Originally Posted: November 4, 2009
Last Updated: February 2, 2010
This is a preview of the Olympus E-P2 interchangeable lens camera. The camera described here is preproduction, and the features described in this article may be different in the final product. Olympus has requested that photos from this preproduction camera not be posted. Since this camera is nearly identical to the E-P1, a full review of the E-P2 is unlikely.
The Olympus E-P2 ($1099) is the second "Digital Pen" interchangeable lens camera from the Japanese photo giant. The E-P2 is essentially an enhanced version of the E-P1, which was introduced just five months ago. The vast majority of the features on these two Micro Four Thirds cameras are identical: same sensor, same image processor, same LCD, same features (mostly). So what has changed on the E-P2? Here's a list:
- New accessory port supports an electronic viewfinder or an external microphone adapter
- Articulating electronic viewfinder (included with the camera) has 1.44 million pixels, 1.15X magnification, and better brightness and contrast that competitive models
- AF tracking for both stills and movies
- Shutter speed and aperture now adjustable in movie mode
- iEnhance picture mode finds the dominant color in the frame and enhances the brightness and saturation of just that color
- Two new art filters: diorama (miniature effect) and cross process
- Can be controlled from the remote control of an HDTV supporting the CEC protocol (when camera is connected with HDMI cable)
- New translucent black body
For those of you who were hoping for a built-in flash... well, maybe on the E-P3.
I should add that the E-P1 isn't going anywhere. The two cameras will be sold side-by-side, at least for the time being.
Ready to learn more about the E-P2? Keep reading -- our preview starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The E-P2 will be available in two kits, both of which will be priced at $1099. You can get it with the 17mm pancake lens, or the 14 - 42 collapsible zoom lens. Unlike the E-P1, this camera comes in just one color: black. Here's what you'll find in the box for each of the kits:
- The 12.3 effective Megapixel Olympus E-P2 camera body
- F2.8, 17 mm M. Zuiko lens [17 mm kit only]
- F3.5-5.6, 14 - 42 mm M. Zuiko lens [14-42 kit only]
- BLS-1 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Electronic viewfinder
- Body cap
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Olympus Master software
- Camera manual
If you're familiar with the E-P2, then you already know about the two kit lenses that you can get with the E-P2. The 17mm pancake lens is a perfect match for the E-P2's compact body. Photo quality is also quite good. The collapsible 14 - 42 mm lens has some issues with corner softness, but it's a decent lens for everyday shots. There are several other Micro Four Thirds lenses that you can use with the camera, which include:
- Olympus F4.0-5.6, 9 - 18 mm M. Zuiko (coming in 2010)
- Olympus F4.0-5.6, 14 - 150 mm M. Zuiko (coming in 2010)
- Panasonic F1.7, 20mm Lumix G
- Panasonic/Leica F2.8, 45 mm DG Vario-Elmarit IS macro
- Panasonic F4.0, 7 - 14 mm Lumix G Vario
- Panasonic F3.5-5.6, 14 - 45 mm Lumix G Vario IS
- Panasonic F4.0-5.8, 14 - 140 mm Lumix G Vario HD IS
- Panasonic F4.0-5.6, 45 - 200 mm Lumix G Vario IS
The E-P2 also works with "legacy" Four Thirds lenses, via the optional MMF-1 adapter. Some older Four Thirds lenses may not support autofocus, though. But wait -- there's more. You can also use classic Olympus OM lenses via another optional adapter (MF-2), and all of these lenses will be manual focus only. If that's still not enough, I don't see any reason why you can't use Panasonic's Leica R and M-mount adapters, as well.
Regardless of what lens you have attached to the E-P2, there will be a 2X focal length conversion ratio. So, the 17 mm pancake lens has a field-of-view of about 34 mm.
Interchangeable lens cameras (which includes digital SLRs) never include memory cards, and that's the case with the E-P2. Thus, you'll need to purchase one, unless you have one laying around already. Just like with its predecessor, the E-P2 uses SD and SDHC memory cards, and I'd recommend a 4GB card to start with. It's definitely worth getting a high speed card, especially if you'll be taking a lot of HD videos.
