My thoughts on the Olympus E-P1

Several years ago, I looked up how big the old APS film cameras were, under the assumption that, given that a dSLR is the same size as an old film SLR, it will eventually be possible to make an APS-C digital camera the same size as an old APS film camera. This turns out to be awfully small, especially with a prime lens. I also eventually read about the Olympus PEN series. And the Pentax Auto 110 SLR system.

The big realization I had was that there's nothing, other than marketing, preventing camera makers from making a seriously tiny camera. And, given that my favorite camera is a 6x7 medium format camera, I came to realize that I didn't really want the fancy full-frame digital SLR that I'd been previously coveting. Otherwise, one way or another, I would have saved up for a EOS 5D by now.

Since I realized how poorly designed for super-compact cameras the original 4/3rds mount was, which was sometime before 2008, I was excited by the Micro 4/3rds announcement. So you can probably get the idea that I've been wondering when one of two things would happen. Either Olympus would cease to manufacture cameras or they'd make a decent super-compact SLR-esque camera.

Enter the E-P1.

It's about the right size and shape. Unlike the Panasonic G1, it doesn't try to look like an SLR. It's a premium camera for people who care, instead of a camera that looks right next to the digital SLR that everybody's carrying these days. It's a perfect example of Olympus design, as reflected by the PEN and the OM.

It's got the base features... body-integral IS, 12 megapixels, etc. that any serious camera would be expected to contain.

The body styling suggests the old Olympus PEN series without looking silly and retro. It's also got a metal exterior that's going to feel solid in ways that plastic bodies don't.

There are already dedicated accessories. A 17mm lens (about the same field-of-view as a 35mm lens) and a zoom 14-24mm (28-85mm) lens are the lenses, plus any other micro 4/3rds lenses, plus a variety of other lenses with adapters. The zoom lens collapses for enhanced pocketability, which actually makes it more appealing. There's an external viewfinder for the hotshoe and a tiny flash.

There's no built-in viewfinder, which I can probably live without. There's also no built-in flash, which is also fine because you can bump up the ISO and widen the dynamic range.... or attach the serious flash that you'll want anyway.

I'm excited. It's like the Leica M8.2 without the M8.2 price. Or a G7/G9/G10 with better image quality. Several of my friends and I are all struck with cameralust by it.


It's not pre-ordered. I don't want it that bad.

But I do want it fairly bad. It's on the "if something happened to the G7" purchase list. Especially because I could get an adapter to mount my FD lenses on it.

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