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Olympus Pen E-P1 - Test Shots - ISO Performance

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


User Score:

Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using reflected natural light


This is the full frame at 100 ISO. ISO settings at 1/3EV intervals are available on the E-P1, but the the sake of brevity I've only listed the full-EV settings.


At 100 ISO the image is pretty clean, although compare this with the Panasonic LX3, which has a 1/1.63-inch 10.1MP sensor.


Already at 200 ISO there is a faint dusting of image noise, and a trace of colour mottling in the green area.


More mid-tone noise at 400 ISO.


Detail is fading out at 800 ISO.


Noise is becoming a real problem at 1600 ISO.


Colour saturation is starting to fade out at 3200 ISO.


Image quality is pretty poor at 6400 ISO.


This is the full frame at 6400 ISO.



July 25, 2009, 2:40 pm

I've always been a fan of proper Olympus cameras and it's good to see them producing cameras in the vein of the Trip and OM-10 that I already have.

It looks like a lovely bit of kit and the price isn't offputting considering I paid more for my Canon EOS 350D + lens when new. The low light performance however is a bit of a disappointment and it would be interesting to see how the camera copes alongside a Canon G10 in real world use. If they came out with a revised version with a better sensor it would be extremely appealing.


July 25, 2009, 4:59 pm

The shop was kind enough to let me have ago. i absoloutely love it :)


July 25, 2009, 11:38 pm

It might be expensive, but it appears to be selling by the bucketload, especially in Japan and the US. The only other alternative available is Panasonic's GH1, which sells for an eye watering £1200, has similar image quality to the E-P1, comes bundled with a lens with distortion problems and is also made of plastic. When you take this into account, and also the fact the EP-1 is marketed as a premium, niche object, like a Leica rangefinder, then I think it's not that badly priced.


July 26, 2009, 4:15 pm

But then the GH1, while I agree is hideously expensive (as is this), is aimed at a different market as it's pretty much a hybrid camera/camcorder.


July 27, 2009, 4:37 am

Oh come on, guys, this is every bit as much a fashion accessory as the designer compacts - but in this case designed to impress other photographers 'in the know' - just as wearing a Nikon or Canon is far more impressive than wearing a Sony or Fuji. It isn't so long ago that SLRs where referred to as male jewelary...

Right, I'll duck the flack now.


July 27, 2009, 9:21 pm

dSLR are still fashion accessories. Walk around London and everyone's carrying them. Even when they do not have the slightest clue how to use them and have the setting set to auto.


August 1, 2009, 10:51 pm

Confusion beginning to set in here - a quick whizz round other reviews puts image quality on par with DSLRs. Is your IQ rating of 8 as compared to compacts or DSLRs?


August 2, 2009, 9:16 am

I have to agree with Splogbust here. The high noise ISO results look pretty good. Compare the shots with the E-620 and they look pretty good. The E-620 earns a 7 in image quality and the E-P1 DOES score an 8, but then so does the E-420. The IQ is clearly superior to the E-420 (which also scores an 8)and so the E-P1 should be for the extra money.

The IQ rating system seems that it may be tied to price/performance rather an an objective rating. If so, the camera gets a double penalty to its overall rating by hamminging it (deservedly) with a poor value rating.

Cliff Smith

August 5, 2009, 5:26 pm

As I've stated before, my review scores aren't tricorder readings, they're just numbers summarising my opinion, based on my experience of using this and hundreds of other cameras. This is one of the reasons I've never liked the whole idea of review scores, because you're never really comparing like with like, and to get an meaningful numerical representation you'd have to have hundreds of different scores for every aspect of the product's performance, which would be incredibly tedious both to write and to read. If you want to know what I think, don't compare numbers, read the text of the review.

There's a group called DIWA that has tried to suggest a standardised test sheet for camera review scores. You can find their standard test sheet at http://www.diwa-awards.com/pre..., but I don't think I'd want to meet the kind of person who would willingly fill in a 200-item checklist for every single camera, and I don't believe the TR's readers want to see that kind of review.


March 8, 2010, 12:42 am

I bought mine today at Focus Exhibition for a pretty good price. Loving it already.


May 5, 2010, 12:57 am

Fashion accessory, maybe, but also a very competent lightweight camera with a range of lenses. And you can focus manually, so hunting in low light (assuming there is enough to see by) isn't really a problem. Just part exed to get one for taking on hikes/walks, and am very happy. It was the low noise (compared to theG10 I had) and the range of lenses that sold me. And the review here...

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