Olympus Pen E-PL1 review

April 10, 2010

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Beneath the retro styling of the Olympus Pen E-PL1 is a new Live Guide designed to aid beginners, but does it make photography any easier? We put it to the test



With the competition for mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras hotting up, it is important for a manufacturer to have a full complement of cameras in its range. The Olympus Pen E-PL1 is designed squarely for the entry-level market, and as such it should be simple to operate but with enough features to allow a beginner’s photographic skills to develop.

While the E-PL1 has excellent image quality and a full complement of manual settings and different metering features, there are a few areas in which the handling and operation could be improved to make it easier for entry-level photographers. The first of these is the rather confusingly named features of the Live Guide, such as Express Motions, which appear to be literal translations from Japanese. Similarly, a control dial would have speeded up the time taken to change the exposure settings.

Photographers looking for an affordable Micro Four Thirds camera should be impressed with the E-PL1, but there are still a few finishing touches that need to be made to make it perfect for those starting out in photography.

  • White Balance: Auto, 8 presets, plus custom setting and Kelvin adjustment
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • Viewfinder Type: VF-2 EVF with 1.4 million dots
  • Shutter Type: Computerised focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD/SDHC
  • Output Size: 4032x3042 pixels
  • LCD: 3in with 230,000 dots
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • AF Points: 11 points, auto or manual selection possible, plus face detection
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/180sec or 1/2000sec in Super FP mode
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, over 3 frames in steps of 2, 4 or 6 mired
  • Sensor: Live-MOS with 12.3 million effective pixels
  • Focal Length Mag: 2x
  • Weight: 300g (without battery or card/s)
  • Exposure Modes: iAuto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, plus 19 scene presets and 6 Art Filters
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery BLS-1 supplied
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/2000sec in 1⁄2 or 1/3EV steps plus bulb
  • Drive Mode: Max 3fps for approx 13 JPEGs or 10 raw files
  • Dimensions: 120.6x69.9x36.4mm
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Metering System: 324 zone Multi-Pattern, Digital ESP, centreweighted and spot, plus highlight/shadow spot metering
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3, 1⁄2EV or 1EV steps
  • RRP: £499.99 (body-only street price) £549.99 (with 14-42mm kit lens, street price)
  • Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • ISO: 100-3200
  • Focusing Modes: Manual (with focus assist magnification), AF-S, AF-C, AF tracking
  • DoF Preview: No
  • Tested as: Entry-level hybrid

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