Pros + Image quality is excellent
+ Lenses for this camera are very small and light
+ Camera is very durable and feels solid
+ Built-in Flash
+ Smooth Manual Focusing
+ HD Video
+ User Friendly
Cons - Slow Autofocus
- Locking lens is annoying to deploy and stow
Summary I purchased the E-PL1 after deciding that for my needs a full-size SLR was not necessary, while a simple pocket-size point-n-shoot was just not up to par. There seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding the Micro 4/3 camera and the niche it is intended to fill. At first glance it seems this camera is some kind of "in between" for consumer and pro SLR grade cameras, however I would have to say from my experience that this leans closer to SLR in terms of performance and picture-taking quality.
What I think about using it
Since I am not a pro photographer, nor do I have any aspirations to be be one, I like a camera that will work well without me having to spend months figuring it out. I should say that while I don't want to be a pro, I like getting pro-level results and that's what I like about the E-PL1; it does exactly what I want (most of the time), and using the iAUTO setting allows you to take really great photographs without having to pay a lot of mind to advanced settings. I think it is important to remember that for about $400 you are getting a camera that will take absolutely beautiful photographs - not just mere snapshots. The best of the consumer pocket cams will not even come close to what you can achieve with the E-PL1 in terms of photographic quality. The pictures are certainly on par with what my friend's Nikon D90 can achieve.
Lenses and Add-ons
Being able to swap lenses is great, it adds a lot of flexibility to the camera. While I really like this ability, and I do have multiple lenses for my E-PL1, this may be one of the weaker points only because the selection of 4/3 lenses is relatively small. All I have right now are the Olympus zoom lens that came with the kit and the Lumix 20 mm pancake lens which I use most of the time. The pictures turn out great with either lens, but the Lumix lens does a better job of capturing the subtleties of the scene. I am considering purchasing a wide-angle lens sometime in the future but for now I am more than content with the two I have. The lenses for this camera are very small and light, so taking them with you is not a problem. You don't need a massive camera bag if you just want to bring one or two extra lenses. In addition to lenses you can get other accessories like a flash or viewfinder. Personally, I found the LCD screen to be more than adequate even in bright, sunny conditions. I was recently in Southeast Asia where it's always hot and sunnny, and had no trouble framing shots during the day...or night for that matter.
Some people may complain that this camera is too big or heavy, but really, for what it is, it is perfect. You don't need to put it in a bag, just get a padded strap and wear it on your shoulder or neck. You can stuff extra lenses into your pockets or a small bag, and since there is an integrated pop-up flash you do not need to bring an externally mounted flash. A quick word about the integrated flash - it works great, has decent range and the camera does a good job of balancing the exposure to prevent washed-out photographs when using the flash. On the down side, the flash does take a big long to "warm up" before it is ready to go. Overall the E-PL1 is giving you SLR-quality results without having to lug around a big full-size camera, and for most people the E-PL1 will be more than they ever need.
As others have mentioned, the auto focus on this camera can be a little "iffy" at times. Even in well-lit scenes, the camera can hunt around before finally locking in on focus...but it does have a constant AF mode which will attempt to "track" the subject as it changes focal planes. Personally, I stick with the standard AF mode. This camera is able to capture fast motion shots without giving you a blurry mess, but if you are doing something like sports photography you will certainly want to use the continuous shooting mode. Combine that with a quick SDHC card and you can capture pictures sequentially as the action happens, increasing your chances of getting that perfect shot.
The E-PL1 does record 720P video and it does so well. Although a dedicated camcorder is still better, this camera records high enough quality video that you can leave the camcorder at home and not really regret it. If video recording is not your primary objective then you will be content with the results you get from the E-PL1. I do believe there is a stereo mic attachment you can get to improve the sound quality of the video recordings - that is something you should get if you plan to do more than just the occasional video, because the sound quality with the built-in mic is not that great.
The final point I'm going to touch upon is build quality - which is excellent. This camera is very durable and feels solid in your hands when holding it - not cheap and flimsy like many newer electronics do. It does feel like it could take a few hits but I would not want to drop mine to find out. The camera body may survive but the fragile lenses would most likely be damaged on impact. Overall I would expect my E-PL1 to last a long time and provide many years of quality photography.
My conclusion is that the E-PL1 is an ideal camera for both individuals who want to take high quality photos as well as pros who want a camera they can use "most of the time", saving the full size SLRs for studio work and such. I really love mine and I have absolutely no second guesses about buying it. It's not often that such a high quality product is made available at such a reasonable price...but as far as cameras go this one deserves high marks because despite its minor flaws, it excels where it counts the most.
