it's there. On the other hand, what is missing is the electronic level that the Olympus E-P1 does have.

Olympus E-PL1 menu
Most of the settings can be found in the menu. The menu works pretty well, but I still have to get used to it. By using the INFO button, you can pretty much ignore the menu. After pushing the INFO button the first time, then pushing on OK, more settings will become available. And that works very pleasantly. You can leaf through the settings and change them immediately. This is a typical Olympus approach, and is meant to increase the user-friendliness, which is pretty successful.
Olympus E-PL1 Olympus E-PL1
   
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