UPDATE: I got a very positive response from Olympus about this post. Instead of becoming defensive or going on the attack, they made their case for both the camera and their PR event. While Olympus and I disagree on several points – I am convinced they meant well and I will be reviewing the camera – but I’ll do it on my own terms, and that’s cool with Olympus. Many companies would not have responded as well to being called out. I have newfound respect for Olympus. But I still stand behind everything I said below.
I don’t know about you – but it seems like all I heard about this week was the E-P1. It’s obvious that the Olympus PR team did a good job. They had much of the online and print photo press marching in lock-step clamoring for a camera that they can’t have. What else is new? Since the folks writing most of the stories about this camera were invited to a special tour of the camera, you have to wonder how free they feel to criticize it.
I admit it – The E-P1 looks like an interesting camera. But what’s revolutionary about it? Well I guess the cool retro look is cool, but it’s not new – that’s why they call it “retro.” It’s micro 4/3rds like the Panasonic G1 and in many respects is similar. While I haven’t shot the camera and can only rely on samples posted online, the image quality looks good. It should for that kind of money. This camera will cost you between $800 and $1100 or more once it’s fully configured and decked out with the nifty accessories. For that you get a camera that does what my Panasonic LX 3 does for about half the price.
Looking at the spec sheet I see some missing links. There’s no external mic jack for recording audio for video. There’s no built-in viewfinder. There’s no on-board flash. The video isn’t true HD-quality.
The images from the camera shot at high ISO appear to look pretty darn good – but as you’d expect, there’s some heavy back-end processing going on which softens the images.
I realize this thing is pretty. I realize why some folks may covet it. I realize that the Olympus PR team did a great job of wowing some in the photo press. But I also realize this is an extremely expensive camera, lacking genuine innovation and coming to market in tough economic times. I wonder how well it will actually sell?
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