Olympus E-P1 Hands-on Preview on Photo.net

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by hannahthiem, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Olympus just divulged official information that has been buzzing about for months now, on their new micro four thirds super compact E-P1 DSLR. 1959 saw the release of the Olympus Pen Series half-frame film cameras, which collectively sold about 17 million units. The most advanced half-frame camera that was designed was the Olympus Pen F single lens reflex. The Pen F was a very compact interchangeable lens camera, and also had an unusual viewfinder, with a system of mirrors and prisms, to allow for a more compact body.
    The new E-P1 camera takes the Pen concept, size, and some features over to the digital world. Olympus’ slogan: “Not a Point & Shoot. Not an SLR … It’s a PEN .” The Pen E-P1 provides excellent optics, interchangeable lenses and multimedia capabilities, art filters, and combines the creative freedom of a sophisticated digital SLR with simple controls and a small size similar to a point-and-shoot.
    Ergonomically, this camera feels very good in my hands. It feels solid (partly due to the fact that the body is stainless steel), rugged, and able to withstand some heavy use. Although solid in feel, it’s by no means heavy or overwhelming, just more substantial than many of the point and shoots on the market. On the right front side of the camera is a comfortable raised plastic textured grip, and on the back right side, there’s a little raised lip for your thumb to rest. The camera feels comfortable and secure to hold.
    Read the full Olympus E-P1 Hands-on Preview.
  2. I'd like to see a standard 'normal' lens of 40-50mm equivalent in 'full frame' 35mm format (that would be 20-25mm I believe). A black body would be nice too.
  3. jtk


    It's listed on Amazon right now. It's going to be a huge success.
    Might be the end of 4/3... Oly may not want to divert resources into that failing format when they can put everything into m4/3.
    17mm is roughly 34mm, "normal" for many/most Leica users. The accessory viewfinder is a brilliant solution, recognizing something fundamental: the best photographers want better viewfinders than Olympus's DSLRs have ever offered, save E3....Contax's G1/2 failed mostly because of the lousy "zoom" viewfinder.
  4. John, you are ever the joy of the Olympus/FourThirds forum with your sunny predictions.
  5. jtk


