Olympus E-P1 - Review / Test Report - Verdict
DSLR Reviews - DSLRs

Verdict

Finally Olympus released their first micro-four-thirds digital camera styled in the retro design of the classic Olympus PEN - a highly successful series of half frame cameras in the 60ies. Obviously they feel that the time is about right for such dwarfish, rock solid cameras and they may be right. The E-P1 inherited most of its technologies from the "normal" 4/3 system including a 12.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor, a built-in self-cleaning sensor unit and a 3-inch LCD monitor with a resolution of 230K dots as well as a built-in image stabilizer with an efficiency up to 4 f-stops. A really good news is the new AA-filter (low-pass filter) of the camera. So far Olympus used rather strong implementations here resulting in an effective resolution far below DSLRs with a similar number of megapixels. The E-P1 is finally able to deliver the finest details into the final image.

However, the Olympus E-P1 has some obvious drawbacks - the biggest one is certainly the slow and imprecise AF which is annoying especially in low-light conditions. The coarse big AF field is also a problem when trying to focus on smaller details. Furthermore, the continuous AF is completely useless for fast moving objects. The same applies to the low resolution display - it's hard to judge a scene in bright light here and the missing viewfinder adds insult to injury in such situations. The slow refresh rate doesn't make things any easier here either. The battery life of the camera is only about average and not suitable for regions without reliable power supply. The comparatively poor dynamic range may also be a problem for some. The small lens portfolio can also be a show-stopper. However, we're naturally talking about the start of a new system - micro 4/3 has been introduced "fairly recently"

Although it's hard to identify the target market for the Olympus E-P1 it's obviously selling like hot cakes at the moment and that's despite the fact that the Panasonic G-series is technically superior in some if not most respects (espeically AF). Olympus has obviously hit a sweet spot of the market which does obviously also desire style besides performance. On the long term classic DSLRs will be replaced by such cameras but there's still a lot to be done.

Pros and Cons
ProsCons
very good effective resolution One of the slowest AF
Stylish retro body with good build quality Unusable continuous AF
Efficient dust reduction system No viewfinder
Sufficient external controls Rather poor dynamic range
Build-in images stabilizer No build-in flash
HD video functionality Menu system is not user friendly
Static display hard to see in sunny conditions
Pretty slow display refresh rate (useless for sports photography)
Insufficient number of lenses
Average battery life




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