Olympus E-P1 Hands-on Preview

Not the best-kept secret (perhaps that was intentional), 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.

The E-P1 should interest professional photographers on the quest for a small body camera but with comparable features and functions to a larger DSLR without the weight or the bulk. The combination of the E-P1 and the 17mm/2.8 pancake lens should be an attractive combination for those wishing for a pocket-sized travel or street photography camera.

Where to Buy

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Hands-on Experience

During a hands-on Olympus press event today (Tuesday, June 16), I was able to experience the E-P1 and the two new lenses. I’m not typically the target market for the idea of a “new era Leica”—that’s more Josh’s thing. I usually can be found shooting events, concerts, and portrait sessions with my Nikon D700. However, where this new Olympus micro four thirds camera really wins me over is in the area of being small, compact, low-profile, but with the creative control and capabilities of a DSLR. I’m always wishing for something small and lightweight to carry around with me at all times, but allows me to do more than just snap the scene. Here’s what I think after playing with the camera for a little bit.

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.

I might add that this is one cool looking camera. Aesthetically-speaking, it looks and feels like an old-school camera with a lot of additional features and capabilities. I prefer the brushed metal look as opposed to the white model, but that’s just me.

One thing to note, while this is Olympus’ first micro four-thirds camera, this does not mean that the sensor size is smaller. The E-P1’s sensor is the same size as Olympus’ top-of-the-line E-3 DSLR. Also note that the E-P1 does not have the weathersealing that the E-3 has.

I was mostly using the 17mm/2.8 pancake lens with the E-P1 while experiencing the camera for the first time. I briefly used the 14-42mm lens as well, which has a cool retractable lens feature—when not in use or transporting the camera, you can retract the zoom portion of the lens so it’s nearly as slim and compact as when you have the pancake lens on the camera.

Shutter lag time seemed to be pretty decent. I didn’t have to wait long from composing the shot to capturing the moment. AF was also fast. A cool feature is the digital leveler. With this feature turned on, green dots at the bottom and right side of the screen will assist you to ensure your horizon or building lines are straight.

The controls take a little bit of getting used to, navigating Olympus’ method to their madness of how they laid out navigational tools, but it’s pretty simple once you’ve got the hang of it. The 6 Art Filters were fun to play around with. The Pinhole and Grainy B&W were my favorites in the brief time I used the camera.

More details to follow once I’ve had a chance to really play more in-depth with the camera.

A short video clip

EDIT: added this short video clip from the E-P1. More to follow.

Key Features

  • 12.3MP Live-MOS sensor
  • ISO 200-6400 (customizable, default 200-1600)
  • 3 frames-per-second continuous capture
  • TruePic V image processor
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Multiple exposure
  • MF assist, can be enabled during S-AF + MF operation
  • Digital leveler
  • ePortrait feature
  • Full manual control option
  • HD movie with stereo sound featuring depth of field and art filters
  • Aspect ratio options: 4:3, 3.2, 16.9 and 6.6
  • Compact and Lightweight: 11.8 ounces and measures 4.75" (W) x 2.75" (H) x 1.43" (D)
  • 6 built-in art filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole

More

Olympus EP-1 press release

OLYMPUS UNVEILS A NEW ERA WITH THE E-P1: NOT A POINT & SHOOT. NOT AN SLR. IT’S A PEN. WHAT WILL YOU CREATE?

Experience Incredible Multimedia Creative Freedom Blended with Digital SLR Image Quality, HD Video and Stereo Audio in a Compact Camera Body

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., June 16, 2009 – A new era of digital imaging begins today with the launch of the Olympus E-P1. The world’s smallest 12.3-megapixel interchangeable lens system camera blends the high-quality still images of a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) with High Definition (HD) video, stereo Linear PCM audio recording and In-Camera Creativity within an ultra-portable body. The easy-to-use E-P1 expands your creative horizons and its diverse multimedia features offer something for everyone. Built for today’s visual generation who lead active lives online and offline, the E-P1 will make you rethink what you can do with a camera.

Capture More of the Life You Live

Shooting spontaneous images of your daily life usually means snapping small, grainy images with your cell phone or using a point-and-shoot if it’s handy. A DSLR delivers incredible image quality, but most aren’t compact enough to roam with you. Now, the E-P1 changes the game with a compact body that delivers the professional quality images of a DSLR without the bulk. Moreover, its sharp HD video capture and stereo audio helps you live a better-documented life because you’re carrying one portable camera rather than a DSLR, an HD camcorder and a high-end audio device.

