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Olympus E-P1 Unveiled and Previewed

The pocketable Olympus E-P1

Now the waiting is over! Olympus has finally revived it’s famous PEN camera line with a Digital PEN known as Olympus E-P1. I’m not much surprised with the final release specs and look since a few days before, there had been image and specs leaks. A large part of those leaks are true but there are some surprise features as well and getting official word shuts all other speculations down. So here it is. It’s not a DSLR. It’s not a compact camera. We can simply say, it’s a PEN.

The pocketable Olympus E-P1
The pocketable Olympus E-P1

Now the waiting is over! Olympus has finally revived it’s famous PEN camera line with a Digital PEN known as Olympus E-P1. I’m not much surprised with the final release specs and look since a few days before, there had been image and specs leaks. A large part of those leaks are true but there are some surprise features as well and getting official word shuts all other speculations down. So here it is. It’s not a DSLR. It’s not a compact camera. We can simply say, it’s a PEN.

The Olympus E-P1 has retro looks which hankers back to it’s old PEN line styling. Since I don’t have the actual camera yet to test I’m basing my opinion based on some in-depth previews of several sites. Basically the specs are hand down from Olympus recent DSLRs the E-30/620 but with new features to booth:

The Olympus E-P1 with attached viewfinder and 17mm beside the 14-42mm zoom
The Olympus E-P1 with attached viewfinder and 17mm beside the 14-42mm zoom
  • 12.3 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor
  • Two new kit lenses (14-42mm M.Zuiko and 17mm F2.8 Pancake)
  • TruePic V image processor
  • 3.0″ LCD screen (fixed, 230k dot resolution)
  • HD movies (720p) with stereo sound
  • Linear PCM sound recording
  • 3.0 fps sequential shooting
  • Built-in IS with max. 4 EV steps efficiency
  • Optional Adapters for all ZUIKO DIGITAL & OM lenses
  • Newly developed GUI for easier operation via Live Control
  • Automatic recognition of common scenes possible with i-Auto
  • Dual control dials
  • Face Detection & Shadow Adjustment
  • Art Filters, multi-aspect ratios, multi exposure
  • In-camera raw conversion (including application of Art Filters)
  • Small & stylish design
Olympus E-P1 vs Lumix LX3 size comparison
Olympus E-P1 vs Lumix LX3 size comparison

So with the given design, specs and features let me just rundown the things that interest me on Olympus E-P1

The Retro Styling and Size. I’ve read on forums that some people find a love-hate relationship with the design. Personally I like it. It has a stainless steel body which looks slick and a very compact size (just a tad bigger than Canon G10 and Lumix LX3) that I can certainly take around everyday.

The TruePic V processor and New Sensor. Having been an Olympus User for quite some time now, I know the 4:3rds sensor is a bit lagging on the high ISO noise department. But for the E-P1, they promised better noise handling which now can go as high as ISO 6400 which is a first for Olympus and lighter Anti-Alias Filter to render more details and sharper images. I’m very interested to see how this fares.

Collapsable 14-42mm 3.5-5.6 zoom
Collapsable 14-42mm 3.5-5.6 zoom

The New M.Zuiko Lenses. Zuiko lenses are excellent and I’m hoping to see the same quality on the new lenses like the pancake prime 17mm 2.8 and zoom 14-42mm 3.5-5.6. The zoom is quite surprising as it’s collapsable much like how digital fixed lens compacts does it. It’s a first one I’ve seen and quite an amazing feat for Olympus to keep the zoom lens as compact as possible.

HD Movie Capabilities. I guess it’s getting to be a standard feature on most cameras lately. While I still shoot still I sometimes use the video features of my cellphone so this is a welcome feature for me.

SD/SDHC Storage. Another hurray for me. It’s about time they scrap the slow and expensive XD memory cards.

Olympus E-P1 back panel and controls
Olympus E-P1 back panel and controls

I’m really liking the Olympus E-P1 on paper, but there are still things that I find less appealing and questionable like:

Lack of built-in viewfinder. Though there’s an attachable viewfinder, it could turn off traditionalist.

Lack of buil-tin flash. I’m not really a flashy person (no pun intended) but for compact camera users it’s very handy for them. The attachable flash FL-14 doesn’t have a hinge to change position and bounce in some light.

Low Resolution LCD Screen. I think this should have been much better than the 230,000 dot resolution which is getting outdated. Since this is mostly a live-view camera, they should have given it more importance.

With that said, I’m very interested with this camera and am looking forward to handling one. It’s a new breed camera that could make or break the future of digital imaging.

For more detailed in-depth previews of  Olympus E-P1 check out the following sites:

The Olympus E-P1 will be available in three kits: body only (US$750), the body plus the 14 – 42 mm lens (US$800), and the body plus the 17 mm pancake lens and its optical viewfinder (US$900). The camera will come in two colors (brushed metal and matte white), and the lenses come in two colors (silver and black), as well. A bit lower than the rumored prices which is good. Hopefully here in the Philippines, they price it more competitively when it’s launched.

By Ferdz

Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

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