Olympus PEN E-PL2 Review - Digital Photography School

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Review

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the PEN E-PL1 and this one comes at the right time — and price — for an entry level camera following the Four Thirds plan. In keeping with the PEN format the camera is mirrorless, dispensing with the pentaprism and optical viewing.

The review Olympus PEN E-PL2 was supplied with the f3.5/14-42mm and f4/40-150mm lenses. IMHO this pair of lenses would suit newbie photographers right down to the ground and even right out to the nearest mountain range with no need to shell out for more glass!

Olympus PEN E-PL2 2.jpg

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Features

The camera certainly looks smart, styled in overall black with controls picked out in white and mid blue. Thankfully, the mode dial is engraved with easy to see texts, indicating the various functions (auto, iAuto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual, 20+ scene modes, Art Filters and movie shooting).

Seated man Martin Plaza 2.JPG

The pop up flash is well organised, using a pantograph arrangement that places the flash centre about 7.5cm from the lens centre, so diminishing red eye.

The 7.6cm LCD screen is large and of good definition but it doesn’t swing out. You can add an eye level LCD finder to the accessory shoe as well as other appealing accessories such as an external mic for movie work, a macro arm light, Bluetooth transfer module etc.

Strand arcade shops.JPG

Earlier I have made much fuss over Olympus’ Art Filters and the E-PL2 continues with an enhanced brace of them and now allows you vary the intensity of each and even mix them. Great fun and very creative image making.

Stills: the maximum image size of 4032×3024 pixels will make a 34x26cm print.

Movies: although the resolution is not Full HD, sitting at only 1280×720 pixels, the implementation is first class: auto focus and exposure is in play and you can gently nudge the AF while shooting by a gentle squeeze on the shutter button. Shoot a still frame mid-movie and you interrupt the latter … a pity. However, I did find the stabiliser worked wonderfully well in movie mode.

The camera is available in black, silver and red.

ISO Tests

Olympus PEN E-PL2 ISO 200.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PL2 ISO 800.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PL2 ISO 1600.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PL2 ISO 3200.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PL2 ISO 6400.JPG

Only when reaching ISO 1600 did I notice noise rising to a noticeable level. ISO 3200 is still useable. ISO 6400? Forget it!

Sunglasses reflection 1.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Review Verdict

Quality: I had great fun with this compact, manageable camera. Colour and sharpness? Excellent.

I could not expand this review any further. To do so would be to add mere padding. Truth is, with the PEN E-PL2 what you see is pretty well what you get: it is a fine quality, interchangeable lens camera, offering access to a wide range of lenses and accessories. Its image capture would be limited only by your own expertise.

One annoyance: on a number of occasions I brushed my thumb against the video record button while shooting a still. It should be moved down and more to the centre of the body.

However, I do find it odd that Olympus persists in remaining to the rear of the field in HD video resolutions in its compact, DSLR and Four Thirds cameras, limiting it to 1280×720 pixels … tops!

Why you’d buy the PEN E-PL2: excellent stabiliser system for both stills and video capture.

Why you wouldn’t: the plastic body will be a turn off for some people; you want Full HD video capture.

Olympus PEN E-PL2 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: Digital ESP (324 areas), centre-weighted averaging, spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm (22.5mm diameter) Live MOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second, Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 3 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4032×3024 to 640×480. Movies: 1280×720, 640×480 at 30fps.
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, Motion JPEG.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, accessories.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 115.4×72.7×42 WHDmm.
Weight: 362 g (inc battery and card).
Prices: Get a Price on the Olympus PEN E-PL2 12.3 MP CMOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm Lens.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Olympus PEN E-PL2
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • http://kevingearyphotography.com Kevin

    I’m just concerned about the Four Thirds format compared to compacts with larger sensors such as the Fuji X100. I don’t think the Four Thirds format is the future of compact, so I’m not really interested in getting on board. What say you?

  • Bob

    Is this a repost? If not, the timing is odd considering Olympus just released the E-PL3.

  • Bobak

    Ummmm….Just FYI, the top pic ain’t an E-PL2.