    Godfrey, the worst part of my predictions so far is that they've come true. I do wish somebody would make a square format, especially m4/3, since that'd make better use of the optics without significantly increasing camera body size. But amateurs do get habituated to formats, whether 4/3 or 2/3 ...or 6X6, the favorite of art directors..
  6. John, the G1, GH1 and Oly Pen do 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1 (they call it 6:6) formats. The GH1 offers those formats via a larger sensor so it retains the same number of pixels for 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 formats... unfortunately it crops down from 4:3 to do 1:1 but it still does it right in camera. The cool thing about that is that no matter format you choose with the GH1, your lens stays the same view angle. On a camera that gets 16:9 by cropping down from 4:3, you end up loosing half of the data and your wide angle lens ends up looking like a normal angle lens. dpreview doesn't have enough data to be able to tell if the Pen does different formats by cropping a standard 4/3 sensor or via a larger sensor.... but certainly your argument falls flat for at least the GH1.
    Square is not necessarily better use of the optics. In order to get the popular 4:3 and 3:2 and especially 16:9 formats out of a square sensor, the sensor would need to be significantly larger than it would be useful for.... and when shooting in square mode it would end up cropping in all directions. Maybe a + shaped sensor would allow you to get more coverage out of the square format but the ideal is a camera that could handle all four formats and keep the same MP per shot and keep the same diagonal coverage of the lens... something the GH1 almost does.
  7. Hannah - Look down about five entries in the Olympus forum to the photo I posted of an all black model. I can't remember where I got it but it looks official. I hope it's coming later.
  8. Sorry to burst your bubble, Sanford, but that black camera image is one that someone on the net is cruelly foisting on us. Compare it closely to identical images on the web of the white model. They've simply inverted the tones and then cleaned it up. The tipoff is that the shadow on the right side of the body on the white model has turned into the pale area on the right side of the black model. A good photoshop hacker would have fixed that.
    I want a black one too, but the silver one will suffice. I use a brushed steel Panasonic P&S here at work, and I've grown to really like the surface and the look.
  9. Yeah it seems to def only come in Chrome and White.... Black would have been a nice option but I guess stainless steel and chrome is the same as black in this release.... I would expect Olympus will make more available later. The fact that the G1 now comes in a Skittles array of colors may speak to the future of this camera.
  10. Patrick, the E-P1 doesn't have the oversized sensor of the G1. Sadly. But strangely enough, if you look at the file sizes listed on the DPR specs page, the first two are:
    • 4032 x 3024 = 12.2MP @ 3:2
    • 3200 x 2400 = 7.7MP @ 4:3
    What gives? Are Olympus hiding something? As they are marketing this camera as a 12.3MP, the above numbers might lead you to believe that 3:2 is the native size, however the specs state:
    Aspect ratio: 4:3(Default), 3:2, 16:9, 6:6
    Furthermore, the chip size is listed as:
    17.3 x 13.0 mm active area
    which is 4:3 ratio. I'm confused :)
  11. 4032 x 3024 is 4:3 and 3200 x 2400 is 3:2... look at the numbers a little closer, it's probably just a misprint. ;) The various sizes I saw listed consisted mostly of just different file sizes at different compressions rather than a comprehensive list of the various formats like we have seen in press releases of the G1 and GH1... which makes me think Olympus might be keeping those stats to themselves because of some shortcomings.
  12. Am I the only person who thinks the price is a little high? Compared to the e-620, which this camera is apparently derived from, the body is actually more expensive. So for $50 more you get a more compact body with a bigger rear LCD... but you don't get a built-in flash and the matching flash will cost you another $200, you don't get to use any 4/3's lenses you already have and the adapter will cost you another $180, you don't get a swiveling LCD (no adapter to fix that yet, although I'm surprised no-one has developed an S-video or USB mini LCD that mounts to the flash shoe), you don't get a proper veiwfinder although for $100 you can get an optical viewfinder that only works at one focal lenght, does not confirm focus, show DOF, or even have any information at all. So to put together this little kit... still no lens, you are looking at spending as much as on an E3 body. I mean, I think it's a beautiful product... but why does a machine that is supposedly bridging the DLSR and compact markets cost twice as much (with lens adapter, flash and viewfinder) as Olympus's most advanced compact DSLR, which it supposedly shares technology with, and comes with those "accessories" built-in? I suppose the fact that the GH1 offers a built-in flash and has an advanced digital viewfinder and costs twice what the EP1 body alone does puts things into perspective.... but still!
  13. Why is it priced like that? Because it can be. Right now there's the early adopter premium, boosted further because Nikon, Canon, etc., don't (yet) have competing models. If you want it cheaper, just wait a while.
  14. It's funny how often I've heard people say they would pay more for camera that was made of metal and felt like a solid "real camera" instead of a cheap piece of plastic. Olympus delivers a stainless steel, solid-feeling camera, and we hear, "It costs too much!"
  15. Absolutely Patrick, I agree with you 100%. Where do they get these prices? With a stainless steel body and a build quality to match (we'll see) I'm willing to go to $550.00.
  16. ...and they better lower the price of that flash as well.
  17. Patrick, thank you for double checking my disastrous maths. I shall now resign from my current job LOL!
    PS: I don't think it's an expensive launch price, especially if it's going to come down in a few months. It's not a plastic POS, it's an actual metal camera. Anybody remember those? :-D
  18. Many P&S digicams are all or mostly metal, as is my (free) cellphone. Nowadays you have to pay thousands to get an all-plastic DSLR.

    I was never much interested in Olympus 4/3 lenses until now. What's the skinny on single-focal-length lenses (AKA primes) in their lineup? Perhaps they will repackage them for micro-4/3.

