Olympus E-PL2 Review

January 26, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Olympus E-PL2 is the fourth Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus and the successor to the one-year-old E-PL1 model. The Olympus E-PL2 remains an affordable mass-market camera, with a small and light plastic chassis to help keep the price down. Key changes from the E-PL1 include a larger, higher resolution 3 inch LCD screen, the extension of the easy-to-understand, non-technical Live Guide to incorporate the HD Movie mode, a circular Live Wheel feature selector on the rear, Dramatic Tone art filter, ISO range of 200-6400, and a new version of the 14-42mm kit lens. There's also a new Accessory Port 2 connector which accepts the PENPAL Communication Unit for Bluetooth connectivity and the Macro Arm Light for precision illumination of macro photos, and there are three new conversion lenses available (wide-angle, macro and fish-eye). The E-PL2 retains the original model's 12.3 megapixel sensor, sensor-shift image stabilisation, Supersonic Wave Filter for automated sensor cleaning, one-touch HD video recording, and 3fps continuous shooting for up to 10 raw images. The Olympus E-PL2 is available now in silver, black, white and red at a retail price of £500 / $599 for the 14-42mm single lens kit.

Ease of Use

The Olympus E-PL2 is virtually identical to its predecessor in terms of its design, so a lot of the comments that we made in our review of the E-PL1 will be repeated here. The Olympus E-PL2 takes advantage of the mirror-less nature of the Micro Four Thirds standard to offer a smaller and lighter solution that more traditional DSLR cameras, targeting those users who want to trade up from a compact but who are scared away by the size and complexity of a DSLR.

With it's all-plastic body the E-PL2 is one of the lighter models in this category, weighing 317g, a little more than the E-PL1, and it measures 115.4 x 72.7 x 42mm. The E-PL2 has a plastic construction with a metal lens mount, although it still feels reassuringly well-made with very little flex in the overall design. The depth and weight increase when the supplied poly-carbonate mounted 14-42mm kit lens is fitted, making the E-PL2 instantly more DSLR-like, but fitting a pancake lens like Olympus' 17mm or Panasonic's 20mm creates a compact overall package that will particularly suit street photographers looking for an indiscrete camera.

The E-PL2 continues the more modern styling of the E-PL1, with both a lot more neutral than the overtly retro design of the E-P1 and E-P2, making them appeal more to the younger and inexperienced audience that this model is aimed at. Our black review sample has lost the silver metal accents of the E-PL1 and subsequently looks more serious as a result. There's also a more generous, textured black rubberised hand-grip on the left-front of the camera which I prefer to the E-PL1's hand-grip, and a shiny black panel on the rear where most of the controls are located. The E-PL2 is better constructed than you'd expect given its relatively small size, light weight and budget price-tag, certainly on a par with most entry- and mid-level DSLRs.

One of the biggest changes to the E-PL2 is not to the camera body, but the kit lens that ships with it. Olympus have updated the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 to make it smaller, lighter, slimmer and shorter when fully extended than the original version. This means that the lens mount doesn't take up quite so much of the front of the camera, making room for the larger hand-grip, and it also makes the overall package slightly lighter and more compact. Note that it is slightly longer than the original when in the locked position, but not by much. It also focuses internally, resulting in a much quieter lens that is virtually silent in operation, which also offers the benefit of not extending when focusing, perfect for filter users. Perhaps most importantly, it's also faster to focus than the original, which literally often made us miss that decisive moment. The only minus point in terms of design is purely a cosmetic one, with the silver band at its base making it look cheaper than the all-black Mark I version.

Large metal neck strap eyelets are located on top of the camera at the sides, with the rear dominated by the larger fixed 3 inch LCD screen. When it comes to storing your photographs the E-PL2 uses SD / SDHC / SDXC cards. The BLS-5 battery which provides up to 500 shots under the CIPA testing standard (note that this drop to 280 images if using Live View all the time) is housed next to the SD slot, both protected by a plastic lockable cover. Also found on the bottom of the camera is a metal tripod mount located almost in the centre of the camera body, although not in line with the centre of the lens.

