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Olympus 12.3MP PEN Mini E-PM1 Review by CNET US

2012-02-14 01:52 | Source
7715 reviews
On June 30 2011, Olympus announced the E-PL3 (Pen Lite) and the E-PM1 (Pen Mini) compact cameras. The new cameras comes with pretty much the same camera specifications. The PEN E-PL3 camera features a tilting 3-inch LCD at 420,000 dots resolution, while the PEN E-PM1 is the smallest and lightest Olympus PEN available in six stylish colors (purple, pink, brown, white, silver and black). The E-PM1 also features a new and simplified user interface as well as a streamlined button structure for ease of use. 

Other notable features include in-body image stabilization, a top shutter speed of 1/4000th second, a 5fps continuous shooting mode, a top sensitivity setting of ISO 12800, a hot-shoe, an accessory port and the ability to record 1080i HD videos with stereo sound in AVCHD or Motion JPEG format, with the capability to apply up to six Art Filters to videos as they are being captured. The E-PM1 is currently selling at around $424. Here is the summary of review of the E-PM1 camera by CNET US, giving the camera a rating of 7.2 out of 10:

"The camera's photo quality rates as good-to-very good, but I think most of my issues with it stem from the kit lens. It's the same lens that ships with all Olympus' PEN models, but for some reason it irked me more this time around. Of course, that helped drive home the attraction of using an ILC instead of a point-and-shoot; when I couldn't get any landscape shots out of the 14-42mm lens that didn't look muddy, I switched to a Lensbaby. Close-ups look pretty sharp and snappy, but detail at a distance generally looks oddly oversharpened or overcompressed when viewed at actual size. It seems independent of ISO sensitivity, and the camera can handle up to ISO 800 pretty well, depending upon image content. Shooting raw helps, but not as dramatically as it does in other cameras. I have no complaints about the color or exposure, though; it handles those very well. Video quality is adequate. Unfortunately, you have to turn off image stabilization in order to prevent serious rolling shutter (wobble) artifacts, which seems to be a fact of life for video on all sensor-shift-based IS systems. Plus it's interlaced, which exacerbates the normal video-compression artifacts; in busy scenes you can see a lot of blockiness when viewed at full size. Still, for the occasional vacation video clips it'll do.
Unsurprisingly given the similarity of their innards, the E-PM1 performs about the same as the E-PL3, solid but not stellar. While the camera is pretty fast overall and keeps up with the competition, it's slow on startup, with a big (and unusual) ka-thunk of the shutter: it takes 1.5 seconds to power on and shoot. It matches the rest of the crowd--except the significantly more expensive Nikon 1 J1--with 0.3 second shot lag in good light and 0.6 second in dim. When CNET Labs compared the E-PM1 with similar cameras, none could keep up with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 on shot-to-shot speeds, though the E-PM1's 0.8 second time is quite respectable. But at 2.2 seconds, the flash takes a relatively long time to recycle. It's very zippy for its class at continuous shooting, but without a viewfinder I find burst shooting awkward. Still, for the occasional action emergency, kids, and pets it should fare well. The Olympus PEN E-PM1 is priced right for an entry-level interchangeable-lens model and it's a solid, if somewhat unassuming, model. I just found myself missing features like a touch screen and tilting LCD, and the photo quality is a bit too inconsistent for my taste. That said, it's better than a point-and-shoot, and if you're looking for a step-up model that's still pretty compact, this is a good, affordable alternative."

Photo Album: Olympus Announces 12.3 Megapixels PEN Lite (E-PL3) and Mini (E-PM1) Compact Cameras

Olympus E-PM1 Sample Photos on Flickr

Olympus E-PM1 Camera Reviews Roundup

NeoCamera - Mar 13 2012
"The Olympus PEN E-PM1 shows good image quality with relatively low image noise up to ISO 800. Noise is easily noticeable at ISO 1600 which remain usable for medium sized prints. At ISO 3200, noise eats up more details e and all fine details disappear. At this point, only small grainy prints are possible. ISO 6400 remains barely usable but the maximum sensit..." More »
75out of 100
MacWorld - Jan 28 2012
"The E-PM1's still image quality is quite good. Colors are nicely saturated and well reproduced but if the default "Natural" look isn't to your liking, color saturation can be adjusted up or down by a factor of 2 or adjusted via the Picture Control option. Exposures were generally accurate and the E-PM1 does a pretty good job of maintaining details..." More »
70out of 100
Camera Labs - Jan 04 2012
"The Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 fills a gap in the PEN range that until now really only catered for enthusiast photographers. Rather belatedly, Olympus has woken up to the fact that equipping it's Micro Four Thirds bodies with auto exposure modes isn't enough to attract point-and-shoot upgraders who want controls they feel comfortable with and understand. The PE..." More »
86out of 100
LetsGoDigital - Dec 27 2011
"The Olympus PEN Mini, just like the other PEN system cameras, has a new shutter system. Thanks to the renewed auto focus, with a mere 35 focal points, the Olympus PEN Mini can focus rapidly and accurately. Further, the Olympus PEN Mini can take high-speed shots up to 5.5 shots per second, which is ideal for photographing playing children or sports events. A..." More »
80out of 100

Olympus E-PM1 Reviews Roundup [Total 17 Reviews] »

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