CNET First Look
Olympus E-P2For some, an elegant shooter's design and high-quality low-ISO photos may more than adequately compensate for the Olympus E-P2's sluggish performance.
>> Hi, I am Lori Grunin, Senior Editor with CNET and this is the Olympus E-P2. The E-P2 Olympus' slightly more feature-rich and significantly more expensive brother to the E-P1, inherits a lot of what I liked about that camera and some of what I didn't. Another Micro Four Thirds-based interchangeable lens model, it shares the elegant, but functional body design and smooth, natural photo quality of its predecessor. Unfortunately, it shares the slow performance as well. The E-P2 is extremely similar to the E-P1, though it only comes in an elegant shiny black as opposed to the silver and white versions of the E-P1. The most notable addition to the body is an accessory port, which makes it slightly higher. Olympus currently offers two accessories for the port: an add-on tiltable electronic viewfinder that slides into the hot shoe, which comes bundled with the camera. That is nice because on the GF1, it is an extra cost option. Though I am not a big fan of EVFs, the viewfinder is a nice example of the breed and the tilt of the viewfinder makes a big difference in shooting flexibility. The other accessory is an adapter for an external microphone. In addition to that stuff, the E-P2 gives you more control in movie mode over the E-P1, with support for adjusting aperture and shutter speed. For automatic shooters, there is an improved i-Enhance autoadjustment mode that operates a little more intelligently by isolating the elements of the scene it operates on. Olympus also adds a couple of new art filters. Though it is retro from the front, in back it is all digital, with a pretty typical control in menu layout. There is a back dial which has direct-access buttons for ISO sensitivity, white balance, focus mode, and drive mode. There is also a vertical subdial and the combination of the two dials is nice and both feel relatively responsive and comfortable to operate. The camera itself works identically to the E-P1. An info button cycles through a lot of display choices and frankly, some might say too many display choices. You can also pull up Olympus' typical Super Control Panel, an overstuffed display where you can adjust the most frequently needed shooting settings. There is also a much more simplified version in which you cycle around the outer edge of the display to adjust shutter speed, aperture, white balance, drive mode, image stabilization, and so on. For such a compact model, the 14 to 42 mm lens can be pretty sharp. Overall, it delivers about the same shooting experience as you get from an 18 to 55 mm lens on a Canon or a Nikon, with the exception of manual focus. While the E-P2 significantly improves on the serious shutter lag and focus issues of the E-P1, it is still pretty slow. And even in the field it feels awfully slow at saving and displaying images. I found the continuous AF and continuous AF tracking extremely frustrating to use, as well. In addition, the battery life on the E-P2 doesn't last very long. All together, it adds up to a pretty mediocre showing in performance, albeit still better than the E-P1's. On the other hand, it maintains the excellent color characteristics, and exposures are spot on with a solid dynamic range. While I really enjoy shooting with the E-P2, it is not for everyone. As long as you understand its quirks and pace your shooting to its speed, you will probably like it a lot. I am Lori Grunin and this is the Olympus E-P2.