We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.
The Olympus PEN line is their foray into the Micro Four Thirds (or mirrorless) SLR movement. One of the editions is the stylish E-P2, not to be confused with the similar E-PL2 (read our full review of that camera here). This mirrorless SLR offers 12.3 megapixels of resolution with a high-speed live MOS sensor. It has an optical zoom of three times and features an aperture range of F/3.5 to 5.6, which is pretty standard in SLRs. The ISO range is a little bigger than standard ranging from 100 (200 on Auto ISO) to 6400. It can take JPEG and RAW images. The E-P2 can also record video in HD with audio. View images on the 3 inch LCD screen and check your adjustments with the Live View feature. Many are turned off of SLRs because of their size, well the E-P2 is less than five inches wide and only 2.8 inches tall. It only weighs 11.8 ounces.
- Micro Four Thirds SLR
- 12.3 megapixels resolution
- MOS sensor
- Optical zoom 3x
- Aperture F/3.5 – 5.6
- ISO 100 – 6400
- JPEG and RAW
- HD Video recording
- 3 inch LCD screen with Live View
- Weighs less than 1 pound
Digital Trends’ digital camera buying tips:
Don’t Buy Til You Try
One final bit of advice. Never, ever buy a camera purely on its specs or a few positive reviews. What looks good on paper, and what feels good to one person, isn’t necessarily going to be the perfect camera for you. Patronize shops that allow you to spend a lot of hands-on time with your prospective models. Cameras are extremely touchy-feely products, and the truth is that most of them include similar feature sets and take decent pictures. But they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and you’ll be spending many hours with one of them in your hands. Long-term comfort is perhaps the most important factor of all.
How many megapixels do I need?
In 2000, the answer to this question was “more is always better.” In 2010, the answer is more likely “if you have to ask, you have enough.” Even the cheapest cameras these days typically pack eight or more megapixels onto a sensor, which produces superb 4 x 6 prints, all the way up to 8 x 10, and sometimes more. The physical size and quality of the image sensor along with the corresponding optics play a much bigger role in image quality than megapixels alone, so don’t be fooled into thinking more megapixels will produce better photographs. Unless you’re planning to blow up shots to poster or billboard size, any modern camera has enough resolution.
When you’re researching different cameras, manufacturers will state the maximum file (or picture) size you can take. In the case of a 6 megapixel (MP) camera, it’s 2816 horizontal pixels x 2112 vertical pixels, with 7MP it’s 3072 x 2304 and so on. Simply multiply the numbers and you get the effective resolution of the imaging device. We suggest you avoid anything less than 6 or 7MP at this point unless you’re looking for an inexpensive camera for the kids.
Pros have access to 21-megapixel imagers in very expensive D-SLRs. You don’t have to go this route or spend that much money for great everyday photos. However, 6MP should be your minimum and if you plan on making very large prints, such as 13x19s, or you feel you’re going to experiment cropping photos with imaging software, consider 8- or more megapixels. There are no hard and fast rules since so much depends on your final end use
Flexibility and Options: SLR or Point-n-Shoot?
Lens Flexibility: Point-and-shoot cameras offer a wide variety of zoom lenses from the basic 3x up to 26x. If you’re thinking compact, you have many options, but we recommend starting out with a basic wide-angle view (28mm or so) then multiplying that to your heart’s content. A 24x model like the Nikon Coolpix P90 even offers 28-624mm options so you can take nice group shots and zoom into subjects you can barely recognize. There are many small cameras with wide focal ranges that are easily toted around-a huge plus for point-and-shoots.
Contrastingly, DSLRs are far from compact and typically are supplied with a 3x kit lens. From there you can go crazy, spending a small fortune on interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon, the two biggest DSLR sellers by far, each have over 65 to choose from. And these lenses use finer glass than point-and-shoots, adding to overall quality advantage of DSLRs. The downside is that they are much heavier, bulkier and require at least a backpack to lug everything around. Still, for the professional or prosumer, DSLR is the natural fit.
Options: Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer limited manual options for adjusting aperture (f/stops) and shutter speeds. Granted, the vast majority of amateur paparazzi out there couldn’t care less about this small range of potential adjustments, and will be perfectly happy firing away in Auto mode. But while DSLRs have Auto settings too, they also let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz by adjusting depth of field, blurring subjects and going wherever the creative muse takes you. If you’re looking to get more creative with photos, a DSLR is the right choice.
What are some basics I should look for?
Your new digital camera should have these key features:
- At least a 6MP imaging device for a D-SLR
- At least a 7MP imager for a point-and-shoot
- Optical zoom of 3x, not just a digital zoom
- The highest quality optics
- A large LCD screen; the more pixels, the better the quality
- The widest range for aperture (f/stops), shutter speed and ISO
- An AF Illuminator or AF Assist mode for best flash shots in dim light
- A variety of Scene Modes for more convenient shooting in a variety of situations
- Make sure you do your own ergonomic hands-on test
What about memory cards?
There is no universal memory card to fit all digital cameras – not yet, anyway. Based on internal politics, design considerations and financial reasons, individual camera manufacturers typically adopt a particular style of Flash Memory card for their cameras. Some manufacturers will even split their alliances – one type of memory card for professional-level cameras, and another type of memory card for consumer level cameras. When buying a new Flash Memory card, remember which camera you have and the type of card it requires. Some camera snobs (like your humble writer) will even selectively buy a digital camera based on the type of Flash Memory card they prefer to use!
The most common types of Flash Memory cards are:
Compact Flash, or CF – Roughly the size of a silver dollar (though not round), the CF card is one of the earliest types of Flash Memory cards and is most often used in professional or semi-pro digital cameras.
Secure Digital, or SD – Roughly the size of a postage stamp, the SD Card is available in a wide range of storage capacities. It’s inexpensive, durable and amazingly lightweight.
Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro – About the size of a small stick of gum, the Memory Stick is meant for Sony Digital cameras.
XD-Picture, or XD Card – Typically found in Fuji and Olympus cameras, the XD Card is about 40% smaller than the SD card.