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Olympus PEN E-PL2 photo samples

The E-PL2 produces very good photos, with visibly better noice-reduction choices at high ISO sensitivities than the E-PL1.

Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
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1 of 7 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

Noise

Like the E-PL1, the E-PL2 delivers noise performance on par with most similarly priced dSLRs. You can shoot pretty comfortably up through ISO 800; at ISO 1600 things start to soften and detail starts to degrade; color artifacts become readily apparent at ISO 3200.
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2 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Noise, ISO 1600

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality at ISO 1600. Though this is a little soft, the noise reduction looks very good and it doesn't clip the shadows as much as a lot of other cameras.

(1/30 sec, f3.7, ISO 1600, ESP evaluative metering, AWB, Natural picture mode, 17mm lens)
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3 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Noise, ISO 3200, E-PL1 vs. E-PL2

Olympus has tweaked its default color noise reduction, I think for the better. You lose a little sharpness, but the results look more natural. As long as you don't have small details in the image, photos shot at this sensitivity can be quite usable.

It also seems like Olympus has tweaked the metering as well. I had to manually force the settings to match the E-PL1's slight underexposure (shot about a year ago); on shutter priority, the same mode I used for the older E-PL1 shot, the E-PL2 chose a wider aperture for a brighter exposure.

(1/30 sec, f5.6, ISO 3200, ESP evaluative metering, AWB, Natural picture mode, 17mm lens)
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4 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Distortion, 14-42mm MSC lens

The new 14-42mm MSC kit lens has very little distortion at its widest.
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5 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Art Filters updated

Olympus has updated its Art Filters with selectable variations on many of them. For example, the Pinhole filter now offers three different coloration schemes.
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6 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

New Art Filter

The new Dramatic Tone filter renders a faux overprocessed HDR effect.
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7 of 7 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness, 14-42mm MSC lens

Olympus' lenses are generally pretty sharp, and there's only a tiny bit of fringing on the edges of the highlights.

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