Canon T1i / 500D vs Olympus E-P1

by Enche Tjin on August 1, 2009

After Nikon D5000, Canon T1i / 500D might have to face Olympus E-P1 as its challenger in compact video recording DSLR. Olympus E-P1 is not a DSLR actually, but it has DSLR quality sensor, so we can expect high quality image like those of DSLR.

Body – Handling

olympus-e-p1-m43The most noticeable different between the two cameras are the body. Canon Rebel series is one of the most compact and lightweight in entry level DSLR, but Olympus E-P1 is even lighter and smaller. You can put E-P1 in your cargo pant pocket or small pouch but not Canon T1i. The body quality of E-P1 is also a step up from Canon T1i. It is made from metal while T1i is made from plastic.

However, Canon T1i has a superior LCD screen. Both camera has 3″ LCD screen but E-P1 only has 230k resolution but T1i has 920k resolution. T1i also has anti reflective screen to minimize glare in sunlight. Another important advantage T1i has is the viewfinder and built-in flash, E-P1 have none of it.

Image Quality

Both camera is able to produce very high image quality, better than all digital cameras or bridge cameras due to the bigger size of their sensor. However, Canon T1i might have slight advantage in image resolution (15mp vs 12mp) and cleaner noise in higher ISO.

Both cameras are able to record movies. Canon T1i can record hi quality HD movie but only at 20fps. Olympus E-P1 has aperture control which is better in practical use. When taking videos, Canon T1i might have advantage because of its superior LCD screen.

Lens and Accessories

Canon Rebel series camera compatible with 50+ Canon EOS lenses plus many third party lens maker such as Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc. You will not have any problem to get your lens or accessories because it is so readily available in store or rental. E-P1 is micro 4/3 system which only have seven lenses at the moment (but will grow), but with adapters, you can use four third lenses (around 40 lenses). Check out recommended lens for E-P1.

Auto Focus and General Operation

Canon T1i AF and general operation is very fast and responsive, however Auto Focus in E-P1 is not as fast as DSLR, but respectably faster than regular digital cameras. In dim light, E-P1 will struggle because it does not have AF assist point or built-in flash to help focusing.


Basically, comparing E-P1 and T1i is really like comparing orange and apple. They are digital cameras, but have different strength and weaknesess. Here is the recap:

Canon EOS  Rebel T1i / 500D

Canon Rebel T1i+ Fast AF operation
+ Great LCD screen
+ Excellent lenses and accessories
+ Built-in Flash & Viewfinder
- Plastic body

Olympus PEN E-P1

+ Very compact form factor
+ Metal camera body
- No built-in flash and viewfinder
- Auto focus is very slow in low light condition
- Limited lens and accessories

That being said, for general users, Canon T1i might serve you better, but for enthusiasts who is eager to have super compact body so that they can took it everywhere without having to carry camera bag around, E-P1 is the answer.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Yikes August 9, 2009 at 10:30 pm

This is the worst fucking review I’ve ever seen. You don’t compare a point and shoot versus a DSLR.

admin August 10, 2009 at 9:41 am

It is not point and shoot camera

Pete August 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm

It’s definately not a point and shoot. Been using it for a month now with the 17 mm lens. Image q. far better than my old D70 I must say. Hopefully more hq lenses will come soon.

debraj ganguly December 8, 2009 at 9:12 pm

very nice review.

i wish someone explained yikes difference between micro four third and point and shoot. :)

admin December 8, 2009 at 9:42 pm

In a nutshell: two major differences:
1. Micro four thirds has 4-5x larger image sensor ==> better image quality and shallower depth of field
2. Interchangeable lenses

Additionally, M43 cameras are bigger than regular point and shoot cameras but smaller than DSLR cameras.

check out my micro four third system page.

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