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Will the EPL1 or PL2 work for me?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by bopat, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    Dear Forum members,

    You must be rolling your eyes as yet another noob asks that timeless and done-to-death question "Is this camera right for me?" .... for that, my apologies in advance!

    First of all, what a fantastic forum ... I'm glad I stumbled onto it!

    Okay, now onto my present dilemma!! I am planning on springing for an Oly EPL1 or 2 in the next month or so, and I have been doing a ton of research on this matter. I little bit about me and my shooting habits: I am strictly a photography newbie, having dabbled mostly with P&S and 'bridge' cameras. I am an ecologist by profession, and hence love the outdoors. Given this, it is quite appalling that I haven;t made a more concerted effort to capture all I have in a more serious manner thus far. My wife and I purchased our first 'pro' camera last year - a GF1 with the 14-45 kit lens. We have been happy with it thus far, but I only wish we used it more. Anyway, the reason I want to spring for a second camera is because we will be spending some substantial time apart, and we both will be spending a considerable amount of time outdoors. So why have I decided on the Olys?
    1. I just love love love the way they look
    2. I am slightly biased as my late father was a devout Olympus OM1 user in his haydays as a photographer.
    3. Sticking with one system (the mu-4/3) makes sense, as we can share lenses between cameras as we build on a system (in fact when we bought the GF1, I begrudgingly gave the EP1 a pass because of the lack of flash -- remember we are casual, noob photographers!!)

    Given all this, I just want your opinions on whether the EPLs will work for the kind of pictures I envisage taking. I will be spending 2 months this summer in Alaska doing field work.

    1. Obviously, nice landscape pics
    2. Macros!! > bugs (but I may have to save for a lens!!)
    3. Night pics of the Aurora borealis (in winter): This is the one area I really have a concern about. I will be up in Alaska for a short time this winter and I will be kicking myself if I can't take good pics of this amazing phenomenon!!!

    So, please do chime in with your (much appreciated!) opinions!!

    Phew! I'll stop here for now!!

    Cheers,
    Bopat
     
  2. shoturtle

    shoturtle  

    823
    Oct 15, 2010
    the pens will give you better night photos then the gf1 or gf2. So you will gain in that department.

    Macro is all about the lens. So there are option on how you can get your macro setup started, either true macro lens like the pl 45mm, the oly 35mm 3.5 with 4/3 adapter, or a close up lens for a zoom like the canon 500d or 250d on a panny 45-200 or oly 40-150. So for true macro you will not want to shoot with IS on, and will need a tripod. With handheld close up IS is nice and really helpful. Oly will have IS on any lenses you mount on it, panny you need to get a IS lens.

    Landscape during the day, the oly has the better jpeg engine, but if you are a raw guy, then you can make your edit as good as the oly jpeg.

    The pens are great camera's for what you want to do.
     
  3. Jimboh

    Jimboh Mu-43 Regular

    75
    Sep 17, 2010
    Florida
    I am going to be a contrarian here... being in the outdoors, there's going to be times where it is just too bright to use an LCD screen, IMO you need to have a finder available. I've read (but not used) the finders on the Pen cameras and even the GF-1 are not that great.
    So I'm going to try to talk you into looking at the GH1. It's sub $400 now without lens. I like the articulating LCD when you get down to bugs eye view, you can stay out of the mud. GH1 has an excellent EVF, and the larger form makes longer teles easier to manage as the whole thing is easier to hold.

    For you, the Pen only seems to duplicate every major feature you already have with the GF-1. I don't see you're getting a significant step-up, just more of the same. Dance with the one that 'brung ya.

    If you don't like the GH1, then I'd suggest sitting out this generation. Concentrate on lenses and other kit until a significantly improved body comes along. Low light is still a problem on this sensor, if you're shooting the aurora, you'll want to do your homework before buying anything. You may be putting some money into a brighter lens or tripod.

