Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. We used to looked back at past technologies with fond memories, but be grateful that we lived in the modern world. Now, it seems, some of us want a piece of both the past and the present, with gadgets combining an old exterior with a modern interior. Olympus PEN EP-1 Olympus' PEN EP-1: not …
No optical or electronic viewfinder is enough to put me off anything that costs even 1/10th of that. Anyone who has tried to see the image on the LCD screen of a digital camera in bright sunshine will know exactly why...
I agree totally, you really should have a viewfinder on a camera like this. This is what makes the Canon Powershot G series so good.
Umm, you people do know why an optical viewfinder isn't standard, and the only one there is is only set for one lens? That's because without a swinging mirror, MFT can't use the SLR trick of using the main lens for it's optical viewfinder, meaning that it is impossible to design a single optical viewfinder that will work with all lenses (without really complex linkage systems). THAT is why there isn't one standard, because Oly envision most buyers owning several lenses.
I do like viewfinders - I own an Oly E-3 with LiveView, and use it 75% of the time through the viewfinder (the other 25% are usually high or low angle shots that LiveView is easier for). But the PEN isn't designed for that - it's designed as a "tourist" camera, and most tourists are used to using the LCD on the P&S cameras anyway. All I can say is - "Look, if RICOH can stay in the camera business making highly capable but eccentric cameras, MFT (and FT) can certainly be profitable."
MFT is what 4/3ds should have been all along...smaller, portable, and very good at low ISOs (below 800). Hope they make it work...
I have an existing DSLR and use my E-P1 as a 'street camera' to supplement, not supplant it's bigger brother. I also do a lot of hiking, and as an out-and-about camera this is compact enough to fit in a jacket pocket and produces great landscape results with the 17mm pancake. Creatively I've enjoyed using it's filter modes (the 'toy camera' mode is particularly pleasing in a retro-aesthetic kind of way) and effects like multiple exposure in-camera are also fun to play around with.
The lack of VF is an annoyance, I'll grant you (the newly announced EP-2 has an electronic VF addon), as is the lack of flash, and I agree that it does seem to fall in a gap between the two ends of the market (point 'n shoot vs DSLR) and as such might be overlooked. As I say though, I look at this camera as an about-town street shooter kit to supplement my 'proper camera'. It's just a little too pricey for most folks to buy in addition to a DSLR...
There are also adapters for using Voigtlander Leica M, Nikon F and Pentax K
And there are a shed loads of those available.
If is was a compact SLR
Like the old Pen F I would be all over it. But without even an optical viewfinder I'm not interested.
@Edward Kenworthy 14:20
Standard lenses, as in legacy Nikon lenses from the film days?
This camera isn't a DSLR, its something new. Personally I would wait for one with an electronic viewfinder, and look at the Panasonic mFT lenses to go with it.
Catch up guys! Other MFT cameras
You guy need to catch up! :)
The Panasonic GF-1 basically obsoleted the E-P1 by offering a bullt in flash and option of an electronic viewfinder. It also ships with a better fast prime kit lens that the Olympus.
Olympus then brought out the less cool looking but more realistic E-P2 that allows for an a viewfinder though still lacks a flash.
+1 for the GF1
I have to agree with OwenA. The Panasonic GF1 fixes all the issues that the EP1 has -- including having the same LCD screen resolution as the GH1 'DSLR-alike'. Okay, so the EP1 has that cute retro look, but the GF1 isn't a half bad looking camera.
Personally, I've just ordered a Panasonic GH1. I don't own any legacy film camera lenses, and I wanted a DSLR style camera that actually did video properly. In terms of the video, the Canon 5D mkII is about the only thing that comes close (maybe the 7D now, too); but they;re both waaay more expensive.
The only downside is that GH1s are rarer than scuples in a politician.
As a sad act who went and bought a Leica M8 about 18 months ago (hey, kids needed slimming down and a tent is a very fine alternative to brix and mortar) I am surprised they did not go for an optical view finder. Having used one of the older Olympi(?) I am surprised no one from the company did a little user experience research. An LCD - even a very good one such as the Leica (one hand one foot as payment) is not adequate on its own. Disappointed I have to say. Retro it might be, but the Leica does work well an the Olympus should have been a significantly cheaper, but equivalent (in reality) offering. A shame.
Mines the jackets that I had to raid to get the M8, and the jackets I will raid to get an M9
Six hundred quid???
Bloody hell you can buy top quality dSLRs for that much.
