Olympus E-P2 review: Olympus E-P2

For such a compact model, the 14-42mm (28mm-84mm equivalent) kit lens can be pretty sharp. It does a lot better at macro distances--and can focus pretty close--than at traditional ones, however. Overall, it delivers about the same shooting experience as the 18-55mm lenses from Canon and Nikon, with the exception of manual focus. Though the manual focus rings on those lenses don't feel particularly fluid, they at least use a traditional geared mechanical operation. Like its Micro Four Thirds counterparts from Panasonic, the Olympus uses a servoelectronic ring, resulting in the infinite rotation experience; it's not bad, just relatively loose and imprecise and takes some getting used to. The way you can retract the lens into itself when not in use is quite ingenious, however, and makes the difference between being able to slip the camera into a large jacket pocket and requiring a carrying case. Of course, if you're looking for the most compact solution, you'll have to opt for the 17mm lens, which also has the advantage of a wider maximum aperture.

  Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 Samsung NX10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Olympus E-P2
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 14.6-megapixel CMOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS
17.3mm x 13mm 23.4mm x 15.5mm (est) 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm
Color depth n/a n/a n/a n/a 12 bits
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Focal-length multiplier 2x 1.5x 2x 2x 2x
Continuous shooting 3.2 fps
unlimited JPEG/ 7 raw
3.0 fps
10 JPEG/ 3 raw
3.0 fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3.2 fps
unlimited JPEG/ 7 raw
3.0 fps
12 JPEG/ 10 raw
Viewfinder EVF EVF Optional plug-in articulating EVF EVF Plug-in articulating EVF
Autofocus 23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 11-area contrast AF
Metering 144 zone 247 segment 144 zone 144 zone 324 area
Shutter 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes No
LCD 3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
614,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated touch screen
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed
230,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical Sensor shift
Video (max resolution at 30fps) 720p Motion JPEG MOV 720p H.264 MPEG-4 1,280x720 AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG MOV 720p AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG MOV 720p Motion JPEG AVI
Audio I/O None n/a Mic Mic, headphone Mic
Battery life (CIPA rating) 380 shots 400 shots 300 shots 370 shots 300 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9 4.8 x 3.4 x 1.6 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4
Weight (ounces) 11.9 (est) 14 (est) 13.9 13.1 (est) 13.8
Mfr. Price tbd n/a $749.99 (body)
tbd
n/a

tbd (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
est. $699.99 (with 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens)
$799.99 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)

tbd (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$1,099.99 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
tbd n/a $899.99 (with 17mm f2.8 lens and optical viewfinder) tbd $1,099.99 (with 17mm f2.8 lens)

Though the E-P2 significantly improves on the serious shutter lag and focus issues of the E-P1, it's still pretty slow. It powers on and shoots in 1.6 seconds. In the best lighting conditions, it takes 0.9 second to focus and shoot--that's worse than any Panasonic in dim light--and 1.1 seconds in suboptimal conditions. It takes about 2 seconds to shoot two consecutive photos, and even in the field it feels awfully slow at saving and displaying images. Though it can boast the fastest continuous-shooting of its class, about 3.1 frames per second, the camera itself is pretty useless for shooting action.

I found the continuous AF and continuous AF tracking extremely frustrating to use, as well. Unless you consider yelling at the camera "NO! It was locked! Why did you move!" as it grabs and loses focus repeatedly a good user experience, I recommend sticking with still subjects and single AF. When recording my standard test video of a flag waving in the breeze it kept losing focus as well. However, I will add one caveat: I got to briefly try a preproduction version of the 9-18mm lens (on the E-PL1) and it seems significantly more responsive than either of the currently shipping Olympus Micro Four Thirds lenses, and was able to hold AF better. So it's possible that you'll have a better experience with better/different lenses.

The low-resolution LCD is just okay. It seems good enough for manual focusing in conjunction with the magnification (though it blows out highlights, which makes focusing in bright areas difficult), but not as useful for judging sharpness for photos you've shot. Plus the battery life simply doesn't seem to last very long. All together, it adds up to a pretty mediocre showing in performance, albeit better than the E-P1's.

I expected to see the exact same photo quality as with the E-P1, since it uses both the same sensor and TruePic V image processor, but found the noise suppression a bit different. Olympus delivers decent noise performance for this price class, with clean photos up through ISO 400 and only slightly degraded photos at ISO 800. But oddly, at all ISO sensitivity levels the E-P2's photos look a hair noisier than those of the E-P1's (which is borne out by the numbers). The E-P2's high-ISO sensitivity performance is actually a bit disappointing; it seems to get soft a stop sooner than the less expensive E-P1. I don't really recommend using it above ISO 800. There's more color noise than I'd like at ISO 1,600 with the default level of noise suppression. On the other hand, it maintains the excellent color characteristics, and exposures are spot on with a solid dynamic range. While sharpness looks good on screen, full-size (13x17-inch) prints look a bit crunchier than I'd anticipated, or than I like. That's tweakable, though. Aside from the aforementioned focus issues, the video looks fine; pretty typical still camera 720p capture.

I really enjoyed shooting with the E-P2, but it's not for everyone. As long as you understand its quirks and pace your shooting to its speed, you'll probably like it a lot.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
0.8 
0.9 
0.9 
0.6 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
1.8 
0.9 
0.9 
0.6 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
0.8 
0.9 
0.7 
0.6 
0.5 
Olympus E-P2
1.6 
2 
1.9 
1.1 
0.9 
Olympus E-P1
3 
2.7 
1.9 
1.6 
1.3 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec. 19, 2009
  • Optical Sensor Type High speed Live MOS
  • Sensor Resolution 12.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (image sensor shift mechanism)
  • Optical Sensor Size 13.0 x 17.3mm