Olympus PEN E-PL1

Released February, 2010
New: PEN E-PL2 (Jan, 2011)
  • 12.2 MP
  • Four Thirds 17.3 x 13 mm CMOS
  • 2.7" LCD
In terms of movie recording, the E-PL1 is actually one of the most capable Four Thirds cameras despite its budget price-tag, with 720p HD quality, full manual control, a handy one-touch record button and the much-prized ability to add an optional stereo microphone.
by Photography Blog (Mar, 2010)
8.3 Out of 10

Camera Rocket Review Our evaluation of the Olympus PEN E-PL1

Image Quality

RAW image quality independent of lens

PEN E-PL1
7.9
PEN E-PL5
8.9
EOS 500D
8.3
DxOMark Low light, DxOMark Color depth and DxOMark Dynamic range

Focusing

How fast and easily does the camera nail focus

PEN E-PL1
5.7
PEN E-PL5
7.7
EOS 500D
8.6
Focus lag and focus points

Responsiveness

How much delay is there between you and your photo?

PEN E-PL1
7.7
PEN E-PL5
9.2
EOS 500D
9.7
Focus lag, continuous shooting and Startup delay

Reviews

What do the experts think?

PEN E-PL1
9.1
PEN E-PL5
9.5
EOS 500D
9.2
Reviews from 43rumors.com, trustedreviews.com, photographyblog.com, dpreview.com and 1 more

8.3

Camera Rocket Score

Image Quality, Focusing, Responsiveness and Reviews

PEN E-PL1
8.3
PEN E-PL5
9.1
EOS 500D
8.9

Benchmarks Real world tests of the Olympus PEN E-PL1

Low light image quality Highest ISO setting that still achieves great image quality

PEN E-PL1
487 ISO
Pentax K-01
1,135 ISO
NEX F3
1,114 ISO

Resolution Results from photos of standard resolution charts

PEN E-PL1
2,000 LPH
Pentax K-01
3,000 LPH
NEX F3
2,800 LPH

Focus lag Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

PEN E-PL1
820 ms
EOS 500D
159 ms

Shutter lag Delay to take a photo when prefocused

PEN E-PL1
70 ms
Pentax K-01
120 ms
NEX F3
21 ms

Startup delay Delay from power on to first photo

PEN E-PL1
2,200 ms
EOS 500D
300 ms
PEN E-PL5
600 ms

Continuous shooting Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

PEN E-PL1
3 fps
PEN E-PL5
8 fps
PEN E-PL6
8 fps

Photo Gallery Wallpaper quality closeups of the camera

Reviews Word on the street for the Olympus PEN E-PL1


6.9
The amount of detail retained at high ISO is immediately apparent, with sharper, more detailed images all the way from ISO 400 upwards.

9.0
The depth and weight increase when the supplied poly-carbonate mounted 14-42mm kit lens is fitted, making the E-PL1 instantly more DSLR-like, but fitting a pancake lens like Olympus' 17mm or Panasonic's 20mm creates a compact overall package that will particularly suit street photographers looking for an indiscrete camera.

9.0
The kit lens produces almost no barrel distortion at wide angle.

7.4
If, however, you're among those who want the better image quality that comes from a larger sensor or the flexibility of interchangeable lenses in a relatively compact design, the Olympus E-PL1 is certainly priced right compared with its siblings; mostly, it's a great alternative for people who want the E-P2 but don't want to spend the money.

