Olympus E-P1 – review and test shots

July 5th 2009


Well, I caved (very rapidly) and bought myself an Olympus E-P1 last Saturday. Judging by the week I’ve had to play with it so far, it was definitely the right buy for me. Because it’s so light and portable, I’ve been happily toting it around with me all week – perfect for travelling. The camera fits very nicely in the hand, it feels solid but not heavy and nicely balanced with the compact 14-42mm kit lens attached. My only gripe with the build is the lens cap being totally detachable – it’s fallen off in my bag once already and I imagine I’ll lose it fairly soon.

Borough Market

The camera’s start-up time is very fast, ideal for spontaneous shots. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and having owned an Olympus digi before, some of the controls feel familiar. You can reach all the main functions/options using two dials on the back (as well as alternatively accessing them through on-screen menus); shooting mode is chosen on the top dial. The on-screen options are simple to read and manipulate. A great feature of the camera is the live preview on the large LCD screen, so you know exactly how your shot will turn out, and see how the shot changes with different settings applied.

E-P1 first shots: Yoni
iAuto mode (ISO 1600)

Being a newb to the world of DSLR, I’ve mostly just been using the iAuto mode which auto-selects the optimum settings for your shot – and actually produces really good results in most cases. I’m especially impressed with how it functions indoors and in low light – you can pump the ISO up with very little noise and it has several useful pre-programmed White Balance settings to neutralise artificial light.

Spitalfields: jewellery
iAuto mode

Cheesy flower-depth-of-field shot
iAuto mode

The autofocus in iAuto mode is excellent, fast and sharp, and the image stabilisation does a good job reducing blur.

Olympus E-P1 - Vespa
Before & after Auto shadow correction

I found that in very bright sunlight (as we’ve had in London this week) it casts rather dark shadows, but it has an in-built editor to lighten them up, which does a good job.

Olympus E-P1 test: Flowers
Aperture Priority mode; f/4.7, 29 mm, 500 ISO

I’ve also tried out Aperture Priority mode for macro shots – even though it only came with a 14-42mm kit lens, you can get in pretty close to a subject with sharp focus.

Olympus E-P1 test: Steam fair
Pinhole Art filter

Spitalfields: threads
Pale & Light Colour Art filter

Borough Market
Grainy Film Art filter

E-Portrait before & after

I like the slightly cheesy Art filters; the Pinhole one actually creates quite authentic Lomo-esque results, and Grainy Film does indeed look like a noisy old black and white film. It also has an e-Portrait mode which airbrushes out imperfections on portraits! The results are quite effective but a little creepy – I’ll probably stick to Photoshop for retouching as and where it’s needed.

Perhaps most impressive is the quality of video recording. The E-P1 records in HD with stereo sound, and you can zoom in and continually auto-focus while recording. (You can also use the Art filters for video but I found this produced a very jerky playback.) I think HD video recording caps at around 7.5 minutes of continuous shooting which is more than enough for my needs. The image quality is excellent and looks great played back through a screen.

All in all, I love this camera, it’s hardly left my side for the last week and I’m looking forward to learning how to use it properly and getting some really great shots out of it. Check out my Flickr set and Vimeo for lots more photos and videos from this week.

Borough Market

Comments (7)

  • smurfpop

    July 6th 2009 at 2:18 am

    I am so envious! You've got some great shots there – I especially like the video of Yoni! =^_^= Shame about the pricetag, I could do with a new camera! :( x

  • 43rumors

    July 6th 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Check this out!

    43rumors ;)

  • JD

    July 6th 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks for the nice review! The E-P1 is a lovely little camera :-).

  • Tim Brook

    July 8th 2009 at 10:00 am

    hey Katie, wheres the love for Camberwell? i saw you there, camera in hand, and ive even stalked your Flickr account! So I know youve got the goods… Then you jump from June 20 to July 5? Guess we werent that good eh? Tut.

  • Kate

    July 12th 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Oh you got it!! Fabulous!! Great pics :)

  • Natalie

    April 13th 2011 at 9:21 am

    Hey Katie. Do you still use the E-P1 as your main camera? I have a Canon 450D which I love but I also hanker after a good smaller camera. Even though I've been blogging for quite a while I still feel a bit of a wally snapping away on a big camera in a cafe (not to mention the bulk of carrying it around all the time). In theory the E-P1 offers a great compromise between size and quality but what do you think nearly 2 years on from buying it..?

  • katie

    April 13th 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Natalie – yes, it's my sole camera and honestly, it does everything i want so i have no desire for a cumbersome DSLR. it goes everywhere with me, is discreet and portable and good enough quality for blog photos. I'd 100% recommend it! (Actually, you should probably go for the upgrade, E-P2 but there's not much in them).

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