I have been shooting with my itty bitty cameras for the last two weeks. Nothing special, the usual stupid stuff in a sort of get to know them sort of way. I thought I would give a brief report on some of my preferences and biases so far.
- The overall value prize has to go to the Olympus EP-1. The built in image stabilization is pretty good - it does have some flaws. Namely it seems to be bad for image quality if you have it turned on when you don't need it. I need to test this more but I get that overall impression. I can shoot the E-P1 using the IS down to about 1/5 - 1/6 of a second using any focal length of the kit lens. That is pretty amazing. Of course at those speeds you still have to be very very careful. I can not get anywhere near this with the GF1. The out of camera files look great. The high ISO is acceptable. The controls are nice. The camera looks good and feels good. No EVF option is the biggest issue. The kit lens is okay - but you can put any lens on it you want. At $400 bucks new/refurb this is a bargain.
- I like the GF1 the best. I like handling of the camera with some exceptions. I like the way the files look. I love the 20mm lens (you can put that on the EP-1 as well but that kills the value equation - you may as well get the GF1 kit in the first place). I love the way "My mode" works. It really fits the bill for a small high quality image making device with great lens, EVF, and portability for under a $1000 all in. The EP-2 does this as well. Pick your poison - both will do the job but the 20mm lens that you get with the GF1 kills the Oly 17mm in a number of ways. The obvious one being speed - if you try to piecemeal the Oly body/EVF/20mm the price goes over $1000 and unless you MUST have the better EVF I would say that it is not quite worth the money.
- The LX5 is a big surprise. Really nice files, great lens, tiny, do it all. Good image stabilization. Good handling - $500. If you want better high ISO and bigger sensor IQ at $100 less - go for the EP-1, If you want ultimate portability with some IQ sacrifices in certain situations - go for the LX5.
- The Sigma DP1s got returned. The files were interesting from the Foveon but the camera was the biggest piece of garbage as a camera that for me it was unusable. The surprise with it was just how bad a camera Sigma makes. Horrible, I mean really really really horrible. I swear I can shoot sheet film faster than this. Too much pain for too little gain. I will say that I was really surprised by how small the camera itself was for such a big sensor. It was smaller than the GF1, only a little bigger than the LX5. Even at $299 this thing is a dog.
Quick snap from the E-P1