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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Comments

Hello Ken
Thank you for the great review on E-P1. I have a specific question though for which nobody has been able to give a clear and definite answer. When using the Leica or Voigtlander lenses with the adapter, do you get the green Focus confirmation light on the LCD when the focus has been achieved?
Thanks for the reply
Harold

What about display to capture lag?

In my experience, when working with any EVF there is a lag of about 1/8th of a second between what you are seeing on the display and what is actually being captured. You would be hard pressed to make a shot like HCB's 'Puddle Jumper', with this sort of camera. Unfortunately that makes this less than ideal for photography that does not involved architecture, flowers or landscapes. Anything requiring split second timing will have to be done with the brightline finder.

Just to be clear I'm talking about display lag, not shutter lag.

You will not experience this problem if you use the brightline finder with the 17mm, but you will then have to rely on scale focusing and will not have highly accurate framing.

What I would like to see Olympus or another company makeis a micro 4/3rds camera with the rotating shutter and optical viewfinder from the analog PEN. Throw in the sensor from the E-620 and you would have a gem of a camera.

But I highly doubt Olympus will make that camera, because all the fanboys are in love with EVF these days and according to them optical viewfinders that operate at the speed of light are obsolete...


My brief experience

The E-P1 ended up being intriguing but not enough so to be my only camera (and I'm not well off enough to own multiple systems ... yet =P). I'm also iffy on Olympus' commitment (and maybe ability) to make fine primes that are affordable.

There's a K20D and 35/2.8 on its way now, so hopefully the rumored Samsung take on Micro 4/3s ends up being well done. Disappointing that the rumors say it won't have in body IS though, I guess that'll give me reason to wait till the next generation. =)

All the meat I expected is in this review: thanks to Ken and Mike for posting what was (to me) one of the most awaited camera reviews of the year and not disappointing at all.

Now I'm all ears for the K7. :)

I've learned to respect Ken's reviews and observations. The Pen sounds promising except for the AF. Surely Olympus can do better than "attempt" autofocusing. And using Leica lenses sounds fiddley at best.

Damn! I really wanted this to be The Camera.

Nice review, Ken. One thing you didn't address is how well the LCD screen performs in bright daylight? I can live with the low resolution, so long as I can actually see what's on the screen.

Some possible reasons why M-mount lenses—particularly wide-angle ones—underperform expectations on μ4/3 cameras has been covered in discussions about the Panasonic G1.

http://ogiroux.wordpress.com/2009/02/14/bad-news-for-the-g1leica-m-combo/ might be a good place to start.

Thanks Ken.

I have also been shooting with the E-P1 and have compared it more to other high quality small cameras than to a Leica. I have a lot to say about the camera, but will keep this post short.

Compared to the Panasonic G1 or GH1, it is considerably smaller and produces pretty similar results, but the focusing is not as good and the LCD is not as versatile. Compared to the Sigma DP1 and 2, it is a whole lot faster, has better high ISO performance and has more pixels/resolution. Compared to the G10, it is less versatile, but has better high ISO performance and, in less than ideal lighting, produces better images.

I am very happy with the E-P1 so far, but I really liked the DP-1 at first as well. I think the lack of any flash and the poor LCD as well as its slow focus are the biggest let downs, and the reason I am not getting rid of my G10 just yet.

So it sounds like the best semi-pocketable camera is the Panasonic GH-1.

I've been waiting for something like this for quite some time... and it tuns out to be somewhat halfassed attempt if i'm to believe the reviews that continue to pop up on the internet... I'll reserve final judgement until I have some time to play with it but I think its Lumix G1 for me after all...

Thanks for a frank and balanced review. I too was surprised that Olympus opted for a 3 inch LCD with only 230,000 pixels. That's the resolution of the Sigma Dp2 LCD and something that continues to annoy me. Especially after using cameras with 460,000 pixels 3 inch LCD's (Panasonic's G1 and TZ5). Having a crisp LCD makes a big difference when focusing manually. And thanks for mentioning the manual focus options. That's something I had been trying to get some info on for quite a while. I particularly found your comments on the processed image quality of Leica and Olympus lenses very informative.

Dear Ken,

Thanks for a very useful review. It clarified my perceptions of a camera that I've never seen or used.

Re low ISO vs high ISO image quality: I'd reached similar conclusions based only on online samples (my ratings were more along the lines of: "meh" and "wow! really?", respectively), and it's interesting and useful to have someone confirm that perception.

It's too bad the E-P1 did not make the most of your premium lenses. But you did not mention how well any distinctive character came through. And I have to assume you were not curious about video.

Generally, you addressed usability aspects which I'd somewhat understood from other reading, and presented them starkly as a shooter's pleasures and frustrations. I feel like I've gotten a very personal and honest assessment, as clear and concise as it can get. Thanks again.

robert e

So for a camera that can use different lenses and
manual focus...does it have a focus scale as on the
DP1? If not, hot to use hyperfocal distance?
Don

Ken,
In the title image of this article there's a photo on the left side of the E-P1 hanging from a neck strap. What strap is that? I've found the included neck strap gets in the way too much and would like to try one with a single connection point like yours.

Hello, Ken.

Olympus has actually stated that staying at 230k resolution was necessary for maximizing brightness and viewing angle. And really, I think having more LCD resolution would have been nice, it's not a problem if it's a bright LCD with good colours.

Colin Jago discovered that Olympus Master (and presumably also the in-camera jpeg routines) was correcting barrel distortion and CA by also processing his raw E-Pen files in third party software. Something similar happens with the G-1 and engendered a long web discussion. Jago has a lovely way of showing the effect, which you can see at http://www.auspiciousdragon.net/photowords/?p=2105 , a bit later than the link that Mike gives above.

scott

Nice review. However, I have to wonder if your AF is faulty. I have the kit zoom and the 17mm pancake, and I have yet to run into any AF problems. In fact, the Pen with the kit zoom actually focused fine the other night when my dSLR and f/2.8 zoom were continually hunting.

The AF is not perfect, of course. But I haven't had it cause me to miss a shot yet.

Nice write up, I do have a few comments though. What AF mode where you using that caused all the trouble? Admittedly, the E-P1 is awful in continuous mode, but I don't have even the slightest problem focusing using AF-S mode. It's certainly quicker than manual focusing with my Voigtlaender 40mm. I just focus on the center point, then adjust my shot. No issues at all. Secondly, I was originally disappointed with the 230k display as well...until I tried it in the Sun. Holy cow, this is the best LCD I've ever used in the sun period. I have no problems framing with it. To me that is far more important than extra resolution. Finally, what's with the short arms comment? I rarely every hold my E-P1 more than a foot away from my face while shooting. In-fact I usually only have it around 6" so I can immerse myself in the frame.

