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Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered

Key questions answered on the Olympus E-P1

Official E-P1 press release and pictures

Olympus has finally launched its much-awaited Micro Four Thirds system camera, the E-P1, or unofficially the 'Digital Pen' after the half frame single lens reflex camera that Olympus was famous for in the 1960s. There is much detailed information in the official E-P1 press release, but in this article I'm going to cover some of the key questions that I expect many of you, as Four Thirds users and interested parties, might be asking. Please note that although I have spent an evening at the launch party handling several E-P1 samples, I haven't - at the time of writing - taken any pictures. I'm writing this in the early hours of Tuesday, 16th June after the official launch party in Berlin. I'm expecting that I will be able to post samples for you to download later on this evening as we will be handed pre production E-P1s to use later today:

Q. How small is the E-P1?
A. It's especially slim compared to even an Olympus E-400 DSLR and the new 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens helps preserve that asset. But the E-P1 is not as small as, say, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, or Sigma DP1. Without the extended grip or pop-up flash 'hump' of the other Micro Four Thirds camera from Panasonic, the Lumix DMC-G1, nor an articulating screen, the E-P1 does feel noticeably more compact than the G1.

Q. How pretty is the E-P1 'in the hand'?
A. I have asked a lot of people who have handled an E-P1 and opinion seems to be clearly divided between those that think the E-P1 is incredibly cool with its mix of retro design and cutting edge technology, and those that are concerned that the E-P1 - from the front, at least - looks, well, old fashioned. I'm reminded of opinions concerning the re-born VW Beatle. Personally, I'm one of the former, and think the E-P1 looks great.

The E-P1 is available in white and silver, with a choice of white or black lens

Q. How does the E-P1 feel?
A. The E-P1 does not feel feather light; it has some solidity and substance to it. This is because the body is largely made of metal. But on the other hand, the E-P1 tips the scales below an Olympus E-400 DSLR, so it's not going to weigh you down. It's a good compromise.

Q. What about shutter lag?
A. The E-P1 incorporates a completely new shutter mechanism. In Olympus's DSLR models, one motor had to both cock the shutter and return the mirror to its resting position. Now, without a mirror any more, the shutter action can be optimised. I haven't yet confirmed that there is a big improvement, but I'm expecting a significant reduction in shutter lag compared to E-System DSLRs in live view mode.

Q. What type of memory card does the E-P1 use?
A. SD and SDHC - at last, I hear some exclaim! xD had to go because of it's 2GB capacity limit and because of performance demands of the built-in HD video recording mode. Compact Flash was ruled out because of space limitations.

Q. Is there really no built in flash?
A. That's right. There is an FL-compatible dedicated hot shoe, but no built in flash at all. I'm told that there was no room to accommodate a meaningful built in flash. To compensate for this Olympus has endowed the E-P1 with an ISO 6400 mode, and there is also a compact, horizontal style, flash unit for the E-P1. Broad hints were given that future Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus will have built in flash.

Q. What is the autofocus like?
A. The E-P1's contrast detect AF feels noticeably nippier than, say, the original 14-42 kit lens from the Four Thirds stable when used in live view mode. Is the AF as impressive as Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds implementation - it's difficult to say at this point.

Q. Can older Four Thirds lenses be auto focused using the Four Thirds mount adapter?
A. I'm assured that, unlike on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, most - maybe even all - Four Thirds lenses will autofocus on the E-P1, though I haven't actually tried this so far. Based on the 'hybrid' live view AF mode that Olympus developed for later E-System DSLR models, the E-P1 will auto focus older lenses that are not optimised for live view AF, but the AF action may be slower than ideal and perfect focus isn't guaranteed with such lenses. It's recommended that the user checks and fine-adjusts focus after the AF action has been completed.

