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Friday, 04 December 2009


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Croatia - magnificent statues and (to be crass) beautiful blondes. I might have to come visit, I like statues. ;)

The problem with this review is that I now have to decide (again) between the retro Oly Pens and the no-nonsense Panny GF-1... dag nab it, why is life so difficult?


Thanks for the write up...I think. Getting awfully hard for me to keep shooting film with these much improved small-size digital offerings.

Thank you for a fine, practical, hands-on E-P2 article, Vlatko. Quite informative.

I know many, maybe most, people are jonesing for viewfinders for these cameras. Personally I'm not one. Although I welcome them as an option, I find it very practical and useful to have a good digital camera that I don't need to raise to my eye.

My own wishes for an E-P2 were (1) higher resolution LCD, and (2) better facilitation for use of manual focus lenses (i.e. M-mounts). You remarks here, and those I've read elsewhere, suggest that neither matter has been addressed and that the E-P2 is basically just a fast reaction to all the heat that Oly took over that darn viewfinder. (Hey, they have to keep up with their buddies at Panasonic!) So the E-P2 is just an E-P1 with an optional expensive electronic viewfinder.

Although this comment may not really be responsive to this post directly, I would encourage anyone interested in the Olympus EP-1 or 2 to evaluate the Panasonic GF1 prior to making a purchase decision. I have an EP-1 and a GF1. I really liked the Olympus camera and used it quite a bit before the GF1 came out. I especially liked the fact that it had in-body stabilization. The GF1 does not. My favorite lens is the Panasonic 20mm f 1.7 which does not have in-lens or optical stabilization, so when it is on the GF1 there is no stabilization at all. Like you, Mike, I thought the ideal solution would be to put the 20mm f 1.7 lens on the Olympus body and have the best of both worlds. Since I had both cameras, there was no cost associated with doing that.

All I can say is that for me, there is a vast difference in responsiveness between the two cameras. After becoming accustomed to the Panasonic, I have trouble even tolerating the Olympus. Image stabilization just isn't worth the lack of responsiveness in my view. Also, my pictures do not seem less sharp on the GF1 despite the lack of image stabilization.

And, I still have a lot of trouble with the cylindrical wheel on the Olympus. It spins from just grabbing the camera and many a photo is ruined by unintentionally changed settings.

Just my 2 cents, but I really think Panasonic got it right. Anyone want a reasonably priced EP-1?


I'm a little curious. The design of the Olympus Pen and Panasonic equivalent, produces cameras of small design principally by losing the slr mirror box. The VF2 on top of the EP2 (and to some extent the VF1 on the EP1) seem to put a lot of that bulk back. I do need a viewfinder, am interested in these possible DMDs but am struggling a bit with this big VF conundrum.

Same sensor, high ISO quality?

Rob, you should see the statues I didn't photograph. :-)

I got a call yesterday. My local store has the EP-2 in stock and is holding one for me. I'm on the fence. On the one hand, who doesn't want a new camera. And for an Olympus toting photographer, a new Olympus camera. On the other hand it hasn't been a banner year for commercial photography. Do I buy on hope or hold on pessimism?

Nice review and a very good explanation of the advantages of the viewfinder.

Go retro. I'm so retro that I just picked up a Mamiya C-33 ;-).

I believe the EVF is most likely Epson's . Epson announced they are doing exactly the kind of view finder the E-P2 has. Also note the E-P2 EVF is different from the G1/GH1's, I understand it doesn't have a color split when panning around.

The viewfinder also looks really clunky and unsightly.
What Olympus need to do is lay the screen flat on top of the camera, and have a pentaprism above it.
They could maybe call that the E-M1...!

The best way I find to use the 'art filters' (if you want to) is in post-processing once you get home. I wonder if there'll be a new version of Olympus Master including those effects?

I'm still not convinced to this camera. Moreover, I think, the Olympus isn't, too. They still don't know what 'target' they provide this camera to.

I'll agree with Anthony that the viewfinder does look a bit clunky. But having used the Ricoh EVF for several years now, I can't tell you how handy it is to have a viewfinder that tilts up for low-angle views.

Textpad, the editor mentioned for working around King Adobe's refusal to accept raw EP-2 files, is a marvelous program - both for byte tweaks as well as for general text creation. I only use MS Word (for basic desktop publishing) after I've written something in Textpad.

