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Trade offs for sure, and the 14-42 kit lens won't win any awards
on July 16, 2012
I have been taking photographs with film SLRs and rangefinders using both full manual control and "program" modes for about 30 years, and I have also owned and used two digital cameras- a Nikon 950 and now this Olympus.
Overall, I am disappointed in the EP-2. I bought it because I wanted a mirrorless digital camera having full manual control, as well as HD video, and a zoom lens hopefully with macro capability. Basically I wanted an upgrade for my 10 year old Nikon 950.
On the plus side, the EP-2 is small and offers full manual control- although maybe even too small. I have small hands and I have to really struggle to actually take pictures with this camera without unintentionally depressing a button somewhere.
On the minus side the EP-2 has neither a built-in viewfinder or flash, and the kit lens is convenient but certainly not the quality I expected from Olympus - for example parts of the lens tubes that extend out of the lens during normal use are actually loose and with the lightest finger pressure will wobble back and forth in their fitting. No wonder this kit doesn't have near the sharpness of my 3 mega-pixel Nikon 950.
As for color saturation and color fidelity, and especially "dynamic range", again I am disappointed compared to my Nikon 950. When I bought the 950 (10 years ago!) I was - and remain today - thrilled with the sharpness, color fidelity, saturation, and especially "dynamic range" of the Nikon (by dynamic range I mean that the Nikon can usually maintain good detail in both the shadows and the highlights- the shadow areas don't turn solid featureless black, and the brightly lit areas don't turn featureless solid white). Silly me to think that a mid line Olympus could match my 10 year old Nikon 950 in *any* of those areas, because it doesn't. Even shooting at home in relatively evenly lit living room with overhead fluorescents, the EP-2 will have shadow areas solid black and brighter areas washed out featureless solid white - when the Nikon maintains detail in both extremes of the same shot.
After complaining about the image quality of the EP-2 I should mention that there are tons of adjustments that can be made to tweak the color, exposure settings, etc. of the camera. However, it is always best to start out with the best possible image data before tweaking in software - many things just can't be fixed in post processing. And I definitely don't want to have to go onto the computer using a 3rd party - probably expensive - photoshop type tool to try and make each shot satisfactory for color saturation, sharpness, etc. And for dynamic range, that is not even an option unless you take multiple photos of the exact same view with different exposure settings and "merge" them to get one good one!
I will probably return the EP-2. If for nothing else than the junky kit lens which has parts that are wobbly. But really, in just about every area the Ep-2 is a big let down compared to my 10 year old Nikon 950 and I never would have expected that. The EP-2 is asking me to give up too much in terms of photographic satisfaction just to add built in HD video.
I am a former printing professional- I spent 25 years in the printing industry, and I studied photography and used those skills in my career. I want image quality. A "point and shoot" type photographer looking for a camera to take shots of the family on holiday might be happy with the image quality of the Ep-2. But I am not.
It seems to me there is _much_ more variation found in image quality between supposedly "high quality" digital cameras than what I recall with film cameras. And maybe this is logical. After all, I could put the exact same kodachrome film in both a Nikon and and a Minolta 20 years ago. The same "sensor" in both cameras, so to speak. But in digital world, the image sensor and "capturing" software are always different and proprietary for each manufacturer.