The PEN E-PL2 is the latest PEN offering from Olympus. Aimed at enthusiast consumers, the E-PL2 is designed to offer a host of creative controls and DSLR-like image quality in a compact body. So does it deliver the goods? The Olympus PEN E-PL2 review finds out...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Olympus PEN E-PL2

Overall score:87%
Image Quality:85%


  • Design, Build, Handling and competitive image quality


  • No viewfinder may put off some and performance not up to a similar priced DSLR


Olympus PEN E-PL2 Review


Price as reviewed:

The Olympus PEN E-PL2 updates the more budget-targeted E-PL1 model from yesteryear. When the original digital PEN arrived a couple of years ago, it captured the imagination on many photographers. It heralded a new generation of compact, high-quality, interchangeable-lens cameras and stole some of the thunder from the first Compact System Camera, the Panasonic’s LUMIX G1. Since establishing a strong position, rival models from not only Panasonic, but also Sony and Samsung have arrived to muscle in on the act. The outgoing E-PL1 was a solid option, but was left wanting behind stiff competition such as the Sony NEX-5 and Panasonic LUMIX GF2, so how does the new PEN E-PL2 compare?

Olympus PEN E-PL2 review – Features

The Olympus PEN E-PL2’s resolution remains the same as the E-PL1, with a 12.3MP Live MOS chip at the heart of the camera, managing a decent sensitivity of ISO 200-6400 – increased by a stop over the E-PL1‘s ceiling of 3200, but at the expense of the low-end sensitivity of ISO 100 on the outgoing PEN.

The rear screen has increased in size from 2.7in on the E-PL1 to a more competitive 3in, with a decent resolution of 460K-dots. There’s no viewfinder, but the E-PL2 will allow you to attach the dedicated VF-2 electronic viewfinder, which will set you back a fairly hefty £225 extra. This sits on your hotshoe and via a small connection just above the rear screen, and allows you to get a live feed through to the view that mimics the display on the rear screen.

Built into the body is a small pop-up flashgun, with a range of controls (even being able to control the flash power) and provides a modest kick that’s suitable for a range of close-range subjects. There’s also the ability to control flash wirelessly should you wish with compatible ‘guns – a relatively high-end feature not normally seen on a camera of this class.

Olympus PEN E-PL2

Olympus PEN E-PL2 review – click for full size image

Olympus has opted to feature in-camera image stabilisation, so any lens attached benefits from the feature, and claims to offer a 3-stop advantage compared to not having it active.

As well as the typical manual modes you’d expect to find (shutter priority, aperture priority, program and manual), there’s also an Intelligent Auto mode, in which all settings are under the control of the camera. There are also 22 Scene modes to choose from, along with a selection of Art filters. The are six in total – Pop Art, Soft Focus, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama and Dramatic Tone – all there to add an extra creative twist to your shots and make the whole process of image taking fun and hassle-free.

Like all Compact System Cameras, the Olympus PEN E-PL2 relies on contrast detect AF for focus acquirement, with an 11-point wide-area AF arrangement.

Finally, the bundled lens is also new. The 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II MSC is 25% lighter than the original incarnation, but like the old model, collapses down into a more compact and portable size when not in use. Because the Micro Four Thirds system requires a 2x focal length conversion, the 14-42mm lens offers a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28-84mm, providing a broad shooting range. If you can stretch your budget, then the lovely 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens is also worth exploring. That’s not forgetting the growing range of Micro Four Thirds lenses – both from Olympus and Panasonic (and even forthcoming from Sigma too).


  1. 1. Olympus PEN E-PL2 review - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Value & Verdict
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