    For 35mm film, I always thought 50mm was the suckiest focal length. Not wide enough to get much in the frame, and not long enough to show anything with intimacy. So the 17mm seems like the best place to start. I am not sure this camera autofocuses fast enough to support telephoto.
  19. The camera is a great concept but no VF killed it for me. Aux VF's for each lens gets quite expensive. Price? All digicams are relatively expensive given the product life. Hopefully, this will not be the last camera in this genre.
  20. " The accessory viewfinder is a brilliant solution"
    .....really? other makers have been using them for years. You say 'brilliant solution' I say 'very poor compromise'....and it's hardly a solution either....especially with an interchangeable lens camera.
  21. Olympus is working on the next micro 4/3 camera, which will feature a VF (they've said so). When it's released...we'll all be here bitching about it again :)
  22. It's funny how often I've heard people say they would pay more for camera that was made of metal and felt like a solid "real camera" instead of a cheap piece of plastic. Olympus delivers a stainless steel, solid-feeling camera, and we hear, "It costs too much!"​
    I am going to get one of these little guys as soon as it comes out, largely for that reason. I hate the viewfinders on APS-C cameras and want something that is built like my Contax SLRs. I was going to get a rebel, but it was too chintzy and I don't like the shutter release button on Canon DSLRs these days.
    I also realy like the folding lens that comes with the camera. That will keep me happy until some fast primes come out.
  23. For everyone bolstering the stainless steel body.... you may want to take a look at this....
    In a day and age of magnesium and titanium alloys, this is just another plastic wonder. I can't help but be reminded of disposable cameras I've taken apart when I see these images. No wonder Olympus has shyed away from one of their typical marketing images... the durable metal chassis sitting in a pile of parts and optics...
  24. ok...$475.00
  25. I paid just under $1000 for a Nikon 35Ti point and shoot several years ago. Money well spent. I wanted a decent camera for my honeymoon, but I didn't want to get served divorce papers as soon as we got home by taking my real cameras and making it into a photo excursion. :) We have excellent photos and memories.
    I've been waiting for a digital equivalent. The Panasonic LX-3 is pretty darn close. Might even be the equivalent. I'm really happy with pictures I've taken with it so far. It was a shade under $400 for a P&S without interchangeable lenses.
    I'm really anxious to see if the E-P1 lives up to its promise. I consider the $900 price tag for the body + 15/2.8 + viewfinder to be reasonable if the lens is decent.
    Can't really say I'm surprised to see plastic circuit boards inside. Metal circuit boards cause problems. :)
  26. Eric... plastic circuit boards isn't the point.... it's a plastic BODY with a thin metal shell pretending to be a metal camera.
  27. As opposed to the more expensive Canon rebel that is plastic on a plastic body?
  28. I just realized the higher thumb wheel controls the aperture while the while the lower dial controls shutter speed - this is just plain backwards and anti-intuitive! I hope the camera can be programed to reverse them. From a Nikon user.
  29. Surprised by the price - Panasonic G1 is not as pretty but has a viewfinder (after a few uses you get used to it) and a higher resolution LCD. I know that the Oly looks better and has video but it still appears expensive. It will be interesting to see how the lenses perform - dpreview did not rate the 17mm but this may have been an early version.
  30. What, no adamantium chassis? No mysterium shell? And where's the beryllium sphere to power it? Why, the silly thing might collapse under the weight of expectations!
  31. Sorry 'bout the thread drift Hannah, but just wanna tell you that I think you're really great looking. A fine photographer and writer too! That's all <s>.
  32. Jeffrey, please, if there's anybody great-looking on this thread it's Lex. Have you seen his profile picture?
    And then there's Gourgeous Godfrey , of course :)
  33. I added in a short video clip that Hannah shot with the E-P1. Nothing amazing, but perhaps worth watching if the video stuff interests you. More to follow as she has more time with the camera.
  34. The sad thing is that I am going on a European vacation leaving July 3. That will prevent me from being an early adopter unless the dollar suddenly gets a lot stronger. 799 weak american dollars is a lot nicer than 799 Euros.
  35. Miserere, no offense to Lex or Godfrey, but now I know what "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" means haha. Sorry guys ;). Hannah just is <s>.
  36. No offense taken. My self portrait is used as a Medusa Shield in the perpendicular universe, where it has the unexpected effect of making those who gaze upon it feel stoned. I'm trying to figure out a way to cash in on that effect so I can afford the E-P1 kit with optical finder and 17/2.8.
  37. lol, Actually Lex I was taken aback by your photo. The first thought that popped into my head was "Hell's Angel." :) I had just assumed that you would have had a geekier look, haha. But what do I know, I'm unable to judge the looks of other men, best leave that up to the ladies.
    There's been some interesting talk about the E-P1 at Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer (if you haven't seen it). Also, Pop Photo has a short review as well. After you get yours I'm interested in hearing your impressions.
    Lastly, I'm glad you didn't get bent out-of-shape about my comment. :)
  38. Hannah, does the 17mm f/2.8 come with a lens hood? If so, what did it look like?
  39. If you haven't had your fill of early enthusiast reviews, here is another one from Olympus guru John Foster of Biofos.com. He liked it and posts some big file examples of each lens's output. A lot to like says Foster.
  40. Grisha, I'm not disputing your assertion that the E-P1 will be discounted. That may be. I'm only challenging your reasons.
    Most of the reasons you've given on your blog are irrelevant to me. I don't know whether I'm representative of the majority of people who might be interested in a camera like the E-P1. But most of the following doesn't concern me at all :
    • ISO 200 IN AUTO MODE - WTF? (I'm interested in a discrete available light camera - I've used ISO 400 b&w film and pushed film up to 6400 for decades. I don't care how it performs at lower ISOs, only at the higher ISOs.)
    • ISO 100 ONLY IF YOU CHOOSE IT? WTF? (See above note.)
    • flash sync sucks - 1/180 (See above note.)
    • YOU GET A WHOPPING 1 PRESET MANUAL WB (Don't care, will probably convert most to b&w. Any others I'll take the time to fix in post-production, so preset WB is irrelevant.)
    • Crop factor of 2x (Oldest non-issue in the whole 4/3 cosmology. We already know it's a tiny sensor.)
    • 24 bit color is a probably a big fat lie (Don't care, not why I'm interested in this camera.)
    • NO PC SOCKET (Don't care, not why I'm interested in this camera. If I need a PC socket, I'm using the wrong camera anyway.)
    • NO BUILT IN FLASH - WTF? (Don't care, not why I'm interested in this camera.)
    • Not even an optical viewfinder, you have to buy it and it sticks out. (Okay, now we have something in common. I really want at least a built-in finder. Preferably a true coupled rangefinder. But the accessory optical finder in itself is not a deal-breaker. It might be if the camera makes noise or emits superfluous glow-winky lights that might spoil my dark-adapted eyes.)
    • Nothing special about the sensor tech, excep that it is very very small. (Redundant. We already knew it was likely to be the same sensor. Only the package would be new, not the sensor technology. As far as I'm concerned, the same sensor in a truly compact, nimble camera is something special. We've yet to see how nimble the E-P1 really is.)
    Also - please forgive the nitpicking - you refer to your comments about the E-P1 as a "review" . It's not a review. It's not even a preview unless you've actually handled the camera. It's an opinion based on published specs, and possibly on other previews from folks who've actually handled the camera.
    Okay, nitpicking aside, I actually hope you're right about one thing: the bargain bin. I love bargain bins. I hope the E-P1 does wind up priced like the E-420 currently is (below $500 USD). That should mean two things: (1) I might be able to afford it; (2) Olympus already has something ready to replace it that will address the major gripes already aired online.
  41. Lex, I definitely agree with you on the points you make at the end. It sure would be nice if the price of this camera came out from under the "nice used car" or nice professional film camera end of the spectrum.
  42. Also - please forgive the nitpicking - you refer to your comments about the E-P1 as a "review" . It's not a review. It's not even a preview unless you've actually handled the camera.
    Actually, Lex, I don't think that's nitpicking--I think it's a substantive and important difference. At this stage, there's very little hands-on information about the camera. I'd be interested in reading legitimate reviews and user experiences. I have no interest in a buch of pointless nattering based solely on published specifications. Calling that sort of nattering a "review" is misleading, probably intended to generate more blog traffic.
  43. No, I will not buy it. Not yet.
    A great new camera - but also a victory of the marketing people versus the engineers. As usual. They want to cash in on the success of the Pen and make the resemblance as close as possible
    Tomorrow everything is cheaper and better - that is the rule of the digital age.
    I will buy it, when it gets an articulated screen. Next year.
    A shame that it hasn’t - no concept begs more for an articulated screen than the E P-1.
    When it has the articulated screen, it will be my perfect street shooter - preferable to all existing alternatives. A perfect back up for the E’s.
    Olympus & Panasonic created a new+ next generation of HQ cameras - in a couple of years, most of us will shoot them.
    You actually can't call them a DSLR any more, the inheritage from the analog age will be gone, no R (=Reflex) needed any more, no bulky prism, and for god's sake, eventually our luggage will be smaller again, what we expected, when we sold our Nikons, Canons, Minoltas, Pentaxes and OMs to buy a digital camera.
    Can you help me with the right name, as catchy as DSLR, to describe the eVf equipped DCs?

