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Olympus E-P1

Everybody else has given their opinion. Here’s mine.

in Olympus E-System , Friday, July 24, 2009

Weird, isn’t it ? For years, Olympus release a fantastic series of DSLRs coupled with superb lenses, and they get either damned with faint praise, or reviews which focus on weaknesses which are completely irrelevant to the vast majority of real world photographers. Then they bring out a neither here no there, seriously compromised but pretty gewgaw, the E-P1, and, hey, it’s “welcome Jesus Camera”.

Here’s how I see it: a small DSLR with the mirror and viewfinder lopped off, coupled with a small zoom lens, which, when switched on, is actually not a lot smaller (and arguably considerably more distracting) than its “full size” brother. It introduces the confusion of two parallel and essentially incompatible lens ranges (yes, you can bolt the ZD 7-14, 50-200, or indeed 300mm on the front of the E-P1, but for heaven’s sake, why??). It produces seriously distorted images which can only be corrected in-camera, baked into JPGs, or in Olympus’ own awful Studio software. And it skirts with being seriously over-priced.

Addressing the issues like the viewfinder and producing the promised “pro” version is most likely going to produce something only marginally smaller than the E-420 or E-620.

Ok, I get the plus points: it has workable Live View (which is just as well), it’s pretty, and you can stick all sorts of exotic, obsolete and expensive lenses on the front and get results almost as good as the kit zoom.

Hopefully having failed to make much money from an excellent series of E-System cameras thanks largely to the pixel-peeping mindset prevalent with all reviewers, Olympus will now cash in big time on selling this new set of Emperor’s clothes to the same people, and then invest the proceeds in a worthy successor to the E-1. Yes, I know, you’ve also got a tower in Paris you can sell me.


I want a small camera with interchangeable lenses, but I don’t want a crippled DSLR with the top sawn off. The original PEN, and the half-fram Pentax mini-cameras actually compromised by using a smaller format. We’ve heard enough about with the 4/3 format is equal to APS or even “full frame”, and in most cases I agree. So, why not go to the logical conclusion and use a “half 4/3”, larger than the standard digicam, but smaller than DSLRs ?  Then we could see a genuinely small system camera. My feeling is the only company with the guts and vision to try this is Ricoh. Now there’s a thought - a Ricoh GR-D with interchangeable lenses. Yes please!


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Older Comments

from John Ellis on Thu, July 30, 2009 - 10:12

Hi David, how are you?  I tend to agree with you about the E-P1 even if I wouldn’t use the same language: an E-620 has more appeal at the moment (and I’m currently slumming it with the lovely 420).  But I still hold out the potential for a ‘pro’ version of the E-P1 that will not make it over-large and will address the lens distortion - a harder task.  But given the great performance of the so-called entry-level Olympus cameras, I’m not too fussed one way or the other.

from david mantripp on Mon, August 03, 2009 - 4:47

Hi John - thanks for stopping by!

I honestly can’t see that a satisfactory “pro” E-P1 is going to be significantly different to an E-620. The Lumix G-1 isn’t particularly small, and it doesn’t induce me to stop using my E-400. What I want, of course, is pretty much the full functionality of my E-3 with 7-14, 14-54 and 50-200 lenses reduced down to something that doesn’t half kill me when I drag it up to 2500m peaks.  This isn’t going to happen.  But the E-400 and its 2 kit lenses are far closer to the ideal than the E-P1, and the E-620 with IS would be even better.  The thing is, the real weight is in fast zoom lenses, and I really can’t see that changing much…. unless of course, the compromise is at the sensor level.


from John Ellis on Thu, August 06, 2009 - 1:54

What I want in the way of lenses is a prime around 20mm.  I currently use the OMZ 21mm f3.5 quite a lot and would appreciate something that size and quality with auto-focus or, alternatively, a good enough VF in order to focus the manual lens.  As to the super telephotos, I think I would stick with an SLR if I were to use such a lens more.  I’m led to believe that the E-P1’s processing is better than the 620 so maybe it’s worth waiting for the nxt 6xx.

from captain Interesting on Sat, August 08, 2009 - 6:59

I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with Olympus cameras. But, fundamentally, they are an endoscope company. I guess that’s why they stuck it to the old OM community….