Sunday, March 21, 2010

Olympus PEN E-PL1

I have been very much back to my own again, going about my shutter therapy sessions alone lately. Street shooting with traces of HDR wannabe shots have been my latest experimentations, and I would very much love to continue doing so for quite some time. Nonetheless, singling myself out from the world of people can be miserable at times. This is the main reason why I have been looking forward so much to this particular weekend.

There was the 5th Olympus User Gathering, organized specifically to promote the newly launched micro four thirds camera body, Olympus PEN E-PL1. This was the perfect opportunity for me to throw myself into a crowd of people who share the same passion, not only in photography, but the general love for Olympus products. Connecting to people is very important in all walks on life, and no man is an island. It was great to finally catch up with some old friends and getting to know some of the Olympus users better.

Ok I lied. The main reason I want to go to the gathering was for the free buffet lunch at Bon Ton, Lot 10. I had five three servings. *burp*

The gathering and the food.

On each gathering, the typical flow of event would be the introduction of the new product, a few hands on demonstration and basically everyone present would be allowed to touch and play with the new products. The main audience target has always been Olympus users, mainly the DSLR E-System crowd. Therefore, to cater for this specific photography and camera crazy crowd, the presentation and overall show of the day have got to be something that serious hobbyist, or professional photographer would be looking for. Consequently, if just an average joe, who does not care much about a camera or its settings and technicalities were to be there at the talk, he would have been lost.

Hands on session.

The approach for this gathering was quite dissimilar in comparison to the previous four gatherings, which I have attended the first three. The emphasis was not on how great or how powerful the new camera is, but more on how simple and easy to use it is. Pen has been known to be the small compact camera, yet capable of producing images rivalling DSLR results. It is light and portable, yet nearly as capable as a DSLR. It also inherits the capability of interchanging lenses, which was desired amongst the DSLR crowd. The whole presentation was cantering on how the built in live guide mode can help a non-DSLR literate user to capture a decent shot, without worrying so much on the shutter speed, ISO settings or aperture. In brief, this new PEN has been dumbed down, and its main target of audience was basically everyday casual camera users, NOT photographers.

Olympus PEN E-PL1 on hand.

I had my hands on one of the copies there. It felt extremely feather light in my hands, and this E-PL1 is even smaller and lighter than its predecessors, both the E-P1 and E-P2. I was quite amazed by this, and any other ordinary users would definitely not be able to tell the difference between this PEN and another normal compact PnS camera. I did not really bother so much with the built in live-guide or whatever toned down user-friendliness add-ons, but the main concern was on the performance and image quality. In such short period of time molesting the camera, I can tell the AF performance has not been improved much over E-P1 or E-P2. There was also no opportunity for me to assess the untouched file (RAW of original JPEG), and I can only see the shots previewed on the LCD screen. Nonetheless, if this camera is indeed being aimed at non-DSLR users, I should not be the one writing down all my thoughts and feelings about this camera, not especially from a guy who has a reputation of torturing his camera and lenses every now and then.

Me, Chun Chow and E-PL1.

There was also a chance to try out the new Ultra Wide Angle lens, produced specifically by Olympus for Micro four thirds camera system. It was indeed incredible to see an ultra wide angle lenses being made into such a small size, yet still able to rake in the wideness of 9mm. I guess people would not go head over heels over this lens, because Panasonic has already came up with the really impressive 7-14mm lens, which was significantly wider.

So if this particular gathering was indeed meant for users who love a compact camera, hates DSLR for being bulky and heavy, but still wants better photos for their everyday snapshots, the question bakes down to this: what the hell am I, and 90% of the crowd who actually owns a DSLR doing there? I am not saying that we should not be there, but somehow, to push this product further out into the market, the crowd being invited for the gathering is quite crucial. Most DSLR users who have owned the E-system would not willingly give up their camera body and lenses collection that are worth over RM10,000 over a toned down, watered down camera for non-professional uses. Maybe we were there to help spread the word. Perhaps, we should not be left out because we are strong supporters of Olympus, and we all know Olympus is not the main player in camera market. However, I just cannot help but feel that the target should have been addressed to so many more potential consumers who would feel at home with what the new PEN can offer.


Christian and wife.

If this Olympus PEN E-PL1 was introduced to me before I found the joy of using a DSLR, I would most definitely pounce on it. It was probably the best gap between the compact camera and a DSLR, and it is so light and small, and so simple to use that it encourages you to explore photography further. This would be the camera to recommend to people who just need a camera to record memories, and everyday snapshots.

The advantages that E-PL1 has over its predecessors are: 1) built in pop-up flash, 2) smaller and lighter, more portable, and 3) simplicity and user-friendliness. For more comprehensive comparisons, especially for the image output, more technical reviews should be available on the major photography sites really soon.

Mychiaroscuro gang, LKM, Scott, Compmac and Lacroix.

Apart from playing with PEN and eating all the food I can *burp* I managed to catch up with some fellow photographer friends. There were people from the forum which I actively (define active?) participate. There were also many friends whom I have made through photography friends who attended the gathering, and it was nice getting to know them better. Also, a dear friend Chun Chow who was the first in my closer group of friends to get involved in the DSLR world, and somehow got me to love Olympus, was also there. I had the chance to meet some new people as well. You guys have got to believe me when I say this: Photography is a powerful tool to connect people.

Anyone coming with me to the next Olympus gathering?



  1. i missed it again.....deng!!!
    btw....who r those two girls between chief n scot?

  2. Hey Silveraven,
    E-PL1 !! It did not lose features, but it has a guide menu to help you achieve certain effects without the hassle of playing with settings and everything.
    Go feli, buy one !!

    Hey IzHam,
    you lah who asked you to sleep ahahah
    those are their wives !!

  3. eh Am, apa nih.. ada blogger profile but page not enabled... ggrrrrr....

  4. i didnt realize dat is chief's wife.
    errrr......i use my google account la..

  5. Hey Am,
    LOL !! I forgot anyone can use their google account here.

  6. it was a nice gathering & your tells all the story about what happened there :)

    Olympus has gave a good explanation or diffrences between the E-P2 & newly E-PL1.

    Haha~ nice to meet u once again! Hope there will more activities can meet up with u again, cheers :)