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An Olympus E-PL1 Digital PEN Camera with 14-42 mm Lens.
Why I bought it:
My girlfriend and I regularly take the digital camera out and about and snap pictures wherever we go. We have owned three previous pocket digital cameras and we felt that we wanted our pictures to take a step up in quality from that of the usual pocket cameras. However, as we didn't want the bulkiness (and complications) that a Digital SLR might bring so we opted for Olympus simply because they seemed to have a reputation for good PEN cameras. We have owned the camera for about a year now.
The camera takes great pictures. Simple. It's focusing mechanism brings the main part of the picture to crystal clarity and this can be customised to either auto-focus, or to manually focus based on the picture you are aiming for. Multiple pictures can be snapped in very quick succession (without fully releasing the button), which allows easy capture of fast-moving targets. The flash is powerful, and can be set at a number of different brightness settings. The flash pops up out of the top of the camera, and I was worried that this might cause shadows towards the lower portion of photos that are taken up-close (having experienced this with a previous model of camera), but we have seen this occur only a few times.
Despite not being the full Digital SLR, the camera is still quite large and somewhat heavy. The lens requires quite a lot of expansion before a photograph can be snapped, so it is still somewhat awkward to keep handy. The auto-settings cannot seem to take a photograph in darkness (due to lacking an auto-focal point) so it means a constantly switching between the photo modes if moving from light to dark areas. The zoom isn't as impressive as I initially thought it might be with a camera of this type.
It would have been nice if a carry case had been included. This is particularly emphasised due to the larger size of this type of camera. The lens is interchangeable, but I have not yet tried anything other than the included product (I also believe that an extra flash can be added). The lens is easy to clean, unlike other cameras that have moveable parts that make cleaning much more difficult. The camera possesses a number of automatic modes for a variety of scenes although I am unsure of how suitable these are since I haven't fully tested all of these yet.
We are very impressed with the camera. A comparison between the photos taken with this camera compared to our old pocket camera is a no contest. If you want to take the step up from a pocket camera to a more advanced, yet simple-to-use, device then I'd recommend this thoroughly. Beware though, you may find it less portable than you may initially think. Despite its resemblance to pocket cameras, it is significantly larger.