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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

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What bothers me in these comparisons is forgetting the capabilities of the lens. The G10 lens is very versatile, from closeup/macro to landscape to portrait. You need several different lenses on the E-P1 to get the same capabilities. The same applies if you compare the E-P1 to any advanced compact, such as the Panasonic LX3, the Nikon P6000 etc.

Also, the E-P1 has drawbacks compared to compacts. With the LX3 I can take closeup/macro photographs handheld with all of the subject in focus, which would be almost impossible to do with a bigger-sensor camera.

I'd be keen see this comparison with an Olympus XA included...

Hi,

Yesterday, by random chance I got to hold and play with the Olympus E-P1. On the bottom there was a sticker that said "DO NOT SELL - PROPERTY OF OLYMPUS CANADA". There store was taking orders and names of interested parties for the camera.

Just to say, this camera feels really nice in the hand. It is relatively small, but not tiny, solid but not heavy, beautifully made. Had a really nice screen on the back.

In operation, I found it somewhat slower than I would have expected for a camera in 2009. It is still quicker than my Pentax Ist DS though. In everything it did, it felt like a deluxe camera, smooth and quiet.

All in all, a very nice package, will probably sell very well.

arie v

I was @ the Sydney PMA show last Friday and ventured onto the Olympus stand purely to view the E-P1.
I'm 6ft 4 w/ large hands so:-
It is a small camera, but not too small. It's a good weight too - neither heavy or light. But it didn't compare favourably to my M6 or even my Nikons.
It felt too under-whelming, too insubstantial, too lightly constructed (In my opinion).
Apart from the M6, I still love my Nikon 35Ti - a great compromise camera, with a solid build, small construction, and great usability.
I don't think I'd be disappointed w/ the E-P1 but it would never be my first port of call. For that - I wait...

Comparing their sizes and sensors, the EP-1 should be the camera to end all Canon G-x cameras as we know them.

I just "handled" it in London where it is available to purchase at Jessops in New Oxford Street for 699 pounds (that's more than $1,100!!) with zoom. No 17mm prime available yet. It is GORGEOUS!

For those interested: The E-P1 compared to the Leica M3 and Mike's specifications for the DMD.

I used the Leica because: a) I couldn't find the specs for the Pen-F (and mine is deep in a box somewhere) and b) The number of readers who have handled a Leica somewhere in their lives is probably larger than the group that has handled the Pen F.

Thanks for sharing the photo-illustration. The digital Pen looks like a nice camera-sized camera.

I guess if you really can't wait you could appropriate Junior's Legos and mock up a close approximation.
bd

Great...you know what's going to happen, Mike. Now people can say "See, it IS small - not much bigger than a G10" followed by someone else saying "See, it's bigger than I want - not much smaller than my Rebel". Yeesh.

I've found, personally, that comparing sizes in photos never really gives you the same impression as holding the camera in all three dimensions.

The illustration would be in some ways more informative from above. Especially if the E-P1 had a 24-70/2.8 on a Nikon to Micro 4/3 adapter on it.

(Must...resist...temptation...at least until I actually know anything about the camera.)

Glad to see this. The numerous people who commented on the earlier thread about the video of the nice German lady from Olympus to the effect that "that camera is huge! Olympus is crazy!" were a bit overheated. I think she must be a fairly small woman. I'm 6'2" — if you saw it in my hands it would look a lot smaller.

The E-P1 is not tiny — many, many point-and-shoots are a fair bit smaller and lighter. But, with the 17mm lens, it is definitely in a different class of portability than any DSLR I've ever used — coat-pocketable or easy to wear on a belt pouch, as many people do with their cell phones, or easy to slip into a briefcase or messenger bag along with your laptop etc.

As I said in my earlier blurb about it, I wish it were 15% smaller still. I think many people will deem the portability gain too little to get excited about. But I'm positive that many others will think that the portability gain is worthwhile.

I'm not complaining, merely suggesting that a 5th camera be included in the comparison. Something like a Pentax K20D, Nikon D300 or (seeing as you friend likes Canon) a Canon 50D. These would represent the segment of large APS-C cameras, as the Canon 450D is a "small" APS-C camera.

