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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!

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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).

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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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