I dont know if this has ever happened to any other of you guys and gals but when the E-P1 was introduced I thought it looked rediculous,had a miserable LCD,and got mostly negative reviews.Then something strange occured,the more I looked at it,the more I read about it,the more I wanted it.
Now having owned it for several weeks I absolutely adore this little magic box.Furthermore I must have lucked out on my 17 2.8,I have found it to be a darling lens,(yes I use the Panasonic 20 also).I have been shooting for thirty years and am very quality conscious like most who read this site.This camera is not for every one,no such camera exist,however if you have a reasonable level of skill this camera takes beautiful photographs and is a blast to shoot with.In short do not let the camera web wizards prevent you from buying and enjoying this camera or any other camera that YOU want for that matter,after all, its still about the picture!

The EP-2 really does address some of the issues of the EP-1, especially for us viewfinder people. I will get one.
Please, next time you talk to Olympus, tell them they must redesign the connector system so that one can use the EVF AND a flash! Now, the EVF totally prevents use of flash or external mic. That is a major disadvantage.

Milosz, I think they exactly know what group they target. And it's not really us. Yes, I like the camera so much I want to buy it, but I understand it's not a small mechanical Leica. This is for people who want to step up from compacts. We are, harshly said, almost accidental addition. Although I'm assured, a welcome one. But see the lenses they introduce for the Pens...

Antony, my objection to the filter is just because the camera is targeted mainly towards compact users. It should be faster for that.

Ken, on one hand you're absolutely right about focusing. The operation of the enlarging mode is still the same one as in E-P1. Not really suited for faster work. On the other hand, you don't need to enlarge the picture to manually focus. BTW, the viewfinder has a dioptre adjustment ring.

As to the size-mirror-viewfinder problem, I think Mike explained it very nicely in that post of his, but I'll try, too: See both the Pens and GF1 and the size of the screens in the viewfinders. The screen is a given, ie you can't really change its size. If you put a viewfinder of that size in the camera, you have to shrink the other components even more. I don't think that miniaturisation went that far yet. Or you get a compact camera with a teeny weeny sensor.

Sorry, I forgot:

Ricardo, no, the viewfinder doesn't have a colour split when panning. The only problem I encountered was with the Diorama filter. And it was the same both in the viefinder and on the screen.

John, yes, the same sensor, the same image quality.

It is a shame that the viewfinder spoils (ruins?) the look of the camera because one of the joys of using this little machine must, surely, lie in its beauty. Sadly, I'm one of those who needs a viewfinder so it isn't for me.

erlik: Maybe you're right, I admit. But why do we have to read on almost every corner that E-P1 (and now E-P2, also) was designed to (professional) photographers who wanted to have something smaller than theirs DSLRs, always with them? I'm barely frightened to open my own fridge because of that.

But, seriously speaking, I also really don't know why people are so amazed by the digital pen image quality. It has APS-C sensor, which is good, but still; my 30 years old Canonet has a full-frame :) And much faster lens. No, I wouldn't buy it.

"Almost accidental addition" - very well said.

Best regards,
Milosz Bolechowski

I guess what we're learning from the Micro 4/3 evolution is that you can have a great eye-level electronic finder or a small one, but not both!

The E-P 2's finder, going by Vlatko's assessment, is very nice -- but come on, proportionately to the size of the camera, it looks like a Leica M with a big honking eye-level Visoflex stuck on it! The Panasonic GF-1's finder, so the reviewers say, isn't as good... but it's also not so disproportionately large.

I'd like to think of myself as somebody who holds out for higher quality, but in this case I can't help wondering if Olympus didn't make the wrong call. For people who want an eye-level finder only for occasional auxiliary use, surely the more compact Pana GF-1 is going to be more appealing. And for people who use an eye-level finder most of the time and want a very high-quality view, isn't the G1 or GH1 actually a more integrated package?

"King Adobe's refusal to accept raw EP-2 files"

This is hardly Adobe's fault. If Adobe did magically know that a different camera's RAW information was roughly equivalent to anothers and let you open the RAW file, what if (for example) the Bayer Matrix had slightly different color balance? Everyone would complain that the Adobe RAW engine did not convert the file correctly.

