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Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2009 and February 2010. Both the E-P1 and the E-PL1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-P1   Olympus E-PL1
Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/30p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-6400 ISO 200-3200
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 230k dots 2.7" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
300 shots per battery charge290 shots per battery charge
121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g 115 x 72 x 42 mm, 334 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus PEN E-PL1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-PL1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-PL1 is available in four color-versions (black, blue, yellow, white).

Size Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-PL1
Compare E-P1 versus E-PL1 top
Comparison E-P1 or E-PL1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL1 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. Moreover, the E-PL1 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the E-P1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P1 nor the E-PL1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-P1» 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-PL1« 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
 
Olympus E-P3« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« » 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-620« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
 
Olympus E-520« » 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
 
Panasonic G10« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF1« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic GH1« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 1.8 in 13.6 oz 300 n Mar 2009 899- i Panasonic GH1
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-P1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Olympus E-P1 and Olympus E-PL1 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-P1 and the E-PL1 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-PL1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the E-P1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Olympus PEN E-P1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL1 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

E-P1 versus E-PL1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-P1» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-PL1« Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
 
Olympus E-P3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556Olympus E-P2
 
Olympus E-520« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.410.454855Olympus E-520
 
Panasonic G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic GH1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264Panasonic GH1

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-P1 and the E-PL1 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PL1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-P1 and Olympus E-PL1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-P1»- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-PL1«- n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
 
Olympus E-P3« »- n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P2
 
Olympus E-520« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y Olympus E-520
 
Panasonic G10« »202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic GH1« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic GH1

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL1 has one, while the E-P1 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-P1 and the E-PL1 write their files to SDHC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus PEN E-P1 and Olympus PEN E-PL1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-P1»Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-PL1«Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL1
 
Olympus E-P3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-620« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P2
 
Olympus E-520« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-520
 
Panasonic G10« »Ymono---mini2.0---Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF1« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic GH1« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Panasonic GH1

Both the E-P1 and the E-PL1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the E-PL1 was followed by the Olympus E-PL2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.


Review summary: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-P1 better than the Olympus E-PL1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P1:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2009).


Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL1:

  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL1 comes out slightly ahead of the E-P1 (4 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

E-P1 03:04 E-PL1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-PL1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-P1 or the E-PL1 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews: Olympus E-P1 vs E-PL1

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-P1»+66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-PL1«86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
 
Olympus E-P3« »83/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« »83/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »+ +72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P2« »+69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
 
Olympus E-520« »87/100+ +4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699- i Olympus E-520
 
Panasonic G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF1« »85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i Panasonic GF1
 
Panasonic GH1« »+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899- i Panasonic GH1
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Olympus E-P1:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL1:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-PL1

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2009 February 2010
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-6400 ISO 200-3200 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic V Truepic V
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.4 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.4 10.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 536 487
    Screen Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 2.7 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PL1
    Battery Type BLS-1 power pack BLS-1 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)300 shots per charge290 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 121 x 70 x 36 mm
    (4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    115 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 355 g (12.5 oz) 334 g (11.8 oz)

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