Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Olympus PEN E-PL2: First Impression

with 87 comments

My entry into digital photography began with a high-end compact camera (Lumix LX3). I still have one in fact: The excellent Canon S90. I love it, but there’s no way around that tiny sensor. You have very limited control over depth of field, and detail suffers at higher ISOs in even the most advanced point and shoots. Naturally, I progressed to a DSLR, with a D700 as my main weapon of choice these days. There’s only one problem with the otherwise wonderful imaging machine that is the D700, however: It’s huge!

I’m the kind of person that carries my camera everywhere I go, and in many cases, especially if I’m going out with the purpose of photography, the D700’s mass doesn’t really bug me. On all day outings, simple trips to the store or on other errands, or just grabbing some dinner with friends, however, it can start to feel like a burdensome anchor over my shoulder after a while. I’ve been wanting something smaller for such occasions.

Ever since Micro Four Thirds cameras started appearing on the market, I’ve been pretty intrigued by the concept of a small, lightweight, large sensor (compared to a compact), interchangeable lens camera system. The technology has matured somewhat now, and these little cameras have become quite popular.  For me, the appeal is simple: compact body, DSLR-like image quality. A camera that I can grab when the size of my DSLR may not practical for a given situation, but that at the same time gives me more than my point-and-shoot does as far as image quality. Recently, I met up with a friend who let me take a look at her Panasonic GF-1. After playing with the camera for a few minutes, I was sold on the m4/3 system.

Enter the Olympus PEN E-PL2

I ordered the E-PL2 together with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens, which gives me a 40mm full-frame equivalent angle of view through the viewfi—uh, LCD. I must say, the lens looks pretty slick on the camera’s silver body.

This little “first impression” review will cover a few of my thoughts about the camera since I received it last week. This is not a review unit. I carefully considered which camera I wanted to acquire to fill the gap between my point and shoot and my DSLR, and finally added the E-PL2 to my gear bag. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the camera continually in future blog posts.

The EPL2 is a modest update to the recently released E-PL1, a camera that seemed to bring mirrorless interchangable lens cameras to the masses by offering a model at a much lower price point than the flagship E-P2. From what I’ve read, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the E-PL2 and E-PL1. I won’t bore you with an exhaustive list, but there are some key updates that do matter to me:

One difference is the rear LCD screen. Size and resolution have been bumped up to 3 inches, 420k dots. Can’t hold a candle to the 920k dot screen on the back of my D700, but it still looks great and I have no problems using the LCD for manual focus. The AP2 port (covered by the hot shoe cover above) accepts some pretty neat accessories, most notably a high-resolution electronic viewfinder that I didn’t order just yet for myself. I’m not one of those “I must have an eye-level viewfinder or I can’t take pictures” photographers. Maybe all my iphoneography has weened me off of the concept =)

Another change is the addition of a clickable command dial around the OK button on the back of the camera. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of the camera I’m not entirely thrilled about. For such a critical control point, the command dial feels a little fiddly. Likely to make room for the larger LCD, the dial is placed very close to the edge of the camera body, making it somewhat awkward and cramped to use at times. Not a deal breaker by any means, but rather a design quirk that takes some getting used to.

The E-PL2 comes kitted with an updated standard zoom, the Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MSC (Movie and Still Compatible) lens. I have a feeling I won’t be using the zoom all that much. The 20mm f/1.7 is faster, more fun to use, and is more compact.

However, the kit lens does seem to perform pretty well optically, and focuses surprisingly fast. Zoom and focus ring action, as well as internal focus mechanisms, are smooth and silent in operation, preventing lens sounds from finding their way into the audio track of your videos.

This is my first Olympus camera since my film days! I’m actually planning on purchasing the Olympus OM to m4/3 mount adapter, which will allow me to use the F. Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 (shown right) on my E-PL2. Pretty exciting to be able to use legacy lenses on this new camera.