Olympus E-PL2 Olympus E-PL2
Front Rear

As with the E-PL1, there is no optical viewfinder as on a DSLR. Instead, you can choose to buy the excellent detachable VF-2 viewfinder which slots into the E-PL2's hotshoe on top of the camera and is tilt-able to 90° so the camera can be used as you would a medium format model and with 100% field of view. The EVF has a new port to connect to, dubbed AP2, which is situated just below the E-PL2's hotshoe and protected with a slide-off piece of plastic that will quickly get lost in the recesses of your camera bag. This port also allows the attachment of an accessory microphone if so desired via the EMA-1 adapter, the new PENPAL Communication Unit for Bluetooth connectivity and the Macro Arm Light for precision illumination of macro photos. Olympus didn't supply any of these accessories, so we can't comment on their performance.

The E-PL2 has a built-in pop-up flash, activated by a switch on the rear. This uses a folding design to raise the flash as high as possible above the lens, much like the one on the Panasonic GF series of cameras. It has a guide number of 7 at ISO 100, offers a range of flash synchronisation modes, an X-sync speed of 1/160 s / 1/2000 s, the ability to dial-in compensation of +/- 3 EV, and can also be employed to trigger an off camera flash (either the FL-50R or FL-36R).

The E-PL2 has a much improved 3-inch, 460,000-dot rear LCD screen, the same as the one on the E-P2, which has a very wide viewing angle and remains visible outdoors in the sunshine too. The resolution is good for a screen of this size, and it also offers 100% scene coverage. The colour temperature of the screen can be modified if you think it doesn't match that of your calibrated computer monitor, but the contrast and gamma cannot be altered.

The LCD screen doubles-up as a status display, with three different screens on offer, which can be called up by repeatedly pressing the Info button in record mode. These include the camera's key settings and a small live histogram (although sadly not both at the same time), and no information at all. Sadly the E-P1 / E-P2's innovative level gauge, which makes it easy to straighten either the horizontal or vertical horizon, has been dropped from this model, as has the handy live preview of different exposure compensation and white balance settings in a multi-frame window.

You can also change all the important settings right on the LCD screen, which Olympus calls the Super Control Panel. This ingenious solution spares you the pain of having to enter the menu system, and makes most settings changes fairly simple. Pressing the Start / OK button calls up a vertical list of icons that can be selected and changed by using the navigation pad keys. Four of the most often-used functions - exposure compensation, focusing mode, flash and drive mode - each have their own dedicated button mapped onto the four-way navigation pad, although we missed having buttons for the ISO sensitivity and white balance.

Olympus E-PL2 Olympus E-PL2
Pop-up Flash Front

The Olympus E-PL2 doesn't have the dual command dials for setting key options like aperture and shutter speed that the EP-1 and EP-2 offer. Instead the E-PL2 uses either the arrow keys on the navigation pad, or the new Live Wheel feature selector which surrounds it. This new control is something of a mixed blessing, proving more intuitive than continually pressing the navigation pad buttons, but more frustrating as it's all too easy to inadvertently press one of the buttons at the same time as spinning the rather small wheel. I lost count of the number of times that I changed the exposure compensation or flash settings instead of the aperture or shutter speed.

In the Manual shooting mode, pressing up and down sets the aperture and left and right sets the shutter speed, or you can use the Live Wheel and press up to alternate between aperture and shutter speed. Overall the combination of arrow keys and the Live Wheel is a simpler solution that's easier for beginners to understand than dual command dials, but more experienced photographers will definitely miss having a DSLR-like command dial, which makes it much easier to change the settings when holding the camera up to your face.

