Olympus E-P2 Review

February 4, 2010 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.3 megapixel Super Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

We've found Olympus images straight out of the camera to be slightly cool in the past but generally the opposite proved to be the case here, particularly when the E-P2 was left on iAuto and landscape setting boosted greens and blues to vibrant levels. However the Pen doesn't always get it 'write' when it comes to accurate white balance, which to us looked ever so slightly off compared with the scene at the time the image was taken. Likewise we were unsurprised to find instances of visible pixel fringing when zooming in to check detail, if not to an insurmountable degree. There's some slight barrel distortion visible when shooting at maximum wideangle on the provided lens, but again this isn't to an unacceptable degree. Mostly results are agreeably pin-sharp.

You'll also want to play with the new Art Filters Cross Process and Diorama if buying this camera, the latter for us producing the most striking results with a little experimentation. Generally the digital effects that worked the best were pop art, pinhole, diorama and grainy film; the others we rarely used.

As to be expected, using our 14-42mm test lens at maximum ISO 6400 setting on the E-P2 reveals a uniform dusting of noise plus softened detail. Up to and including ISO 400 it's a clean bill of health, with noise creeping into shadow areas at ISO 800 and extending across the entirety of the image at ISO 1600. Olympus could have cut things there but at this price users will expect the higher ISOs provided, hence we have the options of ISO 3200 and ISO 6400, the appearance getting incrementally more 'gritty' the higher up we go.


There are 7 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-P2. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)



Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Modes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The Olympus E-P2 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 60 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times as long as 30 minutes, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/6th seconds at ISO 1600. We've included a 100% crop to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Art Filters

The Olympus E-P2 offers eight different Art Filters, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it (JPEG images only). The most useful of these is Soft Focus, because the FourThirds system lacks a dedicated soft focus lens, and the effect would require advanced knowledge of layers, blurring methods and blending modes if you were to reproduce it in post-processing. The eight available Art Filters are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. Note that applying the Art Filters slows the camera down somewhat as the camera takes several seconds to process and save the image.

Pop Art

Soft Focus


Pale&Light Color

Light Tone


Grainy Film

Pin Hole

Cross Process Diorama