The PEN series gets smaller and adds a built-in flash with the Olympus E-PL1
Value and verdict
Having been launched nine months after the
original E-P1, the E-PL1 commands roughly the same price for both
body-only and kit options.
This may make the former option seem more
logical, with its larger LCD screen, more effective image-stabilisation
system and stereo sound recording, to name three of its benefits, though
to some the addition of the flash and the slightly smaller form factor
may be preferable.
Evaluating the Olympus E-PL1 isn’t entirely straightforward, given the rate at
which this particular market is changing.
The Micro Four Thirds system
has unquestionably pioneered the hybrid concept, but Samsung’s NX10,
Ricoh’s GXR system and the promises made by Sony will all challenge how
its future models are received. None the less, it’s becoming
increasingly clear that the advantages offered by such cameras take more
and more off the appeal of enthusiast compacts, those which have long
enjoyed the reputation slowly being bestowed upon this newer breed of
camera. In fact, the only significant benefits of such enthusiast models
comes from their retracting lenses, which makes them more pocketable
than models such as the Olympus E-PL1. This factor aside, it’s difficult to see
what their next move will be simply to justify their existence.
the Olympus E-PL1 indicates the direction for hybrid models, then the outlook is
certainly positive. The camera is by no means perfect, particularly
when its focusing foibles are considered, and it’d be nice to see
high-res LCD screens and a few other wrinkles ironed out in future
models. Even so, to achieve this level of image quality in such a small
body is a significant development; let’s just hope Olympus and Panasonic
are as ingenious with their future models as they have been in their
conception of the system.