on February 1, 2013
I am a photography amateur enthusiast. My other cameras are a Nikon D5100 and a D600 DSLRs with a range of lenses (prime and zooms). I've started shooting film back in early 90s on an old Nikon SLR.
I also own a tiny pocket Canon ELPH HS300 point and shoot, which I wasn't really happy with. The pictures were rarely better than what I can take with my iPhone, at which point as small as the camera is, it's too big.
I wanted something compact that could still take the breathtaking pictures my DSLR is capable of, and I spent a long time researching the best option. The main contenders were mirrorless cameras with largish sensors (for the form factor).
Against a Fujifilm x100: I have to say Fujifilm's x100 (and the upcoming x100s) is a beautiful camera, I really like the retro look of it. It also features a great APS-C sized sensor on it, which makes for a great picture quality. The problem with this camera is the sluggish auto focus, which for a compact "walk around" camera is especially problematic (apparently the upcoming x100s is supposed to improve on this). It was also little pricey for what I wanted to spend.
Sony RX100: Is a great little camera, which can take great photos. But I wanted something with a little bigger sensor and interchangeable lenses. You see I want to be able to invest the bulk of my money into lenses as no doubt the camera bodies become somewhat outdated every 2-4 years.
And then I gave the Micro Four Thirds cameras a consideration. See the Micro Four Thirds is an open standard Olympus and Panasonic have created, where you can freely use all m4/3 lenses on any camera body. More companies are joining this alliance each month. As a result m4/3 cameras have the biggest selection of lenses of any mirorless camera competitor.
It's exactly what this industry has needed for a long time. For companies to put an open standard together. No more vendor lock in and price gauging on lenses. Also you can be sure there will be long term support for this system as there appears to be quite a surge in popularity. More and more wedding photographers for instance are switching to this system, because of the ergonomics offered by much smaller and lighter gear required for all day shooting, as well as the selection of some really outstanding lenses for a decent price.
Just on this alone, the choice for me was clear. All I had to do now is pick a micro four thirds camera.
I've never used an Olympus camera before, but I've met photographers who have praised these cameras in the past. I read some reviews and researched the specs. I wanted compactness, and no need for a swivel screen.
This narrowed the choice for me down to an E-PM2:
- It uses the same sensor as the top of the line OM-D so technically capable of capturing the same quality images.
- It is small and light.
I really wasn't into the design of the camera, at first look I thought it was quite ugly, a more retro look would have been better, but that's just my taste. I have to say the look of the camera is growing on me though.
I elected not to get the kit lens, and I went with the 20/1.7 LUMIX "pancake": Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens for Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Cameras lens (immediately taking advantage of the open standard!)
So my first impressions after using this camera for a week (sorry for the long intro):
Wow! In fact I am so impressed that I am actually thinking about selling my DSLR gear completely. I was little concerned that maybe I wouldn't like the native 4:3 aspect over the 3:2, but it turns out 4:3 is actually much more suited for portraits. In portrait mode it gives you more flexibility. Where it might lack is certain landscapes, but those can often be cropped to 3:2 without much loss in quality. I can't tell a difference in picture quality between this camera and my DSLR.
- Autofocus. The speed at which this camera can auto focus and snap a photo is astounding. Way faster than my DSLR. In fact I thought the tap the screen to take a photo was a gimmick, but with such a fast AF, I find I am snapping twice as many photos than I normally do, and they are all in perfect focus. I was totally cough by surprise with how good snapping pictures feels with this camera, because of its responsiveness. There is a certain quality tactile feeling you get when you snap photos almost at the same time you touch the screen. A feature I didn't think I was going to use became my new favorite way of taking pictures. What's also great about it, if you're doing street photography, you don't even look like you're taking a photo. So your subjects are not distracted by it.
- Image quality. I shoot raw. And I find photos have good dynamic range, which lets me do a lot with them when I post process in Lightroom. And I find even in low light I can take photos comparable to what I take with my DSLR.
- Size. The camera is small and easy to cary, it fits in a jacket pocket, or a small bag. I can also now put it in my laptop case, and bring it to work with me.
- Great UI As someone new to Olympus cameras, this was a concern. But I felt right at home with the user interface only after a few days of using the camera. I assigned the 'fn' key to my ISO settings, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode. Obviously this camera has much less dedicated buttons than the top of the line cameras, but I find E-PM2's buttons are sufficient for Aperture Priority style of shooting I do.