    Might want to change that…

  • http://www.shadowshow.co.uk simon

    agreed with the above post from bob …

    also is the very first image in the article a e-p2 not the pl2 version ?

    regards simon

  • dok

    Seriously, maybe DPS should stop making 3000 words camera reviews, it’s quite useless.
    There is already very good websites for the job, while I really love the DPS main subjects : interviews, advices, tips and tricks.
    What I would love on the other hand is more reviews on accessories : flashes, small useful stuffs and so on.
    Keep up the good work and leave camera reviews please :-)

  • Barrie Smith

    To Bob

    this is not a re-post. The P3 has been announced but is not yet available, not even to reviewers.

  • Barrie Smith

    To Simon

    this is the PEN E-PL2. To see the PEN E-P2 go to

    au.pricedumper.com/olympus+pen+p2

    They are very similar.

  • Bob

    Actually, Simon is correct. The top camera shown on the page is the E-P2 and the second image is an E-PL2. Note the differences in the grip, the lens release button and the dial at the top of the E-PL2. The E-P2 also has a silver bar across the top of the camera just under the Olympus logo.

  • http://www.tootimidandsqueamish.com/ Marcy

    I just got this camera after using just a point and shoot for years. I am really enjoying it, and it does really well in low light. I agree with the annoying location of the video button, though, and have accidentally shot video quite a few times.

  • Achilles Petrides

    Hello,
    I am only a few months old member of dPS and look forward to receiving new tips almost every day.
    I bought an Olympus EP-2 a few months ago, love it, and was wondering if you had tested that particular model.
    Looking forward to your reply,
    Achilles Petrides

  • 4msetr

    I bought this camera when it first came out, moving up from P&S. Using this to learn more about photography and I think its the right choice. Now I’m more knowledgeable (or should I say dangerous), learned much with this camera, but I know its not a fully DSLR. I think its a perfect stepping stone to see if this media is what I want to pursue. Has all the P&S aspects to it, but still can do manual adjustments, bracketing, multiple exposures, and more I’m learning. Picture quality very nice…to me that is.
    If I move up to a DSLR in time, this will be my back-up camera. My P&S camera is a Oly FE-340 and happy with it. Does better macro than E-PL2.

    One other thing. Sense this is a learning environment, it would be nice to have forums of different camera users: Q&A forum. I have lots of questions, especially about lenses and this camera. Locally, get no right answers here. Note- Do like these newsletters, great job and many thanks. JMD

  • Barrie Smith

    To Achilles

    yes the review of E-P2 can be found at

    the http://www.digital-photography-school.com/olympus-pen-e-p2-review

  • Bob

    @4msetr – you can find the forums you are looking for at: http://www.mu-43.com/ Really good place for Q&A, lots of friendly and helpful folks.

  • Francois

    I am using the e-p1 and it is still the best looking best performing pen from Olympus. It is so reliable. The new pen series is just an e-p1 in a plastic body and flash with higher price tag.

  • Tom

    “The new pen series is just an e-p1 in a plastic body and flash with higher price tag”

    better 14-42 kit lens :)
    better resolution in LCD panel (not so important if using viewfinder) and
    yes, plastic body :(

  • Jason

    Typical useless review on a camera that not only came out 6 months ago, but has since been replaced by the EPL3 and 2 other newer model;s in the third generation Pen lineup.

    What is the deal with reviews on such old cameras (yes, I realize how silly this sounds, but in this world of digital cameras, the population in general would prefer a more timely review)?

    When should we look forward to the Pentax K-5 review or the Panasonic GF2 review, they have been out for months too.

  • Barrie Smith

    To Jason

    E-PL2 review units arrived in this city only in May. My review was done at this time. The review was given to DPS at the end of that month.

    Perhaps in your territory the release dates are different.

  • jason

    Indeed. DPS should print the reviews in a more timely way in order to remain relevant.

  • janet ramos

    i have e-pl2 and ive been using if for 6 month and now there a message that keep on appearing on the monitor “please check the status of a lens” so i keep on turning off the camera and, check the lens and turn in on again and still after a few shoots it will appear again. i dont know what to do with this please help.

  • http://lomopl.us Everett

    Janet,

    Olympus Pen’s have a warranty, have you contacted Olympus? However, some things to consider: have you reseated the lens? Does this happen with only one particular lens (it’s an issue with that lens) or with any lens you use (it’s an issue with the body)? Is reset lens turned on, on your camera?