You can share more of your life with the world when the E-P1 travels with you. Make your Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and personal blog postings unique by capturing and sharing more videos and photos. You can chronicle more of the life you actually lead, rather than just special occasions you prepare for, like weddings, holidays and birthday parties. Since it’s the only camera to offer in-camera art filters for both still photography and videos with high-end audio, even your everyday activities will look and sound amazing!

“The E-P1 is designed for the mobile, visual generation that lives active lives online and off, and its portability ensures that it will go with you wherever life takes you,” said John Knaur, senior marketing manager, Digital SLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “As someone who has shot with an SLR most of my life, I’m excited that SLR-quality images can be captured with a camera this compact and portable. The E-P1 truly allows you to capture it all with the highest still photo image quality blended with HD video, high-end audio, multiple exposure and creative art filters in one small, stylish camera.”

Innovation since 1959: The Olympus PEN

They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, and now the E-P1 takes self-expression to a whole new, powerful level. Olympus has a long history of miniaturizing camera technology. The first-generation Olympus PEN appeared in 1959 and led the way to high-quality images in a small package, matching SLR cameras’ performance of the era.

Today, Olympus utilized its miniaturizing and engineering expertise to create a slimmer body, removing the optical viewfinder and mirror box found inside a traditional DSLR, to create a small but high-quality interchangeable lens camera. By reducing its lens mount diameter, Olympus also enabled the production of smaller and lighter lenses to match the E-P1’s body size.

Beautifully Designed Stainless-Steel Body

The new camera’s high-end, stainless-steel body is easy to handle and carry, and has the styling and refinement of a precision watch. Its retro-chic look turns heads, from tech aficionados and camera buffs to the fashion-conscious and everyday point-and-shooter. Built to be solid, it fits comfortably in a jacket pocket or a handbag for a night on the town, or to take on any spontaneous adventure. The E-P1 lets you do more and go more places while capturing your life, thanks to its compact size – 4.75"(W) x 2.75" (H) x 1.43" (D) – and light 11.8-ounce body. Attention to detail is visible in every aspect of the camera’s retro-style metal body design, available in either silver or white with accompanying new small and lightweight Olympus M. ZUIKO Micro Four Thirds lenses: 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 (28-84mm equivalent) and 17mm f/2.8 (34mm equivalent).

The new E-P1 offers many great features derived from the E-System, as well as many breakthrough innovations, including:

  • Superior DSLR Image Quality
  • In-body Image Stabilization
  • Amazing 3-inch LCD
  • Proven Dust Reduction System
  • 12 megapixels with next-generation TruePic™ V
  • HD video with high-quality stereo audio
  • In-camera creative features (for still images and video)
  • Multiple exposures
  • Multi-aspect shooting
  • Multimedia slideshows
  • Digital leveler
  • Magnified focus assist
  • 18×18 metering modes
  • Small accessories for small camera

Ultra-Compact Body Delivers Superior DSLR Image Quality

The E-P1 erases all doubts about whether a compact camera can take images that are equal to those taken by a DSLR, because it has everything you need to produce vibrant DSLR-quality images: a large 12.3-megapixel imager, In-body Image Stabilization, fast Imager Autofocus, the proven Olympus Dust Reduction System and the new TruePic™ V Image Processor.

As the first Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, the E-P1 provides the same image quality as current Four Thirds format E-System cameras because it has the same image sensor size as the E-30 and E-620 DSLR models, but in a much smaller body. This high-performance 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor delivers excellent dynamic range, accurate color fidelity, and a state-of-the-art amplifier circuit to reduce noise and capture fine image details in both highlight and shadow areas.

Be a Mover, Not a Shaker

Any lens attached to the E-P1 will deliver blur-free images thanks to three modes of In-body Image Stabilization that compensate for up to four steps EV (exposure value). Mechanical Image Stabilization works to automatically compensate for camera shake in low light or when using a telephoto lens. And because the E-P1 is the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera with built-in Image Stabilization, you’ll feel comfortable taking it on the road with you to capture the action.

Small Real Estate with an Amazing 3-Inch LCD View

What you see on the new camera’s 100 percent accurate, 3-inch full color HyperCrystal LCD is what you get. Consumers accustomed to composing and focusing using a point-and-shoot camera’s LCD will appreciate that the E-P1 offers the same easy, seamless experience when shooting still images or videos. With the new Live Control function, icons appear on the LCD, making it easy to compose, edit and shoot pictures or videos without stopping to access various menus. The E-P1’s fast Imager Autofocus in Live View also enables you to compose, focus and capture the shot quickly and easily without ever taking your eyes off the large LCD.