I didn’t want to spend all day on these product shots, but here’s a quick photo of the E-PL2 between my Canon S90 and Nikon D40. The E-PL2 is certainly not pocketable like the S90 is, but its size and weight make it perfect for either a large coat pocket or small bag.  With the 20mm pancake mounted, the size and weight of the E-PL2 feels similar to that of a high-end compact like the Panasonic LX3/5 or Canon G12. I keep mine in a little messenger bag, and walking around town I can’t even tell it’s in there.

The built in pop-up can remote-command off-camera flash guns. The strobist in me is very intrigued by this feature…

A slightly fiddly command dial aside,  the E-PL2 operates very well ergonomically. The grip is comfortable, and the camera feels solid and very well made. Performance is also very snappy, making the camera a joy to use overall. Ok, enough about the camera itself. I didn’t spend all weekend staring at it, I was out taking pictures! Below are a few samples. Enjoy!


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4, 1/400 second, ISO200

Note that as of the writing of this post, Adobe Camera Raw does not support the E-PL2’s raw image files, so I don’t have the ability to process the raw image data from the camera in Lightroom 3 just yet. I guess it’s good that I did my recent JPEG experiment! All of these images are therefore processed in-camera. I’ve heard great things about the Olympus JPEG engine, and I must say, the E-PL2’s JPEG output does not disappoint. I love the way it renders colors, particularly blue skies:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.5, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4.5, 1/500 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/400 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/10, 1/620 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200

Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 21mm, f/10, 1/400 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.5, 1/320 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5, 1/500 second, ISO200

Metering is very dependable, consistent, and accurate. I very rarely have to nudge the camera with any exposure compensation.

Some Closeups:


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 42mm, f/11, 1/100 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/2500 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/500 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/250 second, ISO200 (-0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Monotone)

ART FILTERS:

Since I’ve never really shot with an Olympus digital camera, this is my first experience with in-camera Art Filters. You could dismiss this feature as a gimmick I suppose, but I found the filters to be incredibly fun to use.

The filter effects are overlayed onto the view screen in real-time as you compose, giving you a preview of the Art Filter’s effect before you take the shot, and multiple filters can be stacked. It’s really cool!

I found myself gravitating towards the Pin Hole Filter:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole, -0.7EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/25 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole, -0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 27mm, f/11, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/9, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/8, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Pin Hole)

Another neat Art Filter is Diorama, which gives your images that tilt-shifted, miniaturized look:


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/10, 1/500 second, ISO200 (Diorama, -0.7EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/3.2, 1/250 second, ISO200 (Diorama)

Perhaps my favorite would be Grainy Film. This filter gives you that high-speed, black and white film look:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1250 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film, -0.3EV)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2.8, 1/200 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/4, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 33mm, f/5.6, 1/100 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/5.6, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/2.5, 1/800 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)


Olympus EPL2 + Olympus M.14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II | 14mm, f/6.3, 1/250 second, ISO200 (Grainy Film)

I haven’t used this one that much yet, but here’s a couple snaps using the Pop Art filter, which boosts color and contrast to almost ridiculous levels:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/125 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/4000 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/400 second, ISO200 (Pop Art)

One new filter that I haven’t shown here is Dramatic Tone. I have yet to take a picture using this filter that doesn’t look positively ghastly. I’ll keep trying ;)

Low Light Shooting

Over the weekend, someone asked me why I chose the E-PL2 over the Panasonic GF2, or even the highly regarded GF1. Indeed, it was the GF1 that got me hooked on the idea of a m4/3 system in the first place, so what gives? For me, there is one critical feature missing in the Panasonic GFs that is built into all of the Olympus digital Pen cameras: in-camera, sensor-shift image stabilization.

With a stabilized body, any lens you stick on the E-PL2, from a modern zoom to an old manual prime, gets the added benefit of stabilization. Combining a stabilized body, therefore, with a fast prime like the 20mm f/1.7, allows you shoot at wide apertures while using impossible-to-hand-hold shutter speeds. To get a better idea of what this can mean for low-light photography, check out some samples below, all taken hand-held. Note the shutter speeds as well as the ISO settings on each image:


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/30, second ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/13 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/10 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/4 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/8 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7,  1/20 second, ISO200

Notice that I’m hand-holding the camera at shutter speeds down to 1/4 second and getting getting clean, detailed night shots without having to boost ISO beyond base level.  I don’t expect the high ISO abilities of the E-PL2 to be anywhere near what my D700 is capable of, so the extra help I get from the sensor-shift stabilizer to keep my ISO as low as possible when hand-holding in low light is really appreciated.

