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Olympus PEN E-P2 Review

Just as this camera arrived on the reviewing desk another PEN was announced: the PEN E-PL1. With three PENs now out there, I could almost hear the old song … ‘Every time it rains, it rains PEN-Es from heaven.” Sorry for the corn!

Olympus first broke away from the crowd with its first Micro Four Thirds camera and was quickly followed by Panasonic with their MFT lineup, then Ricoh put its hand up with the GXR. Now Sony sees a market opportunity in its EVIL range of non-mirror box, interchangeable lens cameras.

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The aim, I presume is to fill a demand for quality compact cameras with a small form factor and an attractive lens range that supplies most of what the DSLR experience delivers but without the weight and bulk of the latter. I say — rejoice!

The stainless steel and aluminium body feels solid and weighs 600 grams with 14-42mm lens and viewfinder attached … more than a compact but less than most DSLRs.

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As the second PEN E, this model partially attends to the deficiencies of the first in supplying a detachable electronic, Live viewfinder that slips into the accessory shoe and tilts 90 deg upwards. Alas there is still no onboard flash.

The viewfinder has a higher resolution (1.44 million) than the rear LCD screen (230,000) pixels.

The shoe that holds the viewfinder can also hold an optional microphone to improve the audio pickup when shooting video.

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Olympus PEN E-P2 Features

Exposure options: auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority plus manual.

The CMOS sensor captures a maximum 4032×3024 pixel image, leading to a 34x26cm print.

Video is reasonably well served with a maximum size of 1280×720 pixels at 30 fps, replayable via an HDMI output on the camera.

Olympus won many friends with its Art Filters that first appeared in its 2009 DSLR models. Now there’s two more: Diorama and Cross Process filters. I have seen a similar trick to Diorama in other maker’s cameras and have to admit to being a little under-whelmed at its effect …to make a real landscape look like a miniature. However, my bells rang happily with the P2’s cross processing filter. These Art Filter effects can be added to video recordings.

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The camera uses a sensor-shift image-stabiliser built into the camera body that dampens vibration by effectively up to four shutter speeds. There are four modes: off, on, for panning horizontally and vertically. Almost any lens attached to the camera will benefit from this.

Auto focus is well attended to with a new Continuous-Tracking AF function that requires you to ‘lock-on’ to a subject by pressing the AF dial while half-pressing the shutter button. This will then track the subject’s movement within the frame and maintain sharp focus.

Multi exposure? Yes. Take a RAW image then overlay three more to create a multiple exposure. You have the option of overlaying each image at full or half exposure. I would have liked the ability to overlay each at varying exposures. But I guess that’s a bit too much to ask for!

Dust reduction? Yes — activated each time the camera is turned on.

Face detection? Yes, up to eight faces can be optimised for exposure and focus.
Scoffed at by some but liked by others (like this reviewer) the camera has a level gauge display, especially useful for night shooting.

Olympus PEN E-P2 ISO Tests

Image: This shot at ISO 100, f5.4 and 1/15 second shows how clean a base image can be.

This shot at ISO 100, f5.4 and 1/15 second shows how clean a base image can be.

Image: At ISO 800 with an aperture of f5.6 and 1/100 second we still have a clean image. No noise, n...

At ISO 800 with an aperture of f5.6 and 1/100 second we still have a clean image. No noise, no artefacts.

Image: At ISO 1600, f7.1 and 1/160 second exposure we still have a reasonable image but noise is evi...

At ISO 1600, f7.1 and 1/160 second exposure we still have a reasonable image but noise is evident.

Image: Now we reach ISO 6400, f10 and 1/320 second. Noise? Sharpness? Down.

Now we reach ISO 6400, f10 and 1/320 second. Noise? Sharpness? Down.

Comment

This is a fine camera, beautifully made and set up.

Why you would buy it: compact size; access to Zuiko lenses; HD plus PCM sound capture.

Why you wouldn’t: you want an optical finder and onboard flash.

Get a Price on the Olympus PEN E-P2:

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The picture quality was well above average, with natural colour rendering and sharp definition. The PEN E-P2 is a camera for picky photographers unwilling to engage with a DSLR.

Olympus PEN E-P2 Specs

  • Image Sensor: Live MOS 12.3 million effective pixels.
  • Metering: Digital ESP, centre-weighted; spot; highlight and shadow spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm (22.5mm diameter).
  • 35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
  • Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second; flash sync 1/30-1/180 second.
  • Memory: SD and SDHC cards.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4032×3024, 3200×2400, 2560×1920, 1600×1200, 1280×960, 1024×768, 640×480. Movies: 1280×720, 640×480 at 30 fps.
  • LCD screen: 7.6cm (230,000 pixels).
  • File Formats: JPEG, RAW, AVI Motion JPEG.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
  • Interface: USB, AV, HDMI.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • Dimensions: 121x70x36 WHDmm.
  • Weight: Approx. 335 g (body only).
  • Price: AUD1799 with finder and f3.4-5.6/14-42mm Zuiko lens.
Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Olympus PEN E-P2
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

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

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