The E-P1 uses SD/SDHC cards - Olympus has ignored its xD card format - and a lithium-ion battery with a CIPA rating of 300 shots - 100 per cent with Live View. You can shoot JPEG and RAW files, and record AVI Motion JPEG movies in 720p HD at 30f/s and at 640 x 480. No surprises that there’s a mini HDMI port, but no HDMI cable. However, you do get Olympus Master 2 photo editing and management software for both PC and Mac.
Go for a pancake lens (above) or the 14-42mm kit lens
There are currently two choices of MFT lens for the PEN E-P1: a 3x optical zoom in the shape of an f/3.5-5.6 M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm lens equivalent to 28-84mm on a 35mm camera, and a 17mm fixed focal pancake lens, equivalent to a 34mm fixed focal lens on a 35mm camera. Our sample came with the former. You can also use full-size Four-Thirds lenses and Olympus OM lenses with adaptors, but as things stand, there aren’t that many dedicated lenses available for the PEN E-P1.
The PEN E-P1 measures 120.5 x 70 x 35 mm and weighs 335g. That's the body alone - load it up with the 3x zoom lens and battery, and the weight rises to around 550g. In other words, it’s small, but not that small.
When fully extended, the 3x zoom lens juts out from the camera body by around 80mm, but Olympus uses a cunning a collapsing lens system to reduces this by about half. On the lens barrel is a tiny locking slider which is used to retract the lens. If you want to extend the lens, simply twist the main ring on the lens barrel – there’s no need to use the locking control. This helps make the PEN E-P1 more compact, but it also means you have to remove the lens cap and unlock the lens before you can start shooting – not ideal if you want to take a quick shot.
You get a good-sized, 3in LCD screen, but it’s composed of a measly 230,000 dots, which is disappointing on a product of this type and price. Sure enough, resolution is coarse and it’s not great to view when shooting in bright light. And there isn’t even an electronic viewfinder to assist you.
The hot-shoe is essential - there's no built-in flash
Olympus also seems to have adopted the 'low-fares airline' approach to pricing - ie. lots of optional add-ons - with the PEN E-P1, offering an optical viewfinder as an optional extra - note that it only works with the 17mm lens. Oh, and there’s no built-in flash, but you can purchase an optional flash unit.
Use it with Leica Lenses, Novoflex adapter and Voigtlaender optical viewfinder
I have been looking for a camera like this for some time. The Sigma DP-1 looked nice on paper, but received bad reviews. So, this was out. The Olympus Pen looked promising, too, got favourable reviews (mostly) but needed some time to mature, in my opinion. Meanwhile, the PANASONIC GF-1 was introduced, competing with the Olympus Pen.
The reason I bought the Olympus was the somewhat better image quality (in reviews) and the metal body. I use it with my Leica M6 Summicron and the Tele-Elmarit, attached to the German Novoflex adapter. I do not need an internal flash, because of the high ISO ratings of the Pen for available light photography. The slow autofocus I do not care about because my lenses are manual anyway, and I want it for landscape pictures. My viewfinder is an optical one from Voigtlaender I happened to have.
What I like about this camera is the almost Leica-like feeling of quality and the image quality.
For me, it is a pleasure to touch and use. The adapters support a wide range of quality lenses from Zeiss, Voigtlaender and Leica. I have other cameras, too, DSLRs from NIKON, for example, which are also quite useful.
What I have been missing over the years, however, is the feeling of quality I enjoyed with my Leica M6, and my Rollei 35s.
So I am happy. - The question is, how long. I hope the Olympus Pen will keep me from getting a Leica M9, the price of which is a bit steep.
Amidst all the photo-nerdery, you've all failed to notice who the review was written by- George Cole, from TV's Minder!
It's lovely to see you (how's Terry by the way?), and all but why are you here doing this?
The old Liquid Gold account finally run dry?
@AC at 11:14
Yeah, I know that - I actually have a 5"x7"/half-frame Gandolfi Universal large format btw. (Interesting note - it's either 5x7 or 7x5 depending upon what side of the Atlantic you happen to inhabit!). And while I don't shoot with it that often anymore (daylight developing large sheets is a pain and I don't have a darkroom at home), it is entirely for DOF and resolution that I do so. Scan with an Epson 750 and voila - a 50mpix resolution "digital" photo with enormous DOF.
I wanted to keep it simple for an El Reg audience, not the Steve's Cams or dpreview audience, or even the Ken Rockwell audience.
And the desire to crop the frame is EXACTLY why I prefer squarer formats - they give you the most flexibility to crop in any direction whilst using the most of the image circle of the lens...I suspect we are violently agreeing!
Its nice but no full slr by a long shot
I was recently looking for a smaller compact camera that allows me to stick it in my pocket and not carry my e510, 3 lenses, flash, ect ect but still allow me to stick say, my compact zoom lems. So when i saw this was a four/thirds i thought way hey, here we go. But no.
Its a smaller!!!! 4/3rds. So unless there is an adapter (no doubt hideously expensive) i'm no better off.
Oh well, fail for all the right reasons.
When I first heard about these middle range cameras I thought they might be interesting, however they are just too expensive. You could pick up a very nice DSLR for that money.
Does anyone that the smaller form factor appeals to really want/need to be able to change lenses? Surely a little compact with a built in zoom would be far better for them... I used to get great pics from my little Olympus C770 UZ, and that had 10x optical, and an electronic viewfinder, not to mention a flash. Pity about the battery life, but apart from that a great little camera.
These days I have 5mp on my phone for general snaps and 12mp on my big Nikon for the more artistic pics.
Oh, and sometimes size is important.... People get out of the way of my Nikon D300 with the f/2.8 zoom lens on the front, it demands respect and threatens concussion if they don't duck fast enough!