There are many other places you can find technical information on the Olympus EP-1 – this is merely the first impressions from someone who has only just unboxed one, and taken it out for a quick spin.
It’s small. It is not a point and shoot, and so it is quite a bit bigger, but it sure beats my Canon 1DS for size, and even my Epson RD-1. Providing you are not wearing tight jeans, you can certainly slip it into a roomy pocket with the 17mm pancake lens. The 14-42mm zoom lens increases the size enough that you would need a jacket pocket to be comfortable.
The included camera strap is far too short. Admittedly I’m tall and I like my cameras to hang low, but this really is titchy. The camera itself feels good and solid – whilst it is no tank, it should survive a few knocks and bumps.
After charging the battery (why do the suppliers not charge these up themselves?), the first thing most of us will do is to dive into the menus to see what things can be fiddled with. Well the answer is a lot. In fact at first it is a little scary how many options there are to fiddle with even before you turn on the “customize” menu item. But after you get used to the idea that the menus are complex because there is a great deal to customise before you go out, then it becomes a little less scary. After all any camera that allows you to move the focus button from a half-press of the shutter (which I really hate) to an alternate is going to have lots of options. And I’ll put up with a lot of complexity if I am allowed to move the focus button!
Out and about, the camera is reasonably comfortable in the hand. The lack of a “proper” viewfinder is a little distracting at first, but the key thing to remember is that this is a view camera which do not have small viewfinders. Sure holding the camera out to look at the LCD preview screen is somewhat problematic in terms of steadiness, but in practice it is perfectly possible to get used to it.
In fact I do happen to have the optical viewfinder for the EP-1 (for the 17mm pancake lens), but I have not used it in anger.
This is not a camera to replace a “proper” DSLR, but is a good choice for someone who finds the current crop of P&S cameras to be a little too small and limiting. I will probably find myself lugging a big DSLR just as much as I have done in the past, but I will also have a decent camera with me for those times when I would not normally carry a “proper” camera.