Not surprisingly, the E-P2 uses the same BLS-1 lithium-ion battery as the E-P1. This battery packs 8.3 Wh of energy into its plastic shell, which is pretty good for a camera this size. Here's how that translates into battery life -- live view only, of course:
The E-P2's battery life is, not surprisingly, identical to that of the E-P1, at least when you're using the LCD (I don't have any numbers for the EVF). As you can see, the E-P2's main rival, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, does a bit better in this department. Trying to compare the E-P2's numbers against those from D-SLRs is nearly impossible, as manufacturers rarely publish battery life data for live view shooting.
I should point out a few things about the proprietary batteries used by the E-P2 and every other camera on the above list. For one, they're pretty expensive -- you'll spend at least $50 for a spare battery. Also, should your rechargeable battery run out of juice, you can't use an off-the-shelf battery to get you through the day.
This may be pretty obvious, but Olympus won't be offering a battery grip for the E-P2. Something else you cannot buy is an AC adapter.
When it's time to charge the BLS-1 battery, just pop it into the included charger. This is one of the slower chargers out there, taking 3.5 hours to power up the battery. This isn't one of those chargers that plugs directly into the wall, either - you must use a power cable.
The E-P2 with its included articulating electronic viewfinder
Probably the biggest new feature on the E-P2 is its included electronic viewfinder. This EVF attaches to the hot shoe and connects to a special accessory port on the back of the camera. This port is is 1) not the same as the one on the Panasonic GF1 and 2) also where you'll plug in the microphone adapter. As you've probably also figured out, you cannot use a flash and the EVF at the same time.
Back of the EVF
As for the EVF itself, it has some of the most impressive specs you'll find. The viewfinder has 1.44 million pixels (SVGA resolution) for an incredibly sharp image. The view is huge, with a magnification of 1.15X and, as you'd expect, you can see 100% of the frame. Olympus also promises better brightness and contrast and less ghosting than on other EVFs. The viewfinder can tilt up to 90 degrees upward, and the eyepiece doubles as the diopter correction knob. One thing I didn't care for was the size of the EVF: it adds a lot of bulk to the other compact E-P2.
EMA-1 external microphone adapter
Another new accessory for the E-P2 is the optional EMA-1 external microphone adapter. It too uses the accessory port (and takes up the hot shoe), but it offers a 3.5 mm stereo microphone input, which will let you record higher quality sound in your movies.
Here's the full list of accessories that you can pick up for the E-P2:
I'm sure there will be others, but these are the accessories that most people will be buying. As I mentioned, there's no AC adapter for the E-P2 -- Olympus seems to have an aversion to those for some reason.
Olympus Master 2 in Mac OS X
Olympus includes version 2 of their familiar Olympus Master software with the E-P2. Olympus Master is pretty snappy, the interface is simple, and it can do just about anything you can imagine.
After you've transferred photos over from the camera (either into albums or folders on your hard drive) you'll arrive at the usual thumbnail screen that is standard in all photo viewing software these days. The thumbnail sizes are adjustable, and you can see shooting data and a histogram on the right side of the thumbnails.
From this screen you can organize photos, e-mail or print them, or display them in a slideshow. If you have a sequence of photos that you want to stitch into a panorama, you can do that with a few clicks of your mouse.
You can also use Olympus Master to update the firmware on the camera and any attached lens or flash, which is one of the nice benefits of the Micro (and regular) Four Thirds format.
Editing JPEGs in Olympus Master 2
Above you can see the edit window, which you access by either double-clicking on a thumbnail or by clicking the Edit button in the toolbar. Functions here include resizing, cropping, brightness/contrast/sharpness adjustments, redeye reduction, distortion correction, and much more. When you're performing one of these edits, the software does a side-by-side before and after comparison, so you can see exactly what changes you've made.
Editing RAW images in Olympus Master 2
Olympus Master also features a pretty comprehensive RAW editor. It lets you adjust exposure, white balance, picture mode (color, b&w, sepia), contrast, sharpness, saturation, gradation, the noise filter, and more. When you adjust any of the settings, Olympus Master shows you the results after a few seconds of grinding away. Do note that you don't get the before and after view like you do when you're editing JPEGs.
