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Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

The Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the Pentax Q are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and June 2011. Both the E-PL1 and the Pentax Q are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (E-PL1) and a 1/2.3-inch (Pentax Q) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-PL1   Pentax Q
Olympus E-PL1 Pentax Q
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Pentax Q mount lenses
12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 200-3200 ISO 125-6400
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
2.7" LCD, 230k dots 3.0" LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
290 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
115 x 72 x 42 mm, 334 g 98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL1 and the Pentax Q? 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-PL1 vs Pentax Q

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL1 and the Pentax Q are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

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

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax Q is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Olympus E-PL1. Moreover, the Pentax Q is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the E-PL1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL1 nor the Pentax Q 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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-PL1» 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
 
Pentax Q« 98 mm 57 mm 31 mm 180 g 230 n Jun 2011 649- i Pentax Q
 
Olympus XZ-2« » 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599- i Olympus XZ-2
 
Olympus E-P3« » 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
 
Olympus E-PL2« » 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
 
Olympus E-PL3« » 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
 
Olympus E-PM1« » 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
 
Olympus E-620« » 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P1« » 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-P2« » 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
 
Panasonic G10« » 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF2« » 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The E-PL1 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the Pentax Q at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PL1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax Q a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the Pentax Q is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 5.6. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Olympus E-PL1 and Pentax Q sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the E-PL1 offers a slightly higher resolution than the Pentax Q (12MP), but the E-PL1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.53μm for the Pentax Q) due to its larger sensor. However, the Pentax Q is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 4 months) than the E-PL1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Olympus PEN E-PL1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax Q are ISO 125 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

E-PL1 versus Pentax Q MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the E-PL1 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the Pentax Q (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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-PL1» Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754Olympus E-PL1
 
Pentax Q« 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.211.118947Pentax Q
 
Olympus XZ-2« » 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649Olympus XZ-2
 
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-PM1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952Olympus E-PM1
 
Olympus E-620« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.353655Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556Olympus E-P2
 
Panasonic G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654Panasonic GF2

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the Pentax Q provides a better video resolution than the E-PL1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL1 and the Pentax Q 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. However, optional viewfinders – the VF-2 for the E-PL1 and the O-VF1 for the Pentax Q – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PL1 and Pentax Q 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-PL1»- n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y Olympus E-PL1
 
Pentax Q«- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/2000s 1.5 Y Y Pentax Q
 
Olympus XZ-2« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y Olympus XZ-2
 
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-PM1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PM1
 
Olympus E-620« »optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P1« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y Olympus E-P2
 
Panasonic G10« »202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n Panasonic GF2

The Pentax Q has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The E-PL1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the Pentax Q uses SDXC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

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-PL1 and Pentax Q 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-PL1»Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL1
 
Pentax Q«Ymonomono--mini2.0---Pentax Q
 
Olympus XZ-2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus XZ-2
 
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-PM1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM1
 
Olympus E-620« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P1« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-P2« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-P2
 
Panasonic G10« »Ymono---mini2.0---Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic GF2

Both the E-PL1 and the Pentax Q have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL1 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL2, while the Pentax Q was followed by the Pentax Q10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.


Review summary: Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-PL1 or the Pentax Q – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL1:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (290 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2010).

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax Q:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 115x72mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 154g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 4 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Pentax Q emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 6 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 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-PL1 06:08 Pentax Q

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-PL1 and the Pentax Q 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL1 or the Pentax Q perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews: Olympus E-PL1 vs Pentax Q

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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-PL1»86/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599- i Olympus E-PL1
 
Pentax Q«--4/53.5/53.5/5 Jun 2011 649- i Pentax Q
 
Olympus XZ-2« »+-4.5/54/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus XZ-2
 
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-PM1« »86/10071/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
 
Olympus E-620« »88/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699- i Olympus E-620
 
Olympus E-P1« »+66/1004/54/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799- i Olympus E-P1
 
Olympus E-P2« »+69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i Olympus E-P2
 
Panasonic G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i Panasonic G10
 
Panasonic GF2« »82/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549- i Panasonic GF2
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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Olympus E-PL1:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax Q:
Check Ebay offers

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-PL1 vs Pentax Q

    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-PL1 Pentax Q
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Pentax Q mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2010 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-PL1 Pentax Q
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200-3200 ISO 125-6400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 54 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 20.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.1 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 487 189
    Screen Specs Olympus E-PL1 Pentax Q
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-PL1 Pentax Q
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in 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-PL1 Pentax Q
    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-PL1 Pentax Q
    Battery Type BLS-1 power pack D-LI68 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)290 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 115 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    98 x 57 x 31 mm
    (3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
    Camera Weight 334 g (11.8 oz) 180 g (6.3 oz)

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