I think that Adobe (and Apple) 's more conservative choice is the correct one. When you have to go in and bit fiddle a file to get it to work, it is pretty obvious that you are doing so at your own risk.


Depends on how critical AF performance is to you. If you don't mind the AF performance of point & shoot cameras but just wanted improved image quality, the E-P1/2 is for you.

If, however, SLR-level AF performance is important to you and you're okay living without image stabilization, get the GF1 instead.

OTOH, if what you want are good AF performance and image stabilization, you might have to wait for the E-P3.

FWIW, i have the E-P1 + 17 mm pancake and find the AF performance tolerable now after applying the firmware updates, but it's still suboptimal.

As much as I like the Oly, that viewfinder is...ugly? Huge? If what you want is a digital street camera (Leica?) why not just use a Voigtlander view finder? This is assuming that the 17mm prime is the way to go. Yes, I know you don't get 100 percent viewfinder precision, but for the style of photography that this camera seems best at, it's not needed. I want a precise viewfinder when I'm using a tripod, or at least looking for a subject that needs precise composition. I use a Voigtlander 90mm viewinder (yes, on a film camera) and it's very bright, but as small as it is, I find it a bit cumbersome.

I guess I'm trying to say that you need to decide what type of photography is most important to you and get the camera that is designed for that purpose. One camera can't cover all types of photography.

Joe Henry

The use of image stabilization for 90mm and 135mm M lens is still important. I heard there seemed to be an issue of using manual lens on Olympus that hold me from buying it. Use the M8 for the moment during the wait for this to sort out. I sold my G1 to finance the M8 purchase partially it does not have the image quality and partially it has no video but G1 manual focusing is very good and the camera is black as well. The Olympus photos so far seemed better image quality and I saw a demo of video using shallow DoF of Pana 20f1.7 and it is great. I hope to get the best of both worlds. How about pana get IS or Oly get a black skin plus a simple manual focus button.

One thing good about M3/4 you have at least 2 firms compete and competition is good for innovation which one can hope for -- like the sudden getting a EVF for Oly.

The GF1 advertisement is everywhere in Hong Kong and hence I hope this option stays. I do not think selling to professional/hobbist alone can make a good camera (like Contax 645) survive.

After reading this review, I canceled my pre-order for the E-P2 as the few improvements it offers over the E-P1 simply aren't relevant to how I use the camera. While I'm not a big fan of the E-P1's styling (and styling isn't a major concern for me in any event), I am surprised to see the (presumably) final version of the E-P2 doesn't look all that great in black, at least to my eye. And especially not with that big lump of a viewfinder on it. :-/

This camera completely defeats the purpose for me. With the horrible looking VF on its not smaller or lighter than a small dslr, or cheaper. And its certainly not better in any other way I can think of. They even managed to make it louder than the Pentax K7, which is quite an achievement for a camera with no mirror. 'Grats.

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned yet that Adobe's got the E-P2 covered.

Lightroom 2.6 Release Candidate:

Camera Raw 5.6:

Both will recognize and work with E-P2 files.

I've been toying with the idea of a Zeiss Ikon or other rangefinder, hoping to get a slightly smaller and simpler package than my DSLR while maintaining the "spontaneous" feel of a quick camera-to-eye-to-shutter turnaround to get that "decisive moment" capture.

I don't relish having to search out a mail-order lab or learning yet another task, home development. Even the prior contributors to darkroom magazines on this site seem bothered by developing film anymore.

Does either of these micro 4/3 options give a close to immediate response between pressing shutter and image capture? Would sure help shorten my post-process burden compared to the analog approach.

Keith, there is an interesting thing about Adobe updates. When Olympus introduced E-410, Adobe issued an update and it could open the files normally. Very soon after that, E-510 appeared. The ACR opened E-510's files without problems, although the camera wasn't in the "supported" list. And both cameras write their identification strings into the files. So what changed in the ACR since then?

But why do we have to read on almost every corner that E-P1 (and now E-P2, also) was designed to (professional) photographers who wanted to have something smaller than theirs DSLRs, always with them?

This is an interesting thing. I really don't know why. Panasonic targets G1 towards compact users and nobody says a thing. Olympus targets their cameras towards compact users and suddenly people are complaining the camera doesn't have professional features.