Edit screen in Olympus Studio 2
If you want more advanced RAW editing tools then you might want to consider buying Olympus Studio 2 ($100). This adds tone curve adjustment, false color suppression, aberration compensation, distortion correction, batch processing, and much more.
At some point, Adobe will update their Camera Raw plug-in to support the E-P2, giving you another option for editing RAW images from the camera.
And what is this RAW thing, anyway? RAW files contain unprocessed image data direct from the camera's sensor. You'll need to process it on your computer first (or on the camera -- more on this later), but this allows you to adjust things like white balance, exposure, and noise reduction without reducing the quality of the original image. It's almost like taking the photo again. Be warned that RAW images are considerably larger than JPEGs, which means that they take up more space on your memory card and decrease camera performance.
I cannot comment on the documentation included with the E-P2, since my preproduction model did not come with any.
Look and Feel
The E-P2 looks nearly identical to the original E-P1, with two exceptions. The most obvious change is the color: while the E-P1 came in silver or white, the E-P2 is available in translucent black only. The other change is the addition of the accessory port, which you'll see in a moment. Adding this port makes the E-P2 very slightly taller than the E-P1 -- we're talking 0.1 mm here. Aside from those two things, they're the same beast. That means that you get a mostly metal, retro-styled body (based on Olympus' classic "Pen" film cameras), a small, faux leather grip, and easy one hand operation.
The controls on the E-P2 haven't changed a bit on the E-P2. On the back of the camera is a four-way controller with a scroll wheel around it, plus a unique vertically oriented main dial. You'll use both of these dials for menu navigation, adjusting manual settings, and more. I found the four-way controller to be too small, and the wheel around it way too easy to accidentally turn. The mode dial on the E-P2 is set into the top of the body, and you access it with a plastic dial that sticks out of the back. I found that dial to be a bit small for my large fingers.
Now let's do some comparisons, starting with the E-P2 and its closest competitor (the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1) side-by-side:
As you can see, they're very close in terms of size. The E-P2 definitely wins in terms of looks, but looks aren't everything when it comes to cameras.
I also like the comparison shot above, which shows you just how close the GF1 and E-P2 are to a fixed-lens prosumer camera which, in this case, is a Canon PowerShot G11.
Alright, now let's see how the E-P2 compares against other interchangeable lens cameras (that includes D-SLRs) in terms of size and weight. As before, I'm only listing cameras with live view support.
A few paragraphs ago I said that the E-P2 was a bit taller than the E-P1, which is true. But the difference is so minute that it doesn't make a difference when you're using inches as a measurement unit. The E-P2 ties with the Panasonic GF1 for the title of smallest interchangeable lens camera, though the Panasonic is a bit lighter.
Alright, let's start our tour of the camera now!
Here you can see the front of the E-P2 with the lens removed. As I mentioned, this is a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, which has a 2X crop factor. I've also already told you about the various lens adapters available, whether its for regular Four Thirds or vintage OM lenses. To remove an attached lens, just press the button to the right of the mount.
Inside the lens mount is the E-P2's 12.3 effective Megapixel Live MOS sensor (the same one as in the E-P1). Unlike Panasonic's three Micro Four Thirds cameras, the E-P2 has sensor-shift image stabilization built in, so every lens you attach will have shake reduction. The IS system detects the tiny movements of your hands that can blur your photos, and it shifts the sensor to compensate for it. Olympus says that you can get up to four stops of correction from their IS system. Do note that you cannot use the IS system while recording videos, though a digital shake reduction system is available.
Interchangeable lens cameras almost require a dust reduction systems, since there's no mirror to protect the sensor. The E-P2 uses a more compact version of the Supersonic Wave Filter that Olympus pioneered several years ago. When the camera is turned on, ultrasonic waves are sent through the low-pass filter, which literally shakes dust off the sensor.
