Expert Review of Olympus E-PL1 DSLR Kit 14-42mm Black
One of the early members of the hugely successful PEN Lite series and the first from the E-PL series Olympus E-PL1 DSLR was a successful attempt to dwell in small DSLR cameras into global market, the device provides a really ideal path for the compact device user for whom “size does matter”. The camera easily offers all the core functionalities of a DSLR without very severe complexity. This device becomes the first member of the PEN series to feature an in-built flash which is implemented in neat fashion with a turn over design and raises the flash above the eye level to reduce the red eye effect. The new Live Guide is another beginner-friendly addition that makes understanding and changing apertures and shutter speeds to achieve creative effects very straight-forward indeed - simply move the slider and observe the effects live on the LCD screen. Other key changes include using the navigation pad to change most of the camera's key settings and the removal of more advanced buttons like AEL and ISO, which makes this device more suitable to efficient experienced users rather than beginners. Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens) certainly offers great photography features, with only the top shutter speed of 1/2000th second and ISO speed of 3200 proving limiting.
Design and Build Quality
Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens) may well be one of the most lightweight DSLRs available, weighing at 300 grams, this device is comparatively smaller too and measures only 120.6mm x 69.9mm x 36.4mm. Both the other devices from the PEN Series, EP-1 and EP-2 contain a large amount of metal on their bodies, hence contain more weight, in E-PL1 with a plastic body, along with weight, the cost is also shredded, the device still feels well built very little flex in the overall design. The depth and weight increase when the supplied poly-carbonate mounted 14-42mm kit lens is fitted. The modern styling of the 12.3 Megapixel Olympus E-PL1 SLR is retro, but to a very less extent when compared to the older models of PEN Lite series. This device is set to appeal the younger and more inexperienced audience that this model is aimed at. The device definitely looks stylish, this may be an understatement. Although the device does lack more cohesive design of its predecessors, there still is a generous, textured black plastic hand-grip on the left-front of the camera which I prefer to the original E-P1, and a shiny black panel on the rear where most of the controls are located. Olympus E-PL1 is surprisingly better constructed than you'd expect given its relatively small size, light weight and budget price-tag, certainly on a par with most entry- and mid-level DSLRs.
Focus and Face Detection
Talking about the focus of Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens), the device has a 11 point contrast detection auto-focus system, best part about this is that it automatically gets increased to 25 points when the Face Detection is turned on. The E-PL1 offers a comprehensive set of exposure modes, including P, A, S and M for advanced users. iAuto mode automatically recognises common scenes and and adjusts the camera settings accordingly to achieve the best results, perfect for complete novices, plus there's a range of different scene modes. The ePortrait scene mode allows you to soften shadows and smooth out unwanted facial features doesn’t matter if you use it before taking the picture or afterwards.
Lens and Image Stabilization
Olympus E-PL1 comes with the M. Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R MSC kit zoom lens. The R stands for 'Renewed', but aside from some cosmetic differences this is essentially the same kit lens as boxed with the E-PL2. It has a retracting design which makes it reasonably compact, especially compared with the stabilised kit zooms for the Sony NEX-C3 and Lumix GF3. Micro Four Thirds lenses have a crop factor of two, making the 35mm equivalent range 28-84mm. Like all Pen models, the E-PL1 body is fitted with sensor-shift image stabilisation. There are three modes, 1 works on both axes, 2 is vertical only, for panning shots and 3 is horizontal only, for portrait mode panning.
Screen and Menus
Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens) sports a 2.7 inch, 230,00 dot LCD screen, the size of the screen may seen a little low but the viewing angle is significantly wide and remains visible outdoors and also in sunshine, conditioned that the brightness level is increased to a maximum. The resolution is merely average for a screen of this size, resulting in a slightly grainy display, but it does offer 100% scene coverage. The colour temperature of the screen can be modified if you think it doesn't match that of your calibrated computer monitor, but the contrast of the screen can no way be altered.
The power source of this DSLR is BLS1 battery which easily provides up to 500 shots as reviewed by CIPA testing standards, this drops down significantly to 280 images if you are using Live View all the time. The location of battery is next to SD Card slot, both protected by a plastic lockable cover. Also found on the bottom of the camera is a metal tripod mount located almost in the centre of the camera body, although not in line with the lens.
Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens) despite being a DSLR cannot record images at the rate of 1080p and now that entire Canon IXUS series which is evidently a Point & Shoot series features 1080p Full HD video recording this may emerge as a major failure, still high resolution 1280 x 720 pixel video recording is provided in the device and under unorthodox aspect ratio of 16:9 instead of 4:3 or 3:2 as commonly seen in cameras, though VGA 640X480 movies are still recorded in 4:3. The movie mode can be easily accessed by clicking the Movie option, on the shooting dial, after which pressing the shutter button begins the recording part, , or much more conveniently with a single press of the new one-touch Motion Picture button on the rear of the camera. The total length of an individual movie clip is restricted to 7 minutes for 1280x720 movies and 14 minutes for 640x480 movies, apparently due to an inherent limit of 2Gb for AVI files. Presence of HDMI port on the body allows you to connect this device to a high definition TV set, but then the HDMI cable is obviously not an in box product.
Sensor is probably the reason why camera works. Sensor converts and optical image into an electrical signal and hence, the imaging is processed. The 12.3 Optical Resolution of Olympus E PL1 (14-42mm Lens) is worked upon by Live MOS image sensor.
Excellent image quality
Good build quality, live view magnify function, small size
Easy to change full manual controls, but not as easy as using the Canon S90 control dials
Faster auto-focus speed than a compact
Full manual controls for HD-video
Built-in IS (Image stabilization)
Good ergonomic feel
No dedicated dials for controlling aperture & shutter speed
Sync speed is not great
Price of camera + lenses similar to some less expensive dSLRs