Ken in the very short time I've had my E-P1 I'd have to agree with all your comments on the camera except for one. The auto focus at factory settings on my unit seems to work just fine. Not DSLR fine mind you but point and shoot fine. Much like my G10. I've had absolutely no problems outside in decent light and even inside I can lock focus in low light. I'm going to post a quickie review I left over at photo.net. (If Mike decides it's ok)

I've had my New Olympus E-P1 for two whole days now and have a few first impression comments for those thinking about the camera. You'll notice immediately how well built and how nicely finished the camera is. I haven't viewed the white version but my silver model is a combination of a near brushed chrome on the sides with a mat finish on the top and bottom plates. Very solid and probably a step up from the well built Canon G10. The 14-42 kit lens on the other hand has lens tubes that wobble more than any lens I've ever owned. Not impressive though the zoom and focus rings are smooth and the lens is otherwise acceptable for a kit unit. Despite my reservations that same kit lens produced sharp photos across the full zoom range. Though not a macro lens it does focus close enough for flowers and the like.
Now lets get this next fact out in the open as it's one a lot of folks are wondering about. Operation speed. This camera operates at point and shoot digicam speed. This will turn off a number of folks right off the bat. That said the AF speed and and shutter lag are not the nightmares a few folks around the net have claimed them to be. I've had no problem having the AF lock on to objects even in low interior light as long as there is some kind of defining edge for it to grab. And that's with the slow kit lens. The 17 2.8 will probably do an even better job with extra light available for the AF sensors. Manual focus quickly delivers a magnified screen that helps pin point critical focus. The screen is grainy when in this mode but I found the feature helpful.
Image quality is nice. As good as your DSLR and maybe delivering a bit more detail than some of them. So far I've only shot large Jpegs at the fine setting and have been quite happy with those. I was told there is a Super HQ jpeg setting hiding somewhere in the menus but have not as yet made an attempt to find it. For my needs I'm not sure I'll need it. Though some folks claim the high ISO is good I'm personally not convinced it's a good as say a D90. I'll need to further explore the high ISO abilities of the camera but I'm thinking ISO 800 max for mid-sized prints (8x10) and maybe 1600 for a B&W conversion with a touch of grain appeal.
For what I do the camera seems to be a keeper. If you're into action and low light then you need to know this camera will not replace your DSLR. For what I do and what I shoot I think it will replace my DSLR. I love compact, take anywhere cameras and no fat SLR can come close to this camera when it comes to size and near silent operation.

On the subject of AF, yes it's slow. But I think it needs to be put in context and the "Auto Focus Attempt (AFA)" terminology clarified. "Attempt" to me says that it tries and fails. I've not had any trouble getting an AF lock even in low light (in low light of course make sure to give it a target with good contrast). So yeah it's slow, but it still finds the target.

How slow? About as fast as the fastest compacts if you're using the 2 available m4/3 lenses from Olympus. Much snappier with the 14-140mm from Panasonic (look for a clip of somebody using this combo on YouTube to see how fast). So to a large extent AF speed is lens dependent.

Great review, and I agree with your comments about it. It's a keeper for me too despite it's shortcomings.

"Finally, what's with the short arms comment?"

He was talking about people with presbyopia, a normal condition that occurs as we age that prevents near focus. It's the reason people aged 45-65 find themselves holding reading material farther and farther away and end up needing "reading glasses."

Mike

Very interesting review. Thank you for taking the time to share your thought. It's in rather stark contrast to Lloyd Chambers review, who seemed to loath the camera's handling.

The whole AFA thing is really disappointing. I'd love to shoot weddings with two of these bodies, doesn't look like we're nearly there yet.

thank you for your review. i sent mine back after a few days, and i'm very curious what the return rate is running. i had mixed feelings about returning it as part of me felt i wanted to 'reward' olympus for trying; however, for me i felt that it was neither fish nor fowl. meaning:

. at it's size (not pocketable) one can easily carry a very lightweight slr with none of the limitations cited
. i'd add to the review comments the absence of flash in a camera this size is another serious limitation

so, an SLR's viewfinder, higher quality LCD, built in flash, speedy autofocus, lens selection, IQ (at even higher ISO's) - and all at comparable prices makes this a laudable attempt that falls significantly short of the mark for me.

Has anyone used the OVF with the 17mm prime? If so, what has been your experience with composing the shots in tandem with the LCD?

I am also curious to hear how well the old OM series lenses perform on the EP-1. As someone whom is still endeared to his OM-1N...I still long for the digital equivalent of such a jewel.

Excellent evaluation, but is it worth the cost (camera, 17mm, M-adaptor)? Obviously much lower cost than the M8. But I am inclined to just wait awhile and see what else develops. If it is selling well, we may be at the beginning of a new class of digital cameras.

It's the reason people aged 45-65 find themselves holding reading material farther and farther away and end up needing "reading glasses."

--a.k.a. far-sighted-ness

As opposed to myopia or near-sighted-ness.

sorry. i wanted to add concerning my earlier ' neither fish nor fowl' comment that i've been using an LX3 as my P&S for a while and it's fast (wide) lens is a joy. i wished that the EP-1 would have had (or someday have) similarly fast lenses. at it's sensor size, this would have added further to DOF control, and made it's useful ISO range even more appealing.

Thanks for the review Ken! Sadly you confirmed what so many other E-P1 virgins have pointed out: Terrible autofocus, and a lacking viewfinder has been replaced with a bad 3" LCD. Guess I'll have to keep on waiting for THE CAMERA.

"I wanted to add concerning my earlier ' neither fish nor fowl' comment that i've been using an LX3"

It sounds like the LX4 might be the right camera for you. The rumor is it will have a sensor between the size of the LX3 and E-P1.

As for me though, I can't be happier then to finally get rid of my DSLR bulk. All of it is on eBay as we speak. True, the E-P1 is not a perfect camera, but it does everything I ask of a camera, and this new system has all the potential in the world. I absolutely can't wait to see what the future brings with higher res EVF's more (and even smaller lenses), better dynamic range and noise control. So for me, I'm done with DSLR's possibly forever unless full frame drops drastically in price. I tried using my D200 a few times after adjusting to the E-P1 and I simply couldn't get used to it again. It felt like exactly what it is...a 50 year old concept retrofitted for today's digital technology. I'd rather have a system designed for digital from the ground up.

That short arms thing is really annoying for me. Unless you don't mind carrying your reading glasses on a lanyard all the time, it pretty much means you need a viewfinder with diopter correction. I don't mind occasional LCD use but it would drive me nuts in the long run not to have a viewfinder (of any kind). Even when I do have reading glasses with me, I get quickly sick and tired of repeatedly bringing them up to my eyes when framing, then removing them to resume walking.

And no, I don't want bifocals.

Yet another new camera let-down. Rather like the Sigma cameras, it seems there are plenty enough annoyances that I would end up not using it out of frustration.
Hopefully one day there will be a small camera with both good pictures that is also properly fast and easy to use. This isn't it as far as I can tell.

