My recent critical review of the Olympus E-P1 sparked a few comments from those who disagreed with my opinion or my overall approach to the review. While I still maintain my objections to the E-P1’s performance and functionality, one comment from reader “HD” stood out as a good, thought-out rebuttal to my take on the E-P1.
Well, I love this camera. I bought 3 cameras this year (Canon T1i to replace my older dSLR, Canon SD960 IS point and shoot for the wife who needs 720p HD video, and the e-p1). This camera is simply remarkable. Sure, the T1i is cleaner ( I shoot only w/ prime lenses) but there is something that the T1i cannot do is the form factor. This camera fits into my briefcase. It is so light, I take it with me to work every day. I can’t lug my SLR around. The SD960 P&S is a joke but it works for the wife. This camera shoots at f/3.5 in street light w/ Image Stabilization @ ISO 1600 better than my Canon using a f/2.8 or f/1.4 lens.
And why is that I find it so remarkable: The ability to use legacy glass. I have a M42 adapter, OM adapter, a Leica M mount adapter, and a C mount (Bolex 16mm film adapter). When you pair this camera with something like a Cosina Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4 lens, the images are stunning. You can get cheap 50mm f/1.8 M42 lens at the flea market for $5. I just ordered a Cosmicar 12.5mm film lens off ebay. Ive seen Vimeo videos and Flickr shots and they are quite truly stunning. This is why so many people who can’t afford Leica M8.2 are salivating. My Cosmicar lens (16mm C Mount matches the 4/3 sensor so I don’t need to worry about crop 1.3,1.5,2x crop ratio) was $10. Where can you buy a prime lens for $10. Heck, I’ve seen people retrofit a Pentax 110 lens on a e-p1 ( & Panasonic G1/GH1). I am so sold on micro 4/3 now that I am looking for a second camera body (possibly panasonic).
As for AF, who cares. Manual focus is a pleasure on this camera. Hit the info button a few times and you will get the rifle’s cross-hair. That thing is amazing, it helps you with composition by aligning marks via symmetry. The 7X manual focus assist is fast. I focus faster manually than I do with other cameras.
In all, with this camera, I have fallen back in love with photography. Researching what lens work and what doesn’t. It is so refreshing to manually use a manual aperture ring w/ legacy glass. The best camera out there is the camera that makes you feel comfortable to use. Judging from the tweets, blogs, forums, this camera has it.
So, HD loves the camera, and who am I to tell him that he shouldn’t. The point about manual focusing is well made – the autofocus issues were really the toughest for me to overcome. Consider HD’s points and decide whether or not his take on the Olympus E-P1 would fit your needs in a camera.
Do you have additional thoughts to share on the Olympus E-P1?
Do you find the E-P1 lacking (like I do) or do you agree with HD’s sentiments that there really is something special about this camera?
Jason Hamilton says
I think HD hit the nail on the head, this camera is perfect for people who aren’t willing to shell out for a Leica M8.2. But the problem is that this camera costs as much as a Canon T1i, or my used 40D, and can’t replace those cameras (esp the 40D or higher cams) for things like weddings, kids, sports, etc. The EP-1 is almost the camera I have been looking for, something small and light like a P&S, but with a larger sensor for DOF control and low light. But it would have to be used in addition to my 40D, not in place of it.
Unfortunately I can’t shell out the money for an EP-1 right now, but I expect we will see more cameras like this, and they will get cheaper.
The camera looks promising, but without an actual quality embedded viewfinder and quite possibly a higher resolution LCD, it falls short of that promise. The only time I use live view on my camera is while shooting extreme close-ups.
I’ll personally wait until its next iteration.
A quality embedded viewfinder, not to mention an onboard flash, would have pushed the size well into DSLR territory; just look at the G10’s resulting bulkiness over an average point-and-shoot, and that’s a crappy little finder that only covers a fraction of the view. The LCD is useful enough and does what it’s meant to do. The real problem for me is the focusing accuracy and worth of the IQ advantage over something like the LX3; is it worth it?
I played around with the EP-1 as an always-carry-around alternative to my Canon 5D MkII, pretty much like reader HD. And I too was attracted to the possibility of a better sensor than point-and-shoot cams, and of switching lenses, including top-shelf glass.
My problem is the form factor. For my 2 cents, EP-1 is just too big and heavy to meet the bill, being more substantial in every way than the Canon G10, which I looked at for the same purpose. No way will it fit in my shirt pocket, nor is the weight acceptable for this use. And that is with the 17mm pancake. Put on the Oly zoom, and the form factor becomes suspiciously close to that of the smaller DSLRs, like the delicious Canon T1i. Add on the viewfinder and… you get it.
I am not saying that it is a flawed camera, nor that it won’t find its target audience. But I see it much more as a camera that can play DSLR with interchangeable lenses as well as be an albeit overlarge point-and-shoot than a companion to a DSLR. YMMV.
At 230’000 (sub)pixels, the LCD sounds far from ideal, specially when it’s actually conceived to be of the permanent live-view type. My old D200 has the same pixel count and looks absolutely washed out compared to the 920’000 SP of the D700 for example. I wouldn’t be so comfortable focusing through such a low resolution, specially in the absence of an actual VF.
The new Panasonic GF1 is coming out with what looks like a more promising one, quoted at 460’000 SP.
PS: great Flickr gallery, I really dig it. :)