(FT5) First E-PM1 image and hands-on report! Has touchscreen and E-PL1 buttons.


The new E-PM1 compared with the Olympus XZ-1 (Click on image to enlarge).

As you know Olympus will announce three new PEN cameras and the 12mm f/2.0 and 45mm f/1.8 lenses on June 30th (Click here to see the official Olympus invitation). And on top you can see the very first image of the tiniest of the three PEN’s the Olympus E-PM1! The other two cameras will be the E-PL3 (with tilt-screen) and the E-P3 (no tilt screen, built-in Flash). The main new feature of the Olympus cameras will be the new ultrafast autofocus that will beat the already fast Panasonic GH2 AF and it will be even faster than the AF of most current DSLR cameras!!! Also the sensor and imageing engine will be new (I hope to get some more news soon about that). Don’t miss any rumors: Join us on Facebook and Twitter! Subscribe our RSS feed!

A good source had the chance to play a little bit with the new smallest PEN. And this is his hands-on report (I have rewritten the report to hide the language style):
The E-PM1 is really very small. The body size is very similar to the XZ-1 (Click here to see it) (similar depth and height, and a little less wide. Autofocus speed is awesome (faster than the E-30/E-5 by any means). And the AF is not only fast, it’s accurate! It has touchscreen, but it also has enough buttons like the E-PL1.) Overall it is a camera you can handle very easy. Looking at the size of the E-PM1 it might will not sue the BLS-1/5 battery, I am not sure about that but I think it could use the Li-70B battery from the XZ-1?
All three new PEN cameras do have touchscreen and a new circuitry that reduces power consumption and increases the battery autonomy.

Editor’s note: The new Panasonic GF3 is a bit smaller than the E-PM1 but that camera doesn’t come with built-in image stabilization and doesn’t have the same usability (the E-PM1 has more buttons).

Questions to sources: Do you know the price of the camera?

Links cameras/accessories mentioned in that article:
Olympus XZ-1 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus E-PL1 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus E-30 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus BLS-1/5 battery at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus Li-70B battery at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.

Reminder -> Rumors classification explained (FT= FourThirds):
FT1=1-20% chance the rumor is correct
FT2=21-40% chance the rumor is correct
FT3=41-60% chance the rumor is correct
FT4=61-80% chance the rumor is correct
FT5=81-99% chance the rumor is correct

  • Per

    Looking at what we know about Panasonic and Olympus new cameras, I still think the G3 to be the most interesting package/compromize.
    Have you seen the comparison Leica 25/1,4 and Panasonic 20/1,7 at DP review? From that I can stick with my 20mm and save a couple of hundred dollars!

    • Kralin

      all the 2 25mm focus in the doreview comparison are at wrong focus to me.
      i cannot find a single brick with the correct focus, and the men also have 2 different focus point. look at the orange shirt. in the 20mm is completely blurred.

  • cocute

    very bad idea not includes flash, i think flash is need in all olympus cameras,
    if not have flash…… how to use Remote RC with external Olympus/Metz flash?

    • Given that the rumor is that 3 cameras will be introduced, if you need remote TTL flash you will need to buy the body that has the pop-up flash. Given that the remote flashes start around $200, Olympus may consider that people buying the low end body may not be interested in doing RC flash.

      On the other hand, given it is roughly the same size as the XZ-1, maybe they did cram a flash in. For the average person buying a low end camera, I think a pop-up flash is important for the client base, which is presumably at their budget limit, and can’t afford expensive flashes. Now the picture does not seem to have the line for the pop-up flash, nor a button to do the popup. But it could be in a fixed position on the front, off to the left.

      Given the width, it does look like they probably will use the XZ-1 battery and not the BLS-5. I wonder what battery performance will be like.

      • Hmmm… It seems flash-less indeed. The last time Olympus attempted this was with the E-P1/2. The only justification for omitting a flash at entry level would be a leap in low light usability compared to the E-PL2. Even then it’s an odd decision.

  • Sören

    @Admin: You tell that it has E-PL1 buttons, but on the picture it looks more like the E-PL2 click-wheel (which I prefer over simple 4 way buttons.)

    • MikeS


  • Jon

    admin, any idea of the lenses that will come on both the emp1 and the epl3?

    • MJr

      Hmm maybe they will want to make the product shots of the kit look as small as possible as that is the trend here, and put the 17mm pancake on there, like the GF2 and GF3 do with the 14mm. Could be. But it’s not a very good lens. Either that or the 14-42 II.