I had my hands on this camera for a short time two or three weekends ago and found it very disappointing. Didn't have time for all Ken's gerry rigging, which is interesting but insufficient to salvage my opinion that this was not a keeper. While I appreciate that someone like Ken can manage get some utility out of it, I trust even he would have to acknowledge that the camera cannot be recommended for a its general target market. Even many sophisitated shooters are likely to only buy another camera if it immedeately solves, rather than creates, problems for them. Beyond all the objective stuff, I guess I just thought this camera was an object first and a tool second. In any event, it is reassuring that TOP didn't succumb to the hype.

The review's pics of E-P1 next to the smaller G10, a small camera that I find is built as a tool first, is suggestive of my proposed solution to Mike's utility DMD quest - Canon should bump out the G10 a bit for a full size sensor, tweak a very few things, and there you go.

I cannot stand evf for viewfinders. so this camera is a no go for me. Also 2x for my leica lenses wrong direction. Give me a coupled rangefinder or give me death. oops should not be so dramatic. The search for a small light camera goes on. Full frame m9 for 3 grand. I know dream on.

I said I wouldn't do it, but I did, and I'm now the owner of both a G1 and an E-P1. Generally, I think the G1 is a better camera, and though slightly larger, is not really functionally larger -- that is, they are both light, over-the-shoulder cameras. With a lens affixed, neither will go inconspicuously in a pants pocket.

My experience with the E-P1 AF is that it's slower than on any other serious camera that I've used -- much slower than the G1. I was prepared to dislike the LCD, but found that I barely noticed the quality difference between the E-P1 and my various other cameras. I find even the 17mm prime to be slow, even when using single-point AF; but I'm used to a Nikon D3.

My biggest complaint was not mentioned by Ken. The selection dial on the back, which includes four directional switches as well as a center-press OK button, is smaller than an American dime. I have fairly large, but not huge fingers, and every time I try to use the rotating switch, I wind up inadvertently pushing one of the four directional switches, thereby changing a parameter that I didn't want changed, and, half the time, not knowing it. I thought I'd broken the camera the other night because it wouldn't fire when I pushed the button, but then would randomly fire some other time...turns out I inadvertently activated the 12-second timer. Seriously, this is the most dreadful switch I've ever encountered on ANY camera, including P&S cameras. I literally have to use it by pressing a fingernail into its serrated edge. . I do not understand how they could have produced a switch this bad. To people who haven't encountered the problem, this may seem like nitpicking, but believe me, it makes it impossible to change parameters quickly.

I've used it with my 50,90 and 135mm Leica M lenses, and it works fine. (A 270-equiv Leica f3.4? Woo-Hoo.) I get faster, more precise focus with all three lenses than I do with my M8.

What this camera would be good for: setting up some place, like a sidewalk cafe, and sniping people on the other side of the street, where you can preset the distance. It's discreet, quiet, and light.

Another big disappointment with both m4/3 cameras is the slowness of the lenses, combined with relatively poor high-ISO performance, at least compared to other large-sensor cameras. This camera really cries out for old-style, super-quality Oly primes (I like zooms, too, but fast zooms are not going to fit so well with this really small camera - too big.) Oly and Panasonic need to replicate Pentax's pancake lenses -- a wide (10 or 12 would be good enough,) a long normal (28-30) a portrait (~50) and perhaps one long (~100-120.) The Oly 17 is okay, but I still find it slow to focus. I have high hopes for the supposedly upcoming Panasonic 20.

I think the quality of the E-P1 prints is "good enough" to satisfy most people, but won't really compete with Nikon/Canon 1.5x-crop cameras. The 4/3 quality is much better than my P&S, at larger print sizes.

When all is said and done, I think the Panasonic G1 is a better camera than the E-P1, although it doesn't have the quality feel of the Oly. On the other hand, I'm more interested in the results and the function than in the appearance, and I think the Panasonic wins in almost every way using those criteria.


Stepping back a bit (to think, not to see the LCD), with digital cameras we're in a period somewhat like the early-to-mid 50s. (As some of you know, I've been reading 1950s Popular/Modern Photography magazines lately.)

There were SLRs without an eye-level viewfinder (prism), SLRs with a prism but with no instant return mirror, SLRs with both but with a diaphragm that didn't instantly reopen, SLRs with leaf shutters that didn't take wide-angle lenses, and so on. Every SLR was a compromise.

Then in the period 1957-1959 the major manufacturers began to put it all together. (Interestingly, Canon and Nikon were last to join the party.) In the 1960s, an SLR with all the right features became affordable (I even bought one as a teenager!). Then TTL metering and auto-focus came along.

The current DSLRs are SLRs with sensors instead of film, and they're terrific. What we don't have yet is a new type of digital camera that has it all together.

We haven't hit our digital 1959 yet.

--Marc

Thanks for the great review!
I'm certainly not a pixel peeper, but would be nice to see the images taken with the E-P1 larger, much larger. So we'd catch a glimpse of their quality. Esp. those taken with the Leica M lenses and adapter.
Cheers,
Thomas

After reading Ken's review again, it's clear to me that the camera world is NOT badly in need of new ideas even if they’re not entirely new. Instead, the camera world is badly in need of reworking some proven ideas for the digital world. What's needed is a Canonet G-III 17 with an APS-C sensor. If you include the rangefinder, than autofocus is unnecessary and the LCD can be lousy, as all that it's needed for accessing menu items.

If you don't want to include the rangefinder for cost or manufacturing reasons, than an electronic VF is acceptable if it's high quality.

If you're going to leave the electronic VF off, then you MUST put an top quality LCD on the back for composition and manual focusing.

Also, if you leave the rangefinder off you MUST have a fast autofocus method of some kind.

Both Sigma and Olympus have missed these last two points.

But ultimately, if the image quality is just pretty good, and it is compromised by having to correct for distortion that's endemic to trying to cram a large sensor in a small camera, or at least a camera with a small flange to sensor distance, then the problem of producing that small, large sensor camera may be due to the cost of overcoming a great number of optical disadvantages that come with that requirement. And I believe that's why the E-P1 is compromised: a great deal of money went into making M4/3rds work, and to recoup those costs Olympus couldn't afford to "finish" the camera with fast AF and a better LCD at the consumer price they targeted.

I've had one or another Oly Pen since I purchased a used VF Pen in 1971 and became entranced. I had great hopes for this introduction of Oly's version of micro four thirds. Ken's review has made me decide that for now I will hold tight on my wallet and wait for version II. Sigh...another 18+ months!

Thanks for this practical review, focusing on the use of the camera in real situations. It is a pity that Olympus decided to go cheap on the display.

Dear Peter,

You're thinking of hyperopia (far-sightedness); that's the opposite of myopia (near-sightedness).

Presbyopia is different-- it's a lack of ability to change focus, regardless of the distance. Why people have to go to bifocals/trifocals/graduated lenses.

If you start out with good vision, presbyopia manifests as far-sightedness, because you progressively lose the ability to focus more closely. But it's not the same thing.

Everyone gets presbyopia as they get older; it's a universal loss of flexibility in the lens. Starts hitting some people in their 30's, some in their 50's.

