Olympus E-PL2 review: Olympus E-PL2

The body design and shape is fundamentally the same as the E-PL1, but I like the E-PL2's all black a little better than the black with silver of its predecessor. It's still very well built and sturdy, and it managed to survive an accidental fall off my desk. There's one oddity, however; equipped with the 14-42mm msc kit lens, the body overbalances and wobbles in a Weebles kind of way. Not a problem, but a little disconcerting when you put it down.

Its fundamental layout remains unchanged. The top dial includes typical manual, semimanual, and preset automatic modes as well as a dedicated movie mode and Art Filters. Olympus' Live Guide, which appears in automatic, provides a user-friendly adjustment interface and shooting tips; it now works with video. I really like that you don't have to be in movie mode to record. The company has expanded its Art Filters to accommodate more variations on each filter. There's also a new Art Frame that you can add in-camera as well as overlay two filters. Real-time Art Filter preview processing can be burdensome for the camera--display refresh slows down to a crawl--so Olympus added a second display mode for Art Filters that provides a lower-quality preview. That ratchets up their usefulness quite a bit.

For shooting, Olympus changed the large buttons and four-way-navigation keys to smaller buttons and a dial for navigation. It looks a lot nicer and I like the dial, but the buttons may be small for some people. The movie record button is also recessed a bit more, to prevent accidental operation.

This newer generation model also supports the more recent version of the accessory connector for an add-on EVF, the new PEN Pal Bluetooth module, and the antenna-like macro light. There's also a ton of advanced features in the camera, but you have to read the manual, and you must turn on the double-secret menu system to know some of them exist. For instance, it's now more flexible for HDR shooting, with up to a seven-frame bracket. Every button on the camera can be redefined. You can hardwire in an exposure shift for each metering mode independently, specify how long many of the adjustment control displays persist, and add copyright information. There are also four slots for saving custom settings, but accessing them seems to be a fairly clunky process as far as I can tell; you can map one to the Fn button, but to use any other but the mapped default you have to go into the menu system. The one feature that would be nice to have is time lapse. (For a full account of the E-PL2's features and operation, download the PDF manual.)

Conclusion
A notable update over the E-PL1, the Olympus PEN E-PL2 delivers better photo quality and performance, as well as a nice shooting experience. But while I'd definitely recommend it to people who want to upgrade from a point-and-shoot to get better overall (and especially low-light) photo quality, it remains a little too sluggish to recommend for shooting active kids and pets.

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)  
Olympus PEN E-PL2
0.8 
1.4 
1.3 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
1.7 
0.9 
0.7 
0.7 
0.4 
Sony Alpha NEX-5
0.4 
0.9 
0.9 
0.8 
0.4 
Olympus PEN E-P2
1.6 
2 
1.9 
1.1 
0.9 
Olympus PEN E-PL1
1.8 
2.1 
1.9 
1.4 
0.9 

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Olympus PEN E-PL2
3.1 

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Canon PowerShot SX600 HS

    Starting at: $58.99
    3.5 stars

    With its 18x zoom lens, simple straightforward automatic shooting, and built-in Wi-Fi,...

  • Nikon D3300

    Starting at: $469.95
    3.5 stars

    The company's latest entry-level model delivers the speed and photo quality you expect...

  • Samsung NX1

    Starting at: $1,499.00
    4 stars

    Fast, sturdy, well-designed and with excellent photo quality, the Samsung NX1 hits all...

  • Nikon D750

    Starting at: $1,479.00
    4 stars

    With an almost perfect combination of photo quality, features and performance for the...

 

Discuss Olympus E-PL2

Conversation powered by Livefyre