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Olympus PEN E-PL2 12.3 MP CMOS Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digit
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- Interchangeable lens digital camera with powerful Live MOS sensor; Micro Four Thirds format
- Kit includes movie & still compatible (MSC) ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent)
- 3-inch, 460,000 dot LCD for bright and easy image composition
- Live Guide II: preview HD video and still image effects on the E-PL2's high-resolution LCD screen
- Capture images and HD video to SD/SDHC memory cards (not included)
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|Auto Focus Technology|
|Battery Average Life||280 Photos|
|Compatible Mountings||Micro Four Thirds|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||3 fps|
|Display Fixture Type||Fixed|
|Display Resolution Maximum||460,000|
|Display Size||0.12 inches|
|Expanded ISO Maximum||6,400|
|Expanded ISO Minimum||100|
|External Memory Included||No|
|Flash Memory Type||SD/SDHC|
|Flash Type||Built-in Flash, Hot-shoe|
|Flash Type||Pop Up Flash|
|Focus Description||Contrast Detection|
|Focus Type||automatic with manual|
|Form Factor||Rangefinder-style mirrorless|
|HDMI Type||Mini HDMI type-C|
|ISO Range||Auto ISO (200 - 6400), Manual ISO (100 - 6400), 1/3 or 1 EV steps|
|Image Aspect Ratio||4:3|
|Item Dimensions||2.83 x 1.65 x 4.49 inches|
|Item Display Weight||1.4 pounds|
|Item Weight||0.8 pounds|
|Lithium Battery Weight||4 ounces|
|Maximum Focal Length||42 mm|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000 of a second|
|Maximum horizontal resolution||4,032|
|Metering||Multi, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Minimum Shutter Speed||60 seconds|
|Optical Sensor Resolution||12.3 MP|
|Optical Sensor Technology||MOS|
|Photo Sensor Technology||CMOS|
|Processor Description||Truepic V|
|Remote Control Description||Optional RM-UC1|
|Removable Memory||Secure Digital card|
|Sensor Cleaning Method||Supersonic Wave Filter|
|Shipping Weight||2.95 pounds|
|Supported Battery Types||Lithium-Ion BLS-5 rechargeable battery & charger|
|Video Capture Format||Motion JPEG|
|Video Capture Resolution||1280 x 720 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps)|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic (optional)|
|Water Resistance Level||Not Water Resistant|
Olympus E-PL2 with 14-42MM lens Black
From the Manufacturer
The PEN E-PL2 continues the PEN family's legacy of a small, light and simple design, intuitive interface and DSLR image quality and expands your creative potential with new lens technology, Live Guide, new in-camera creative features, new auxiliary lenses, a new Close-Up Spotlight accessory (MAL-1) for macro photography and the new Olympus PENPAL Bluetooth accessory. And the newly designed E-PL2's ergonomic body makes capturing amazing still images and HD video more fun than ever before.
Olympus PEN E-PL2 Highlights
Smaller, silent kit lens
The E-PL2 comes with the new Movie & Still Compatible (MSC) ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 zoom lens. This new kit lens has a smooth, silent and quick inner focus mechanism to make it exceptionally fast and nearly silent when recording high-definition movie.
New Live Guide for stills and movies
The PEN E-PL2's Live Guide system takes the guesswork out of great photography and videography by allowing you to preview effects at the touch of a button. Want more vivid or muted color in your shot? Want warmer or cooler color? Want a brighter or darker subject, or a sharper or softer background? Simply select Live Guide and turn the wheel on the back of the camera to slide through numerous photographic and videographic effects. Make adjustments and watch the LCD as the effects are made live--before the image is captured!
Nail the focus every portrait photo, every time. The new face detection AF employs an "Eye Detect AF" that adjusts focus automatically on the subject's eyes during portrait shooting.
3-inch high-resolution LCD
The E-PL2 provides an overall excellent user experience with a large, easy-to-view 3.0-inch 460,000-dot high-resolution LCD monitor and a control dial.
Expand your creative horizons with built-in effects
Big sensor, not a big body
At the heart of the E-PL2 is a large-size image sensor that's the same sensor as the one inside the Olympus E-30 and E-620 Digital SLR models. The only difference between this sensor and what the pros use is that this big sensor is inside the much smaller body of the E-PL2. This high-performance 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor (8 times larger than the average point-and-shoot camera sensor) delivers excellent dynamic range, accurate color fidelity, and state-of-the-art technology to reduce noise and capture fine image details in both highlight and shadow areas.
