Olympus E-P2 Preview
Less than six months after the digital version of the Olympus PEN, the
At the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC, I got to briefly experience a pre-production model of the E-P2. In size, weight and feel, it’s almost identical to the E-P1. The E-P2 is slightly taller due to the multi-pin port on the back. Visually, it sports a brushed black metal body, rather than the stainless steel or white body of the E-P1. The new optical viewfinder, the VF2, is super bright and shows 100% coverage. Olympus added a button on the back of the VF2, to quickly toggle between viewfinder and Live view.
Like the E-P1, ergonomically, this camera feels very good in my hands, and it’s also a pretty cool looking camera with a black stainless steel metal body, even more reminiscent of the Olympus 1949 film PEN camera. Also, like the E-P1, the E-P2’s sensor is the same size as Olympus’ top-of-the-line E-3 DSLR.
Where to Buy
Photo.net’s partners have the Olympus E-P2 available in a few different combinations. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.
On the Inside
On the inside is where you’ll find the differences and enhancements on the E-P2:
- new focus mode: AF tracking C-AF, enhances the ability to focus on a subject. The bounding box will follow the subject around, keeping the subject in focus.
- movie mode has a setting for full manual control of shutter/aperture
- 2 new art filters: Diorama and Cross Process (in addition to the 6 found on the E-P1: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole)
- multi-pin port on the back of the camera: a sophisticated port that supports 2 accessories Olympus is releasing with the camera, as well as future accessories. The 2 new accessories that are included are an electronic viewfinder, the VF2, and a microphone adapter to attach a high-quality stereo mic
- HDMI control of camera’s playback functions using a TV remote when the camera is connected to an HDTV
- new shooting mode: iEnhance, which recognizes the point of focus and the dominant color value in that area and then enhances that color value throughout the remaining area of the scene
The E-P2 kit includes an electronic viewfinder which has a built-in diopter. Very bright…twice the contrast of other competitive viewfinders. The VF2 is also articulate, you can change the angle of the viewfinder to allow for shooting at the waist, or getting in closer for macro shots, etc. The viewfinder has a 100% field of view.
The full manual control to movie mode, should be a boon to any prosumer/professionals interested in exploring video. Combining manual control of the shutter/aperture with interchangeable lenses, shallow DOF, low light capability, you should be able to do some pretty high-quality creative work with the D-P2. Do I hear a video-challenge presenting itself?
The iEnhance shooting mode sounds interesting on paper. I wonder how accurate the camera’s “brain” is for enhancing the dominant color, or what the camera will do with iEnhance when presented with multiple dominant colors in a scene. Supposedly, iEnhance should recognize the point of focus and the dominant color value in that area and then enhances the color value that it finds in the remaining area of the scene. It’s more intelligently enhancing the image rather than a global enhancement. The reason it’s called iEnhance is it renders more closely to what your brain saw. This feature wasn’t able to be tested on the pre-production model I saw at PhotoPlus.
If you’re shooting RAW, you can add art filter effects after the fact (an upgrade from the E-P1 in which you had to predetermine which art filter you wanted to use and shoot with it preselected). In movie mode, you have to predetermine which filter you’ll use, and can’t apply the filter after-the-fact.
The E-P2, like the E-P1, should interest professional photographers on the quest for a small body camera but with comparable features and functions to a larger DSLR without the weight or the bulk. There aren’t too many reasons why someone would want to upgrade from their already-purchased E-P1, unless the additional shooting mode, the accessory port for an external mic, a few additional art filters, or the articulate optical viewfinder are of interest. However, if purchasing a digital PEN for the first time, the additional features for not much more $$, could be a good value add. The combination of the E-P2 and the 17mm/2.8 pancake lens should be an attractive combination for those wishing for a pocket-sized travel or street photography camera, that can also shoot discreet HD video in manual mode.
