I am at a disadvantage here as I only own the Panasonic GH-1 but not the Olympus E-P1, so I only offer this post to provide some completeness to this series on Micro Four Thirds and as such the information is derived from other sources.
see this blog on myfourthirds.com for one such comparison.
Essentially, it would seem still image quality is similar given they both use the same sensor although different processing engines.
Advantages of the Panasonic GH-1:
- best video experience with its EVF, faster AF, dedicated 10x zoom HD lens, option of 1080i HD video as well as 720p, external microphone socket, dedicated movie start/stop button, 2x digital zoom, film mode button, image stabilisation during video capture, wind cut option, option of AVHCD vs motion jpeg capture, full manual control, face recognition AF during HD video
- electronic viewfinder gives more dSLR-like experience with potentially steadier camera and improved usability in bright sunlight, not to mention the very nice automatic manual focus assist feature
- dial based controls make life easier
- articulating LCD – brilliant for self-portraits, low or high camera positions, and OK for waist level use
- excellent 10x IS kit lens combined with 2x digital zoom in video mode essentially provides 20x 28-546mm coverage in 35mm terms, in a relatively small package
- hand grip is nice
- lens optical corrections automatically applied in-camera for MFT lenses or optionally in RAW processing software – this is particularly important to manage the compromises made to make MFT lenses smaller and lighter than FT lenses which tends to result in distortions and CA
- faster contrast detect AF
Advantages of the Olympus E-P1:
- more compact and pocketable and thus you are even more likely to take it with you and have it out ready to use for those unexpected opportunities which you would otherwise miss
- small retracting kit lens and even smaller 17mm pancake lens – perhaps better suited for more discrete candid photography
- built-in image stabiliser – works on EVERY lens but unfortunately not during video capture
- creative art filters may be even more useful than the GH-1’s film modes, particularly when used in movie mode when post-processing is not the ideal solution.
- more affordable
- multiple exposure mode
- timed BULB exposures
- contrast detect AF whilst slower seems to be more compatible with Four Thirds lenses
I believe the two cameras are complementary and many people will opt for both (and an Olympus E620 or E30 with ZD 50-200mm lens for those special shallow depth of field nice bokeh shots such as portraits, when size and weight is not so important), and of course, the lenses are interchangeable between the two cameras and they both share the same flash system along with the Four Thirds system.
These are THE MOST ADAPTABLE cameras and can be adapted to use almost ANY lens ever made including Leica M, Leica R, Canon FD, Canon EF (at wide open aperture only), Nikon F, Pentax K, Minolta, Olympus Pen, Olympus OM, Carl Zeiss Contax, Hasselblad, Pentax 6×7, Four Thirds, etc.
Perhaps, someone will make a Canon EOS to MFT adapter with full aperture control such as has been made for Redrock video cameras – see here – should be possible.
Luminous-landscape.com – one of my favorite photo websites, has just posted a review of the GH-1 and named it the current ComboCam King – the 1st ComboCam that “get’s it”.
Unfortunately, according to the Panasonic Japanese website, it appears the GH-1 is on back-order and new models may not be available until Sept 2009 🙁