I repeat, I really don't know why. Or maybe people over at zone-10.com were right. Check their article on the history of Olympus where they describe the level of hostility displayed towards Olympus and their DSLRs.

I experienced that kind of hostility myself. Last summer, I was talking to a professional photographer and mentioned E-P1 that had just appeared. The reaction was an immediate bristling. The gist of the argument was, he had used OMs and felt betrayed when they didn't introduce autofocus. Therefore, Olympus is bad, their digital cameras are rubbish.

The thing is, I think that all the cameras in a given price range are quite similar in their qualities. Some are better, some are worse, but it's not a quantum leap in quality. So it really gets on my tits when people are perpetuating the same old cliches over and over. They say things that are self-evident to them* and cite "authorities"**, and we end with a public perception that's quite divorced from the reality. I know of a review that praised features in a camera. The reviewer didn't notice those features when he was reviewing an Olympus camera a couple of years earlier. What kind of reception is that?

Okay, rant over, I've got stuff to do. :-) But it's still curious.

* they made it up.
** they read things other people made up.***
*** Thank you, Mr. Pratchett. :-)

erlik: I still agree with you. Why didn't they make an advertisment like that: "We know that there's no small, everyday use camera, producing an acceptable image quality for professional photographers. So we didn't even try do make one." ?

"During the day, you'll be hard pressed to notice any difference between VF-2 and an optical viewfinder. You use it the same way as you would an optical viewfinder as you have the same shooting info at the bottom of the viewfinder."

I have no doubt that the EVF works very well for locked off shots of architecture, locations or people holding still.

But it will fall apart like every other EVF on the market if you try to do timing critical work like documentary, street and sports photography, due to the display lag, strobing, stuttering etc.

Maybe the new Epson screen running at a much higher frame rate will solve this problem, but at this point in time there is no EVF on the market that delivers the performance of an optical viewfinder

"King Adobe's refusal to accept raw EP-2 files"... Ranger 9 wrote: "what if (for example) the Bayer Matrix had slightly different color balance? Everyone would complain that the Adobe RAW engine did not convert the file correctly".

Why not give a warning message: "The file you are trying to open is not fully supported, you can still try to edit it, but the results may be less than optimized ... options: (Open) or (Cancel)"

Your review mentioned that the viewfinder tends to fall off when being carried in a non-dedicated bag. Did you have any problem with the viewfinder coming loose while carrying the camera with the shoulder strap or hand-held throughout the day?

carl frederick

PaulD, depends on what you mean. Can't talk about GF1 (fired a couple of shots at a presentation), but E-P1 and E-P2 will focus if you press the shutter button from zero to full. But prefocus and keep the button half-pressed and the reaction time is at DSLR levels. No shutter lag like in compacts.

I'm with those who don't get why one would want to use this with the EVF. With it on the body is larger than Oly's own small DSLR's and certainly no more pocketable. It's like the accessories that some people pile on a Bessa-- dork city.

@ erlik

Oh, I've seen some of them. (c;


I love my EP1, and have not used my LX3 nor E3 since purchasing it. I would probably get the EP2 with the wonderful finder on account of Vlator's assessment that it is possible to focus a 50mm F1.4 with accuracy at F1.4 without having to use the manual focus assist mode, just like the E3 OVF. That nails it for me! I will detach the finder when I want small, but use the finder outdoors or when I attach a manual lens!

Except for the small lenses I just don't see the big deal. If you put a VF on them why not just grab a digital Rebel. They are relatively small and quite light.

The level of hostility to an EVF that almost no one here has actually, you know, used (Harry L., I'm taking to you, among others) is really kind of sad.

I expect better from this crowd.

WRT its ugliness, yes, I like pretty cameras, too, but a higher priority is cameras that function well. I'd rather have a superb EVF than a tiny one, and the fact that it's removable gives you a choice: a small P/S style camera, or a bigger SLR style camera. That seems like a great choice!

And there is a practical advantage to this EVF's size: I'm left-eyed, and I like shooting with both eyes open, not least so that my subjects can see at least one of my eyes. (This is one of the great unmentioned advantages of rangefinders for right-eyed shooters: your subject can see most of your face, so they are looking at you, not at just a big fat D/SLR where normal humans have a face.) The EP-2 finder is one of the few that's tall enough that my shutter finger might not be in the way...