- m4/3 availability of great lenses, with more 3rd parties announcing new products each month, it's truly exciting. Even things like pro cinema Black Magic camera coming out this year will feature an m4/3 mount. The adapters can be purchased for all sorts of lenses. In fact you can get a $31 C adapter and a CCTV lens RainbowImaging 35MM F1.7 TV Movie Lens + Lens Adapter for MFT M4/3 camera, fits Panasonic G1 G2 G3 G10 GF1 GF2 GF3 GH2 GH1 GH2, Olympus E-P1 E-P2 E-P3 E-PL1 E-PL2 which can let you create some very interesting effects/pictures. I've used my Nikon lenses on this camera and it works great. But the lack of focus peeking feature Sony cameras offer hinders this advantage somewhat.
- None. Really, when it comes to price and what you get for it, I can't think of a single negative to say about this camera.
Would like to see improved:
- Manual focus. I haven't yet found the best way to take photos with adapted manual lenses. I have re-assigned my Rec button to let me zoom in. But its not ideal. Though this really can't be counted against the camera of this price, it would still be nice if it offered something like 'focus peaking' Sony cameras have. I think there is a way to use one of the Art filters to help with focus but its not ideal.
- It's not a pretty camera. This might be just me. But would love a more retro (rangefinder look) at this price range. Like the OM-D without the rangefinder bulge would be beautiful. I went with the silver version. I would have liked the white version better if it didn't have the weird colored tan grip pad.
One of the best buys in the category. You are not only buying a great camera but investing into a great system with great lens selection. You are also supporting an open standard in an industry dominated by proprietary lock-ins and price gauging.
Edit July 3 2014: I have purchased this camera at the introductory price $500 and it was a great deal then. At the current price, this camera is a no brainer. There is simply nothing on the market that can compete with this value.
on March 7, 2013
The Olympus E-PM2 is one of Olympus' 4th generation (digital) PEN series cameras. It shares the same sensor with the two other 4th generation PEN series cameras; the E-PL5 and OM-D. Not surprisingly, the image quality of each of these 4th generation PEN series cameras is almost identical. The E-PM2 is really small and now includes a small grip making handling a bit easier. The camera body is the same size and weight as a smallish compact. The autofocus speed and high ISO image quality is unmatched by any other camera this small. The Olympus E-PM2 is one of very few cameras that can (auto) focus in total darkness, and it does so effortlessly (The Olympus OM-D, E-PL5 & all Nikon SLRs are really the only other cameras that can do this that I am aware). The Menu system is not great on the E-PM2 and appears suited to those who like the camera to make most of the decisions. The E-PM2 is priced at less than half of the OM-D. As such, it is a real bargain for very similar image quality. Obviously the OM-D has many features and controls not found on the E-PM2 including a very good electronic viewfinder.
I believe each of the PEN series cameras offer a remarkable balance of portability, automated/manual controls and high image quality. It can be confusing though sorting through all the different yet similar cameras which now is in its fourth generation
The first three generation PEN series cameras essentially use the same sensor. Consequently, the image quality is similar especially for the first two generations (E-P1, E-PL1 & E-P2, E-PL2). One of the problems with the first two generation PEN series cameras is the lack of a focus assist infrared beam; auto-focusing is slow (and sometimes non-existent) in dim lighting. Also, the LCDs on the E-P1 & E-PL1 are not great.
The E-PL1 & E-PL2 each have a built in flash; the E-P1 & E-P2 does not (nor does the 3rd generation E-PL3, E-PM1, nor 4th generation E-PL5 or E-PM2). The built in flash on the E-PL1 & E-PL2 have a great (undocumented) feature; the ability to 'bounce' the built in flash for a much nicer flash result similar to an (albeit weak) external flash.
The third generation PENs (E-PL3, E-PM1, E-P3) finally included an infrared focus beam greatly improving auto-focus in dim lighting. The third generation used the same sensor as in previous PENs. However, there was a definite improvement (to the already good) color reproduction including automatic white balance presumably due to an updated .jpg processing engine (the raw files show less improvement). The color reproduction and automatic white balance on these third generation PEN cameras (especially at ISO 1600 and below and when using an external bounce flash) is as good as any camera I have ever used including very expensive DSLRs. Only the E-P3 of this generation has a built in flash but flash bounce capabilities have inexplicably been disabled on this flash.
