Olympus E-PL1 Review

Review Date: August 15, 2010

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Olympus E-PL1

Olympus E-PL1


This Olympus E-PL1 Review is based on a production model. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.

The Olympus E-PL1 is a Digital Interchangeable Lens (DIL, aka “mirrorless DSLR”) camera with an “almost retro” charm all its own, good handling, very good image quality and much improved low noise high ISO capabilities.

Though the build quality does not approach that of the E-P1, the E-PL1 is instantly recognizable from a distance and is as functional as you’d want a DSLR-level camera to be. Advanced photographers may find some controls missing (especially the lack of any control dials), but those coming from a point-and-shoot world will find the familiar design comforting.

The E-PL1 has a pop-up flash, a port to accept an optional electronic viewfinder and, of course, accepts all the Four Thirds lenses. The LCD screen display is 230k-dot resolution, has a fast refresh rate for a clear display, but can be difficult to view in bright sunlight.

It focuses quickly enough in good light and low light, but extreme low light is challenging with the absence of an AF-assist Illuminator.

The Olympus E-PL1 is a perfect step up for someone graduating from a point-and-shoot and a better choice than one of the high end compact digicam. Compact, light and giving DSLR-level image quality, we believe it makes an ideal Family DSLR. Highly recommended.

Next: Olympus E-PL1 Image Quality


  • I bought this camera 2 days ago and have been playing with it. My experience comes from SLRs and compacts; this is my first high-end digital camera.

    This executive summary is just about perfect. The camera is phenomenal in almost every regard (considering the price and size) with its one major flaw being extreme low-light conditions. With the LCD once it gets dark enough you literally cannot see ANYTHING and you’re flying blind – without a viewfinder, that is. I’m talking moderate moonlight and a street lamp 20ish yards away. The camera will still TAKE a good picture if you know what you’re doing, but its literally impossible to frame the picture with the camera itself.

    I would say that this camera is great, and as long as you arent too concerned with low-light photography (PS, there are no cameras this size that have an optical viewfinder anyway, so its not like theres another camera you could get that does it better) you’ll love it.

    I just wish they offered a 20mm pancake with the body instead of the 14-42mm, but thats life 🙂

  • How can I get around the problem of Olympus E-PL1 not working in low light? Not like entirely dark, but like taking pictures of my friends at a restaurant inside at night. I can’t get the darned thing to shoot at all 🙁 Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

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