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VINE VOICEon December 14, 2009
Bottom line: this camera represents a fantastic compromise between price, portability and picture quality. For those who can't take their big DSLRs everywhere they want to take pictures, this is the best camera I've found. Folks who are moving up from point and shoots should get a "real" DSLR as their move-up camera; this thing is really for those who already have DSLRs and looking for a great 2nd camera.

Likes:

Image quality, feel, size, weight. Really, you get great pictures up to ISO 400 (and I'm picky), and ISO 800 is completely usable. This is my replacement for a Canon G9, and this camera is just a little bit bigger and TONS better.

This is a system with multiple manufacturers. I'll be able to upgrade bodies and lenses from different companies without worrying about compatibility. Panasonic may make a better body a year or two from now -- no worries, I'll just buy it and know my lenses will just work.

The 14-42 lens is really sharp. I've ordered the 45-200 and pre-ordered the super-wide 7-14 zoom. They all weigh about a pound. I also have a Gitzo Traveler. My travel photo kit will be quite nice, small and light. Ahhhhh!

I synch external 3rd-party strobes at 1/320th of a second. Very, very nice.

The electronic viewfinder is bright and clear. I really like the diopter correction.

Just OK:

The autofocus isn't as good as my prime DSLR (a Canon 1ds iii, so you know from whence I speak!), but is a heck of a lot better than normal point & shoots. The autozoom function while manual focusing is a nice touch, but in moderated-to-low light is too noisy to get tack-sharp focus. A "preview" button would be a nice workaround, but only if it was just used to temporarily freeze the zoomed view and show a quick focus check.

Dislikes:

As *everyone* says, you have your choice of one option at a time: strobe, electronic viewfinder, or external microphone connection. Arghhh!

The USB connector is some darned combo AV / USB thing. It is NOT compatible with standard USB cables. My suggestion: don't take the cable with you on the road, but instead use a separate card reader to download pictures.

The battery it came with is lame. Get a higher capacity battery for $9. In fact, get two! Maximal Power DB OLY BLS-1 Replacement Battery for Olympus Digital Camera/Camcorder (Black)

I really wish they made a very little strobe for this other than the Olympus FL-14 Flash for Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera. The FL-14 is lame (no tilt or swivel, low power), but the FL-36R is too big. The ideal setup would be to just use a wireless trigger and move the strobe off-axis.

The user interface is a little weird. I actually had to read the manual. I suspect this is just because I'm a Canon-head, but be warned. I'm getting used to it, which mostly means going into the secret setup menu (you have to turn on the detailed setup menu) and customizing things. One strong suggestion: set Auto-ISO to 100-400. No real penalty in picture quality at ISO 400, and you won't mind if the camera swings between 100 and 400 as it pleases.

The user interface requires you to use the wheel often, e.g. to change the f-stop/shutter tradeoff in "P" mode. It's way too easy to push on the ring and accidentally change a setting (e.g. ISO 100 --> 6400!). This has happened to me a few times.

The bracketing feature is useless for HDRs. You only get to change by 1 EV; you need two or three.

(In response to an excellent comment, here's a follow-up...)

I agree that ISO 1600 is "really good," but in my opinion 400 is the highest ISO that maintains the best quality. In fact, there's really no noise to clean up -- even in solid red areas of the picture. 800 and above, you're trading off quality for sensitivity. I suspect we're really agreeing with each other, but I could have been more explicit. So, here goes: this thing has near-DSLR image quality in a very small, nice package. If you make huge prints, stick to 400 or lower (advice that's also relevant for all but the highest-end DSLRs); judicious use of Noise Ninja, et al, may allow you to push a bit past 400, but you're literally pushing your luck. ISO 1600 is fine for smaller prints, and more than fine for web pages, etc.

For the numerically inclined, here's the noise index from Noise Ninja:

ISO 100 11
ISO 200 14
ISO 400 20
ISO 800 28
ISO 1600 46
ISO 3200 99
ISO 6400 148

My rule of thumb: 20 and under is near-perfect, 20-30 is quite usable, and 40+ has issues.

And since I've written my original review, I've come to appreciate the auto-tracking continuous focus mode. I have my Fn key mapped to MF (manual focus), so I can bounce back and forth easily. I sure wish the camera had a few more mappable buttons, though. I'd really like to also get access to the white balance set command as well as the depth of field preview. Oh, well.

Also, I built a dual-illuminant DNG Color Profile for my E-P2. Amazing improvement! I was able to take a picture of the target on my LCD, bring the pic into Lightroom (where the profile is automatically applied), and then see that the colors of my displayed image exactly match the original. Nice stuff. Just google "dng color dual illuminant" to see how to do it.

As you can tell from the above, I also built some Noise Ninja profiles. Feel free to get them at [...]

Finally, the nice guy who runs epaperpress made ptlens work with the E-P2 about an hour after I asked him to. I highly suggest using ptlens from Photoshop to correct barrel distortion, etc.
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on January 24, 2010
I had been waiting for a camera like this for a few years and had tried what was already on the market but wasn't happy with the quality of the image and kept returning those cameras. This camera meets or exceeds my expectations for a camera of this size and weight. I've made about 1500 photographs over the last month and I carry it with me everywhere. What I specifically like about the camera is the size and weight and the quality of the photographs, I also like the ability to change lenses and the flexibility of shooting using the viewer on the back or the electronic range finder viewer on the top. After using and getting to know the electronic (eye level) viewfinder I prefer the screen on the back of the camera but can see situations where the electronic viewer will come in handy.