"If you put a VF on them why not just grab a digital Rebel. They are relatively small and quite light."

Relative size is notoriously difficult to judge online from pictures. The E-P1/2 is still appreciably smaller than even the smallest DSLR.


But it will fall apart like every other EVF on the market if you try to do timing critical work like documentary, street and sports photography, due to the display lag, strobing, stuttering etc.

Er, what? How did you come up with that?

Please check my little public gallery of portraits from the conference on Facebook. Notice the middle two? I was timing their movements to catch an outstretched arm just like I would with a DSLR.

The photo of the statue with a guitar? I was waiting for the guy in the background to hand over the plant to the woman. Just like I would with a DSLR. (It's a Christmas Star plant, btw. :))

The kids with pigeons? I was looking through the viewfinder for them to stop.

Or this... (hopefully, the photo will be linked.) I was looking through the viewfinder for the flock to wheel like this over the buildings.

Maybe it would have been different if I was shooting racing cars or something like that. Having not tried, I don't know. But this kind of movement presented absolutely no challenge.

Carl, no problems at all. And the bag thing most probably happened because it was a comparatively thin bag. In a compartment in my photo backpack, no moving, no sliding.

I just got mine this afternoon. At this point all I can say is the evf is outstanding. File look clean and very similar to EP-1. Rain and mixed stuff falling so until tomorrow I want be able to really see how well it works; however, if the only major difference between the EP-1 and EP-2 is the addition of the evf then I'm sure to be pleased.

should suffice hehe

Have they fixed the over heating problems that I had with my EP-1? My camera would over heat and I had to turn it off when the warning came on. Happened when I was taking a lot of pictures and the camera was on a long time.

>Er, what? How did you come up with that?

I tested a few EVF (GH1 etc) and all failed in this respect.

None of the people on your Facebook page are moving at any real speed. They are sitting, standing etc.

Try making a puddle jumper shot. Or nailing a shot while panning at anything but a snails pace.

Try doing this with an EVF:

The display lag is very small, but it is there.

The EVF isn't bad, it's just not as good as an optical viewfinder. That may change in the future.

To Mike: yes, it is difficult to assess size differences from photos and I'm sure that in absolute numbers there are differences in dimensiions between an ep2 and a small DSLR, but my question is, does the ep2 fit in a pant pocket? No, especially with the VF on. You need a small bag or jacket with large pockets, which puts in the same "pocketability" category as, say, a Pentax K7 and pancake lens. The problem is, when you take it out of that pocket and start taking photos, the K7 beats the ep2 in a number of ways.

Don't get me wrong, I love the M4:3 concept and I believe Oly is best suited to pull it off considering their tradition in small, capable cameras. I just dont think the system has fulfilled its potential yet, which is to be expected considering it is only the 1st generation of m4:3 cameras. It was a great effort and congrats to Oly, but IMO its time to stop praising them and start asking for a couple of improvements that would make it a much more usable camera (again IMO), namely:
- Built-in VF, probably electronic.
- Quieter shutter. Honestly, why should a mirrorless camera sound like a sewing machine?
- More dedicated M4:3 pancake lenses, which they are probably working on already.
- Infinity stop, distance scales and aperture values on the lenses mentioned above, which will facilitate zone, hyperfocal and other types of prefocusing. I mean, that Oly m4:3 pancake is really a 17mm lens. At 17mm you dont even need AF, all you really need is some way to quickly set it to 2m (and stay there, not reset everytime the camera goes to "sleep mode")***

I'd buy a camera like that in every colour :)

***I remember you mentioned your method of street shooting with this cam: finding an object at 2m, focusing on that and leaving it there until the camera "sleeps", then repeat the exercise. That was the only thing I could think of and what I was doing as well every 10mins when I had an ep-1 (on loan for a month from Oly, as part of a competition/test drive). Then it hit me: I can understand a $50 XA or MJU making me jump a few hoops to get what I want, but a $1k camera? And for what reason? Because although it is ladden with gimmicky features (do you want your lens to focus clockwise or counter-clockwise? haha funny) it lacks a simple distance scale? If I had actually forked out the $1k, this would made me feel a little bit silly to be honest.

