The next generation of Micro Four Thirds from Olympus gives the competition a lot to live up to. We've taken the latest PEN into the lab to see what's new and what's improved in this successor to the revolutionary E-P1
The Bottom Line
In our opinion, the E-PL2 is one of the better ILCs on the market. It takes advantage of the now-wide array of lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds system while offering a compact and powerful body with the best features that Olympus has developed for this still-young format.
Its only real direct competition is Panasonic's Lumix DMC-GF2, which we will be testing soon for an upcoming issue. That makes comparisons difficult, as Panasonic's other ILCs all resemble small DSLRs. The closest in price is Panasonic's G2 ($510, street, with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens), which just barely trailed the E-PL2 in resolution. And since Panasonic doesn't apply much in the way of noise reduction in its RAW processor, it was much noisier in our test than the E-PL2. Again, you can adjust noise reduction to your liking, but the less-advanced shooters that these models cater to aren't likely to fiddle much with such things, and will probably like the smaller design of the E-PL2 and GF2.
If you're in the market for a modestly priced Micro Four Thirds body, the E-PL2 is certainly very appealing, whether you're moving up from a compact—or if your DSLR is giving you a backache. With its kit zoom, battery, and memory card, the E-PL2 weighs barely a pound. Supplement this rig with the 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ($300, street) lens and you'll add less than half a pound to your bag, and gain the equivalent coverage of 28-300mm in 35mm format, enough for the vast majority of shooting situations.
We're eager to see how the Panasonic GF2 fares in our lab tests, but so far it has a lot to live up to.
IMAGING: 12.3MP effective, Four Thirds-sized LiveMOS sensor captures images at 4032x3042 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode.
STORAGE: SD, SDHC, SDXC. Stores JPEG, ORF RAW, and RAW + JPEG files.
VIDEO: Up to 1280x720, 30-fps, AVI Motion JPEG; built-in mono mic, stereo input available with optional SEMA-1 hot-shoe accessory ($65, street); contrast-detection AF with continuous AF and face detection AF in video mode.
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode): 3 fps up to 16 shots with SanDisk 8GB Extreme Class 10 30MB/s SDHC card. RAW (12-bit): 3 fps up to 10 shots.
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast detection with 11 focus areas. Single-shot and continuous with tracking, face priority, and eye detect.
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/4000 to 60 sec plus B (1/3-, 1/2-, or 1-EV increments). Shutter life not rated.
METERING: TTL metering using 324-point Digital ESP (evaluative), centerweighted, and spotmetering (approx. 1% of frame). 0?20 EV (at ISO 100).
ISO RANGE: ISO 200-6400 (in 1/3- or 1-EV increments).
FLASH: Built-in pop-up with TTL autoflash with +/?3-EV exposure increments), GN 33 (ISO 200, feet), covers 14mm, wireless control of optional flash. Flash sync to 1/180 sec.
LCD: 3-in. TFT with 460,000-dot resolution.
OUTPUT: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, mini HDMI video, composite video. BATTERY: Rechargeable BLS-5 Li-ion, CIPA rating, 280 shots.
SIZE/WEIGHT: 4.5x2.9x1.7 in., 0.8 lb with card and battery.
STREET PRICE: $550, with 14-42mm f/3.5?5.6 zoom lens.
FOR INFO: www.olympusamerica.com