    For high quality macro work, I'd recommend a metz flash, as it can greatly increase your depth of field (DOF). The amount of light you have to dump on bugs and flowers to get good DOF and color is significant. You'll also need legs, since you will need to steady the macro camera. See I just spent your PEN money right there!

    For macro, I bought a Canon FD 70-210 f/4 "macro" lens for $45 and an a Chinese adapter for $30 (I upgraded the adapter since), also some Canon FD macro rings for $25 on auction. I think you can read the DNA on the bugs eye if you stack them all together. For you, this setup can do both macro and still reach out and shoot caribou as a normal zoom lens and simplify your kit without leaving you broke before you travel.
    Sorry to be contrary, but it's an honest assessment.
     
  4. shoturtle

    shoturtle  

    823
    Oct 15, 2010
    The pen evf is actually a great evf and allot of people that get it really are impress by how good it is. And how large the picture is. Great for macro with mf lenses. Hard to beat the oly vf2, and it compares to the gh2's evf.

    But with the GH1 you are not gain any iso performance over the gf1. You really need to move up to the gh2 at 1400 dollars to gain in the iso performance department, but it is a the most advance m4/3 sensor out there. And depending on the lens you will get with the GH1, the 14-140HD. It is allot heavier as well. And add quiet a bit to the price of the camera. And if you are trying to save, the gh1 body with a lens is still more then the epl-1 with the kit lens.

    But with either you are getting into a much larger camera. So if you were looking for a camera the size of the gf1. Any of the G or GH bodies will make it a big preposition.
     
  5. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    thanks for the views so far .....

    @ Jimboh and Shoturtle,

    Thanks for the views so far. Adding the GH1 to the mix has gotten me pondering about options again. My only concern with the GH1 is the increase in size and weight. Given that I may have the camera wrung around my neck for the most part of the day, I might need to consider this. Still, the GH1 seems like an option for sure. ... I will maybe just have to play around with them all.
    It just seems like with the GH1, I am now approaching the size of a regular DSLR. This would then get me thinking of other none :43: options. I am really looking for portability. On this topic, I should mention that I have also been looking at the NEX 5 but am dropping it from my list for 2 good reasons:
    1. Lack of lens options presently.
    2. Not being able to build on lenses from one system.


    REgarding the EVF, I've read and seen videos that the EVF2 is a huge improvement over the 1st version. I guess this might help with the EVF issues?

    Anyway, yes I am sure that with the right lenses (like the Panny 20mm 1.7 and the 40-200 mm), these cameras can do great in a whole range of conditions.

    Main concern I have is northern lights photography. Whatever I get in the end, it will still likely be a :43: camera. :wink:

    cheers,
    bopat
     
  6. shoturtle

    shoturtle  

    823
    Oct 15, 2010
    Northern light with a short exposure, the epl1/2 will out preform the gh1 in the iso department. With long exposure they are the pretty much the same shooting at 100/200iso. GH2 is the only panny that shoots well at pass 1000 iso.

    The GH is small next to a 60D, but next to a pentax k-x or k-r. Not much difference in size. About 15% more is size max. So depending on you definition of larger. The GH1 can be a much larger system to add, or not large at all.

    If the GF1 was the ideal size for your wife and you, then the pen's are the better option.
     
  7. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
  8. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    Thanks for the link Mauve, very useful. I've also been learning about Aurora photography here:

    How to photograph the northern lights with a digital camera ยป Alaskaphotographyblog

    What about lenses? I've heard about the magnificent panny 20mm 1.7. I'm also considering the 40-200 lens (seems affordable). I'm thinking of maybe getting just the body (EPL1 or EPL2) and then buying the 40-200mm to start with, and maybe add the panny later. Also, I will probably spring for the EVF2.

    cheers
     
  9. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    Hi folks, would anyone else like to chime in with their opinions?? I'd really appreciate it! :)
     
  10. Briar

    Briar Mu-43 Regular

    117
    Jun 13, 2010
    Bonnie Scotland
    Hi bopat, Vivalo has a thread on the northern lights ... not sure which camera he uses though I suspect its an olympus based on his signature (olympus loser). If you've not found it already just search "northern lights". You could always pm him for more info.

