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
White balance and Colour
The camera’s vivid mode doesn’t produce oversaturated images
Unlike other manufacturers, Olympus doesn’t seem to have a basic, standard picture-style mode. Instead, there are five preset colour settings: i-Enhance, vivid, natural, muted and portrait, as well as a monotone and custom setting. Of these, the only one that needs real explanation is the i-Enhance setting. This analyses the scene and adjusts the saturation of the most dominant colour to make it stand out more. Like all the other settings, i-Enhance can be adjusted to personal taste. I found that it has to be set to its High setting to really notice the effect.
For most of the test I used the camera in its natural and vivid settings. Natural obviously produces the most realistic colours and contrast, although the vivid setting, with an in-camera tweak, produces the best print-ready images. As far as vivid colour settings go, however, it isn’t as strong as similar settings in other cameras. I found that the best result was achieved by turning the saturation down one notch, to further take the edge off the colour while keeping the level of contrast.
Although the Olympus Pen E-PL2 doesn’t have the vast range of styles found on other cameras, the number of customisation options for each one means it is easy to create a colour style that will suit your own particular taste. There is also a wide variety of different art filters that can be applied to images.
Colour balance is well implemented in the E-PL2. The AWB dealt admirably with the overcast, sunny and shady conditions in which I tested the camera. Tungsten lighting is also not an issue, with the E-PL2 taking the edge off the yellow/orange colour without reducing it entirely. The tungsten setting itself produces a very neutral result. In fact, under low-wattage tungsten lighting, the images can actually develop a slightly blue cast.