    • cbr09

      Maybe they will update the 17mm f2.8 to a fast focus version – and perhaps a bit sharper too. So, a bit like the 14-42 II, there will be a 17 II. It might not get out in the rumour mill, either because they want to hold something back for a surprise, or because it is not a totally new product.

      Of course better still would be a wider aperture (at least f2) but still pancake and reasonable price. Many people would jump at that – just see how many people in the dpreview forum want the current 17 but feel it is not quite sharp or fast enough. For many it would be the ideal walk-around general purpose lens.

      • Yes, I am guessing at the possibility as well. Inge also brought up the possibility of introducing the FT 25mm pancake to MFT world. Also interesting.

  • I’m liking what I see here. If this picture is accurate and based on the size of XZ-1, the E-PM1 is 36mm deep. In comparison GF3 is officially 32.5mm deep.

    If there was a very thin (even manual) lens available, either of them could become a pocket camera! Of course you can change the lens to something better when you need it, but they can live in your pocket with that hypothetical lens.

  • Apostrophe

    I do hope someone publishes a comparison review between the new Panasonic-Leica 25mm and the manual Voightländer 25mm.

  • OlyFan

    All the 3 (new) cameras come with touch screen!? Why!? Oly – Why cannot you provide atleast the enthusiast model (EP-3 I suppose) with decent manual controls (like X100)!? I cannot imagine taking pictures using the touch screen! Leave the touch screen junk to Panasonic. Stick to your camera roots and give us decent manual controls!!! Atleast that’s where you can differentiate yourselves from Panasonic.

    • Ben Y

      Thank goodness I’m not the only one who doesn’t like touchscreens. It’s tacky.

      • Luke


    • Having a touchscreen doesn’t mean the buttons are all suddenly gone. The E-PM1 still has buttons and I’m sure the E-PL3 and E-P3 have at least as many buttons. It’s too early to say how it will perform, maybe it’ll greatly compliment the manual controls.

    • Duarte Bruno

      I’m sorry to say but to differentiate for the worst is a stupid marketing move.
      Is the Panasonic GH2 (with 3 assignable Fn buttons) a touch screen junk?
      Have you ever MFed? Do you like to press 40 buttons and take half a minute to define a focus area?

      I’m GLAD all screens are Touch. Olympus interface needed a revamping (and it was already due when I bought my E-510).

      • OlyFan

        The only people IMO that would fancy a touch screen are users who regularly used to click using their phones. Like my friend above said, it’s tacky! I’m sure what makes GH2 a nice camera is not it’s touch screen. I agree, their menu needs an overhaul – big time. But adding touch screen does not magically achieve that.
        Only the more serious users would be willing to shell out more money on cameras and lenses. And I’m certain a lot of these would not want to touch their screen to focus!
        And by differentiation I meant come up with a camera and/or features that stands apart from it’s competition. Where is Oly’s inventive spirit? All the 3 cameras look like “me too” cameras from Oy.

    • I wouldn’t worry about the E-P3. I am confident it will focus on what photographers need. It doesn’t go with the swivel LCD, that’s a good sign actually, leaving that gimmick to the more entry level E-PL3.

      As long as the E-P3 also features a horizontal control wheel to change aperture in A mode, shutter speed in S mode and so on, has an Exposure/Focus lock button and maybe some more that can be configured, I will be happy.

      • OlyFan

        I hope you are right! I’m also hoping that the sensor is a step in the right direction for Oly. For way too long, their reliance on Panasonic for sensor has crippled Oly. If they want to dominate this market they need to have the latest sensors. Although I’m not sure how much better or worse the new sensor is, I’m at least hoping they are on par (or better) than GH2 sensor.

      • D Ingan-eng

        You are not a Pro if you don’t have contortionist skills for E-P3

    • Touch is great if implemented properly and you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to provided physical buttons (or menu navigation paths) are still there, which would be wise for Oly to do.

      Surely, I should be able to specify an AF point on a real camera faster than on an iPhone. Scrolling through all the AF points on a shot per shot basis is just a pain and time consuming, AF on center then recompose or prefocus is not optimal, and MF is slow as well.

      Even if touch is only used for AF point selection, then it is worth it. But there would be some lost opportunities for sure.

      Oly can have various exposure and other settings displayed on the LCD that are directly change-able using touch. For example, the aspect ratio, which currently requires a bit of menu-ing but doesn’t necessarily deserve its own button, can be changed by tapping its icon on the LCD.

      A more complex example is having a distance scale overlaid on the LCD, which has a slider that you can move using touch; adjusting the distance scale slider will appropriately change focus. And if you’re on aperture priority mode, the LCD can show DoF on the distance scale, and there will be another slider to increase/decrease DoF, which will change the aperture value and vice-versa.