Personally, when the E-P1's measurements were announced I took a ruler to my Pentax LX and concluded the E-P1 was smaller. That's good enough for me.

Bob Dales said "I guess if you really can't wait you could appropriate Junior's Legos and mock up a close approximation.
bd"

Hey, I actually did cut a styrofoam G9 before ordering to get a feel for it's pocketability. The G-9 was pocketable by the way. The ep-1 looks a like it could be pocketable with the pancake.

Very cool! Thanks for the comparison photo. I would like to have seen a bigger camera like a Canon 1DSMKIII in the comparison too just as another size reference. I have noticed that over time for me at least the size of the camera has mattered less and less. I am now comfortable using my Canon MKIII in any situation.

"These would represent the segment of large APS-C cameras, as the Canon 450D is a "small" APS-C camera."

Would it really have made that big of a difference? Is a D300 (147 x 114 x 74mm) really that much different in size than a 5DmII (152 x 114 x 75mm)?

I believe the term for this is "incrementalism run amok".

That's not good enough. I want to see it compared to MY street camera: the Polaroid 600SE ;)

I bought an E-P1 yesterday. I'd ordered the kit with the zoom and the 17mm but, here in London at least, the 17mm and viewfinder are stil two weeks away, so I took the zoom.

First reactions. Good job the stabilization system works so well, because you can't mount both the flash and the viewfinder at the same time. Although focusing seems slow but it's still faster than I can achieve with a Leica M8. Camera straps have a tendency to flop across the viewing screen!

I'm one of those people who thought it looked huge when I saw the video of the German woman using one. But if this picture is to scale, then it's about on par with a G10, which isn't bad.

However, I still have a hard time getting my head around the idea of a camera this size that does not come with an optical viewfinder built in! They managed to squeeze one into the G10 after all, even if it isn't optimal. However, as Mike said a few days ago, this camera, with the pancake lens and a matching clip-on viewfinder could be just the ticket for street photography (notwithstanding how difficult it is do even do street photography these days, because of the paranoia and the backlash against what feels like constant surveillance).

"Would it really have made that big of a difference? Is a D300 (147 x 114 x 74mm) really that much different in size than a 5DmII (152 x 114 x 75mm)?"

I´ve never understood the reasoning under the d300. Too expensive, too big, too clunky for a APS-C camera. Incidentally, it is astonishing to see how big that thing is compared to, say, its equivalent in other brands, such as the K20d, E1-E30, Alpha 700 and SD14 [and 50d].

Still, it is funny to see a display box at FNAC [a big frenchy media store]: classified by price and size rather than habilities or technical merits, the d300 sits on the left to the A900. The A900 is, incidentally, a tad smaller.

How big is it compared to the TEOC (Technical Objective Camera) of the SR-71?

What a lot of people overlook is that it's not just the size of the camera, it's the size of the lenses. A 50mm f/2 lens for a manual 35mm rangefinder camera is much smaller than a 50mm f/2 for an autofocus SLR.

Similarly, lenses for the Panasonic Lumix G-1 Micro four-thirds camera are smaller than equivalent lenses for APS-C and full-frame DSLRs. The lens on the Oly is clearly much smaller than the Canon lenses in the comparison photo. OTOH, the Canon lenses both have a maximum aperture of f/1.4. The 17mm lens on the Oly has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is two stops slower.

Who cares about the size, shape, color, etc. Does the thing take pictures of the quality that we desire? And does the camera work for you or against you?

Do we all have misplaced priorities or what?

I was able to play with the E-P1 w. zoom for almost an hour. I am super impressed with the very high ISO performance (2500 - 6400). This is based on printing on 8 1/2 x 11 paper with no cropping.

I conceive of this camera w. the 17mm (or possibly the forthcoming Panasonic 20mm F1.7) and optical VF as the digital equivalent of the Hexar AF.

I will wait to see how fast the AF is with the 17mm especially in low light.

If it is good, I buy it.

Ken N asked: Do we all have misplaced priorities or what?

Yes.

