Olympus PEN E-PM2 review

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LCD, VIEWFINDER

LCD is a familiar 3 inch unit form OMD. It has a resolution of 460,000 dots what is OK, but there are better units on the market (e.g. Sony 920,000 dots on NEX cameras and OLED units in Samsung NX-series cameras). LCD is not tilt-able; that’s an option reserved for more expensive E-PL5.

LCD has touch-screen capability which can be disabled or enabled at any time with direct function virtual button in the left corner of LCD. It works the same way as the one used in OMD E-M5. You can use touch screen for focusing only, or set it to take picture immediately after acquiring focus (my favorite).

E-PM2 comes without viewfinder, but it is possible to attach one via hot-shoe and dedicated connector underneath it. Also, there is no reason why you couldn’t use 3rd party optical finders; just keep in mind crop factor when choosing one.

OLYMPUS PEN E-PM2 SENSOR

Sensor used is the same excellent 16 Megapixel unit from OMD E-M5. Sensor is made by Sony and is considered to be the best ever used in Olympus digital cameras. It is stabilized, which means you get image stabilization no matter which lens is used; even old legacy lenses you grandfather used in WWII can benefit from it. :)

LENS

Olympus E-PM2 will ship with M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. In some markets, other options might be available; probably dual zoom with 14-42 and 40-150 or 14-150 ultra zoom lens. As far as I was informed, customers in my country (Croatia) might be getting 15mm F/8 lens cap free of charge instead of Toshiba Eye-Fi card, which is a very interesting option. Although not regarded as a real lens by some it is fully usable and makes E-PM2 REALLY pocketable.

MEMORY AND BATTERY

Olympus E-PM2 uses widely available SD memory cards. What’s even better, it will be shipped with Eye-Fi wireless cards (again, please check availability on your market), so the images can be accessed via Smartphone or tablet with free Olympus application.

Battery is a BLS-5 Li-Ion unit which provides around 300 shots and takes 2-3 hours to recharge.

OLYMPUS PEN E-PM2 AUTOFOCUS AND CONTINUOUS SHOOTING

Auto focus system got a major upgrade from previous model, the E-PM1.  E-PM2 uses very similar focus system to the one used in OMD E-M5. It is very fast and precise, although not as fast as the one in E-EM5. The reason are probably the lenses; I used cheap 14-42 kit and older 17/2.8 lens, but the latest generation 12-50, 12mm and 45mm should perform even faster. In any way, I am not disappointed with AF performance; it is as fast as the phase detection in competition’s entry level DSLR models.

The new and welcome option is the ability to choose smaller focus points. When using OMD, I regularly had problem focusing on people’s eyes; focus points were big enough to cover the whole face sometime. PEN Mini and Lite won’t have that problem with new smaller focus points.

For those of you who prefer to focus manually there is no focus peaking, but live view magnification in several steps is available for precise manual focusing. It can be activated automatically when you start rotating focus ring, or manually by assigning it to some of external buttons.

Continuous shooting is available up to 8 frames per second and that should be enough for just about anyone.

OUT ON THE STREET

And now for the most important part: how good are the images?

The sensor is the same as the one in OMD, a Sony 16MP unit. Having that in mind, I took some high ISO shots first. From what I’ve seen, the camera is perfectly usable up to ISO 3200, and ISO 6400 is also good for occasional use. I had the E-5 SLR at hand (with 4-5 years old reused 12MP sensor) and there is really no comparison. The new PEN is far superior in low light conditions and on par with competing models from other manufacturers. Noise reduction creates some mushiness, but you can control in four levels or simply shoot RAW.

Light metering proved to be reliable. Occasionally, I got some clipped highlights, but this is probably only restricted to JPEG files; I could most certainly recover them in RAW format. I was surprised to see there is no dynamic range expansion option in this camera; JPEG image quality might benefit further from it. Also there is no HDR but you don’t really need it (no, I don’t like overcooked HDR photos). In case you think you do, there is AE bracketing (up to 7 frames) which will allow you create those awful looking images on your PC. :)

As expectected, the Art filters are included. Some of them I don’t care for, but several look really good. My favorites are cross-process, diorama and grainy film (see examples below). I-Enhance is also a picture style you might consider to use regularly, it makes the colors pop out without exaggerated feel to the final result.

Sadly, there is still no support for this camera in Adobe Camera RAW, so I couldn’t test what’s hidden in RAW files… but don’t worry, I used RAW+JPEG regularly and will update this review as soon as the new PEN gets supported in ACR.

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8 thoughts on “Olympus PEN E-PM2 review

  1. Pingback: Canon Powershot S120 review | Camerahoarders.com

  2. Pingback: Olympus PEN E-PL5 review | Camerahoarders.com

  3. Odlična recenzija i drago mi je da netko iz naše male Hrvatske piše na engleskom… i ja se premišljam između Sonija ali starijeg modela nex c3 i starijeg e pm1 čisto radi financijske situacije… da nije vjerojatno bi si premišljao između f3 i pm2…. Za 2700kn uz e pm1 standardni kit dobiješ i objekitv 40-150mm tako da ću najvjerojatnije uzet njega… nego htio sam još samo pitati dal su slike orginal neobrađene ili ste ih obradili u Photoshopu ili nekom sličnom programu?

  4. Pingback: Nikon 1 V2 review | Camerahoarders.com

  5. Thanks for your nice review!
    I’m looking too buy my first Micro four third camera and I want to choose between the Nex-f3 and E-pm2. Which one do you prefer or recommend?

    • NEX-3 is not micro 4/3, it has Sony E-mount… They are both great cameras and I enjoyed using them both.

      You will have to decide what features ar more important to you… NEX has tilt-LCD, sweep panorama, focus peaking, pop-up flash and better video mode.
      E-PM2 has built-in sensor stabilization, more advanced settings, standard hot-shoe for strong external flash, touch LCD and wider lens selection if you want to upgrade beyond the kit lens.

      You can’t actually make a mistake buyong either. :)

  6. Thanks for this exhaustive review — the first to be published in English, if I am correctly informed. Will take a closer look at your site now!

  7. Pingback: A new review on Olympus PEN E-PM2 - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

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