Olympus have attempted to make the E-PL2 more intuitive for beginners by offering the Live Guide mode. Choose the iAuto shooting mode and press the OK button, and you can use an onscreen vertical slider system to change 5 of the camera's key settings - Color Saturation, Color Image, Brightness, Blur Background, Express Motions - as well as see a range of shooting tips. We're not sure about some of the names (Express Motions??), and it's only available in iAuto (the Super Control Panel replaces it in the other shooting modes), but overall Live Guide is quite a good idea if you know what you want to achieve but are unsure of the photographic terminology and methods that more experienced shooters take for granted. New to the E-PL2 is the useful ability to not only take a still picture using the settings that you have chosen in the Live Guide mode, but also shoot a movie too.

Manual focusing is greatly enhanced by the 'enlarged display' function. Once you have selected manual focus mode, press the Zoom In button repeatedly until a green rectangle appears in the middle of the display. You can move this rectangle to one of the 225 available points using the four-way pad, and magnify into it by pressing Zoom In again. The default magnification is 7x, but you can raise this to 10x or 14x by pressing the Info button. This is real, non-interpolated magnification, very useful for accurate manual focusing - provided you find a way to steady the camera. A second press of the Zoom In button will let you see the full frame again.

The main menu system on the E-PL2 is fairly straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu button on the rear of the camera. There are six main menus, Camera1, Camera2, Playback, Custom, Accessories and Setup. Annoyingly the Custom and Accessories menus, which allow you to fine-tune the camera to suit your way of working and to access settings for the optional PENPAL and EVF, are hidden by default (there's are options to turn them on in the Settings menu). As mentioned previously, the Super Control Panel on the LCD screen speeds up access to some of the more commonly used options. Due to the large LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to six, the various options and icons are clear and legible. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Unfortunately Olympus have chosen not to supply it in printed format, so you can't carry it with you for easy reference.

The E-PL2 has an 11-point contrast detection auto-focus system, which is automatically increased to 25 points when Face Detection is turned on. With a non high-speed contrast AF lens mounted, the camera defaults to Manual Focus mode even if Auto Focus is selected. There's no useful AEL / AFL button on the rear of the camera as on the E-P1 / E-P2. The E-PL2 offers a comprehensive set of exposure modes, including P, A, S and M for advanced users. iAuto mode automatically recognises common scenes and and adjusts the camera settings accordingly to achieve the best results, perfect for complete novices, plus there's a range of different scene modes. The ePortrait scene mode allows you to soften shadows and smooth out unwanted facial features, either before taking the picture or afterwards.

Olympus E-PL2 Olympus E-PL2
E-PL2 v E-PL1 14-42mm Mk II v 14-42mm Mk I

Olympus are also heavily promoting the E-PL2's artistic capabilities, with two features in particular, Art Filters and Multiple Exposure, differentiating it from its main competitors. The 6 different Art Filters are Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone (which replaces the E-PL1's Gentle Sepia filter) - you can see the results on the Image Quality page. Unlike most other cameras, these effects are applied before taking a shot, rather than afterwards, so you can preview the effect on the LCD screen before pressing the shutter button. The Art Filters can also be applied to previously taken RAW images, either in-camera or with the supplied Olympus "ib" software. Four of the six Art Effects are sub-divided into further options to fine-tune their effect.

The Multiple Exposure function allows two images to be superimposed onto each other, creating a composite, and you can either overlay a previous shot or the image that you are about to take. Multiple Exposure even works with RAW files as well as JPEGs, whilst the Art Filters are applied to a JPEG (with an unprocessed RAW file also saved). The Art Filters are a little over-the-top for my taste, and you can't tweak the default look, but the ability to to change the exposure, white balance and other key settings whilst previewing the effect is very welcome.

While the Art Filters get their own setting on the Mode Dial, the Multiple Exposure option is inexplicably buried away in the main menu system. The E-PL2 offers also four different aspect ratios that enable individualised framing of scenes, including the default 4:3 ratio employed by the Micro Four Thirds system. The available aspect ratios are: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 6:6. They're quite a good way of personalizing your shots in-camera, with the ability to preview the effect again proving particularly useful.