The LCD displays 230,000 pixels in vivid color and includes HyperCrystal technology, which offers many times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors for easier viewing in both preview and playback. It also provides a wide viewing angle of 176 degrees, which ensures that images can be composed from even the most obscure angles.

This Camera Leaves Others in the Dust

You don’t have to waste precious time worrying about dust ruining the perfect image; instead, spend more of that time shooting with the E-P1. The proven Olympus Dust Reduction System produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter™, a patented ultrasonic technology that vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor, capturing it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on.

Unleash 12 Million Pixels on Your Canvas

The E-P1’s Live MOS image sensor is complemented by Olympus’ next-generation TruePic™ V Image Processor, which produces clear and colorful photos using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible. The new image processor is noted for accurate natural color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal expression; it also lowers image noise in photos shot at higher ISO settings (ISO 100 to an incredible ISO 6400), enabling great results in low-light situations.

What Will You Create with In-Camera Creativity in HD?

Olympus pioneered easy-to-use Art Filters for still images captured inside its E-System DSLRs, and now those same In-Camera Creative Features are built into the E-P1 with a fresh twist – they can also be applied to High Definition video recordings to take your videos to a new level of creative expression and put you in the director’s chair.

Your movies and YouTube videos will have the incredible clarity of HD whether Art Filters are applied or not. Just imagine how dramatic and unique your videos will appear with any one of the six in-camera Art Filters applied as effects: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film or Pin Hole. Whether you’re a videographer, documentarian or established director – or just want to shoot like one – Art Filters set your images and videos apart from the pack. Since they’re built into the camera, you can achieve dramatic results on the go without needing a computer or editing software.

Because the E-P1 is an interchangable lens system camera you have more creative options in composition for video capture, to add to your visual palette. You can attach any one of the new super-compact Micro Four Thirds lenses or, because the camera can accept many of the other Four Thirds Format lenses with an available MMF-1 Four Thirds System Lens Adapter, you can add anything from an extreme wide-angle fisheye lens to a super telephoto lens for a wide range of expressive options. All the while you will have more DSLR-like control over depth of field, focus, white balance and ISO.

What You See Is What You Get

When viewing the LCD in Live View, Art Filter effects and settings like white balance and exposure are viewable right on the LCD, and their impact is seen instantly on the display. This real-time monitoring offers amazing versatility and creative control, and users who apply a setting have instant gratification because what they see on the camera’s LCD is what they’ve captured. For musicians used to applying audio effects like reverb to their instruments before recording them, the concept of setting the E-P1 to capture precisely the kind of image they want before they press the shutter makes perfect sense. For imaging purists who want to shoot without filters, and apply them to unfiltered images inside the camera later, or just edit images back at their computers, the E-P1 provides these options and opens more in-the-field creative possibilities.

Mix It Up with Multiple Exposures

With the E-P1’s Multiple Exposure function available for still image capture you are free to tell a visual story your way, whether in a portrait, a landscape or a combination of both. The image capture options allow you to shoot one shot, then another and combine them in real time, or capture both shots separately and combine them in the camera later. Overlay your face on top of your pet’s face. Create an “identical twin” of yourself. Put the moon in the sky at noon. Your ability to manipulate space and time makes this new creative multimedia device a veritable time machine.

Frame Your Works of Art Inside the E-P1

You can often achieve greater photographic expression by framing a scene in a unique way. The E-P1 provides four aspect ratios that serve as masks to frame your image to the desired proportions, including: the standard 4:3 aspect ratio that is perfectly suited to an 8 × 10-inch enlargement; the 16:9 aspect ratio that will display your images beautifully on a widescreen television; and other popular aspect ratios such as 3:2 and 6:6. The Multi-Aspect Shooting further expresses your creative vision when combined with Art Filters and multiple exposures.

Stereo Audio Sounds As Good As the E-P1 Images Look

Like the innovative Olympus LS-10 portable audio recording device that puts the power of a recording studio in your pocket, the E-P1 features uncompressed 16 bit/44.1kHz Linear PCM recording capability to capture the rich sound quality of your scene. When you shoot with the E-P1, it’s like having a sound technician built into your camera to capture the nuances of the audio happening all around you. It has the versatility to record and play back in the WAV format and can record with its built-in stereo microphone. Whether recording audio while shooting a video or adding audio by recording a narration to your still images, the E-P1’s audio sounds as great as its images look.

Create Your Own Multimedia Slideshows with Stills, Video and Audio Inside E-P1

Content is king, and with the E-P1 you have your own portable kingdom of still images, HD video, and audio to remix at your command. In playback mode you can seamlessly mix stills and movies inside the camera to create a multimedia slideshow and dub in one of five built-in dramatic background music options to provide a soundtrack for your cinematic creation. Plug the E-P1 into any HD television with an HDMI cable and show off your masterpieces to your audience before the DVD arrives in stores.

