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
Noise, Resolution and Sensitivity
Taken at ISO 400, this JPEG file is quite detailed
As the sensor in the E-PL2 is the same as, or at least similar to, the 12.3-million-pixel micro four thirds sensors used in every other Olympus E- and Pen-series camera, the images produced have a familiarity.
At low ISO sensitivities images can resolve almost as much detail as an equivalent-resolution APS-C-format camera. However, the level of detail quickly diminishes as the sensitivity increases.
Chroma noise is well controlled in midtones throughout the entire sensitivity range, but even slight adjustments in shadow areas can reveal colour dots. At high sensitivities this can be a real problem. For this reason, the default sensitivity of the E-PL2 is ISO 200-1600, with ISO 3200-6400 available as an extended option.
The main issue with the E-PL2 is that luminance noise and noise reduction start to restrict the level of detail at around ISO 800. Above this level the noise reduction really takes hold and smudges texture. At the time of testing the camera, Adobe Camera Raw had not been updated to include the E-PL2, so raw images were converted using the included Olympus Master 2 software. Unfortunately, this allows only very basic adjustments of sharpness and noise reduction, so the results are only fractionally better than the in-camera JPEG files.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using an Olympus M Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II MSC.
We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately.
The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.