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My E-PM1 arrived. Comparison to E-PL2

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Art, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    My E-PM1 has finally arrived today. It will serve as a companion to my 7-month old and very much loved E-PL2. I spent a couple of hours shooting around the house and the yard. Here is my observations so far.
    As expected it is noticeably smaller and lighter than E-PL2 but still not quite pocketable , maybe cargo shorts. Although, with 14mm pancake attached I’m pretty certain it should easily fit into almost any jacket and won’t be as noticeable as E-PL2 due to reduced weight. Build quality is very decent and better than I expected.
    First of all, E-PM1 (and E-PL3 for that matter as they’re identical except for the tilting screen) is no way an upgrade to E-PL2, IMO. First, I tried on my 14mm pancake followed by 20mm and didn’t even notice improved AF speed (I’ve been pretty satisfied with E-PL2’s AF speed though). It’s only when I tested both cams side by side I saw the difference. Yes, there is an improvement in AF speed for both 14mm and 20mm lenses but not nearly as dramatic as it’s been suggested. The difference is probably more pronounced when compared to E-P2 (I tried that cam for a couple of months alongside E-PL2 and it was pain!). However, when I put on 14-42mm II R kit lens, the AF speed was astonishing even in low light (noticeably faster than both pancakes). Also, funny how the shutter sound seems louder than E-PL2!
    Panny 20mm feels clumsy on E-PM1! I’m gonna use it with 14mm most of the time. Again, those with E-PL2 looking up to Oly new series solely for AF improvement, don’t. E-PL2 is already sufficient. The absence of a grip is a bummer especially after getting used to the best grip I’ve ever tried – E-PL2. E-PM1 is a perfect second camera to help reduce lens changing when travelling.
    The flash which comes with E-PM1 is pretty small but produces awfully underexposed compared to built-in E-PL2’s flash. The flash is in constant semi-bounced position so dial in +1EV flash exposure compensation and you're all set (only need to do it once, the camera will remember this setting whenever you use flash). Perfect exposure now.
    The lack of buttons and the mode dial is surprisingly not a problem at all. Olympus did a great job designing this camera. It really feels like it provides sufficient controls with quick access. You still have the wheel dial on the back and you can customize REC button as Magnify, AEL, tele-converter, etc. You can also customize arrow buttons to assign both ISO and WB if you wish.
    The most important difference with E-PM1 (and I guess the entire 3rd generation) is extremely good AWB (when you set “warm off”). It is BY FAR the most precise AWB I have ever seen on any camera. In my house I have some challenging light and no camera could ever handle it right. E-PM1 is extremely impressive! Seriously, it’s hard to believe how good it is. This alone will make enormous difference for Point&Shooters and jpeg shooters in general. Panasonic couldn’t even dream about it!
    The smaller screen in 4:3 aspect ratio is not bad at all. The black bars on the sides are used to display live view info.
    AF Assist light is weird - totally random and not reliable.
    Gradation is now set to normal by default. Oly came to senses!
    I haven’t got time to compare IQ side by side. Seems identical to E-PL2 at first sight (including the colors).
    Haven’t checked out the video yet. I am curious to see if there is any C-AF improvement (in daylight at least).
    Will try to update this post when I get more time to shoot.

    Additional findings: E-PM1 displays focal length for native lenses. It is especially useful for my Oly 14-150mm. As I zoom in/out, changing FL is constantly displayed in live view (unlike E-PL2).

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    • Like Like x 19
  2. donlaw

    donlaw Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 19, 2011
    Don Lawrence
    Thanks for the report. And all the photos are nice to give us and idea about proportions.
    Enjoy it.
  3. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Thanks for sharing the initial impressions. And thanks for sharing all the comparison photos! You've illustrated quite well the size differences between the three cameras. Now I have really good idea of how big/small the EPM1, because I have a S90.

    Did you use the new kit 14-42 on the EPL2? And if yes, the new 14-42 perform faster on the EPL2 than the 2nd generation 14-42 (assuming you have that)?

    Thank you!
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    And it answered a big question I had about the E-PM1 vs. E-PL2 size specs...

    I was wondering how it was that the E-PL2 (as with the other first and second generation PENs) has the same "thickness" or width from lens to LCD as the E-PM1. Looking at the E-PM1 it's obviously much slimmer, right?

    Well, those pictures told the story for me... it seems that the lens mount extends out from the E-PM1 body further than the E-PL2. So I guess the E-PL2 was already had the sensor backed up as far as they could with the flange distance of the Micro Four-Thirds system and they just cut away the excess stuff beside the mount to make the E-PM1 so slim.

    Kind of a pity, as I was hoping for a camera which would make my OM-mount fast prime fit better in the bag, lol. :redface:
  5. drizek

    drizek Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 5, 2011
    I so wish someone would put a control dial or two on one of these things. This is vastly superior to something like my E-PL1 for a pancake, but I feel constrained enough with the controls as it is.

