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6 months with the E-P1(Long)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Djarum, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    So I have now had this lovely camera for about 6 months. I thought that it might be (or not so much) enlightening to know, for those new and those not new to the format what I think about the camera. Lets look at this as a "Long term road test" so to speak. I think I will post another 6 months from now as well.

    For some history, I had previous only used a Panasonic FZ3. This is a 5 or 6 year old 3.2mp superzoom. Tens of thousands of pictures have been shot with that camera. The things I loved about the camera was its reach, its image stabilization, full manual control, and at the time, and an f2.8 lens through the entire zoom range.

    The things I hated was over proccessing of jpegs and tons of noise even at ISO 400. Even its dynamic range was pretty pitiful.

    Even with all of its limitations, I have some 11x14s hanging up at work and my home.

    Now getting to the PEN.

    The PEN has obvious advantages over my previous camera, at least on paper. I won't go into those because they may or may not translate into real shooting. So lets talk about real shooting with this camera. Lets talk about what I like and dislike, or rather frustrates me at times.


    Like any tool, the usability and ergonomics of the tool is just as important as what the tool does. All cameras take pictures. Not all cameras fit my hand or are intuitive to me.

    Regarding ergonomics, I'm still on the fence. The grip is a little to small for me when I take a lot of pictures. At that price, I get portability, which this camera gives me. Right now I keep the Camera, collapsable kit, and 4/3 40-150 with the adapter in a LowePro Rezo 110 bag. This is a small bag. I even have a smaller bag for just the camera and collapsable lens. For the most part, most folks don't even know I'm carrying an SLR unless the large zoom lens is attached. The other nice thing is due to the light weight, I can get away with smaller and lighter tripods for support.

    One of the things that I especially love about this camera is the speed at which I can make changes. First off, its live view, and thats what I'm used to. Many people first recommened the Nikon and Rebel cameras for my first "real" camera. I'm sorry, and I don't mean to be rude, but I don't want to have to guess as to what my picture is going to look like. I want to know when I take it. WYSIWYG is right up my alley. Yes, those cameras make it up in speed, but if it takes 3 seperate shots with 3 seperate settings to get the right one, I'm not sure how that is faster.

    The changes are easily made in manual mode using the control wheels, which are great design. My only real complaint is that the main control wheel have a little more stiffness to it. Its just a bit too easy to nudge.

    Lets talk about the thumb or verticle dial. Whoever design this camera had my big thumb in mind. It is perfect. I use this for EV change in A or M mode, because I usually shoot in A mode at the sharpest aperature for the camera in good light, and I can adjust the exposure quickly.

    I can't stress how much being able to make exposure changes quickly is to me. My significant other is with me many times, and she doesn't always have the patience for me to fumble with the camera. I can take the shots I want with the settings I want fast. There are a few settings that are buried that shouldn't be, but I find the menu's and controls intuitive.

    One of the things that has been a big thread burner is the AF of the camera. I must say, I felt that when I first purchased the camera, for static objects, it was adequate. As I became more and more familiar with the camera and was shooting a wider variety of subjects, my opinion changed to more of a "barely adequate". However, the latest firmware update I think remedies most of my complaints. Yes, I do miss a picture from time to time due to the slower AF, but there is no guarantee I would have gotten that shot with a different camera, either. It is accurate for the most part, except in difficult lighting situations, where manual focus can help out. There are the rare occasions where the AF wants to hunt, and this does frustrate me, because I have no idea why it hunts. Usually focusing on a different spot remedies the problem, but other times, just letting the camera refocus on the same spot will get accurate focus.

    The LCD screen I find completly usable in bright light. I find that in daily use, it is more than adequate. Farther down the post though, I will talk about what I don't like about the LCD.

    The Oly kit lens is something else that has suprised me. The lens overall is sharp for my needs, compact, and light.

    The overall image quality, for the most part, I am extremly happy. The images typically come out sharp and with the color spot on. I do sometimes boost the contrast of some of the images in PP, because I find in some situations that the images don't have enough. This can be increased in the camera settings, but I don't want to add something that I can't take away. I've got plenty of images in my gallery. No, they aren't great, but the one's there are just a small sample of the great images I've taken.
     
  2. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Part 2

    Now, all things aren't rosey. There are a few things I get frustrated with.

    First, the slowness of the lens in terms of aperature. Now, I realize that the kit lens is not fast, but it is typical of the speed of most kit lenses, even for other SLR's. I came from a P&S with an f2.8 through a 12x zoom range. The E-P1 forces much slower shutter speeds for a set ISO. In the beginning, I was getting blurry images even in what I felt was decent light. I kept telling myself to increase the ISO. But in the past, I never EVER wanted to do that in the Panny. In casual observation, ISO 400 on my panny is about what ISO 1600 is on my OLY. Thats a two stop difference. But on average, the panny lens is two stops better, so I have to ask, where is the advantage?. Yes, I can put a faster lens on the Oly, but I'm only speaking from experience with what I currently have. I am scratching my head with this one, since I'm not gaining much in terms of noise and ISO. Yes, we are talking about a pinhead sensor with much less resolution and dynamic range.

    Getting to dynamic range. This is one thing that is better, but still not up to my liking with the PEN. On average, its ok. But there are a few pictures where highlights are blown out and the shadows are still too dark. I think if there is any one area these sensors need to improve, it is dynamic range.

    The MF assist zoom is another frustrating/finicky part. The main problem I have is that if I use the 7x zoom for the manual focus assit, I have no idea exactly what I am looking at sometimes in terms of the subject I am focusing5on. For example, I use the 40-150 to zoom in on a bird. I want to check focus so I use the focus ring. The 7x zoom shows an area of black and I have no idea what it is, especially if the subject is horribly out of focus. I think a better solution is to get close at say 3x if it existed, and then increase the zoom to get it spot on. I just find it sometimes finicky to use the manual focus assist.

    The main control ring is something that can also be a little too easy to move. It could be just a tad stiffer or harder to rotate, similar to the verticle wheel. Sometimes changes are made inadvertently.

    A big complaint I have is that I can't tell if the shot is in perfect focus or if there was camera shake with the LCD screen. Some of this also relates to what I mentioned before in regards to ISO and slower shutter speeds. It does frustrate me at times when I see what I believe is a good shot and get it on my monitor and find out it was blurry for whatever reason. The problem is, I don't know if increasing the resolution of the screen is the right answer. It maybe, but I think that the screen's resolution would have to be so rediculously high that it would be impossible. I think something greater than 920k dots would be needed.


    The one last thing that is easy to fix, is sometimes the colors come out overly warm by default. This may be a WB issue or just the typical color scheme, but taking pictures, for example, between my girlfriends canon P&S and the Pen during the late afternoon the differences between the warmer tone of the PEN output vs the Canon's, which I find more accurate. This is an easy fix in PP to get the colors closer to what I think is more accurate.

    That is all I have right now, and I hope to post another 6 months with the E-P1.
     
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  3. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    My M4/3 is a GF1, but I thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts. I always find 'real world' reviews incredibly useful, and a nice balance to those that are more technical.
     
  4. Rich M

    Rich M Mu-43 Veteran

    315
    Mar 2, 2010
    Thanks Djarum for taking the time to put down your impressions and observations.

    R
     
  5. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    As we gain new members on the site, and in my own experiences, first impressions and first reviews can be misleading at times. I felt that those who may be entering into the EVIL arena for the first time might want some long term impressions of the camera from an "average Joe" picture taker.

    Thanks for the kind words.