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Olympus Pen E-PM1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £356
inc VAT

It's far from perfect, but its low price makes the E-PM1 a brilliant step up from a compact or ultra-zoom camera


17.3x13mm 12.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (28-84mm equivalent), 378g

Full HD video recording, for which there’s a dedicated button unless you reassign to some other function, is done at 30fps in AVCHD format. There are plenty of control options here, with the ability to shoot in priority exposure modes (shutter or aperture) or full manual. The ISO is constrained when shooting video to 400-1600, and at ISO 1600 the results, again, weren’t as sharp as those from the NEX-5N. The kits lens also made light purring noises that were picked up by the built-in microphone.

The E-PM1 certainly isn’t as exciting as some of its competition, but it’s fairly strong in the key areas – such as performance, focus and noise levels. It may be mini by design, but best of all of is its mini price. At present it’s available for just over £350, with its kit zoom, if you shop around; plus there’s another £50 off until January thanks to a cashback offer from Olympus. That’s around £180 less than the NEX-5N at £530, which is also available with £50 cashback at present and around £100 less than the technically identical E-PL3 – though the extra money will be justified by those who feel a mode dial and tilting screen are essential features.

The E-PM1 is the cheapest CSC camera available at present by a significant margin and this, combined with a lack of any major failings, brings it right back into contention for your cash. If your budget is tight now, but you later plan on investing in extra lenses or accessories, then the E-PM1 is a good choice, and a deserving winner of our Budget Buy award.

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Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size17.3x13mm
Viewfinderoptional electronic
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution460,000 pixels
Articulated screenYes
Live viewYes
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-84mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution4,032×3,024
Maximum movie resolution1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; AVCHD, AVI (M-JPEG)


Memory slotSDXC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)330 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI
HDMI output resolution1080i
Body materialaluminium
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier2.0x
Kit lens model nameOlympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables, detachable flash unit

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed60 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-22 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)200 to 12,800
Exposure compensation+/-3 EV
White balanceauto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, shading compensation, colour space
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus25cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, flexible spot, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, manual, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, ISO bracket