    Also, Olympus needs to find a reliable supplier of high quality LCD screens and start using competitive displays on all their 4/3rds cameras. They are behind other manufacturers in display quality pretty much across the entire line. It's not OK to put PnS screens in E-system cameras.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I don't have E-PL2 kit lens to compare but 14-42mm R focuses noticeably faster on E-PM1...
  7. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Like I said Olympus very cleverly designed the menu on this camera. You hit "Menu" and here is your PASM dial. This is one thing I don't miss at all.
  8. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Regardless, E-PM1 feels substantially lighter and thinner in hand than E-PL2 but even with Panny 20mm it starts to feel unbalanced.
    By the way, I tried my Oly 14-150mm on E-PM1, AF is MUCH faster compared to E-PL2 and practically the same as 14-42mm R kit lens which is in turn noticeably faster than both pancakes. I did upgrade 14-150mm firmware a few weeks ago. Pity, I doubt I'll use tiny E-PM1 with 14-150mm, lol. But who knows...
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I heard from somebody that the E-PM1 can't even stand on its own with a lens mounted, because it's so slim. :rofl:

    I really just wish the E-PM1 had a few more direct control buttons. Unlike the majority, I prefer the slimmer body form with non-tilting LCD over the thicker E-PL3 (which would be even thicker to pack with lens attached than my E-PL2, because of the screen!). If the E-PM1 had the button controls of the E-PL3, I would be all over it, lol.
  10. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    From the recent posts, my plan to go from EPL2 + 20 to EPM1 + 20 may not seem like such a great idea after all...
  11. trisberg

    trisberg Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2009
    You need to get a grip. I put a Flipbac G2 grip on my E-PM1 today and it made a world of difference. It made the handling 3x more secure. One additional programmable button and a dedicated magnify button and this camera would be close to perfect for me.

    I'm wondering if you notice any improvement using the VF-2 compared to the E-PL2. I noticed a drastic improvement in low light performance compared to an E-P2 where the noise was always bothering me. The E-PM1 has almost no noise at all even in very dim light.

    • Like Like x 2
  12. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Haven't played much with VF-2 yet but I never use it in low light. My VF-2 is reserved for bright sun or MF conditions. Otherwise I prefer LCD as it's more natural (and stealth) with no eye strain.
  13. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    It depends. If you only plan to use 20mm and maybe short zoom, E-PM1 with third party grip may still worth it over E-PL2. After all, the combo will be noticeably lighter with improved AF speed. You will also get much better AWB, 5.5 fps and fullHD video. Even with the attached flash which is really tiny E-PM1 is lighter and smaller than E-PL2. If, on the other hand, you plan to add 14-150mm, 100-300mm or legacy MF lenses, E-PL2 is no doubt nicer in use.
    Things I haven't tested much yet is C-AF in both stills and video, video quality, metering, Art filter bracketing.
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Auto WB is better? That will be a great boon. Good WB was actually a strength of Olympus, but I haven't noticed it being so good with the PENs as with the E-System cameras. I would like better Auto WB, yes. :) 

    The E-PM1 only has the hotshoe right, with no built-in Remote Commander? Not a huge deal for me, but I like that I can use my E-PL2 with the VF-2 viewfinder, and still trigger slaves with the built-in flash. This isn't something I normally have to do though, because triggering flash and studio lights is something I normally do in a controlled environment where the EVF is not a necessity (I -need- it in bright sunlight only). I like having the options, though...
  15. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    The reduced weight of the PM1 is really nice. The reduced physical size is alright, though I'm waiting anxiously for my Flipbac grip to arrive. But the killer features are really the new AF and the improved sensor, if you believe the improvements. I was hurting pretty badly for AF speed on the PL1, and I like the new sensor at high ISOs. Buying the PL2 at 479 versus the PM1 at 500 (I actually paid 465) seemed like an easy choice for the PM1. Even the recent PL2 deal at 400 didn't seal it.

    But if you have and like your PL2, stick with it. Don't upgrade to upgrade, upgrade to fix specific problems.
  16. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    E-PM1 does support wireless RC flash. When the bundled flash attached, it behaves just like E-PL2.
    As I said in my review, AWB is the best I've seen out of any camera when you set "warm off" in the menu. It's very impressive especially under mixed indoor lightning and it's much better than E-PL2 in this regard. It will be noticed immidiately by anyone if they don't forget to turn off that setting in the menu which is regrettably on by default.
  17. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Thanks Art, I will definitely keep that in mind! :2thumbs:
  18. starlabs

    starlabs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 30, 2010
    Los Angeles
    This has been my experience as well going from the E-PL1 to the E-P3. White balance metering is much better.
  19. avidone

    avidone Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 24, 2011
    Rome, Italy
    I wish my E-PL1 had a " warm off" setting. That is exactly where I find myself most disappointed by its auto white balance. Indoor shots, at let under modern European fluorescent bulbs, with which we have been require to replace our incandescent bulbs in the last few years, come out invariably too warm with the auto setting and the "fluorescent" presets also not quite right... To say nothing of the fact that if I manually change the wb for indoors then the next day head outside to take some shots, I am liable to forget to change the setting until I start to notice some time later that everything is looking a bit too blue
    Beh! It is definitely an area that wanted improvement. Not enough for me to go out and buy a new model yet, but still... Would be nice if firmware updates came along ( or were hackable) to help That on the older models

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43 App
  20. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    I beleive they changed WB sensors on new models so firmware upgrade may not help. After all, E-PL2 (and I assume E-PL1) has pretty reliable AWB in natural light. Still, out of all new features, I find AWB performance is the most significant improvement in Oly's new cams as it's the best I've seen out of any camera.
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