      The list goes on. But it can go either way for Oly: they can be like Apple and screw it up by creating the Newton or they can be like Apple and be successful by creating the iPhone/iPad.

  • Ben Y

    As soon as I saw this, I thought “Sony”.

  • 43pr0n

    VF on neither of them? Olympus, are you insane?

  • 24×36 sensor in neither of them? Olympus, are you insane?

    • tmrgrs

      You’re lost and confused Danonino, this site is dedicated to cameras with the 13 mm x 17.3 mm sensor.

      • You didn’t get the joke. Read the comment above. ;)

        • MK

          im just pissed that the e-p3 isn’t going to have a platinum body with the 12mm as kit where the glass is made out of diamonds. if i don’t have one my “pro” friends will ridicule me.

  • An0n

    EGBDF on neither of them? Olympus, are you insane?

  • compositor20

    solution for no flash in lower and mid end models… olympus may be releasing a new flash (really needed one like the nex one and that would make e-pl3 very interesting!

    i see a clickwhell too!

  • Will

    Does the Olympus E-PM1 detect when taking a vertical photo, and tag it as such? I’ve heard that the Olympus PEN E-PL1 cannot, and rotating images in Photoshop would be a huge nuisance.

    • Why is it a nuisance? In most applications rotating can be done with a simple shortcut. Since you’re opening up the image to post-process in something heavy as Photoshop anyway, I don’t think this is the nuisance at all. ;)

    • dvv

      In my PP software you can select multiple photos then press a shortcut key to rotate. Admittedly this is the ultimate hardship and portents doom, but you can do it.

      • Will

        Heh, well you know how it is. Putting the toilet seat down is just one easy step too, but it seems to cause all sorts of problems for most folks too.

        • Will

          And more seriously, in recommending cameras to people, the lack of sensing vertical pics was a deal-breaker for at least one friend.

  • greyhat

    I think touch to focus (i.e. touch screen) is a good thing. YMMV. I repeat: YMMV.
    If (creative) photography is about composition, cameras should also have tools to help composition besides viewfinder.
    If camera makers choose that direction instead of more X (MP, FPS) I think is all about maturity and doing things better for creative photographers (and not for sports pros or ‘cropping professionals’ or geeks). Like (not sorted):
    – touch to focus: you focus where _you_ want at the right moment and not on a predefined standard area that you need to scroll with buttons (and take forever to get there;even better:
    select a pin point focus area (Panasonic is already there we do not know if these Olympus are there)
    – easy camera photo settings: super Menu with touch comes handy on this: you see everything and change what needs to be change with a touch
    – good metering – you focus on composing not on “lookout of”/ “beware of”; an EVF with constant histogram is a good example that help photographer to avoid missing exposure
    – good OOC JPEG and WB with good color on different ambient lighting – you focus on composing not on taking care of…
    – easy change frame format: select a frame format is all about composition, this should be a very handy setting IMO. Examples 16:9; 3:2; 4:3; 5:4; 6:6 should be available via a rocker or shortcut.
    – assist MF: zoom or the new nex helper tool to highlight what is in focus
    – allow (relatively) shallow DOF – rules out small sensor cameras
    – bounce flash, rotate and bounce is even better
    – small size (to carry camera everywhere)
    – special filters: yes choosing an artistic filter can help expressing what photographer wants
    – detect orientation or other time saving help – e.g. gps for location, able to set what MF lens is attached on EXIF and add to a list for easier later configuration, send/mail picture immediately via wifi or 3G/4G – : saving time later on pc is a way to give photographer more time (to continue learning and taking pictures)
    – etc
    Every time a camera does any of the above, It is going on _my_ right direction: help me compose, help me focus on creativity, help me increasing my keepers rate, i.e. help me learn.
    Not all of us want to talk about cameras or want to be sports life shooters or Pros with photography related income.
    I started on film era, but truth to be said only on Digital I really started to learn: film was too expensive for me. A medium that allow you to practice is not bad IMO.
    I really hope I’m not alone. Not all need to do the full Ansel Adams’ (or other well known photographer) path to be creative in photography with current tools and that is a good thing, IMO.

    • Ross

      That all sounds good to me too. It was digital that taught me a lot more than film apart from choosing the appropriate ASA film & using an external bounce flash. I tended to stick to Auto all the time.

  • No VF == not interested.

