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Have E-PL1: Pondering E-PM1 or GF3

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by larrytxeast, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. larrytxeast

    larrytxeast Mu-43 Rookie

    Sep 10, 2012
    My first post here. I own a Nikon D5100 DSLR and for "walkaround/everyday" I have the Olympus E-PL1 with the 14-42mm II MSC, which I've had since February. I like it overall except it has trouble focusing on people in portraits, it likes to focus on the background. Various methods have helped with this (using the "zoom-in/magnify" method which gives a smaller AF box, for one), but it makes things slow & cumbersome. I've pondered the E-PM1 but have also seen a Panasonic GF3 selling for cheap (as in $120 for the red body).

    My tendency is to think that the touch-screen AF/AF & fire of the GF3 would be a boon for the portraits, providing much quicker AF than the E-PL1 would--not so much because of the new technology, but because of your ability to quickly point directly to the spot and say "focus, right here." But then, if the E-PM1 with its 35 AF points does the job to where you don't have to bother with the "zoom-in/magnify" method, that could work, and I am partial to Olympus-es for reasons I'll get into below.

    Concerns I have:

    (1) JPEG processing. I like to do landscapes as well, and especially with landscapes I like the E-PL1 JPEG processing. I'm told the GF3 is a big improvement over the GF1 series, how would it compare to the Olympus JPEGs? Or would the E-PM1 serve me better.

    (2) Bubble/spirit level. With landscapes on my E-PL1, I used a bubble/spirit level on the hot-shoe. It is a HUGE help with preventing crooked landscapes. I realize the GF3 has gridlines, so does my E-PL1, but I find I REALLY prefer the spirit level, without it I am very vulnerable to crooked shots with landscapes. I realize the GF3 has no hot shoe, is there a way to mount a spirit/bubble level a lot of expensive/bulky accessories?

    Also, some have told me that a tripod yields the best results, but with me the m4/3rds camera is more a "grab & go" type. I'm really used to just doing it hand-held and peeking at the spirit level and pressing the button when it's good.

    (3) Is there a way to configure the GF3 to AF when you touch, and then NOT have the autofocus operate again when pressing the shutter release, but instead fire the camera immediately?

    (4) Yes, I realize my Olympus 14-42mm II MSC wouldn't have any form of image stabilization with the GF3, whereas it would with the E-PM1.

    (5) People tell me the GF3 has a better screen than the E-PM1 since its aspect ratio is 4:3 as the images are, but from what I've seen it's always cluttered to some degree. I like how with my E-PL1 I can turn off everything, even the f-stop/shutter speed, and have a very uncluttered preview.

    Would I be foolish to consider the GF3 given my fondness for the E-PL1 other than its struggles in those occasions, and would instead be smart to instead get the E-PM1? My thoughts is, on one hand, that the GF3 could fit the bill so long as I can find a non-awkward way to mount a spirit level & if its JPEG engine isn't so far off of Olympus'. (And that price is just killer.) On the other hand, the E-PM1 would have IBIS, a hot shoe for a spirit level, and everyone tells me its AF is far superior to the E-PL1 anyway and that may do it for me without the touch-screen AF & fire of the GF3.

  2. jff1625

    jff1625 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 14, 2012
    I'll jump in before those smarter than myself do, with their corrections ;-)
    I faced much the same dilemma a few months back and ended up choosing the E-PM1, which I don't regret one bit.

    E-PM1 and GF3 AF speeds are really hard to tell apart. They're both nice and quick with the right lens. I was worried I might feel like I was missing out on the touch-screen AF, but I honestly don't. I mostly use center focus and recompose, it takes all of half a second to get it right. I found if I let the PEN choose what to focus on it would ...ah... surprise me, maybe 30-40% of the time.

    Oly jpeg are justifiably reknowned. I sometimes feel that I'm kinda obligated to try out shooting RAW and spending a little more time in post, but I didn't bother yet. I generally feel there's so little to be gained from it, the jpegs from the E-PM1 look great.

    Spirit level - gaff tape? I got a cute little gorrillapod tripod that had a spirit-level built in. You could use something like that on the GF3/5 without taking up a crazy amount of room in your bag.

    Stabilisation - I don't really think you need it that much in the 14-42 range. Others may disagree. The IBIS on the E-PM1 is supposed to be a bit weak, but I don't really have a frame of reference to compare to. I do get a lot of razor-sharp shots from my shiny new Oly 40-150 tho, so maybe the IBIS is not as bad as they say.

    You can certainly turn off all the extra UI elements from the screen on the E-PM1. I'd be very surprised if the same wasn't true of the GF3/5 tho.

    One thing you've neglected to mention is Metering and Auto-White-Balance. On the E-PM1 in particular these are basically miraculous. If you shoot in a lot of complex and/or contrasty lighting situations this should be an important consideration.
  3. SZRimaging

    SZRimaging Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 16, 2011
    Wait two weeks. Photokina is coming, and it's time for the E-PM1 to be refreshed.
  4. redington

    redington Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 28, 2012
    Which means the epm1 might get cleared out for even cheaper, too.
  5. David

    David Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 22, 2011
    I have EPL1 and EPM1.

    EPM1 is much faster and better at low light. Just turn on the SCP and all is well.
    You wont regret it. Its small enough to goes into a coat pocket. perfect with
    panasonic 14mm lens.
  6. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I'm primarily a Panasonic person (G5, GX1), but the E-PM1 is my favorite "littlecam". Very simple to operate, great JPEGs and other attributes described by earlier posters.
  7. arch stanton

    arch stanton Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2012
    Just a small thought, the price difference between e-pm1 and e-pl3 has really come down (at least in the UK). I started with an e-pm1 in Jan this year and got a chance to cheaply upgrade to e-pl3 - the tilt screen and mode dial really make the camera a lot easier to use!
    Body-only the difference here is £150 vs £200.
  8. zucchiniboy

    zucchiniboy Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 13, 2010
    San Francisco
    The GX1 can do what you're asking- excellent JPEG engine, built in level, and you can configure it to either touch to AF or touch to AF and fire. Also pretty small.
  9. danska

    danska Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    I'll second this one. A better sensor than any of the aforementioned cameras as well. The level works very nicely.
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    This doesn't necessarily answer your question, but I'd recommend waiting for a week. You'll see what the new Pens are the Olympus is announcing, and even if they don't change your decision, they may have a substantial effect on prices.

  11. mgr

    mgr Mu-43 Regular

    As on the picture result quality side the different brands come closer and closer, for me
    the touch and feel for operation and the overall handling is the most important.
    Tried all Olympus types but the Gf3 / 5 was clear the best. but this is always a very personal
    thing. so just try out and put your hands on.

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