Olympus PEN E-PL1
ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $599 (with 14-42mm zoom)
Olympus’ “economy” mirrorless model, the E-PL1 is probably better suited to the compact-camera user moving up to an interchangeable-lens camera than to the DSLR user looking for a smaller alternative. It’s simple to operate in point-and-shoot mode, but makes it more difficult to set things manually than with the E-P1 and E-P2.
Like the E-P1 and E-P2 (and most of Olympus’ DSLR lineup), the E-PL1 features a Four Thirds-format 12.3-megapixel High Speed Live MOS image sensor. Like the EP-1 and E-P2 (but unlike Olympus’ DSLRs except the new E-5), the E-PL1 can do HD video: 1280x720/30p HD and 640x480/30p SD video. A new red video button starts video recording; press the shutter button to shoot a still image, and use those two buttons to toggle between still and video recording.
A new Live Guide lets you see the effects of various settings before you shoot; when you like what you see, press the shutter button to record it. Six Creative Art Filters (including a new Gentle Sepia one) let you add effects easily to still images and video. Sensor-shift image stabilization works with all lenses (albeit with just three shutter speeds of compensation vs. four in the E-P2) for still images, with electronic stabilization for video.
Other differences between the E-PL1 and its higher-priced brothers are a 2.7-inch LCD monitor (vs. 3.0 inches in the E-P1 and E-P2), a mostly plastic rather than metal body, a mono built-in microphone (stereo sound is available via the EMA-1 adapter and an external stereo mic), a top shutter speed of 1/200 sec. (vs. 1/4000 sec.), a top ISO setting of 3200 (vs. 6400) and no control dials. The E-PL1 does have a built-in flash unit (and will accept the same accessory flashes as the E-P1 and E-P2), and will accept the clip-on VF-2 EVF (unlike the E-P1).
STANDOUT FEATURE: The Pen panache at a lower price.
1. The Mode dial provides quick direct setting of shooting modes and access to Creative Art Filters, scene modes and movie settings.
2. The red direct button provides one-touch toggling between still and video shooting.
3. Unlike the E-P1 and E-P2, the E-PL1 has a built-in pop-up flash unit.