The Olympus E-PL2 has a built-in mechanical image stabilisation system which can be turned on and off via the main menu. Four different options are available - Off, On (I.S. 1), turn off the horizontal image stabilizer but leave on the vertical one (I.S. 2) or turn off the vertical image stabilizer but leave on the horizontal one (I.S. 2), both for when you want to pan with your subject and keep it sharp while the background blurs. The IS system offers up to 4 EV steps of stabilisation - in practice I found that 3 EV steps was more readily achievable. Also available is the impressively named Supersonic Wave Filter, whereby any dust particles that drift inside while changing lenses settle on a filter that protects the image sensor, and are then shaken clear when the camera powers down.

The Olympus E-PL2 offers a number of features inherited from Olympus' DSLR cameras. Among these are Pixel Mapping and spot metering, which comes in no less than three variations: midtone-based, shadow-based and highlight-based. The latter two make life easier for those who know what spot metering is but do not know how to use it in combination with exposure compensation. These options come on top of the usual centre-weighted and evaluative modes.

The E-PL2 can record high-resolution HD 720p 1280x720 movies in the 16:9 aspect ratio and standard VGA 640x480 movies in the 4:3 aspect ratio, both using the AVI Motion JPEG format at 30 frames per second. The Movie mode is accessed either by selecting the Movie option on the shooting mode dial and then pressing the shutter button to begin recording, or much more conveniently with a single press of the one-touch Motion Picture button on the rear of the camera. The total length of an individual movie clip is restricted to 7 minutes for 1280x720 movies and 14 minutes for 640x480 movies, apparently due to an inherent limit of 2Gb for AVI files. Only Mono sound is recorded during video capture via the small internal mic on the rear of of the camera, but you can at least plug-in an external stereo mic. The HDMI port allows you to connect the E-PL2 to a high-def TV set, but only if you purchase the optional HDMI mini-cable.

Olympus E-PL2 Olympus E-PL2
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

You can shoot movies using the Program, Aperture-priority or Manual modes, giving you full control over exposure. Note that you can't change the shutter speed or aperture during recording though. The E-PL2 offers the ability to use any of the 6 Art Filters during video recording as well as still images. This instantly lends an interesting art-house effect to your home movies, with the Grainy Film option being particularly appealing. The frame rate is rather drastically reduced though for some of the filters. A Program option for point and shoot operation completes the movie shooting modes. An Electronic Image Stabilization system compensates for camera shake, and you can take a still shot during video recording, although this also ends the movie rather than just interrupting it. The C-AF+TR focus mode applies to both still and moving pictures, locking the focus point on the main subject and automatically following it around the frame.

You can use a zoom lens during recording and really make the most of the wide range of compatible lenses. Focusing is set as for still images by half-pressing the shutter button. On the negative side, you'll find that if you choose continuous auto-focus, areas of the video will be blurred before becoming sharp again as the camera tries to refocus, and as noted above, the noise of the AF system is very intrusive. Using manual focus is much trickier but will ultimately produce better looking and sounding movies. On a more positive note, having the AF system is better than not being able to auto-focus at all, as with all current DSLR cameras that offer video recording. Hand-holding the E-PL2 during movie recording inevitably leads to obvious shake, despite the electronic image stabilizer, so for best results you'll need a dedicated video tripod.

The start-up time from turning the E-PL2 on to being ready to take a photo is pretty impressive at around 1.5 seconds. Thankfully the Contrast Auto-Focusing system is much faster than on the E-PL1, taking approximately 0.25 second to lock onto the subject and emit a loud beep (which can be turned off). It usually achieves focus most of the time, helped by the AF assist lamp - the E-PL2 doesn't have any notable problems locking onto the subject in low-light situations.

It takes about 2 seconds to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a brief LCD blackout between each image. Storing a single RAW image takes around 4 seconds, but thankfully it doesn't lock up the camera in any way - you can use the menu system or shoot another image while the first file is being written to memory. The Olympus E-PL2 has quite a good Burst mode which enables you to take 3 frames per second for an unlimited number of JPEG images at the highest image quality, or 10 RAW images.

