EPL2 vs EPM1 vs GF1 - A Comparison

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by DDBazooka, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I know Art did the same write up but thought I'd share too :)  (Cross posted from DPR)

    First of all, I understand some of you here believe you have GAS, that is, Gear Acquisition Syndrome...well let me ask you this, did you buy THREE cameras within the last month? Didn't think so :) 

    So without further ado, a very scientific test:



    SEX APPEAL - How it Looks
    [EPM1 > EPL2 > GF1]

    Believe it or not, some prefer it small. I know a lot of peeps here is going to prefer the GF1 to the PENs but to be honest, I'm not a fan of the retro squarish look. The front of the GF1 is also too "busy" - there is just way too much text. LUMIX, HD, AVCHD Lite, GF1, [L], etc. it's like a damn magazine. The EPL2 on the other hand has nice curves, only two logos, but alas, it's obese. The best of the bunch, the EPM1 is basically the EPL2 when he finally realizes that living on cheeseburgers may not be the best choice in life.

    ERGONOMICS - How it Feels
    [EPL2 > GF1 > EPM1]

    The EPL2's nice beefy grip makes me want to touch it all day. The keys on its back are mushy yet tactile at the same time. The control wheel is great and easy to use.
    The GF1 on the other handle is maybe a bit TOO tactile for me...it's just too clicky. The thumb wheel is nice but I would've rather it didn't double as a button because it makes the wheel a bit too "floaty". If it was like my D90 which gives a satisfying click with every turn, it would've been perfect.
    Taking last place, the EPM1...maybe being small does have it's disadvantages. While the small size makes it stand out in terms of looks it subtracts from the ergonomics. For one thing, the buttons are way too hard to press + they give little to no feedback. Let's also not forget the control wheel which is VERY stiff and...seriously, I don't have big hands by any means but damn, it is TINY! The grip...well, what grip? Actually, I have the Richard Franiec grip (actually, the camera was from him, thanks!) which makes it a lot more managable. Without it, it's too slippery, and if you attach a prime + hood like I did with the 20/1.7, it's quite uncomfortable to hold.
    As for weight, if you can curl more than 5lbs, the difference between them is negligible.

    CONTROLS - How it Controls
    [EPL2 = GF1 > EPM1]

    Both the GF1 and the EPL2 have just the right amount of buttons. They both have 11 + control wheel (but of course, the GF1 has that "wheel button" which makes it 12) and it works amazingly well.
    The EPM1 on the other hand, due to size and the 16:9 screen, gives up two buttons and the mode dial that both the EPL2 and GF1 have. This results in some commands being needlessly complicated; the one in particular that bothers me the most is the fact that if you don't use "Quick Erase" which deletes a picture without confirmation, it takes FOUR freaking clicks to delete one picture...FOUR!
    The lack of mode dial is not really a problem since it's still fairly intuitive but it does detract from the aesthetics :) 
    In regards to their screens, again, both the EPL2 and GF1 have great LCDs but the EPM1's seem significantly smaller. The default image aspect ratio 4:3 simply does not work on a 16:9 screen. The black bars on the side is driving me insane.

    IMAGE QUALITY - How it Shoots
    [EPL2 = EPM1 = GF1]

    Really, no difference, since they all have the same sensor. The Olympus PENs does churn out better OOC JPEGs, but I have a feeling if you mess with the Panasonic's settings you could get near identical output. Sorry, I have no brick walls to prove it.

    AF Speed - How it Focuses
    [GF1 > EPM1 > EPL2]

    Despite being the oldest of the bunch, the GF1 is blindingly quick. I tested all three cameras with the 20/1.7 and the 14-42 II R and the GF1 took first in both. With the 14-42mm II R the EPM1 was very close to the Lumix but not quite. What surprised me the most was the fact they were either the same or even FASTER than my D90 + 35/1.8.
    The EPL2 on the other hand...well, it's by no means SLOW, it's just nothing to write home about. You definitely won't be shooting sports with this guy.
    The one area where the EPM1 bests the GF1 though is in the amount of AF points. It has 35 vs the 23 of the GF1 vs the 11 on the EPL2. I generally use the middle only so this isn't that big of a deal.

    VIDEO - How it Records
    [EPM1 > GF1 > EPL2]

    The EPM1 does fantastic 1080p videos and has a stereo mic to boot. The GF1 and EPL2 both does 720p but video and audio quality wise, the GF1 takes it. Since the GF1 has the fastest AF, it's C-AF also works the best during videos.
    Note: Don't use the 20/1.7 for videos unless you have an external mic because it's NOISY!