Official Olympus E-P2 Press Release
THE PEN IS NOW MIGHTIER: OLYMPUS EXPANDS THE POWER AND PERFORMANCE OF THE E-P1 WITH THE NEW E-P2
New Electronic Viewfinder, External Audio Port, Autofocus Tracking and More Creative Control All in a Retro Black Metal Body—Looks as Good as it Performs
CENTER VALLEY, Pa., November 5, 2009—Less than six months after launching the groundbreaking PEN E-P1 Micro Four Thirds camera, Olympus proves that evolutionary change can happen incredibly fast by releasing the E-P2 with even more power and performance. The new PEN, like the E-P1, is the world’s smallest 12.3-megapixel interchangeable lens system with In-body Image Stabilization. It blends the high-quality still images like that of a DSLR with High Definition (HD) video, stereo Linear PCM audio recording and In-Camera Creativity inside an ultra-portable body. Along with several new features, and eight in-camera Art Filters that can be applied to still images and HD videos, the result is mighty powerful and creative.
The innovative E-P2 offers more of what photo enthusiasts have been asking for:
- A stylish retro black metal body reminiscent of a traditional PEN camera;
- Accessory port to accommodate the included detachable VF-2 Electronic View Finder (EVF) or optional external microphone adapter EMA-1;
- A newly-developed Continuous Autofocus (C-AF) Tracking System tracks the subject across or back-and-forward through the frame;
- Two new art filters: Diorama & Cross Process for greater creative expression in your still images and HD videos;
- iEnhance to automatically adjust color and contrast for a more dramatic effect;
- Full Manual Control of shutter/aperture in Movie Mode; and
- HDMI Control of camera’s playback functions using the TV Remote when the camera is connected to an HDTV.
“The high demand for the E-P1 demonstrates that today’s photo enthusiasts and consumers want the high-quality imaging like that of DSLRs in a compact retro design. The fact that it also offers HD video, creative functions and high-end stereo sound makes it even more desirable,” said John Knaur, senior marketing manager, Digital SLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “The new PEN builds on the success of the E-P1 by adding many of the features that were on enthusiasts’ wish list for the second generation: an EVF for composing with your eye close to the camera, the ability to add an external microphone, C-AF tracking, and a black metal body. With each new PEN, Olympus continues to enhance the line, and the future looks very bright.”
The E-P2 comes with either the small and lightweight Olympus M. ZUIKO Micro Four Thirds lenses: 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 (28-84mm equivalent) or 17mm f/2.8 (34mm equivalent). The camera adds to the new category created by the E-P1: Not a P&S. Not an SLR. It’s a PEN.
Accessorize: Everything Goes with Basic Black
The E-P2 incorporates a new port for connecting new accessories including an optional EMA-1 Microphone adapter and the VF-2 live-finder, a detachable electronic viewfinder that comes with the E-P2. The live-finder easily slides onto the camera’s accessory port and hot shoe when needed to provide 1.15x magnification, a 100% field of view with amazing resolution, brightness and contrast. The viewfinder refreshes quickly to minimize image ghosting on fast-moving subjects.
The VF-2 rotates up to 90 degrees to enable photographers to look down into it, which is useful when shooting subjects from challenging angles. The built-in diopter adjustment and high magnification offer easy viewing with and without glasses.
For those who want to capture enhanced audio, the new EMA-1 external microphone connector can be plugged into the new camera’s external accessory port. The connector will accept the optional Olympus ME-51S stereo microphone or any microphone of their choice.
Olympus has a variety of other accessories to maximize the functionality of the new PEN, including the previously released 14-42mm and 17mm Micro Four Thirds lenses. The MMF-1 Four Thirds System Lens Adapter makes E-P2 compatible with all Olympus ZUIKO Digital SpecificTM lenses and other Four Thirds System lenses from Sigma, Panasonic and Leica.
Olympus OM film-based lenses can be attached to the E-P2 with the MF-2 OM Lens Adapter. Additionally, an optional FL-14 flash unit, suitably small for the camera, adds more lighting versatility to your shots.
Stay focused on Your Targets Wherever They Roam
Sometimes it can be hard enough to keep up with kids, let alone take pictures of them. The E-P2’s new C-AF Tracking and AF Target Registration locks your subject into focus, and constantly adjusts focus and brightness whether you or your subject is moving. With this mode, a simple push of the shutter release enables you to keep fast-moving and unpredictable subjects in focus—tracking subjects from left to right and from front to back—within the frame, automatically ensuring that even active subjects are captured clearly.
