Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Year With The Olympus E-PL1

E-PL1 - Point Reyes  2013

Two Prints - Marin County  2013

Actually it's now been a little over a year. The E-PL1 has been to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, to the top of Tchicoma Peak in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico and up and down Melrose Avenue. And let's not forget my pioneering Lembert Dome descent.

I bought the camera on sale from Costco with the idea of trying out the "micro four-thirds" (m4/3) format. At the time I was wondering if I could achieve the same photo quality with a m4/3's camera as with my much larger Nikon D90. What's interesting is that the answer is "yes," which calls into question the need for the much larger and heavier Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

Now, when I say that the E-PL1 can produce the same quality photographs as larger cameras my criteria are: photos on the web (for the mikereport), and prints made on an Epson 3880 (paper size 17x22 inches.)  That is to say, the end results of the process. 

Web: Of course, photos posted on the web don't require large DSLRs: iPhone pix look great, as do photos taken with every digital camera I’ve owned. Prints: I actually don't produce that many large size prints, but I’ve made large prints of agaves taken at the Santa Barbara Mission and my favorite Yosemite juniper (above). Actually, very nice! Yes, yes, they have soft corners and some distortion. But you know what? I've never had a visitor to the booth hold up a print and say, "Hm, too bad. If it weren't for the excessive noise in the shadow areas I'd buy it."

I now have two lenses that I use on a regular basis: an Olympus 14-150mm zoom (28-300mm equiv.) (which will need a separate post) and the Panasonic 20mm prime (40mm equiv.).

I use the eye-level viewfinder almost–almost–exclusively. But it comes in handy now and then to be able to compose using the rear LCD screen, especially when using a tripod. The viewfinder has a "flip-up" feature that might be useful, I guess, but I've had a problem with my glasses accidentally pushing the viewfinder to an unwanted position. Problem solved with a rubber band holding it down. Alas, a fall from the truck onto the road has left a crack in the viewing lens, but the device is still fully functional.

Handling is fine. The controls and interface are a little fiddly, but since I've used Olympus cameras in the past, not much of an issue.

Basically the tryout has been successful: size, weight, handling and image quality are all fine. Of course, it would be nice to have an integrated viewfinder and a flip-up LCD screen (like I had on my C-8080). So I suspect that there's going to be an OM-D in my future. Or the rumored yet-to-be-announced E-P5.


Bryce Canyon
Tchicoma Peak
Melrose Avenue
Lembert Dome
E-PL1 Purchase
Agaves, Santa Barbara Mission
Flip-Up Screen

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