Once you have captured a photo, the Olympus E-PL2 has a good range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 25 onscreen at the same time and in a Calendar view), zoom in and out up to 14x magnification, view slideshows, delete and protect an image, add a sound clip and set the print order.

The Edit option offers a number of different ways to alter the look of an already-captured photo, including shadow adjustment, redeye fix, cropping, changing the aspect ratio, converting to black and white or sepia, boosting the saturation, resizing and applying the e-Portrait filter. The Info button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there are small brightness and RGB histograms available.

In summary the Olympus E-PL2 is a fairly minor update of an already easy-to-use and relatively inexpensive PEN compact system camera model, with a few new features to justify its release.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

During the review, the Olympus E-PL2 produced photos of excellent quality. Noise is very well handled, being virtually absent from ISO 200-1600 and not being too obvious at the relatively fast speed of ISO 3200. At the fastest setting of ISO 6400, noise is easily detectable when viewing images at 100% magnification on screen, but the images are still perfectly usable for small prints and resizing for web use.

Colours were vibrant without being over-saturated in the default Natural picture mode, and you can always choose Vivid if you want even more punch. The art filters quickly produce special effects that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, while the various Picture Modes provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG images.

Image stabilisation via the camera body is a very useful feature that works well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The 12.3 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting. The built-in flash takes full advantage of the E-PL2's various flash modes, with good exposure and no red-eye.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-PL2. 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 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)


ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Olympus E-PL2 has 2 different JPEG file quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option, and it can also shoot in RAW format. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (5.07Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (2.33Mb) (100% Crop)


RAW (11.3Mb) (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 flash settings on the Olympus E-PL2 are Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Slow Synchro, 2nd-curtain Slow Synchro, Fill-in and Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (28mm)


Off - Telephoto (84mm)

Fill-in - Telephoto (84mm)

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the On or the Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.


On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Olympus E-PL2 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 13 seconds at ISO 200. We've included a 100% crop to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Olympus E-PL2 has an Image Stabilisation mechanism built into the camera body. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Image Stabilisation turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Image Stabilisation turned on, the images are much sharper than when it's turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

1/5th / 28mm
1/4th / 84mm

Art Filters

The Olympus E-PL2 offers six 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 six 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


Grainy Film

Pin Hole



Dramatic Tone

Picture Modes

Olympus' Picture Modes, similarly to Nikon's Picture Styles and Canon's Picture Controls, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings. The five available Picture Controls are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. There is also an additional Custom style so that you can create your own look.









Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Olympus E-PL2 camera, which were all taken using the 12.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Olympus E-PL2 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Olympus RAW (ORF) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 15 second movie is 62Mb in size.

Product Images

Olympus E-PL2

Front of the Camera

Olympus E-PL2

Front of the Camera

Olympus E-PL2

Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Olympus E-PL2

Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View

Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View

Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View

Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View

Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View


Olympus E-PL2

Isometric View

Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera / Live Guide
Olympus E-PL2
Rear of the Camera / Live Guide
Olympus E-PL2
Top of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Bottom of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Side of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Side of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Front of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Front of the Camera
Olympus E-PL2
Memory Card Slot
Olympus E-PL2
Battery Compartment
Olympus E-PL2
E-PL2 v E-PL1
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E-PL2 v E-PL1
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E-PL2 v E-PL1
Olympus E-PL2
14-42mm Mk II v 14-42mm Mk I
Olympus E-PL2
14-42mm Mk II v 14-42mm Mk I


The Olympus E-PL2 is a rather modest upgrade of the original E-PL1, with a sleeker design, better kit lens and bigger screen chief amongst the rather short list of improvements. Olympus got most things right first time round with the E-PL1 though, so this new model remains an easy-to-use alternative to a more complicated and bigger DSLR.