The fourth (latest) generation (E-PM2, E-PL5, OM-D) uses a new(16mp)sensor providing better resolution and better/faster auto-focusing especially in dim lighting conditions. The real improvement is remarkably clean photos without much loss of detail at higher ISO settings. Although up until ISO 1600 the differences in noise levels are almost imperceptible, above ISO 1600 the E-PM2 (and O-MD) are in a class by themselves even compared to much more expensive cameras. It is truly amazing. Olympus includes incremental ISO settings between stops(ie ISO 2000) on all of their PEN models which is also helpful in not using a higher than needed ISO setting (Are you paying attention CANON & NIKON?).
However, the E-PM2 (and EPL-5 & OM-D) takes a small step backwards from earlier PEN series cameras (especially the 3rd generation E-PM1, E-PL3 & E-P3) when comparing color reproduction and white balance (especially in good light/base ISO settings). Also, The E-PM2 and E-PL5 do not have a built in flash (its not clear why such small cameras would require the use of an external flash).
The included 14-42mm (28-84mm equiv) Kit lens is the same lens bundled with the 2nd and 3rd generation PEN series cameras and is similar (an ounce lighter) to the kit lens included in the first generation PEN series cameras. Other available kit lenses include the 17mm (34mm equiv) pancake prime lens and the 12-50mm (24-100mm equiv) lens included with the flagship O-MD.
The 12-50mm (24-100mm equiv) lens included on the O-MD and available separately is a very versatile lens especially at wide angle. But its image quality is no better than the other kit lenses and it is about the twice the weight. This heavier weight makes the lens unsuitable for the EPM-1 or E-PM2 cameras. The 17mm (34mm equiv) lens is really thin and light and turns any of these cameras (except the OM-D) into a true pocket camera. The f/2.8 aperture is very bright and well suited to the earlier PEN series cameras. Olympus consistently produces very sharp lenses capturing the finest details and each of these lenses are no exception.
Which one to buy? Any of the PEN series cameras will not disappoint. The answer really depends on your needs and budget; If color reproduction and automatic white balance is most important consider the E-P3, E-PL3 or E-PM1. If really quick autofocus, higher resolution and using high ISO settings are important then the E-PM2, E-PL5 or OM-D would be a good choice. If price and a built in bounce flash is important, the E-PL1 or E-PL2.
on December 8, 2012
The Olympus E-PM2 camera, which I ordered for $100 off on black friday arrived. First things first: The quality of raw images of E-PM2 rivals many APS-C cameras, and it's the best in mu4/3 realm. Plus the camera is tiny compared to a DSLR. Does it deliver on the promises? Some thoughts after a month of use:
* Low ISO images have certain depth and clarity that I only used to get with a DSLR (I've previously owned Canon DSLRs including Rebel Xti, 40D, 5dMkII).
* Colors & auto white balance of images are pretty good. Rich yet natural.
* Autofocus with Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is impressive. Initial acquisition is very fast in good light. Allows me to take pictures of our 1yr old toddler while he's on the move (mind you, he's not a sprinter).
* The camera is pretty fast in high speed mode. Shot-to-shot blackout time is short. Writing on SD card is quick.
* Touch-shutter works really well. I either use the center-point focus or touch shutter, both of which are fast and effective.
* The camera itself is good looking compared to most alternatives (I ordered the white one).
* User interface has a long way to go to become photographer friendly.
-- Changing the aperture in aperture-priority mode is inconvenient (dial only controls exposure compensation; changing aperture requires several button pushes).
-- Small fonts are difficult to read (especially ISO).
-- Settings like ISO, aperture, exposure time are not displayed in image preview, unless you go to the detailed view which shrinks the image to 1/4 size.
* In low light, camera is slow to focus with my favorite Panasonic 20mm f/1.7; AF tends to hunt (Panasonic GF3 doesn't do that).
* According to some web reviews & my experience, sensor-based image stabilization on E-PM2 is not effective. At best, gives half a stop to 1 stop improvement. Some says it's best to keep it off. That's what I do, after finding a few blurry images that shouldn't have been blurry based on shutter speed.
* Clip-on flash makes it inconvenient to pocket even with prime lenses---Panasonic GF3/GF5 are a lot more pocketable.
* JPGs at 100% view are disappointing in high ISO (very grainy). Raws are better.
* Colors on LCD screen are way too warm compared to what I see in actual images on my calibrated monitor.
