Olympus has further increased the E-P2's artistic capabilities by adding two new Art filters on top of the 6 already present in the E-P1 (Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole). This new PEN now sports a diorama effect that imitates a tilt-shift lens and a cross-processsing effect simulating the result of developing a film in chemicals used for a different film type. The E-P2 applies the art effects before taking the picture so you can preview the results in Live View.
The VF-2 viewfinder is included in the price, lenses are extra
I’m a big fan of in-camera effects because they add to the fun of taking pictures and sometimes produce astonishing, unforeseen results. In this respect I loved experimenting with the E-P2 and really had a blast with the magnificent grainy film filter. This worked extremely well with black and white producing high grain and high contrast images in typical documentary style. The only whinge I have is that it takes an awfully long time for the camera to process the shot once a filter is applied, which seriously disrupts the creative experience.
The other major change made with this new PEN release is the addition of full manual capabilities in Movie Mode. The E-P2 records AVI format movies in 30fps 1280x720p HD resolution with extremely good stereo sound quality. Almost all features available to still photography are also accessible in movie mode, which makes for more imaginative movie making.
Unfortunately Olympus decided once more against providing the E-P2 with built-in flash. Olympus’ argument is that most in-camera flashes are not powerful enough – yet curiously there is one on the new PL-1 – and that users can rely on the PEN high ISO settings for most available light situations.
While I don’t deny that most built-in flashes do not compare with external flash units Olympus’ argument is flawed in that it does not account for all the fill-in flash use that even a small, built-in unit can give. The lack of built-in flash is even more significant when the cheapest PEN flash system is the retro-styled Olympus FL-14 currently priced at £160.
The external mic will set you back £100
The main advantage of buying into a Micro Four-Thirds system is the ability to use interchangeable lenses without the body bulk of a DSLR. The PEN has a decent range of dedicated quality optics and thanks to available adaptors many lenses from different manufacturers can also be mounted. I have tested the E-P2 with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6. It’s possibly one of the smallest and lightest interchangeable zoom lenses currently on the market and one of the better performing ones in its price category.
e-p1 now a steal
Warning : I'm an e-p1 user, and as everybody knows, nobody likes to appear like a fool for his buying decisions, so feel free to think I'm prejudiced in favour of the e-p1.
So, just to address some lapses of the main article :
1) AF. The e-p1 has been brought to par with the e-p2 by the latest (1.4) firmware upgrade. The e-p2 is vastly superior to the originally released e-p1, but who would freeze his camera when bugs are corrected quickly by the manufacturer ? E-p1 still lacks AF tracking, though.
2) Art filters. While the 2 new filters were not ported in-body to the e-p1, Olympus newly released raw software 'Viewer 2' allows e-p1 owners to apply said filters afterward while post processing their pictures. Nice touch here Olympus.
3) MF focusing of legacy lenses is perfectly adequate on the back lcd. This lcd may not be as shiny a it is on competing bodies, but don't kid yourself, it's perfectly adequate and contrasts are better than most better spec'd lcds. This is a viewfinder, not a TV set. So if you have no vision troubles, there's no real need to pay 3 time the price (current discounts included) of an e-p1 for an e-p2.
4) Owners of an e-p2 I know are in love with the VF-2. To avoid sucking batteries dry quickly, they simply turn off the back LCD ; rocket science, I know.
5) Flash. For a long time, the small FL-14 was given free by Olympus with the e-p1 body. Another reason to have bought this camera soon. Does a correct job (ng 20 at 200 iso). Insoluble dilemma for e-p2 shooters who need to choose between flash and VF-2, not so much a problem for e-p1 users.
6) Conclusion : all olympus cameras (including the e-pl1) produce outstanding images with, at the moment, the widest range of adaptable lenses. Almost post-processing free. Out of camera jpegs are the best, full stop. You go shoot graphs, bar charts, curves all day long if you like, personally I'm out to capture real peoples with a revolutionary camera ideally suited to street shooting. Perfect it is not, but considering the only other model besting it in that field is the Leica M9 reviewed here, I'm happy.
The 14-52 mZD is good for the money
I struggle to understand why minor points made in lens reviews are so often blown out of all proportion by those who read them. The 14-42 mZD is very sharp for the money (a property of optical design they had to get right) while those issues that can be corrected in firmware (accept for CA, which is minimal) are corrected in firmware. I'm sure there are issues in a lens this price but I'm not pointlessly sad enough to examine a large print with a magnifying glass to find them.
I like this range of cameras - I have had the E-PL1 for a week or so and having come from a more typical compact digital camera I am amazed by the picture quality. There may be a problem with the sharpness of the 14-42mm kit zoom but I cant say I notice it. However I will say it seems a bit slow compared to the Panasonic 20mm lens. I also bought the VF-2 and it has a great picture but the rear LCD (even smaller than the one on the E-P1/2) is good enough for manual focussing so long as you use the zoom function. Unlike its bigger brothers the e-pl1 has a built in flash, but I cant say that I use it much - the 20mm pancake lens is good enough to avoid needing the flash in most conditions (plus I have never liked the look of photos taken with flash).
I have owned my E-PL1 since April when it first became available in the states. I am very happy with it. I wish the factory lens was faster. I know, I am so old school about it. There are also two new lenses about to be released, and boy am I tempted to make the new 14-150 mm lens my new standard. I also like the little flash unit for fill jobs, but it is pretty useless otherwise.
I run a school Yearbook and this camera was/is a major upgrade to the point and shoots my students and school own. If I could, I'd buy a dozen, add a few flash units, and my students would take much better photos at a reasonable price compared to DSLRs.
I've just begun to use the video function a bit as a total newbie. This tool makes it easy with a built in mic. Of course the mic is no substitute for a one on a cable or a remote, but it does save a bit.
I wonder how your upcoming review on the E-PL1 will read?
Not quite that bad
In the speed range 1/100 to 1/200 and worse at 1/160 the shutter makes the lens vibrate slightly. The conclusion of the above article is that this is visible in prints larger than 19in.
A firmware update to the IS fixes some of this.
Final conclusion: "We went through a period of disappointment with the Olympus E-P1 when we first discovered this issue, but we're glad we took the time to pinpoint why and when the blur occurs. We can now resume liking and using the E-P1 as much as before."