P.S. If you will buy this Camera I suggest you have to check for best price before you decide at: www.amazon.com/exec/******/****/B0035LBRJO/cnet-offer-20
Pros Light weight, interchangeable lenses, good low light performance, All the manual control you would need.
Cons The VF-2 electronic viewfinder is an option not part of the package.
Summary We got this camera as a augment to our canon T1i. As it is way easier to travel with and make better travel then our DSLR. I have been putting the camera through it's paces. And have been very happy with it. It gives us all the control we want from a dslr with the size of a bridge camera.I am loving this little camera. Have order the panasonic 45-200mm for it to give it a better reach and develop kit suited for my travel needs. This camera is fun to shoot with, and I have found out that you can bounce flash with the built in flash. Just use your index finger to point the flash toward the ceiling. Just know that it will only work well with at 8-10ft ceiling Anything higher and the flash will not be long enough. But being able to bounce the built in flash is a nice surprise.
The EPL-1 has an ISO of 3200, but this is not where you want this camera to be. It is pretty noisy up that high. At 1600iso the photos are acceptable in noise level. I found that 1250iso is about where you want to restrict the auto iso to. As the imagine quality and noise level is not bad at all. At 1000iso down. The photo quality is excellent. For the point and shoot user the low light performance will be a huge jump from what they are uses to.
The kit lens is a bit slow in AF, but EPL-1 is not a camera I would not want to use for action shooting. But if you get the panasonic lens instead, it is just as fast as the GF1 in auto focusing.
The button controls will be a breeze for the point and shoot user looking to move up. For the DSLR user looking for a smaller camera with the control that they are uses to, the button system actually took about 15 min to get uses to, and it became second nature like the dial control of a dslr.
The is system is great. I can choose between 3 different setting 2 axis, just vertical, or just horizontal. I am considering the panasonic 20mm 1.7 pancake over the olympus 17mm 2.8. With the 1.7 and the inbody IS system. It would give the EPL-1 excellent low light shooting ability.
So if you are considering up to, or looking for a smaller package as a second camera and thinking about a bridge. I would seriously consider the EPL-1. It will give you allot more options and controls the a very high end bridge.
The build quality is excellent. The body is a metal frame, with a plastic back cover. It is study built. But light weight, so it is easy to hike and travel with.
This has been a excellent purchase for my travel needs, and give me the control that a dslr user would want.
Updated on Mar 17, 2010
Just remember this is a m4/3 camera not a DSLR, it is great for general photography, but it is ok in light action shots with the AF tracking. And in low light, it is better then any point and shoot, but will not give you the results of a dslr. If you go in understanding this, you will not be disappointed, but if you are expecting dlsr performance, you may want to look at the low price pure entry level DSLR instead. That way you will not get disappointed by the low light and action performance.
Easy to use
Good saturation in images
Images great to look at
Comfortable to hold and use
Cons The EVF is nice but expensive
LCD screen washes out under bright light
The camera does not work under low light (autofocus does not focus)
Summary I bought this camera because I was looking for a small traveling camera that I could take when I did not want to take either my Canon G11 or a DSLR. What I wanted was the convenience of the G11 but with interchangeable lens. Also, I was also impressed with the various positive reviews. Now that I have worked with it for some weeks, I have come to the conclusion that while it is a good camera, it is also a camera that is fatally flawed. Specifically, under low light conditions, this camera cannot focus. I was in a restaurant where I was treating my brother and his family to a Christmas dinner. The lighting was low but not dark. The E-PL1 simply could not work; it would hunt; the autofocus indicator would disappear. In frustration, I gave up with it. This problem has plagued most of the Olympus line and Olympus has not yet dealt with it. This problem limits the usage of this product -- pity!
Pros Far superior to point and shoot and lighter and smaller and competitive (in some areas) with DSLR. Only like it so far with Panasonic pancake lense which creates a real fast camera and focuses efforts on composition.
Cons Kit lense makes this a marginal camera by any measure. Using Panny Pancake, beautiful pictures, but need to use legs for zoom. Great exercise, though sometimess a bit dangerous.
Summary Bought it knowing from various reviews that it needed Panasonic pancake, and pictures are striking, consistently on par with best of DSLR. Daughter with only point and shoot experience took it for semester in Europe and consistently shot better pictures than photography majors. She will not give it back even when I just wanted it for a week of fishing in Canada. Just bought her Underwater Housing Olympus PT EP01 to take this winter to Australia Great Barrier Reef.
Pros Image quality excellent, built in flash, HD Video, numerous features for the $$$$$
Cons Auto focus
Summary Great camera would buy again!!