The best features of E-PM2 are fast operation, fast AF in good light and best-in-class sensor. The images it produces are a notch above what I get from Panasonic GF3 in depth and clarity. On the down side, the user interface is clearly designed for the point-and-shoot user, not for the advanced amateur. Do I recommend E-PM2? If you get a good deal on the price (like how it sells these days---$450/$500 for the body/kit) and if you don't mind its other, relatively minor, shortcomings, I do recommend it.
After discovering the extensive menu system, I was able to solve my main gripes with the user interface. Now I can use dial for controlling aperture. I can control the degree of noise reduction. I can turn off warm auto white-balance. There are a thousand other customizations you can make, which makes shooting a lot more fun. I'm very impressed by what Olympus offers here. The camera is nearly as capable as OMD (the $500 more expensive, 'pro' model) in a much smaller package. As for slowness of 20mm f/1.7 AF, I'd suggest checking out Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (mine is on the way). It reportedly focuses a lot faster.
on March 3, 2014
I've been wanting to compare a Micro 4/3rds camera against my DSLR for years. After my daughter managed to fall off a mountain, (destroying a Nikon D60 in the process) I decided to bite the bullet and replace it with something smaller.
So far I've taken the camera on one extended photo shoot, and my daughter has taken it to the Philadelphia Flower Show, so these are my initial impressions:
* In bright light the images are easily as sharp as those taken with my Nikon D5100.
* This camera is amazingly light and small! It's about 1/3 the size and 1/4 the weight of my D5100, while offering a wider zoom.
* The UI offers just about every control you might want, from scenic modes to full manual.
* Focus has been fairly fast and sure.
* I can't emphasize this enough - the camera is just fun to use. It's a real throw back to small rangefinder cameras of the 60s and 70s.
* When shooting JPG, reds can be over-saturated. This isn't the only camera I've had this problem with, but it does mean you'll want to shoot raw when you're shooting roses or other red flowers.
* The 40-150 zoom lens. is not as sharp as the 14-42.
* The zoom mechanism on the 40-150 is quite stiff. It's usable but it can be hard to keep a grip on the camera body while trying to twist the zoom.
on January 9, 2013
This is a review for the E-PM2 with the 14-42 kit lens
- Amazing Auto-focus speed and accuracy. It feels like a camera commercial or something. In anything other than dim lights it's blazing.
- Excellent image quality. Impressed with the dynamic range and color at high iso numbers especially.
- Touch screen focusing is better than I thought it would be. Nothing about this camera feels gimmicky or poorly done.
- Feels like a $500 camera in terms of build quality (in a good way). By this I mean everything seems tight and well constructed but it is clearly not an OM-D or a professional SLR. Nor should it be as this would raise the price.
- Interface as a whole was a pleasant surprise and much better than my E-PL1. I do not miss the mode dial as the touch screen replaces that for me. In P/A/S modes the quick access panel (brought up by OK button) is great!!! Faster setting changes than my E-PL1 or a previous Pentax K-x DSLR.
- Great Flash metering as well. This part seems much improved over the E-PL1 as well.
It seems like Olympus could have put a soft AE-lock button on the screen. Another dial would be nice of course but probably outside of scope of the camera. No on camera flash but I am not sure there is room for one. Image stabilization good for about 1 stop (I am guessing) which is useful but something to consider when comparing this to its much more expensive brother the OM-D or even something like an RX100.
My first impression is a stunning upgrade from the E-PL1 to E-PM2. Looks larger in photos than it feels in my hands (almost too small). Compared to other cameras I have owned I think it has 90% of the image quality of a Pentax K-x and it blows away an E-PL1 (which I have taken excellent photos with). Focus speed is incredible. It felt more like a semi-pro DSLR with a fast prime lens than anything else. Kit lens is a little softer than the best glass I have owned (obviously) but not really a detriment to general photography. It is certainly a sharper kit lens than my Pentax 18-55 was.
I differ with some professional reviews and some other user reviews regarding usability. I thought given it's lack of physical controls and overall size it is very usable. The quick settings in P/A/S modes cover most everything you would commonly need to change on the fly. I was worried that it would be a glorified point and shoot (in terms of control and usability) and I now have a very different opinion. I also don't see how an EPL-5 is much of an upgrade unless you need an articulating screen.
