Olympus PEN E-PL1
A compact camera from Olympus
The third and latest Olympus PEN E series of compact cameras, the Olympus PEN E-PL1, is a definite improvement from the previous Pen E-P1, especially in terms of flash and price. Its popularity is on the rise, because it combines convenience, portability, good image quality and versatility. Is the device really that impressive? We tested it and here is our review.
2.7″ monitor display
The Olympus E-PL1 has a simple and light body with its 114.6mm x 72.2mm x 41.5mm and 297g; these measurements are almost similar to the ones sported by Panasonic GF1. The gadget is taller, thicker and narrower than the Lumix with which it competes. The device comes in black, silver, red and white and is made of plastic; it looks and feels solid and not easily breakable. The 14-42mm standard zoom lens kit comes with a plastic mount which makes the camera appear somewhat cheap. While the front houses a 2.7″ monitor screen and a grip for your hands, the rear has a thumbgrip area which offers great secure grip of the gadget.
Comfortable to keep
During our test for this review we had no problem holding the Olympus PEN E-PL1, because it felt very comfortable even when we used it with only one hand. Moreover, the camera features solid controls, durable battery and card hatch (including a locking batch) and a metal tripod bush. The display, while smaller than others, comes with the following: 230k dot resolution, a good anti-glare surface, a very wide viewing angle and fast refresh rate. Although it doesn’t sport a viewfinder, it offers the possibility to connect one in a socket which sits behind the external flash hot-shoe.
Four Thirds Live MOS sensor
While the top panel houses a shooting mode dial, the rear panel doesn’t come with many buttons but it does have a D-pad. The on-screen menu allowed us to easily and quickly select shooting options; unfortunately, it doesn’t feature an adjustment wheel, but the exposure adjustments are dealt with by the D-pad. The main menu was very easy to use, although it didn’t have that many options. We could easily adjust the image ratio, control colors and customize tone adjustment presets. As a con, the Four Thirds Live MOS sensor with its 4:3 aspect ratio is the largest picture size. The camera offers only a range of 4 lenses; on the plus side, the device boasts 2 adapters with which users can attach OM 35mm SLR and Olympus dSLR lenses. The 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens performed very well when we tested the PEN E-PL1; photos looked excellent, sharp, detailed and with beautiful colors. Dynamic range produced superb shadow and highlight detail. In terms of picture noise, the gadget provided very good results at up to ISO 800 and photos up to ISO 3200 were still acceptable.
720p HD videos
The video mode enabled us to shoot in a resolution of 1280 x 720 HD (720p) at 30fps. Video quality of E-PL1 was good; the audio performance could have been great, but unfortunately the integrated mic picked up sounds coming from both the front and rear of the gadget. Content was recorded in Motion JPEG; we could record for 14 minutes straight.
Medium loading speed
Overall performance was decent. The Olympus E-PL1 took under 2.5 seconds to get ready to snap a picture and time between shots was 1.8 seconds (in raw as well as JPEG mode). Over 3fps were registered in continuous shooting mode (10fps in raw mode before reaching 1fps). The contrast detection autofocus system was both spot-on and fast in good lighting conditions; dim light provided fairly good quality which could have been superb if the camera would have sported an AF assist lamp. The pop-up flash had a range of 3 meters when we performed the review for the product.
In conclusion, the latest Olympus PEN E-PL1 offers good performance and image quality at an affordable price.
|Sensor Type||Live MOS|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic and optical viewfinder or LCD|
|Resolution Width in Pixel||4032|
|Resolution Height in Pixel||3024|
|Memory Type||External Only|
|Depth in mm||41.5|
|Height in mm||72.2|
|Lowest Focal Length in mm||0|
|Focal Length in mm||0|
|LCD Monitor Resolution in Pixel||230000|
|Max Resolution Mode Video Width||1280|
|Max Resolution Mode Video Height||720|
|Ability to save files in RAW||Yes|
|Maximum Aperture Tele||0|
|Maximum Aperture Wide||0|
|Video Capture||Video + Sound|
|Memory Stick / Memory Stick Pro||Not|
|Memory Stick Duo / Pro Duo||Not|
|Internal Memory size in MB||0|
|Shutter Speed fastest in Second||Jan-00|
|Shutter Speed slowest in Second||Feb-00|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Battery Type||Olympus BLS-1|
|Image Stabilizer||Optical Stabilizer|
|Number of frames per second in video mode||30|