    I have an e-pl1 and an e-p2 and love both cameras. Would recommend the evf for macro work, landscape work, in fact, any work. Its so good its always on whichever pen I am using!

    If your budget can stretch to the pany 45mm macro lens, I would recommend it over the oly 35mm (four thirds) macro lens. The oly lens works fine but its very sluggish in comparison. I've heard and seen good things with the sigma 105mm lens on this forum.
     
  11. Briar

    Briar Mu-43 Regular

    117
    Jun 13, 2010
    Bonnie Scotland
  12. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    Since you said you are a photography newbie, I would like to point out the feature that made me choose an e-pl1: it has built-in image stabilization. Taking a photograph of the auroras would probably entail using a tripod (so IBIS is a non-factor for this) BUT ... you won't be using the camera only for that, right? I assume you will be using the camera after taking photos of the auroras. :) And for us non-pros (or at least for me), camera shake is a big problem. I have a Canon XSi, and even if I use my 50mm f/1.8 lens wide open, some photos still appear blurry - unless I use flash too (which I really do not like). Thus, I can use any lens (including legacy and other non-m43 lenses) and not worry too much about camera shake.
     
  13. akulya

    akulya Mu-43 Veteran

    249
    Jun 21, 2010
    Hey Bopat welcome to the boards,

    As you already have a GF1, you will have an idea of what the handling of the pens will be like. The G & GH series bodies are still pretty small, but definitely bigger in the hand. The integral viewfinder and grip of the G/GH are better for longer lenses, if thats what you want, and the movable LCD is handy for macro.

    If you are unsure about the form factor, I would highly recommend just going to a shop and holding them side by side.

    They are all good, so don't worry, there is no bad choice. If you expect to be using telephoto lenses, then the G /GH series bodies are probably a better choice.

    I use an E-p1, and personally have no issues using the LCD only to frame and photograph, what are your own opinions of using the LCD on the GF1? Did you like it? Would an accesory EVF work for you? I have not used the Olympus VF2, but it is by all accounts excellent (and expensive). The benefits of the smaller bodies are mostly aesthetic, but aesthetics can be very important! Social photography with a pen (or GF1) and 20/1.7 (or 17/2.8) is a joy, here even the G series may be a little oversized.

    The E-PL2 comes with the new 14-42mm MKII lens which is apparently very good, but I have not had experience with it. It promises to be a useful range of focal lengths in a small package. What's your budget?

    In my opinion the E-PL2 looks like the best "small" m4/3 body, and the GH2 looks like the best "big" m4/3 body.


    And with regard to the Aurora.... I've tried some nightsky photography with my e-p1 and 20/1,7 and it was really, really hard I had to abandon using the 20/1,7 and use an old CZJ 50/2.8 with M42 adapter instead which was a PITA. Why?

    Well, simply put, the live view from these cameras (which you use to focus) is very grainy in the dark, be it through an EVF or on the LCD. Combined with the "fly-by-wire" manual focus on the native lenses, you have a situation where focusing the lens to infinity (which should be really easy) is actually almost impossible. If you have a manual lens /adapter combo that you know works, then this is the way to go, as it just works - like it should.. Oh, the native Voigtlander Nokton 25/0.95 would be perfectly fine, because it is a manual lens and doesn't need an adapter, but thats the only one.

    That last point applies to all m4/3 cameras, and is in my opinion something both Panasonic & Olympus really need to address.
     
  14. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    WOW!! A flurry of responses! Thanks a bunch.... very appreciative of your responses!

