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Olympus Pen E-PL2

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Price as Reviewed:


Behind its simple looks and clean lines, the Olympus Pen E-PL2 compact system camera hides a number of DSLR-worthy features. Richard Sibley tests the 12.3MP, micro four thirds camera

Olympus Pen E-PL2 at a glance:

  • 12.3-million-pixel micro four thirds Live MOS sensor
  • ISO 200-6400
  • Art filter image styles
  • Hotshoe and accessory port
  • 3in, 460,000-dot LCD screen
  • Street price around £500, including 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens

Olympus Pen E-PL2 review – Introduction

Aimed at entry-level photographers and photography enthusiasts, compact system cameras (CSC) are currently the biggest area of growth in the digital camera market. Smaller and lighter than a DSLR, these interchangeable-lens cameras appeal to people upgrading from a compact camera. They are also attractive to those people more used to a DSLR, but who are interested in a CSC as a secondary camera for when their bulkier DSLR is less convenient. This latest model, the Olympus Pen E-PL2, is perfectly placed to capture users at both ends of the market.

Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, the Olympus Pen E-PL2 is an evolution of its predecessor, the E-PL1, which was released in February 2010. The new camera inherits many of the older model’s features, while updating a few others and adding some new ones of its own.

The Olympus Pen E-PL2 is designed as an entry-level camera, but it uses the same 12.3-million-pixel sensor as the E-P1 and E-P2, which sit above it in the Olympus Pen range. Like the E-PL1, the E-PL2 addresses an issue that afflicts both of the more expensive models: namely, that neither features a built-in flash. The small pop-up flash of the E-PL2 is an essential feature for photographers who are more used to the point-and-shoot approach.

For those using an interchangeable-lens camera for the first time, Olympus has kept the Live Guide that was originally introduced in the E-PL1. This on-screen display helps beginners to easily adjust the shooting settings. The camera also offers shooting tips, to help advise users on the basics of photographing different subjects.

Despite the E-PL2 being designed with entry-level users in mind, at its core is a range of manual exposure, focusing and colour options worthy of a DSLR, giving it a far broader appeal. With competition in this sector of the market becoming increasingly hot, it will be interesting to see exactly how the E-PL2 meets the demands of both groups of photographers.

  • White Balance: Auto, 8 presets, plus custom setting and Kelvin adjustment
  • Built-in Flash: Yes, GN 7m @ ISO 100
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1
  • Shutter Type: Computerised focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD/SDHC
  • Viewfinder Type: N/A. Optional VF-2 EVF with 1.4 million dots
  • Output Size: 4032x3042 pixels
  • LCD: 3in with 460,000 dots
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, over 3 frames in steps of 2, 4 or 6 mired
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/180sec or 1/4000sec in Super FP mode
  • AF Points: 11 points, auto or manual selection possible, plus face detection
  • Exposure Modes: iAuto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, plus 22 scene presets and 6 art filters
  • Sensor: Live MOS with 12.3 million effective pixels
  • Focal Length Mag: 2x
  • Weight: 317g (without battery or card/s)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery BLS-5 supplied
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/4000sec in 1⁄2 or 1/3EV steps plus bulb
  • Drive Mode: Max 3fps for approx 17 JPEGs or 10 raw files
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Lens Mount: Micro four thirds
  • DoF Preview: No
  • Focusing Modes: Manual (with focus assist magnification), AF-S, AF-C, AF tracking
  • ISO: ISO 200-6400
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Metering System: 324-zone multi-pattern, digital ESP, centreweighted and spot, plus highlight/shadow spot metering
  • Dimensions: 115.4x72.7x42mm
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3, 1⁄2EV or 1EV steps
  • Tested as: Compact system camera

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