Shots of Suki

Of course, no post would be complete with out some shots of Suki. The E-PL2’s continuous auto focus is not quite fast enough to keep up with Suki if she’s moving erratically, but you can still get shots of your pet with this camera.


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/6.3, 1/1000 second, ISO200

Can a fox become man’s best friend? Of course! My best friend is a fox =P


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1000 second, ISO200

She IS a fox. =)


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/1250 second, ISO200


Olympus EPL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7, 1/80 second, ISO200

I absolutely love this camera so far. I find the image quality to be excellent, and the size and weight are refreshing. The E-PL2 is easy to carry around all day, it’s inconspicuous, and best of all, it’s downright fun to use. I can see myself traveling with just this camera and one lens and be completely satisfied. Stay tuned for more images, and some video testing as well! I’m off to do more shooting with the E-PL2.

_______________________________________________________
Product Shots: Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G | Nikkor AFS 24-120mm f/4 VR II

87 Responses

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  1. You should check out the Toy Lens from eBay for m4/3 – great addition to your kit for US$40.

    Josh Li

    March 3, 2011 at 12:29 pm

  2. Great write up, and I totally agree all your points! =)

    And you could also get a m4/3 to F mount adapter too so you can use any of your Nikkor glasses!

    llgaryll

    March 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    • Hah, I should stick my 70-200 2.8 on there and see what that looks like =P

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

  3. thank you for this review!

    thedailymilestone

    March 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm

  4. nice review, thanks a lot !

    mateo

    March 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

  5. Hey Jonathan- It is great to see you picked up this camera! I have been watching the Olympus “PEN” product line as well. I think it is really cool camera concept as well. I can’t wait till the 4/3 mount gets more lenses to choose from. I have not had the chance to try one out in the camera store yet, and that is probably a good thing because I would probably buy it right away…lol! I will be very excited to see how you like this model and what you capture as you learn this camera. Looks like you are off to a great start…part of me is very jealous…lot of luck and have fun!
    -Jay

    jayaxe04

    March 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    • As far as zooms go, there are quite a bit of options for the m4/3 shooter nowadays. I’d like to see wider primes come along…lets hope they’re on the horizon. A fast 12mm would be just the ticket on one of these! Anyway, I think these kinds of cameras are very relavent these days. This is the most fun I’ve had with camera since…I dunno!

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm

  6. that’s pretty impressive. thank you so much for taking the time to do the testing and sharing this information with us!! i’ve been curious myself!

    • Thanks for the nice comment Cara, always appreciate you stopping by!

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

  7. Nice shots and first impression review!

    So when are you going to sell your D700? I mean, who needs a DSLR these days with a camera like that? :)

    Klaus @ TechPatio

    March 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    • Hah! No, the D700 isn’t going anywhere. That camera is my pride and joy =)

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm

  8. Extensive test shots. Impressed!

    howie221

    March 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

  9. Full of nice shots that teach me good things of the camera!
    And now I’m seeing my E-P1 in a new light. Your post and shots made me feel like having more fun with E-P1:)
    You already know a lot of good points of the camera; I haven’t made the most of the camera yet!
    BTW I love the pin-hole effect which my E-P1 doesn’t support.

    akane

    March 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    • Thanks for the comment Akane! I’m glad it made you rethink what’s possible with your EP-1, but I have a feeling you’re going to find the 5DII to be pretty addicting to use ;)

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm

  10. Hmm, and I just saw that E-p1 on NewEgg for $350… No! Can’t do it bro! But sure glad you did man. That cam is all you. This make me wanna review the TL. :D

    Josh Liba

    March 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    • Come on man! I wanna see a review of the TL, get on with it! Ah, you’re too busy rockin’ the wedding scene, it’s all good ;)

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm

  11. […] courtesy of my D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G. Even though I’ve been loving my time with with the Olympus E-PL2, there’s a limit to its abilities. Trying to stop action and quickly auto focus under nothing […]

  12. Lol that last Suki shot is just awesome. Nice man! Congrats on the new camera. Looks like you were out with Lynna too!

