Will the Olympus E-P1 Pen make DSLR's more accessible?

Yesterday the latest Olympus Pen camera was revealed to the world, and we were on hand in sunny Berlin to get a good one on one with it. We marvelled at its sleek contours and retro styling, and I feel slightly in love with the uber kitsch white one. But will this camera really bridge the gap for digicam users wanting to dip their toe in the big world of DSLR models? That’s what Olymous are aiming for, and why they’ve made this one so small and comparably light in relation to other models.

The inclusion of two lenses (you can opt for a pancake and a viewfinder or the 3x zoom lens) with the device gives you a lot of scope, and you can also purchase a Four Thirds adapter to use other lenses you might own with this camera.

But how successful will it be? Well the marketing seems to be aiming this camera directly at women, and they’re really pushing the notion of ‘ease of use’ down out throats. True, the camera does feature an incredibly perceptive Intelligent Auto mode, but those uninitiated with DSLRs might find Aperture, Manual and Shutter speed priority setting fairly confusing,

To minimize this they’ve set up the menus to clearly display each function as you access it, and on a more technical note have made everything easily adjustable, such as ISO settings, light filters etc.

What’s really nice about this camera is the dedicated ART mode which gives you Art Filters that can be used BEFORE you take the snap, and viewed accordingly on the 3 inch LCD display. There are six art modes to allow you to experiment creatively, and I really like the Pin Hole and grainy Film option as they create a real depth of colour and emphasis to your prints.

You also get an HDMI output,and the camera has a video recording function which takes 30fps at 720p. The camera takes an SD card and has a 12.3 Live MOS sensor for clear crisp images.

It has the usual Olympus scene mode, so we’re talking portraits, landscape, firework etc, as well as the unusual e-Portrait mode which softens the skin and is used when viewing the images on an HD display- think of it as a subtle airbrushing mode.

The problem is that the camera is set to retail at £699- the price of which you could purchase last years DSLR. Will this in between cam really appeal to heavy users, or will it sit awkwardly in the middle ground with people impressed but unsure if they’ll use it?

I think the size element will be key here, as though it’s not exactly tiny with the lens attached, compared to an SLR it’s seriously slimline. The lack of built in flash will also be an issue for those used to just point and shooting, but they might find this camera the challenge they’re looking for.

I think the new Pen needs to come with an ‘Idiots’ Guide to Photography’ and have a lower pricepoint, and then it will be a huge success.


More cameras here.

Zara Rabinowicz