Royal pain in the ass. In a coupla years, I'm gonna get surgery to fix it. That's how much it irritates me.

pax / Ctein

Oh well,hope defered,perhaps someday!

"Full frame m9 for 3 grand."

Are you out of your ever loving mind?

Are those really Polaroids from an RB67 ?
Yum!
"now THAT is an SLR"

John Camp said "I have high hopes for the supposedly upcoming Panasonic 20."

Me, too. But at this point I think it is more likely that I'll find Bigfoot going through my trash than that lens on Natl Cam's shelf.

Here are some answers to readers’ follow-up questions.

Auto-Focus
By coining the expression “auto-focus attempt” I may have given too strong an impression that the camera cannot often find focus. In my experience the kit lenses will eventually find focus much more often than not. Yes, I’ve had the lenses abandon focus perhaps 1% of the time. But the core issue with the E-P1’s auto-focus is its slowness not its accuracy. In fairness to Olympus, while the E-P1 is indisputably a very slow-focuser nearly all small digital cameras are also slow. The Canon G10’s auto-focus, for example, is perhaps only half-a-step faster than the E-P1. But because it’s silent it might just seem faster than it is.

The degree of distraction and inconvenience that the E-P1’s slow auto-focus will present to you will depend largely on what type of photography you undertake and the degree to which you rely on auto-focus. If you tend to shoot largely stationary subjects you’ll wonder why others are complaining. If you get the hang of manual focus and use some good ol' zone focusing tricks (which I highly recommend) you'll also be fine.

Manual Focus & Using Rangefinder Lenses
(@ Harold Glit): When using manual focus (whether with an Oly lens or an M lens) there is no confirmation of focus other than the sharpness of the image in the lcd display.

(@ Don) No, there is no ranging scale displayed in manual focus mode. You won’t be able to use hyperfocal distance with the Oly kit lenses. You can, however, use hyperfocal distance nicely with M mount lenses, since they have precision barrel inscriptions for focal distance.

Manual focus on the E-P1 would, I believe, be much better with a 460K lcd screen. The 7x and 10x magnified views available to assist manual focusing can turn to pixel mush at 230K. A 5x magnified display would seem much more useful with this low-res lcd.

Capture Recovery Lag
(@ Harry Lime) The E-P1’s “lag” between the time you press the shutter and the time an image is recorded is determined almost entirely by focus mode. In manual focus this lag is negligible even in a program exposure mode. That is, you would have no trouble snapping the famous HCB “Puddle Jumper” with the E-P1 in manual focus.

However, as with all other “live view” digital cameras the recovery time between shots can be an issue. The lcd goes black when a shot is captured and it stays black for a while. I have no way of measuring this but the recovery time until the lcd view is restored is probably normally less than 1 second. So the E-P1 can snap pretty fast but it is definitely a one-snap-at-a-timer. Faster than a 4x5 but slower than a 1Ds Mark III.

Again in fairness to Olympus, the E-P1’s performance in this regard is consistent with other small digital cameras on the market.

The LCD and Live View
(@ Andy Marfia ) In Daylight it’s ok but not terrific, Andy. The lcd does feature an anti-reflective coating and I can’t really say it’s much different than, say, the Canon G10’s screen. (Although the G10 does also have an optical viewfinder of sorts.)

(A question received privately via email) "In manual mode, are changes in shutter speed or aperture reflected on the screen - does it get darker or lighter to preview the exposure results? " Yes, the Live View display will darken and lighten to approximate exposure while the camera is in manual exposure mode.

What About That Strap?
(@ Yohan) Standard 2-point camera straps can make me crazy, particularly with a small camera like the E-P1. The strap I’m using is a lanyard-style neck strap made by Targus. It’s made of braided plastic strands and connects to one of the camera’s rings with a simple loop-through. It’s long enough to hang the camera around my neck or over my shoulder but short and light enough to quickly wrap around my wrist and hand for security while shooting. Cost: $4 on amazon. I use a similar but beefier lanyard loop strap with my Leica M8s (awk...what a sacrilege!).

I suspect many readers have drawers full of similar and suitable accessory straps left over from other gadgets.

Why Is the E-P1 a “Keeper” But the Sigma DP2 Was Not?
A fair question (referencing my May review of the DP2 here) posed privately to me via email. Beyond what I’ve already stated in this review, and beyond what I criticized in my DP2 review, the ability to use my M mount lenses on this camera was the big buying and keeping factor for me. That some of these lenses (many of which cost multiples of the camera body) have not yet produced the magic I expected does not really disappoint me badly. They’re doing fine. And making more frequent use of that Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 (which I don’t often use on an M due to lack of rangefinder framelines) is simply wonderful.

Are those really Polaroids from an RB67 ?
(@ Hugh Crawford) Good eye! You betcha, Hugh. I have a stock of Fuji FP-100C and Polaroid 690 instant film that’s just reached its expiry. Using it to create a title image for this piece seemed uniquely appropriate. So I used my Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID with a Polaroid back to create those images.

Ken--

Thanks for the great run-down. I have been watching the build-up for this camera with interest. Although I wasn't waiting in line to open up my camera bag to a new system, I liked a lot of the ideas behind the PEN. I might even have considered breaking down and purchasing one if it was a home-run. It looks like I'll let it grow a bit before it finds its way into my greedy mitts.

It's nice to know that someone I trust can give a good, honest review, and When I saw that you had some comments, I knew you would give it to us straight.

Thanks!

A couple of things.

Ken, you and some people in the comments are forgetting one thing. This is really not an enthusiast and even less a pro camera. Olympus have repeatedly said so. And they also hinted at a "more pro" micro 4/3 camera in the "I'm saying but I'm not saying" way. So, this LCD is not what it could be. "Not exactly what you want," remember. :-)

Autofocus, I don't get it. As I said, it's not DSLR fast but it works quite nicely. Maybe because I also adopted the centre-point-and-recompose method. Besides, in spite of Olympus offering MF-2 adapter, I think us who use manual lenses on E-P1 are pushing it. The kit zoom should tell you the target group.

As to the rest, yes, the layout is awkward, but for me the main culprit is the cute volume-cylinder, not the 4-way pad. The cylinder is in the way of holding the camera properly. Hopefully, they will change it. And if you think 25/2.8 is slow, you should try 35/3.5 macro. Zooom out, zooom in, zooooom out and then miss the focus completely. I don't remember whether it's compatible with contrast AF, though. Ditto for the Sigmas, but here I doubt the Sigmas are compatible and whether will ever be.

Finally, no to the automatic aberration correction. Olympus Studio, which I have, will correct the barrel distortion in an auto way, but only if I tell it to. Otherwise it leaves the RAWs alone.

@Harry Lime:

> when working with any EVF there is a lag of about 1/8th
> of a second between what you are seeing on the display
> and what is actually being captured. You would be hard
> pressed to make a shot like HCB's 'Puddle Jumper', with
> this sort of camera.

Um, that's a bad example. HCB shot that photo without looking through the viewfinder (there was only enough gap between the planks to poke the lens through, the Leica's viewfinder was completely blocked). See the excellent "L'amour tout court", 2001.