HD movies made easy
Recording HD movies with the E-PL2 is simple thanks to an easy-to-reach one-touch record button on the back of the camera body. If you're about to snap a photo and you realize a video would capture the spirit of the scene even better, simply press the record button and instantly you're capturing videos! Easily toggle back and forth between capturing stills and video by using your index finger to press the shutter button or your thumb to press the red record button. Having the ability to shoot still images and videos opens up a world of imaging possibilities.
In-body Image Stabilization
Say goodbye to blurry images. In both still and movie modes - the E-PL2 Image Stabilization excels. The E-PL2's three-mode In-body Image Stabilization system compensates for up to three shutter speed steps in the still shooting modes with any of its interchangeable lenses: Mode 1 for general shooting, Mode 2 for creative high-speed horizontal capture, and Mode 3 for high-speed vertical capture. The camera's Mechanical Image Stabilization automatically compensates for camera shake in low-light situations or when using a telephoto lens. In the Movie Modes the advanced Electronic Image Stabilization tracts the images both vertically and horizontally to achieve clear sharp movies, matching the performance of the in-body IS.
Built-in pop-up flash
Illuminate low-light subjects, reduce red eye, and fill in dark areas. Set the built-in pop-up flash to auto or control the amount of light the flash emits.
TruePic V Image Processor
In addition to more detail, the image sensor, combined with the next-generation TruePic V Image Processor, delivers excellent dynamic range, accurate color fidelity and reduced noise, all the way up to 3200 ISO.
Dust Reduction System
A Dust Reduction System assures spot-free images. Every time you turn on the camera, the patented Supersonic Wave Filter silently vibrates, flinging and collecting dust so that it cannot interfere with the picture imaging at any time.
HD Movie with manual control, Art Filter Movie, and new Direct Movie button
Shoot movies at 30 frames per second, with high-quality sound, in 720p with available manual control over aperture and shutter speed. This new level of control allows you to express your vision exactly how you want in your HD videos. A Direct HD Movie Button switches you from still to movie mode with the press of a button. You can also capture HD video (720p) using one of the six Art Filters for more creative shooting options.
The E-PL2 includes a port (AP2) for new accessories including the MAL-1 accessory light, the PENPAL Bluetooth accessory--which makes it easier than ever to share your images--as well as the VF-2 viewfinder, a detachable electronic viewfinder. The external accessory port also allows for connection with the new EMA-1 external microphone adapter for enhanced audio capture.
This Bluetooth accessory plugs into the camera's accessory port to easily save albums, send pictures from your PEN to a smart phone or another PEN. This makes it easier than ever to share images to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. When the information is sent, it includes shooting location to make geo-tagging easier than ever before.
New, easy-to-use Live Guide control
22 Scene-Select modes
From portraits to sunset shots, the E-PL2 is equipped with 22 Scene-Select modes for effortless picture taking, including Fireworks, Sunset, Children, Macro and Panorama, to name a few. Capturing beautiful portraits is easy with the ePortrait Mode that enables you to smooth your subject's complexion. There are even three scene modes that are specific to shooting with the new conversion lenses to optimize the performance of those lenses.
iAuto with iEnhance
iAuto automatically identifies the scene you're shooting--portrait, landscape, night portrait, macro, or sport--and adjusts the settings to optimize results. iEnhance can be used in any mode, and automatically engages when using iAuto to enrich color in any subject, just as the human eye sees it.
Micro Four Thirds mount
The Micro Four Thirds Mount on the E-PL2 provides many key benefits, including the effectiveness of a digitally designed image sensor, an ultra-compact design, and expandability and compatibility with all Micro Four Thirds Lenses and Four Thirds System Lens via the MMF-2 Adapter.
Autofocus Live View with Autofocus Tracking
Keep fast-moving and unpredictable subjects in focus. AF Live View displays subjects, in focus, on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way. AF Tracking locks your subject into focus and adjusts focus and brightness whether you or your subject is moving.
The E-PL2 is capable of recording video to SDHC and SDXC media cards to accommodate large files. (SDHC Class 6 cards are recommended.) Videos, stills and high-fidelity audio can also be output via HDMI cable--direct to any HD television.
Read about our customers' top-rated cameras on our review page: Point-and-Shoot Cameras
Top Customer Reviews
Reasons not to buy one: 1. You shoot sports and need super fast autofocus and a very fast frame rate. 2. You rarely see daylight and want a camera that shoots noise free from 3200 ISO up. Nope, this one is not your camera.