I find the controls easy to learn and simple to use and well thought out and I'm looking forward to spring and summer with this camera in my pocket.

The only thing I'd change about the camera to make it even better would be a longer battery life, to bring one charge up to around 700 images. It's hard to say what it really is right now, best guess is 250 - 300, as I'm using it in below freezing weather. It will be great when more micro 4:3 lenses show up on the market.
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on August 22, 2010
I was definitely on the fence about this camera for a while. I currently own a Nikon D60 and a Canon point-and-shoot, and thought I was just buying this camera just because of the need for a new camera body. I was reading forums for such a long time, putting up with probably the snarkiest debates between what brand is better, prime and zoom, etc. and I just went ahead and decided on this camera.

I absolutely LOVE this camera! There's something about the aesthetics of the body, the ease of the menu system (although it takes a little getting used to) that really opens up this camera to experimentation. I'm a sucker for retro styled cameras and this definitely brings old school charm with modern tech. The body is pretty solid too, a nice weight and very sturdy feeling. Personally I find the few number of lenses available to be a little bit relaxing, and not as overwhelming as when I look for lenses for my Nikon.

The electronic view finder is pretty spectacular. You can actually flip the viewfinder up so you can take photos while looking down into it which is pretty useful.

Overall, this is a camera for someone looking for something less complicated, perfectly capable of taking great photos, and a feeling of liberation when taking photos. Only drawback is that the price is almost the same as a mid-range DSLR, but if anything, the compact-ness of this little camera is definitely worth it.
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on September 6, 2017
This was a terrible camera. It overheated too easily. That's for sharing your beta with the world, Olympus.
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on December 8, 2010
Excellent build quality. Feels like a "real" camera. Electronic viewfinder better than expected, very bright although somewhat grainy in low light. 14-42 kit zoom good if not superb.
With electronic viewfinder fitted, camera is not really "pocketable" however it is much more "discreet" than even a small SLR, closer to shooting with a Leica M series.
Have tried a late model OM 50mm 1.8 (look for "Japan and MC on the front)which produces surprisingly good results even wide open (1.8). On M 4/3, this lens gives an image size similar to 100mm on 35mm so it becomes a fast portrait or medium f.l. street lens. Very sharp at f/8-11. Nice smooth rendering. It is also very easy to focus with the electronic viewfinder. I am using this lens exclusively now. About US$ 40.00 for a good example.
Olympus menu somewhat confusing and illogical at first but allows camera to be customized to the user's needs/preferences after which access to often used features becomes relatively simple/fast.
Overall, it is a very high quality photographic instrument with an "old school" feel with manual focus legacy lenses. However, this camera will fit in only the largest of jacket/cargo pockets so users wanting an ultra-portable machine should look elsewhere. In addition, although the image quality is high, (especially good highlight holding as compared to smaller sensors) those wanting full frame SLR quality may want to go that route. So who is this camera for? Perhaps people like me who prefer the feel of a fast discreet all metal camera, who prefer to make pictures with this camera to our eye rather than with outstretched arms and do not mind focusing manually when the lens is fast and sharp. And, of course, users who demand high quality output.
T.Hricko - Saigon VN
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on August 14, 2010
A devout Canon person, it took courage to order an Oly product. After some getting used to the menus and controls, can't put this E-P2 down! Have owned many Canon point & shoot models over the years to supplement a bulky DSLR, but this tops them all. The optional electronic viewfinder is superb, and find myself using the back-of-the-camera viewfinder very little. Especially convenient for one who wears reading glasses, but does not wish the inconvenience of using glasses with a camera, as the menus can be displayed in the diopter corrected viewfinder. Did not even attempt to use the packaged software, as Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS5 open the Olympus RAW files.
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on May 16, 2010
Many of the reviews I've seen out there for the new Olympus Pen series cameras compare them to full featured DSLRs or point-and-shooters. They fall short of the former and exceed the latter in performance. But these types of comparisons leave the E-P2 on shaky ground. What, exactly, is it, and what is it good for? I want to clarify that the E-P2 is trying to be precisely what it is: an immensely capable, compact camera that has the potential to produce beautiful work. Having owned it for only two days, I can already see that it is going to help me grow as a photographer, and it is well built, well laid out, and very pleasant to use. I considered the Canon 2ti Rebel, and in my price range that was the only other choice. Look at that one if you want a full-on DSLR. But if you are looking for a small, capable, beautiful camera, get the PEN e-P2. So far, it has only made me smile.
A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTO-FOCUS GRIPES: As soon as you get this camera, download the firmware updates. When I first unpacked the camera and tried it out, I was not impressed with the speed or accuracy of the focus. It would roll out to infinity and back quite often before settling. When I installed the firmware upgrade, the auto-focus was a new beast. It is faster and more accurate. I think you will be pleased.
I gave this camera four stars because I had to give it something. I'd like to just review it without rating it at this point.
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on July 30, 2010
I have been using E-P2 (with M.Zuiko 14-42mm and Lumix G 45-200mm lenses) for more than two months now, and still have some mixed feelings about it. I updated the firmware immediately after the purchase: body version 1.1, 14-42m lens version 1.1, and 45-200mm lens version 1.2. Bear in mind that values for focal lengths stated above are about 1/2 of their 35-mm equivalents.

