Olympus EP1
(actually i had this almost ready to go last year… just found it in my drafts folder. OOps)
First Impressions
There are plenty of other sites which have already done a review(try here, here, or here.) So this is pretty much just about how it works for me.
I like the idea of it. Its a nice size, and the photoquality, at low ISO is simply outstanding, and at high ISO still pants any Point and Shoot, though in my eyes doesn’t quite keep up with my Canon gear.
However, it is so conveniently sized! its an absolute doddle to have with you all the time, and that’s its greatest strength. And the colours that come out of the camera are just stunning.
But its autofocus still sucks – its probably better than most point and shoots, but way behind a DSLR and its micro 4/3 friend the Panasonic G1/GF1/GH1, and that really limits what you can use it for. I tried doing candids – which its small form factor really suits it for, but its patchy, slow autofocus lets it down. The 14-42 lens is particularly bad for focusing, and it is incredibly slow (f4-5.6) (though i am spoilt with f2.8 glass on the canon)
The lenses also let it down a bit, the bokeh (nice out of focus bit) is pretty crap with a hard edged 5 blade apeture leaves rough looking bokeh. Also the smallness of the 4/3 sensor (2x crop factor to 35mm) means that control of depth of field is pretty poor compared even to 1.6, and not helped by the smallness of the lens apeture.
The 17mm is better at f2.8 (though still with ugly bokeh), but is too short for portraiture and is still too slow to focus for anything more energetic than a lobotomised slug on benzodiazepines.
A big plus of the EP1 over the Panasonic G series is the body stabilisation meaning all lenses are stabilised up to 3 stops. The EP1 also has a hand digital level – though irritatingly you can’t see that and any other useful information at the same time, meaning tedious menu shuffling.
Perhaps mine was an abberation but the rear dial ceased functioning within a month of moderate usage (maybe a thousand shots) rendering the camera pretty much useless if you wanted to change any settings.
The packaged RAW processor is absolute rubbish – ridiculously slow and clunky so get yer mitts on something else.
The rear LCD is a bit below par for this day and age.

So I love the idea of the camera, and depending on the sort of work that you do, it may be perfect. It certainly forces you to take a slow and more measure approach to photography, and to be honest, some of my favourite pictures came with the enforced limitations of this camera.
But overall, its not me.

Pluses : lovely images, much better high ISO/low light than P&S cameras, small size,
Minuses : slow operation speed – AF, menu mucking about, shot to shot speed esp with Art Filters, below par rear LCD, lousy bundled software, relatively expensive.

Picatures

long exposure 60 sec, f11 ISO 100


used the pseudo Lomography look art setting.

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