As Easy to Use As a Point-and-Shoot with SLR-Quality Technologies

The E-P1 is equipped with 19 automatic scene modes for effortless picture taking. Standard scene modes like Night-Scene, Portrait and Landscape are easy-to-use solutions for everyday shooting. Capturing beautiful portraits is easy with the new ePortrait Mode. It enables you to smooth your subject’s face – all in the camera and before capture! Additionally, edits can be made post-capture using the ePortrait Fix mode.

Shooting scenes with both highlights and shadows can often be dicey because of the extreme contrast between dark and bright areas. The E-P1 addresses this challenge with Shadow Adjustment Technology that adjusts for extreme light variations and maintains visible detail in both the shadow and highlight areas of the scene. Now users can see and preview the gradation on the Live View LCD and capture images showing the shadow detail they saw. This feature is also accessible in the Edit menu after the shot has been taken.

The E-P1’s Face Detection reduces the chance of blurred subjects in images by recognizing up to eight people’s faces and the background, tracking the faces within the image area, even if people are moving, and automatically focusing and optimizing exposure for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures (ideal for large family or party group photos).

If you don’t want to change camera settings every time you’re shooting something different, then the E-P1’s Intelligent Auto Mode is for you. It automatically identifies what you are shooting (Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro, Sports) and adjusts settings to capture the best result depending on the situation. First-time users will enjoy this quick and hassle-free feature, which does the thinking for them and produces incredible images like a pro.

The New Super Control Panel with Live Control technology, along with the camera’s intuitive button layout, enables you to see both the image and the controls on the 3-inch HyperCrystal LCD, making the camera simple to use. The E-P1 records to SDHC media cards to accommodate large files including videos with In-Camera Creative Features and uncompressed audio.

Digital Leveler

The E-P1 is equipped with an internal Digital Level Sensor that detects the camera’s pitch and roll and indicates it on the control panel. This Digital Leveler is a tremendous benefit when capturing landscapes. Level the perfect coastline shot on your next tropical vacation without being tethered to a computer and editing software.

Magnified Focus Assist

To enable accurate manual focusing the E-P1 provides MF Assist Function and Magnification Display. In S-AF + MF or MF, the MF assist enables you to zoom up the central part of the image by up to 5 times by turning the focus ring. The Magnification Display lets you magnify the image on the LCD by up to 7X at the touch of a button. Additionally, if you use the dial, you can boost magnification all the way up to 10X for more precise manual focusing.

18×18 Metering Modes

This mode divides the image area into an 18 × 18 grid, metering each of the 324 separate cells to obtain optimum exposure. In addition to 324-division ESP metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering modes are also available.

Smaller Accessories for Small Camera

In addition to the new Micro Four Thirds lenses, Olympus also offers an optional Clip-on Optical Viewfinder for use with the Micro Four Thirds 17mm f2.8 (34mm equivalent) lens. The MMF-1 Four Thirds System Lens Adapter enables all Olympus ZUIKO Digital lenses as well as Four Thirds System lenses from Sigma, Panasonic and Leica lenses to attach to the E-P1. If you have Olympus OM lenses and want to attach them to the E-P1, that is possible with the MF-2 OM Lens Adapter. Additionally, an optional FL-14 flash unit, suitably small for the camera, adds more lighting versatility to your shots.

OLYMPUS Master 2 Software

Use the included Olympus Master 2 software (Mac and PC) to easily download images from the camera or other external device, such as a USB drive, and automatically organize them into albums and groups and by date. Develop high-quality RAW images, apply Art Filter effects, edit and print images. Update camera and lens firmware through the software and download additional menu languages. A direct link makes uploading your images and videos to YouTube™ easier than ever.

OLYMPUS Studio 2 (Trial Edition Included)

Extend the capability of Olympus Master 2 with Olympus Studio 2. In addition to the functions of OLYMPUS Master 2, this software includes a lightbox mode and selection marks for comparing and sorting multiple images. RAW processing is enhanced with additional controls for finer adjustments. The trial edition can be used for 30 days after installation. After the trial period has expired, a license key is required for further use.

Where to Buy

Photo.net’s partners have the Olympus E-P1 available in a few different combinations. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

  • olympus_ep1-silver
  • olympus_ep1-kit1-silver
  • olympus_ep1-kit2-white

More

Original text ©2009 Hannah Thiem.

