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Olympus E-PM1 Performance


Timing and Performance

Very good speed overall for a compact system camera, though sluggish startup.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.8 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~1.0 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
4 seconds after 9 large/superfine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
7 seconds after 9 RAW files*
11 seconds after 8 RAW+ LSF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time was sluggish, even for a CSC, though shutdown was not bad. Buffer clearing time depends on the quality and number of shots, and on the speed of the memory card. With a fast 45MB/s UHS-I SDHC card, the E-PM1's buffer clearing times were quite good, though buffers weren't very deep.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.5 second
Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.8 seconds
Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.7 second
Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was quite fast, except for Record to Play which was a bit slow.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.246 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with the new Olympus 14-42mm II R kit lens.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.289 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Continuous AF
0.253 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.112 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.075 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Olympus E-PM1's full-autofocus shutter lag in single-area AF mode (center AF position) was only 0.246 second with the 14-42mm II R kit lens, which is competitive with many consumer SLRs. In 35-point "All Targets" AF mode, this time increased to 0.289 second, which is still quite fast for a contrast-detection system. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.253 second, though we can't test tracking ability. When manually focused, the E-PM1's lag time was 0.112 second, which is good. The E-PM1's prefocused lag time of 0.075 second is quite fast. Overall, the E-PM1's AF speeds and shutter lag are excellent for a CSC, though it's not quite as fast as the more expensive E-P3.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Superfine JPEG

0.59 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.57 second

Time per shot, averaged over 15 shots.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LSF JPEG
0.57 second

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, 13 seconds.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Mode
Large/Superfine JPEG

0.19 second (5.33 frames per second);
9 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.53s or 1.90 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW

0.18 second (5.44 frames per second);
9 frames total;
7 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 9 frames, then slows to an average of about 0.76s or 1.32 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW + LSF JPEG

0.19 second (5.38 frames per second);
8 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 8 frames, then slows to 1.33s or 0.75 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

4.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were quite good for a CSC, at about 0.6 seconds per shot no matter the type of file. Continuous mode was also quite good, at 5.3 frames per second for large/superfine JPEGs, 5.4 frames per second for RAW frames, and 5.4 frames per second for RAW + JPEGs. This roughly matches Olympus' spec of 5.5 frames per second, though we must point out that the burst speed falls to 4.1 frames per second when image stabilization is enabled according to Olympus. (We do all our lab tests on a tripod, so IS is always disabled for our measurements.) Buffer depths were good for an entry-level model, at 9 frames for large/superfine JPEGs or RAW, and 8 frames for RAW+JPEGs. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects.

Flash recycle time was about average with the included external flash, at 4.7 seconds after a full power discharge.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

6,436 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were not bad, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/sec UHS-I SDHC card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Olympus E-PM1's performance is quite good for a CSC. It's a bit slower than the E-P3 in autofocus and shutter lag, but quite a bit faster in burst mode. Buffer depths were good for an entry-level model, especially given the burst rate.

Battery

Battery Life
Average battery life for a CSC.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
330

The Olympus E-PM1 uses a custom BLS-1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 330 shots per charge is about average for a compact system camera, but well below the capacity of most SLRs when using the optical viewfinder. We're not sure if this figure includes 50% flash shots with the bundled external flash, but either way, we recommend getting a second battery for your E-PM1 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))