Olympus E-PM2 Sample Images

olympus e-pm2 sample images

The Olympus E-PM2 has been described by the manufacturer as DSLR image quality in a compact body.  But does it live up to this claim?  I take this tiny incarnation of the revived Pen series around Manhattan and tell you what’s what.

Olympus E-PM2 Overview

The E-PM2 is the second mini-Pen, and features some changes over it’s predecessor, the E-PM1.  Boiled down, these changes amount to greater max resolution, 16 megapixels instead of the older model’s 12, a greater ISO range up to 25600, and a greater number of Frames Per Second (now 8).  In addition to these improvements, Olympus has also included a bundled flash with the camera, the ability to establish Wifi connections (with an Eye-fi or Flash Air Media card) and touchscreen technology.  These last three perks definitely bolster ease-of-use, but can it still deliver DSLR performance?

Straight out of the box, the E-PM2 performs well.  It definitely fills its intended role as an upgrade from a compact.  Despite missing the articulating screen of some other Pen models, I don’t seem to miss anything.  The thumb grip and extremely lightweight body can easily be held in one hand, and the kit lens seems to fit perfectly in the other.

olympus e-pm2 sample images

Using the landscape scene, with decent auto-exposure.  

The menus are still a bit clunky, but with this model they seem somehow easier to navigate – about as easy, I would say, as the menus on my first DSLR.  The flash is decent, sometimes shadowed by the lens, but better than a compact.  It doesn’t seem to be as powerful as a popup on a DSLR, but I would recommend purchasing the VF-4 viewfinder from Olympus and swapping it with the flash anyway.  But that’s just my take.

Movie mode is all right.  It’s nothing spectacular, nor is it absolutely terrible.  Built-in stereo mics pick up sound and wind booming; if you want to go a better route, Olympus does offer a mic that will attach to the hot shoe on top of the camera.

Aperture is good on the kit lens, but the camera’s ISO deteriorates pretty fast at higher settings, with noticeable grain at anything about 1600.

olympus e-pm2 sample images

One of those “I wish I could do more with this” shots.  Given the short 42mm kit lens, the small Micro Four Thirds sensor, and limited editing options, don’t expect to crop very much.

Actual image quality is what I’ve come to expect.  It’s great at face value, but if you’re looking to do more with the images, you really are in for a disappointment.  Shooting in RAW offers you a minimal advantage in that you can take richer photographs.  But editing them is dang near impossible unless you have the latest version of Adobe Camera RAW (which only works with the latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom).  So, um, yeah.  Good luck with that.

For the price – and price is something to consider since you may have to purchase Photoshop just to edit your RAW files – the camera isn’t bad.  I’ve seen them going for around five hundred bucks and what you get is essentially a DSLR, albeit a more compact one that doesn’t have a viewfinder.

olympus e-pm2 sample images

Admittedly, the macro scene mode is GORGEOUS.

It certainly doesn’t live up to established DSLRs in terms of image output because, lets face it, most DSLRs now offer bigger sensors and greater image resolution than the E-PM2, and whatever advantage you might get from less sensor heat just isn’t there.  Your output is relegated to fine JPEG unless you have the latest software, or possess the funds necessary to acquire it.  However, it does offer a relatively inexpensive option for those who want to play photographer and shoot with Olympus’s wide range of art filters and scene modes, eradicating the need for anyone owning this camera to even bother studying the basic elements of photography.

olympus e-pm2 sample images

The Pinhole and other art filters are an easy pro to shooting with the camera.

All in all, you could probably buy this camera and create some great work with it.  It’s fun to use, easy to operate, and its got the image quality (if you have the necessary software) to hold up under some scrutiny.  What it lacks for now, in my own opinion, is a real value factor.   The only real selling point that holds up across the spectrum of potential buyers is the portability factor.  If you really can’t lift a DSLR, this is probably the camera for you.  But if you don’t have the software to use it at its full potential, and you want bona fide performance, you might as well go with an older Canon DSLR at a similar price.



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