Is that an E-P1 in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
The dpreview preview shows it compared to a panasonic LX-3. That was enough for me; I can't fit my LX-1 in anything other that very baggy pockets. I'm not happy with the performance of my LX-1 at anything higher than ISO 100. I really wanted a viewfinder. But judging from the samples I have seen so far, I would rather take a chance on this one, than lose a lot of photo opportunities from not carrying my D300 with zoom. Besides, if we don't support Oly on this one, they won't come out with the "pro" model with viewfinder, flash etc. So, you're welcome. (I'm making such a sacrifice, don'cha know)
btw in the video with the German lady, the camera did look bigger, but I think a lot of that was the retro camera "jacket".

The camera looked bigger in the video with the German woman because it was in a bulky leather carry-case.

Gordon mentioned the size of the lenses and while it seems that they are able to make small lenses with moderate apertures, the faster lenses seems to be bigger for the smaller formats. The Four Thirds Leica 25mm f1.4 is bigger than the APSC Sigma 30mm f1.4 which in turn is bigger than a full-frame Canon 50mm 1.4. I want both a small body and a small but fast lens to go with it.

Those of you who are calling the E-P1 "slow" - what do you mean? Are you referring to focus speed, shutter lag, light sensitivity? Some of the above? All of the above?

A related question - can it be easily pre-focused? For street shooting, I typically pre-focus a moderate wide-angle lens at 3 meters - works for most situations and overcomes slow-focus issues. Shutter lag is another matter, or course, and a slow shutter would be a deal-breaker for me.

I continue to be interested but would like to hear more about these particular issues.

"FS: I'd be keen see this comparison with an Olympus XA included..."

Yes.I would like to see it too.I have the XA and the XA4macro, and is this second the one I carry daily. Without flash attached.

"I continue to be interested but would like to hear more about these particular issues."

Alan,
It would really be better to wait for more extensive tests and reviews. Nobody really knows much yet; we're just hearing from a lucky few who have handled the camera for a short while, 15 minutes or half a day. While they might know more than we do, that's still not enough time to find out much.

Mike

Ken wrote:
"Who cares about the size, shape, color, etc. Does the thing take pictures of the quality that we desire? And does the camera work for you or against you?

Do we all have misplaced priorities or what?"

Not at all. For one thing, most enthusiasts you'll see chatting up this camera on forums already own a camera that shoots satisfactory pictures and are looking for something smaller for times when their primary camera ... too big. So no misplaced priorities there.

Secondly, the E-P1 offers all the features and imaging capabilities of a much cheaper DSLR. Minus the TTL viewfinder. So why would anyone in their right mind pay more money for the E-P1 ? Because it's smaller and/or because it's mirrorless (and presumably quieter, but I don't know yet if it's rangefinder quiet or not).

Right now, most of "us" are probably DSLR shooters who happen to own one or more compact digicams and we're NOT thrilled with the results we get from them, but we compromise at times to carry a small camera. We're excited about the E-P1 because we know the image quality is substantially better than we get with our p&s's and we're hoping that it's small enough that we'll be willing to carry it instead of a p&s.

I'd say the size of the E-P1 is quite reasonably a high priority for most people considering buying one.

Stick a 4/3 sensor in an XA (no LCD required), and I'm there. He'll, I'll even give up removable storage if necessary, though I believe microSD would fit.

The whole question of how 'pocketable' a camera might be seems to me to be otiose. Few people who care about their clothes actually try to test their pocket linings in this manner anyway. More important in my opinion is a camera's intuitive-use characteristics. My Rolleiflex T, for example, which undoubtedly is a very large camera physically, is so easy to use that its bulk hardly registers. My Pentax K20D, a relatively well-designed camera which nevertheless requires the menu-diving common to all DSLRs, feels 'larger' - that is, more intrusive upon my attention in use - than the Rollei. I suspect that the necessity of holding the E-P1 away from the eye, and its inevitable menu-based operation, will make it a 'larger' camera in the photo-taking process than its dimensions would indicate.

I'm with WeeDram. I'm disappointed that this isn't a large-sensor replacement to an Olympus Stylus Epic, something that's easily pocketable but still gives excellent results. Although I guess that's not realistic from a digital camera?

For those of us who already have a DSLR, and would only use an EP1 as a 2nd camera when we want something easy to carry around, I think the Epics and XAs and 35Tis of the world remain a much better choice.

I seen something on the tv once about it, scientists making test and the result is that it seems people can feel when they are watched. Personlly i strongly feel its true, even science can't explain why yet.
I think its the same for animals (make the experience with your cat !).

