Review My EPM1 Review

Art

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WT21 said:
I agree with the 14. The EPM1 + 14 can be shot easily one-handed, focuses lightning fast, and is a great combo to get funky angles/environmental shots with. If I could afford a second EPM1, I would, just to mount one with the 14 and one with the 25.
And 14 works very well for video in AF-C
 

timallenphoto

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WT21 said:
First off, just want to say I love your work. Visited your gallery, etc. I could get lost in there pretty easily!

You bring up a fair point/question, but I think for my use, it's a comparison I intentionally made.

It's replaced for my usage the 5D + 50mm 1.8 that I shot with most. I'm a 50mm FOV shooter, which is why I don't use the Fuji X100 (35mm FOV) or NEX (no fast 50 equivalent, in terms of FOV), and why I never got along with the Panny 20/1.7 much.

IQ, as you know, is not a single score or parameter. It's a mix of variables, with some variables having meaning for certain folks, and other variables weighing heavier for other folks. For me, this combo hits most of the variables that I look for, at least out of all the combos that are currently available in any CSC.

In my review, I think I already pointed out that the Oly sensor is about 2 stops behind NEX, which is pretty close to a 5D. So, for high ISO, it's lagging. But as I shoot mainly in brighter conditions, that's not as much an issue to me. In darker conditions, and for family/fun photos, the jpg engine and WB have improved. There is some loss of detail to NR and jpg smoothing, but if you aren't cropping much, and doing basic sized printing, you won't notice it really. I didn't notice it in full screen viewing, until I zoomed into 100% view.

DOF wise, the 25/1.4 behaves similarly to a 50/2.8, which is pretty darn useful. I never did shoot much at 50/1.4 (when I had a 50/1.4) or even 50/1.8. I was usually at 50/2 and higher.

The PanLeica lens renders colors and contrast very nicely. IMO, better than any other m43 lens I've tested. To the level of L glass on a 5D? No. But pretty close to my old 50/1.8 on my 5D. And pixel sharpness is fairly comparable.

Can the EPM1 + 25/1.4 replicate the entire 5D & 50/1.8 experience? Not entirely. But I couldn't stick the 5D in my jacket pocket, either (or take movies for that matter).

A good used 5D is about $1,000 + 50/1.8 $100 = $1,100. EPM1 (if you sell the kit lens) $300 + ~$500 for the PL25/1.4 = $800. Cheaper and smaller, and close enough for family/fun shooting. I don't do paid gigs anymore, but if I did, I would use a 5Dii + L glass (if we're talking e.g. portrait/wedding), but just for me? I'll take this little kit.

So, for personal purposes, I think this is highly comparable to how I shot and used my 5D, and it has quenched my desire for a 5D -- which I have bought and resold over the last 3 years, thinking "I want my 5D back" then "ugh, I don't want to lug this around anymore". I can only talk about my experience and use, though. Other folks will have other needs, approaches, tendencies and desires. I hope this posting helped someone better evaluate this fine little camera.
Thanks for the kind words :)

Thanks also for your reply, I can now see what you mean. I also 'see' in 50mm and my 35mm Canon lens drives me up the wall. I can cope with the Pana 20 just about though which surprised me. I guess I'm also a bit blinkered, these days I tend to use my 5D mainly at night, when I shoot ISO1600 at 1.4 and it's hard. Really hard! However it increases the pleasure when I do feel I've nailed a shot.

With regard to my Pen, I confess it should be worried by all the positive X10 reviews I'm reading at the moment, it's sorely tempting to dump M4/3 and get one. Having said that most of the project I've been shooting this year has been done with the E-P1...
 

Bhupinder2002

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Nice review! Beautiful setup! I love the white e-pm1 w/ the black lens & vf2 - looks awesome.
Nice review .Well done :bravo-009:
Now I was just salivating about PL25 1.4 lens and after reading ur review and seeing this lens - I am drooling ..
I will get it my friend.How good is AF as compared to Panny 20mm 1.7? or Panny 14mm 2.5 ?
Cheers
 

stratokaster

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Nice review, thanks.

