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Olympus E-P1 vs E-PM1

The Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2009 and June 2011. Both the E-P1 and the E-PM1 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
versus
Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-P1   Olympus E-PM1
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 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-6,400 ISO 100-12,800
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
300 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g 110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-P1 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-PM1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-P1 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-PM1 is available in six color-versions (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white).

Size Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-PM1
Compare E-P1 versus E-PM1 top
Comparison E-P1 or E-PM1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM1 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Olympus E-P1. Moreover, the E-PM1 is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the E-P1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-P1 nor the E-PM1 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.

Concerning battery life, the E-P1 gets 300 shots out of its BLS-1 battery, while the E-PM1 can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499ebay.com
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-PM1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the E-P1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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

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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.

Technology-wise, the E-PM1 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VI) than the E-P1 (TruePic V), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-P1 and Olympus E-PM1 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-PM1 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 2 years) than the E-P1, and its sensor will 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-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

E-P1 versus E-PM1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
4.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
7.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
8.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
9.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
10.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
11.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
12.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
13.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
14.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264

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, but the E-PM1 provides a better video resolution than the E-P1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the E-P1 is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-P1 and the E-PM1 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-PM1 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-PM1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-P1none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
4.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
10.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
11.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
12.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The E-P1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-PM1 uses SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

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-PM1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo / -Y-mini2.0---

Both the E-P1 and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, while the E-PM1 was followed by the Olympus E-PM2. 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

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Olympus E-P1 better than the Olympus E-PM1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P1:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2009).


Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VI vs TruePic V).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 121x70mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 90g or 25 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the E-P1 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PM1 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

E-P1 01:09 E-PM1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus E-PM1 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-P1 and the E-PM1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-P1..+..66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499ebay.com
3.
 
Olympus E-PM23/5....77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+..69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/100..69/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-P1 vs Olympus E-PM1

    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-PM1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2009 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PM1
    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 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic V TruePic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 52
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.4 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.4 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 536 499
    Screen Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PM1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PM1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-PM1
    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-PM1
    Battery Type BLS-1 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)300 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 121 x 70 x 36 mm
    (4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 355 g (12.5 oz) 265 g (9.3 oz)
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