Selling GF2 for E-PL2? Your thoughts?

Started Feb 26, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Alexsfo
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Selling GF2 for E-PL2? Your thoughts?
Feb 26, 2011

I've had my GF2 for about 3 weeks now and generally happy with it but not quite satisfied. I've read tons of reviews before purchasing GF2 and thought I made the right decision but now I think I might've been wrong. First, I was quite disappointed with GF2's low light image quality. Starting ISO800 in low light, images exhibit rather unpleasant noise and loss of contrast and saturation. Skin tones are especially unappealing in low light. White balance doesn't work quite well on GF2 (unlike Canon S90) in artificial light. Even if you change it to "incandescent", pictures still have very unpleasant yellow cast. You can adjust K temperature but then the photos look too pale and are screaming for more color. It doesn't quite work right out of the box. No problem during daylight or indoors with no artificial light. I like everything else about GF2. LOVE "touch to focus" feature, can't take pictures w/o it. The camera is super fast in every regard and VERY easy and intuitive to use (think iPhone). I like the design and size. Also iA works surprisingly well in daylight.

Even though I am beyond my return policy, I decided to order E-PL2 with the expectation that the pictures are gonna look pretty much the same and it's gonna be slow AF w/no AF assist, plastic build, etc. and I will just return it, move on, and be super happy about my original choice, GF2. Well, life's not easy, LOL.

Some background: because E-PL2 was not available at any of the "brick and mortar" stores around, I was only able to take a look at E-PL1 at the local Best Buy (before purchasing GF2). That thing looked so ugly and kind of old fashioned retro but full of cheap looking plastic (was grey color). I even decided that there is no way I would ever carry that thing with me (if you are an Apple person, you'll understand) so I assumed that E-PL2 would be similar (thus pushing my decision towards GF2 even more).

When E-PL2 arrived, I was very surprised by its premium look, feel and seemingly high build quality. Placing two cameras side by side, honestly, E-PL2 doesn't look any worse than GF2. If anything, it has more serious, minimalistic looking front and top panels (B&W) while GF2 has a few red marking such as iA, fullHD and movie button. Also, to my surprise, the size and weight difference in reality is so insignificant that I don't think one should even take that into consideration when deciding between these two cameras (I know I did, and was wrong). So first impression of E-PL2 was very good.

Later in the evening, I was taking hundreds of pictures with various settings indoors with incandescent light (low light situation). First, using E-PL2, then GF2. Both with my favorite 20mm 1.7 lens. When I switched to GF2, I immediately noticed how much snappier it is. In every regard: AF, shot to shot time, playback, you name it. That's not to say that E-PL2 is slow, it seemed pretty fast to me, it's only when I switched to GF2 I noticed that Panasonic is faster. The difference, although immediately noticeable, is not that important to me because I never shoot too many pictures at once and fast. I usually take my time to compose. By the way, E-PL2 shutter is noticeably louder. Interestingly, the absence of AF assist light on E-PL2 didn't seem to be a problem at all while GF2 in the same situation was powering the red beam automatically. Maybe it isn't that big of deal as I thought? Also, IBIS in Oly is not a gimmick, it is real and effective. The difference in blur between two cameras at 1/10 shutter speed is very dramatic (two of us tried taking photos, so two different hands - similar result). The effect is easily seen on the back LCD screen. Whatever anybody says, I am now convinced that IS is very useful with 20mm lens in low light.

Later on, with 3 family members, we started reviewing the photos we took. Disappointingly, not one picture from GF2 came out better looking than E-PL2. GF2 photos had significant amount of noise starting at iso800. E-PL2 had no visible noise (unless viewed at 100%) not only at ISO800 but also at ISO1600. And when I viewed it at 100%, its noise pattern didn't look unpleasant. It may sound weird but it looked like it was a "film" or a "slide" rather than unpleasant digital noise I get from GF2. It instantly reminded me of my childhood (with no digital cameras). Moreover, Oly STILL retain good colors at high ISO making pictures look acceptable. The skin tones looked SO MUCH better with Oly in low light that I felt E-PL2 is in a league of its own. It was better than Canon T2i. I was very disappointed in GF2 low light IQ to say the least because it now means that I may have to sell it and lose money (I bought body only). Today, I continued testing in daylight situations, and the differences between the two were far more subtle. The only noticeable difference is that Oly produced more pleasing sky color but overall, pictures look very similar. I am still thinking... so I would appreciate your thoughts especially from the folks who got better results with GF2 or GF1 than from Oly. I tried to shoot RAW with GF2 only to realize that it's not for me. Simple RAW to JPG conversion in LR ("save as jpg" produced even worse looking photos than GF2 jpgs. I probably wouldn'y feel comfortable searching for specifical profiles for various conditions to appy. It's maybe ok for some pictures but not for all or majority of them.

Additional observations: GF2 screen looks crisper and more visible under direct sunlight. Both cameras at highest brightness settings. Maybe GF2 LCD refresh rate is higher??. The magnification button on E-PL2 is very convenient and useful. The back wheel dial doesn't seem to be a problem as some reporting: my Canon S90 has the same. But GF2's wheel is much better. I prefer "ISO" on the 4-way controller (GF2) rather than "flash"(E-PL2).

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