Olympus E-P2 Preview

Using the Olympus E-P2

Record Mode

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):

Resolution Quality Approx. file size # images on 2GB SD card (optional)
4032 x 3024
RAW 14.0 MB 108
4032 x 3024
Super fine 8.4 MB 202
Fine 5.9 MB 290
Normal 2.7 MB 640
Basic 1.8 MB 954
3200 x 2400
Super fine 5.6 MB 308
Fine 3.4 MB 510
Normal 1.7 MB 1008
Basic 1.2 MB 1494
2560 x 1920
Super fine 3.2 MB 538
Fine 2.2 MB 790
Normal 1.1 MB 1552
Basic 800 KB 2286
1600 x 1200
Super fine 1.3 MB 1346
Fine 900 KB 1986
Normal 500 KB 3786
Basic 400 KB 5506
1280 x 960
Super fine 900 KB 2088
Fine 600 KB 3028
Normal 300 KB 3786
Basic 300 KB 5506
1024 x 768
Super fine 600 KB 3188
Fine 400 KB 4486
Normal 300 KB 8078
Basic 200 KB 11014
640 x 480
Super fine 300 KB 7126
Fine 200 KB 10096
Normal 200 KB 17308
Basic 100 KB 20192

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
  • Card setup (All erase, format)
  • Custom reset setting (Reset, reset 1, reset 2) - reset to defaults or to the settings of your choice
  • Picture mode (iEnhance, vivid, natural, muted, portrait, monotone, custom) - more below
  • Gradation (Auto, normal, high key, low key) - see below
  • Image quality
    • Still picture (RAW, Large/Fine, Large/Normal, Medium/Normal, Small/Normal, RAW+L/F, RAW+L/N, RAW+M/N, RAW + S/N) - you can customize what JPEG sizes/qualities are on this list
    • Movie (HD, SD)
  • Image aspect (4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 6:6)
Shooting menu 2
  • Movie AE mode (Program, aperture priority, full manual, art filters 1-8)
  • Movie+Still (on/off) - if this is on, it will save the last frame of the movie as a full resolution photo
  • Drive (Single shot, sequential, 2 or 12 sec self-timer)
  • Image stabilizer (Off, mode 1, 2, 3) - see below
  • Multiple exposure - see below
    • Frame (Off, 2 frame)
    • Auto gain (on/off)
    • Overlay (on/off)
Playback Menu
  • Slideshow
    • Start
    • Background music (Off, cool, joy, love, nostalgic, melancholy)
    • Slide (All, still picture, movie)
    • Slide interval (2 - 10 sec)
    • Movie interval (Short, full)
  • Auto rotate (on/off) - rotates images taken in the portrait orientation
  • Edit
    • Select image
      • RAW data edit
      • JPEG edit
      • Voice caption
    • Image overlay (2 - 4 image merge)
  • DPOF print marking (One, all)
  • Reset protect (on/off)
Custom Menu
  • AF/MF
    • AF mode (S-AF, C-AF, MF, S-AF+MF, C-AF+TR) - the last option is the new subject tracking feature; you can set this separately for stills and movies
    • AF area (All target, single target) - let the camera choose from 11-points, or pick one yourself
    • Focus point setup (Off, loop, spiral) - how you move through the camera's focus points
    • Reset lens (on/off) - sets focus to infinity when camera is turned off
    • Bulb focusing (on/off) - whether you can adjust the focus during a bulb exposure
    • Focus ring (Clockwise, counterclockwise) - since the focus ring is electronic, you can pull this off
    • MF assist (on/off) - center-frame enlargement in manual focus mode
  • Button/Dial
    • Dial function - select what the command dials control
      • Program mode (Program shift, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation)
      • Aperture priority mode (Aperture, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation)
      • Shutter priority mode (Shutter speed, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation)
      • Manual mode
        • Main dial (Shutter speed, aperture)
        • Sub dial (Shutter speed, aperture)
      • Menu
        • Main dial (Left/right, up/down, value)
        • Sub dial (Left/right, up/down, value)
    • Dial direction (Dial 1, 2) - for adjusting shutter speed and aperture
    • AE/AF lock - how this button works; I'll save the details for the camera manual
      • S-AF (Mode 1, 2, 3)
      • C-AF (Mode 1, 2, 3, 4)
      • MF (Mode 1, 2, 3)
    • AE/AF lock memory (on/off) - whether the lock "sticks" when you let go of the button
    • Function button (Face detection, preview, one-touch WB, home focus point, manual focus, RAW, test picture, My Mode, backlit LCD, off) - define what this button does
    • Left button (AF mode, metering, flash mode, backlit LCD, image stabilizer) - this is the left directional button on the four-way controller
    • My Mode setup (My Mode 1, 2) - save your favorite camera settings here
    • Button timer (Off, 3, 5, 8 sec, hold) - how long the "direct buttons" are active
    • AE/AF lock <--> Function swap (on/off) - swap the functions of these two buttons
    • Arrow pad function (Off, on, focus point selection) - whether the four-way controller has those added functions, or is used to select a focus point
  • Release/Continuous
    • Release priority S (on/off) - whether focus lock is required for shutter release
    • Release priority C (on/off) - same as above, but for continuous AF mode
  • Display/Sound/PC
