Olympus PEN E-PL2 Review

The E-PL2 lives up to its predecessor’s standards as Olympus continues to improve on its PEN series.
The E-PL2 lives up to its predecessor’s standards as Olympus continues to improve on its PEN series.
The E-PL2 lives up to its predecessor’s standards as Olympus continues to improve on its PEN series.

Highs

  • Stylish body and nice size
  • Low-noise images
  • Quality upgrades for the built-in filters and scene selectors
  • iAuto delivers impressive results

Lows

  • Nearly as expensive as a capable DSLR
  • No view finder
  • Could be underwhelming for experts, overwhelming for beginners

olympus pen e pl2 reviewThe latest model in Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds PEN line up continues to appeal to novices ready for a more technical experience. Like the E-PL1, the E-PL2 serves as a stepping stone for photographers who have mastered the pocket point-and-shoot, but are wary of big-body DSLR investments. The E-PL2 begins where its predecessor left off, and still includes the 12.3-megapixel, high-speed Live MOS image sensor found in the more professional Olympus E-30 and E-620 DSLRs. Entry-level shooters will be satisfied with expanded features and sharpened capabilities packed into a similarly stylish and conveniently modified body.

Features and design

We saw a lot of this design at CES: camera bodies in multiple hues with vintage, retro feels. It’s inarguably cool, and anyone impressed by the massive array of colors Canon and Nikon offer in their point and shoots will be happy that the step up in camera performance doesn’t necessarily eliminate color choice. Olympus offers the E-PL2 in black, silver, red and white.

olympus pen e pl2 reviewFor more experienced photographers, the specifics behind the E-PL2’s ergonomics might matter more. The E-PL2 measures 115.4 mm x 72.7 mm and offers a 3-inch LCD screen, which is both larger than last year’s 2.7-incher, and has double the resolution (460K versus 230K). It’s slightly slimmer than its predecessor, weighing in at approximately 12 ounces. Just to give you an idea, the Nikon D700 weighs 35 ounces, and the Canon PowerShot S95 weighs six ounces.

Olympus told us that the updated model is better suited for one-handed shooting (some complained the E-PL1 wasn’t particularly easy to hold), and the power button has been altered. On the E-PL1, it was nearly identical to the shutter button, and now has been redesigned to prevent accidentally shutting it off or on by being more discreetly built in. The pop-up flash, hot shoe, mic, and mode dial (which remains unchanged) still sit on top.

olympus pen e pl2 reviewThe screen upgrade is fairly important, since without a viewfinder, photographers are entirely reliant on the 3-inch LCD to shoot in Manual, or use the menu options at all. Anyone familiar with a DSLR might initially struggle with operating the controls, but it just takes some getting used to.

What’s in the box

In addition to your camera, Olympus includes a battery and charger, combined USB and RCA video cable, shoulder strap, Olympus software, and a Micro Four Thirds M. Zuiko 14-42mm zoom kit lens.

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