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First Look: Olympus E-P1

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First Look: Olympus E-P1

2:47 /

The Olympus E-P1 is an otherwise excellent enthusiast compact camera hampered by some performance problems and the lack of a viewfinder and built-in flash.

[ background music ] >> Hi. I'm Lori Grunen [assumed spelling], senior editor with CNET. And this is the Olympus EP1. The EP1's release coincides with the 50th anniversary of Olympus's pen film cameras. And that's not a coincidence. Olympus based the design of the EP1 off the pen. And while it works very well for a film camera, it means that Olympus had to make some sacrifices to do it with a digital camera. For instance, there's no on camera flash, nor is there a viewfinder, either an add-on optical which the company does ship with its 17 millimeter pancake lens. In terms of features though, those are the only sacrifices this camera really makes. In a lot of other ways, this is a really nice camera. It's very solidly designed, it's got a nice retro attractive body, comes in two colors, this silver with a black grip and white with a beige grip. The EP1 is a micro four thirds camera, which is the standard also used by Panasonic for a non-SLR interchangeable lens camera. That means that it doesn't have a mirror box, but it does support the ability to use lenses in the micro four thirds system, or in case of the Olympus with an adapter you can use four thirds lenses, like the ones used by the E30 or the E3, as well as another adapter which lets you use old Olympus OM lenses. This is the 1442, which is a 28 to 84 millimeter equivalent, because of the micro four thirds 2x multiplier. And Olympus designed the lens to collapse, so that it's fairly compact when you're not using it, and then it expands to be a real zoom lens when you are using it. The controls are laid out in a very typical digital camera design. Olympus even makes the microphone for video look like part of the design with these two small dots on either side of the Olympus logo. The camera also shoots 720P 30 frame per second video, which is nice, but the quality is not outstanding. The photo quality is also very nice, as a matter of fact, surprisingly good, and a lot better than we've seen in like the low end digital SLRs from Olympus. Unfortunately, it is really slow. The auto focus system is incredibly sluggish, it takes over a second to focus and shoot under optimal conditions. And if you're a pretty experience shooter, you can mark your way around the performance issues by I guess not shooting anything that moves, or having another camera to use for that. And this can be your conversation piece gadget. However if you're looking for a primary camera that's gonna be able to handle all your shooting situations, unfortunately because of the performance issues this isn't it. [ background music ] I'm Lori Grunen, and this is the Olympus EP1.

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