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    • Awww, nuts. I haven't even been tempted to look at a new digital camera in three years. I didn't believe anyone was actually listening when I asked for a true enthusiast's miniature format digital camera. Something like that nearly 40 year old Olympus 35 RC I'm still using. Something to replace my Olympus C-3040Z. Thanks, Olympus. Thanks a lot. There goes my last excuse for not looking at another digital camera.
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    • I wonder how close the 17/2.8 can go. Lex, I've never seen you so overjoyed about a camera. :D
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    • I'm totally sold on the style of this thing. Now if the performance matches it, Olympus have got an absolute winner here. Are there any real production samples being tested?
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    • "I wonder how close the 17/2.8 can go." OK, I've found more detailed spec on Olympus' own website. 17/2.8 can go up to 20cm (0.11x magnification factor). Incidentally, 14-42/3.5-5.6 zoom can go up to 25cm (max. magnification factor of 0.24x as opposed to 0.19 of Zuiko Digital ED 14-42 for 4/3, and 0.17x of Lumix G Vario 14-45 kit lenses), which looks good, too.
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    • Brian, according to the initial test posted on dpreview.com, the tested sample had firmware ver. 0.9. There could be some improvements in the final production models.
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    • That is awesome... something to replace my ql17...
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    • "Lex, I've never seen you so overjoyed about a camera. :D"

      It has been awhile, no doubt about it. Last time was a little over four years ago when Nikon blew out the D2H. I still enjoy that dSLR, but Nikon doesn't have anything close to what I've been babbling about - that magical enthusiast's miniature format camera that was so popular during the 1960s-'80s, but hasn't often been seen since.

      BTW, I've been a closet Zuikophile for several years: a former OM-system owner and still have two Olympus P&S digicams and a 35 RC compact rangefinder.

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    • Lex... you think someone over at Olympus has been reading our pleas over the last two years for this exact camera or what? Too bad it's priced about twice what most people would be willing to spend on something like this... although at one fifth the cost of an M8, I suspect Olympus may seize some interest from people interested in a digital Leica.
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    • Though the Canon/Nikon user base doesn't know it, Oly's image processing in the 4/3 format has been outstanding. I still use the original E-400 that I picked up in Europe, and so long as you kept the ISO to 640 or so, it produces sterling photos. The Oly color palette is subtle (no Canon red and requires little post processing to look right. I am fairly certain that there won't be any DP1-2 clumsy interface/green cast issues with this offering. I have to say I too am looking forward to this camera.
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    • Anyone want to buy a E-330 + two kit lenses cheap? Yup, it's pretty much exactly what I want. Way to go, Olympus. I'm buying the 17mm kit, perfect for what I use digital for.
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    • Hannah, What was it like to use the zoom lens and compose with the LCD screen? Is the movement of the zoom smooth? Did you find yourself needing to counter the rotation required to zoom with some force on the camera body with your other hand?
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    • Where is the black body model I've seen pictured?
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    • Looks like Olympus and Panasonic are really giving Canon and Nikon some competition in creative camera design. I'd be taking a close look at this if I didn't already have more cameras than I can use. Bravo, Olympus.
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    • I added some notes on my experience using the E-P1 today in the preview above. Rob--I found the movement of the 14-42mm zoom lens to be very smooth, not requiring much effort to zoom in or out. Barely noticeable counter force required.
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    • Sanford--it comes in 2 models: white and brushed stainless steel with a black grip. No black body.
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    • Hannah, I'd really like to hear your impressions of how it handles those quick reaction photos, especially with the 17/2.8 and optical viewfinder configuration. Also, does it work well with manually presetting the focus to a certain zone and stopping down for DOF? I'm thinking along the lines of how I use my Agfa Isolette folder with zone focusing for quick reaction photos.
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    • The pictures of the Black model were clearly computer generated. It was a fake. I have been looking for a small camera to complement my 5D. Right now the EP-1 is on top of a very short list. The digital leveler is a very interesting feature. I almost always have a small hot shoe level in my camera bag. With this camera you don't need one. I wonder if it uses the same sensors used for image stabilization? It would have been nice if the 17mm lens included some close up capabilities. I also had hoped to have seen a hot shoe mounted EVF. It''s not a big disappointment for me since I tend to shot in low to medium light situations most of the time. Overall it appears to be a very capable camera for its size.
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    • Fantastic looking camera... kudos Olympus!!!
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    • want it. maurice*
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    • No digicam can be all things to all people- but as a life long rangefinder photographer who at one time made a living out of it- we who are real photographers are forgotten by idiotic designs of digicams without viewfinders. You cannot truly create by holding a camera out in front of you. Anything without a v/f either optical, or EVF is a toy for consumers, not for photographers, notwithstanding anything said by photographers hired by manufacturers to tout their products. I had hopes for this digicam, but now I will buy a second G1 body as a backup to use with my Leica lenses and realize that Olympus too has succumbed to rampant consumerism. vroger
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    • the dpreview article had Olympus product shots with manual-focus OM Zuiko's mounted. It was the 35/f2 I think. Anyone know how that would work on E-P1? an adapter ring, then manual stop-down, like "gotta hold the DOF preview button" shooting? I'd love to think that I could have a hi-quality portable in the E-P1, then also be able to mount my OM glass like 35/2, 50/1.2, and 85/2. but if it's very "manual" in that sense, then I guess it's relegated to tripod use when hands are free. true?
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    • You cannot truly create by holding a camera out in front of you.