Uh! Mike when are you going to get your hands on one of these.

Yes I will probably buy one in the fall.


Thanks pb.

I am a rank amateur photographer but my profession is ophthalmology. I believe that Ken's use of the term presbyopia is perfectly appropriate in the context. The loss of accommodation associated with the aging process will make it difficult for those over 45 to see the LCD display if they are emmetropic (native focal length at infinity) without glasses, or myopic or hyperopic with their distance correction in place. A multifocal spectacle lens solves this problem. I find that holding the E-P1 at about chin level with my elbows braced on my torso works very well with my progessive multifocal spectacles.

Am I the only person bothered by the EFV lag? What I have noticed is that the viewfinder and capture are out of sync.

There is a lag of about 1/8th of a second, which is a lot.
This is not the same as shutter lag.

Essentially you are looking about +1/8th of a second in to the past, when using the EVF. This makes it unusable for anything requiring split second timing like reportage work or action shots.

I felt it was worse with the EP-1, than with the G1, which has the same problem, regardless of the G1 viewfinder is running at 250Mhz.

I also noticed juddering, when panning or tilting too fast, making grab shots awkward or impossible, Again the problem of the viewfinder and capture being out of sync. What you are seeing in the viewfinder is already in the past.

What I would love to see is one of these cameras with the rotating shutter from the analog PEN cameras. You could still make the body extremely flat and retain all of the advantages of the Micro 4/3rds format, but you would have a real viewfinder.

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

PS:

And please... a black body....
;-)

I was hoping for E-4x0-like performance, but it sounds like we're not there yet? So close... yet so far. I'm particularly disappointed in light of the apparent perfection that Olympus's E-620 has reached.

Ken,

P.S. Nice shots. And I appreciate the straightforward comparison shots with other cameras, too.

"I applaud Olympus's PEN E-P1. The camera world is badly in need of new ideas even if they’re not entirely new. ...But I also wag a finger at Olympus. The E-P1's weak autofocus system and its low-resolution LCD display are big disappointments"

Interestingly, the exact same summary could be applied to "the dreadful Sigma DP2".

Objectivity, anyone?

Lee, I'll throw in the second ophthalmologist vote that Ken used the term presbyopia appropriately.

and Ctein... I'd wait a bit before jumping into the presbyopia surgery pool. We have a few 'kinks' to work out in that system. Like the EP1, it has lots of promise but the devil is in the details.

Rick

To be fair, this camera is at the same stage the Canon G7 was at 3 years ago.
The e-p1 has not reached its peak yet.

It is missing a good matching lens.

Just imagine this camera with a yet to come but specifically designed very compact (micro43) 25mm f/1.4 (50mm eq.)+ with lens correction + image stabilization + low-noise high-ISO.

Such lens will certainly appear within the next 12 months, and the E-P1 will then be the best compact available light camera money can buy.

(And it would cost less than the amount of money a used M8 body is going to lose over the next 24 months, especially after the M9 is out...)

Little DSLRs may be ugly (I don't happen to think so, but then I can't really think of any current camera I'd call that), but they produce amazing images with unmatched consistency. They are also remarkably quiet and handle very well once set up for the photographer's particular style/approach.

Cameras like the E-P1, not truly pocketable, with no rangefinder viewing and marginal IQ compared to a little DSLR, make no sense to me, at least not at this point. I'd love a digital version of my Canon P rangefinder because I just find the experience of holding and using that camera so rewarding, but nobody's going to build anything like that for less than M8 money.

I expect that a lot of E-P1 owners will do great work with it; heck, look at all the great work done with Holgas and even camera phones (see http://tinyurl.com/dzblc9 to start). But to me it seems more like a great luxury gift for your non-photographer dad or husband than a serious tool for making pictures.

The AF issue is a non-issue for me, I imagine. I shoot an M2 and the manual focus procedure on the EP-1 sounds fine by me.

I wonder about the real utility of fast auto-focus that many photographers have apparently gotten used to and now view as a requirement. I can understand the irritation of waiting for an automated process to be done already. But maybe the fact that the EP-1 has what sounds to be a fine manual focus procedure should make that point moot.

Why don't the the m mount to micro 4/3 adapters provide enough of an electrical interface to trigger the display auto zoom for manual focus? I would think they could exploit movement of the rangefinder coupling arm to trigger the necessary signal.

The DP2 is even slower. It's really a dog in operation.

Not that I like the E-P1 myself. I don't really like its UI either.

OK I'm a bit confused. In ending you laud new ideas that are not entirely new, poor autofocus and a weak LCD. From the body of your review I determined that this is not exactly a pocketable camera and that the images are "Adequate" even with stellar (expensive) lenses. What is it that makes this a keeper.

Ken's review is great. The camera is not.

In addition to the very plastic internal built, the cross-your-fingers-for-it "AFA" and the low resolution LCD (which is to be relied on for manually tuning the focus, mark it!) mean that Oly is probably selling a rebranded legend (the PEN) than a ground-breaking camera justifiably befitting that legend.

There is a word for this: illusion or, well, delusion.

Nevin

Ted Kelly:
Why would Olympus do that? They don't even talk to Panasonic when they share the same M4/3 format. Oly has in camera "anti-shake", Pana has on lens OIS. I don't think the Oly body will talk to the Pana lens on OIS.
And all these talk of sub-optimal quality with the m-mount lens on the Oly -- the M8 was late to the digital scene because they have to spend great effort on the sensor to resolve that oblique light path falling onto the sensor... What do you think would have been oly's answer to the problem? Lens specifically designed for the camera! Realize that the kit lens has to actaully extend first before it gets to its normal operation? Leica has the huge lens lagacy, that they must resolve the quality of the legacy lenses with their digital camera. Not with Oly....

Excellent review, Ken. Just enough of the kind of criticism to scare away the point-and-shoot/wannabe crowd while whetting the appetite of more serious photographers.

"The E-P1’s “lag” between the time you press the shutter and the time an image is recorded is determined almost entirely by focus mode. In manual focus this lag is negligible even in a program exposure mode. That is, you would have no trouble snapping the famous HCB “Puddle Jumper” with the E-P1 in manual focus."

The problem is not shutter lag. The shutter release on the EP-1 is reasonably crisp.

The problem is that there is a lag between when the image is captured, processed and eventually displayed on the EVF. Anything you see on the LCD is already roughly +1/8th of a second in the past and does not correlate exactly to what is being captured the moment you trigger the shutter release. Unlike an optical viewing system. the LCD on the EP-1 (or any other EVF) does not operate at the speed of light. The lag is very small, but very noticeable if you are trying to capture action with split second timing.

One way I tested this was to try to capture a shot of a pedestrian at the exact moment when they passed a lamppost. I discovered that there was a lag of about +1/8th of a second between what I was seeing in the viewfinder and what was actually being captured, when I released the shutter. In every picture the pedestrian had already moved one step past the lamppost. This did not correlate to what I was seeing in the viewfinder and thought I was capturing.

