Even though Olympus has brought out several new cameras since I bought my E-P3 less than a year ago, I still keep one of these as my “spare” and back up camera. I got it a few years ago when my big Canon became too much to handle … and I have never for a minute regretted it.
The pictures I get from it are as good as ever. It isn’t as fast as the newer PENs, but it’s a fine camera and if I had no other camera at all, this one would do the job.
The Olympus PEN E-PL1 is an excellent camera for most purposes. You can purchase one from Adorama, new including the lens for $259, less than many good point and shoot cameras. They are a fine piece of equipment, either as a back-up camera or alternative to a full-size DSLRs, or as a compact, high-quality all around camera for anyone. It’s also the perfect step up for someone who’d like to make the move from a point and shoot to something more flexible and sophisticated.
For me, it was love at first touch. The moment I got my hands on this sweet baby, I knew I’d found my camera. I was sorry I had spent all that money on the BIG Cannon (sic), but the Canon went to my granddaughter who takes great photographs herself, so I guess it all worked out they way it was supposed to.
It is fast. It focuses fast. It recycles quickly. It has a nice speedy multiple-shot burst, though not as fast as the bigger camera. The anti-shake is built into the camera, not the lens. This is an Olympus feature – all the PEN cameras have it — so any lens that fits the cameras has anti-shake, even if it isn’t an Olympus lens. This is a fine thing for shaky old me. It is lightweight, easy on my wrists. The lens retracts to keep the camera even more compact.
The “kit” lens is as good as any lens I’ve got. Manual or auto focus, it’s just fine. The 2X factor on the camera means the effective lens is 28 – 84, a nice range for normal shooting and portraits. I have a 40 – 140 telephoto too, but I rarely use it. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just seems that most of the pictures I want to take are wide, close, or portrait. I rarely want a long lens.
It packs up almost as small as a point and shoot, but takes better pictures. Great color and you can get a pretty good selections of lenses, prime, telephoto, wide-angle. As a bonus, Panasonic micro 4/3 lenses are interchangeable with Olympus lenses, so you have additional choices.
It shoots RAW, RAW + JPG, and all the variations on a theme of JPG.
The controls are simple. The manual with which it comes is, unfortunately, awful. There is a PL-1 for Dummies book available from Amazon and it is terrific. It explains everything clearly, with pictures, and will help you enormously. I highly recommend it.
Olympus PEN E-PL1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I-Auto is really smart. They all say they are, but this really is. It will literally find a face in the crowd. It is great for photographing my doll collection because it finds all the doll’s faces and performs color correction without any assist from me, even using flash. Amazing. It doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder, but I bought the electronic one that attaches to the hot shoe/utility port.
Surprisingly, I mostly use the LCD screen, which is big and bright. I’m surprised. I thought I’d use the viewfinder but as an eyeglass wearer, it’s just easier to use the screen. I could have save the money and gotten an extra lens if I’d known.
Lots of “scene” modes and art filters to choose from … and everything is easy to access. You don’t have to navigate though layers of menus. Most of the functions you use are on top where you can easily find them. The controls fit in my hands.
The camera feels solid and well-built and biggest shock? The kit lens is great! I did get a longer telephoto, but rarely use it. The prices of the lenses range from quite modest to wow, but that’s true of most good cameras.
In short, this is a great little camera and about the most camera you can get for the money.I’ve had mine for more than two years and it has never failed me.
The “Olympus Pen E-PL1 for Dummies” is a must if you are new to this kind of camera. I’m not a camera dummy by any means, but a quick look at the info in this book made me realize that if I wanted to get the most from my camera, I needed instructions that made sense. The book has the information I need; the manual doesn’t.
You will need the software that comes with the camera if you plan to shoot RAW. It’s pretty useful for handling batches of photos not only for RAW conversion, but for batch renaming, re-sizing, formatting, and so on. You tell it what you want it to do, and then it does it, whether it’s 1 or 1000 pictures. It doesn’t require monitoring, either. However, there are no instructions on exactly how it works, so it may take you a little fiddling to figure it out. It’s not difficult and once you get the hang of it, it’s surprisingly useful and will work on JPGs from any camera. Only the ORF format for RAW, however, which is Olympus’ unique format. I believe Corel reads it too, but Photoshop so far doesn’t, at least not my version. Maybe newer versions read it.
Overall, it’s a great camera at a great price. Not the fanciest on the market, but for pure ease of use, price for value, convenient size, I think it’s the winner: the most, best camera for your money.