      Broad, sweeping generalizations of dubious validity aside, while I myself prefer viewfinders, I can understand Olympus' desire to eliminate a VF for this first model, which they obviously wanted to make as large an impact as possible by making it as small as possible. Besides, most people just starting out in photography recently are completely used to rear-camera LCDs on their point-and-shoots and will do just fine with the E-P1 as is. Can't be all things to all people, I guess.

      I will likely wait for an EVF-iteration myself, or one that can match/beat my 5D in low light performance above ISO 800, whichever comes first (likely the latter). But I don't think there's any need to resort to hyperbole. Olympus is to be commended for making such a bold move, and I also think it will be a major success.

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    • the dpreview article had Olympus product shots with manual-focus OM Zuiko's mounted. It was the 35/f2 I think. Anyone know how that would work on E-P1? an adapter ring, then manual stop-down, like "gotta hold the DOF preview button" shooting?

      Nope. If its at all like the regular E series, it you won't need to hold down the DOF preview, just focus, stop down, and shoot using A mode. Metering should work normally. If it doesn't, send me some crow in a hat, and I'll eat it ;-).
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    • "Broad generalizations of dubious validity"??? the point is...as you have kindly stated: "most people starting out in photography..." We of 40+ years of experience, who have accumulated magnificent Leica lenses which we have used over the years, do not create by holding a camera at arms length. We need a coupled viewfinder for us to be "in the picture". See the comments on the Leica Users Group list. Photographers didn't create that way when using a view camera on a tripod with a cloth to help their concentration and get rid of extraneous light- this camera will, I am sure, appeal to startups- will Olympus seek experienced photographers? I doubt it. "Dubious validity indeed.... VRR
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    • I agree with the need for a viewfinder. So those of us waiting for a reasonably priced, high ISO, digital range-finder type camera are still waiting...
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    • VF attachment is available for those who still need to squint through small windows.
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    • Grumpiness and frustration aside, experienced photographers are, by definition almost, people who need reading glasses to see stuff clearly that's closer than 2 or 3 feet. An optical finder can correct for imperfect vision pretty well. A small hand camera that requires me to use reading glasses, especially because I don't need glasses otherwise, is not attractive. Add to this the crazy procedure of trying to concentrate on a 3 inch screen more than two feet away that's surrounded by other visual stimuli, and I have a recipe for failure. I can watch a scene without a camera. I can watch the scene through a camera, giving up some peripheral vision, but I can't do both at once. For adult photographers like me, I think the advanced-EVF cameras to come show much more promise, as do digital Voightlanders, etc. And I love Olympus cameras otherwise! The E-P1 seems tailored to the young, casual photographer, but I'll still be interested to see one with the optical viewfinder accessory.
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    • Hi. Does anybody know when the Leica branded 20mm f 1.7(panasonic) is coming out. That should be compatible as it is for micro 4/3rd. I dont know the weight or size,but from pictures it looks small,and as a better idea for me than the Olympus new one. Otherwise I guess that with panasonic adapter,quite a few fast M-lenses will be fantastic,but does the stabilizer work on old manual lenses. On Pentax you can manually select focal lenght for correct stabilizing. Also never understood about Olympus why the dust removal shaking had to be at startup,could this be changed to shutdown? when time is not precious. also the new pancake from Olympus has only 5 rounded aperture blades. Both 35mm f1.2 and the new 50mm f1.1 M lenses from Voigtlander has 10 blades,for the bokeh fanatics. big lenses though.
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    • I think a real difference from other small digital cameras would be an aperture ring with DOF scales. But anyway the camera is real nice. I wish Olympus make an adapter for Pen lenses which of course are smaller than OM.
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    • "...a camera made in silver or metallic colour is useless to a street photographer."