Even More Ways to Create
Olympus pioneered easy-to-use in-camera art filters for still images captured inside its E-System DSLRs. It was the first company to offer the ability to apply art filters to High Definition video recordings captured with the E-P1. Now, the E-P2 continues this tradition of innovation with eight in-camera art filters, including two new filters: the Diorama and Cross Process. The Diorama art filter gives users a miniature model photo feeling by narrowing the depth of focus and enhancing color and contrast. The selective focus that this filter offers lends intimacy to images of even the largest subjects like canyons or cityscapes.
The Cross Process art filter offers an unexpected look to images and videos by changing the color and contrast of subjects on the fly. Using this mode can result in surreal other-worldly images. Whether you’re a videographer, documentarian or established director—or just want to shoot like one—Art Filters set your images and videos apart from the pack. Since they’re built into the camera, you can achieve dramatic results on the go without needing a computer or editing software. These new filters are a welcome addition to the Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole filters previously available on the E-P1.
Because the PEN is an interchangeable lens system camera, you also have more creative options for video capture. You can attach any one of the new super-compact Micro Four Thirds lenses or, because the camera can accept many of the other Four Thirds Format lenses with an available MMF-1 Four Thirds System Lens Adapter, you can add anything from an extreme wide-angle fisheye lens to a super telephoto lens for a wide range of expressive options. All the while you will have more DSLR-like control over depth of field, focus, white balance and ISO. It begs the question, “What will you create?”
iEnhance for Radiant Colors
The E-P2 includes a new picture mode called iEnhance, which analyzes colors and brightness. The new mode mimics what the naked eye sees. For example, a beautiful sunset looks awesome in person and generally seems to fade when captured in an image. With iEnhance, the warm yellow and orange colors are heightened to be brilliant and closer to the actual scene. The result is exceptionally clear imaging with a dramatically lifelike color. iEnhance can be used in any shooting mode—from program to manual—and automatically engages when in iAuto.
HDMI Control from Your HDTV Remote
The new PEN makes sharing your content easier than ever. Just connect the E-P2 to your HDTV with an optional HDMI cable and use your HDTV’s remote to control playback functions and navigate the camera’s menus from the comfort of your favorite couch or chair.
Manual in Movie Mode
The E-P2’s manual movie mode allows for independent control of aperture and shutter for expanded exposure and creative control. Now you can adjust the shutter to control the depth of focus while using the aperture to set the overall brightness of the video. This level of control allows you to express your vision exactly how you want in your HD videos.
Make a Design Statement
The E-P2’s high-end, stainless-steel all-black body is easy to handle and carry, and has the styling and refinement of a precision chronometer. Its retro-chic look turns heads, from tech-aficionados and camera buffs to the style-conscious and everyday point-and-shooter. Built rock solid, it fits comfortably in a jacket pocket or a handbag for impromptu street-shooting or any spontaneous adventure. The E-P2 lets you do more and go more places while capturing your life, thanks to its compact size—4.74"(W) x 2.75" (H) x 1.37" (D)—and light 11.1-ounce body. Attention to detail is visible in every aspect of the PEN’s design, including the currently available small and lightweight 14-42mm and 17mm M. ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses as well as the newly announced 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 (18-36mm equivalent) and 14-150mm f4.0-5.6 (28-300mm equivalent) M. ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses.
Ultra-Compact Body Delivers Superior Image Quality
The E-P2 has everything you need to produce vibrant DSLR-quality images: a large 12.3-megapixel imager, In-body Image Stabilization, fast Imager Autofocus, the proven Olympus Dust Reduction System and the new TruePic™ V Image Processor.
As the second Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, the E-P2 provides the same image quality as current Four Thirds format E-System cameras because it has the same image sensor size as the E-30 and E-620 DSLR models, but in a much smaller body. This high-performance 12.3-megapixel Live MOS image sensor delivers excellent dynamic range, accurate color fidelity, and a state-of-the-art amplifier circuit to reduce noise and capture fine image details in both highlight and shadow areas.
The E-P2’s Live MOS image sensor is complemented by Olympus’ TruePic V Image Processor, which produces clear and colorful photos using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible. The image processor is noted for accurate natural color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal expression; it also lowers image noise in photos shot at higher ISO settings (ISO 100 to ISO 6400), enabling great results in low-light situations.