I like the relatively small size given the quality and the number of features packed in. The selection of both prime and zoom lenses is now decent, and sensor-based image stabilization of this model means that you don't need to worry whether the lens you are buying has image stabilization or not. The camera feels sturdy and the image quality is close to what I expected for the price I paid: the noise is low in most cases, and the resolution is good.

One of the big reasons for choosing the E-P2 was the ability to connect an external microphone for high-quality stereo sound recording. Unfortunately, the length of a sound memo is limited to 30 seconds, so you will be forced to record a movie even if you are just interested in sound recording. Furthermore, the external microphone connects to the camera through an optional (and pricey) microphone adapter that plugs into the hot shoe, which is then not available for the viewfinder or flash. A simple dedicated microphone jack would have been a more elegant solution. What is also lacking is the manual control over sound level (gain).

The main dial for camera control is of size which is most appropriate for kids' fingers, and I find it very touchy.

The user interface and the software leave much to be desired, even after two months of getting used to it. The menus are convoluted, with multiple ways of changing the same setting - and at the same time customization of many parameters is limited or missing (for example sound level, delay timer, display of icons, and bracketing). Even though the user manual specifies that in the spot-metering mode the "spot-metering area mark" indicates the position of the spot, this mark is not visible on the screen when shooting, and is nowhere to be found in the menus. Sure, it is in the center of the screen, but it would be helpful if it were visible. Similarly, the manual states that setting the focal length of the lens in the image stabilizer menu is disabled for micro-four third lenses, yet I am able to change this value with the micro-four thirds lens attached. I find this detail worrisome and can only hope that it is simply a glitch in the firmware.
There are several - but predefined - options to choose from regarding what information is displayed while shooting. For some reason, only one of these options includes icons for focusing mode, file format, ISO setting, and the bracketing. So, if you want to see the live histogram or the overlay grid while shooting, kiss those indicators good-bye.

The self timer only offers 2 or 12 second delays and a single shot, without custom settings or at least an option for multiple shots. Furthermore, there is no intervalometer, and no option to trigger the whole bracketing sequence. The bracketing feature as far as I was able to tell requires the shutter button to be pressed for each of the shots - this can be a problem if you are trying to get series of nicely registered images for later HDR processing. An option to have the complete bracketing sequence triggered by the timer would be a great plus.

For some reason, "OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA" is forced as the image caption in EXIF data which I have to manually remove (or waste time writing a script) when uploading pictures to online albums to avoid this all-caps self-promotion showing up as the title of the photograph. The EXIF fields for the camera manufacturer and the model already contain the information, thank you.

Naming of functions is often confusing. A typical example is the macro photography: there are "macro" and "nature macro" modes available, and neither the camera menu nor the user manual explain the difference (assuming there is any). The menu comment defines nature macro as "best for close ups of small objects," which leads me to a bizarre conclusion that "macro" setting is for close ups of large objects.

The external electronic viewfinder offers an impressive image quality, but it is also an external piece of gear: something that makes your camera more bulky and adds complexity to handling, something you need to remember to pack with you, and make sure not to lose. I would be much happier if all the engineering and manufacturing efforts related to the viewfinder were used to upgrade the built-in LCD screen which right now offers mediocre quality and resolution.

The movie mode is pretty much useless with the 14-42 mm kit lens that comes with the camera: continuous autofocus is noisy and it keeps fluctuating back and forth while trying to refocus. Panasonic lens (45-200mm) is a different story, with quiet and precise focusing, albeit the 90-mm equivalent at the widest zoom is just too much for most of the movie clips.

All in all, I am fairly happy with the physical design and quality, and greatly annoyed by many details related to the operation and software design. The settings are convoluted and yet do not offer enough flexibility. I hope that at least some of the shortcomings will be addressed in firmware updates.
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on July 10, 2010
I have been a Cannon user for many years now. Starting with film and moving to Digital. Now I have moved over to the new format. This new camera is great. The best part of the camera is the Video Modes. The still images are very good. But the flexibility of one camera for all modes is a big feature.

I use this camera for White Board Screen shots at work and for classes that I teach on Cloud Computing. As a tool for work it has been a real work horse. Good long battery life and very large SD chip sizes.

Edward M. Goldberg
[...]
e.m.g.
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on September 23, 2010
I have a E-3 that is my favorate camera. Last year I purchased the E-P1 for a trip to Russia. I took both cameras as I also wanted a small one to use .Great results with the E-P1 When the E-P2 came out I was able to sell my E-P1 through Amazon for almost what I paid for it so I could upgrade and have electronic viewfinder. I think the Olynpus systems are the best on the market, though a bit pricy.
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