Q. Is there an eye-level viewfinder?
A. No, though the 17mm pancake lens can be supplied with a matching add-on optical finder that attaches to the flash hot shoe. This works well, but there is no equivalent at this stage for the 14-42mm standard zoom. Unfortunately, if you use the shoe for the finder, the camera has no avenue for flash use at all as there is no external flash port.

Q. What is the E-P1 LCD screen like?
A. It's a large and bright 3 inch screen, but has no more dots than previous recent E-Systems DSLRs, so Panasonic's G1 has a higher resolution screen (230,000 dots versus 460,000). One thing that is particularly impressive is the viewing angle range of the new screen, both vertically and horizontally. Even at almost 180 degrees, the brightness and clarity is virtually un-diminished, which goes some way to compensating for the lack of an articulating screen.

Q. Can the E-P1 HD shoot video?
A. Yes. I'm told that motion JPEG 720p at 30 frames per second is supported, although I wonder if the European model will be 25fps - I will check later. 1080 resolution 'full HD' is not supported. I hope to provide sample movies for download soon.

Q. Is stereo sound recorded?
A. Yes.

Q. Does autofocus work continuously in video mode?
A. Yes, though there is an option to switch this off if you are concerned about picking up the noise of the autofocus motor in the lens. I'm told that the AF motors in the lenses have been sound-proofed to an extent, but they are not silent like the specialist Panasonic Vario G 14-140mm video kit lens. It's not yet known if the video AF mode of the 14-140 Panasonic is supported.

Q. Does the E-P1 use the latest multi-aspect ratio Four Thirds sensor as used in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1?
A. No, the 12MP sensor is basically the same as that used in the E-30 and E-620 DSLRs, and the Panasonic G1. However, Olympus has upgraded its TruePic image processor for the E-P1 and this appears to enable higher performance live view autofocus and a higher maximum ISO setting of 6400. Initial impressions of 6400 ISO are that it's grainy, but relatively free of chroma noise. I'll post samples throughout the ISO range, assuming I'm permitted by Olympus, as soon as possible. Multi-aspect ratio frame modes are available in the same way as featured in the E-30 and E-620.

Q. What is the fastest continuous still shooting rate?
A. 3 frames per second.

Q. What does the Olympus Micro Four Thirds lens road map look like?
A. So far there are only two lenses declared by Olympus; the 17mm pancake and the 14-42 standard zoom. Adapters for Four Thirds and OM lenses have been produced.

The unusual extending 14-42mm standard zoom

Q. The 14-42mm standard zoom looks like it physically extends a long way?
A. Yes, to use the lens it has to be extended from its compact 'stowed' configuration. To do this you move a switch on the side of the lens and turn a collar on the lens barrel. Think of it as a compact camera lens extending when you turn the power on, except that it's not powered.

Q. What other interesting features can be found in the E-P1?
A. Both Art Filters and the digital level features from the E-30 DSLR are included in the E-P1. Art Filter effects can also be used in the movie mode. There is a 'clear skin' portrait mode. A mini HDMI port is provided for connection direct to a HD TV with the appropriate cable.

There is much yet to discover about the E-P1. If you have any other questions about the E-P1, post them here and I'll do my best to find some answers. In the mean time, look out for our downloadable samples gallery coming soon!

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Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered

Four Thirds User editorial team Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
We're exploring what the new Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds system camera has to offer by posing and... (more)

Raj Surin Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
eagerly waiting and watching for the report/s to build up. thanks.... (more)

Stuttaton Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
The camera looks fantastic but I'm very disappointed that it doesn't seem to support the wireless fl... (more)

David Dunnico Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Looks very promising. Perhaps my carry camera (Ricoh GRd-2) might be due for a replacement? Perso... (more)

thestickman Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Looks rather nice. US price doesn't seem too bad, intereting to see UK/EU pricing. Any news on that?... (more)

Raj Surin Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Some sample images on [url]http://www.dpreview.com/gallery/olympusep1_preview/[/url] looks promis... (more)

