Olympus PEN E-PM2 review

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PEN E-PM2 is the new compact entry-level mirrorless camera from Olympus. Being an early adopter of mirrorless camera systems, Olympus has (together with Panasonic) built an impressive digital imaging system based around its micro 4/3 lens mount. Today, you can choose between more than 30 lenses and 7 or 8 camera (not counting discontinued models), and E-PM2 is one of the company’s latest offerings. It is the smallest and most affordable model in Olympus lineup, but doesn’t lack much functionality of higher-priced models. In fact, it shares many important features of the praised OMD E-M5 model, including excellent 16 megapixel sensor or fast auto focus system.

PEN Mini E-PM2 was introduced alongside PEN Lite E-PL5, the more expensive model. In almost all aspects they are the same camera. For a bigger price, PEN Lite will give you a few extra buttons, external “Mode” dial, removable grip and tilt-able LCD screen (up to 170°for auto-portrait).

The new PEN Mini and PEN Lite will be shipped either with Toshiba Eye-Fi wirelless memory card or the new 15mm lenscap/lens free of charge, but not all combinations will be available in all markets. Please check what’s available in your country.

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2012.
  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Dimensions: 110 x 64 x 34 mm
  • Weight: 269 g
  • Sensor: CMOS  16MP (4608 x 3456 pixels)
  • Lens: Kit lens: 14-42mm (28-82 in 35mm), F/3.5-5.6
  • ISO range: Native 200 – 3200, Extended 200 – 12,800
  • Image stabilization: Yes (stabilized sensor)
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash unit: External unit (included), hot-shoe, wireless remote control for Olympus flash units
  • Continuous shooting: 8 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″ touch-screen, 460,000 dots, fixed
  • Memory card: SDHC
  • Battery: Li-Ion BLS-5
  • Video: 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 640 x 480 (30fps)
  • Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI

CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

Build quality is decent and similar to competitors models. Buttons have a nice positive fell when used, but are a little cramped (back side controls), and shutter button is placed awkwardly on the top of the camera. I would prefer if it was placed alongside the edge of camera and angled to front, in similar way as the one on NEX cameras.

E-PM2 is very small and compact. With a pancake lens like M.Zuiko 17/2.8 or Panasonic 14/2.5 and 20/1.7 I would call it pocketable. Not your jeans back pocket pocketable, but as small as an interchangeable lens camera can be today. In fact, anything smaller would probably feel awkward to use. In terms of size, PEN mini is very similar to NEX-5, as you can see in the images below.

Olympus E-PM2 will compete against Sony NEX-F3 which I reviewed earlier this year (click here to read it!), and liked it a lot. In terms of size, NEX-F3 is slightly bigger than E-PM2, but fits in hand a bit more natural due to larger grip. Feature-wise, NEX-F3 has an edge with a few of very useful gimmicks like Sweep Panorama, HDR or focus peaking, but Olympus beats it with in-body stabilization, flash hot-shoe, higher customization level and wider lens selection.

There is no mode dial on PEN mini; recording modes are chosen via Menu just like on NEX cameras (another similarity). Difference is in advanced options menu: NEX is infamous for its odd menu system; it takes some time to learn to navigate it. Olympus organized its menu system in a much more logical way and made all main settings available via INFO button which brings up the “quick selection” menu.

Another great thing about Olympus is that it doesn’t cripple its more affordable models via firmware restrictions. This also applies for the new E-PM2; as soon as I began using it, I found menu system practically the same as the one in higher end Olympus models like OMD E-M5 or any older Olympus DSLR. This camera may be easy to use in AUTO mode and targeted for amateurs, but when they start to learn about photography and slowly take control on various camera aspects, PEN is ready for everything. There are five image aspect ratios to choose from, option to record in any RAW + JPEG combination including settings for four different JPEG image size/compression combinations, multiple exposure mode, various bracketing options, extensive reprogramming of external buttons functions, customizable dial functions regarding on shooting mode used, selectable number of images in burst mode, ISO and exposure step setting (1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV), upper and lower Auto ISO settings, proper anti-shock exposure delay with selectable delay length, release priority option separate for single and continuous focus mode, pixel mapping, wireless control up to three groups of Olympus flashes… the list goes on and on!

Beginner’s camera, you say? There are more options in PEN mini than in some so called “professional” DSLRs out there! Don’t know what all this options do? Keep calm and leave it in AUTO. It will do all the job for you. :)

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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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