Olympus PEN E-P1 was the first Micro Four Thirds camera released by Olympus in the year 2009. This was a significant product for the company, marking the first step into Mirrorless Interchangeable Camera (MILC) world, and shifting of priority from the Four Thirds DSLR system to Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds. When the PEN E-P1 was launched, I was still happily shooting with the Olympus DSLR E-520, an entry level DSLR, even before I did my blog review for the E-5. Being the second released mirrorless camera in the world (first was Panasonic G1, about half a year earlier), this E-P1 obtained considerably huge amount of attention and scrutiny from everyone.
The Olympus PEN E-P1 is now six years old. I was holding, and shooting with a six year old camera. I found it in the cabinet in office, and the camera just screamed at me, grabbing my attention. I was immediately attracted to the beautiful, retro, yet modern design of the camera. The metal build of the body was solid and reassuring as I held the E-P1 in my hands, and I like the smooth, cool feel of the metal. It was not a light camera, it has some heft, and as I slotted the battery in, turned the camera on, I just knew I must bring this E-P1 out for the weekend, and forget about all my other cameras at the moment. Who cares if the camera is a six year old dinosaur? The desire to test it out was unexpected, but I guess why not try out the first ever Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus?
I brought the E-P1 out for a quick shutter therapy session at Petaling Street, and with me everywhere I went throughout the weekend. I brought along with me some great M.Zuiko lenses, 25mm F1.8, 45mm F1.8, and a compact, slim 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom kit lens, just in case I needed something wider. The majority of my shots were taken with either the 45mm F1.8 (how I miss using this lens!) and the 25mm F1.8.
The images I managed to get out of the camera is fantastic. Yes it has only 12MP and the high ISO performance was not great, and the dynamic range is limited. Who cares? When I was shooting mostly with ISO200 (and not getting over ISO800) the E-P1 produced beautiful colors and the images straight out of camera was just fantastic. The signature Olympus colors is evidently there, and I am amazed by how consistent Olympus has been about their faithful, realistic color reproduction in all their cameras throughout different generations.
Honestly, I do think that the images I shot from the E-P1 blow the Fuji X100 out of water.
I was surprised to find this, and I would have thought the Fuji X100 would fare better given that the camera was launched 2 years after the E-P1. Yes, at higher ISO the Fuji wins, and the Fuji is better in terms of dynamic range, but if you just put these technicalities and quantitative measurements aside, and just look at the photographs, you will see that Olympus E-P1 produced superior images in terms of contrast, sharpness and how "life-like" they generally look.
The autofocus is painfully slow, and with the gigantic focusing boxes, it is difficult to achieve critical focus, so for street photography Olympus E-P1 is not the best camera, considering at that time DSLR has much faster AF. That low resolution LCD screen is terrible to work with, and I will just have to trust that the camera nails the focus, as it was quite difficult to judge focus accuracy through the obsolete screen. I particularly dislike the implementation of the control dials, though there were two dials (one at thumb rest area, one around the arrow pad) I feel that the traditional DSLR position, like the ones on the newer OM-D cameras work much better and more naturally for quick adjustments. The single fact that the Olympus PEN E-P1 does not have a built in Electronic Viewfinder was sufficient for many online photography reviewers to slam it, pulling down the overall final scores in conclusion. I think that was a big sin, and was redeemed with the release of an external viewfinder VF-2 for the successor E-P2.
Being the first Micro Four Thirds camera, there was much to improve on, and E-P1 was not perfect. Nonetheless, setting all the issues and complains aside, taking the camera out and shooting with it was quite a fun experience. I think that was the main objective of PEN photography, just go out and have fun shooting.
The images that this camera produced was nothing short of amazing.
I want to start with this image, because of a few reasons. Firstly the colors, though looking vivid and overly saturated, was "alive" and just beautiful. You just do not get this kind of color rendition with any other cameras. Not even with the Fuji. I know color preference is subjective, but gosh, those of you who have experienced Olympus colors will understand how amazing it is. And this comes from a six years old camera! Secondly, I liked how Carmen expressed her "WTF" moment when we were fooling around while she was concentrating on getting a good food shot. Moments like this is worth shooting, and this may not win me any awards or sell prints, but it captured what we were doing together and surely showed the fun that we have had! This is my photo of the day!
I think it has been quite a while since I last did a street portrait shot. Went up to this man and asked if it was ok to take his photo. He said yes! People are friendly in Malaysia.
Another portrait of a stranger. Olympus renders beautiful black and white images. I am not sure how to explain this, but this has been discussed in many forums and the black and white images have the "Leica" quality to it, and many have done comparisons before. I think this is a very subjective topic, but I know the black and white images from Olympus cameras come out beautiful.
Five Foot Way
The country, as I have mentioned in my last blog entry, is falling apart
The windows, just like my beloved country, are falling apart too.
The making of
Smells soooooo good
My friend Amir, has a visitor, Lynne from New York, who joined us yesterday for out shutter therapy session in Petaling Street. She shoots on the streets of New York, how cool is that?
I also have a visitor from Germany! Hello Stephan! I am surprised to find out there are Germans who read my blog!
In the afternoon, I went to Publika, to attend a photography talk. Jeffrey Lim gave a presentation on his project, "Kanta". He made his own camera. That is right, the image above shows the camera that he constructed himself from scratch!
Everyone was curious how the DIY camera works!
This is Jeffrey Lim. You can find out more about him here:
I also spent some time catching up with some friends, over delicious food.
My Pork Burger with Char Siew
Our Sweet Desert
It was quite a weekend for me. Had shutter therapy, met some new friends (one from New York and one from Germany), caught up with awesome people, went to photography talks, and plenty of good coffee and delicious food. That E-P1 made everything sweeter.
I know some of you have had used the PEN E-P1 before, and some of you still have it with you! Share your experience. I want to hear your thoughts!