With any of my Leicas or Nikons (digital or analog) this would have been a very simple shot to make.

You would need to use the he brightline finder to get around this, but then your framing accuracy would suffer and you could no longer use the AF effectively.

I've only used the E-P1 for fifteen minutes at B&H, but I'd like to second the comment (John Camp's?) that the wheel dial on the back of the camera is too small and way too easy to press inadvertently as it functions as a 4-way.

This is disappointing because before I held the camera, I'd assumed it was a wheel (that didn't press) around a 4-way; that the two were separate. I was looking forward to the ergonomics.

As it turned out, I couldn't adjust any secondary settings without accidentally changing the self-timer or ISO. I walked into B&H nearly ready to buy and left convinced that I had a real usability concern. Which is just as well, I suppose. Panasonic's small m4/3 and Olympus' follow up should both be around before I get caught up in this racket. Hopefully one of them will have the GH1's multi-aspect sensor.

Ken,
Thank you for the time and effort you put into this review. As an M8 user I have the following question.
Other than being able to use the 40mm Nokton, in what situations would you use the Olympus instead of the M8?
Thank you, Nick

There is such a lens already [well, actually two].
There is that other 25mm 2.8 4/3 by Olympus, and the huge 25 1.4 by Panasonic branded as a Leica. You'll only need an adapter for it.

I'm somehow torn with this camera. Its beauty is that you have to buy, on top of the body, more accessories in order to use the camera's biggest appeal.

And I've got the suspicion that current Oly lenses are much better than anything Panaleica, Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Cosina et all have produced [specially the zooms, and that might be the reason for Ken´s results].

By the way, still waiting for "zee artist impressions" on the K7. Just sayin´

As excited as I was by the idea of the EP-1 the reality of it is a disappointment. That LCD really is poor by current standards and the autofocus also was clearly not ideal - and that was gleaned only after a few minutes use. Ultimately the lack of even an EVF was the last nail in the coffin for me. Shame as otherwise it is a well-made, beautiful camera and I really wanted to like it. I just couldn't.
In the end I bought a G1 which is a far more competent tool and I am more impressed each day with it and it's remarkable little lenses.

Great review, although I have found the auto-focus speed and accuracy to be fine - not used to DSLR speed so don't know what I'm missing :)

Just bought an EP-1 yesterday, with 17mm kit lens and viewfinder, spent last night playing with the setup, and getting used to the handling. Here's a few things I discovered:

(@ Fallon) With my glasses on the full frame of the viewfinder is a perfect match for anything over a 2m distance, while the brightline frame lines are pretty accurate for closer work.

(@ John Camp) I had a similar problem with the buttons, at one point accidentally switched on multishot, frightened the life out of me. I discovered though, that you can disable the buttons on the wheel, but still keep the wheel and 'OK' button active. The settings can then be changed using the 'OK' button and the super control menu. The setting for this can be found in the menu under the (Menu Display)>(*B Button/Dial)>(<^>Function) i.e. at the bottom of the '*B Button/Dial' menu.

(@ Dennis) I have had a similar problem with holding the camera and getting cramp, but then I remembered that I had a similar problem when I bought my Bessa rangefinder. What I did to solve it then was to shift more of the weight to my left hand (which cradles the lens) and not bend my right wrist at too sharp an angle. It worked like a charm, and so far seems to be working well with the EP-1. Basically you really need to balance the weight between both hands with this camera, it's heavier than it feels.

I can't say I have any problem with the LCD, seems fine to me. In really bright light I have had to bump the brightness up to max (this could be made easier to get to - like holding down the 'info' button for instance) but was still very usable.

Right, now I have a feel for the camera, its time to go and take some pictures.


Ken,
In your reply to some comments you said the M lenses can be focused by scale. Would that not depend on the micro fourthirds to M adapter being *exactly* the right thickness? It seems that in the regular 4/3 adapters, even Olympus's $100 4/3 to OM that the register is a wee bit too short, allowing the lens to focus past infinity.

Well done Ken. I enjoyed reading that and the illustrations are top notch.

The people on the M 4/3 forum of DPR don't believe you have a right to an opinion! You must have done something right to get that sort of reaction.

@Ted Johnson: regarding pocketability of the GH-1, "Is that a 14-140mm m43 lens in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

Ken,
Thank you for your correct assessment of the EP1. How do you find the 40 1.4 Nokton's optical performance on your various cameras?

I'm using mine on a Panasonic G1. It dosen't appear to be very good until I reach f/4. Is this true for you or do I have perhaps a lesser copy? Your reply would be much appreciated. THANK YOU.

Excellent review, your findings are almost identical to mine it's an excellent camera except for the LCD and AF.

Dave T.
http://reviews.davidleetong.com

Ted wrote:

"After reading Ken's review again, it's clear to me that the camera world is NOT badly in need of new ideas even if they’re not entirely new. Instead, the camera world is badly in need of reworking some proven ideas for the digital world. What's needed is a Canonet G-III 17 with an APS-C sensor. If you include the rangefinder, than autofocus is unnecessary and the LCD can be lousy, as all that it's needed for accessing menu items."

I agree that such a camera would be wonderful; I've always said I was waiting for the digital equivalent of my Minolta HiMatic 7sII. But as for it being needed, manufacturers stopped making them when we were all still shooting film. I'd guess it's a demand issue. Enough demand for Leica; not enough for Canon or Minolta.

Without RF focussing, it seems someone could keep the size of one of these small with an EVF and a smaller LCD. Sacrilege, I know, but I'd still choose the articulating 2" LCD on my Canon A610 over a 3" LCD with no viewfinder. But then, I'm not using it to focus manually.

An E-P1 with a smaller articulating LCD and a small EVF (without increasing the camera size) would be a big improvement.

I like my E-P1. It may not be perfect, but the perfect camera doesn't exist. If it had the best EVF ever created, people would moan it didn't have an optical viewfinder. If it had an optical viewfinder, people would moan it didn't have brightlines for their lenses, or about parallax errors. And so on.

What I do know is that even on a bright sunny day I was able to manually focus my Voigtlander 75mm Color Heliar using the LCD just as quickly as I can focus it on my Bessa R3A using the rangefinder.

On my Sigma DP-1, I can barely SEE the image on the LCD when it's sunny.

As for the autofocus, well to me it seems as quick as any other digital camera I've owned and faster than some.

It'll be nice when more lenses are available, and it may be possible to improve some aspects with firmware upgrades, but so far I really like it.

I am a Leica M shooter who has some experience with digital point and shoot cameras. I took a chance on the E-P1 and I do not regret it at all. Sure, it has its quirks but it reminds me of my Leica M2 or M6. It is a well built camera and so far I am happy with my purchase. Is it a DSLR? No. Does it behave like a DSLR? Not even close. Is it overpriced? Sure. I am glad that Olympus tried to come out with something new. Perhaps a firmware update or an E-P2 will be what some folks are looking for.

