Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Olympus E-P1 Released

Olympus has just released a new camera that's a cross between a point and shoot and a DSLR. At least that's the best way I can describe it. It's small like a point & shot, but has the features of a DSLR including the ability to change lenses. Although priced at $800 it's still a reasonable alternative to a normal size DSLR. Although I wouldn't replace my DSLR with this, it might be something I would consider as a second camera, especially if I'm concerned about weight and size. This camera is small enough for me to pack on vacation and carry around in my cargo shorts and even carry a second lens in another pocket. At 12 megapixel, it should provide you with some very nice prints and since it's sensor is larger than a point & shoot, it should provide better images in low light and higher ISO than a typical point & shoot.

Here's a look at a marketing video which basically describes what the camera is meant to be.

Let's take a look at some of the features.
  • Autofocus Live View - there's no viewfinder so there's no other option
  • In camera Image Stabilization - Olympus claims it can compensate up to 4 shutter stops
  • Dust Reduction - uses ultrasonic technology vibrating dust and particles off the image sensor
  • Multiple Exposure - allowing you to combine 2 images into 1 in camera
  • Face Detection - insures that subjects faces are in focus
  • 19 Automatic Scene Modes - Night, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sport, etc.
  • Shadow Adjustment - helps decrease contrast between light and dark areas, helpful in extreme lighting conditions
  • Art Filters - 6 filters that can be applied to stills and video and used when taking the image or applied when viewing playback
  • 3 inch LCD Screen - this is the new standard for DSLR, considering this is a smaller camera, this is a big plus
  • Video - HD 1280 x 720, SD 640 x 480 AVI format 2GB Max
The features listed, make it a very competitive alternative to a full size DSLR. There are a couple things that keep it from earning higher marks in my book. There's no on camera flash and currently only 2 lens options, 17 mm and 14 - 42 mm. Although on camera flash can deliver horrible results, if you know how to dial it down, you can use it for fill when shooting outdoors. I'm sure more lens options will be release in the future, making it a more attractive alternative.

I also give it style points for looking sort of retro in a very contemporary package. It reminds me of my first camera, a 1960's Yashica Rangefinder. It also didn't have a flash, but just like the Olympus, it had a hot shoe with a horizontal flash.

With so many digital cameras and so many choices, this new release only makes finding the right camera for you a little harder. On the plus side, you have choices. I think this can be the perfect camera for someone that is looking for a do everything kind of camera with no thoughts of photography being a source of revenue or someone adding a second camera looking to reduce the weight of a full DSLR when vacationing.

For a more in-depth review on all the features and controls, check out dpreview.com. Remember taking great images has nothing to do with the camera, it has to do with becoming a better photographer. So get out there and take some pictures.

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