Best camera body I have ever owned!! Not sure why some professional reviewers did not care for the camera much. True DSLR image quality in a tiny package with excellent performance. The biggest competitor in my mind is actually the RX100 which is much smaller with excellent image quality. I decided I wanted the ultimate image quality and flexibility of a this CSC and I have not regretted it once.
on July 14, 2013
This camera best captures the spirit of Micro Four Thirds. That is, you get a small camera but with Big Sensor quality. And when I mean Big Sensor, not only is it physically large (though, of course, a slight bit smaller than APS-C), it also has big image quality, the same as the much more expensive E-M5 and E-P5, and WAY better than the Panasonic GF5 (which Panasonic has already replaced with a newer model).
So why only give it 4 stars? The following things annoy me: no built-in level, the LCD is small and inferior (only 460K dots is subpar these days), the IBIS (that's the in-body image stabilization) is flaky and will occasionally blur your photos instead of making them sharper and that's a very annoying bug and it's recommended you keep IBIS turned off when you don't need it, or always take two photos of each subject when it's turned on if you want to make sure you captured at least one sharp photo. The IBIS problem is primarily why I demote this to 4 stars and might even consider 3 stars.
The purple fringing also annoyed me, until I discovered on the internet that if you put a Tiffen Haze 2A filter in front of the lens, it makes the purple fringing go away.
The kit lens is a very good lens, very sharp even to the corners when stopped down to f9 (that's my preferred f-stop, except at 14mm where that's probably too much stopping down). But it's cheap on the part of Olympus not to include the lens hood (which is just a piece of plastic and probably costs a few cents to manufacture).
The best lens to use with this camera is the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 for it's small size and excellent image quality and hardly ever a purple fringe to be seen even if you are not using the recommended Haze 2A filter.
on April 12, 2013
About a week ago I reviewed the E-PL3 and while that was a good camera, the in body IS failed me so, I found an E-PM2 for only a few bucks more. Again, to me the Image Quality is key and tools that help build upon that Image quality are also a big boost to the overall body.
LOOKS AND BUILD QUALITY
The Olympus E-PM2 is a decent body but, it doesn't quite feel as solid as the E-PL3. To me, that's the only negative of the body when comparing the two.
I feel the styling of this camera is considerably better than the E-PL3 as it features a small rubber grip on the front and back to rest your hand for shooting.
I have only one real issue with this body, and that's that the AF Assist Light is still in a place where it can be obstructed by your left index finger.
This screen works well and allows you to toggle between touch to focus, touch to shoot, and off. This is big as you will accidentally take pictures if you're not careful with the body.
Overall, the capacitive touchscreen works well and it really adds to the appeal of the camera.
This is another improvement over my E-PL3, it appears to be spot on in any scenario I've used it in and that makes for predictable control of your exposure! I'm very pleased with this aspect of the camera.
The AF System is very fast for this type of camera and I have to say that Olympus really stepped up here given the fact that the earlier bodies were known for having slow AF. Accuracy also seems to be fairly good so, no real issues with the focusing at all. This seems to be pretty much identical to the E-PL3 in terms of performance.
I've used just about every image stabilization system around and honestly, I am still not 100% impressed with the Olympus Sensor Shift. The cameras sensor is very forgiving and the exposure is top notch so, this isn't as big an issue as it was in the E-PL3. Basically, the 2 stops better Image Quality gives you much more flexibility for getting sharp clean shots so, the ISO Crutch doesn't actually hurt the finished product.
The camera itself is equipped with a touchscreen and lacks a mode dial... This means that the menu structure has actually changed from the other bodies. Yes, there are still too many menus associated with too many buttons but, they're better presented now and the touchscreen helps you to navigate them pretty easily.
My only wish is that this whole touch screen experience was more like a smart phone in that you could easily flick up and down the menus but, instead it is more like a feature phone where you have fixed arrows on the screen for scrolling through the menus.
The best things about this camera are the color and white balance reproduction. There's a certain look to Olympus photos that are really hard for others to replicate. Canon images are too yellow, Nikon's are too Red, Sony's are just plain bland (high quality but nothing special for color) and yet, Olympus just seems to pull off the perfect balance of the bunch.
The second best thing is the increased quality of High ISO Shooting. This is very impressive and I've taken shots at ISO 5000 that are very usable for certain size prints.
If you're looking for a reason to buy this camera, these are the best reasons going for it!