I'm kind of torn between the E-PM1 and the GF2. I really want my second body to be Olympus, but I'd also like a 14mm pancake and the GF2 basically comes free with that lens.
 

drizek

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Wow. I just saw that first picture and I instantly thought "I want one".

Haven't even read the review yet. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a good deal on one of these.
Reading the stuff about IBIS, I'm not sure this camera is for me. I'm a big believer in IBIS, none of my lenses are OIS.

Otherwise it seems perfect. I really would appreciate a smaller camera than the EPL1.
 

WT21

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Nice review .Well done :bravo-009:
Now I was just salivating about PL25 1.4 lens and after reading ur review and seeing this lens - I am drooling ..
I will get it my friend.How good is AF as compared to Panny 20mm 1.7? or Panny 14mm 2.5 ?
Cheers
Panny 20mm is not a fast focusing lens. It's OK, but it's not fast. The 14 and the 25 are both pretty darn fast. The 14 doesn't have far to go, the 25 is just plain fast.
 

WT21

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Reading the stuff about IBIS, I'm not sure this camera is for me. I'm a big believer in IBIS, none of my lenses are OIS.

Otherwise it seems perfect. I really would appreciate a smaller camera than the EPL1.
Yeah, I think you really have to consider that. I'm hoping Oly might have a Firmware fix, because I'd rather have an IBIS option than not, but for how I shoot it's not a big miss, but I would imagine it could be for others.
 

woof

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I didn't think the body size would matter that much for compactness, but it does... I use it with only a wrist strap, and it travels in my jacket pocket. I think I’ll need some sort of belt pouch when the warmer weather returns.
Game changing size for me. Not much bigger than an LX-5 when it has a pancake on it. Even the 9-18/14-42 leave it about the same size as an LX-5 with the filter adpater on.

As for the belt pouch, it is a perfect fit for this: Lowepro - Apex 100 AW Though not much room for other stuff. I am looking into this... Kata Bags MarvelX-40 DL; 4/3 Camera Pouch - Holsters

Menu System/Lack of Buttons
“No buttons? Then it’s not for me!” That’s what I thought at first, until I got to try one, and then bought one. Trying is believing!
I eventually traded with cash for an EPL-3, but I came to the conclusion after the fact that the EPM-1 is an extraordinary value and that the added buttons and dials are not worth the extra bucks. You are right... the menus and the SCP when taken together give you all the control you need with the added benefit of being able to map a few extra buttons and control positions.

Regarding the circular ring around the four way controller: Oly has redesigned it, and my finger holds it much better than the EP1 or EPL2 (can't remember from my brief time with the EP3), but I find the ring, which I usually don't like on most cameras, is quite useable.
I have no other basis for comparison (though an E-PL2 is in the mail on the way to me), I do know that I am quite used to both front AND rear e-dials on a DSLR, and so having the capability of putting the camera up to my eye while adjusting settings via the dials. I've come to realize that I can easily manipulate the wheel while using an EVF and that I can even shift between shutter and aperture in Manual without removing my eye from the EVF. It seems well designed for both LCD and EVF use.

The IBIS Issue
The EPM1 IBIS issue is truly an issue on my camera. IBIS 1 (Auto), or IBIS 2 (vertical) degrades picture quality. IBIS 3 (horizontal) less so. So I leave IBIS off. With the PL25, getting a good shutter speed has not been an issue. My PL45 has OIS, and the 14mm doesn't often need IS (because of the f/2.5 and wide angle nature). If I were a kit lens shooter, though, trying to get indoor shots at 42mm at f/5.6, this would be a big issue for me. I've also assigned my 14-150 to my EPL2, which has good IBIS, though I might rebuy a used Panny 45-200 or the newer X 45-175, to get OIS.
Hmm.. mine too. I keep IBIS off most of the time too. On the other hand I am still not sorry I bought the camera. I tend to shoot wide, and when indoors on a tripod. So it's not a huge issue for me... it would be off on a tripod anyway. 90% of the remaining photography i do is normal to wide in decent light. They ought to get a handle on this though or they will drive Panasonic lens sales perhaps a little more than they intend. 45-200 with OIS is a good idea. :cool:

One other item of note: if you shut off IBIS, the EPM1 fires burst shots at 5.5fps! (vs. 4.1 with IBIS on)
That was a strong selling point to me.

