With a good number of new features, including a 16.1-million-pixel sensor and a touch-sensitive screen, Olympus’s Pen Mini range may have grown up. Richard Sibley finds out just how good the diminutive E-PM2 really is. Read the Olympus Pen E-PM2 review...
Build and handling
The body of the E-PM2 has a solid metal construction, which is impressive for an entry-level camera costing around £500 including a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The size and shape of the camera’s body is largely unchanged since the E-PM1, except for the introduction of a much-needed grip on the front, which enables the right hand to hold the camera more comfortably when shooting.
As expected from an entry-level camera, the button/control arrangement is fairly limited. This is often a problem with the smaller compact system cameras. Thankfully, this new model sees an improvement over the last, with the addition of a new function (Fn) button on the top-plate. This button can be assigned by the user to a particular shooting or exposure function, and I found it relatively straightforward to change any of the most regularly used exposure settings. When using the on-screen menu, options to switch the image style or shooting mode are only a few button presses away.
The 3in screen on the E-PM2 is now a touchscreen, although it is not essential for use and can be switched on or off. I found that the screen worked well for touch focusing on particular areas, but I still instinctively used the buttons to change menu settings. I found this to be a much more comfortable way of working. However, I’d guess that the touchscreen is included to make the camera more appealing to users of compact cameras and mobile phones. Those more used to a DSLR will probably find they hardly use the touchscreen.
Although Olympus introduced a five-axis, sensor-shift, image-stabilisation system in its OM-D E-M5, the E-PM2 only features the standard Olympus three-axis stabilisation. This should, however, be sufficient for most photographers. That said, there has been one new development – in addition to the built-in stabilisation, users will now be able to make use of the optical stabilisation found in Panasonic micro four thirds lenses. This will be of benefit to some photographers who may find that lens stabilisation is better than in-camera stabilisation when using telephoto lenses. Switching between stabilisation systems is done via the camera’s menu.
The camera’s start-up time has also been improved to around 0.5secs from switching on to picture-readiness. This improvement complements the new Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Cap lens (see Testbench, Amateur Photographer, 3 November 2012). At just 9mm thick, the lens is around the same size as a body cap, hence its name. It has a fixed f/8 aperture and focus settings of 30cm or infinity. The idea is that this lens can be kept on the camera at all times when in storage, and with little in terms of adjustments it is always ready to point and shoot, just like a camera phone. The lens was a lot of fun to use in social surroundings, and while it won’t produce any award-winning landscapes or wildlife images, it is possible to get some great documentary and candid shots. Even better, I could fit the camera and Body Cap lens in the jacket pocket of a suit, making it a really good portable solution.