I guess animals developed some '6th sense' and it makes sense when you think about it : imagine how usefull it can be when a lion is watching at you silently in the savannah :)

Well this should apply somewhat to photography i guess, 'focusing' on someone, what a interesting word !

When I had one child I buy Canon Rebel with Sigma 30mm/1.4f. With battery it has 1.00 kg. It was not problem for me and I had this DSLR every day with me. But now I had three children a carry this DSLR always with me is not comfortable. In last months I rather carry my light analog compact (Rollei 135AFM 38mm/2.6f). New Olympus Pen is not so light as old analog, but size with 17mm lens is very close and weight is half of my DSLR.

I like wee Dram's way of thinking though, personally, I'm just having fun with my new iPhone at the moment. Anyway...there's a hands on E-P1 preview at Macworld UK, with an interesting comment about availability in it.

"Ultimately as much a statement of intent as camera in its own right, Olympus UK has indicated to us that supplies of the E-P1 will be deliberately limited."

Here http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/reviews/index.cfm?reviewid=3392&pn=1

The Minolta HiMatic 7sII is one of the smaller 70's era compact rangefinders; not as small as the littlest Oly's but small enough for a camera with an f/1.7 lens, manual & shutter priority.

It measures 115mm wide (to the E-P1's 121mm), and 71mm high (to the E-P1's 70mm). Both are "minus protrusions" (the 7sII pickes up another couple mm in width due to the back hinge and knobs and shutter release button add 5 to 8mm on the top).

The 7sII body is 30mm deep to the Oly's 36mm, but the total depth (with lens) is 60mm (64mm with cap) while I saw one spec saying the 17/2.8 is 22mm long (whether with or without lens cap, that still comes in about the same).

It's still amazing to me that the little 7sII is "full frame" and packs a sharp 40/1.7 into a package that's very slightly smaller than the E-P1.

But at least now I have a good frame of reference. Enough to know I'm still intrigued and eventually want to try the camera out in person.

One question, though.
Has anybody made the comparison between this lense and the "true" pancakes, the Tessar types? [afaik, there still is only one, the 40 ltd].

I remember that it struck me as being not that much smaller than the normal 43 ltd this 17mm.

Note that the considerations that increased the size of many 4/3rds lenses (Primarily the telecentricity requirement and the fact that the register at 38.67mm is so much longer than the normal length of ~21mm) means that a high-quality normal mush be very large. The same considerations do not apply to the m43 cameras since the spec does not include the telecentricty requirements of the 4/3rds spec and also the register is much shorter (and minimum rear-element position even closer to the sensor).

Also the Sigma 30 is not a good choice to compare to the Canon 50/1.4. The Sigma covers much larger sensors than 4/3rds (it's designed for DX 1.5x crop), includes a proper ring-motor USM drive unlike the Canon 50/1.4's much more compact micro-motor USM drive and also has a more complex and better corrected optical design. The Sigma 50/1.4 or Canon 50/1.2L are better comparisons to the 30/1.4.

Dennis: just to remind you and others committed to viewfinders, some of us out here consider the optical viewfinder an archaic holdover which has enslaved camera designers for too long.

Just as, in the previous generation of cameras the SLR was king (in both 35mm and medium format) because it gave you the best impression of what was actually coming through the lens across all possible lenses and accessories, in the current generation of cameras (digital) an electronic display gives you the best impression of what is actually going to be captured (it goes past just showing you what the image falling on the sensor will look like).

(I certainly acknowledge that the perfect no-optical-viewfinder camera hasn't been built yet. The most serious may be that good AF performance currently needs an SLR design, since it has to be able to temporarily redirect light from each of the AF points to a specialized AF sensor. Other problems relating to viewing LCDs in bright light can be solved by shades, or by building the shade into the camera i.e. an EVF. I'm rather looking forward to physically removable EVF designs. I suspect manual focus doesn't work so well with non-optical finders, but I converted to AF in 1994 after testing found that it focused both faster and better than I could manually.)


Stick a 4/3 sensor in an XA

No need. You can put full size sensors in there. 36 of them conveniently supplied on a roll!

