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
Generally, the Olympus E-PL2 meters scenes to prevent burnt-out highlights. This leaves plenty of detail for editing the image later
One of the most useful metering functions on any camera is the highlight and shadow spot metering found on Olympus E- and Pen-series system cameras. The idea behind them is very simple: rather than meter an area to produce a mid-grey tone, the highlight setting aims to produce a highlight that is almost white, while the shadow mode meters to produce an area that is almost black.
These two modes are extremely useful, particularly the highlight spot metering mode. Landscape photographers will find it very handy for ensuring that clouds and skies are not blown-out, white highlight areas. Although this may underexpose the rest of the scene, much of this detail can be recovered when editing the image, particularly when saving images as raw files. Those creating HDR images will also find it useful to be able to easily create highlight and shadow images that are full of detail.
While the different spot metering options are useful on occasion, it is the multi-pattern sensing system that most photographers will use on a regular basis. Exposures produced by this system are generally an intelligent average of the scene. For example, when photographing a scene with a shaded foreground but bright sky, I found that the E-PL2 metered for the more dominant of the two halves: if the foreground made up more than half the bottom of the frame it tended to compensate for this, whereas if the sky was more than half of the scene it would darken the image to avoid burnt-out highlights in the clouds.
On the whole, images with burnt-out highlights were in the minority, although as I’ve said, it does tend to make them look slightly underexposed.