Reasons to buy one: 1. The files right out of the camera (as jpegs) are very nice. Rich and accurate color and nice balance of sharpness and contrast. 2. It's a very stealthy package that flies under the radar, masquerading as a point and shoot but fully capable of great results. No one will guess that you're a serious photographer. 3. With adapters there is a very wide range of lenses from other manufacturers that work well with the camera. If you want to try a Nikon or Leica lens for some street shooting this would be the camera to try it with.
The big question I got over and over again in response to my review on my blog was whether this camera has better image quality that the EPL1. No. I find them identical. But the newer screen and newer controls are better.
The HD video is limited to 7 minutes per take but the quality (720) is very good and the camera has full manual controls for every facet. You'll need to buy an Olympus adapter if you want to use external microphones.
Why do I like these cameras? Because they are quick to operate and very, very lightweight. I like to spend hours and hours walking thru city streets shooting and the cameras are light enough to make this an enjoyable thing. Not a job-like task.
Now, on to the finder. I'm old fashioned. I just don't like composing a scene at arm's length. it's a very compromised technique. Olympus makes a great electronic viewfinder that works with all the Pen cameras and also the new xz-1 compact camera. It's a 1.4 megapixel finder. It's very detailed and makes the camera a wonderful tool. I wouldn't consider buying any of the Pens unless I budgeted for the finder as well.
Bottom line? Great camera for the money. Just make sure you are buying it for the right reasons.
A great feature right off the bat is that the Oly e-PL2 comes with a 100 page printed English manual (see page references for various features ahead). It also has a CD ROM with a detailed manual, but I haven't found a need for it. The camera has vast capabilities and can seem daunting at first with so many menus and choices, so expect to spend several hours with the manual and camera exploring, but this is fun and you can customize the settings for your preferences. Before buying this camera, I had read a couple of reviews in which the users said the camera had confusing menus and difficult navigation, but this is not true. Spend a little time with it, and you'll see that it's actually quite logical, and while there are many choices, once you learn what you want to do, you can do those things pretty quickly. There is a small dial that you can spin to navigate and make changes, and some people complained about it being too sensitive (it is), but you don't even have to use it, as there are arrow buttons as well. I find the arrow buttons plenty fast and rarely use the dial, but it is handy for "more quickly" scrolling through pics during review.
In any case, right out of the box, I found I could use the iAuto and get beautiful photos effortlessly (see my sample pictures here of a white rose and my white cat). The large-fine jpg files (be sure to set it for that, pg 42) open at 10.08 by 13.44 inches at 300 dpi, and the quality and colors, even with the kit lens, are very good. With today's high quality enlarging plug-ins for PhotoShop (I use OnOne Software) you can easily enlarge the 10.08 x 13.44 to 30 x 40 inches and get very good results, but mostly I wanted this camera for 5x7s, 8x10s and the occasional 11x14 (and of course for various online pics). I prefer the 4/3 format over the others, because it easily makes 5x7s, 8x10s and 11x14s with minimal cropping. But you can also change to other formats, including 3:2, 16:9 and 6:6, although it'll crop the full 4032 x 3024 sensor accordingly. By the way, I think it's important to note you're getting 12 megapixels on a fairly large four-thirds sensor, which is the reason for the good image quality. Typical P&S cameras cram 12, 14, and even 16 megapixels onto tiny sensors and that's a recipe for poor quality.
Right off, I took a picture handheld in my living room on iAuto, at ISO 1600 and a 1/15 second shutter speed, and with the image stabilization, the picture was sharp, with natural colors (just slightly warm), and no visible noise in an 8x10 print. It was quite good right out of the camera, and I made minimal PhotoShop adjustments to make it perfect. Anyone can use this camera on iAuto and the results out of the camera will be very good and ready to use. Some noise was visible in the shadow areas of my living-room photo if blown up larger, but a quality noise reduction program would take that out. So, there is probably no "general need" for the external FL-36 flash, which I bought with a bounce-diffuser then returned (the camera does have a pop-up and tiltable built-in flash and more on that just ahead). In low available light I can shoot at 1600 and print up to 8x10, and probably larger with a noise reduction tool such as Nik Dfine or the one in Lightroom.
