Posts Tagged ‘Olympus E-P1’

Autofocus (Part 2) & Image Stabilization

While I previously whined extensively about the disadvantages of “square AF” (particularly on the E-P1), there is also a bright side to this new style of autofocus, which is that you can place your AF square anywhere you like on the frame. Of course, this is also possible on DSLRs with multiple focus points but it tends to be a higher end feature.

The E-P1 and GF1 were also designed with video recording in mind and both cameras continuous AF modes are quite capable. You can “set” a subject and have the camera automatically track it around the frame, it’s quite neat. I have yet to make much use of it though.

Anyway, moving on. There is a feature that I had underestimated on the E-P1 that keeps it in the running against its GF1 competitor and that is image stabilization. I have been using mostly the GF1 body with the 17mm and the 20mm these last few days and for about 30% of the lower shutter speed photos (i.e. 1/30 and less), there has been noticeable camera shake in the photos. On the E-P1, I only notice it about 5% of the time. Even at short focal lengths such as 17mm and 20mm, image stabilization can help. Apparently the mechanism adds a bit of weight to the camera but I think it’s a feature worth having.

[all photos with Panasonic GF1 / 20mm f1.7 / 17mm f2.8]

subject: Kent Wang, Purveyor of Fine Pocket Squares

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Autofocus and Lack Thereof (part 1)

For an experienced DSLR user, the E-P1 and GF1 autofocus systems are a little bit unsettling. I always set my DSLRs to use the autofocus point in the center of the frame, which usually gives you the the most sensitive, fastest autofocus point on the camera. I stress the word “point”, because that’s what it is. A single point. Using that point, I would try and catch focus on something with a bit of contrast.

On the E-P1 and the GF1, it is more like a “square”. And quite a large square at that (though more on that with the GF1 later in the post). The behaviour is the E-P1 will try and put whatever is filling up most of the square into focus. So far, I have had very little luck in trying to focus on something very small and only filling a small portion of the square. Focus will tend to be on whatever is behind the small object since it fills up more of the AF square.

On the GF1, the size of the AF square is adjustable, all the way down to a very, very small square. A point, almost. ;) Given that the camera will try and put into focus whatever fills up the suqare, precise autofocus on a small object is now in reach.

Kudos to Panasonic for improving on an E-P1 niggle.

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Shutter Noise



In response to a reader’s request, I’ve recorded the two camera’s shutter noise. First set of noises is the GF1, second is the E-P1. Seems the E-P1 has a higher framerate. The GF1 is slightly louder and i find the noise more intrusive. I’d add the sound of a DSLR on as well but … I don’t have one anymore. This is a website about small cameras after all!

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Good Lookin’ Flash

It’s got quite a Johnny Five sort of appeal to it, no?

[all photos with Olympus E-P1 / 17mm f2.8]

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The Cheap & Cheerful Olympus 17mm f2.8

The Olympus 17mm f2.8. Contrast-wise it’s a little bit flat, it’s really not that sharp and it has quite a bit of distortion. However, it gives a great field of view that is both narrow enough to be intimate yet wide enough to allow busier compositions. Thankfully, RAW files stand up to a good bit of prodding, so you can still get some impressive results out of it. For day-to-day snapshots, I prefer it over the 20mm f1.7. p.s. I really like the fingers of the girl below. Quite elegant, no?

[all photos with Oly E-P1 / 17mm f2.8]

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Some Early Thoughts About the GF1 (compared to the E-P1)

Compared to the Olympus E-P1 Couple of quick observations:

  • GF1 has a more functional read-out and interface, fewer stupid, laggy animations.
  • GF1 is slightly faster in focusing.
  • GF1 is noticeably lighter.
  • GF1 LCD is very nice. Sharp!
  • GF1 control wheel is a bit stiff, the upper control wheel on E-P1 is nicer. However, I am very against the lower control dial on the E-P1. It’s too easy to hit buttons on that thing accidentally.
  • GF1 has a flash! Ok, it’s weak but the mechanism is very pretty and it’s a real boon for any night time snapshots.
  • GF1 has no sensor stabilization. I miss that feature much more than I expected.

[all photos with Panasonic GF1 / 20mm f1.7]

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E-P1 vs GF1 vs ?

Hi Everybody,

I’m Mark and I love cameras. I used to carry a DSLR with me all the time but it has become too impractical. Now, I am looking for the ultimate small camera.

I photograph anything that takes my fancy and I usually use wide to standard length lenses. This blog records my thoughts on various small cameras as well as the small camera scene at large.

Right now, the two most interesting small cameras are the Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Panasonic GF1, both capable of high quality images using the micro 4/3 sensor. The Panasonic GF1 just came out in Japan on the 18th and I managed to snag one on the day, albeit without the optional electronic viewfinder. A lot of people have been wondering how the E-P1 fares against the GF1 so I’ve started a blog to share my experiences with the two.

Stay tuned!



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