Brand new to cameras and looking at the E-PL1

Red Leader

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Dec 16, 2010
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Hello all!

My name is Dave - this is my first post ever on a photo forum. I have used p&s cameras forever and I think its time I stepped it up a little bit.:biggrin:

I became interested in the m4/3rds camera when researching dslrs - what attracted me was the photo quality built into the size of a mirrorless camera. It is extremely appealing!

So, right now, I am hunting for the right camera. For a while, I had forgotten about the m4/3rds format and was just looking at mirror-equipped dslrs. However, this camera will be, under some circumstances, used for work where I will be staffing events and working with people, so the portability is crucial. For years now we've struggled with getting great photos and great photos play a big role in what I will be doing (non profit work).

For a while, I was looking at the Pentax K-x, which I still think is a fabulous camera, but I'm really loving what I'm hearing about the E-PL1! I like that it has the pop-up flash and a few other neat implementations. I do have a few questions for those who have experience using this camera -

For work I will be mostly photographing people, probably 2/3 portrait shots (1/2 of which are candid), and 1/3 moving shots. Some shortcomings I've heard about with the E-PL1 are action shots (AF lag?), and some night shots. Because some of the events I would be shooting would be indoors in probably not the best light, this is something I'm trying to get more info about. I've lost too many shots to count because the small p&s's that we've had take a long time to focus (some as much as 5sec!) and most shots in low light situations are completely unusable. I've never had a dslr to compare to so I'd imagine anything is better than what we're using right now.

Does anyone have any feedback on how this camera responds in low-light situations or can you describe the autofocus and your experience with it? Can it be improved with a certain lens? Is the whole issue overblown? Does the latest firmware do a lot to improve the shortcomings?

I've read up a little on the GF1 as well and hear its AF may be quicker, but I've also heard that with the right lens, AF between the two is nearly identical. Also, since I don't know much about this stuff, when referring to AF speed, are we talking about .08s? .5s? What is an average dslr AF speed?

You won't have to do much convincing for me to get the E-PL1 as I really like what I'm seeing (especially the photo thread!) but I thought it might be wise to ask users of the camera what they thought about low-light and AF since for the work I'll be doing with it, those two features will come in to play.

Thank you so much for any/all feedback. Really excited to be jumping on the 4/3rds wagon!
 

linkedit

Mu-43 Top Veteran
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Aug 6, 2010
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For the money, the E-PL1 is definitely a good camera. Though my one big complaint with it is if you want to shoot any sort of action scenes, even kids running around the camera does not do too well. It simply takes too long to focus.
 

ZephyrZ33

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Nov 18, 2010
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Southern California
Rogue Leader,

This will be my first official post in mu-43 but I've been lurking for awhile. I want to respond because I was in your shoes not too long ago. I researched micro 4/3rds for the same reasons as you. The choices were the GF1 at $600 or the EPL1 at $450-500.

I came across a deal on the EPL1 and decided to go with it. Initially, I hated shooting this thing in low light (what i usually shoot). It took awhile to focus and shots were blurry. Maybe other folks more versed with the camera will have success, but coming from a casual, first time user of something slightly more sophisticated than a P&S, I was frustrated.

A friend was visiting from out of town, generously yanked his Panasonic 20mm off his GF-1 and lent it to me during a party...

All I have to say is "wow". Paired with the pancake 20mm, the combo really shows the potential of the PEN camera. The colors were stunning, and I was pretty much capturing shots with fast AF in the dark, with no real adjustments to the camera's post jpeg settings. Portrait images were sharp and the bokeh (background blur) was just right. Low-lighting, rooms with candles, backyards with tiki torches all were reproduced with the accuracy and mood I was seeing at the time.

Needless to say, I immediately went out and bought the Panansonic 20mm f1.7 lens. Pricey? yes...but most of my regular 4/3rd friends suggest that it's a bargain for the IQ.

In retrospect, it may have been cheaper for me to pick up the GF-1 with just the 20mm lens as a kit, but I truly enjoy how vibrant the pictures are on the EPL1. (especially in jpeg) The pen's IBIS (in body image stabilization?) might have saved a few pics that I thought would be blurry. I also like the fact that I can retain the Olympus kit lens in case I decide to do landscape shots, but I know which lens will stay on most of the time.

Can't be any happier with m 4/3rds right now. Cheers!

Zeph
 

Red Leader

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Dec 16, 2010
Messages
15
Zephyr,

Thanks so much for your feedback. Its great to know that there are lenses which truly bring out the camera's potential. I don't do any serious, serious work, but because a lot of the pictures I anticipate taking are probably going to be done with less-than-optimal conditions (moving target, 'capture the moment', dim light) it was important for me to at least try and find out a little more.

I appreciate your response in that it sound like you were right in my shoes not too long ago. Like I said, I'm already leaning towards the PL1, but hearing stories like yours definitely helps to reinforce it.

Besides the lens, has there been anything else done to the camera (settings, updates, etc) that has helped either low-light or AF performance? I was reading a thread about changing the AF point size and how that helped to speed up the AF a bit, but it seems like it was getting mixed results and the whole concept was a little confusing to me since I don't have the camera right in front of me.