If you're a novice or moving up from a P&S, this is a great camera because you can start on iAuto and always revert to it in an emergency. If you press some buttons that take you somewhere you don't want to be, all you have to do is press the menu button twice and you'll be instantly returned to the basic iAuto shooting mode -- a lifesaver when you need to act fast to get the shot (my wife likes this feature). Another great feature is the "Live Guide" which is quickly accessed in iAuto by pressing the central OK button (pg 18) and from there you can make the scene lighter or darker, warmer or cooler in color, more or less saturated in color, and also change the depth of field (blur the background). You'll see your adjustments live on screen. Making the color temp a little cooler indoors without flash is usually necessary, but Oly makes it easy. And because you see exactly what you're getting as you make the changes, the Live Guide is of immense value. Also, if you get deep into the menus and feel lost, Oly prompts you how to "go back" and also labels or explains everything on screen (very helpful in the beginning). And then as you learn more, you can begin to use more functions and choose your settings. But I should warn you that this is not a camera to hand off to somebody at a restaurant for a group photo. There are several small buttons on the back that do different things. Your thumb definitely needs to go on the thumb rest. When I handed the camera to a person who volunteered to take our picture, he accidentally pressed a couple of buttons and somehow got night mode with a long exposure and flash and the pics were worthless, but this was my mistake.
Another feature that's easy to access is exposure compensation, which I've used all my photo life, and I like that I can access and change it quickly in Program, Aperture or Shutter Priority (pg 36). The same is true with adjusting white balance (38) or changing ISO (43). There is also a manual mode, but I haven't found a need for that yet. There's a movie mode, too, and the movie button is positioned just to the right of the thumb rest, so you can hit it easily to start filming. But you can also trigger it accidentally. Since I have a good quality Canon Camcorder I customized my Oly to disable the movie button, and the advantage here is that you can assign this button another function (pg 84) and still make movies by turning the mode dial to "movie." The camera has six push-button art filters. I'm not a fan of digital gimmicks, and I see many photos today that are over HDR'ed or otherwise hyped and made ridiculous, but I confess I found the art filters, including pinhole, grainy black and white, and especially the dramatic tone to be fun, and you can even combine these effects in multiple exposures (pg 51). The dramatic tone gives you a pseudo HDR look and it's a bit over the top, but I found I could dial the effect back in Photoshop and make a dramatic and interesting photo that looked only slightly unrealistic, and for some pictures -- for example, flowers against a sky with clouds -- the results were improved without looking terribly unnatural. The effects you get with sky and clouds are especially good here. I also got some funny pics of my cat with the pinhole filter, so there are definite uses. The grainy black and white is a little too contrasty for my liking, but I can remember when such a look was popular in the 1960s (think high-key fashion or gritty rock documentary). There is also diorama, for a miniaturization effect, plus pop art for dramatically hyped colors, and soft focus for portraits or dreamy effects. In addition, there are about 20 different "scene modes," including panorama (pg 50) for stitching several photos together. Basically, this camera is good for novice to pro. It'll do a lot for you, or you can do a lot with it, or you can limit what you do. Let's face it, you'll mostly use 5, 6 or 7 favorite things, which you'll learn to access and use fairly quickly. The other 101 things the camera will do can be ignored or serve as fodder for experimentation. And you can also use the MYSET feature, which will give you your favorite settings as the default (see page 31).
Unfortunately, the camera does not focus well in very low light and there is no focus assist lamp (Olympus, please add this for the e-PL3 -- Jan 2012 update -- Olympus has disappointed with the e-PL3; while they did add a focus-assist lamp, they made the camera smaller and ditched the grip, making it much harder to hold. They did add a tilt LCD, which is good for low angle shots, but not fully articulating so you can't do self-portraits, and then they raised the price. They did improve the back control layout some, but if you're buying the e-PL3 you will need to buy an accessory grip that you can attach to it, otherwise you'll never be able to hold it with one hand: Google Richard Franiec grip for Olympus Pen e-PL3). I don't think the hotshoe FL-36 flash unit provides the focus-assist beam feature, either. But you can customize the fn button to toggle between manual and autofocus (pg 33) so in low light you can hit the fn button, zoom in, focus manually, then zoom back out to get the shot. There's also a way to hit a couple of buttons for a quick zoom-in for close focusing, but I found it faster to manually zoom in and focus. Of course, in the old days we all did this just fine. Sadly, autofocus has made us lazy and I can say it's let me down on many occasions. But if you're dealing with a really dark scene, you can also set the screen brighter (pg 75), and then zoom in and manually focus, so there are good workarounds here. On tiny P&S cameras, you have little buttons or levers that make zooming slow or awkward, but here you just grab the lens, twist, and you're there. Zooming and manual focusing is fast and easy. Of course, you can choose the focus mode and target (pgs 32-33), and you can customize buttons for focus and exposure lock (pg 83). I like to use a central target which locks when the shutter button is depressed halfway, then I recompose and shoot. But for portraits, you can set the camera on face detection with "closest eye detection," and it'll track focus on a moving face, which is good for pics of your kids (it even worked on my cat) or just when you want the focus on your subject's eyes. I will definitely use this feature, especially with the Panasonic/Leica 45mm lens (90 macro) which I intend to buy next along with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. But I've been using the 14-42 kit lens with good results, and I like that it focuses to 9 inches, which at the full zoom 42 (84) gives you big closeups.