    Kelven Ng

    March 4, 2011 at 11:00 am

    • Yeah, that’s Suki, tired of me trying to review this camera haha. Yeah, hung out with Lynna and crew this past Tuesday night. Wish you were there bro!

      Jonathan

      March 4, 2011 at 10:00 pm

  13. Very cool! Thanks for sharing all these pics and your thoughts. I was seriously tempted by the Sony NEX for the reasons you listed, but eventually decided against it for now. But it seems like you’re making great use of it! It’d also be really handy for places that don’t allow DSLRs, like concerts.

    PS: We go to Eggettes too, but in Daly City. :)

    Jacqueline

    March 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    • There’s an Eggettes in DC? I didn’t even know! hehe
      Yeah, the NEX was a big consideration for me too. The lack of lenses and the radical control interface kind of put me off. The image quality on those things though…wow!

      Jonathan

      March 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm

  14. […] Olympus E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 […]

  15. I just bought one thanks to your review! :)

    Peng

    March 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

  16. very informative Jon… I’m waiting for more thorough review of the x100 until i pull the trigger on a pro style ‘pocket’ camera…

    Jason Fan

    March 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

    • I’m not much of a “happy with one lens” kinda guy, but I’d love to get my mitts on one of those x100s. Very drool worthy =)

      Jonathan

      March 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  17. I sold my Nikon D300 and 24-70 2.8 lens 3 months after obtaining the epl1. The out of camera jpegs combined with small size made me fall in love with photography all over again. I haven’t missed the D300 and find myself taking the olympus more places than ever before.

    Daniel

    March 20, 2011 at 9:48 am

    • Daniel,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. There really is something so refreshing about these smaller cameras that makes them a ton of fun to use. While I wouldn’t sell my DSLR, I do find myself reaching for the E-PL2 a lot more than my D700 when heading out the door these days. Thanks again!

      Jonathan

      March 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

  18. Did you get to try the old OM lens yet?

    Also, does the Panasonic lens match perfectly to the Epl body with all functions operating?

    I am currently split between the Epl 2 and a Panasonic Lumix G2 – different type of cameras, I know, but I can’t decide which to buy. Hmmmmn ….. I think maybe your informative ‘First impressions’ review has helped me make up my mind (plus, I too have a bunch of old Olympus OM lenses from my OM2 SP).

    Thanks

    Paul

    Paul

    March 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    • Paul,

      I plan to order the OM adapter together with the EVF soon, so stay tuned. As far as the Panasonic lens, yes, everything works perfectly with the EPL-2/20mm 1.7 combo. You probably can’t go wrong with the G2, but the compact size of the EPL-2 makes it a winner in my opinion.

      Jonathan

      March 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      • Hi there, just came across your blog whilst googling for information on whether i needed an adapter for the Pan. 20mm on the Oly ELP-2. I just received my camera yesterday so I haven’t gotten a chance to play with it yet, but it was so wonderful to see your pix, esp. with the various Art features. I couldn’t seem to find the answer for whether I needed an adapter for the Pan 20mm lens so I’m greatly pleased that you included shots of your Oly. (I ordered the 2-kit lens which seemed to only be available with the Black body–i would’ve preferred a Silver one like yours!)
        PS, have you encountered any of the ‘red dot’ issues that seem to be plaguing the EPL-2 in your phototaking sessions? I don’t think it will force me to return the camera by any means, but it is a bit worrisome.