The 14-42mm kit lens, possibly the only lens that many E-PL2 users will actually buy, is much improved - smaller, lighter, more compact and quieter, whilst offering faster auto-focusing and the same image quality as its predecessor. The larger and higher-resolution screen is also very welcome, as is the revised control layout that more closely resembles the higher-in-the-range E-P2. Only the Live Wheel selector disappoints amongst the major new features, proving too small and too responsive for reliable use - we'd much prefer to see a DSLR-like control dial (preferably two) on the E-PL3.

Importantly for its target audience, the E-PL2 retains the built-in flash of it predecessor, very neatly implemented with a folding design that raise the unit above the lens and helps reduce red-eye. The improved Live Guide is another beginner-friendly addition that makes understanding and changing apertures and shutter speeds to achieve creative effects very straight-forward indeed - simply move the slider and observe the effects live on the LCD screen, and it now works for movies too.

The E-PL2 offers the same excellent image quality as the E-PL1. Low-light performance up to ISO 3200 is very good, offering comparable quality to an entry-level APS-C DSLR, despite the smaller sensor size. The noise reduction is more aggressive by default on the E-PL2 than the higher-end PEN cameras, but you can change this if you don't like the out-of-the-box results. In terms of movie recording, the E-PL2 is one of the more capable Four Thirds cameras despite its budget price-tag, with 720p HD quality, full manual control, a handy one-touch record button and the much-prized ability to add an optional stereo microphone. Only the lack of full HD, large file sizes and limit of 7 minutes in HD mode detract from what is otherwise a great performer.

This new model also mostly solves one of our major criticisms of the E-PL1 - its painfully slow auto-focusing speed. The E-PL2 and new 14-42mm kit lens are thankfully a lot faster to lock onto the subject in good light or bad, so much so that we only missed the decisive moment due to our own fault, rather than the cameras. The E-PL2 still isn't as fast as the best that the competition has to offer (most notably the Panasonic DMC-GH2), but it no longer gives us cause to curse its good name.

The E-PL2 is one of the best Olympus PEN cameras yet, refining an already appealing design with a few well-thought-out design tweaks (with the exception of the Live Wheel) and a much improved standard kit lens. It's also a little cheaper too, making the new Olympus E-PL2 a serious contender for compact users looking to upgrade to a more full-featured yet still very portable camera.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Olympus E-PL2 from around the web.

ephotozine.com »

The development of the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera has been fast and led by keen consumer interest and demand. Removing the mirror box reduces the size of camera bodies and lenses considerably, giving us the promise of DSLR quality with compact camera size. Olympus has been at the forefront of this revolution, combining its Micro 4/3 format with the retro appeal of the Pen SLR design. We look at the latest offering in this range, the E-PL2, a light and compact alternative to the DSLR, providing of course that the quality level is there to match that of the larger cameras.
Read the full review »

neocamera.com »

The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is the entry-level Micro Four-Thirds SLD from Olympus. This digital camera is built around a 12 megapixels Four-Thirds sensor with a maximum ISO of 6400, 3 FPS full-resolution output and 720p HD video capability. The E-PL2 is one of the most compact ILCs with a rectangular body featuring a small hand-grip, a built-in popup flash and a hot-shoe with an accesory port which supports an optional add-on EVF.
Read the full review »