    • HDMI (1080i, 720p, 480p, 576p)
    • Video out (NTSC, PAL)
    • Beep (on/off)
    • Sleep (Off, 1, 3, 5, 10 mins)
    • USB mode (Auto, storage, MTP, print)
    • Live view boost (on/off) - boosts low light visibility in live view, but slows refresh rate
    • Face detection (on/off)
    • Info setting
      • Playback info
        • Image only (on/off)
        • Overall (on/off)
        • Histogram (on/off)
        • Highlight & shadow (on/off)
      • Live view info
        • Histogram (on/off)
        • Zoom (on/off)
        • Multi view (on/off) - Perfect Shot Preview
        • Image only (on/off)
        • Complex grid lines (on/off)
        • Rule of thirds grid lines (on/off)
        • Axis grid lines (on/off)
    • Volume (0-5)
    • Slideshow setup
      • Slide interval (2 - 10 secs)
      • Movie interval (Full, short) - whether movies are shown in their entirety when viewing a slideshow
    • Level gauge (on/off)
    • Movie sound recording (on/off)
    • EVF adjust (Color, brightness)
  • Exposure/Metering/ISO
    • EV step (1/3, 1/2, 1 EV)
    • Metering (Digital ESP, center-weighted, spot, spot w/highlight control, spot w/shadow control)
    • AE Lock metering (Auto, center-weighted, spot, spot w/highlight control, spot w/shadow control)
    • ISO (Auto, 100 - 6400)
    • ISO step (1/3, 1 EV)
    • ISO Auto set
      • High limit (200 - 6400) - max it will go up to
      • Default (200 - 6400) - starting point
    • ISO Auto (P/A/S, all modes) - when auto ISO is available
    • Bulb timer (1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 20, 25, 30 mins) - preset a time for bulb mode
    • Anti-shock (Off, 1/8 - 30 secs) - adds a delay before a photo is taken, to reduce risk of blur
    • Bracketing
      • AE bracketing (Off, 3 frames/0.3EV, 3 frames/0.7EV, 3 frames/1.0EV)
      • WB bracketing (Off, 3 frames/2 step, 3 frames/4 step, 3 frames/6 step) - you can go in both the amber-blue and green-magenta directions
      • Flash bracketing (Off, 3 frames/0.3EV, 3 frames/0.7EV, 3 frames/1.0EV)
      • ISO bracketing (Off, 3 frames/0.3EV, 3 frames/0.7EV, 3 frames/1.0EV)
  • Flash custom
    • Flash mode (Auto, auto w/redeye reduction, fill flash w/redeye reduction, fill flash, flash off, slow sync w/redeye reduction, slow sync, 2nd-curtain slow sync)
    • Flash exposure compensation (-3EV to +3EV, in 1/3EV increments)
    • X-sync (1/60 - 1/180 sec)
    • Slow limit (1/30 - 1/180 sec)
    • Flash exp comp + exp comp (on/off) - links flash exposure compensation with exposure compensation
  • Quality/Color/WB
    • Noise reduction (Off, on, auto) - for long exposures
    • Noise filter (Off, low, standard, high) - for everything else
    • White balance (Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent x 3, flash, one-touch, color temperature) - described earlier
    • All white balance compensation
      • All set (-7 to +7) - in either the amber or green directions
      • All reset
    • Color space (sRGB, AdobeRGB)
    • Shading compensation (on/off) - supposed to help reduce vignetting
    • Image quality set (Large/Medium/Small, Superfine/fine/normal/basic) - select the size and quality of the four image quality slots
    • Pixel count - select the resolution for these two sizes
      • Middle (3200 x 2400, 2560 x 1920, 1600 x 1200)
      • Small (1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480)
  • Record/Erase
    • Quick erase (on/off) - whether camera prompts you to delete a photo
    • RAW+JPEG erase (JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG) - what's removed when you delete a RAW+JPEG photo
    • File name (Auto, reset)
    • Edit file name - you can change the first few characters of the file name, for each color space
    • Priority set (No, yes) - initial position of the cursor when All Erase or Card Format is selected
    • dpi setting (Auto, custom) - the latter lets you select the dpi of your choosing
  • Utility
    • Pixel mapping - gets rid of bad pixels
    • Exposure shift (ESP, center-weighted, spot) - lets you fine-tune the exposure metering from -1EV to +1EV, in 1/6EV increments
    • Battery warning level (-2 to +2) - how quickly the low battery warning comes on
    • Level adjust (Reset, adjust) - calibrate the level meter



Setup Menu
  • Date/time (set)
  • Language
  • LCD adjust
    • Brightness (-7 to +7)
    • Color balance (-7 to +7)
  • Rec View (Off, auto play, 1 - 20 secs) - post-shot review; the auto play option enters playback mode after a photo is taken
  • Custom menu display (on/off) - whether the custom settings tab is shown
  • Firmware - displays the firmware version of the body and attached lens

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.

Movie Mode

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.

Playback Mode

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.

Calendar view

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.