        Tati

        April 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

      • Tati,

        Thanks for the comment! Note that the Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras share the same mount, so you should be able to use any Panasonic Micro Four Thirds lens on your new E-PL2. As far as the “red dot” issue: Yes, I’ve seen it happen, but only under a very specific circumstance: shooting directly into a mid-day sun at a small aperture. Other than that, it’s never a problem, even when shooting bright scenes like a sunset, so I don’t think there’s any real concern there…unless you like shooting directly into sun o_O

        Jonathan

        April 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

  19. i bought an e-pl2 after looking at your photos~
    so far the image colors are great and i love the camera! :)

    esiaz

    April 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    • Congrats on the new camera! Happy shooting, and thanks for reading my blog!

      Jonathan

      April 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

  20. Great gallery of images, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for as far as samples go. I was tempted to purchase an S95, but after reviewing the PL-2 and seeing some great images appearing online, I am definitely going with the PL-2!

    PS – Gorgeous Shiba! We have one as well. :)

    jenhughes0311

    April 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    • Good choice! The S95 is still a stellar camera, particularly if you need as small a camera as possible. If I had to choose one or the other though, it would have to be the Olympus. Hope you enjoy it! (and shibas are the best!)

      Jonathan

      April 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

  21. Awesome, thanks for pointing out the same mount info, as well as the red-dot advice—not that i was tempted but i shan’t be shooting directly into the sun, I know that’s a no-no.

    Tati

    April 7, 2011 at 11:09 am

  22. […] Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | f/1.7  1/4000sec  ISO200 […]

  23. very nice review – i got my red e-pl2 a month ago and my 20mm yesterday – yes – they were made for each other!
    Just one comment – I really enjoy the dramatic art (at least on landscapes with a few clouds) – and your pop art photos are much better than mine

    paul

    May 5, 2011 at 1:17 am

  24. do you use manual mode for all the pictures? i juz got my epl2..and learning the manual mode. i got difficulty n getting those kind of quality pictures during night.

    noob

    May 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    • Actually, I’m in aperture priority 99% of the time with the EPL. Most of the time, it just gets the job done quicker than going fully manual.

      Jonathan

      May 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

  25. […] Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 […]

  26. I came across your review when doing my research on the epl2, very informative review. I’m thinking of getting the vf-2 along with it. Your thoughts?

    Canonuser_2010

    May 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

    • Thanks for the comment! I’ve heard great things about the VF-2, and I feel like I want one, but that price is hard to justify. Some people really feel the need to have an eye level viewfinder. I found that I adapted to shooting using the E-PL2’s LCD without any issue, but I’m sure I’ll probably end up getting one in the future, especially for use with longer lenses.

      Jonathan

      May 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

  27. Great review. It helped me decide on purchasing the oly ELP-2 as oppose to EP-2 (I have D90 and Prime lenses). I also ordered the EVF-2 and the Panny 20mm 1.7. Scenic and indoor ( Family gatherings)shots.
    Now the question..What size lens hood will I need for the 20mm and the for the kit lens and suggestion on where to find them.. Will I need a Step ring? what size? I wonder if the hood will get in the way of the EVF? Any current suggestion for camera settings. One reviewer turn off the NR because it smooth out the images to much. What do you think. When I get my camera I will give it a whirl and let you know what I think.
    BTW Cute/handsome dog and great Pics. Way to go. I like your style.

    Howard tyree

    May 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    • Thanks for the comment!

      The 20mm f/1.7’s thread size is 46mm. I haven’t really felt like I wanted a hood for myself, though if I did get one, I’d probably go for the Fotodiox Pro Angle Lens Hood, designed for range finders, which you can pick up on the cheap at Amazon.com. Shouldn’t effect your use of the EVF at all. For camera settings when shooting JPEG, really depends on the situation. Typically I’m on Aperture priority auto when outdoors, Auto White Balance +2 amber in daylight (or cloudy on overcast days).

      For picture settings, I typically shoot i-Enhance or Vivid, +1 Sharpness, +1 Contrast, normal gradation control, -2 on the shadow end of the tone curve (see your manual for how to adjust curves). I don’t use noise reduction, because yes, the camera is a little too heavy handed with it (though I don’t shoot at very high ISOs with the EPL). If and when I shoot raw, these settings don’t really matter. Hope this helps, and congrats on your new gear!

