Other than enjoying a good meal and traveling, the one other passion that I have is photography. I’ve owned an SLR for a few years now, and recently just bought a compact camera for traveling too.
These two gadgets each have their strengths and weaknesses, the big device produces better quality photos, but is bulky, complicated to use, and a drag to carry around when traveling. On the other hand, while the compact is tidy and convenient, you lose quite a lot of flexibility in terms of what you can do and the photo quality is generally subpar to an SLR.
Then i got my hands on this camera, the Olympus E-PL1. The latest Micro Four Third system from Olympus.
Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm kit lens (equivalent to 28-84mm)
The Micro 4/3rd format isn’t exactly a very new thing, but the Olympus E-PL1 incorporates every major features I have been looking for in a camera.
- small size (it’s only as big as those “prosumer” compacts)
- interchangeable lens
- SLR image quality
- ease of use (very important when you ask strangers to take photos of you)
- built in flash
- image stabilizer
- very good HD quality video
The sensor size of this camera is the same as other 4/3rd SLRs (such as the professional dSLR E-3) so you can be assured of the image quality. Compared to a compact camera that usually employs the 1/2.5″ sensor, the E-PL1 lets in almost 9 times as much light. The more light, the better, it’s very simple.
Live Guide feature
OK enough tech speak, there are a few features on the camera that I want to highlight.
First, the Live Guide. This feature makes using the camera quite a lot simpler, on the iAUTO mode, you get into Live Guide and choose the item to adjust – color saturation, white balance, brightness, field of depth, and so on. This way, you get to see the effect live on the screen and make adjustment before shooting. Don’t need to remember things like to increase depth of field, you have to increase aperture, etc. Very nifty.
Food, food, food!
It doesn’t take a genius to know that I take photos of food in great quantity, it is basically the backbone of this blog anywaythat and the maps, right? :P)
nasi ayam – Wisma Central
The little camera that could, the E-PL1 takes excellent photos of food, SLR quality, no doubt. Even with the more challenging indoor shots, you can always use the Live Guide feature to correct white balance (to get a more natural color instead of overly yellow, for example). Furthermore, nice bokeh (blurred background) can be achieved pretty easily.
a pint of goodness
This picture demonstrates the ability of the camera to pick up amazing details even in pretty low light condition. The photo of Guinness was taken at Berlin Beirgarten at Solaris. Love the way water droplets around the glass is emphasized here.
four treasures (at DucKing)
While the previous picture of Guinness with it’s slightly off white balance still works out pretty well, you often want to get the correct natural color when it comes to shooting food. This is where the Live Guide comes in handy, I was able to use the feature to correct the white balance (hit Start/OK button then choose “color”) right there and then and get the picture I want.
Camera Size and Street Photography
Other than shooting food, I do quite a bit of street photography, and one thing about this genre of shooting that might not be apparent is the size of the camera one chooses.
hello mom, I’m in KL already!
With its small size and less imposing outlook, the E-PL1 excels in this form of photography. The heavier SLRs, while giving you good image quality, also leave you with sore shoulders and very tired arms after a day of hauling the equipment walking around town.
Other than being lighter, the camera is also quite a lot more stealthy and less intruding, a subtle but important factor in this case. When you have a big camera, people tend to be more aware and react too much to your equipment, the smaller Olympus lets the subject act the way they are and this makes shooting on the streets that much easier.
When fully extended, the 14-42mm kit lens shoots at an 84mm equivalent to traditional 35mm film camera. I was able to get this shot of KLCC with its reflection of one tower on the other. Again, even the most minute of details stands out.
This baby also shoots video at 720p HD format, that’s 1280 x 720, or a gazillian times better than VGA especially on the bigger LCDs that we use these days.
The other advantage is that this SLR quality video is much better than basically any compact camera and most dedicated video cameras. You get to change different lenses to suits your need, and get the depth of field a compact can only dream of.
This is the camera to go if you want the best of both worlds, check out the microsite at for more information. Now is there anyone who wants to sponsor me to a photography trip? 😀