Try as I might, I really can't see the point of the micro four-thirds if the prices are going to be higher than better featured dSLRs. You don't save that much space in the camera bag and if that's your most pressing concern the Lumix range from Panasonic would be a better bet.
It's a bold move, but without heavy discounting I think micro four-thirds is doomed to go into the 'interesting but no way' bin alongside the Foveon sensor.
I'll stick with my Alpha 700 and Ixus combination thanks.
@ Maths 101: Fail. #
Really? The E-P1 has been something of a big seller for Olympus and the GF1 is also proving successful for Panasonic (and Panasonic have nailed the AF speed issue too). It's not just a smaller body but also a set of considerably smaller lenses. I agree with the thrust of the review that the E-P1's stated target market may not be impressed with this but for enthusiasts and pros alike who want a smaller carry around/travel setup, these cameras hit the spot nicely.
Nice to see you're up to date
Maybe you've not noticed, but other sites are reviewing the much newer E-P2 this week.
Not quite there yet
The problem is that human hands are the same size as they were in Oskar Barnack's day.
Oh, and if it will take a Leica M lens with an adaptor, it will take a Leica screw-thread lens, including the Russian copies.
There's some very good optical glass out there.
If oyu can afford if
Buy a Leica M9.
But anyhow why bother with this size and format? By the time you put lenses on you have taken away the main reason to have one. Compactness and pocketability. Even with the pancake lens it's still a bit of a lump and you are stuck with a fixed focal length.
If you want a quality compact camera that fits easily in your pocket then go for something like a LX3 or S90 (WHich I have just got and adore). Otherwise get a proper DSLR and be done with it.
you, er, do know that Four Thirds represents the aspect ratio of the sensor, not the size? I.e., most common DSLRs use a sensor that has a 3 by 2 ratio, the Oly/Panasonics use a more square sensor that is 4 by 3 in ratio between the height and the width.
Some creative types swear that the 4/3ds ratio is easier to compose for (it's closer to the 6x6 format of medium format cameras), and it fits certain sized print mounts better, and it can use more of the lens's focal area. Others feel that the 3 by 2 is the "perfect ratio" used in art and nature for centuries - and it's what Canon/Nikon use so it must be right. Still other (wholly misguided types) feel that 16 by 9 widescreen would be even better as it is used for video - epic fail, because a picture is something you are to SEE, not to represen the view of what you SHOULD BE SEEING as in a movie screen. I like a square format for composition, I could live with 2:3, but the widescreen peeps are just people that have never the difference between a perfectly printed picture and an on-screen photo snap.
At any rate, MFT are a lot shallower than any DSLR, and their lenses are a lot smaller for a given focal length. Whether they are £600-worth smaller is an open question - I still use my old Oly E-500 DSLR for a "tourist" camera, because it is light plastic compared to my magnesium-bodied E-3 and it is paid for. If I want something even lighter and more on hand, I use the camera on my iPhone...
"Some creative types swear that the 4/3ds ratio is easier to compose for (it's closer to the 6x6 format of medium format cameras), and it fits certain sized print mounts better, and it can use more of the lens's focal area. Others feel that the 3 by 2 is the "perfect ratio" used in art and nature for centuries - and it's what Canon/Nikon use so it must be right. Still other (wholly misguided types) feel that 16 by 9 widescreen would be even better as it is used for video - epic fail, because a picture is something you are to SEE, not to represen the view of what you SHOULD BE SEEING as in a movie screen. I like a square format for composition, I could live with 2:3, but the widescreen peeps are just people that have never the difference between a perfectly printed picture and an on-screen photo snap."
All very good, but most serious photographers do no print the whole frame. They crop to suit the image and always have. Indeed many cameras offer different formats these days, which is something I don't understand. When I compose a shot I am already thinking what aspect ratio will suit the print and I'm framing for that crop in my head as I compose. If you've got a reasonable eye you will always compose like that whatever aspect ratio your camera supports. And you should bear in mind that standard print sizes available for 135 often didn't match the 3:2 ratio of the negatives, probably the most common standard size was 7"x5" and the most common "large" size was probably 8"x10".
In particular your comment about the proximity "6x6 format of medium format cameras" is seriously flawed. Firstly because "medium format" was a generic term to refer to 120 roll film, commonly available formats were 6x6, 6x4.5, 6x7 and 6x9 and there were others. Some cameras allowed you to change the gate to format. Secondly it's flawed because photographers shooting 6x6 seldom printed the whole frame at 1x1. And finally because the main reason to shoot medium format was (and indeed still is) that the larger frame offers greater resolution and greater control over depth of field, nothing to do with aspect ratio.