Body material Aluminium / Plastic
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Image Sensor
Type 4/3 '' Hi-Speed Live MOS sensor
Effective pixels 12.3 Megapixels
Filter array Primary colour filter (RGB)
Aspect ratio & area 4:3 / 17.3 x 13.0 mm
Full resolution 13.1 Megapixels
Type TruePic V
Dust reduction filter Supersonic Wave Filter
Live View
Displayed information Shooting information, 100% field of view, exposure adjustment preview, white balance adjustment preview, gradation setting preview (SAT), face detection preview, Perfect Shot Preview, gridline displayable, 7x/10x magnification possible, MF/S-AF, AF frame display, AF point display, Histogram
AF type Contrast detection system
Image Stabiliser
Type Sensor shift
Modes Two-dimensional, vertical or horizontal activation
Effective Compensation Range Up to 3 EV steps
Shutter speed range 2 - 1/4000 s (not available when Bulb is selected)
Focusing System
Method Contrast Detection AF system (when non high-speed contrast AF compatible lens is used, it works as MF assist)
Focus areas 11 points / Automatic and manual selection
225 points / Manual selection in Magnified View Mode
AF lock Yes , Locked by first position of shutter release button in single AF mode
Modes Manual focus, Single AF, Continuous AF, Single AF + MF, AF Tracking
Exposure System
Modes Programme automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual, i-Auto, Scene Modes, Movie
Exposure compensation +/- 3 EV ( 1, 1/2, 1/3 steps )
Exposure bracketing 2 / 3 / 5 frames ( +/- 1/3, 2/3, 1 EV steps )
7 frames ( +/- 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 EV steps )
Enhancement function Shadow Adjustment Technology
Face Detection Technology
Scene Modes
Number of scene modes 22
Modes Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape with Portrait, Macro, Sports, Night Scene, Night Scene with portrait, Children, High key, Low key, Digital Image Stabilisation, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach and Snow, Fisheye converter, Macro converter, Wide converter
Max. number of frames 2 frames (shooting)
Auto gain control Yes
Frame assistance Live View
Light Metering
Method TTL open aperture light metering
Zones 324 zones Multi-pattern Sensing System
Detection range 0 - 20 EV (17mm f2.8, ISO 100) Digital ESP, centre-weighted average metering, spot metering
Modes ESP light metering, Spot metering, Centre weighted metering, Highlight, Shadow
Art Filters
Pop Art  
Soft Focus  
Grainy Film  
Pin Hole  
Dramatic Tone  
Auto ISO 200 - 6400 (customisable, default ISO 200 - 1600)
Manual ISO 200 - 6400 in 1/3 or 1 EV ISO steps
Shutter type Computerised focal-plane shutter
Self timer 12 s / 2 s
Anti Shock Yes release delay:
Shutter Speeds
Shutter speed range 1/4000 - 60 s (in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps)
Bulb mode Up to 30 minutes (selectable longest time in the menu, default: 8 minutes)
Shutter speed P, Ps 1/4000 - 60 s
Shutter speed A priority 1/4000 - 60 s
Shutter speed S priority 1/4000 - 60 s
Shutter speed scene mode 1/4000 - 60 s
White Balance
AUTO WB system Advanced detection system with Live MOS sensor
White balance bracketing 3 frames / +/- 2, 4, 6 mired steps
One-touch white balance 1 custom settings can be registered
White balance adjustment +/- 7 in each A-B / G-M axis (in Auto WB, preset WB mode & one-touch WB)
Custom WB 1 setting can be registered at Kelvin temperature (2000K - 14000K)
Preset values Tungsten, Flourescent 1, Flourescent 2, Flourescent 3, Sunlight, Flash, Overcast, Shade
Sequence Shooting
Speed (H) Approx. 3 fps
RAW Mode 10 frames
JPEG Mode Depends on compression ratio or number of pixels (Large normal mode: approx. 17 with Toshiba Super High Speed type "Class 6" 4GB)
Image Processing
Colour space sRGB / AdobeRGB
Sharpness + Contrast 5 levels
Saturation 5 levels
Black & White filter Yellow, Orange, Red, Green
Black & White toning Sepia, Blue, Purple or Green in Black & White mode
Picture mode i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Portrait, Muted, Monotone
Gradation 4 levels (auto, high key, normal, low key)
Internal Flash
