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Olympus E-P2 Compact System Cameras
Product DescriptionThe E-P2 is a 12.3-megapixel interchangeable lens camera, and it blends the high-quality still images of a DSLR with High Definition (HD) video, stereo Linear PCM audio recording and in-camera creativity – all inside an ultra-portable, easy-to-use body. The second Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus comes with an external articulated EVF (electronc viewfinder), attachable via the new Accessory Port. The Accessory Port can also be used for an external microphone for videos. The E-P2 also has a new auto focus tracking feature, two new Art Filters and a new iEnhance Picture Mode.
Submitted by gregbartos a Expert
Date Reviewed: January 29, 2010
Strengths: 1. Great, large camera image quality, both sharpness and tonal quality.
2. Interchangeable lenses. This is truly a D-SLR
3. Many in-camera image manipulation capabilities, for color, art effects, etc., etc.
4. Wonderful video capabilities - true HD
5. Compact and solid
6. A great value for the price
7. The supplied electronic viewfinde is terrific, especially outdoors in bright light.
8. High ISO range and good performance
9. Multiple flash options, though no built in flash
10. Pretty fast focusing
11. User friendly, considering all the capabilities.
12. The back side viewing screen is large and bright
13. Not a gimicky knock-off of the original Pen. Olympus really hit the mark with the design and character of this camera - a great reincarnation!
Weaknesses: Not too many - at least not for me.
1. No built in flash, a very acceptable compromise for me.
2. Focusing is accurate, but could be a bit faster.
3. Only two Olympus micro four thirds lenses available. Two more are promised, both a wide angle zoom and a telephoto zoom. C'mon, Olympus. You're overdue.
4. The owner's manual. This has nothing to do with the performance of the camera, but it's my only real gripe. C'mon, Olympus! (again) I kinda know my way around cameras, including full featured digital ones, but this manual is ridiculous. Obtuse is the word that comes to mind. I don't speak Japanenglish, so get a better translater who actually knows cameras and can explain things simply and directly. A camera this good and full featured deserves better!
The last Olympus camera I bought before the Ep-2, believe it or not, was an Olmpus Pen FT, a half-frame 35mm SLR from the late 60's. I still have one, and the Pen D I bought before that when I was in college. I have many fine film cameras - Mayiya, Rollei, Nikon, Fuji 617, even a Roundshot 35. When I switched to digital I stayed with Nikon, a decision I have never regretted, at least on the high end. My latest Nikon high end camera is a D2X. I shoot most everything with it, including quite a few weddings. It's been a great camera, and should be, for the price.
For a carry anywhere, compact camera I have used a series of Fuji cameras and have gotten great results with them, the latest being a FinePix E900. Unfortunately, I have lost it, or at least seriously misplaced it... I still hope I'll recover it some day. So I decided to buy a new compact, and decided to go with Nikon, so I bought a P6000, a rather pricey little compact. All man-made devices, including cameras, are compromises. One thing I MUST have is sharpness, followed closely by excellent tonal range. The P6000 provides neither. To be blunt, it's the worst camera I ever owned, at any price. I sent it back to Nikon, who quickly rebuilt it, and it improved... but it's still the worst camera I ever owned. So I've been using my Fuji E9000, a faux SLR, which is decent, but to me at least, not as good as the E900.
Now I was ready to make a decision to buy yet another compact camera. Then I got really excited about the new Nikon D3s... but that's hardly a compact. So I put a whoa on myself (I have limited resources like everyone else), and did my homework, mostly on line. Sorry Nikon... you had your shot. Anyone want a P6000 with plenty of extra batteries and a flash... cheap? I then saw a review of an Olympus Ep-1, liked what I read, so I went and looked at one. I was favorably impressed, but as luck would have it, I found out that the Ep-2 had just been released. Now, having read several reviews, and seeing plenty of sample photos from this camera, I got excited. There were no Ep-2s to look at locally, so I was pretty dependent upon what I read, between Olympus advertising (very detailed) and whatever others said who had time with this new release. I was most impressed with the features, especially the ability to hook the camera up to my HD TV through a mini HDMI cable. Also, the electronic viewfinder supplied with the camera got a lot of favorable comments. Folks praised the sharpness and the image processing capabilities of the camera. OK, I'll bite. The reviews of the camera with the 14-42 mm micro four thirds lens were so so, but with the 17mm "pancake" lens, excellent. You have to order the camera as a kit with one or the other. I opted for the 17mm, but as folks other than me read reviews, there were plenty available with the 14-42mm zoom, but everyone was "out of stock" on the 17mm. So I waited until they came in at B&H and ordered one, hoping I would be happy with it. Besides, I have to admit, the whole Pen throwback thing helped hook me... a compact camera with big camera results... gee, I sure hoped so.