Later I found out that instead of putting up with that lens I could simply mount an LTM ultrawide Cosina-Voigtlander with adapter and get all the useful manual focusing features I needed on a wide lens (even with the 2X crop factor) without sacrificing anything on weight and size. But then I'd have to live with the f4.5 max aperture. Bummer, because one of the great things about 4:3 sensors is that lenses with a normal-to-wide f.o.v. have to be so wide that you can still have a gigantic depth of field even at f2. Hurrah for low light handheld landscape/cityscape photography and hurrah for street/situational/candid/pj type photography: you can have a camera that doesnt need to be focused even at f2, therefore you dont have to put up with silly-slow AF systems, especially not Oly's fly-by-wire, where the lens has to go to infinity, then minimum, then infinity again before it finally settles to where you want it to go. Another opportunity missed.

I hope now it is more clear where I'm coming from?


Harry, there're some glaring holes in your arguments.

You're missing the opinion on E-P1. It's not a sports camera and it's not intended as a sports camera. E-P2 is same in behaviour. Ergo, not a sports camera.

Secondly, you have absolutely no knowledge of how fast were the movements in the photos. The woman in particular had a way of turning and moving abruptly and then stopping, which was the moment I caught the photo. I could follow her constantly. Furthermore, I could follow any kind of movement I chose to. The fact that I didn't photograph it doesn't mean the camera was incapable of tracking it.

Thirdly, you may have tried the viewfinders on GH1 etc. but you apparently haven't tried E-P2.

Fourthly, if you think that you cannot follow people in the street because they move fast, I don't know what kind of street you're living on.

Finally, maybe our opinions on display lag, strobing ekcetra are different, but I didn't see anything I would consider a problem. (I didn't notice anything. Period.) Maybe you would. But I'm afraid you'd be nitpicking.

Spyro, while I wouldn't necessarily buy one for this purpose, the CV 12mm and 15mm lenses actually do work very well on m4/3 bodies, provided you are shooting outdoors in reasonably bright light. Here's a photo (taken with my GF1/20mm combo!) of my Nikon F-mount version of the CV 12mm on my E-P1...

although truth be told, I'm anxiously awaiting Pansonic's 14mm/f2.8 because I'd like to use it indoors and in dim light as well and even with the E-P1's in-body IS, you'll be pushing your luck trying to do so with the CV 12mm.

@erlik, I wonder if Mr. Lime has tried to keep up with a teenager while playing, say, Counter-Strike using a video card that does 60 Hz (the refresh rate of the EP-2 EVF)...?

With everyone getting so hung up over the size of the EVF, why not look at the G1/GH1? The GH1 has what I feel the best sensor of all the m4/3 cameras so far, and I feel is currently a bit overlooked admist all the compact-looking cameras.

Catatostrpophile wrote:
"Why not give a warning message: "The file you are trying to open is not fully supported, you can still try to edit it, but the results may be less than optimized ... options: (Open) or (Cancel)""

Because Adobe has no way of knowing whether it is a E-P1 -> E-P2 difference or a EOS 1d to 1ds diffence.

erlik: I don't know.

strangely enough.
are you reviewing e-p2 using an e-p1 camera?
all photo exif showing shot were made out of an e-p1???

"are you reviewing e-p2 using an e-p1 camera? all photo exif showing shot were made out of an e-p1?"

He explained that in the article. He had to change the ID code to get the software to recognize the files because he was using a pre-production camera. The pictures were taken with an E-P2.


Hmm.. I'm torn.. While all along i was waiting for olympus to put an evf on the pen, and while i feel it does the job it supposed to do, i suddenly can't help wondering if there's any practical reason to put a voigtlander vf on instead..

While i won't be able to focus manually, i'd probably most often do fine pre-focusing, especially since i'd have such a big dof especially if i max out at f/4..

But even then, does it make any sense...

Are these the only real upgrades made to the EP-2 the EVF, AF Tracking and two new art filters? If thats the case the EP-1 is the way to go with it's better price.....

It seems I spouted off too soon. I have learned there are several improvements/updates for the EP-2 in addition to the ones I mentioned above. Such as the ability to use an external microphone and manual control of shutter and aperture during video recording. So if these features are important to you the EP-2 may be the camera for you....

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