Olympus E-PL2 Hands-On Sneak Peek Video

2011 CES Camera Reviews Featured Mirrorless News Olympus Uncategorized Videos

Olympus E-PL2 Pen CameraOlympus has announced the E-PL2, the second generation of their entry-level E-PL Pen Micro Four Thirds camera. They sent me an E-PL2 a few days ago so I could get to know it and post a hands-on intro when it was announced. Compared to last year’s E-PL1, the Olympus E-PL2 is more of a refinement than a brand new camera. It uses the same 12-megapixel Live MOS sensor but bumps the sensitivity up to ISO 6400 for better low light shooting, adds an upgraded 3-inch 460k-dot LCD display, an improved grip, a control dial on the back, a new accessory port and a new MSC “Movie & Still Compatible” 14-42mm kit lens (28-84mm equivalent).

Olympus E-PL2 Pen Camera - front and back

I’m not going to go into too much detail in this preview article – most of what I have to say is in the included E-PL2 hands-on intro video (below). I have written a bit to try to fill in some of the stuff I had to gloss over to keep the video length down.

Like I said, the E-PL2 is more of a tweaked E-PL1 than a brand new Pen camera. Olympus was careful to say that the E-PL2 is not a replacement for the E-PL1. Rather, it’s been designed to be even more point-and-shoot friendly. That’s why the sensitivity range was pushed from ISO 100 to 3200, up to ISO 200 to 6400 – making it easier for less experienced photographers to get good photos in all kinds of conditions. Olympus also made the user-friendly Live Guide controls work for movies and made the Art Filters work in movie mode, too. I included a Dramatic Tone Art Filter sample in my E-PL2 preview video – it’s a neat effect for video. Another feature that will help the less experienced photographer is the new iDetect auto focus, which steps up standard face detect by locking and focusing on the subject’s eyes for improved point-and-shoot portrait photos.

The E-PL2′s new accessory port (AP2) lays the foundation for even more interesting camera accessories. Olympus already had an EVF (electronic viewfinder) and a microphone that made use of the original accessory port. Now they’re introducing a new macro Arm Light that sports two LEDs on the end of bendable arms; and something called the Penpal. When the Penpal is plugged into the camera’s accessory port it can connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone with the correct app (right now it’s only Droid compatible). That allows you to transfer E-PL2 photos to your phone and then upload to the Web – anywhere you have a WiFi or wireless network connection. No more uploading crappy camera phone photos – only the good stuff from now on!

If I haven’t covered everything you want to know, please post your questions in the comments section below. You can also read my full Olympus E-PL1 Pro Review to get a better idea of what the Olympus Pen line is all about – or at least what I think it’s about. Last year, I took the E-PL1 on vacation to Mazatlan, Mexico and I think it’s an excellent travel camera.

The new Olympus E-PL2 Pen camera should be available in February 2011 for $599. That price includes the new M.Zuiko ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Movie and Still Compatible kit lens. The new MAL-1 Macro Arm Light accessory will sell for $59.99 and the Penpal PP-1 Bluetooth Communication Device will sell for $79.99.

Olympus E-PL2 Pen Camera Press Release >>


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Olympus E-PL2 Pen Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • John says:

    Thanks for the review. I have two questions:

    1. What is the change in terms of image quality from photographing with ISO 200 instead of ISO 100?

    2. Between the XZ-1 and the E-PL2, which one would you recommend, and for what? I believe the price is similar, but the E-PL2 (or E-PL1) have larger sensor, and therefore I imagine better photos (at least at higher ISO). So why would anybody buy the XZ-1? The only advantage I can see with the XZ-1 is the smaller size.

    Thanks a lot!

  • thien says:

    Will the PP-1 Bluetooth Communication Device work with the EPL-1?

  • Photo-John says:

    Thien – I’m not absoluetly sure but I assume the reason the E-PL2 has the new AP2 accessory port is to accomodate the Penpal. So I’m guessing it won’t work with your E-PL1.

    John – The image quality at ISO 200 with the E-PL2 should be very close to the same as ISO 100, although there has to be some difference. Olympus hasn’t changed anything regarding image quality except bumping the ISO range up a bit. ISO 200 with the E-PL2 should be the same as ISO 200 with the E-PL1. Check high-res E-PL1 studio sample photos taken with the E-PL1 in our sample photos section. Those samples should answer your question: http://www.photographyreview.com/samplephotoscrx.aspx

    As for whether the XZ-1 or the E-PL2 is the better camera? That’s really a personal choice. The E-PL2 is a system camera with interchangeable lenses and better image quality. The XZ-1 should have great image quality for a compact camera but it’s not intended to compete with the E-PL2. The XZ-1 is really a high-end pocket camera. It’s a bit big for a pants pocket, but that’s the market it’s amined at – serious photographers who want a ful-featured pocket camera.

  • thien says:

    Damn that AP2! Now I have to sell my EPL-1!

  • Dave says:

    Quick question-

    How is the actual shooting performance of the camera? One of the more widespread complaints against the other 3 PENs was the slower autofocus or focus hunting in darker light. I read something about Olympus speeding up the focus to compete with the best-in-class for the E-PL2. I believe dpreview had listed AF speed of the E-PL1 right around .5 sec at its best and the comparable GF1 clocked in at arount .25 sec. (these #s might not be exact).

    In any case, my main concern with the E-PL1 was how it was going to hold up with moving subjects or subjects in low-light conditions. I know the Panny 20mm lens was boost to the performance but it would be great to know if there is a real, felt improvement in this area for the E-PL2. Thus far, every hand-on preview I’ve read hasn’t touches the subject. Thanks for any insight you can provide!

  • PAul says:

    Very nice, John.
    It makes me even more confident that I should NOT buy the E-P2 to replace my E-P1.
    Instead I am going to wait for the E-P3 to get this enhanced accessory socket.

  • John says:

    Thanks! I hope you can add sample photos of the XZ-1 as soon as possible. I really want to compare them to the EPL1.


  • Craig says:

    I have the same questions/concerns as Dave. Wondering what Olympus has done to improve AF and “blackout” performance. The PL1 was serious lagging in the area when compared to the Panasonic GF1 (which I ultimately purchased).

    Can the PL2 compete with the GF1? Also, would love to see you post a follow up video showing the AF performance.

  • Photo-John says:

    “Also, would love to see you post a follow up video showing the AF performance.”

    I can do that :-)

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