Olympus PEN E-PM1: A Top-Quality Camera for Professional Photographers

If you’re a professional photographer or a photography enthusiast, you know the importance of having a high-quality camera. The Olympus PEN E-PM1 is one such camera that delivers incredible results, making it a popular choice for photographers worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll explore the features of this camera, its advantages, and why it’s worth the investment.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Olympus PEN E-PM1 article cover photo

Key Features

Nov 23 2011


12 megapixels


Sensor TypeFour Thirds

Other similar cameras

Olympus PEN E-P3 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-P3

Released Aug 17 2011 | 12MP resolution

Olympus PEN E-PL1 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-PL1

Released May 17 2010 | 12MP resolution

Olympus PEN E-PL2 thumbnail

Olympus PEN E-PL2

Released Feb 11 2011 | 12MP resolution

Overview of the PEN E-PM1

Photography has come a long way since the days of traditional film cameras. Today, we have access to cameras that offer a range of features and functionalities, allowing us to capture stunning photographs. One such camera is the Olympus PEN E-PM1, which is packed with features and is designed to cater to the needs of professional photographers. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into how the Olympus PEN E-PM1 stacks up against its competitors and why it’s a top choice for photography enthusiasts.

Olympus PEN E-PM1 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Olympus PEN E-PM1 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


Compact design
High resolution sensor
Good image quality
Fast autofocus
In-camera image stabilization
Art filters for creative effects
Built-in flash
Easy to use interface


No electronic viewfinder
Limited lens selection
Small grip may be uncomfortable for some users
Limited battery life
Slow burst mode
No weather sealing
No built-in Wi-Fi
Average video quality.

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Olympus PEN E-PM1

Weather sealed
Dimensions110 x 64 x 34mm

Weather Sealing

The Olympus PEN E-PM1 is not sealed against water and dust, so it's important to be careful when using it in such conditions. If you often shoot in environments with water or dust, it's recommended to check out another camera with weather sealing.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderElectronic (optional)
Screen TypeFixed Type
Screen Resolution460k dots
Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fixed type 3.00" screen, with a display resolution of 460k dots. This makes the Olympus PEN E-PM1 not as suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you cannot view yourself while shooting selfies easily. Unfortunately, the camera does not have a touch screen, which may make it less user-friendly.


PEN E-PM1 includes a electronic (optional) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of n/a and a magnification of n/a. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Olympus PEN E-PM1 has a 12MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 12 pixels. Olympus PEN E-PM1 has a native ISO range of 100 - 12800 which can be boosted to null - null. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Nov 23 2011


100 - 12800

ISO Range

SensorFour Thirds
Extended ISOnull - null
Max resolution4032 x 3024 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


52 / 102

Color Depth

21 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

10.3 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

499 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Olympus PEN E-PM1 camera has average color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also average, allowing it to retain low amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is poor, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the PEN E-PM1 is below average

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: Four Thirds



Connectivity, storage, battery

Battery Life330 shots
Battery ModelBLS-5
Wireless Connectivity


The Olympus PEN E-PM1 supports SD/SDHC/SDXC with 1 slots for storage. This may suffice for everyday use. However, for professional applications such as wedding photography, it is not recommended as a memory card malfunction could lead to the loss of all footage.


The Olympus PEN E-PM1 uses the BLS-5 model of battery pack. This is rated for 330 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Olympus PEN E-PM1 does not have a built-in flash, but it does offer a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Olympus PEN E-PM1 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/4000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Olympus PEN E-PM1 includes contrast detection autofocus (AF), with 35 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Olympus PEN E-PM1?

The Olympus PEN E-PM1 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Olympus PEN E-PM1 weather sealed?

No the PEN E-PM1 does not have weather sealing.

When was the Olympus PEN E-PM1 announced?

The Olympus PEN E-PM1 was announced on Nov 23 2011

Does the Olympus PEN E-PM1 have in-body image stabilization?

Yes the PEN E-PM1 does have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Olympus PEN E-PM1?

The PEN E-PM1 has a native ISO range of 100-12800, which can be expanded to ISO null-null for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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