Questions About Pen Jr.
February 3, 2010
DP Review has a preview which runs down all the features, controls, and how it compares to other µ4/3 models.
(DP Review seems to be conspicuously boycotting the term “EVIL”—electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens—which the rest of the camera world has jokingly embraced.)
With Olympus already fielding an E-P1 and an E-P2, you might overlook that letter “L” in the new model’s name. But it’s a significant letter. It means “less expensive.”
The E-PL1 comes in at a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the E-P1. So for a street price not that much higher than “serious” compacts like the Canon G11 or the Panasonic LX3, now a shopper can buy a true interchangeable-lens camera, with a much larger sensor chip.
The pixel size in the E-PL1 is dramatically larger than other compact cameras: about 4.3 microns wide. Each pixel covers more than 4 times the area of those in “enthusiast” compacts. And compared to today’s silliest point & shoots, they’re 9 times larger. Theoretically at least, this should reduce image noise, and boost high-ISO range.
And Petavoxel says, that’s A Good Thing.
The E-PL1 apparently shares the same sensor as the E-P1 and E-P2 (even their anti-shake feature). What remains unknown is whether any of Olympus’s cost-cutting has compromised signal processing, or read-out noise. Remember that Panasonic’s most compact µ4/3 model, the GF1, has some trouble matching the noise performance of its larger-bodied siblings.
Since the whole justification for micro Four Thirds is the promise of better image quality in a small camera, it would be rather lame if Olympus blew this one. I’ll be waiting to see.
The controls of the E-PL1 are very much in the style of a point & shoot—not a DSLR. Despite the “PASM” options on the mode dial, there are no control wheels to adjust settings. I suspect it will be a rather aggravating experience to burrow into the menu system and make several button presses, just to change the f/stop.
But here’s hoping Olympus sells a billion E-PL1’s. It does offer frustrated point & shooters a real promise of much-improved picture quality.
And frankly, micro Four Thirds cameras have been overpriced so far. So if price competition has finally arrived in µ4/3 cameras, that’s good for everyone.