      Jonathan

      May 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

  28. […] Olympus PEN E-PL2 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 | RAW output, Silver Efex Pro II, Ilford HP5 400 preset […]

  29. […] As always, I try to keep the gear minimal at shows like this. My DSLR with one 50mm prime, and the E-PL2 in my pocket just in case the venue gives me a hard time for having a “professional […]

  30. […] wide variety of situations, especially in city streets. The camera feels very similar in size to my E-PL2, but the X100 produces very visibly better image quality, largely due to its bigger APS-C sized […]

  31. Awesome review! Wonderful pictures! I’ve bought my E-PL2 after reading this article. I’m new to photography and hope to be as skilled as you ;D

    pamzkichi

    June 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

  32. […] the fun of it, I slapped them all together and made a couple spreads. These are all taken with my Oly E-PL2, which I still feel great about even though an X100 found its way into my bag this week. I think […]

  33. Jonathan, you convinced me into getting a PEN PL-2 with those wonderful pictures. I’m in love with Suki! I got the black model with the 14-42 and the 40-150mm, changing up from the Canon G9. It’s a lot more fun to shoot with different lenses. Had tons of fun shooting on my trip to China. Looking forward to buying a viewfinder and the Panny 20mm later this year.

    Thanks for the great review and website. I am in love with shooting pics again.

    Mariana

    June 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  34. […] Olympus PEN E-PL2: First Impression « Jonathan Fleming’s Blog […]

  35. […] Shiba approved.  Ever since I started regularly heading out with smaller, lighter gear like my EPL2, X100, and even Nikon FM, I’ve been yearning for an appropriate bag. I have a “carry […]

  36. Hi Jonathan,

    I am currently a GF2 user (w/ 20mm F1.7 & 14-42mm),

    i might consider sell my GF2 and buy E-PL2 since Olympus has sharper jpeg images and higher usable ISO,

    but it seems like this machine doesn’t have AF assist lamp, is it fast enough to make snapshots on the street or take shots on moving objects if I use 20mm? Or perhaps I should sell the 20mm and buy the 14mm F2.5? didn’t consider about E-PL3 simply because don’t like the design..

    In my knowledge, the autofocus speed of 20mm is slower than most of the m43 lens, and AF speed on E-PL is also slightly slower than GF2, so I’m kinda worry about this combination) Any suggestions would be appreciated, Thanks!

    Clinton

    July 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

    • Clinton,

      I doubt you’d notice much difference between the EPL2 and GF2 as far as auto focus speed or high ISO in practice. Neither one really focuses fast enough for action, in my opinion. That being said, I use my Olympus + 20mm combo all the time on the street and never really have issues with focus speed. Sell the 20mm for the 14mm? Those are two entirely different focal lengths, so base your decision primarily on that factor. I’m going to give you some pretty boring advice: Keep what you have and use it to its full potential. The GF2 is a fine camera!

      Jonathan

      July 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm

  37. Dear Jonathan,

    I am interested in this lens for my E-pl2, but I have been spooked by comments online about a loud clicking sound when focusing and when going from lots of light to darker settings. Could you comment?

    THanks again :)

    Brendan Kelly

    July 25, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    • Please answer. I’m quite worried about this.

      Brendan Kelly

      July 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      • If you’re referring to the 20mm f/1.7, it does make a clicking sound as the aperture blades move to adapt to changes in ambient light. However, it is certainly not loud as you seem to have read somewhere, and I barely notice the noise in practice. I don’t think it should influence your buying decision at all.

        Jonathan

        August 1, 2011 at 7:48 am

  38. Hi Jon, just found your blog while I was searching for a bag for my E-PL2 camera kit. I’ve had this camera for several months now and I love it! Currently I have the 14-42mm, 40-150mm, and Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens with few filters, a step up ring (37-46mm) for my 14-42 lens and 20mm lens. Do you know of any nice bag to fit this whole kit in? I recently bought one but it was too small and had to return it.