      Hmm... nobody told me these rules for street photography when I used a chrome Pentax Spotmatic and Miranda Sensorex in NYC around 1970. Or that small and "discrete" were part of the rules when I used a Rollei TLR, Agfa Isolette or Nikon D2H. No wonder people sometimes actually demand that I photograph them when I'm out and about. They can actually see the cameras. What we really need is a camo version.

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    • Thanks for the review Hannah. I am firmly entrenched in the "it needs a viewfinder" camp. Not necessarily an optical viewfinder...just a good, functional viewfinder. Funny that Olympus managed to fit a viewfinder into the original Pen-F 46 years ago...and that camera, despite having to allow space for a roll of film, was smaller in every dimension except width (127 mm vs 121 mm for the EP-1). They also managed to get the Pen-F flash sync speed up to 1/500s (vs 1/180s for the new EP-1). Cheers! Jay
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    • We of 40+ years of experience . . . do not create by holding a camera at arms length. We need a coupled viewfinder for us to be "in the picture".


      Looking at a ground glass in a view camera is nothing like using a coupled rangefinder which is nothing like looking down at a WLF finder (where the image moves opposite to the cameras motion) which is not the same as looking through an SLR with a fast lens (where most of the image is out of focus). Amazingly enough, though, people have been able to compose great photos using all of these methods. I suppose it's possible that people could also learn to effectively use an LCD screen on the back of a camera or to look through an accessory finder.

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    • This camera looks wonderful, IMHO. Small, sleek, quiet and versatile. The LCD is a non-issue to me, I use my GRD all the time with a far inferior LCD and, occasionally, the external OVF quite happily.
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    • Grisha - you are in for it now! This camera already has a cult following before anyone has one yet. I almost bit myself but was able to talk myself out of it. Now, if it came in black---
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    • I'm having a problem trying to equate the buzz about the quality of the micro 4/3 format with comments made on photo.net by Jon Sienkiewicz. He correctly stated (in his recent article on ISO settings) that the "digital noise that appears when a high ISO setting is used is partly the result of physical measurement between (pixels) ... Pixels that are packed very densely together have a very small pitch and are noisier ... small imagers have a greater density, smaller pitch and therefore more noise." How, then, do Olympus and other micro 4/3 manufacturers avoid digital noise in their teensy tinesy sensors? And, if they use digital noise filters, how do they avoid the inevitable degradation of sharpness such algorithms usually cause? Thanks -- Roger
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    • Micro 4/3 is the same size sensor as normal Olympus 4/3, so the density will be the same for same amount of pixels. This is a big sensor for a compact but still only ¼ the size of 35mm.
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    • Thanks Hannah, Just a question if you can answer, it is about the ovf which accompanies the 17mm pancake. Could you tell us some detail about it? As what kind of information you can see on it, how does it fit the final image, an so on. Thanks in advance
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    • Roger, the Micro 4/3 sensor is the same size as the original 4/3 sensor (18 x 13.5 mm) and actually much larger than the sensor you'll find in many other cameras. A typical 1/2.3 inch sensor, for example, as found in the popular Canon SD780, measures 6.16 x 4.62 mm. Jon
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    • Jon, thank you for educating me about the size of the Olympus 4/3 sensor. I knew "standard" 4/3's sensors were larger than, say, the sensor in my Pentax DSLR, but Olympus's use of the term "micro" tricked me.
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    • A 4/3 size sensor is "quarter frame", half the area of the "half frame" 1.5X crop sensors in the Pentax DLSRs. But 4/3 is huge compared to pretty much any fixed-lens point-and-shoot digital camera.
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    • hannah, how's the high-ISO performance? if it does a better 800-1250 than the DP 1/2, G10 and LX3 could be verry int-er-esting.
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    • Aaargh! Why now - I bought a Canon G10 just a few months ago! ;)
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    • Even if this camera isn't perfect for you ( I'm aiming this at all the "must have a view finder" crowd) it should be exciting in that it will stir up the market and hopefully get some other manufacturers off the dime. I expect this camera will be very successful and that we'll see diverse big(er) sensor/small camera offerings within the next 18 months. I like the camera but lacking a view finder, I really think it should have a swing out screen. Even without though, this thing is the ultimate Mt Biking camera. Still waiting on my 4.5cm square sensor range finder based on the Bronica RF. Some how it feels closer now. -j
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    • Now for a tiny, fast, light-weight, fixed-focal-length super-wide -- a 7mm f2.8 would be yummy. I want something to recreate all the fun I had with an OM-4 and a 16/2.8 full-frame fisheye or the OM Zuiko 18/3.5 super-wide. Wonderful for grab-shot candids, because no one thought you could be taking a picture from so close.
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    • Grumpiness and frustration aside, experienced photographers are, by definition almost, people who need reading glasses to see stuff clearly that's closer than 2 or 3 feet. An optical finder can correct for imperfect vision pretty well. A small hand camera that requires me to use reading glasses, especially because I don't need glasses otherwise, is not attractive.

