Olympus Pen E-PL1 review

April 10, 2010

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Price as Reviewed:


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


Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video

As previously mentioned, the E-PL1 has no in-built viewfinder and instead relies on an electronic viewfinder that slides onto the camera’s accessory shoe. The Olympus VF-2 electronic viewfinder has a 1.44-million-dot resolution, with a 100% field of view and a refresh rate of 60fps.

Although it is always apparent that the VF-2 is an electronic rather than optical viewfinder, its high specification makes it feel comfortable and natural to use. Yet with the VF-2 costing nearly £250, most entry-level photographers will probably opt instead to use the EPL-1’s rear LCD screen.

Measuring 2.7in, the screen is slightly smaller than the 3in models currently found on most DSLRs, but it does help keep the size of the camera down. With only 230,000 dots, the screen is also of a fairly low resolution, so while it is suitable for composing images it is not quite so good for checking detail resolution in-camera.

Like the E-P2, video footage can be captured at a resolution of 1280×720 pixels at a rate of 30fps. Sound can be recorded in stereo, although the E-PL1’s built-in microphone is only mono. If you wish to record stereo sound you will need the Olympus SEMA-1 external microphone adapter kit, which costs around £90.

  • 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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