Olympus E-PL1 pros and cons

Olympus E-PL1 Pros and Cons

These are some pros and cons of the camera that I jotted down as I was using it for a couple of days, and is probably not exhausitive. These are just the opinions of one photographer, and you should feel free to share your own in the comment section below or in our forums.

Comparison to compact cameras and dSLR's


Advanced Compact (e.g. - Canon G11):   small sensor, live view, no mirror, video with auto-focus, no auto-focus points, slow focus lag, large depth of field, no interchangeable lenses

Olympus PEN E-PL1:    medium sensor, live view, no mirror, video with auto-focus, auto-focus points, some focus lag, medium depth of field, lens changeable

Prosumer dSLR (Nikon d80):   large sensor, viewfinder, no auto-focus with video, little focus lag, smaller depth of field, easy to get good background blur, lens changeable


Auto-focus speed test between cameras:

I did some auto-focus tests with the Canon S90, Olympus E-PL1 and Nikon D300 all with the same subjects. I used the kit lens on the Olympus E-PL1, and the 18-200mm zoom with the Nikon D300. The test was conducted inside an indoor mall, where I would not consider the lighting particularly bright or dim.

While the auto-focus  of the D300 was lighting quick, the Canon S90 and Oly were significantly slower and had similar auto-focus delays, although I found the auto-focus on the Olympus E-PL1 to be more accurate and slightly faster in focusing than the Canon S90


Comparison of Sensor sizes: 

  • Compact, Canon S90 / Canon G11     43mm 
  • Four-thirds, Olympus E-Pl1)     225mm (200mm when 3:2 aspect ratio used)
  • dSLR, Nikon D300    384mm

Olympus E-PL1 Pros:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Good build quality, live view magnify function, small size
  • Easy to change full manual controls, but not as easy as using the Canon S90 control dials
  • Faster auto-focus speed than a compact
  • Full manual controls for HD-video
  • Built-in IS (Image stabilization)
  • Raw capability
  • Good ergonomic feel
  • More lenses planned for spring 2011 - super telephoto zoom, and one each in the macro, fisheye, and wide-angle prime lens categories
  • One-touch video recording
  • Excellent high-ISO capability
  • Kit lens has decent macro capability
  • Magnify feature of the live-view is great for zooming in on small objects before taking your photo
  • The camera has wireless flash control (4 groups, 3 channels) of Olympus & Panasonic flash guns for creative external lighting

Olympus E-PL1 Cons:

  • No dedicated dials for controlling aperture & shutter speed
  • Sync speed is not great
  • Price of camera + lenses similar to some less expensive dSLRs
  • F3.5 kit lens, small focal range (28mm-84mm equivalent)
  • There is a limited choice of micro 4/3rds lenses for extreme telephoto, wide-angle or narrow depth-of-field shots. Larger selection of lenses if you use a $200 adapter, but questionable auto-focus capabilities
  • Low-light focus speed is not great
  • Sluggish AF in video mode
  • No wireless or remote control of the camera
  • Slow auto-focus means not great for action
  • Manual exposure changes could be made easier
  • I personally prefer a true viewfinder for my own photography, although many people prefer live view
  • Internal flash is weak


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Olympus E-PL1 Image quality tests