Olympus PEN E-P2
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent resolution with lots of detail in the shots
- Appealing, bright and punchy out of camera results and well optimized JPEGs
- Improved AF performance (though kit lens holds it back)
- Pretty retro design puts SLR quality into a compact body
- Collapsible kit lens is small and offers decent quality
- Superb optional viewfinder aids stable holding and shooting in bright light
- Good high ISO performance up to ISO 3200 and lots of control over noise reduction
- Superb build quality
- Decent handling
- Dual control dials (Though small dial around four-way controller isn't great)
- Lots of external control, easy access to photographic functions
- Comprehensive feature set and impressive level of customization
- Reliable metering and white balance (in natural light)
- Lots of stuff to play with; art filters, aspect ratios, multi-exposure and level gauge
- In-body image stabilization
- Great level of customization (though settings menu becomes over-complex)
- Easy to use, high quality video mode
Conclusion - Cons
- Some highlight clipping (and poor dynamic range at ISO 100)
- Low resolution screen that's hard to see in bright light
- i-Enhance picture mode can't be disengaged when using iAuto
- No built-in flash (and the optional flash is expensive and pretty basic)
- Complicated menu system not that easy to navigate
- Preview image brightness doesn't always match the captured image brightness
- No quick way to select AF point
- Live view magnification implementation is awkward and inconsistent
- The most interesting Art Filters slow down operation (and make the movie mode virtually useless)
For this Quick review we ran selected studio tests to confirm the E-P2's image quality is the same as the E-P1's. On the previous pages of this article we have described all specification and performance differences between the two cameras. To get all the in-depth information that you expect from a dpreview review on the Olympus E-P2 you'll have to read both this article and our in-depth review of the Olympus E-P1.
Although at first glance the E-P2 seems remarkably similar to the E-P1, Olympus has done a lot to address the concerns we had about the first-generation model.
The biggest change to the camera is one introduced with the latest firmware (version 1.1) and addresses the biggest concern we had about the E-P1 - its focus speed. In our testing, the E-P2 is a great improvement over the E-P1 when originally launched and is now able to focus lenses as quickly as the best mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. However, the design of the Olympus 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens, with its comparatively heavy front focusing element continues to hold the camera back. Like all the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras we've seen so far, it's not ideal for fast moving subjects (continuous autofocus is a particular problem for cameras of this type), but can be improved greatly by moving away from the kit lens or pancake prime.
The other major change made to the E-P2 also improves the camera significantly. The addition of an accessory port isn't usually the sort of thing that excites us but, when it allows the use of such a good electronic viewfinder, it does make quite a big difference. Most obviously it offers a steadier way of holding the camera and a way to use the camera in really bright light, where the E-P2's rear screen can be hard to see. In addition, though, the clip-on nature of the EVF means that you only have to carry it when you think you'll use it and users who don't think they will are likely to have the option to not have to pay for it.
Image quality is up to the high standard set by the E-P1, with some of the best JPEG output we've encountered on any camera. Understandably the high ISO performance isn't quite up with those DSLRs that have APS-C sized sensors but it's not far off and, so long as you avoid the ISO 100 setting, the dynamic range is perfectly good, too.
The handling and user interface aren't perfect (and, given that some of the things that caught our attention have now been addressed on the newer, less enthusiast-orientated E-PL1, it's possible that Olympus agrees with us), but both are things that can be lived-with and acclimatized to. The number of options in the (hideable) settings menu is daunting and arguably excessive but although it demands some time spent studying the manual before you dare enter, it also means much of the camera's behavior can be fine-tuned to your tastes.
Overall, it's not a vastly different camera to the E-P1 but the changes that have been made have been well focused on making a really good camera into a better one.
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Always-with-you DSLR quality. Getting that classic photographer look.
Not so good for
Fast-action shooters (e.g. sports or kids running around)
A slightly revised version of the E-P1 sees changes in all the right places. A great JPEG engine, in-body stabilization and the option to add one of the best electronic viewfinders we've seen combine to help it live up to its looks.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean
There are 16 images in the samples gallery (in addition to the 116 preview and review sample images taken with the E-P1). Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. A reduced size image (within 1024 x 1024 bounds) is provided to be more easily viewed in your browser. As always the original untouched image is available by clicking on this reduced image.