I'm more than happy with this camera... I'm delighted! As sour as I was after my P6000 purchase, I'm almost giddy about the Ep-2. I've had it a couple weeks and I am amazed at the capabilities of this camera. I've shot pictures inside and out under all kinds of lighting conditions, with and without flash. I bought an FL-50r Olympus flash to go with (yeah, I know... not exactly compact), but when I shoot flash with any camera, I'm not concerned about the "compactness" any more, just the results. Besides, there aren't a lot of situations where I'll use the flash. I carry the flash with the camera in a small camera bag, and when I get out of the car, 95% of the time, I just take the camera. The ISO setting goes all the way up to 6400. I'm pretty sure the results I get at that setting are far surpassed by the Nikon D3s, but that's hardly a fair comparison. Nonetheless, the 6400 is usable. I found that at 1600, really decent 8 x 10s are the norm, and at ISOs 400 and lower... wow!
I'm a 60-something year old kid, who loves all the latest photo tools and innovations. All my color darkroom stuff has been sitting idle now for about 4 or 5 years. When I can take pictures (and videos) and immediately hook them up to my 65" Panasonic HD plasma TV, and get blown away by the images, even close up, I doubt I'll ever go back into the darkroom. Anyone want some really nice color darkroom stuff? I'll even throw in the P 6000.
This review is obviously not about charts and technical jargon... there's plenty of that on line, and use it. Believe me, it helped me make my decision. This about hands on, everyday use. I care so little about the technical part of how it's done, I'm not even sure what "four thirds" means... 4 x 3 native format, or what? I guess I should know, so someone please enlighted me.
So why am I so impressed with this camera? First and foremost, image quality. I use an Epson R1900 for prints, and up to 13" x 19" the results match my Nikon D2X. This is what I hoped for, but didn't really expect. I learned some years ago that mega or even giga pixels are not what really make the difference. It's the processing the camera does with the image. Are there details in the shadows? Oh, I want detail in the highlights too, in the same image, please. I want a camera that feels really good in my hands (which are a bit smaller than average). Are the colors true to life, and can I easily manipulate them if I wish? I could go on, but you get the idea. This camera gives me all that and more. This darn thing is like having Photoshop built into the camera... well, almost. By the way, I've been using Photoshop for years, and like me, every user I know is forever discovering more capability within that program. This camera is like that.
My most pleasant surprise is the video capability of the camera. It shoots in either SD (standard def) or HD (high def). So I shot several minutes of trial both indoors and out, and plugged the camera into the HD TV. You may be inclined to say, "Yeah, right..." when I report that this is true HD, which rivals any HD input on my 65" plasma, and that's full screen 16 x 9 to boot, not cropped. I just sat there looking at it and almost cried. The built in mic works surprisingly well too. It had no difficulty picking up voices near and far... it heard what I heard, and played it back like I heard it. An optional mic attachment is available, something I don't think I'll ever need. Now all we need is some good software for editting "motion jpeg" and I think my video camera will be gathering dust. Maybe I'll throw it in with the darkroom stuff.
This review has got to end... and does, because my experience with the camera is still somewhat limited. I only have the 17mm lens, although I have ordered the Olympus 70-300mm Zuiko lens, and a micro four thirds adapter so I can mount it on the Ep-2. I like nature photography, and this will fill the bill for loooong reach... the equivalent of 140-600mm in 35mm format. A wide angle zoom will follow, but I'll wait until Olympus releases it in the micro four thirds format, more compact, with no adapter required. Novaflex makes an adapter that would allow me to use my Nikon D lenses with this camera, but at nearly $300, I don't know that I'll bother. Yeah, I know, the Olympus 70-300mm is hardly compact, but then, what long lens really is anyway? Besides, it's the kind of guy I am. I think you've got that picture by now. I think it's kinda cool when somebody has to look around a long lens to see if there's actually a camera on the tripod.
I rate this camera 5/5. That's better than 4/3, isn't it? For more details, see the brief comments following in "strengths" and "weaknesses."
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $1099.00
Purchased At: B&H Photo Video
Similar Products Used: Nikon P 6000 - ugh
Fuji FinePix E-900 - very good, but nowhere close to the Ep-2
Fuji FinePix E-9000 - also good
Nikon D2X - A very fine and capable digital SLR. Size does matter. Nonetheless, because of it's very size, the Olympus Ep-2 rivals the Nikon for my needs. I think I'll be using it way more than the Nikon!
Type of photography: Other