    To check this, first you need to turn on the extended menu’s. Turn on your camera and press the menu button. Go down to the wrench icon on your screen. Select it (push right) , and in the menu that appears, push down and go to Menu Display. Select it and set the top menu (the one that has the two little gears next to it) display to on (by pushing right, and select yes by pushing up or down). Now push the back button several times to return to the main menu.

    You’ll notice that you have a new option available (this will be the fourth icon from the top). Go down to it (the two little gears) and push right. The A menu ( AF/MF ) will be highlighted. Push right (select it). Go down to the third item in the menu (Reset Lens). Push right and set it to yes by going up or down. Now push back several times, and turn off your camera.

    What this does is cause the lens to reset focus every time you turn the camera off. The last recommendation is not to have your hand in front of the lens when you turn the camera on. Many of the lenses (like the 17mm) extend (even slightly) when power is applied. If you prevent this from happening because your hand is in the way, it can cause an error. If none of these things fix your camera/lens, please take it in to a camera shop for warranty work to be done.

  • http://winkwink-shop.com/board/delivery Esteban

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed
    reading it, you are a great author.I will make
    certain to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later on.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great work, have a nice day!

  • Steph

    Hi Esteban, I have a PEN E-PL3 and tried to follow your instructions but guess you were advising on the PL2 as the menu displays are different. Anyway, the PL3 has the ‘reset lens’ option greyed out, therefore not an option. Before I send it back to Olympus, any ideas?

    This problem only happens with the 14-42mm lens, not the other. Thanks!

  • The Wandering Jade

    Great article! Question..When I turn on the camera, it says Check the Status of a Lens. It’s been going on for months. What shall I do?

Some older comments

  • Steph

    March 10, 2013 11:37 pm

    Hi Esteban, I have a PEN E-PL3 and tried to follow your instructions but guess you were advising on the PL2 as the menu displays are different. Anyway, the PL3 has the 'reset lens' option greyed out, therefore not an option. Before I send it back to Olympus, any ideas?

    This problem only happens with the 14-42mm lens, not the other. Thanks!

  • Esteban

    February 12, 2013 09:09 am

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed
    reading it, you are a great author.I will make
    certain to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back later on.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great work, have a nice day!

  • Everett

    December 27, 2011 07:34 am

    Janet,

    Olympus Pen's have a warranty, have you contacted Olympus? However, some things to consider: have you reseated the lens? Does this happen with only one particular lens (it's an issue with that lens) or with any lens you use (it's an issue with the body)? Is reset lens turned on, on your camera?

    To check this, first you need to turn on the extended menu's. Turn on your camera and press the menu button. Go down to the wrench icon on your screen. Select it (push right) , and in the menu that appears, push down and go to Menu Display. Select it and set the top menu (the one that has the two little gears next to it) display to on (by pushing right, and select yes by pushing up or down). Now push the back button several times to return to the main menu.

    You'll notice that you have a new option available (this will be the fourth icon from the top). Go down to it (the two little gears) and push right. The A menu ( AF/MF ) will be highlighted. Push right (select it). Go down to the third item in the menu (Reset Lens). Push right and set it to yes by going up or down. Now push back several times, and turn off your camera.

    What this does is cause the lens to reset focus every time you turn the camera off. The last recommendation is not to have your hand in front of the lens when you turn the camera on. Many of the lenses (like the 17mm) extend (even slightly) when power is applied. If you prevent this from happening because your hand is in the way, it can cause an error. If none of these things fix your camera/lens, please take it in to a camera shop for warranty work to be done.

  • janet ramos

    November 16, 2011 06:52 pm

    i have e-pl2 and ive been using if for 6 month and now there a message that keep on appearing on the monitor "please check the status of a lens" so i keep on turning off the camera and, check the lens and turn in on again and still after a few shoots it will appear again. i dont know what to do with this please help.

  • jason

    July 15, 2011 01:59 am

    Indeed. DPS should print the reviews in a more timely way in order to remain relevant.

  • Barrie Smith

    July 14, 2011 08:46 am

    To Jason

    E-PL2 review units arrived in this city only in May. My review was done at this time. The review was given to DPS at the end of that month.

    Perhaps in your territory the release dates are different.

  • Jason

    July 13, 2011 10:22 pm

    Typical useless review on a camera that not only came out 6 months ago, but has since been replaced by the EPL3 and 2 other newer model;s in the third generation Pen lineup.