Ergonomics
This camera is far more hold-able than I had first thought from seeing the reviews. I could possibly consider a Freniac grip, but I've got a white camera, and I'm not sure if he does one in white. But if you are used to holding compacts at all, the EPM1 is actually easier to hold, though it's not really a one-handed camera. One hand under the lens, the other using the rubber thumb rest. I did put on a wrist strap very quickly, though, as I shoot one handed from time to time (e.g. low to the ground shots), and it's a little tenuous one-handed. After the first few minutes out of the box, I knew this needed a strap. One odd thing -- Oly doesn't include a wrist strap. For a camera this small? A neck strap is really overkill, IMO.
+1 on all. Get a wrist strap. Hold with two hands with the knowledge that you can hold with one in a pinch (see also IBIS issue). Oly ought to include a wrist strap. And do consider the Freniac. Very nice. A tad close for very big fingers, but for those of us with average hands, it is an improvement (though it will change the way you hold... the compact hold will give way to wrapping the second finger around the grip. That will not change where your thumb falls though and that little pad of rubber will still be in just the right place.

Some reviewers have noted the screen is too small. I agree with that in principal, but I've never wanted to look at the backs of cameras that much anyway, and when you think about the physical shape of the device and the 4:3 sensor, you realize there wasn't much choice for the screen size. Oly actually made great use of what they did have, using the black spaces on either side of the image for the menu items, so the picture doesn't get cluttered up with icons. I just returned a G3 that cluttered up the image to some extent and a NEX 5n, where over half the screen is cluttered in icons (“I think there’s an actual photo image in there somewhere"). This screen size is a physical limitation that Oly turned into a positive.
16:9 is a revelation. The LX-5 hooked me on this. In that aspect ratio, there IS no issue with screen size. And it gives you room to crop if you really want to. Anyway, you are right... what a great use of the real estate when the aspect ratio leaves black... fill it instead of the image with the icons and info. I don't spend a lot of time chimping. Show me a decent histogram and let's get on with it. And by the way, if I want to zoom in on the picture to check for critical focus, that's a breeze too...

I have a VF2 that I purchased to use with my EPL2. When I’m indoors, I prefer using a viewfinder for stability. As a joke, I tacked it on the EPM1. I was really surprised. The VF2 works very nicely with this camera. I was worried it might look clownish, top heavy, or just have silly ergonomics. Turns out it doesn’t look that bad, and ergo-wise, is very useable.
+1 definitely. Good addition. Needed very much. The one complaint I had coming from DSLR. It does not look bad. I'll be interested to see if the Kata will accommodate it. Wouldn't THAT be nice!

Last ergo comment: Shutter release. I saw a lot of talk about the Gariz soft release buttons. My EP1 and EPL2 could really benefit from one of those. But IMO, the EPM1 shutter release is both raised up nicely, and already quite responsive.... My only thought is that this body is so small that the shutter has to be adding some kind of camera shake (though the shutter sound is actually pretty understated and pleasing, albeit not silent). The EPM1 body would greatly benefit from an electronic, global shutter.
+1. I tried using the crook of my finger as described in the review of the Gariz accessory, and have found that it is possible to do this kind of release without the added button. Been practicing, and it does seem to yield results. I used to do this with my film camera and it helped then too from 1/30th and under... E-PM1/E-PL3 shutter sound is indeed positive and understated.