    W mm

    H mm

    D mm

    Weight g
    Olympus E P-1




    Rollei 35




    See also the photos for the comparison. Both cameras have that solid “brick” feeling. I like to get my hands on a P-1 and do a real comparison.
  44. Not familiar with the blog - so I assume I can only get one picture at a time - well, here is my Rollei 35
  45. Can you help me with the right name, as catchy as DSLR, to describe the eVf equipped DCs?​
    It won't be easy. All of the handy names used so far during the past 10-15 years have been vilified by gear-elitists who can't accept any deviation from their 35mm-film-centric world view of SLRs and coupled rangefinders.
    Those of us who are true enthusiasts of miniature format photography don't really care what the camera is called. We're not confined to a paradigm that claims that the entire world revolves around a 24x36 recording medium and only two acceptable viewfinder types - SLR and rangefinder.
    A descriptive name may be unnecessary anyway. Considering the direction Olympus and Panasonic are taking, the Micro 4/3 concept is becoming its own paradigm, one which embraces miniature format photography without confining itself to any specific type of viewfinder system, design or ergonomics.
    That's good, because the dSLR world has largely been co-opted by medium format thinking, photographers who want what used to be a miniature format camera design to accomplish what medium format was intended to do, regardless of bulk and weight.
    There was a time when thoughts of the 35mm film paradigm brought to mind classic enthusiast's cameras like Leica rangefinders and the Olympus OM system. Then two factors spoiled that dream: bulky, heavy cameras like the Nikon F5; and self important photographers who wanted 35mm to substitute for medium format and insisted that nobody should enjoy handheld photography and that a tripod must be permanently attached to a camera. That same thinking has taken the fun out of the Canon and Nikon dSLR systems. Now, anything light enough to handhold easily is considered a toy. Small sensors are expected to emulate 35mm film quality; fool frame sensors are expected to emulate medium format.
    Let the Micro 4/3 system be its own definition of miniature format photography, as 35mm once was.
  46. Small point: It's not a DSLR. There is no 'reflex'(mirror) involved in the viewing.

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