Noise

Though it's not bad, this set of images makes the Olympus PEN E-PM1's JPEGs look a little better than they are. Central areas of detail stand up well at midrange ISO sensitivities (ISO 400 and 800), but the peripheral areas seem to suffer excessive blurring. Still, I think the JPEG compression and noise reduction are a bit better than the Panasonic GF3's, and pretty close to the Sony NEX-C3's.
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Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600, E-PM1 vs. GF3 raw

If you're going to shoot raw, the PM1 ultimately delivers similar photo quality to the GF3 as well as the NEX-C3, and all are pretty decent at mid- to high ISO sensitivities. (Here, the GF3 was shot with a much better lens than the E-PM1, giving it an edge in exposure and sharpness.)

(GF3: 1/40 sec, f1.8, spot meter, AWB, Panasonic 25mm f1.4 lens; E-PM1: 1/30 sec, f2.8, spot meter, AWB, Olympus 17mm f2.8 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Color and exposure

Overall, the camera renders saturated but relatively accurate colors and correctly handles a variety of difficult exposures.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Natural/default vs. iAuto color

Usually I complain about the hue skew of the default color settings; in the E-PM1, Olympus defaults to a natural setting, which delivers very good color. Its auto, on the other hand, shows some shifts.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Sharpness

Overall, I find the the E-PM1's photos a little softer than I like, but that may be the kit lens (see next slide).

(1/250 sec, f13, ISO 200, pattern metering, AWB, Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Sharpness

This is a similar shot taken with a Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic, which just seemed to produce sharper results (in the sharp areas) than the kit lens.

(1/800 sec, f4, ISO 200, pattern metering, AWB, Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35 Optic)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Art filters

Olympus continues to supply the best in-camera special-effects filters I've seen--the filters have a nice set of options and produce the best results. The E-PM1 also has a solid multiple-exposure mode.
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:
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