Like the E-P1, the E-P2 does not have a built-in flash. Therefore, if you want to take any flash photos, you'll need to pony up for an external one, which you'll attach to the hot shoe. Of course, that means that you cannot use the electronic viewfinder, so don't say I didn't warn you. The E-P2 also lacks an AF-assist lamp, which will likely affect its low light focusing abilities.
The other things to see on the front of the camera include the self-timer lamp (top right) and the stereo microphone (straddling the Olympus logo).
The first item of note on the back of the E-P2 is its 3-inch LCD display. This is the exact same screen as on the E-P1, which means that it has 230,000 pixels and decent outdoor visibility. I was hoping that the next revision of the Digital Pen would have a higher resolution screen, but I guess that's another thing to save for the E-P3.
As you've probably know, the E-P2 is a live view only camera. The live view experience is better than on most digital SLRs, but not as good as I've seen. Live view on the E-P2 features contrast detect AF (now with subject tracking), a live histogram, grid lines, face detection, and the ability to enlarge the center of the frame or focus point. The camera uses its Live MOS sensor to focus using contrast detection, and while it's twice as fast as Olympus' regular D-SLRs, the Panasonic G1/GF1/GH1 and some Sony models are noticeably faster. In low light, the screen brightens automatically, and you can enhance that effect even more by turning on Live View Boost.
Perfect Shot Preview for white balance
The E-P2 uses the same Perfect Shot Preview feature that's been on Olympus cameras for a year or two now. This allows you to see the effects of different exposure compensation or white balance settings in real time. The previews are kind of small, but I still think it's a handy feature to have.
The levels turn green when you hit the magic spot
Another neat feature on the E-P2 is an electronic level, which was inherited from the Olympus E-30. If you're like me and can't take a level shot to save your life, then you'll love this option. The level works both horizontally and for pitch (forward/backward), as well.
Above the LCD (and normally protected by the hot shoe cover) is the E-P2's biggest new feature: an accessory port. This is where the included electronic viewfinder and the optional external microphone adapter plug in.
The EVF can tilt up to 90 degrees
Image courtesy of Olympus
One of the biggest complaints folks had about the E-P1 was the lack of an EVF, and I was very pleased to see Olympus not only offer one on the EP-2, but include it in the box with the camera. I gave you its specs back on the first page of this article.
Getting back to the tour, now. At the top-left of the photo is the plastic dial that's used to operate the mode dial, which you'll have a better view of in a moment. Over on the right side of the LCD is where you'll find the rest of the E-P2's controls. Let's start with the four buttons to the immediate right of the screen:
- AE/AF lock
- Delete photo
The next two buttons are Function and Info. The function button is customizable, and by default turns on face detection, multi-point AF, and shadow adjustment (you may want to disable this one, since it can affect photo quality and camera performance). I'll tell you what else this button can do later in the review. The info button moves through the various display modes on the LCD and EVF.
In between the Function and Info buttons is the very small four-way controller, which has a scroll wheel surrounding it. The four-way controller is used for menu navigation, reviewing photos, and also:
- Up - ISO (Auto, 100 - 6400)
- Down - Drive (Single-shot, sequential, 2 or 12 sec self-timer)
- Left - AF (Single AF, continuous AF, manual focus, single AF + manual, continuous + tracking) - this button is customizable
- Right - White balance (Auto, sunny, shade, cloudy, incandescent, white fluorescent, neutral white fluorescent, daylight fluorescent, flash, one-touch, color temperature)
- Center - Live control menu + OK
As you can see, the E-P2 has a pretty expansive ISO range, going all the way up to ISO 6400. You can set how high it goes in Auto mode in the menu system.
The E-P2 has the same continuous shooting performance as the E-P1. That means that you can take photos at frame rates up to 3 frames/second (see the E-P1 review for specifics).
One of the new features on the E-P2 can be found in the AF mode menu. That option is continuous AF with subject tracking. When this feature is on, just lock focus on your subject, and the camera will follow them as they move around the frame. The other focus modes are unchanged. Single AF locks the focus when you halfway-press the shutter release button. Continuous AF keeps focusing, even when the shutter is halfway-pressed, which comes in handy if you're shooting a moving subject. Manual focus allows you to set the focus distance yourself, though that can be difficult, since there are no distance markings on the lens, nor are any displayed on the LCD. I already mentioned that you can enlarge the frame when you're focusing manually, so you can ensure that your subject is sharp.
