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Olympus Pen E-PL1 - Test Shots - ISO Performance

By Cliff Smith


  • Recommended by TR
Olympus Pen E-PL1 front angle


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Review Price £278.00

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 shaded natural light.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

This is the full frame at minimum ISO.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

Image quality at the minimum 100 ISO is superb.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

Still no real problems at 200 ISO.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

Colour saturation is slightly reduced at 400 ISO, but there is still no noise.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

Noise reduction effects are visible at 800 ISO, but overall quality is still very good.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

Noise is visible at 1600 ISO, but the image is still printable.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

At the maximum 3200 ISO noise is becoming a problem, but it would still be acceptable for smaller image.


Olympus Pen E-PL1 test photo

This is the full frame at maximum ISO.


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August 28, 2010, 1:47 pm


The E-pl1 is very good. Even more so with the panasonic 14-45.

The only thing missing is a viewfinder.

Great review. Like most of your reviews.



August 28, 2010, 5:49 pm


I send you an email two days ago requesting that you review this camera, it is done so fast. I am sure it must in the pipe line by the time my email reaches you.

I read a number of reviews from consumers of this camera, their main gripes of this camera are:

1. a slower auto-focus compared to others.

2. cannot/difficult to auto-focus in bad light

3. the image is not so sharp when it is fully extended.

I don't think you mentioned these in your review. I assume you use the latest firmware. Is it possible that these problems have been fixed in the latest firmware. Maybe you like to comment on them. Otherwise it is a fine camera indeed, esp at the price it is selling. It is on special in some stores in Australia and the States. I heard you can get it at B&H in the States for $499.


September 3, 2010, 8:47 pm

I moaned like the old man that I am when Olympus started fooling around with MFT... But I would not have done if they had started with this one. Looks really modern and retro at the same time. The price is very interesting and the features and performance are what an ancient fan expects of Olympus.

Fair question about shutter lag. If it's mainly the time it takes to focus, and there is no problem getting the focus before you release the shutter, it'll be as manageable as it is on any successful compact.

That doesn't mean I'm about to trade in my E-620, but there would have been an outside chance of me buying an E-PL1 if it had been well established in the market place when I bought the E-620.

Mike B

October 16, 2010, 11:25 pm

I feel you may as well have a Panasonic G10 rather than this camera. the G10 has a built in viewfinder (EVF) and better handling due to the grip, given it weighs about the same as a PEN and is very close in size then why compromise?

Danilo Ingan-eng

October 30, 2010, 7:59 am

E-PL1 with latest firmware can now shoot As Soon As Possible but not in All Shooting Angle Possible restricted by its fixed image viewer.


December 28, 2010, 4:05 am

I'm confused about Mike B's comments. Having compared the image quality of the 2 cameras, the Olympus wins hands down, so how can it be a compromise, especially when firmware updates appear to have fixed many of the niggles?

I also question the 9/10 for image quality given to the Olympus, having compared it to cameras given 10/10 it appears to perform as well, and even better (in my humble opinion) than cameras given 10? I want a small camera and was previously sold on the Panasonic FZ38, however, having found this at a significantly reduced price, I'm revisiting my finances! ;)

Merry Christmas everyone!

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