    These shots are wonderful! I love the 20mm lens. I use it a lot of times and hardly ever comes off the camera. Thanks for sharing this nice review.

    vvalden

    August 26, 2011 at 5:59 am

  39. I just purchased the EPL2 with both kit lenses – going to have to save for that 20mm!

    Anyway, for those early sky shots (above), did you use a polarizing filter? Or is that just pure Olympus color goodness?

    Thanks!

    Tor

    September 7, 2011 at 6:59 am

    • Nope, didn’t use a polarizing filter here. The camera definitely renders blue skies very beautifully =)

      Jonathan

      September 7, 2011 at 7:31 am

      • Wow. Just wow. Mine’s in the mail – can’t wait to get it.

        Tor

        September 7, 2011 at 8:16 am

  40. wonderful post. i am so excited- my camera arrived in the mail today. Can’t wait!

    Rachel

    September 8, 2011 at 1:44 am

  41. Great review! I really enjoy looking at your pictures. Suki is gorgeous :)

    I just got myself an EPL2 with 14-42mm kit and trying to learn as much as I can about it. What settings do you use most of the time for your shots? Which AF would you recommend, S-AF or C-AF or others?

    Jean

    September 8, 2011 at 4:36 am

    • Thank you! I actually shared my standard settings in one of my replies above. S-AF is fine for most shooting. I set the camera to automatically zoom in when I grab the manual focus ring for fine tuning focus manually.

      Jonathan

      November 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

  42. […] cousin Josh came along. That’s an adapted 50mm f/1.4D Nikkor lens on an Olympus EPL-2 he’s holding. Really nice […]

  43. thanks for this post! but why not the e-p2? well i’m a beginner and just got myself one (e-p2) and after looking at your photos, i’m really excited to start practicing!

    oh another thing, it came with the standard 17mm f2.8 lens. do you reckon it’s enough for normal street/travel photography or do i really really need to get a zoom lens?

    thanks for your help! =)

    米雪兒 ♥

    September 25, 2011 at 7:19 am

    • The EPL2 is newer, less expensive new, and in many ways a better performer than the EP2, so it was a no-brainer for me. They are both great cameras, however.

      Only you can decide if the 17mm is all you need. For me, it definitely would be =)

      Jonathan

      November 2, 2011 at 7:56 am

  44. Hi Jon,
    Beautiful shots first of all. I am in the process of purchasing an epl2 after deciding that it made more sense to go with it over the ep2 as my everyday camera of choice. I have my heart set on pairing it with the panny 20mm to use for everyday shooting and low light capabilities. It seems like this combo has faired well with your everyday shots. I have a question regarding the EVF-2… I started shooting film some 10 years ago and shot with everything from my (still in use) pentax k1000, to a rb67, to large format. I switched over a few years ago into digital and am purchasing an epl2 due to the fact that I would rather not take my 5DMarkII everywhere I go. I LOVED everyday street shooting with my film k1000.. it looks like you shoot at arms length without an EVF-2 viewfinder… being that I have (for the most part) used a viewfinder, do you think I will have much trouble shooting without one? I know some people hate not having one, but I feel like i can still compose in a live view and do without the additional $200 cost… just wanted to ask what your opinion on the feeling/ease of shooting without an EVF-2 was. Thanks for the input!

    PS. Suki is one good looking pup. My girlfriend has a shiba/corgi mix… and your Suki looks like his slightly taller/smaller eared twin!

    Tim

    November 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    • Tim,

      Thanks for the comment! About the EVF: just get it, you’ll love it. I recently had a chance to use one myself (thought since I bought the Fuji X100 I haven’t had the need to purchase it), and it definitely enhances the experience of using the camera. Especially because you’re so accustomed to using the camera at eye level, I think the EVF, though expensive, will be a worthwhile accessory for your EPL2. I’ve noticed that it’s especially handy for hand-holding at longer focal lengths as well, which is a pain to do at arm’s length.

