The Olympus Pen E-PL1 falls under the category of digital cameras which use Micro Four Thirds Lens. This is a camera from the PEN series of Olympus with 12.1 Mega Pixels. The camera uses interchangeable lenses just like a Single-reflex lens (SLR) camera but unlike SLR it lacks mirror-less design feature. This allows the camera to have a smaller form factor than the usual SLR cameras and a better image quality.
Unfortunately, these types of cameras have been on the expensive side till date and put them out of reach of traditional point and shoot camera buyers. But the Olympus PEN E-PL1 Digital Camera falls in the affordable range with a Built-in flash for people who are crazy about photography and want to avoid the traditional Digital SLR cameras which are quite bulky.
This PEN E-PL1 digital camera falls under a separate category because; it uses a Mirror-less interchangeable lens which allows it to have a more compact body. But however, the lens that is popped out from the front does not help portability and it is slightly heavy due to the robust build quality.
The design of the camera looks quite boxy and less appealing, similar to other PEN series Cameras. The Camera is available in three colors namely black, white and gold. On the front right side of the camera there is a lens release button and on the left there is a tiny grip to hold the camera which is not satisfactory. At the top you will find an illuminated power button, a mode select dial, a hot shoe for attaching external flash or an optical viewfinder and a shutter button. The flash functionality is mediocre and sometimes inconvenient to use.
At the backside of the camera you will find the multi function keys on top, which is also capable of functioning as Zoom keys in the image gallery. There is a shortcut button starting video recording, a playback button, a menu button, delete and info button and a five way directional pad. It possesses a 2.7 inch LCD screen on the left side which looks pretty small. On the right bottom side you will find a USB port and a HDMI output and beneath the camera there are slots for battery and memory card. The camera also has options for SD and SDHC cards.
There are no issues in terms of the startup time or the shot time of the camera and they were pretty acceptable when compared to other previous PEN series cameras. Unlike the dSLR camera, grip provided by the camera is not so good. The body of the camera is so spacious so that you can handle the camera very easily with your thumb and fingers. The built-in auto modes do their job very well and these modes also assist you in the form of giving tips while you shoot.
Coming to the image quality produced by the camera, the images look really impressive with finest details, realistic colors and good sharpness. The large sensor that is present in the camera makes its presence felt in low-light conditions by capturing almost all details with a minimum of distortion.
The dynamic range from which pictures were taken looked impressive and in pictures which had strong and bright areas had finest details at both the areas of the image. The performance of the camera under moderate light conditions is exceptional and you can also take pictures without using the flash. The Flash that comes in-built with the camera is quite powerful with plenty of options to choose from depending on the user requirement.
The Mirror-less interchangeable lens that comes with the camera was on par with most of the other PEN series cameras but the Loop-hole was, its slow autofocus speed. The camera takes a lot of time to focus on the objects and often destroy close range shots. The camera has a built-in image stabilization facility which can be customizable as per the user needs, so that there is no need to depend on the lens every time you take a shot. The image stabilization technique is not at its best, because, at the maximum Zoom level the pictures obtained had some distortion and quite a bit of shakiness.
Coming to the video recording aspects of the camera; it can record videos in 1280×720 resolution at 30 frames per second. As said the camera takes a lot of time to autofocus. This is true in the case of video recording also. There was a noticeable wind-noise that the camera picked up while recording but the video quality looked impressive in terms of smoothness and distortion.
The overall performance of the camera was above average and looked similar to that of the dSLR cameras. It has the human-curvature appeal that is required for a point and shoot camera.
Unfortunately, the camera is on a bit expensive side and the micro four third lens used is also expensive than the traditional dSLR lenses. On top of that the camera lens does not provide the rich vividness that the dSLR camera lenses provide. The camera is priced at around 30,000 rupees which looks expensive when compared to other dSLR cameras which are priced around 25,000 rupees. So it will be a better option to go for a good point and shoot camera like the Canon S90 which costs you less and has better image quality and simple design.