In a number of ways, the Olympus PEN E-PL1 exceeded my expectations. Even though I had tested the camera when it first came out and quickly realized its benefits: compact design, with small, lightweight lenses and surprisingly good image quality, I hadn’t really challenged the camera as I did at the U.S. Open.
Would I shoot the U.S. Open again with the E-PL1? Should you shoot tennis tournaments with this compact camera? Maybe. On a practical level, the size of the camera and lenses address a couple of important issues: it’s easy to carry around and since venues like the U.S. Open have tight security and restrictions on attendees bringing in “professional” cameras, the E-PL1 is a perfect fit.
Image quality is quite good and the lenses I used produced sharp, crisp images. If you’re shooting night games (which I have not), you might run into trouble with image noise at higher ISOs, but the E-PL1 manages low and mid-range ISOs well.
The latest firmware update seems to have increased autofocus and tracking speed enough to make the E-PL1 a viable option for shooting sports like tennis. A DSLR, with its optical viewfinder and faster continuous shooting speeds will still beat the capabilities of compact interchangeable lens cameras and their contrast detect autofocus but with a little practice and knowing how to anticipate the players’ moves, you’ll be able to bring home some great shots with the E-PL1.
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