AdrianF Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
I didn't realise how much I would want one of these! Look forward to hearing more reports from Ian. ... (more)

thestickman Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Good find. I have just seen parkcameras.com have it up for 699 pre-order with the 14-42 in both col... (more)

AdrianF Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Just looked on the Park Cameras site and they're saying late July for availability. I've just got to... (more)

jimindenver Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
I think the EP-1 looks great. Maybe someday it will find it's way into my bag to replace my aging 80... (more)

dalexa Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
holy matrimony batman... can i have that sensor on my l1 please? that 6400 shot from what seems ... (more)

Bear Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
indeed Raj - I am just beginning to think what might be in store for the E3 replacement which will s... (more)

Robert Watcher Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Whoa - - - now that I can hardly wait to see. BTW - I love this new camera. Exactly what I was hopi... (more)

Archphoto Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
That nw enigine does the trick: can't wait untill Oly implements it in the E series ! Finaly an E a... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Check out the video samples on dpreview: [url]http://www.dpreview.com/news/0906/09061602ep1movies... (more)

crysoprase Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
According to the Q&A, "most - maybe even all - Four Thirds lenses will autofocus on the E-P1." So al... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
I think what we need is the firmware updates for all of the lenses to allow this - as they have s... (more)

hschnee Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
What a beautiful little camera! My initial reaction is that it's pricey, but if instead of thinking ... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
One thing that does bother me is the power-down-shutter-stays-open business. Given my propensity to ... (more)

Kuifje Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
As Ian must be very busy at this moment .. *LOL Mr Watanabe gave an interview yesterday.. R... (more)

Robert Watcher Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
I think with all of the conjecture going on, it probably is important to note what Mr Watanabe state... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
In theory, the mount adapters should have identical functionality. The fact that a Panasonic G1 c... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
We have video samples here on FTU now, see: [url]http://fourthirds-user.com/2009/06/hd_video_s... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
No, the 70-300 was designed from the start to be live view AF compatible. The firmware upgrade si... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
I'm being told the UK will get some stock in the first week of July. Ian... (more)

Raj Surin Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
The size and performance seems to make it very adaptable to use for underwater photography. and fro... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
There is no product info available concerning an underwater housing for the E-P1, but Olympus has... (more)

AdrianF Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Thanks for clarifying that. I was assuming that it might be possible to use the Olympus adapter i... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Just off the top of my head, but I think that the glass surface you see beyond the lens mount, wh... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
So I take it that we won't see the Contrast AF firmware updates making it to other lenses (if it ... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
D'oh! I was wrong! Looking at a G10, the shutter is in front of the SSWF filter... sorry! Ian... (more)

AndyElliott Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Perhaps it isn't an issue with the SSWF, but obviously it will be tested more than it would on th... (more)

Kuifje Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Ian, I don't know what the definition of a system camera is. But will the E-PX micro Four Thirds be ... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Micro Four Thirds is a system, primarily through the incorporation of interchangeable lenses, six... (more)

Kuifje Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Thanks for the quick answer! Martin... (more)

John Perriment Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
That's the problem with Olympus, they do like to keep us guessing! Surely a system roadmap or at ... (more)

joachim Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Adrian, Parkcameras in the UK has UK pricing for most of them: [url]http://www.parkcameras.com/12... (more)

Kuifje Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Ian, another Q :) With the MF-2 the registration distance for older glas is the same as with Four... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Unfortunately I don't have an L1 here. I do have an E-330 and an L10. The sensor plane distance t... (more)

Kuifje Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
That helps. Thanks again, Martin... (more)

Wickster Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Just a thought. Oly should really design the optical viewfinder option to have a hotshoe passthrough... (more)

Ian Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Hope you will (or did) order your E-P1 through our FTU Amazon shop here :) [url]http://fourthi... (more)

Ned Re: Olympus Micro Four Thirds E-P1 questions answered
Aw, I didn't know that! Well, I generally only buy locally because I can't wait on shipping (esp... (more)

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