Guide number 7 (ISO 100)
Type pop-up
Modes FP Manual, TTL-Auto, Off
External Flash Control
X-sync speed 1/180 s / 1/4000 s (Super FP Mode)
Modes Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow synchronisation with red-eye reduction, Slow synchronisation, 2nd curtain and slow synchronisation, Fill-in for exclusive flash, Manual
Intensity +/- 3 EV ( 1, 1/2, 1/3 EV steps )
Note: Some functions are only available if they are supported by the external flash.
Built-in flash and wireless flash control from the camera body
Number of channels 4 channels
Compatible external flash FL-50R, FL-36R
Control method Triggered and controlled by built-in flash light
Modes Auto, FP Manual, FP TTL Auto, Manual, TTL Auto, TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode)
Group setting 3 groups
Available when used together with cameras compatible with the Olympus wireless RC flash system.
LCD type HyperCrystal LCD
Monitor size 7.6 cm / 3.0 '' (3:2)
Resolution 460000 dots
Brightness adjustment +/- 7 levels
Colour balance A-B: +/-7 levels, G-M: +/-7 levels
Super Control Panel
Displayed information Battery indicator, Aperture value, Shutter speed, AE bracketing, AF frame, Focus mode, AEL notification, Face detection, Number of storable frames, Metering mode, Exposure mode, Exposure compensation indicatior, ISO, Colour space, Gradation, Colour saturation compensation value, Contrast compensation value, Sharpness compensation value, White balance, White balance compensation value, Noise reduction, Flash mode, Drive mode, Record mode, Memory card, Internal temperature warning, Histogram, Flash compensation value, My Mode
Recording Formats
RAW 12 bit
RAW & JPEG Yes parallel recording
Aspect ratio 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9 / 6:6
Image Size
RAW 4032 x 3042 compressed / 14 MB / frame
4032 x 3042 Fine (compression: 1/4) / 5.9 MB / frame
4032 x 3042 Normal (compression: 1/8) / 2.7 MB / frame
2560 x 1920 Normal (compression: 1/8) / 1.1 MB / frame
1024 x 768 Normal (compression: 1/8) / 0.3 MB / frame
Still Image Recording
EXIF 2.2
Movie Recording System
Recording format AVI Motion JPEG®
Movie mode HD 1280 x 720 (16:9) / SD 640 x 480 (4:3)
Frame rate 30 fps
Max. recording time 14 min (SD) / 7 min (HD)
Max. file size 2 GB
Compression ratio 1/12 (HD), 1/8 (SD)
Sensitivity ISO 200 - 1600
Image Stabilisation Mode Yes Digital Image Stabilisation
Sound Recording System
Internal microphone Mono
External microphone Optional
Recording format Stereo PCM/16bit, 44.1kHz, Wave Format Base
Image footage 30 s
View Images
Modes Index, Calendar, Zoom, Slide show, Movie
Index Yes 4, 9, 16, 25, 49, 100 frames
Calendar Yes
Zoom Yes 2-14 x
Auto rotation Yes
Histogram in playback mode Yes
Shooting information Off / On
Image protect mode Yes
Erase / Protect / Copy Function
Erase modes Single, All, Selected
Image protect mode Single frame, Selected frames, All Frames, Release protect (Single/All selected)
Image Editing
RAW data edit Yes
Red-eye reduction Yes
Sepia Yes
Black & White Yes
Resize Yes
Correction of saturation Yes
Shadow Adjustment Yes
Trimming Yes
e-Portrait Yes
Menu languages in camera 34 languages / 27 European languages (e.g. English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish)
Customisation Options
My Mode 2 settings available
Power Supply
Battery BLS-5 Li-Ion battery (included)
Sleep mode 1, 3, 5, 10 min. and off selectable.
Live View shooting Approx. 280 images (100% with Live View) (with 50% flash light)
Temperature 0 - 40 °C operating temperature / -20 - 60 °C storage temperature
Humidity 30 - 90 % operation humidity / 10 - 90 % storage humidity
Dimensions (W x H x D) 115.4 x 72.7 x 42 mm (without protrusions)
Weight 317 g (body only)
Media SD Memory Card (SDHC, SDXCcompatible) Class 6 is recommended for Movie shooting
Connection Accessory Port 2
HDMI™ Yes Mini connector (type C) *
USB 2.0 High Speed Yes
Combined V & USB output Yes NTSC or PAL selectable
* "HDMI", the HDMI logo and "High-Definition Multimedia Interface" are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing LLC.

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