Two must-have accessories in my opinion are a 37mm to 46mm step-up ring and the B&W brand 46mm collapsible rubber lens hood. This combo will attach to the 37mm threaded kit lens, and with the rubber lens hood in the collapsed position it'll work very well for 14 to 17.5mm (28-35) and in the full extended position from 17.5 to 42 (35-84). The B&W 46mm two-position rubber lens hood is much more practical than a fixed hard lenshood and is really helpful outdoors. Also, this 46mm lenshood will fit and work well on the Panasonic/Leica 45mm f2.8 macro lens (90mm), as well as the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens (40mm). Now, if you add a 46mm filter to the step-up ring-lenshood combo, you'll get a little corner vignetting at 14-17.5mm, but none thereafter. But the step-up ring and lenshood offer protection for the lens, so you can go without a filter, unless you specifically need one for special effects (ND filter, for instance). I do use a 37mm UV filter on the camera when indoors for general lens protection. And I have a 46 UV filter I use outdoors sometimes, but I must remove either it or the lenshood for 14 to 17.5 wide angle, unless using the 16:9 format, in which case the corner vignetting isn't an issue. Note: I want to use the 46mm filter and lenshood with the Panasonic/Leica 45 and 20 lenses (both threaded for 46mm), otherwise I could get a 37 to 52 step-up ring, 52mm filter, and B&W 52 rubber lenshood and there would be no vignetting whatsoever. This is an option if you know you're only going to use the 14-42 kit lens, and in such case you can even get a very thin 52mm filter. Another advantage of the B&W lenshood is that if you're wearing the camera around your neck, and you stoop down and the camera swings out in front of you and bangs something (while hiking, for instance) the rubber lenshood offers good protection, which is why I prefer collapsible rubber lenshoods for all my lenses including those for my big film cameras.
The Lowepro Rezo TLZ 10 camera bag is a perfect small bag for this camera. It'll hold the e-PL2 in the main section with some extra room, and it'll hold the 37 to 46 step-up ring, 46mm filter, and 46mm B&W lenshood (combined and ready to use) in the front pouch. The front pouch also has two small compartments that can hold two extra BLS-5 batteries (a good idea since the battery life is a little short) and/or more SDHC cards. You can also fit an SDHC card on either side of the bag behind the shoulder-strap rings (nice design touch). You'll find that for a long day of heavy shooting, or a 3-day travel weekend, carrying 2 extra batteries is a good idea. And you can now get an off-brand BLS-5 battery at Amazon for a very reasonable price. By the way, since I'm not shooting HD movies, I bought the Delkin 4 gb Pro Class 10 SDHC card for this camera and it works great and holds over 500 pics, unless you're shooting raw. Raw and movie shooters should get the 8gb class 10 SDHC card. And if you're going to get serious with raw, you should know the raw converter Oly provides isn't very good. Lightroom is much better, and the 3.4 upgrade will convert the raw Olympus .orf files, and it also has the noise-reduction feature. But back to the case -- in the main section of the Lowepro Rezo TLZ 10 case, you can put the Panasonic/Leica 45mm macro lens at the bottom and the Oly e-PL2 on top, and the lid will still close. You can also put the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens in the front pouch, if you don't use it for the lenshood, in which case that will easily fit with the camera in the main section and can be left on the camera. It just depends what you're buying and how you want to use the case. But this is a high quality, small, lightweight bag with both a top handle and adjustable shoulder strap, which can be made long enough to swing the bag comfortably behind your back. It has a secure quick release latch on the front which is also adjustable to make both the lid taller and the front pouch bigger. This is ideal if you're carrying the camera with two extra lenses, 2 batteries, and the "step-up ring, filter, lenshood combo." And if you're carrying less you can tighten the strap and shrink the bag. You can also remove the shoulder strap and attach this case to your belt. It'll be a little bulky that way, but the back of the bag features a quick-release velcro patch with safety snap that is so secure you can comfortably rest your arm on the bag. And to top all, the bag is even bargain-priced for its high quality. Whatever you do, don't buy the Olympus Pen casual case because it was made for the eP1, eP2, and e-PL1, all of which are slightly smaller than the e-PL2 (although I understand it will work for the e-PL2 with the Panasonic 20mm or Oly 17mm attached).
