Olympus E-PL1 is a Poor Man’s Leica M9

"Ludwig the Jumper" on the Wartburg, Eisenach

Well, that is fun! I can use all my old Leica M bayonet lenses with my new Olympus E-PL1. Above is a photo of a mural relief of the duke that built the Wartburg that I took with the Voigtländer Nokton 35 mm f/1.2 at open aperture.
All you need to connect is a Leica M – micro 4/3 – adapter, I got a pretty generic one here.
There is the usual cropping going on with the E-PL1, so you need to apply a conversion factor of 2 to visualize how a certain focal length will look. To come back to the photos taken on the tour of the Wartburg yesterday, there is no lens as fast as a 70 mm f/1.2, neither from Leica or any other M-lens maker. But now there is!
Granted, working with these lenses on the Olympus E-PL1 is not super-fast like with a proper digital rangefinder, but it is not painfully slow either. You focus at full aperture. There’s this magnifying glass button on the back of the camera that instantaneously switches it to a magnification of 7x to 20x (can be set) that helps with that. Then you either take the picture, as in the low-light shot of Ludwig the Jumper (don’t ask, google it!), or you stop down to get more depth of field, more sharpness and a nice star effect on highlights:

Voitländer Nokton 35 mm f/1.2 at f/5.6

Voitländer Nokton 35 mm f/1.2 at f/5.6


The in-camera black & white JPEG conversion is nicely holding details in the shadows here.
I also enjoyed using the Voigtländer Super-Wide Heliar 12 mm f/5.6 on the E-PL1 that depicts like a not-so-superwide-but-still-wide 24 mm lens would on 135 film:
The Passage to Martin Luther's Study Room

The Passage to Martin Luther's Study Room


The best thing is, a set with the E-PL1, the Panasonic Lumix 20 mm f/1.7 (ah, autofocus!), the Voigtländer Super-Wide Heliar 12 mm f/5.6 (when you want it wide), the Nokton 35 mm f/1.2 (when there’s no light) and an old Leica Elmarit C 90 mm f/4.0 (at 180 mm eq., not really hand-holdable even with IS on in the camera) will go into one of the smallest Domke bags and will not bother you with it’s weight.

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3 Responses to “Olympus E-PL1 is a Poor Man’s Leica M9”

  1. agplatt Says:

    These are some great images .. I really like the first and last ones.

    I too have some Leica M lenses lying around waiting to be used (since I never seem to use my Leica film cameras) and have been sitting waiting to get one of these micro 4/3rds. I keep waiting for a built in viewfinder which might never arrive. I wondered whether you didn’t regret getting the EP-2 or GF-1 rather, in order to get easier access to manual controls?

  2. chammann Says:

    When working with M lenses, I tend to use aperture priority mode, so the controls I need to adjust *are* manual, i.e. the focus ring and the f-stop-ring on the lens. Working with the micro-4/3-lens I sometimes do miss a Nikon-esque way to adjust the predetermined parameter with a thumbwheel. That’s an advantage of the P2, one of the very few ones, Id say.

  3. 2010 in review « Mostly Black & White Says:

    […] Olympus E-PL1 is a Poor Man’s Leica M9 July 20102 comments 5 […]

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