Urban Landscape + Lifestyle Photography

Olympus E-PL1: The best price to quality ratio

My two camera setup, Olympus E-PL1 with 45mm and 20mm

My Olympus E-PL1s with the 45mm f1.8 and 20mm f1.7 lenses

There are a lot of great cameras out there but in my book the camera that has the best price to quality ratio is the Olympus E-PL1. For a complete body and lens kit, you can get a brand new setup for around $280 at Amazon. I’ve bought both of my cameras factory refurbished from Cameta Camera, where they are currently $190 with a kit lens. So for the price of a point and shoot camera, you can get a high quality micro 4/3 camera that will smoke any point and shoot, quality wise. Consider the Canon S100 or G12 run in the mid to upper $300s. The Fuji X10 and new Sony high end point and shoot RX-100 run upwards of $600. Sure these point and shoots are smaller so if portability is a prime concern, the Olympus E-PL1 maybe too large. However, The E-PL1 is fairly compact and light. It is not pocketable but it won’t wear you down like a DLSR. And unlike a point and shoot, you can change lenses on the E-PL1, so if you want more flexibility and capability, you can always buy and change lenses.

I was so happy with the quality of the E-PL1, it got me enamored with the Olympus cameras. I’ve had very good luck with mine and have taken some great shots with the E-PL1, here is a sample on my mostlyfotos blog. You can read my review about the camera here and I’m pretty honest about the good and bad things about the camera. The main caveat about this camera, it isn’t really fast focusing. It works great for casual snaps of non-hyperactive people and capturing high quality images of slow moving subjects. It works well as a contemplative camera where you go around and capture the interesting things around you. This is generally the kind of photography that I do and it works well for that. If you want to take pictures of active children or their sports, this is not the camera for you. I also think the flash exposure is not the best so I try to avoid using the popup flash.

Keep in mind that I’m a fairly advanced photographer so some of my E-PL1 images will require more advanced techniques to master. I also have several different lenses that help me take photographs in darker conditions. The photographs above show my two E-PL1s mounted with more premium and specialized lenses. However, rest assured that these images were all taken with the Olympus E-PL1 and it is quite a capable camera. The kit lens will work very well in brighter conditions especially during the day. I have a lot of E-PL1 images on my blog so make sure to click to the << Previous Photo link to view them all.

The amazing thing is that the body only E-PL1 (without a lens) runs for $129, factory refurbished at Cameta Camera. Consider for this price you get the body, a battery, charger, strap, everything except a lens. If you are already a Olympus or Panasonic micro 4/3 shooter, you can use this camera with your existing lenses. I own multiple bodies and basically use them as functional lens caps. Instead of having to change lens on my camera body, I just have camera bodies attached to my favorite lenses. Sounds a bit crazy bit at $129, you can do this kind of thing.

11 responses

  1. You betcha! The focus is definitely fast enough for my leisure shooting. I ran another batch of stuff today in the backyard with the 45mm 1.8 – got some really nice images – again! Really it’s the best bang for the buck out there in camera land, even if just to have around for a spare.

    I wound up getting a Canon Pwrshot for my Dad as he expressed a strong desire for “pocketable” but I am leaning towards another E=PL1 body for myself.

    July 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    • Absolutely. Going on a downtown photowalk in an hour. Bringing 2 E-PL1s and a E-P3.

      July 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm

  2. I totally agree … Even with the P3, I often find myself going back to the PL1. It’s just a great camera.

    July 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm

  3. Another total agreement. (Fourth try…that log in function is baffling.)

    Kirk Tuck’s writing about the Olympus cameras and his blog images introduced me to the IE-PL1 as a sensible way to sample the format and hardware.

    Your posts and wide variety of excellent photos confirmed that.

    Your experience with factory refurbs and Cameta Camera now gives me that as a source which would not have been considered.

    Now, if I can just find the bucks for that Lumix 20 mm…..

    July 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

    • Thanks for taking the time to break through the login function and commenting on my site. I’m glad that I can help in some small way. And yes, a source of less expensive Panasonic lenses would be fantastic. I have bought used lenses at Adorama that turn out to be OK but they are not generally factory refurbished.

      July 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

    • Mike I have the Oly 17mm 2.8 and I love it. I did look at the 20, went with the Oly. I have even thrown on a Raynox 250 and have been doing some closeup work with it. The 17mm has been fine for my purposes. Link:

      http://ohnostudio.com/2012/07/macro-with-the-olympus-e-pl1-raynox-250/

      July 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm

  4. I just bought the down and dirty $129 body. Couldn’t resist ;-)

    July 15, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    • I hope the second one gives you as much joy and fun as the first.

      July 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Serendipity and commented:
    If you own, or are thinking about buying a 4/3 format digital camera or any other of the new interchangeable mirror-less cameras, this is the best website I’ve found. He’s a photographer and doesn’t just test this equipment, he uses it to take pictures. Well written, informative … and it probably helps that I have the same cameras too. Also, a real person who has helped me more than once. This, by the way, despite having bought a newer fancier Olympus, this is still my favorite camera.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm

  6. I have an E-PL1 with the kit lens and a Pany 45-200. Some of the best pics that I have ever taken. Never leave home w/o this camera!

    November 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm

  7. Tedolph

    I have had the E-pl1 for abouut two years and use it with a varitey of legacy lenses. The resutls are just excellent including a few prints at 16 x 20″, but mostly 8 x 10″ that I print at home. At this price point everyone should have one.

    December 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

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