There are plenty of white balance to choose from on the camera. You've got the usual presets, plus you can use a white or gray card as a reference, for accurate color in mixed or unusual lighting. You can also set the white balance by color temperature, with a range of 2000K - 14000K. If that's still not enough, you can fine-tune the WB (in the amber-blue and/or green-magenta directions) and you can bracket for it, as well.
Live Control Menu
Pressing the center button in the four-way controller opens up the E-P2's new Live Control Menu. This allows you to get at the camera's most commonly used settings without having to enter the regular menu system. You use the scroll wheel to go up and down and the silver thumb dial to go left and right. By the way, you can use the four-way controller for all of this. Functions that can be set in the Live Control Menu include:
- Scene mode (SCN mode only)
- Art filter mode (art filter mode only)
- Record mode (movie mode only)
- White balance
- Image stabilizer
- Aspect ratio
- ISO sensitivity
- Flash mode
- Metering mode
- AF mode
- Face detection
- AF target selection
- Movie sound record (movie mode only)
I'll give you more details about many of those options later on.
The Super Control Panel is alive and well
By the way, fans of the Super Control Panel need not worry -- it's still here. To get to it, press the OK button to show the Live Control Menu, then hit Info, and viola -- the Super Control Panel appears. You can adjust settings here in the same way that you can on Olympus' D-SLRs.
I've touched on it already, but the last thing to see on the back of the E-P2 is that silver thumb wheel. It's used to navigate through the regular and Live Control menus, and it also lets you operate the playback zoom feature.
First up on the top of the E-P2 is its mode dial, which is actually recessed into the body a little bit (which is why you turn it with that black plastic dial below it). Here are the eight options available on the mode dial:
The E-P2 has a pretty typical set of mode dial options. If you want a point-and-shoot experience, just set the dial to the iAuto position. The camera will take care of everything for you, including picking a scene mode (selecting from portrait, landscape, night scene, sport, or macro). It's worth pointing out that the camera uses a base ISO of 200 in this mode, or anytime Auto ISO is being used. It also defaults to the new iEnhance Picture Mode, which I'll tell you about a bit later in this article.
One of the scene modes on the E-P2
If you want to pick a scene mode yourself, you'll find plenty to choose from in the SCN menu. Two of the notable scene modes include e-Portrait and panorama. The e-Portrait feature is a new one, and similar to the "beauty" mode on some other Olympus models. In a nutshell, e-Portrait removes wrinkles and other skin blemishes from your subject, right the photo is taken. The camera actually saves two images -- one retouched, the other untouched. You can also apply this feature in playback mode, if you want. The panorama feature helps you line up photos side-by-side, for later stitching into a single image.
Art Filter menu
The E-P2 has two new "art filters" as well. They include diorama (miniature effect) and cross process (a relic from the film days which gives you unusual color and a retro look), in addition to classics like grainy film and pin hole. You can use all of these in movie mode as well, though the frame rate will be far less than 30 fps in most cases.
Naturally, the E-P2 has the full suite of manual exposure controls. There's also a bulb mode, which keeps the shutter open for as long as you'd like (though I think it will stop after 30 minutes). It's probably a good idea to use the optional remote shutter release cable for bulb shooting.
Getting back to the tour, let's talk about the E-P2's hot shoe. Here you'll attach an external flash, the electronic viewfinder (or the optical one, if you have it), or the microphone adapter. The E-P2 works best with recent Olympus flashes (including its own matching flash, the FL-14), which will sync with the cameras TTL metering system. The FL-36R and FL-50R can also take advantage of the "Super FP" function, which lets you use them at any shutter speed. Otherwise, the fastest shutter speed you can use is 1/180 sec. You can use third party external flashes with the E-P2, though you'll probably need to adjust their settings manually.