It's disappointing that cameras in the point 'n' shoot category are not really cameras for photographers but cameras for dilettantes. Olympus really had a golden opportunity to be the first to create a great point 'n' shoot camera for serious photographers, but unfortunately, to be blunt, they sold-out. Instead of the E-P1 having the amenities that are important, and crucial really to real photographers, like ease of focusing and viewing, and snappy performance, what we get instead is cuteness and cosmetic appeal seemingly pandering to the sensibilities of uninitiated female consumers.

Trivial, insignificant, and just another mediocre point 'n' shoot with a bigger sensor. Big deal, so what, who cares.

The Leica M8 in the comparison photo is looking better and better. Excepting of course that pesky price differential...

Or, maybe a Panasonic G1 with the announced 20mm f1.7 lens.

Player, from what I read here I guess the majority of EP-1 folks are male. Equalling triviality with feminity (albeit implicitly) I find not so great.

You might be thinking inside the old box.

Ken, I've always enjoyed and respected your reviews. I also agree that Olympus needs to work on the E-P1's auto-focus, but should point out that the speed and decisiveness of focus depends heavily upon the lens used. For example, the Panasonic 45-200 focuses far more quickly and emphatically than the 14-42 Oly lens, on the E-P1.

What I respectfully disagree with in your review, and that of so many others (especially Lloyd Chambers' conclusions) is the evaluation of the E-P1's shooting facility through the lens of our DSLR experiences, relying heavily upon an extremely precise viewfinder as the main connecting point for our photographic vision.

I ask you to consider the following post by Jono Slack on the Get DPI forums:

http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8984

and the similar one by Brian Mosely on the DP Review forums:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=32171457

In short, yes, the E-P1 does need to evolve further in autofocusing ability, but that is even more a reflection of the shortcomings of the initial kit zoom lens than the E-P1.

More importantly, for some of us at least, the real potential in shooting with the E-P1 is how it can free us from the confines of our heavy reliance upon the tunnel vision of a "real" viewfinder, and allow us to connect back to seeing the world around us, if we can let go of our learned dependency upon the "DSLR way".

Anthony Cheh

Hi,
Thanks for this review and comments!
What if:
Using 17mm and only the OVF,
With Face detection:On
LCD and Live View:Off
Is it faster?
And how is the OVF??

What a terrific readership community TOP has. Really, how many other places on the Web can you find such thoughtful follow-up commentary? Yes, even the slightly cranky folks' remarks are interesting.

Some additional follow-up answers and thoughts in response to comments here.

Posted by Nick: "Thank you for the time and effort you put into this review. As an M8 user I have the following question. Other than being able to use the 40mm Nokton, in what situations would you use the Olympus instead of the M8?"

An excellent logical question, Nick. I'm still feeling my way towards a definitive strategy but I think I can already offer a reliable response. I'll most likely grab the E-P1 for situations of uncertainty where flexibility and small camera kit will probably be handy and available light may be low. I very much admire my Leica M cameras for their precision engineering. But they're not terribly versatile. The E-P1 offers me the opportunity to take advantage of terrific prime lenses but to also use more contemporary and flexible lens designs such as zooms and closer-focusers. The E-P1's high ISO imaging is also cleaner than that of the Leica M8 -- letting those high-speed Leica/Zeiss/Voigtlander glass lumps really stretch their legs! Low noise, image-stabilized, TTL-view digital photography with very fast, sharp glass...what's not attractive about that, eh?

My M8 will remain my choice for many situations. But I'm not religious about this stuff. I'll use the best tool for the situation.

Posted by john robison: "In your reply to some comments you said the M lenses can be focused by scale. Would that not depend on the micro fourthirds to M adapter being *exactly* the right thickness? It seems that in the regular 4/3 adapters, even Olympus's $100 4/3 to OM that the register is a wee bit too short, allowing the lens to focus past infinity."
I haven't explored this thoroughly, John. But my casual experimentation with 50mm and a 75mm lenses suggests that hyperfocal focusing techniques work as well with the E-P1 (+ adapter) as they do with the M8. The E-P1's mount ring and the Voigtlander adapter are both solid metal and appear to be quite precisely machined and fitted. But you've piqued my further curiosity and I'll probably check focusing calibration with several M lenses a bit more closely in the next few days.

Posted by Danny Chatham: "Thank you for your correct assessment of the EP1. How do you find the 40 1.4 Nokton's optical performance on your various cameras?
I'm using mine on a Panasonic G1. It dosen't appear to be very good until I reach f/4. Is this true for you or do I have perhaps a lesser copy? Your reply would be much appreciated. THANK YOU."

To my eye the 40mm Nokton does, indeed, seem to do best at around f/5.6. f/4 may very well be its threshold of sweetness but since Exif data can't record apertures of these lenses I'm just not sure about that. I will, however, remark that the Nokton 40mm tends to render the same warm-ish image that it does on an M8.


Posted by Player: "It's disappointing that cameras in the point 'n' shoot category are not really cameras for photographers but cameras for dilettantes.:
I would not characterize the E-P1 as a "point and shoot" camera. That aside, however, I wouldn't sneer so hard at "dilettantes". Amateur photographers have been the spine and wind of photography since its inception. Development of new products would grind to a nearly complete stop without dilettantes and amateurs in the marketplace today.

All hail us "dilettantes"!

Posted by Antony Shepherd: "I like my E-P1. It may not be perfect, but the perfect camera doesn't exist. ..."
My feelings exactly, Antony.

In response to my question about a m-mount adapter triggering the display zoom for manual focus Edwin wrote:
"Ted Kelly:
Why would Olympus do that? "

I was thinking of Voigtlander, not Olympus, as a potential vendor. They do make an m-mount adapter, and several m-mount lenses.
From reading postings on some newsgroups it seems quite a few people are enjoying m-mount lenses on micro 4/3 bodies. Wouldn't it be nicer for them if the auto zoom for manual focus worked with the adapter?

Ted, you can already do that now. Put your screen info to the mode with the little green rectangle. OK activates the (configurable) zoom. the only problem for me is that you have to press OK again to return to the normal mode. Half-press of the shutter would be better, just like it is on the electronically coupled lenses.

BTW, Ken and Danny... What does it mean, Best at F4 (5.6)? Does it mean that you won't use it below that number? The only reason I put such fast lenses on PEN (or my E-3) is because of the faster apertures with all the shortcomings and possible problems. For F4 I've got normal 4/3 lenses.

Thanks for this. It's the first time I've seen the lack of a ranging scale mentioned in an EP1 review. I've become rather addicted to the ranging scale on my LX3 and use it all the time (for street photography), so this is definitely a strike against the EP1 for me. That's too bad, because otherwise I'm in awe of that camera!

Posted by erlik: "BTW, Ken and Danny... What does it mean, Best at F4 (5.6)? Does it mean that you won't use it below that number? The only reason I put such fast lenses on PEN (or my E-3) is because of the faster apertures with all the shortcomings and possible problems. For F4 I've got normal 4/3 lenses."

