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Olympus PEN E-PL1: the Reviews Are In

The Photo Marketing Association show at the end of February is one of the biggest trade shows in the camera world, and the lead-up to it is marked by teasers for lots of the cameras to be unveiled. There have been a few recent announcements, but one of the cameras currently getting the most buzz is the Olympus PEN E-PL1, a 12 megapixel camera with interchangeable lenses that’s capable of shooting HD video. Price tag: $600.

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Olympus recently unveiled the camera, and the early reviews are in:

The Gadget Lab review of the E-PL1: new features, but it’s ugly

  • Olympus has taken the lovely, popular and slightly flawed Pen EP-1 camera, tweaked it to to be more like Panasonic’s equally nice GF1, and in the process created a Frankenstein’s camera, a bloated monster that bears the same relationship to the EP-1 as Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz bore to his Stanley Kowalski.

    The new Pen has some nice features not found in the Panasonic. First, in-body image stabilization, which works whatever lens you put on the front. Second, you can hook up a microphone to supplement to built-in mono mic (both the EPx cameras have stereo mics, the Panny mono with no aux input).

CNET hands-on review of the E-PL1: meh.

  • Nothing about the model I used seemed to be egregiously lacking with regards to the design and feature set, but nothing screamed “must have!” either. What does your gut say? review of the E-PL1: a great entry-level camera

  • [For $600], you are getting something the size of a large point-and-shoot (say a Canon G11) but with a large sensor, 720p video, and interchangeable lenses. You don’t get the stainless steel body though, which is disappointing because that E-P2 is just such a beautiful piece of hardware. The E-PL1 could become an ideal entry-point into “real cameras” so long as people understand what they are getting into when they are investing in Micro Four-Thirds as opposed to something like EF-S.

PC World review of the E-PL1: ditto.

  • [T]he E-PL1 can help novice shooters and curious kids ramp up their photography skills quickly. Many other cameras out there offer a combination of auto modes and manual settings–Sony’s latest entry-level DSLRs, for instance, have similar in-camera software designed to educate beginners–but the E-PL1 is groundbreaking in its portability, ease of use, training potential, and price.

CrunchGear review of the E-PL1: “really, really nice”

  • In my brief tests I found the E-PL1 to be nigh on exactly what we’ve all been looking for in a micro 4/3s. The Live Guide – complete with tips on shooting animals, kids, and food – is great for beginners while more advanced shooters will like the focus time and the weight and side of the new camera.At $599.99 for a Body, 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zoom lens, and battery pack you’re looking at quite a capable shooter at under what other folks are asking for their high-level point and shoots.

In sum, very favorable reviews of the Olympus E-PL1, leaning towards the sentiment that this is a populist, easy-to-use camera with good features for its relatively low price point (but, a few grousings that it’s not as pretty as other cameras). Read the full reviews for more insight (and for lots of pictures).

Olympus and Panasonic rumors site 4/3 Rumors has discovered that the E-PL1 is already available for preorder on Amazon and  BHPhoto, if you feel compelled to make the plunge.

(image via CNET)

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