"A truly excellent camera and well worth its price!"5.0 starson by Kevin-Riley
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.
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