Many, maybe most, lenses produce their best results a stop or two down from their maximum apertures. The Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 is no exception. This is not to say that the lens is poor at f/1.4; it's certainly not and I will, indeed, use f/1.4 if the situation demands a cats' eye shot. It just means that "good" becomes "better" (i.e. sharper, better contrast, etc.) at slightly smaller apertures.

Using faster, higher-quality lenses is still desirable. If, for example, you really think you need/want to shoot at f/2.8 you should start with an f/1.4 lens.

But this whole discussion of lens speed/quality relationships has become, for most practical considerations, even more academic than it was 20+ years ago. Digital camera's enormous ISO ranges combined with ISO's frame-by-frame variability have forever changed practical considerations of aperture/shutter speed relationships.

Ooops...I'm drifting.


Ooops...I'm drifting.

Please do whenever you feel like it. :-)

Yes, I know about stopping down although my question didn't suggest it. :-) The point of the question was that somehow seems... wasteful using a 1.4 lens if you're going to close it down often. If that's the case, I'd rather keep it in my bag for particular occasions when I need the speed or the shallow DoF.

I may be influenced by my regular Olympus experience, though. Their lenses, in general, are at least very usable wide open. You will get a sharper and more contrasty picture when you close down, but there's no need to do so.

I really can't understand why there isn't a market for a high end snapshooter. Every serious photographer I know of that works with professional dSLRs and Medium Format are craving for a "personal" camera. A snapshooter you can take for a stroll in the park, on holiday or to family gatherings, but at the same time being capable of making an image to professional standards when opportunity knocks. The new PEN isn't even close. LCD/Shutterlag, slow autofocus, bad lenses, no viewfinder and/or decent LCD. Come on Oly - who did you have in mind when making this camera?

it's typical Oly Product & review. Reviewer tends to harsh on Oly product (especially when it's the 1st kind, remember E-1 & E-330) and make remarks about the product (aka,too little too late E-1, solutions looking for problem E-330, and now "AFA" E-P1) and steer people (that never touch it) away from the product. Contratry, the people who actually buy the product is loving it, and it gaining a classic status.

Thanks, and keep on make a harsh remark on Oly product, so the price could come down soon because nobody will buy it. And then i could buy it at knock down price at cameta auction. (though i'm not really sure about the E-P1, but hey maybe i can buy second hand from a guy who actually feel the AFA syndrome). cheers.

Russ,

I also handled the E-P1 several weeks ago and was equally disappointed by the extremely slow focus. Amazingly slow.

Meanwhile the idea of doing manual focus to gain responsive performance was equally bizarre, manual focus depending on an arcane process of selecting manual focus, then the image on the LCD blowing up to some enlarged image, then focusing , then returning to full image size, then shooting.

So before I cut to the chase of my opinion, let me say this. I was a very early adopter of the OM system in the 1970's and stuck with them for nearly two decades. I wanted the E-P1 to work. I was really hoping this was the great answer from Olympus, the great resolution of the long-awaited small, responsive digital camera we have all been waiting for.

Frankly I have to say this: it's not the answer. Too bad.

Jim, yes this is awfully slow:
http://www.ukphotosafari.org/e-p1-team-review/2009/7/7/what-the-e-p1-cdaf-is-capable-of.html

and a few minutes with it is enough to condemn the thing alright. E-P1 is a complex beast, it's highly customizable maybe as complex as D3X. even a reviewer who spends weeks shootin with it could missed a feature/branch of menu that actually make it more useable. cheers.

I have been hanging out for a digital camera that:
* I can use with my OM system lenses
* has enough pixels to rival 35mm slides
* compares with my OM-4 in size, weight and functionality

In my quest to produce beautiful lasting images over the years, I have found:
* built-in flash is near useless - I prefer available light or bounce/fill flash any day
* zooms never open wide enough for low light
* manual focus is king when working with a shallow depth of field

From what I have read here and elsewhere, the Pen E-P1 is probably the camera I have been hanging out for. But can it (+/- processing) do everything I can do with film?
* even if I can digitally capture 4000x3000 pixels, there is no digital device I can project that with now or on the horizon
* can I shoot into the sun without getting purple stripes?

A non-viewfinder camera can do things one can't do when one is limited to having an eye behind the camera, especially for extra low or high or wide camera positions where is it impossible to get the head high or low or wide enough.

I am puzzled by the gripes on LCD resolution - other digital devices (PSP 480x272=130560; iPhone 480x320=153600) have less resolution on larger screens an there are few compelling reasons for screens better than those.

Detailed reviews I have read on the E-P1 suggest the imaging quality is as good as if not better than most DSLRs on the market.

I am considering hanging out for more image pixels and weatherproof features. Otherwise the E-P1 sounds like just what I have been waiting for for a fraction of the cost of my OM-4.

Nice review, though I have to say I don't agree with the AF complaint, unless you're comparing it to a dSLR. AF in my experience over the past three weeks has been pretty uniform in either bright light or dim indoor lighting, meaning it does focus, and it does it quick enough that I can get the shot. That's all I need.

As for bright light, I purposely took it outside at noon (in Texas) and let the light shine directly on the LCD. I could still easily frame, though I didn't try to manual focus. That would be more difficult. Luckily, the AF works fine for me. ;)

Oh, and to Svein-Frode - I consider myself a pretty avid photographer with a stable of dSLR gear. And this was exactly the camera I was looking for. I knew about the lack of flash and viewfinder before purchasing, and decided they didn't matter to me. The numerous configurations and image quality of an Olympus dSLR in a smaller package that looks like a P&S was exactly what I was looking for. It's obviously a niche product, but to say it's not for "serious photographers" is wrong, and sounds like snobbery. There are lots of very good photographers making lots of very nice images with this camera.

Perhaps a little late in the day, but I have just had this YouTube link sent, which might be of interest, as it is a slightly toungue in cheek advert for the digital Pen!

http://tinyurl.com/neulvm

Dear Ken,
hope I can write to you, like that...
I would like to use my LEICA M3 opticts with
the Olympus EP1:

Super – Angulon, f = 21 , 1 : 3,4
Summaron, f = 35 , 1 : 3,5
Summicron, f = 50 , 1 : 2
Elmar, f = 90 , 1 : 4
Thambar, f = 90 , 1 : 22 ( incl. Bajonettring )
Summarex, f = 90 , 1 : 1,5 ( incl . Bajonettring )
Thelyt, f = 200 , 1 : 4 ( incl. VISOFLEX II )
Is this possible???
Thanks for your answer.
Torsten

I've used my E-P1 for a week and have got to grips with the menus, finally. My regular camera is a D90 and this is my first Olympus. Summary: I like the camera but not the lenses, which are average at best. I'm getting better results from using Nikon primes via an adaptor. The manual focus method is just great and for the first time my non VR Nikon lenses get used on an image stabilised body. The same could have been achieved with an Olympus DSLR but then I wouldn't have a cute walkabout camera!

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