Be a Mover, Not a Shaker
Any lens attached to the E-P2 will deliver blur-free images thanks to three modes of In-body Image Stabilization that compensate for up to four steps EV (exposure value). Mechanical Image Stabilization automatically compensates for camera shake in low light or when shooting without a tripod. Since the PEN is the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera with In-body Image Stabilization, you’ll feel comfortable taking it on the road with you to capture the action. As an added advantage, the built-in image stabilization works not only with the M. Zuiko lenses but all Four Thirds lenses and even older OM film-based lenses when used with the appropriate adapter for the E-P2.
Small Real Estate with an Amazing 3-Inch LCD View
Consumers accustomed to composing and focusing using a point-and-shoot camera’s LCD will appreciate the E-P2’s 100 percent accurate, 3-inch full color HyperCrystal LCD, which gives them the same easy, seamless experience when shooting still images or videos. The camera’s Live Control function makes it easy to compose, edit and shoot pictures or videos without stopping to access various menus. The E-P2’s fast Imager Autofocus in Live View also enables you to compose, focus and capture the shot quickly and easily without ever taking your eyes off the large LCD.
The LCD displays 230,000 pixels in vivid color and includes HyperCrystal technology, which offers many times the contrast of conventional LCD monitors for easier viewing in both preview and playback. It also provides a wide viewing angle of 176 degrees, which ensures that images can be composed from even the most obscure angles.
This Camera Leaves Others in the Dust
You don’t have to waste precious time worrying about dust ruining the perfect image; instead, spend more of that time shooting with the E-P2. The proven Olympus Dust Reduction System produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter, a patented ultrasonic technology that vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor, capturing it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on.
What You See Is What You Get
When viewing the LCD in Live View, Art Filter effects and settings like white balance and exposure are viewable right on the LCD, and their impact is seen instantly on the display. Real-time monitoring offers amazing versatility and creative control, and users who apply a setting have instant gratification because what they see on the camera’s LCD is what they’ve captured. For musicians used to applying audio effects like reverb to their instruments before recording them, the concept of setting the E-P2 to capture precisely the kind of image they want before they press the shutter makes perfect sense. For imaging purists who want to shoot without filters, and apply them to images inside the camera later, or just edit images back at their computers, the E-P2 provides these options and opens more in-the-field creative possibilities.
Mix It Up with Multiple Exposure
With the E-P2’s Multiple Exposure function available for still image capture, you are free to tell a visual story your way, whether in a portrait, a landscape or a combination of both. The image capture options allow you to shoot one shot, then another and combine them in real time, or capture both shots separately and combine them in the camera later. Overlay your face on top of your pet’s face. Create an “identical twin” of yourself. Put the moon in the sky at noon. Your ability to manipulate space and time makes this new creative multimedia device a veritable time machine.
Frame Your Works of Art Inside the PEN
You can often achieve greater photographic expression by framing a scene in a unique way. The E-P2 provides four aspect ratios that serve as masks to frame your image to the desired proportions, including: the standard 4:3 aspect ratio that is suited to an 8 × 10-inch enlargement; the 16:9 aspect ratio that will display your images beautifully on a widescreen television; and other popular aspect ratios such as 3:2 and 6:6. The Multi-Aspect Shooting further expresses your creative vision when combined with Art Filters and multiple exposures. What will you create?
Stereo Audio Sounds As Good As the PEN Images Look
Like the innovative Olympus LS-11 portable audio recording device that puts the power of a recording studio in your pocket, the E-P2 features uncompressed CD-quality 16 bit/44.1kHz Linear PCM stereo recording capability to capture the rich sound quality of your scene. When you shoot with the E-P2, it’s like having a sound technician built into your camera to capture the nuances of the audio happening all around you. It has the versatility to record and play back in the WAV format and can record with its built-in stereo microphone. Whether recording audio while shooting a video or adding audio by recording a narration to your still images, the E-P2’s audio sounds as great as its images look. Now, with the new stereo microphone adapter, there is new freedom in audio capture with the PEN.
Create Your Own Multimedia Slideshows with Stills, Video and Audio Inside E-P2
Content is king, and with the E-P2 you have your own portable kingdom of still images, HD video, and audio to remix at your command. In playback mode you can seamlessly mix stills and movies inside the camera to create a multimedia slideshow; dub in one of five built-in dramatic background music options to provide a soundtrack for your cinematic creation. Plug the E-P2 into any HD television with an HDMI cable and show off your masterpieces to your audience before your DVD arrives in stores!