Again thank you!

Anyone other feedback from other members I'd love to hear!
 

briandforever

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Sep 27, 2010
Messages
87
Hi Dave,

it's wonderful that you do social work with photography, or at least non-profit. photography is much more fun without thinking the money :)

i am a wedding photgrapher using d700, and i'm not trying to convince anyone here to buy e-pl1.

last time i went to a friend's wedding, i was not the official photographer, so i decided to bring my e-pl1 just for fun and do candid shots.
i only have kit lens, but always use nikon sb800 for event.

here are my conclucions that does'nt proof anything :)

1. P/A/S is not good for event photography.
the subject was moving towards me.
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2. i always use manual mode.
the subject is walking on the red carpet walking towards me
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3. fix lens helps a lot as they dont change aparture when we zoom in or zoom out. if i had money, i definitely buy pana 20mm. since i use manual mode, with the kit lens, when zooming in or out, i have to change the flash settings. in wedding, it's a waste of time.
but can do it fast with practice.

4. e-pl1 hunts a lot in dark room. it can frustated non photographer user, that's why i dont really recommend epl1 for friends who is looking for p&s.

5.the quality is much much more than any p&s available on the market right now.
all of the shots above were just for fun & testing. so shot with JPEG ooc, not RAW as i usually do.

that's it for now :)

please let us know if you want to know more :)
 

~tc~

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What kind of portraits do you like/need? The 20/1.7 is a little short for head/shoulders tight portraits - the distortion is considerable. ... And then we come upon the biggest problem in m43 right now ... The closest "portrait" lens (native) is the 45/2.8 which is only "OK" bright for low light.

The solution might be to pick up a vintage manual focus portrait lens like a 50/1.2, 50/1.4, or maybe 50/1.8. That would allow tight portraits without distortion in low light, especially with the Oly IBIS
 

Red Leader

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Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
15
~tc~,

Usually I'm taking pictures of folks from a 5-10ft distance. I have seen some great, great photos taken with the E-PL1 but they are usually with an aftermarket lens.

Honestly, I don't know much about lenses - the naming structure is still foreign to me. I'm totally ready to learn though.

As long as I can get some type of lens to do okay in low light or a lens to do okay in getting moving subjects (not fast sports-like motion) then I'm totally sold on the E-PL1

Again, the biggest complaint I've heard is about how slow the AF is, but when they release a new model that improves upon it, it will probably be out of my budget.

briandforever, thank you for sharing your images and your experiences with this camera.
 

~tc~

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One of the biggest reasons I bought a GF1 instead of an EPL1 was the AF speed (I bought before the firmware update for the EPL1) and overall feeling of responsiveness.

As for lenses, the lower the focal length (for example 7mm) the wider the angle of view. A "normal" lens has a focal length about equal to the diagonal measurement of the sensor - in this case 20 mm. Telephotos have a longer focal length than normal (for example 200mm). The other number describes the aperture - the size of the opening the light comes through. A lower number (like 1.7) is bigger - lenses with big apertures are called "bright" or "fast".
 

astonandy

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Sep 16, 2010
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For candid "street" photography I absolutely love the VF-2 on my E-P2 which you can use at chest level with the VF tilted upwards. Also fits the EPL-1 and is an essential accessory I think. My wife has a GF-1 and is actively looking for a LVF-1 because she really feels the viewfinder makes any of these cameras more usable for portraits because you aren't holding the camera away from your face between you and the subject. You'll like the EPL-1 but I would suggest that with the deals being done on GF-1s it's probably the better choice for quality feel and speed of use. Pains me to say it as a PEN owner but it's the way I'd jump.
 

ZephyrZ33

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Joined
Nov 18, 2010
Messages
685
Location
Southern California
Zephyr,

Thanks so much for your feedback. Its great to know that there are lenses which truly bring out the camera's potential. I don't do any serious, serious work, but because a lot of the pictures I anticipate taking are probably going to be done with less-than-optimal conditions (moving target, 'capture the moment', dim light) it was important for me to at least try and find out a little more.

I appreciate your response in that it sound like you were right in my shoes not too long ago. Like I said, I'm already leaning towards the PL1, but hearing stories like yours definitely helps to reinforce it.

Besides the lens, has there been anything else done to the camera (settings, updates, etc) that has helped either low-light or AF performance? I was reading a thread about changing the AF point size and how that helped to speed up the AF a bit, but it seems like it was getting mixed results and the whole concept was a little confusing to me since I don't have the camera right in front of me.

Again thank you!

Anyone other feedback from other members I'd love to hear!
Aside from the camera shooting wide-open at 1.7 with the new lens, I only made a few minor adjustments on the body:

-Went from Continuous AF to Single AF (aka S-AF on the controls).
-Switched the focus grid to center.
-Turned face detection off.
-Firmware was already at 1.1

Also, if you haven't read this review...it's a good one:
On Vacation with the Olympus E-PL1 and Samsung NX10 by Jonathan Wong | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS
 

Red Leader

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Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
15
Thanks for that review - that was good. Also interesting to note that I think he reviewed it before the newest firmware was released.

Is the current firmware the 1.1?
 

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