No confusion here, Image quality is top notch and you really cannot ask for more than this little body delivers! Clean ISO 1600 helps reduce the number of throw away shots I've had as I'm now better able to handle the camera with reduced shake thanks to the ISO Crutch that the In Body Image Stabilization uses.
After spending just a few sessions with this body, I am sure, this is the body I'm going to build my system around! I am very pleased over all with the way the body performs and how much of an improvement it is over my E-PL3.
Overall, I like the camera because I like the Image Quality and I feel that Olympus really did a stellar job correcting most of the issues of their last gen bodies. Really, really pleased with the body!
Would I recommend this body? Yes! It doesn't matter who you are, you should be able to get a good well focused, well exposed, stabilize image from this camera with little to no effort! This simply put, is the best budget Micro Four Thirds camera available. I would love to give that designation to Panasonic but, there's just too many features missing from those bodies.
on June 12, 2013
A camera is a much too-complex product to rate quickly. I also don't know if the readers of this review are professional photographers or amateurs who are stepping up from point & shoot cameras. I'll keep this brief, for now, and try to make it so everyone can understand.
If you're a P&S user and never plan to buy lenses, there are many cameras I would choose before buying this one (this PM2, BTW, is no different than the OM-D e-M5 minus weather sealing, convenient buttons, viewfinder, and 5-axis IBIS stabilization [PM2 is 2-axis]). The Olympus XZ-2, for example, gives you zoom, wide angle, a fast lens (f1.8 I believe at its widest), a flash, a hot shoe, good image quality, small size, $500 price tag, and the benefit of knowing you'll never have to buy anything else. The Sony RX100, Nikon P7700 (or its little brother the P330), Canon G15 (or s110), or Panasonic LX7 are also great choices. In fact, the lenses on those cameras are just as good as the 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent lens that comes with the PM2) in terms of speed (faster, actually), wide angle, zoom, and sharpness. Yes, better cameras all around. Smaller. Cheaper. Yes. Better. And I repeat that to let you know that I'm not joking. And for those of you who say, "ISO or shallow depth of field performance on the PM2 is better" then to you I say you're right, and you're probably beyond the P&S crowd (and should probably consider a lens other than the 14-42mm kit lens which is only f3.5-5.6).
In defense of my above claims, take the fact that professional photographers who own say, a full frame Nikon D800e with several thousands of dollars of lenses would most likely never buy a Micro Four Thirds (m4/3s) camera such as the PM2. Why? The D800 will beat it in every category except for size and price and when said pro photographer wants something small that he doesn't have to lug around, he'll likely get something like the cameras mentioned above that he can throw in his pocket and solve all his problems in a small $500 package. The PM2 is too big to wear on your waist and this pro will spend his money on Nikon lenses and won't want to deal with buying a flash, viewfinder, lenses, etc for a totally different camera system.
(Warning, this paragraph is technical. Summary in next paragraph.) So, why did I buy this camera? Because the D800 type cameras are too big for me and the lenses are too expensive. How much better is the D800 than the Micro Four Thirds PM2? Well the sensor has 400% the surface area Noise? I haven't compared the two sensors but others have and the 1-2 stop advantage seems about accurate. Now, the D800 has 36MP to the PM2's 16MP which is about a 145% increase in size either vertically (225% increase in total resolution). Downsized, yes, the lack of noise of the Nikon will beat the PM2 by 2-3 stops (this number would be halved if the OM-D e-M5's 5-axis stabilization came into play). Large pixels on larger sensors have dynamic range benefits as well, but each pixel on the D800e is not 400% the size of those on the PM2, rather, with the D800's higher pixel count, it's more like 200%. That said, the D800e is the best camera for professional photographers (Sigma Merrill cameras can definitely compete in bright light, however, and I'm not even going to discuss PhaseOne. EDIT: the Nikon DF should beat the D800e at low-noise in high-ISO situations).