    Akulya, I am worried about this issue too .. focussing 'blind', but I've drawn a little more confidence from seeing Vivalo's pictures of the northern lights. My budget is not not much - hence I was thinking of getting the EPL1, but the PL2 does not seem that much more. My dilemma is whether to get a body only and spring for something like a panny 20mm 1.7 or just get it with the kit lens for now. I envisage that in a year or so's time, I'd like to have the following (regardless of what body I end up with):
    1. the Panny 20 mm lens.
    2. the Panny 40-200mm lens.
    3. a nice macro lens (maybe the 50mm one)
    4. the evf2 possibly.
    5. probably the kit lens.

    I think this should keep me happy! :) However, having just gotten out of grad school, I do have a restricted budget (jeez, I was squeaking by with so little!). Since I won't be doing any northern lights work till at the earliest Feb 2012, I suppose the Panny 20 mm f1.7 lens (which might be best for this) can wait a bit.

    I'll be in Alaska for two months this summer (mostly is Arctic tundra -- ie grasslands, not forests), so I wonder if the kit lens on the EPL2 will suffice for now (i.e. decent all around lens).

    Brier, thanks for that! Just want I needed to know!!

    Also, Hyubie, I agree, the PLs are attractive to me because they would allow a newbie like me to get more comfortable with more advanced settings. Also, the IBIS is a real plus with older lenses I'm sure.

    Thanks once again ... can't wait to get my first Oly (That is, after my dad's beloved OM1).

    Cheers,
    Bopat
     
  15. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    To add to this, I just noticed that both the EPL1 and EPL2 come with a 2-kit lens option. This might cover most of what I'd like to achieve. Any thoughts?? :)
     
  16. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    The new 14-42 Mk2 kit zoom is much better than the old Mk1 version coming with the e-pl1. The 17 f/2.8 is the same in both cases. A disappointing prime when bought at retail price but makes a nice see-through body cap when it comes with the discount of a 2 lens kit.

    Cheers,
     
  17. OPSSam

    OPSSam Mu-43 Regular

    134
    Dec 18, 2010
    NC
    Well, those two leses cover what most would call normal shooting. Most people never buy another lens besides those two anyway, at least among the people I know that have SLRs. And at the discount the package deal usually gives you, it's an easy choice to make. Usually you're getting the second lens for around $100-$150. Anything beyond that like the 75-300 is more than the cost of that entire kit. Pricey for a bit more magnification. (300mm is a 4.1 degree field of vision, 8.2 for the 150).

    If you can buy the 2 lens kit it would be a good investment in my opinion.
     
  18. bopat

    bopat Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Mar 22, 2011
    Urgent! Help needed with buying decision today!! :(

    Hi guys, sorry to bring this thread back from the dead!!

    I have a really urgent question for you all that I hope I can have some advice on so that I may go ahead with a purchase today!

    I noticed that prices have fallen for both the PL1 and PL2 on Amazon.

    I am trying to decide between the epl1 with 2 lens kit (~550) or the epl2 with the single lens!

    Please do help me decide today as this is that last possible day I can buy it in time for it to get here before my trip!

    Basically they cost the same (but the extra lens on the epl1). I have held both cams and I liked them both (although the epl1 felt a little more 'plasticky'!), but the two lens bundle seems really tempting!

    I eagerly await responses!

    Thanks a whole bunch!

    bopat
     
  19. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    892
    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    My opinion :

    The 17 + Mk1 kit zoom are not worth it. Go for the e-pl2 + MkII kit zoom. The improvements of the latter justify this aplenty.

    Cheers,
     
  20. Hyubie

    Hyubie Unique like everyone else

    Oct 15, 2010
    Massachusetts
    Herbert
    If you think the extra improvements on the E-PL2 (the upgrades that immediately come to mind are the remote control jack and the Dramatic Art filter) are important enough, go for it. Otherwise, go for the E-PL1 (assuming the one included is the 12-42 Mk II, not the MK I) - from what I've read, there is no significant difference as far as IQ is concerned.