"Has anybody made the comparison between this lense and the "true" pancakes, the Tessar types? [afaik, there still is only one, the 40 ltd]."

Iñaki,
If you mean the Pentax 40mm, it's not a Limited and it's not a true Tessar-type. Compare the block diagram here:

http://kmp.bdimitrov.de/lenses/primes/_optics/40f2.8-i.gif

With the cross section of a Tessar:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeiss_Tessar

Recent Tessar-types have included the Contax manual focus 45mm f/2.8, the Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P, and the Leica Elmar-M collapsible.

I'm not finding the information on the 17mm that would help to make a comparison, but I doubt it's a Tessar-type.

Mike

Somehow, I have lived my whole life without noticing that there was such a word as "pocketable."* Now I hate the word. I hate it so much, that even though I like the new Oly, I may refuse to buy it for fear someone will see it and comment on its "pocketability."

*In fact, Google's spellcheck feature is not aware of the word either, but that doesn't mean anything.

Speaking on how you feel: I own a Fiat Multipla, possibly the ugliest (but most useful) car on Earth. After buying it, my wife and I spent several months being ashamed when stopped in city lights, because we felt everybody was looking at us while shouting "look, what an ugly car!!!".

After some months, we got used to that and we don't care anymore. But I'm pretty sure that not many people payed attention at the begining, possibly the same that still pay attention today, to the ugliness of the car.

My point? Only YOUR feelings matter, people live their live regardless of the size of your camera or the ugliness of your car. ;)

Mike,

You beat me to the punch about the Pentax 40mm not being a true Tessar, but it *is* part of the DA Limited line. What did you mean by it not being a Limited?

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot about the AF version, which is indeed a "Limited." I was thinking of the manual focus SMCP-M.

Mike

David,

I'm not at all committed to the OVF. In my post, I was trying to point out that since that the E-P1 is more expensive than a DSLR and (for those to whom it does matter) gives up the OVF, there has to be something to make it worth considering, and that something is size.

I'm actually quite ready to write off the OVF so long as I get to write off the mirror in the process. I wouldn't mind replacing my DSLR with an EVF-based camera at some point in the future. I'd prefer an articulating LCD in a camera like the E-P1 (and could happily live without an EVF at all).

A cross section of the 17/2.8 can be found here:

http://four-thirds.org/en/microft/lense.html#17mmF2.8

Definitely not a Tessar.

As for the sensation of being stared at, I've come up with an experiment to measure whether or not such an effect exists, but I haven't gotten grant money for it ;-).

here actual size comparison with G1, Ricoh GRD, & Lumix tough pocket cam
http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8483

http://tbanet.zenfolio.com/img/v3/p488203648.jpg

cheers
radix

In case anybody is curious, I can confirm the Contax 45mm/f2.8 Tessar lens is a stunningly good performer on a 4/3-format body (at least if you love the look of Tessar-type lenses the way I do) and I can't imagine why the same wouldn't also be true on a micro-4/3 format body. (It's too bad mine went missing a few months ago -- I swear it must be around the house somewhere! -- or I'd be able to confirm this as well by shooting with it on my G1.)

I'm considering replacing my DSLR for E-P1. Since I don't want to give up my ultrawide 7-14, I quickly threw together this photo to get the feel for the size:

http://jonr.light.is/tmp/cameras.jpg

And just for fun, I added a D3 with the 14-24, my dream system. The E-P1 + Panasonic 7-14 is almost a 1Kg lighter than my current E-3 + Olympus 7-14, and probably delivers better photos (I still have to see a good test of the Panasonic 7-14mm, though). Add 11-12mm lens to use with filters, the 17mm or 20mm 'standard' lens, and I'm good to go.

Besides fine picture quality, size is what matters beyond DSLR.
Then shot to shot times.
Any camera you can't put in your pocket may as well be a DSLR.
An optical viewfinder on the E-P1 with the 17mm pancake lens is the only consideration for this camera in my view.
Putting on any zoom lens negates this camera's size and usefulness.
Any number of small DSLR's would be superior to this camera using a zoom lens.
It's ridiculous to try using its LCD with a large lens.
What's the point?
Those of you who haven't used an optical viewfinder as in a Leica rangefinder have missed the clarity of quickly composing a photo and being immediate and at-one with the scene.

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