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Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

May 2013 | By Allison Johnson

16MP | Micro Four Thirds | $499 £403 (street price)

Olympus introduced the first Pen 'Mini', the E-PM1 in late 2011. Where most interchangeable lens cameras fall somewhere on the spectrum between a point-and-shoot and a full-fledged DSLR, the E-PM1 skewed decidedly toward the compact camera side of the scale. Unlike its Digital PEN predecessors, it offered no external mode dial and relatively few physical controls, exchanging these features for the smallest and lightest footprint of any Olympus ILC.

The Olympus E-PM2 follows suit, building on the previous model's specs by adding a 3.0 inch touch screen, two more buttons and a small built-in grip on the front panel. It shares the same essential 'guts' with the Olympus E-PL5, which was introduced at the same time.

Olympus E-PM2 key specifications:

  • 16MP CMOS Four Thirds sensor
  • 3.0 inch touch-sensitive LCD with 460,000 dots
  • ISO 200-25,600
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Up to 8fps continuous shooting (fixed focus and exposure with I.S. off)
  • 1080 HD video at 30p
  • TruePic VI processor
  • 12 Art Filters
  • Raw image capture

Click here for full specifications, user reviews, sample images and more...

The E-PM2 and E-PL5 borrow the Olympus OM-D E-M5's proven 16MP CMOS sensor, a class-leader in image quality. Coupled with a TruePic VI image processor, a fast rate of 8fps continuous shooting is possible. Twelve Art Filters are available to the shooter, with a number of Art Effects ready to be applied on top of these processing modes.

A rechargeable BLS-5 lithium-ion battery is included, rated at 360 shots per charge (CIPA standard). Also in the box is an FL-LM1 clip-on flash unit, external battery charger with the necessary cable and a copy of Olympus Viewer 2. The E-PM2 stands a good chance at delivering excellent image quality with the inclusion of the E-M5's highly capable 16MP sensor. Enthusiast photographers and beginners alike will find a lot to like in its lightweight, portable form factor.

Compared to the E-PM1

Compared to the E-PM1 the new Pen Mini is about the same size, but its more generous handgrip makes a real difference to how it feels, moving it away from the 'bar of soap' feel of the earlier model.
From the back, the E-PM2 is similar to its predecessor but offers up a different operational layout. Most obviously, playback and delete buttons have migrated to the upper left of the camera (into an area which was wasted space on the E-PM1). The E-PM2 also offers a more practical thumbrest 'nub' of thick rubber at the upper right.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

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Total comments: 6
Pro Image Photographers

I have owned this camera now for about a year. I love it as my pocket/walking around camera when I'm traveling light. Paired with the Olympus 45mm lens and you get great quality images. Now I'm not biased because I own one, I also an EPL5 and the EM5, but I also shoot Canon and Nikon depending on the assignment. I am however very disappointed to have turned it on (EPM2) after using it last week to find the lcd has malfunctioned :( I have yet to contact Olympus but it must be a defective lcd because it was only sitting on my shelf so it hasn't had any thing happen to it between uses. Aside from this little issue the pics are still coming out clean but my color scale is way out of line (everything is purple). I and my wife shoot so I usually have the D4 or the 1DX depending on which one she chooses and I have to say I really enjoy the Olympus mirrorless when I'm not working and even at work I usually bring the EM5 with the Olympus 45mm for in between shooting with the big cameras..


I've lost more than a couple of shots already due to the un-intuitiveness and hidden secondary effects within the interface. If you're the type who like to fiddle with settings and have some amount of control over exposure, expect to waste shots during the first months as you get acquainted with the interface and it's traps, quirks, limitation and bugs. It can be a real concern, and it's hard to trust this camera. If you can pay $100 - $200 more take a good look at what Panasonic has to offer, it might be worth it. If you're more the type to shoot full auto or only use a small subset of the camera's interface (ex: always shoot aperture priority and not use video) or only shoot landscape or are not interested at all in low light or action photography then this does not apply to you.

The bundled software is very slow as well.

Yes, it very fast and responsive for a camera of this class. It is compact, the image quality is great, and it's a bargain.

But don't take the rest for granted.

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 14 minutes after posting

The fact is that I looked at a lot of options and have just ordered this camera. Current pricing is $400 with 2 zooms, which is quite a price. Why did I pick this camera?
1) light weight is important due to neck & back problems. Carrying a bigger format all day would be a BIG problem.
2) I wanted something better than a 1/2.3 sensor that is what most compact or bridge cameras use. APS-C increases the weight of both body and lenses that I would need to cover the focal length range See 1)
3) I wanted a good focal length range without having to carry around 30# in lenses. I could get that in a compact or travel zoom like the hx50v from Sony, but that sensor is just too small and the lens's f-stops are pitiful. The package that Olympus/Amazon is offering covers that range quite nicely in just 2 lenses, although I wouldn't mind starting at lower than 14.
4) the image quality is not perfect but is an improvement and the price/quality ratio is excellent.


Ergonomics are not so good, the software is counter-intuitive and buggy, in the sense where it's very quirky. Many functions and options are fighting each other over a couple of customizable buttons. They shou've allowed for the other buttons to be customizable! The delete button, for example, just sits there and does nothing in shooting mode. One and only one dial used for shutter speed, aperture, iso (or any other setting, actually), browsing photos, browsing the settings menu, dialing in EV compensations, and all the rest. Not that great.
Aside from that, one has to say: it delivers.


Pretty sharp with el cheapo kit zoom lens. Slap on the Panny 20/1.7 and you could lacerate your eyeballs.


Yeah, this Panny 20/1.7 toy is amazing even with the old E-PM1. IT should be the perfect match for the E-PM2 or GM1.

Total comments: 6