The 3 inch LCD screen is of good quality (460k dot) and after a month's use I don't have a single scratch on it. It's also adjustable in brightness, and you'll find it easy to zoom in and move around to check focus. But you'll be surprised at how much better your pictures look when you open them in PhotoShop. I can't stress this too much -- the quality and colors right out of the camera are very good. So, if you're a beginner who doesn't have good PhotoShop skills, you need not worry. You can shoot on iAuto, make quick adjustments with the Live Guide (pgs 18-19), and you'll get great pics right out of the camera, ready for Flickr or Facebook or instant printing. The same goes for the art filters and scene modes, all easy to use. And as you learn more about photography, you can start to set your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure and flash compensation, color temperature, shadow-highlight balance (pg 36), etc. You can really grow with this camera. In my own case, after a lifetime of photography, it gives me all of the options I want and many more. If it has any weaknesses, it would be sports action and low light work where you need quick and accurate focus. In both cases you'll need a DSLR.
The built-in flash is surprisingly powerful, but I try to avoid it, since you just get that "blasted flash look." But because it's fairly strong, adjustable in intensity (pg 55), and can be tilted up, I'm going to see if I can rig up a mini bounce-diffuser for it. Also, because of the tilt-up feature, you can bounce it off a "low white ceiling" and get improved results. Don't try it on a very high or dark ceiling. UPDATE: I did succeed in fashioning a mini bounce diffuser out of white construction paper, modeled on the Lumiquest Promax Pocket Bouncer, and it worked quite well to soften the flash but only at fairly close distances. Of course this is when the straight flash is the worst, so this is an option when you need more light and don't want it to look harsh. For sure, there's an advantage to using the pop-up flash outdoors in the shade, in a backlit situation, or at dusk as fill flash, especially since it's adjustable and you can dial it down for a more natural look. But if you do, you'll have to remove your B&W lenshood, as it will block some of the flash. By the way, you can customize your Oly to synchronize the exposure compensation with the flash intensity, so these will work in tandem if you prefer this arrangement (pg 55).
Regarding HDR, which is both very popular and overused today, there is a practical use for it that even Ansel Adams (the inventor of extended dynamic range with his Zone System) would likely approve, and that's to shoot in Raw, take 3 images -- one exposed normally, one underexposed, and one overexposed (a tripod will be needed here) -- and then combine all three in camera as a single image. In post processing, you can then create a realistic photo with an extended range that shows more detail in the highlights and shadows. In the instruction manual, look up RAW plus Overlay (pg 51 and also 63).
I like the four-thirds format because the quality is very good and it's an open format, so you can use both the Panasonic/Leica lenses and the Oly lenses, and myriad other lenses with adapters, and very likely more lenses will be coming. I'm excited about trying the Panasonic Leica 45 and 20 micro four-thirds lenses (90mm and 40mm respectively) because these lenses have pro quality. And specifically the 20mm f1.7 is ideal for low light work. If you plan on doing a lot of indoor shooting and don't want to use the flash, this lens can be very helpful. I have a friend, also a pro street photographer, who uses the Olympus 11-22 f2.8-3.5 ED four thirds lens on this camera with an adapter, and he routinely produces excellent results. In fact, I've noticed a few have said that this is a great street camera, since it's neither obvious nor intimidating. UPDATE: Panasonic has just come out with a new Leica 25mm f1.4 aspherical lens that could prove to be the best lens yet for this camera. This "normal perspective" prime lens (50mm equivalent on full frame) will also be excellent for low-light work, and is just long enough to also work for portraits. Conveniently, it also has a 46mm filter/hood thread.
