Photo: KaptureHouse/Shutterstock

Getting the Feel of an Olympus E-P1

by Megan Wood Jul 1, 2011
Road Warrior Megan Wood upgrades to a micro four thirds camera in Belize.

I’M A WRITER, NOT a photographer. But I was tired of coming home from trips with disappointing pictures taken with my point-and-shoot camera. When I found out I was going to Belize for three months, I knew it was time to take action. I consulted a friend with a photography business and told him I wanted something lightweight, affordable, and easy to use that would provide me with clear photos.

His solution? The Olympus E-P1, a micro four thirds camera with an interchangeable lens system that is almost a hybrid between a DSLR and a point-and-shoot. I Googled it and was immediately impressed by how sleek it looks; this camera is sexy.

A new one with an interchangeable lens prices at about 800 bucks, but I found one used on Amazon with the lens for $350 and placed my order. External flashes, different lenses, and a viewfinder are all sold separately.

What is a micro four thirds camera?

A micro four thirds system camera doesn’t have a mirror and prism mechanism like a DSLR does.
There are pros to this: smaller camera lenses, brighter viewfinder in lowlight, deeper depth-of-field.
And cons: changing lenses can expose the sensor to dust, no through-the-lens optical viewfinder, and the sensor is smaller which can mean lower quality images.

The specifics

*Digital camera with interchangeable lens system: Micro Four Thirds System Lens
*Uses Live MOS sensor, with approximately 13,060,000 pixels
*The focal length of the lens is 14-42 mm
*Sound with still pictures and movie audio
*External Flash
*SD of SDHC memory card
*Digital recording, JPEG, and RAW data
*Comes in silver or white (white costs extra)

At first, I was intimidated by the removable lens and huge menu of settings. It’s not the most intuitive camera and the PDF manual is over 100 pages long. But after five minutes of shooting I was impressed by the 12 megapixels of clarity, automatic focus, and ability to take fast photos.

Now that I’m in Belize with the Olympus EP1, I’m starting to feel more comfortable with it. Solidly built, but at 11.8 ounces it doesn’t add much weight to my backpack, and feels comfortable hanging around my neck for hours. I’ve been shooting off-and-on for ten days on the same battery charge, which is ideal for the kind of traveling I’m doing – I’m often without electricity.

I’m still playing with the settings but have graduated from using the Auto Setting to the many manual settings: Low Light, Beach, Night, Panorama. There are lots of options I haven’t even begun to explore like HD video, multiple exposures, and multi-aspect shooting.

Now I am a writer with great photographs.

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