Olympus PEN E-PL2 Digital Camera Review$599.99
Lens & Sensor
The kit lens supplied with this camera is a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) zoom, which Olympus claims has been tweaked for better video shooting. It offers a decent zoom range, as the examples below show.
The E-PL2 is built around a 4/3-inch MOS sensor with a total of about 13.06 megapixels. The number that are actually used to capture images is about 12.3 megapixels. Like all Micro Four Thirds cameras, this sensor is smaller than cameras that use APS-C sized sensors, which helps keep the camera and lenses small.
The sensor also includes a dust removal system, which shakes the sensor when the camera is turned on or off.
The E-PL2 does not include a viewfinder, but an optional viewfinder is available.
On the back of the camera body is the LCD screen that provides the image preview and playback. This is a 3-inch LCD with a 460k resolution. We found it to be decent, but unspectacular: the image previews have good color, but they are not overly sharp and it is difficult to see fine details. The preview also gets somewhat jerky when panning the camera or shooting in low light. The Live View Boost feature does help somewhat by boosting the brightness of the screen, but it can still be somewhat difficult to see in some conditions.
The LCD screen is a big improvement from the E-PL1, with nearly double the resolution. This makes it much sharper, but it is not much brighter.
There is no additional LCD panel on this camera.
The E-PL2 is one of the few Micro Four Thirds cameras to include a flash in the form of a small pop-up flash. The flash is small, but it pops up a good distance from the lens on a nicely designed hinged arm, and is pretty bright for its size (Olympus puts the guide number at 7 at ISO 100). What’s impressive is the even coverage we found in our flash shots, with only a slightly hot spot in the middle.
The flash is a manual model: it will not fire until you manually press the release button and it pops up. We prefer this system to cameras that take it upon themselves to raise the flash and fire, causing potentially problems in flash-free environments. Flash output can also be adjusted manually, to full, 1/4, 1/16 or 1/64 power. And when shooting with the standard flash modes, you can adjust the intensity in a ±3 EV range. Flash bracketing is an option, with a three-shot sequence and 0.3, 0.7 or 1.0 EV increments. With compatible external flash units, the E-PL2 can control three units independently.
There are two I/O connectors under a plastic door that closes tightly but works poorly; it has a plastic hinge that won’t open completely, and feels like it will break if bent back too often. Inside is an Olympus proprietary connector for standard-def video (with mono audio) and USB data. Below that is a mini HDMI port for connecting directly to a high-def TV.
The E-PL2 is powered by a 1150mAh battery (model number BLS-5) that fits into a cavity in the grip. Olympus has not released any details of the expected battery life, but we were able to do quite a lot of shooting from a fully charged battery, so it should not be a serious issue.
The E-PL2 stores images and video on SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards. The cards fit into a slot above the battery.