I’m Impressed By the E-1…

… … Yes! It’s Olympus E-1! Not the latest E-5… Hahaha…

I HAVE NOT USED A DIGITAL CAMERA WITH SUCH BEAUTIFUL STRAIGHT-OUT-OF-CAMERA IMAGES IN MY LIFE!

Digital sucked when I switched from film to digital more than 10 years ago and today, it still sucks when it comes to straight-out-of-camera images when I compare with my lab film scans in terms of colors and brightness…

Okay, I’m speaking in general terms here… the Nikon D60 is alright… the Canon 5Dmk2 when mounted with my old Zeiss lenses is alright… the Olympus E-30 and E-620 are quite good… the Olympus E-P1/2/L1 are slightly better than the E-30/620… the Nikon D700 is “clinically perfect” with not much character I know how to appreciate… the Leica M8/9 maintain that Leica look with stunning optics BUT auto white balance can be cranky…

If I look back at all the digital cameras I have used before, NOT ONE impressed me like this Olympus E-1 I just touched few nights ago!

This is a Year 2003 Camera! The detailed review can be found HERE.

I’m mad! No one is gonna read this post! But I am writing it. Cause I don’t write for money. I write for my own passion.

Camera images taken by Brandon Eu:

Image taken by Brandon Eu using Nikon D3, 50/1.8, Photoshop minimally-corrected.

It’s a 5MP Camera with a “whopping” 1.8inch LCD!

Image taken by Brandon Eu using Nikon D3, 50/1.8, Photoshop minimally-corrected.

Image taken by Brandon Eu using Nikon D3, 50/1.8, Photoshop minimally-corrected.

The ergonomics of the camera is perfect! I love the way the CF Card Compartment Door gently springs open with a twist… I used it without the extra battery grip and it’s perfect… It sits perfectly in my palm and works as if it’s a part of my body!

It’s shutter sound is as quiet as my Leica M6! This is shocking!

I like how luminous-landscape describes it’s ergonomics.

Do you believe that a camera has a “soul”? I do. It basically means you can feel the “spirit” of the designer, the amount of effort put in, the intricate thoughts put into each detail of the design meticulously, the direction and belief of the designer, whether the designer is an artist OR just someone out to make money from consumers… …

Let’s look at what the great Olympus Designer Yoshihisa Maitani once said:

“A photographer’s duty is to improve and increase his techniques! For knowledge of technique is the only tool for ensuring that the camera may be used to its maximum capability. So many photographers overestimate the function of the camera by itself – but I’m afraid a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes.”

another quote would be:

“Even if your camera can capture shots of outer space or bacteria, it’s useless if you don’t have it with you …”

Yoshihisa Maitani is a legend.


A camera is not just a camera. It’s used to take photographs. And it’s the person behind it who does it. And it’s the individual soul you see reflected in each person’s works.

The photography process is emotional! It’s NOT just about holding a photograph in your hand or looking at a 72dpi image on the screen! It goes far beyond that! It starts the moment when we hold a camera!!!

Why do I love Leica? It’s NOT because it’s a luxurious brand. It’s purely because I could feel the spirit of the Leica designer Oskar Barnack!

The same goes when I hold my Olympus OM-1, the PEN FT, and now the E-1. Though the E-1 was not designed by Maitani, it definitely followed after much of his spirit.

The entire process into making a photograph should NOT be restricted just to the final image.

I’ve always believed, if you hold a camera you love in your hands, you are naturally a happier person. A happier and more confident person already has half the battle won!

(this I learned from a good friend named Joe Meng)

Now, let’s continue my madness into searching for the old and forgotten…

Let’s look at how I managed the E-1 with the zuiko digital 25mm F2.8 pancake lens, with the restriction of ISO400 (I was told that ISO800 is not really useable by David Ching who lent me the E-1), shooting in a Pasar Malam (night market)!

I shot ALL wide open at F2.8! And the E-1 has beautiful TIFF files! The shutter is so quiet that I managed to take a couple of really close distance shots of strangers and NOT get caught.

The following images are resized as jpegs for easier uploading/downloading. Do email me if you are interested to see the full res images. (If you even bother to read this far regarding a 2003 model… LOL…)

If you would like to use my images, please inform me via email, CREDIT and LINK to my site. Thank you!

(NOTE: I just realized that the 5MP TIFF files are so “BEEFY” that I need to resize them much further due to WordPress restrictions! I’ll be really curious to try how large an enlargement I can make next… stay tuned for future posts…)

waiting for food. accidentally set to F3.5, and minus 1EV, brighten up a little in Photoshop, A-mode, ISO400, 1/15sec, AWB.

Handicapped Performer. A-mode, ISO 400, F2.8, 1/13sec, AWB, EV-1.

Clothes Seller. When the camera was handled to me in the dark, it was at EV-1 by accident, so I brightened up this shot a little in Photoshop. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/30sec, AWB.

Kids, A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/30sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch-up done except resizing.

Baby. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/25sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Fruit Seller. A-mode, ISO400, F8, 1/10sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Dog. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/200sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Moving Kid. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/13sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Moving Car. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/2sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Lady considering what to buy. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/25sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Piggy Back. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/60sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Man. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/30sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Mail in Danger. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/10sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Counting Cash. A-mode, ISO400, F2.8, 1/25sec, AWB, 0EV, absolutely no touch up except resizing.

Now, a search on eBay shows a MINT condition E-1 body is around USD450.00.

Like Maitani said, “… … a cook who relies on nothing but a sharp knife has no guarantee of producing excellent dishes.”

Will you consider restricting yourself to ISO400 or maximum 800, 5MP TIFF files and a 1.8inch LCD?

For all I know, I love this camera, and I shoot it like a film camera, with absolute confidence of getting what I want out of the camera! And I think the E-1 with the 25mm pancake is a perfect combination!

6 thoughts

  1. why go so far?

    someone is selling in the forum

    http://mychiaroscuro.net/forums/showthread.php?t=5233

  2. Hi david..

    Great to hear that you dare to going back to review E-1 and using it to shoot low light shooting. That really challenge the old E-1. Excellent. I’m also a huge die hard fan of E-1 and still using this camera till it may going to rot. It has a “mystical” soul for me.

    Thanks for the inspiring write-up.

  3. dr_shivan

    October 22, 2010

    Kudos for the review, walking along a path that’s less traveled aka Olympus. Really made me regret of letting go of the E1…

  4. I sold one for RM250 a few months ago.

  5. michael lee

    October 25, 2010

    not only E1 produce good color, it is so tough and treuly live up to expectations of weather sealed body/lens. Let check out how E1 is shower, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmoskUtCnoY

  6. I read your post =) I might now have to keep an eye out for one after i recover from buying the e-5.. might be a while, but i think i’d like to pick an e-1 up!

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