Overall

8.2 Out of 10

What People Are Saying Give it to me straight

Lens

Rather than simply disabling all adjustments, as many cameras do, you can use sliders to adjust background blur (aperture), exposure compensation (brightness), express motions (shutter speed), saturation, and image warmth, all with live preview.
by c|net (Apr, 2010)
The first is the compact camera user who wants better images, might be interested in taking some control over the camera but doesn't want to learn about apertures and exposure.
by DPReview (May, 2010)
By making it a separate mode that is toggled on and off using its own button, it is much more apparent that you're in a different mode, meaning it's not so much of a surprise when the OK button zooms in, rather than bringing up the function menu or Super Control Panel.
by DPReview (May, 2010)

Sensor

Other key changes include using the navigation pad to change most of the camera's key settings and the removal of more advanced buttons like AEL and ISO, making the E-PL1 better suited to compact camera upgraders than to DSLR shooters looking for a more portable second camera.
by Photography Blog (Mar, 2010)
Noise is very well handled, being virtually absent from ISO 100-800 and not being too obvious at the relatively fast speed of ISO 1600.
by Photography Blog (Mar, 2010)
The bigger sensors in these models can generally deliver better photo quality at somewhat higher ISO sensitivities than the smaller snapshot models and they support video capture, but the alternative has been the moderately larger dSLRs with action-friendly optical viewfinders and kit prices starting at a significantly lower $600.
by c|net (Apr, 2010)

Image quality

At its launch Olympus made clear that the E-PL1 was aimed at compact camera users wanting the image quality that a DSLR's large sensor can offer without the added bulk or, crucially, the perceived complexity.
by DPReview (May, 2010)
Dynamic range is also excellent, with plenty of shadow and highlight detail.
by TrustedReviews (Jun, 2014)
It sits mid-way between compact cameras and DSLRs, offering a good compromise between convenience and creativity, with good performance and superior image quality and at a reasonably affordable price.
by TrustedReviews (Jun, 2014)

Photography

If you choose to make either the Live Control or Super Control Panel available in the ART and SCENE modes, then they can be accessed by pressing INFO from the Art Filter or Scene Mode selection page.
by DPReview (May, 2010)
And though the Art Filters are nice, some of them-notably Pin Hole and Diorama-slow the LCD refresh down so much that they're pretty much unusable unless you're on a tripod and your scene is stationary.
by c|net (Apr, 2010)
The E-PL1 offers six of the creative effects (called Art Filters), that Olympus has been including in its recent cameras.
by DPReview (May, 2010)

Size

For cameras aimed at users stepping up from compact cameras, the difference seen in the JPEG output is particularly important.
by DPReview (May, 2010)
Both the more expensive EP-1 and EP-2 cameras have metal bodies, so the E-PL1 has shed weight and lowered cost by using a plastic construction, although it still feels reassuringly well-made with very little flex in the overall design.
by Photography Blog (Mar, 2010)
In a little under two years, this new breed has established itself as a credible alternative both to compact cameras and DSLRs.
by DPReview (May, 2010)

Specifications Full list of technical specs

sensor

Type CMOS
Megapixels 12.2 MP
Resolution 4032 x 3024
Size Four Thirds
Area 17.3 x 13 mm
Crop factor 2.1x
Pixel size 18.4 microns
Light sensitivity 200 ISO to 3,200 ISO
Light sensitivity (Boost) None
Codecs
  1. RAW
  2. JPEG
Self cleaning sensor Yes
Tested vertical resolution 2,000 LPH
Tested horizontal resolution 2,000 LPH

focus system

Type Contrast detection
Focus points 11
Cross type focus points 0
Supports continuous No

shutter

Min 60 s
Max 1/2000 s

form factor

Size 115 x 72 x 42 mm
Thickness 42 mm
Weight 334 g
Is weather sealed No

features

Is a smart camera No
Includes a GPS No
Supports HDR No
Automatic panorama No
Create realistic 3D images No
Image stabilization Sensor shift

video

Video 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
Shoots video in 24p No
Shoots high speed video No
External mic jack None
Autofocus while shooting video Contrast detection
Autofocus type Contrast detection

display

Type LCD
Size 2.7"
Resolution 230 k dots
Has a touch screen No
Has a flip out screen No
Supports live view Yes

viewfinder

Viewfinder mirror None
Viewfinder None

performance

Max continuous shooting 3 fps
Battery life 290 photos
Continuous shooting 3 fps, JPEG
Focus lag 820 ms
Shutter lag 70 ms
Startup delay 2,200 ms
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