Continuing to the right. we find the indicator light for the Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system), and the power, shutter release, and exposure compensation buttons. The exposure compensation range is -3EV to +3EV, in 1/3EV increments.
There's nothing to see on this side of the camera. In this photo, the 14 - 42 mm lens is in its "travel" position. Let's open up this bad boy now:
And here's the lens at the wide-angle position. As you can see, it nearly doubles in size when you open it up.
On the other side of the camera you'll find its two I/O ports. The top one is for both USB and A/V output (and is also where the optional remote control plugs in), while the one on the bottom is a mini HDMI port (cable not included). A plastic door of average quality protects these two ports.
The 14 - 42 mm lens is at the telephoto position in this shot.
On the bottom of the E-P2 you'll find an off-center, metal tripod mount, plus the battery and memory card compartment. The plastic door over the memory card slot is of average quality and, as you can see, you won't be able to access the card when the camera is on a tripod.
The included BLS-1 battery can be seen on the right side of the photo.
Using the Olympus E-P2
It takes the E-P2 about 1.3 seconds to run through its dust reduction cycle and prepare for shooting. That's on the slow side for an interchangeable lens camera (which includes digital SLRs).
Autofocus felt a little bit faster on the E-P2, but that's only because I hadn't used the 14 - 42 mm lens with the newer firmware (the camera's AF system has not changed). Olympus says that the E-P1 and E-P2 focus twice as fast as their regular D-SLRs, and I'd add that cameras like the Panasonic GF1 focus twice as fast as the E-P1/P2. Focus times typically start at just under one second (wide-angle and telephoto speeds didn't vary by much). If the camera has a more challenging subject to deal with, focus time can be two or three seconds long. That won't be a huge issue for still life photos, but for action shooting, the E-P2 just isn't responsive enough. The camera also refocuses for every shot, which slows things down even further. In low light the camera has a lot trouble as well, as it has no AF-assist lamp to illuminate your subject. Olympus doesn't say whether the E-P2 can use the AF illuminator on the FL-36R and FL-50R flashes, but I would imagine so.
One thing that wasn't an issue was shutter lag -- I certainly didn't notice any. Shot-to-shot delays were also brief, regardless of the image quality setting.
There is no quick way to delete a photo immediately after it is taken -- you'll have to enter playback mode for that. To save you a button press, you can set Auto Review to "Auto Playback" and the camera will go there after a picture is taken.
Now, here are the various image size and quality options on the E-P2 (these are from the E-P1, but they should be the same):
Whew! That's a long list... and that's only at the default 4:3 aspect ratio, too! You can take a RAW image alone, or with a JPEG at the size of your choosing.
The E-P2 has a regular menu, in addition to the Live Control and Super Control Panel features that I showed you earlier. The main menu is the same as on Olympus' digital SLRs. It's divided up into several tabs, covering shooting, playback, custom, and setup options. Do note that the custom menu isn't shown by default (you have to turn it on), and many of the menu options will be unavailable in the auto, art filter, and scene modes. And with that, here's the full list:
|Shooting Menu 1
|Shooting menu 2
While I covered most of the menu options up there, I want to describe a few in some more detail for you.
|Picture Mode menu||Editing the custom picture mode|
Picture Modes contain sets of color, sharpness, and exposure settings. There are several presets, including vivid, natural, or muted colors, plus portrait for smooth skin tones. There's also the new iEnhance option (which is used in iAuto mode), which finds the primary color in a photo and boosts the saturation and contrast of just that color. For each of the presets you can tweak the contrast, sharpness, and saturation. For black and white shooting, there's a monotone mode. There you can apply virtual color filters, or add a color tint to the image. Finally, a custom option lets you select a Picture Mode as a starting point, and you can then adjust the settings I just mentioned, plus gradation.
The gradation feature takes advantage of Olympus' Shadow Adjustment Technology. The normal option is your standard automatic contrast feature. Auto gradation breaks the image down into smaller segments, and adjusts the contrast for each of those areas. This should result in more shadow detail. You can also use the high and low key options for subjects that are mostly highlighted and shadowed, respectively. You can see an example of this feature in action in my E-620 review.