    What is the deal with reviews on such old cameras (yes, I realize how silly this sounds, but in this world of digital cameras, the population in general would prefer a more timely review)?

    When should we look forward to the Pentax K-5 review or the Panasonic GF2 review, they have been out for months too.

  • Tom

    July 13, 2011 09:40 pm

    "The new pen series is just an e-p1 in a plastic body and flash with higher price tag"
    -
    better 14-42 kit lens :)
    better resolution in LCD panel (not so important if using viewfinder) and
    yes, plastic body :(

  • Francois

    July 10, 2011 12:36 am

    I am using the e-p1 and it is still the best looking best performing pen from Olympus. It is so reliable. The new pen series is just an e-p1 in a plastic body and flash with higher price tag.

  • Bob

    July 9, 2011 12:07 pm

    @4msetr - you can find the forums you are looking for at: http://www.mu-43.com/ Really good place for Q&A, lots of friendly and helpful folks.

  • Barrie Smith

    July 9, 2011 08:55 am

    To Achilles

    yes the review of E-P2 can be found at

    the www.digital-photography-school.com/olympus-pen-e-p2-review

  • 4msetr

    July 8, 2011 11:45 pm

    I bought this camera when it first came out, moving up from P&S. Using this to learn more about photography and I think its the right choice. Now I'm more knowledgeable (or should I say dangerous), learned much with this camera, but I know its not a fully DSLR. I think its a perfect stepping stone to see if this media is what I want to pursue. Has all the P&S aspects to it, but still can do manual adjustments, bracketing, multiple exposures, and more I'm learning. Picture quality very nice...to me that is.
    If I move up to a DSLR in time, this will be my back-up camera. My P&S camera is a Oly FE-340 and happy with it. Does better macro than E-PL2.

    One other thing. Sense this is a learning environment, it would be nice to have forums of different camera users: Q&A forum. I have lots of questions, especially about lenses and this camera. Locally, get no right answers here. Note- Do like these newsletters, great job and many thanks. JMD

  • Achilles Petrides

    July 8, 2011 10:06 pm

    Hello,
    I am only a few months old member of dPS and look forward to receiving new tips almost every day.
    I bought an Olympus EP-2 a few months ago, love it, and was wondering if you had tested that particular model.
    Looking forward to your reply,
    Achilles Petrides

  • Marcy

    July 7, 2011 02:47 am

    I just got this camera after using just a point and shoot for years. I am really enjoying it, and it does really well in low light. I agree with the annoying location of the video button, though, and have accidentally shot video quite a few times.

  • Bob

    July 6, 2011 11:33 am

    Actually, Simon is correct. The top camera shown on the page is the E-P2 and the second image is an E-PL2. Note the differences in the grip, the lens release button and the dial at the top of the E-PL2. The E-P2 also has a silver bar across the top of the camera just under the Olympus logo.

  • Barrie Smith

    July 6, 2011 08:03 am

    To Simon

    this is the PEN E-PL2. To see the PEN E-P2 go to

    au.pricedumper.com/olympus+pen+p2

    They are very similar.

  • Barrie Smith

    July 6, 2011 07:56 am

    To Bob

    this is not a re-post. The P3 has been announced but is not yet available, not even to reviewers.

  • dok

    July 6, 2011 06:03 am

    Seriously, maybe DPS should stop making 3000 words camera reviews, it's quite useless.
    There is already very good websites for the job, while I really love the DPS main subjects : interviews, advices, tips and tricks.
    What I would love on the other hand is more reviews on accessories : flashes, small useful stuffs and so on.
    Keep up the good work and leave camera reviews please :-)

  • simon

    July 6, 2011 02:14 am

    agreed with the above post from bob ...

    also is the very first image in the article a e-p2 not the pl2 version ?

    regards simon

  • Bobak

    July 6, 2011 02:14 am

    Ummmm....Just FYI, the top pic ain't an E-PL2.

    Might want to change that...

  • Bob

    July 6, 2011 01:16 am

    Is this a repost? If not, the timing is odd considering Olympus just released the E-PL3.

  • Kevin

    July 6, 2011 12:53 am

    I'm just concerned about the Four Thirds format compared to compacts with larger sensors such as the Fuji X100. I don't think the Four Thirds format is the future of compact, so I'm not really interested in getting on board. What say you?

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