Olympus E-P1 Review

 
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Olympus E-P1 Operation

The Olympus E-P1 packs a lot of features into a very compact body. This of course means that many features are accessed via menus shown on the LCD instead of dedicated buttons. Still, Olympus has crammed a lot of controls into what little space is available, and they've given a lot of flexibility on how many of them function, via an extensive set of Custom and Setup menu options. (See our Modes & Menus page for details.)

Most major functions are accessible via the ten buttons on the back and two on the top deck. A Function button activates an L-shaped menu that offers access to major functions, like White balance, Drive mode, Image stabilization, Aspect ratio, Compression, AF mode, Face detection, and AF point.

A Main and Sub dial navigate through menus, and are used to adjust shutter speed and aperture in Manual exposure modes.

 

Record Mode Displays

Full-time Live View
The information display in record mode includes exposure mode, flash mode, ISO sensitivity setting, metering mode, AF mode, number of available images, resolution, aspect ratio, image stabilizer mode, drive mode, white balance, focus confirmation, battery status, etc. You can also enable a live histogram. A half-press of the Shutter button displays the shutter speed and aperture settings. Through the Custom menu, you can also enable one of three styles of grid displays. See the illustration below (courtesy of Olympus America) for information callouts in record mode.

As you change exposure settings, the display changes to reflect what the captured image will look like, also known as "exposure simulation."

1
Internal Temperature Warning
12
Aperture Value
Arrow Pad Function
13
Flash Status
2
My Mode
14
Battery Status
3
Shooting Mode
15
AF Confirmation
4
Flash Mode
16
Art Filter
5
ISO Sensitivity
Scene
6
Metering Mode
17
White Balance
7
AF Mode
18
Sequential Shooting
8
Face Detection
Self-Timer
5
ISO Sensitivity
19
Image Stabilizer Mode
9
Flash Intensity
20
Aspect Ratio
Super FP Flash Mode
21
Image Size & Quality
10
AE Lock
22
Number of storable still images
Auto Bracket
Available Recording Time
Multiple Exposure
23
Exposure Compensation Value
Home Position
24
Histogram
11
Shutter Speed

 

Level Gauge
The Olympus E-P1 includes a nifty Level Gauge feature, which when enabled, displays the amount of roll (left/right) and pitch (forward/backward) as bars on the bottom and right hand-side of the screen respectively. This helps ensure that images are level with the horizon, or parallel with a subject for critical work such as architecture or macro. You can also calibrate, or "zero-out" the level gauge, in a Custom menu.


 

Super Control Panel
In record mode, the LCD monitor displays the "Super Control Panel" when you press the Info button. You can navigate around in and make changes to a number of menu options (ISO, White Balance, etc.). See the illustration below (courtesy of Olympus America) for callouts of the various settings that are shown and adjustable from this screen.


1
Internal Temperature Warning
14
Picture Mode
Arrow Pad Function
15
Sharpness
2
Shooting Mode
Contrast
3
Function Name
Saturation
4
White Balance
Gradation
White Balance Compensation
B&W Filter
5
ISO Sensitivity
Picture Tone
6
Sequential Shooting
16
Color Space
Self-Timer
17
Face Detection
7
Flash Mode
18
Metering Mode
8
Flash Intensity
19
Number of storable still images
9
Image Stabilizer Mode
20
Exposure Compensation Value
10
AF Mode
Exposure Level
AF Target
21
Aspect Ratio
11
Image Size & Quality
22
Aperture Value
12
Flash Status
23
Shutter Speed
13
Battery Status

 

Live Control
The Olympus EP-1 adds a new menu display type reminiscent of the Function menu found on Canon PowerShots, called Live Control. The menu is accessed by pressing the "OK" button, and overlays commonly used functions along the right hand side, and displays the options for the currently selected setting along the bottom. Menu options in this mode include Scene mode (when SCN exposure mode is selected), Art filter mode (when ART exposure mode is selected), Movie AE mode (in Movie mode), White Balance, Sequential shooting/self-timer, Image Stabilizer, Aspect Ratio, Record Mode (image size and quality), ISO sensitivity, Flash mode, Metering mode, AF mode, Face detection, AF target selection and Movie sound record (in Movie mode).

 

Playback Mode Displays

Information Screens
In Playback mode, the default image display shows the most recently captured image. Pressing the Info button cycles through the main display (with no information), a simplified display with basic information overlay, a detailed thumbnail display with RGBY histogram, shooting info and highlight/shadow display, a luminance histogram overlay display, and a blinking highlight/shadow display (overexposed areas are shown in red, underexposed in blue). The last display type will be stored and shown the next time by default. Pressing the Right or Left arrow displays the next or previous frame, while pressing the Up or Down arrow jumps 10 frames forward or backward.

Index and Calendar Views
Turning the Sub dial to the left cycles through a four, nine, 16, 25, 49, and 100-image index display, and finally a Calendar display. The arrow pad keys are used to select a particular frame in an index view. In Calendar view, you can display images arranged by date, and you can select a date by using the arrow keys, then pressing OK. If more that one shot was taken on a single date, the first shot on that date is displayed.

Magnified View
Turning the Sub dial to the right enlarges the captured image as much as 14x. You use the four arrow keys to move around the zoomed image, and if Face Detect is enabled, a frame is displayed around a detected face. You can press OK to move the frame to another face. After pressing the Info button in magnified view, you can view other images at the same magnification by using the Left and Right arrows. When Face Detect is enabled, you can jump to the next or previous face by using the Up and Down arrows, useful for quickly checking for closed eyes or focus issues.

 

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