Image Quality
I won’t comment too much on image quality at high ISO. We’re all here at mu-43, and we know from the DXO hounds that we have a supposedly sad-sack sensor, especially in the Oly. This past week, I had a G3, a NEX and the EPM1. My tests confirmed what I already knew. At ISO1600, the G3 is one stop ahead of the EPM1, and the NEX is one stop ahead of the G3. I would say that the NEX (in terms of noise) is just a hair behind my old 5D (I no longer have the 5D, so I was going by some shots that were not entirely comparable). But having said that, I’m still pretty pleased with the EPM1.
For me, it's fine too... if and when not, well that's what the full-blown DSLR is for...

I've been a RAW shooter for 3 years, but the jpgs coming out of this EPM1, for home-and-family type shots, are very useable. Three things I mainly used RAW for: White Balance, dodging and burning, and color and contrast adjustments.

This camera has, hands down, the best WB I've used in any camera -- compact, DLSR or CSC (and I've owned too many to list). You can actually see the camera, when you point it at an incandescent lit scene, show at first that yellow tint, then go “oops” and all the colors correct. Magically. Why the heck can’t anyone else do this!?!? I haven’t tried it yet under florescent, but I’ll get a chance tomorrow at a local Awanas club program.
I have to agree with WB comments. Hell, I've been able to get a reasonable custom set in some ridiculous situations. Auto is very good. Custom set is really also very good.

In conclusion: Two thoughts: I can't believe this thing was only $440, and I can't believe I basically have my old 5D + 50mm in the palm of my hand. Yes, it has quirks, and it might not fit everyone (kit lens shooters, maybe video shooters), but it's a fantastic second body, and for me, I think it will be my primary body, and relegate the EPL2 to second body status.
Yes. For me, the first M43 I've invested in has pretty much realized 90-95% of the promise of being able to downsize significantly without a huge loss in functionality, responsiveness, speed, quality, and ... joy.

I'm sold.

Great review. Thanks. There was some material in here that really helped me!

woof!
 

WT21

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Woof -- thanks for the bag recommendation. I'll look into that, and I agree. If you could find a bag that would take the cam AND the VF2 -- that'd be sweet.

On the SCP -- without the SCP, the EPM1 wouldn't be possible. The SCP rocks and makes this cam a joy.

I went to a shoot tonight for an event. One upside of limited buttons means I can find easily what I needed while shooting (mostly bringing up the SCP in the VF2).
 

rex87

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PL25 on EPL-1 / jpeg
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no PP
 

Art

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Here is my E-PM1 compact flash setup.

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Also, look at this dramatic difference in size (and weight): Canon Rebel w/50mm f1.8 vs E-PM1 w/Oly 45mm f1.8

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Oly setup is MUCH sexier, lol
 

sokar

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Great review. I am about to purchase the same unit and upgrade from an EP1. Thank you for the effort in writing and posting. The IBIS issue is definitely worth noting.
 

WT21

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I added one more negative in the review that I forgot to mention. I pasted it here below so you don't have to go searching for it, if you've already read the review:

"One negative on the lack of buttons. I have no place for MF assist. So, for me, the EPM1 is about using native lenses or legacy lenses with the VF2, but using MF assist isn't really workable in my current configuration. But for legacy lenses, I mostly use my EPL2 for the IBIS, anyway."
 

Mellow

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I added one more negative in the review that I forgot to mention. I pasted it here below so you don't have to go searching for it, if you've already read the review:

"One negative on the lack of buttons. I have no place for MF assist. So, for me, the PL25 is about using native lenses or legacy lenses with the VF2, but using MF assist isn't really workable in my current configuration. But for legacy lenses, I mostly use my EPL2 for the IBIS, anyway."
I just set magnify to the movie-record button--push it twice and you're zoomed in, ready for fine-focusing. Just as easy as the E-PL1. I do wish it automatically shifted back to the expanded view as soon as you partially press the shutter though.
 
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