      Jonathan

      November 2, 2011 at 8:00 am

  45. Just a point regarding the software that comes with the camera and that I found could in no way match my Photoshop CS3, I refer to Ib and viewer 2 .I was fortunate enough to come across the dpreview posting which I followed through and it works.

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=37883637

    many thanks for your articals and the helpful blogs therein.They may well help this geriatric enthusiast to progress with photography and the Epl2

    Norm Webster

    November 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

  46. Great post about this fantastic little camera. I’ve had my e-pl2 for several months now and love it! I almost exclusively shoot old legacy Canon FD lenses on it (mostly 50mm 1.4). I would recommend for anyone planning to shoot legacy lenses that are manually focused that you consider getting the EVF. When shooting outdoors in bright light it can be very difficult to get sharp focus manually while just looking at the screen. Particularly if you use a polarizing filter.

    Andrea (@studio6or7)

    November 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

  47. […] while much larger than the ones you’d find in a typical compact, is smaller than one in my Olympus E-PL2 and other m4/3 cameras. Epic fail, right? Not at […]

  48. When I shoot with the Art filter and download in Lightroom, I don’t get the art effect even though the epl2 is supported??

    Jack Hamilton

    January 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    • You have to shoot in JPEG to get the art filter effects out of camera

      Jonathan

      March 12, 2012 at 9:20 am

  49. Thanks Jon! I’m getting a PEN tomorrow thanks to you :)

    Rashard

    January 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm

  50. Great review! It helped seal the deal on my purchase :) I was wondering if you could give some tips for action shots? Im struggling trying to get clean shots, I tried the cameras built in action settings, and messing around with shutter speed on my own – although admittedly this was in a poorly lit room so I don’t think I was setting myself up for success. I should probably go outside and practice on cars or my dog running around. Im just a beginner (although I took a few photography classes in college so I understand the basics)
    so any tips are appreciated! thanks!!

    Sarah

    March 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    • Sarah,

      If you’re shooting action in a poorly lit room, you’ll probably want to use the flash to help stop the action. A faster lens like the 40mm f1.7 will also help. And like you said, start with shots outside in plenty of light =)

      Jonathan

      March 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

  51. […] with all the choices out there, why did I chose this? One big influence was this blog post by Jonathan Fleming, which shows what wonderful images you can get straight out of […]

  52. Great write up… I recently pickup an Oly myself after few months reading some review an comparison between EPL2 and GF2. Same as you, I was a user of LX3 and also still love my D700… Love the LX3 but I really don’t like the skin tone. That’s what stopping me from getting the GF2 eventhough I can get it at cheaper price. At the end i never regret dor selling of my LX3 and jump to micro four third system. Its the best companion for any DSLR user and also photo enthusiasts. Anyway nice photos you have and I hope to play more with my Oly :)

    Suzaidee

    April 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    • How do I get rid of that brownish(magenta) tint in my images from the EPL2? It is very bothersome. Thank you.

      Jim

      May 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm

  53. Great and complete review! I have an E-PL2 as well, and love it. Similar point to what you said. Not too large for anytime use. Not pocketable in pants, but very slim i say, for coat pockets or purses. Now if my friends asking about the camera, I canshow them this review that you wrote. Thanks :)

    Dina

    June 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

  54. Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks to your great review and the amazing shots in this post, I sold my DSLR and bought an E-PL3 a few weeks ago. I also bought a Sigma 30mm f2.8 and I am in love with this combination. Although it is not as fast as this Panasonic 20mm f1.7, it is good enough to keep the ISO low and tack sharp even wide open.

    In a few months, I will either buy a Nikon D5100 or a newer Olympus camera with the new sensor as my primary camera, but I will continue using the E-PL3 as a secondary camera without any hesitation!!! It performs very well.

    After seeing the wonderful pictures of Suki, my wife convinced me easier to get a dog, and now we have one. Although she is not a Shiba, she is very sweet.

    Luckily you are not posting any car reviews, otherwise your blog would probably start destroying our bank account :)

    Ibrahim Gurel

    February 22, 2013 at 1:57 am


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