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Olympus tweaks its entry-level interchangeable-lens camera

Despite a sensor and LCD upgrade, this doesn't seem like a major change from its predecessor.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
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.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read
Lori Grunin/CNET

As Olympus launches another generation of its entry-level interchangeable-lens camera, its E-PM2 becomes even less distinguishable from its step-up linemate, the E-PL5. Both have been updated to use the same sensor as the top-of-Olympus'-line OM-D E-M5, have gotten a burst-shooting boost to 8fps (albeit with caveats) and an update to 1080/30p video. They also get the same upgrade to a touch-screen LCD. The differences: the E-PL5 has a hardware mode dial, tilting display, and removable grip.

E-PM2's deja vu design (pictures)

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And both of their list prices went up by $100. That brings the E-PM2's price into line with its competitors.

Shop for Olympus PEN E-PM2 (with 14-42mm lens, white)

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Here's how things look in its price segment:

  Nikon 1
Olympus PEN E-PM1 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Sony Alpha NEX-F3
Sensor (effective resolution) 10mp CMOS 12.3-megapixel Live MOS 16.1-megapixel Live MOS
12 bit
12.1mp Live MOS 16.1mp Exmor HD CMOS
13.2 x 8.8 mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.0x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded) ISO 200 - ISO 12,800 ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 6400/ 12800 (expanded) ISO 200 - ISO 16000
Continuous shooting 5fps
(60fps with fixed AF and electronic shutter)
(5.5fps without image stabilization)
8fps (with AF/exposure fixed on first shot and IS off)
19 JPEG/15 raw
unlimited JPEG/4 raw
2.5 fps
18 JPEG/6 raw
(5.5fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder None None Optional bundled None None
Autofocus 73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
None 35-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 25-point contrast AF
Shutter speed 1/3 - 1/16,000; bulb; 1/60 sec x-sync 60-1/2,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync 60-1/4,000 sec; 1/160 flash sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 flash sync
Metering n/a 324 area 324 area 144 zone 1200 zone
Flash Yes Included optional Included optional Yes Yes
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Sensor shift Optical Optical
Video 1080/60i /30p, 720/60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV 1080/60i AVCHD @ 20, 17Mbps; 720/60p @ 13Mbps 1080/30p @ 20, 17Mbps H.264 QuickTime MOV AVCHD or MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV
1080/60i @ 17Mbps
720/60p @17Mbps
1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/ 30p @ 12Mbps
Audio Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo Stereo Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed 460,000 dots/
3-inch fixed 920,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed touch screen
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed touch screen
920,000 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
Wireless connection None None Optional Bluetooth None None
Battery life (CIPA rating) 230 shots n/a 360 shots 330 shots 470 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.2 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 4.2 x 2.6 x 1.5 4.6 x 2.6 x 1.6
Body operating weight (ounces) 9.7 9.3 9.5 (est) 9.6 11.1
Mfr. price n/a n/a $549.99 (body only) n/a n/a
$549.95/ $649.95 (with 10-30mm lens) $399.99 (with 14-42mm lens $599.99 (with 14-42 power lens) $599 (with 14-42mm lens) $549 (with 18-55mm lens)
n/a/$899.95 (with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses) n/a n/a $749 (with 14-42mm power zoom lens) n/a
Ship date October 2011/
September 2012
September 2011 October 2012 June 2012 June 2012

Olympus and Panasonic are becoming nearly indistinguishable from each other in these entry-level ILCs, and if you believe that there's enough price elasticity to support with cameras within $100 of each other, then Sony has the advantage with the larger-sensored, cheaper F3, which offers the tilting display at a lower price, unless Olympus' street prices manage to drop lower than the F3's current-low $500 street price.