    EXTRA FEATURES - How it (something clever here)
    [EPL2 > EPM1 > GF1]

    Each camera has their own unique feature but some better than others.
    One of the most biggest point against the GF1 is the lack of IS. Sure if you only use the kit lens it won't be a problem, but many of us (and I mean MANY) prefer to use primes and primes don't have MEGA SUPER ULTRA IS built in. Some may argue that no IS is not a big deal, but you can't deny that IS > no IS. With the PENs I can handhold speeds close to 1/6 at f1.7 in virtually no light but on the Lumix? I don't think so.
    The EPM1 is the only one that doesn't have a flash built in, instead, opting for an external accessory. This isn't a problem because I greatly prefer ambient lighting. I'd rather not take the picture then have a flash lit shot :)  The EPL2's flash does allow for bouncing, and although it's weak, it's still better than the GF1's direct flash!
    Also, the EPM1 and the GF1 both have AF assist lamps while the EPL2 is left hunting in the dark.
    Note: I have the LVF1 for the GF1 and it's terribly low res/washed out. I'd go with Olympus if having an EVF is a main concern (as well as size).

    Top View - Don't it just look so much better with the dial?
    Side View - note the E-PM1's protruding mount
    E-PL2 black on silver looks great
    E-PM1 looks ridiculous with the 20mm
    GF-1 looks sexy suited up
    E-PM1 vs F30, the legendary "compact"


    So all in all, what did I take away from this comparison? If you were thinking "Well obviously, it's time to buy a FOURTH camera" you'd be right!
    • Like Like x 7
  2. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    Thanks for the comparisons.

    I think it really proves the compromises that we make between models and manufacturers with a still maturing system. Perhaps not such an extreme from first to third gen. I'm in a happy spot with the first 2 m43 cameras released..maybe we'll see a huge leap with the G4/EP4 series. :) 
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    The only thing I question is the AF speed conclusions. I had a gf1 for quite a while. It wasn't bad at all. Much better than any of the Olys from that same time. But the epm1 is said to be identical to the epl3 in AF speed and the epl3 blows the gf1 out of the water! As does the ep3 and gh2 (which I've also spent considerable time shooting with). As should the g3 and gf3, which are said to roughly equal the gh2. I can believe you wouldn't feel much difference with the 20mm, which is about the slowest focussing current m43 lens. But with any of the newer lenses, I feel a major difference between any of the new round of cameras and my old gf1.

    Great functional review, but I have to question that one conclusion.

  4. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    From this review Panasonic practically got the GF1 right the first time around. So why the hell did they handicap all the following cameras afterwards?
  5. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I didn't time it or anything but with the 20mm, I felt that the GF1 was definitely faster. During my test, the EPM1 actually missed focus a few times, (probably due to the smaller AF point) which might have influenced my conclusion.

    With the 14-42mm II R though, it wasn't that noticeable. The GF1 had a slight...maybe...maybe not, too close to tell really.

    Form over function :D 

    If the GF3 had IBIS I would move to that in a heartbeat.
  6. kimnkk

    kimnkk Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 25, 2011
    USA & AUS
    Where did you get that vented hood? It looks so good with the 20mm!
  7. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Thanks for the comparison. Were you able to figure out if E-PM1 is made of metal? To me it feels like front and back panels are aluminum while the top is made of more solid kind of metal. E-PL2 is definately plastic on the back and top.
  8. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 5, 2011
    I have three letters for you:

    N... E... X...
  9. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    Yeah, I think Panasonic got all the wrong lessons from NEX and why it was popular.
  10. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    Good review on the field. Answered my questions about E-pl2 vs. newer Pens or Panas. Think I'm going to get one as soon as price drops.
  11. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    I am about to buy a G3 soon, any reason I shouldn't?

    I think EPM1 + G3 would be my two cameras and I'll get rid of the EPL2 and the GF1.

    You can find them on ebay for about $6!

    It definitely feels like metal and feels much better built (but much less substantial) than the EPL2. That being said though, I never feel like the EPL2 would fall apart after years of use.
  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I haven't used a GF1 recently, but I'm guessing it has a lot to do with light conditions. My experience is with the GH2 (which definitely AFs faster than the GF1), E-P3, and E-PM1. In good light, the E-P3 and E-PM1 match the AF speed of the GH2 (my subjective impression) and with certain lenses they might slightly exceed the AF speed of the Panasonic. In low light (typical indoor lighting), the GH2 focused faster and was more likely to get a lock as compared to the Olympus cameras.
    • Like Like x 1
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