As Easy to Use as a Point-and-Shoot with SLR-Quality Technologies
The E-P2 is equipped with 19 scene-select modes for effortless picture taking. Standard scene modes like Night-Scene, Portrait and Landscape are easy-to-use solutions for everyday shooting. Capturing beautiful portraits is easy with the new ePortrait Mode. It enables you to smooth your subject’s skin—all in the camera and before capture! Additionally, edits can be made post-capture using the ePortrait mode.
Shooting scenes with both highlights and shadows can often be a challenge because of the extreme contrast between dark and bright areas. The E-P2 addresses this challenge with Shadow Adjustment Technology that adjusts for extreme light variations and maintains visible detail in both the shadow and highlight areas of the scene. Now users can see and preview the gradation on the Live View LCD and capture images showing the shadow detail they saw. This feature is also accessible in the Edit menu after the shot has been taken.
The E-P2’s Face Detection reduces the chance of blurred subjects in images by recognizing up to eight people’s faces and the background, tracking the faces within the image area, even if people are moving, and automatically focusing and optimizing exposure for sharp, brilliant portrait pictures (ideal for large family or party group photos).
Don’t like changing camera settings for each shooting situation? The E-P2’s Intelligent Auto Mode automatically identifies what you’re shooting (Portrait, Landscape, Night + Portrait, Macro, Sports) and adjusts settings to capture the best result depending on the situation. First-time users will enjoy this quick and hassle-free feature, which does the thinking for them and produces incredible images like a pro.
The E-P2 offers ease-of-use and flexibility to meet your shooting style. Choose the Live Control technology, an advanced control panel system that incorporates the use of the sub dial and enables you to see the image and the menu controls all at the same time on the LCD. As a result, you can use the main and sub dials to select modes and adjust settings without having to take your eyes off the subject. Or if you prefer, shoot with the Super Control Panel, which is familiar to any serious shooter. These options along with the camera’s intuitive button layout make the camera simple to use. The E-P2 records to SDHC media cards to accommodate large files including videos with In-Camera Creative Features and uncompressed audio.
The E-P2 is equipped with an internal Digital Level Sensor that detects the camera’s pitch and roll and indicates it on the control panel. This Digital Leveler is a tremendous benefit when capturing architecture and landscapes. Level the perfect coastline shot on your next tropical vacation without being tethered to a computer and editing software.
Magnified Focus Assist
The E-P2 provides two optional methods to help the user focus: a Magnified Focus (MF) Assist Function and Magnification Display. When using manual focus, the MF Assist feature aids with critical focus by allowing you to zoom in on part of the image by simply turning the focusing ring on the front of the lens. The Magnification Display enables you to selectively enlarge the image on the LCD at the touch of a button. This mode works for both autofocus and manual focus. Both MF Assist methods provide up to a 10x magnification of a single point of the image for critical focus; perfect for macro or still-life photography.
18×18 Metering Modes
This mode divides the image area into an 18 × 18 grid, metering each of the 324 separate cells to obtain optimum exposure. In addition to 324-division ESP metering, center-weighted metering and spot metering modes are also available.
OLYMPUS Master 2 Software
Use the included OLYMPUS Master 2 software (Mac and PC) to easily download images and videos from the camera or other external device, such as a USB drive, and automatically organize them into albums and groups and by date. Develop high-quality RAW images, apply Art Filter effects, edit and print images. Also, apply the most common editing functions to your HD videos. Update camera and lens firmware through the software and download additional menu languages. A direct link makes uploading your images and videos to YouTube™ easier than ever.
OLYMPUS Studio 2 (Trial Edition Included)
Extend the capability of OLYMPUS Master 2 with OLYMPUS Studio 2. In addition to the functions of OLYMPUS Master 2, this software includes a lightbox mode and selection marks for comparing and sorting multiple images. RAW processing is enhanced with additional controls for finer adjustments. The trial edition can be used for 30 days after installation. After the trial period has expired, a license key is required for further use.
Where to Buy
Photo.net’s partners have the Olympus E-P2 available in a few different combinations. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.
- Photo.net Digital Camera Forum
- Photo.net Olympus and Four-Thirds Discussion Forum
- Building a Digital SLR System
Original text ©2009 Hannah Thiem.