There are three different image stabilizer modes to choose from on the E-P2. Mode 1 is for everyday shooting. Mode 2 is for horizontal panning, while mode 3 is for vertical panning. You can also turn the IS system off entirely, which is a good idea if you have the camera on a tripod.
The E-P2 has the same multiple exposure feature as the E-P1. This lets you take two exposure and combine them into a single image. You can also overlay new images onto an existing one. You can leave the brightness of each image untouched, or you can turn on the "auto gain" feature to make things blend in better. In playback mode, you can use the image overlay feature to combine up to four RAW photos that you've already taken into one, in much the same way.
There are a whopping four types of bracketing on the E-P2. You can bracket for exposure, flash exposure, white balance, and even ISO sensitivity. For each of those, the camera produces anywhere from three to six photos, each with a different exposure/WB setting/ISO. White balance can be bracketing in both the amber/blue and green/magenta directions.
And that's about all for menu options!
Since this is a preview, there are no test shots or sample photos available. Since the "guts" of the E-P2 are the same as the E-P1, take a look at that review to see how the image quality looks.
The E-P2's HD movie mode has been enhanced in a number of ways compared to the E-P1. You still record video at 1280 x 720 at 30 frames/second (with stereo sound), but now you have more manual controls, subject tracking AF and support for an external microphone. Recording stops when the file size hits 2GB, which takes around 7 minutes at the HD resolution. For longer movies, you can lower the resolution to 640 x 480, which allows for continuous video recording for up to 14 minutes. Olympus recommends a Class 6 or higher SD/SDHC card for recording movies.
The E-P2 has the ability to focus continuously while recording a movie. If you've got subject tracking turned on, it'll follow the "target" as they move around the frame. The problem is, the noise from that slow contract detect AF system will be picked up by the microphone. This is where an external microphone comes in, though you'll have to buy that adapter first. The optical image stabilizer is not available in movie mode, though an electronic version tries to substitute for it.
The E-P1 already let you adjust the aperture in movie mode, and on the E-P2, you have a full manual mode which lets you change the shutter speed and aperture at the same time. The ISO is adjustable as well, as long as the range is between 200 and 1600. You can also apply any of the eight art filters to a movie, though some of them significantly reduce the video's frame rate.
The Movie+Still image will save a full resolution still image of the last frame of your movie, automatically. There's no way to take a still image in the middle of video recording, though.
No sample movies are available in this preview. I again refer you to the E-P1 review to find one of those.
The playback mode on the E-P2 appears to be identical to the one on the E-P1. Basic features include slideshows, DPOF print marking, image rotation, image protection, voice captions, and zoom & scroll (playback zoom). The slideshow feature has background music (by some well-known Japanese musician) and transitions.
Photos can be viewing one-at-a-time or as thumbnails of varying sizes (some of which are tiny). You can also navigate to photos that were taken on a certain date by using the calendar view (pictured).
|JPEG edit menu||Shadow adjustment technology in action (from E-P1)|
The camera offers two edit modes -- one for JPEGs, another for RAW images. The JPEG editing feature lets you downsize an image, apply shadow adjustment technology (see above right), remove redeye, crop a photo, change the aspect ratio, apply the e-Portrait filter, or convert it to black and white or sepia. The RAW data edit feature is handy, but not as easy to use as it could be. Instead of just adjusting the RAW properties right there in playback mode, you first need to set the desired settings in the record menu, and then return to playback mode to use the RAW edit function. The resulting image is saved as a JPEG. This is how you can apply art filters to RAW images that you've already taken.
Something else you can do in playback mode is overlay RAW images. You can select between from 2 to 4 images and then combine them into one photo. You can adjust the gain for each of the photos.
By default, the camera doesn't show you much information about your photos, but press the info button a few times and you'll get a lot more, including histograms and a display of over and underexposed areas.
The E-P2 between photos without delay in playback mode.
How Does it Compare?
Since this is a preview, no conclusion is available. That said, most of my thoughts from the E-P1 review should still be quite relevant here.
Olympus has requested that photos from this preproduction camera not be posted.