Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 review

Is the smallest Olympus CSC as easy to use as it promises?

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Olympus pen mini e pm1

Although Olympus clearly has a particular niche in mind for its PEN Mini E-PM1, it's created a camera that will prove tempting for a much wider audience due to the relatively low price and compact size.

Those upgrading from a compact camera will feel right at home with the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1's simplified control layout and easy-to-grasp menus and scene modes.

Those looking for quick access to manual controls and customisability may find the design a little frustrating for their tastes, though. It's not that those features aren't there, it's just that they take a little more work to access and adjust than cameras aimed at more advanced users.

The high-quality finish and sturdy design helps to make the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 feel like a premium product, and in this respect it's well worth the money. A finger grip to help improve handling and a less reflective LCD screen would be welcome additions, and would make this camera a much more attractive prospect.

Overall the images produced by the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1 are of good quality, with low noise up to ISO1600 and not exactly poor noise performance beyond that. The creative art filters are a nice touch too, offering a quick and easy way to spice up your images.

We liked

The excellent build quality, fast autofocus, compact size and relatively low price all add up to a very attractive package. Beginners will love the simple control layout and image quality from the Four Thirds Format Live MOS sensor.

We disliked

Handling the camera can sometimes be tricky due to the slippery glossy finish and slim dimensions. The highly reflective screen makes composing images in bright light very difficult indeed.

Final verdict

Bearing in mind the target market for the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1, which is primarily people looking for a higher-quality upgrade from a compact camera, Olympus has done a good job on the whole with this camera. The minimalistic control layout will suit those who simply enjoy pointing and shooting rather than photographers who like to fiddle with settings.

With low enough noise levels to produce decent sized prints up to ISO1600, and with the camera's performance being on a par with many of its peers at higher sensitivities, it should win many fans. The small body is especially suited to being coupled with a pancake-type compact prime lens to make this a truly pocketable camera, and the faster maximum aperture on those optics will also help with the image quality after dark.

The only true downside is with the highly reflective LCD screen. As cameras like this are often used in bright lighting conditions, outdoors and on holidays, this seems like an oversight on Olympus' part.

An optional electronic viewfinder can be obtained, but the extra cost may put users off this camera altogether, instead looking for an alternative with a better screen, or a built-in viewfinder.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Effective Camera Resolution12.3 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyPEN
HD Movie ModeYes
3D Type3D
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom10.7x
Brand NameOlympus
FeaturesFace Detection, Self-timer, Continuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Blink Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI), AVCHD
Weight (Approximate)217 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Image Sensor Size17.30 mm x 13 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4032 x 3024
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height63.7 mm
Width109.5 mm
Depth34 mm
Focal Length14 mm to 150 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelE-PM1
Product NamePEN E-PM1 Mirrorless Camera
Product LinePEN
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberV20601ESE000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Life is too short for ugly cameras. Or fiddly menus. Or lousy pictures. So it's good to know there's the new drop-dead gorgeous Olympus PEN Mini. One of the world's smallest and lightest system camera with interchangeable lenses, the E-PM1 is beautiful, takes stunning Full HD movies and stills and couldn't get any easier to use.

Package Contents
  • PEN E-PM1 Mirrorless Camera
  • Body Cap
  • Strap
  • USB Cable CB-USB6
  • AV Cable (Monaural) CB-AVC3
  • Flash Case
  • Instruction Manual
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Warranty Card
  • Flash FL-LM1
  • Lithium ion Battery PS-BLS1 (BLS-1)/BLS-5
  • Lithium ion Charger PS-BCS1 (BCS-1)/BCS-5
  • Lens 14-150mm
Limited Warranty2 Year