Olympus further miniaturizes the PEN series with the introduction of the PL1, and adds a flash into the little camera as well. The E-PL1 is a fine successor in the PEN line, staying faithful to the design of the series while adding more to the package. The is the first in the PEN series to have an in-built flash, so that’s a biggie by itself. The E-PL1 one has some easy to manipulate user controls.
For example, a slier allows you to set the warm tone on the image, with the tone lowering towards the blue on the opposite end. Like the previous models in the PEN series, the E-PL1 has its own in built art filters as well, 6 to be precise. The 12 MP sensor of this camera can capture images in JPG and RAW formats, apart from video files. Unfortunately Olympus has done away with stereo recording with this model, although ti is possible with the use of external microphones.
The E-PL1 ISO ranges from a low 100 to a maximum of ISO 3200, which is more than reasonable for most lighting conditions. This model is also the first in the PEN line to feature an image stabilization system as well as a ‘wave’ supersonic filter.
The grip on the E-PL1 is better than the predecessor PEN models – it is smaller but more pronounced in shape. The E-PL1 does NOT feature a COMMAND dial, and all controls can be changed using combinations of the usual MODE dial on top, and buttons on the camera body. We loved the fact that video recording could be activated by a one-touch button on the rear of the camera body. To begin shooting with this camera, you need to activate the main power independently of unlocking the lens – we found this to be a bit of a pain.
This seemingly simple camera can be a very versatile tool once you work out the menu systems. For instance, you could assign a fresh setting to the single-touch movie recording button. The E-PL1 features a bulb mode hidden somewhere into those menus, and also an anti-shock setting for extremely slow shutter speeds. The camera use a contract detect AF system, as can be expected from such a miniature body. It works well for most static subjects, but things can get tricky with a live or moving subject. In such a scenario, it is good to see the manual focus option on the E-PL1. We loved the accompanying camera software which helps you neatly file images and even tag people!
The Olympus E-PL1 is a fine successor in the PEN line, and though it could have a few improvements, we recommend it as a good buy. This is a fine camera in the micro four thirds basket. We’d love to see what Panasonic comes out with in answer to this little beauty from Olympus.