    G3 + 1.4/25 looks more attractive to me. Though lack of IS in the combo is a downside: in available light, ever EV stop counts. But compared to the lack of VF on the Olys…

    P.S. @Admin, any updates on NX20? Many, not only me, wondered if Samsung would include IBIS in their new cameras. IBIS would make the 2.8/20 and 2.0/30 more viable for available light photography.

  • Mar

    Addon evf = better than built in for this type of camera system because it saves on the price and bulk and you dont need to use it always meaning it can be even more compact when needed.

    • rik

      Totally agree with you Mar. The analogy to IBIS is you buy it once for a camera body, and it works for any lens you mount on it, and each lens doesn’t need the bulk and expense of IS.

      I’d rather pay for the EVF once and then use it in multiple cameras (presuming that I get the new E-P3 and use my E-PL1 as a backup/secondary body). And when I want to go to stealth mode, I just remove the EVF and mount the Panny 20mm.

  • Chris

    Finally! Manufacturers are catching on that we use these cameras to take pictures of our cats and kids, and those things MOVE! A lot! And FAST! So yes, us point and shoot people DO need incredibly fast autofocus maybe even more so than Pro users with DSLRs! PLEASE GIVE US FAST FOCUS and FAST lenses! Low noise of course as well please :)

  • wyip

    I’m looking forward to seeing the full specs of all cameras Olympus has planned for the 30th. The onboard stereo mic is nice – hopefully that means improved audio quality in videos. Hopefully we’ll get a new sensor in addition to the improved AF.

  • Sedentary

    mmmm ..think I’ll wait for the Leica GXR mount from Ricoh rumoured to be available in a few months time. The Ricoh GXR with the A12 APS-CMOS modules has delivered excellent results sofar.

  • BS Artiste

    Harley Davidson registered a trademark for the sound of their engines. Patents protect novel and non-obvious processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Trademarks protect source signals for goods and services.

    A sound (such as a shutter sound) can be protected by copyright and trademark for a particular manufacturer. A patent could protect a method of generating a sound (if the method is novel and non-obvious), but a patent can protect the sound itself.

  • BS Artiste

    Typo – . . . but a patent canNOT protect the sound itself.

  • Maciek

    I wonder if new pen’s will have high iso IQ of GH2, have to wait for a DxOMark test. GH1 will be hard to beat, but sony 16M sensors have over 1000 points in low light so it is posible, I hope that this new sensor is realy new!!

  • Canuck 3L

    I’m not sure a mini PEN is such a big deal: the leaked photo and the wording reveals the catch: “The E-PM1 is really very small. The body size is very similar to the XZ-1…” It reads to me that the body without a lens is similar to the XZ1 with a lens – but who uses a body without a lens on it?

    The photo of the XZ1 and the E-PM1 body is fairly similar in dimension, so my sense is that the E-PM1 in the image has no lens on it – its just the mount shown in the top view. Once you stick a lens on it – even a pancake lens – its size advantage to a point and shoot is lost, and as others have mentioned, once you stick a zoom on it, the small body size, weight and grip orientation is likely going to feel awkward – small is good but basic ergonomics of the human hand limit how small you want to make things.

    It will be nice to see how small they can make it, how well the menu interface works, and how well it focuses, but unless/until somebody comes up with a large sensor cam with a lens in the point&shoot size range, this isn’t particularly revolutionary. My old E-410 is quite small and is big enough to hold and balance comfortably in my hand, shoots fabulously, and has the bonus of both optical and electronic views – I just wish it had more affordable lens options.

    As an aside, I’d love to see Oly make an actual m43 DSLR though – that could be cool. There’s something about seeing things live at your eye and reacting to it that makes DSLR shooting a very different compositional experience than thru and EVF – not always better, just different and enjoyable.

    • Mac

      You forgot that the XZ-1 is also shown with the lens retracted. And it is 42mm deep turned off. It isn’t that pocketable as you might think. I once had one here back in March. But the biggest drawback for me wasn’t the size it’s the absence of NR control for quick OOC shots (did you mention “point and shoot”? :)

      So I look forward to the E-P3 or the E-PM1 and I hope they have a fast AF as well as manual NR control.
      Apart from that I expect much faster lens which kept me from buying until now. As a AL enthusiast I won’t buy anything slower than f2.0 no matter how large the sensor in the body is.

      If pocketability is the main reason for you go for a XZ-1, a LX-5, S95 or even Nikon D300. These are playing in a different league. You should not forget about this fact.

      • Zaph

        “But the biggest drawback for me wasn’t the size it’s the absence of NR control for quick OOC shots (did you mention “point and shoot”?”

        Except in RAW, obviously, which is just as fast these days for (almost) all intents and purposes.

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