UPDATED:Video Review: Olympus EP3 vs. EPM1
Yep, that image was shot with a camera a little bigger than your average point and shoot.
If you were to weigh all the stuff I carry while touring, you’d be surprised to note that my actual camping/clothing gear only weighs about 35 lbs. The rest of the 50lbs I carry is electronics. I’ve been slowly chipping away at the weight of the electronic gear by swapping out a lighter laptop, cutting down the number of cameras, etc., A big part of the weight has always been my DSLR. I’ve been experimenting the last few weeks with the Olympus EP3 and EPM1 and have been pleasantly surprised. They are small rangefinder sized cameras that use the micro 4/3rds system. While not having the same image quality as say a full frame DSLR, depending on your use and application, it may be all the camera you need.
In the video, I compare the EP3 and EPM1, two cameras on the opposite ends of the Olympus m43 systems. Interestingly, they use the same sensor so should produce the same image quality. The difference is in the body and handling. Watch the video and you might be surprised at the results. For full disclosure, I purchased the EP3 but was sent the EPM1 by Olympus as part of their PEN Ready project.
If you liked the video and want to get your own, consider buying from our Amazon affiliate store and we’ll get some coffee money. I’ve created a curated list of what I think would make the ideal travel camera kit.
Get the EP3 if:
-you want direct actress to features through buttons and dials
-plan to use manual focus lenses through adaptors (ie Leica, OM, Nikon, Canon FD, etc.,)
-the bigger and nicer LED screen is important to you
Get the EPM1 if:
-you’re on a budget
-if you can live with having to access the menu to change settings
-if you value weight over external controls
EDIT: A reader pointed out to me that you CAN access the focus magnification on the EPM1 by assigning it to the REC button. This didn’t dawn on me to do, because you lose the ability to shoot video with the button. That said, if you were doing JUST stills at the moment with a manual lens, then the REC button as a manual focus assist will work!
For more sample pictures of the EP3 and EPM1, check out this Flickr set where I shoot a cyclocross race with both cameras.
UPDATE: Just added a short video I shot from the same cross race in the Flickr group. Not too bad for the little PEN cameras.
UPDATE: Another video test. This time making coffee with the Hario Slim Mill : ).
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our new 2012 calendar or some of the fun zombie apocalypse shirts we’re designing.)
Russ October 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm
The EPM1 comes with a pretty versatile 14-42mm kit lens (at 1:45 in the video). It is sort of a pancake lens so when not in use it collapses into itself. It is small but not pocket camera small (unless you have big pockets).
The kit lens is pretty good. It focuses fast and has a good range. However, the max aperture is not very big.
That is why I recommend the 12mm 2.0 and 45mm 1.8. They are fixed lenses (not zooms), but are very good for low light. Not everyone will need these lenses. For some, the kit lens will be sufficient. But if you want to get shots with a real narrow depth of field, then the 12mm 2.0 and 45mm 1.8 are your options.
Hope that helps!
julie October 28, 2011 at 11:14 am
I have the “original” digital PEN, an Olympus E-P1. I often manual lenses on it -either full manual or aperture priority. Anyway, I actually turned off that “zoom in” focus feature as I found it made it harder to get a good composition. I also turned on the rule-of-third grid which helps when you use the LCD screen to compose a shot.
Also, I avoid buying lenses without an f-stop ring and distance ring. With these 2 on the lens it is much easier to double check your settings rather than having to go through a screen menu.
I also have the 17mm lens which is a nice lens when I want a small camera to carry and when I want to use the auto-modes.
All in all, I appreciate your reviews and am seriously considering the EPM1 which would all me the option to use a nice older lens without carrying a huge DSLR.
Mike November 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Thanks for the great video review Russ. I really appreciated how you took the effort to show how the EPM1 can be set up to provide convenient access to things like exposure comp, ISO, and white balance.
Farrukh December 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm
Nice review, thanks for sharing.
Kevin December 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm
There are many other lens choices for either camera as any m4/3 lens will fit.
Then Panasonic email@example.com is a great all around lens for low light and just general shooting. It is a pancake so it is smaller than the kit lens. Is slower to focus than the kit lens.
The Panasonic firstname.lastname@example.org is an even better lens, but at almost double the price.
There are also many telephoto lenses and 2 ultra wide angle lenses available too.
Patlex December 7, 2011 at 12:31 am
I think you forgot to mention that the E-p3 comes with the flash built in, while the E-PM1 is a clip on. They both have the same screen size, but the E-PM1 is at a widescreen aspect, while the E-P3 is a 4:3. They both shoot in 3:2 aspect weirdly enough.
Andrew December 8, 2011 at 10:45 pm
FYI, you can also magnify the live view on the E-PM1 using the Info button, but you’ll have do dig into the ‘hidden’ setup menu to enable that. In there you can also enable the rule-of-thirds grid, so then you can cycle through those with the Info button.
Brad December 10, 2011 at 1:13 pm
You should have mentioned that the E-P3 has a touch screen, while the E-PM1 does not. You can use this feature to set the focus point as well as other on-screen options. I’m looking into both cameras and the touch screen is a key feature.
Sean December 18, 2011 at 7:00 am
look into getting an EVF (I guess they have 2 models) for it. It makes a world of difference, especially on a sunny day. I use PANNY GF2 and can’t be without one.
Sean December 18, 2011 at 7:17 am
One more thing about the M4/3 compatible lenses. I used really cheap EBay purchased lenses (CANON FD 50mm/1.4 – $50 and COMPUTAR 12mm/1.3 – $39) to shoot this (vimeo.com/24795935). Less than hundred bucks in glass!
Denise December 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm
I am a novice at anything but a point & shoot (but used to use a manual focus lens on my old film camera). I bought the E-PM1 thinking it had a manual focus so that I could blur the background (like your top photo) but I can’t figure out how. Do I need a different lens?
asura April 16, 2012 at 1:55 am
denise.. use 45mm 1.8f…
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I’ve always used point and shoot cameras like the Canon Power Shot but I am thinking about upgrading. So sorry if my questions are dumb. The EPM1 in your video has a big lens on it. Is that an add-on or does it come with the camera. On your Amazon store you have the camera travel kit but don’t really explain why you recommend the other lenses shown.