I should mention this camera feels solid. It's got a little weight, which I prefer, and you get the sense of a fine piece of equipment, and yet it's smaller, lighter and more comfortable to carry and use than a DSLR. One important thing, because of the front grip and rear thumb rest, you can shoot this camera with one hand, which will allow you to do something else with the other hand. Believe me, this is absolutely necessary sometimes. For example, you can use your hand to shade the LCD screen so you can see what's on it outdoors in bright light (unless you're buying the hotshoe viewfinder). Or you can shade the lens, when you need to remove the lenshood. I once used my left hand with spread fingers to create dappled sun/shade falling on a white rose (see it in sample photos here). And sometimes I use my left hand to hold a 22 inch Photoflex translucent litedisc above a small subject to diffuse the sunlight (creates soft light), which is a miniature version of what pros do on location. On Amazon, look up Photoflex Translucent Lightdisc, and you'll see 12, 22, 32, 42, and even 52 inch circular sizes. The 22 and 32 sizes are practical for holding with one arm. These discs also come as dual-sided reflectors for reflecting white, silver, or gold light, so pay attention to what you're ordering.
A few people complained about the quality of the kit lens, as if they expected pro quality. Why? I find the kit lens to be quite good, but I don't expect pro results from it; that's why I'm adding the Panasonic/Leica 45mm f2.8 and 20mm f1.7 lenses. One person said the pictures were washed out. Really? In some cases, I've had to slightly reduce the color saturation, but you can also set the camera for vivid, natural, muted, monotone, etc (see pgs 40 and 41). Or in iAuto, press OK for Live Guide and adjust "color saturation." Remember, the color tone, saturation, and white balance are all adjustable. You can even choose the exact color temperature (pg 38). One person said the pictures came out with a yellowish cast in iAuto indoors with no flash. Sure, that's common because of tungsten or mixed lighting or even the color of the walls. But the fix is easy: In the iAuto mode, press the OK button to get Live Guide, then choose "color image" and make the color cooler (pages 18-19). Or under Program, Aperture or Shutter Priority, press OK for Live Control, then toggle up to WB and select "incandescent," which will balance the color temperature to your indoor lights (pg 38). Even if you have your Oly set for "auto white balance," there's a white-balance compensation feature for fine-tuning the color (pg 39). And you'll see all of the adjustments I've described above "live" on screen. Another person said the camera was signaling it was in focus when it wasn't, but I wonder if he failed to choose a "default focus target." If you don't select a target (pgs 33 and 77), the camera will choose one of 11 targets for you, which obviously will often be wrong. And here's something that will save you time: in iAuto, the camera wants to choose a focus target for you (a face if you have it set on face detection) but if you want to choose your own target, simply press the [...] button (note: that's not deleted copy, the symbol is three dots) and select from a grid of 11 targets and press OK. But if you switch from iAuto to use Program, Aperture or Shutter Priority, and then back to iAuto, the camera will revert back to choosing its own target, and you'll have to press the [...] button and select your target again (a 3 second manuever). Remember this and you'll avoid aggravation and lost shots. In any case, why send the camera back because you're unwilling to read the manual and learn how to press two buttons? I just don't find these complaints realistic, unless the complainers got a bad copy (it does happen), in which case they should return their cameras for a refund and buy new ones.
A cool feature for black-and-white shooters is that once you choose "monotone" under Picture Mode (pgs 40-41) you can go on to choose a filter, including neutral, yellow, orange, red, and green. The yellow filter will add a little contrast. The orange and red filters will add more contrast, making a blue sky darker and highlighting white clouds. The green filter will lighten green foliage and darken red objects and can accentuate facial features in portraits. The red filter will lighten red foliage and darken the sky. I like the orange filter for black and white landscapes that include sky and clouds, and sometimes red for maximum drama. You can also choose sepia, or add a slight bluish, purplish, or greenish cast. All useful effects.
All in all this is a great camera, especially for its size, features, and fine quality at this price. I'd say you can't go wrong, unless you want fewer features, a smaller sized body, and are willing to sacrifice some image quality (the small Sony NEX excluded since it has an APS sensor). But I found the camera perfect for the myriad everyday apps I need, and it will also make an ideal travel camera. Well, that's about it. Sorry my review is so long, but I find that when I'm looking for new gear, the detailed reviews are more helpful. I hope I've answered some of your questions and also suggested some useful accessories. Good shooting!
Overall, this is a fantastic kit at a great price....its not going to replace my 7D for shooting motorsports or wildlife but it definitely does well in all other scenarios.