      Sadly, this is exactly where I am now. In the last 3-4 years I need reading glasses so although I have absolutely no problem using an OVF or EVF I can't use a rear LCD as a VF unless I put on reading glasses. Completely unworkable, especially for the street photography I do a lot of.

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    • This is *finally* an interesting new digital camera. Something closer to a film Leica than most (at a reasonable price). I would get one in a heartbeat were it not for the inevitable fact that a more feature-balanced one is around the corner, hopefully with better low light capability (*) (and I have enough gear to cover the bases, but with multiple cameras: Canon 5D for telephotos, regular photos in low light when size and noise is not an issue, Fuji f50fd for low light and portability, but alas lower image quality, Sony R1 for studio work and photos of relatively static objects) As has been reported, Olympus is going to extend the Pen in two directions, a consumer oriented one and a more expert photog one. Hopefully also at some point they will produce a camera that is upgradeable ( either by consumer or factory) re sensor and chip processing. Some specific details of the current E-P1 not widely reported in the press are in a recent Q&A of A. Watanabe, head of the Oly photog division, translated from the French there: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycandre/3695960422/ ( salient points: size will remain same, possibility of optical viewfinder not excluded although the current aim is for an electronic viewfinder, high quality LS10 - derived digital audio system is baked in the E-P1, which should make it a really good recording device - were it not for the high memory usage duh ,,) (*) based on the sensor used a good basic guess is that the high iso capability of the E-P1 falls somewhere around 80% of a Canon 20D. Based on the DxOmark.com ratings of the closest Olympus cam.
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    • Way faster than sigma DP1. Almost DSLR like shooting speed. Can take the next RAW shot even while writing to CF card.
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    • White or Silver E-P1:

      The white is actually a very light metallic pearly beige on the body to go with beige-colored hand-grip. It is only white on the top and bottom plates of the camera. Looks very nice in real life.

      I chose the white set because I was afraid of fine scratches that could build up with time on the stainless steel body of the silver set. The extra coating of paint on the body of the white set would help to protect against such fine scratches. (here are some pictures about E-P1 color: Olympus EP1 body)

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    • Why now... I got a Leica D-Lux 4 last October!!!
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    • Will there be more lenses available for the E-P1? Leica's four-thirds Digilux 3, which has been discontinued, was only available with one Leica zoom-lens although original plans were to have a whole series of lenses. It was probably a failure due to high price (2300 Euros) and practically no extras, lenses etc. BTW, the Digilux can still be bought new here in Germany for around 1400 Euros. A tele or tele-zoom for the E-P1, plus perhaps lowest ISO from 100 would complete the picture - or is there an E-P1 around the corner with more features?
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    • I'll wait for the EP-3 with a real view finder.
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    • No display can substitute a viewfinder in regard to steadiness and flare as well as loooking at it in bright sunshine or backlight. I'll stick to my Canon G9 for much of my street photography. I'll admit that the display is handy at macro's, but that's about it. Would wish for however, better higher ISO availability on my G9. But again my street photography is mostly done in fairly good light conditions. I bet you that Henry Cartier Bresson would have loved a G9 or G10 and the likes.
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    • I solved the lack of a viewfinder issue with my PEN by attaching a Hoodman 3" Loupe to the display. It is lightproof, gives you another point of contact with the camera to increase hand-held steadiness, and with the 7x & 10x magnification available via manual focus, it is a terrific focusing aid. I've had the PEN for a couple of weeks and have so far shot two commercial jobs with it resulting in very happy clients. The most important thing I've found regarding this camera is that it inspires you to take more pictures! Some samples at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37729892@N08/
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    • I have been waiting for a camera like this for a very, very long time.
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    • I got the Pen E-P1 as soon as it was available .. and I have not had so much fun using a camera in years .. I'm a professional street photographer and this camera is a camera that wants to be used! It may not be the camera that makes a photographer - but hopefully you feel good with the camera you use .. this one feels great .. and as a film user, this camera produces very film like images.. super stuff from Olympus here.
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    • I've had the EP-1 with the 17mm for a few months now and really enjoy it as a knock-around camera.

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    • I have attached my Olympus E-P1 (replacing a Leica MDA) to a Leitz Reprovit IIA copy stand with a Leitz Focotar 2A lens. The results have been amazing. The LCD on the back is exactly what is needed on this set up. A viewfinder would be of no use in this configuration.

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