To summarize the above, ISO 6400 on a Nikon D800 downsized to 16MP will look approximately as good as ISO 1600 on the PM2 (plus increases in dynamic range). And to me, that's good enough. Also, then, why didn't I buy one of the P&S cameras mentioned in the second paragraph? Because all things equal, the noise level of the ISO 6400 shot on the D800 would need to be ISO 200 on the P&S cameras (with the exception of the Sony). And since I often shoot in low-light, I need higher ISOs. Those cameras would be good for me only in brighter situations. Enough about the sensors. Next is the lenses
If you want the perfect combination of image quality, small size, low price, and low-light performance, the PM2 + Panasonic 20mm f1.7 solves every one of those problems. The lens is $350, f1.7 is fast, it's sharp, and it's very small and lightweight and can hang off my waist. That versus the P&S cameras I mentioned, I lose only zoom and a built-in flash. I rarely use flash unless if I'm out with friends and in that situation I would probably take a cheap $99 P&S camera anyway. If I don't need the small size Panasonic makes constant aperture 7-14mm f4, 12-36mm f2.8, and 35-100mm f2.8 lenses can be had new for $1000 each. Olympus makes 12, 17, 45, and 75mm f1.8 primes that are all very sharp, fast lenses ($4-900). With an adapter the PM2 can use any number of the dozens of the "legacy lenses" from decades ago, many of them being very good, notably the 50mm f1.4 lenses that can be had used for around $50. There are a couple dozen more lenses made for m4/3s as well.
CONS: And to review the camera itself, I'll keep it to the cons and why I only gave it 4/5 stars. I obviously know my cameras and chose this based on its features. This is the smallest interchangeable lens camera that gives me the quality I want. I can think of a few things I don't like about it, however: plastic body, too small of a grip to easily hold any lens over 300g, no built-in flash, charger has isn't the simple box type rather it has an annoying long cord, needs a few more buttons, scroll wheel a bit too sensitive, as with all mirrorless cameras, the shutter stays open while you're changing lenses, no in-camera HDR bracketing or panorama combining function, and maybe a few other minor things. I'm sure I'll update this review as time goes on.
on May 29, 2013
I got this camera as a dual gift, birthday and beginners photography class. Last time I bought a digital camera was back in 2007 for my 18th birthday and I was so excited because it was 7.1mp so I was due for an upgrade. The only problem is with phones being the go-to source for taking pictures due to their convenience I didn't want a point and shoot, I wanted something that would be an upgrade but still give me more options than my smartphone. Now, I am no expert photographer so I didn't need to spend tons of money on an expensive camera because I don't use it daily but I love this because it is small enough to fit in my purse comfortably (in its case) but still have the option for interchangeable lenses. I love the fact that it different settings for taking a picture directly on the camera (sepia, black and white, pop art...) because I don't have photoshop nor do I know how to use it. The software that comes with the camera also has some manipulation tools in it do alter the photos once uploaded onto the computer, so that is a plus as well.
I have only used the camera a few times since getting it but I am going on vacation in a few days so it will get a workout then but I am positive it will be perfect for my needs as an amateur, wanna-be photographer. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a camera with more abilities than a point and shoot but cheaper than a DSLR. It is a perfect camera for someone wanting to step into the world of photography without getting overwhelmed by the technology that is in it.
on July 21, 2013
I have upgraded from EPL1 to EPM2 for my new born. So far, I'm very satisfied. It is surprising that not much review on this camera compare other similar camera (ie. EPL5, Sony NEX3F, Panasonic G1x). In my opinion, people have overlooked this little gem.
What I like E-PM2 so far:
Great low light capability: Good quality picture with ISO1600 and up to ISO3200 is acceptable.
Fast AF: I main use it with the panny 14mm F2.5 lens. The AF is fast for in-door and kids movement.
Great WB: the auto white balance is great for both in-door and out-door. The Jpeg direct output is great.
Light weight and easy to grip. My wife used to complain about the EPL1 weight (don't ask me why). With EPM2, she didn't complain any more. The EPM2 with the panny 14mm lens is a good combo for the weight, size as well as fast AF as mentioned on above. However, when I attach it with my Olympus 14-140mm lens, the overall weight balance and feel is still very good.
Low cost: Compare to E-PL5 and E-M5 which has the same sensor.
Good user control interface and fast respond: In the beginning, I was hesitating it doesn't have the mode dial. However, the touch screen is easy to use. I didn't miss the mode dial. Of course, make sure the SCP (super control panel) is on as well as others Olympus camera. Also, the respond is fast and smooth.
The body is made in high-quality plastic. I would prefer metal but it is not a big deal at all.
What I like for improvement:
There are no built-in flash light. Even though it provides the attached flash, it is just more handy and complete if it comes with the built-in one.
E-PM2 has the HDR and panorama feature. However, it doesn't process in the camera. Since the new camera processor is pretty fast, it should have no problem for in-camera process but they just didn't program it.