@ Robert Hill (Viewfinders)
You wrote :-
"Umm, you people do know why an optical viewfinder isn't standard, .. ? That's because without a swinging mirror, MFT can't use the SLR trick ... meaning that it is impossible to design a single optical viewfinder that will work with all lenses (without really complex linkage systems)."
Ummm, yes we did know that. I still want an optical finder tough. It has been done with linkages as you say (Leica), or you can simply/cheaply have some lines in the viewfinder to show different lens coverages. Better than nothing.
Of course, I admit I have not tried said camera but, honestly, I like an SLR or a super tiny subcompact if I don't want to carry one and accept the quality loss.
This thing is like an iMac, all the disadvantages of a SLR and a subcompact and dubiously no advantages of either, imho.
Yes. I hate iMacs. Compromise computer.
When I first heard about these middle range cameras I thought they might be interesting, however they are just too expensive. You could pick up a very nice DSLR for that money.
Does anyone that the smaller form factor appeals to really want/need to be able to change lenses? Surely a little compact with a built in zoom would be far better for them... I used to get great pics from my little Olympus C770 UZ, and that had 10x optical, and an electronic viewfinder, not to mention a flash. Pity about the battery life, but apart from that a great little camera.
These days I have 5mp on my phone for general snaps and 12mp on my big Nikon for the more artistic pics.
Oh, and sometimes size is important.... People get out of the way of my Nikon D300 with the f/2.8 zoom lens on the front, it demands respect and threatens concussion if they don't duck fast enough!
Its nice but no full slr by a long shot
I was recently looking for a smaller compact camera that allows me to stick it in my pocket and not carry my e510, 3 lenses, flash, ect ect but still allow me to stick say, my compact zoom lems. So when i saw this was a four/thirds i thought way hey, here we go. But no.
Its a smaller!!!! 4/3rds. So unless there is an adapter (no doubt hideously expensive) i'm no better off.
Oh well, fail for all the right reasons.
@AC at 11:14
Yeah, I know that - I actually have a 5"x7"/half-frame Gandolfi Universal large format btw. (Interesting note - it's either 5x7 or 7x5 depending upon what side of the Atlantic you happen to inhabit!). And while I don't shoot with it that often anymore (daylight developing large sheets is a pain and I don't have a darkroom at home), it is entirely for DOF and resolution that I do so. Scan with an Epson 750 and voila - a 50mpix resolution "digital" photo with enormous DOF.
I wanted to keep it simple for an El Reg audience, not the Steve's Cams or dpreview audience, or even the Ken Rockwell audience.
And the desire to crop the frame is EXACTLY why I prefer squarer formats - they give you the most flexibility to crop in any direction whilst using the most of the image circle of the lens...I suspect we are violently agreeing!
Amidst all the photo-nerdery, you've all failed to notice who the review was written by- George Cole, from TV's Minder!
It's lovely to see you (how's Terry by the way?), and all but why are you here doing this?
The old Liquid Gold account finally run dry?
Use it with Leica Lenses, Novoflex adapter and Voigtlaender optical viewfinder
I have been looking for a camera like this for some time. The Sigma DP-1 looked nice on paper, but received bad reviews. So, this was out. The Olympus Pen looked promising, too, got favourable reviews (mostly) but needed some time to mature, in my opinion. Meanwhile, the PANASONIC GF-1 was introduced, competing with the Olympus Pen.
The reason I bought the Olympus was the somewhat better image quality (in reviews) and the metal body. I use it with my Leica M6 Summicron and the Tele-Elmarit, attached to the German Novoflex adapter. I do not need an internal flash, because of the high ISO ratings of the Pen for available light photography. The slow autofocus I do not care about because my lenses are manual anyway, and I want it for landscape pictures. My viewfinder is an optical one from Voigtlaender I happened to have.
What I like about this camera is the almost Leica-like feeling of quality and the image quality.
For me, it is a pleasure to touch and use. The adapters support a wide range of quality lenses from Zeiss, Voigtlaender and Leica. I have other cameras, too, DSLRs from NIKON, for example, which are also quite useful.
What I have been missing over the years, however, is the feeling of quality I enjoyed with my Leica M6, and my Rollei 35s.
So I am happy. - The question is, how long. I hope the Olympus Pen will keep me from getting a Leica M9, the price of which is a bit steep.
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