Olympus E-PM2 First Impressions

P1190592

Any color, so long as it’s black.  Note that this is not the kit lens.

I received my Olympus E-PM2 in the mail last week.  Unfortunately I’ve been sick with a nasty cold since.  Combine that with a cold snap, a nonfunctional bike and a car in the repair shop and I just haven’t been in the mood (or the position) to get around and take a lot of photos.  All that said, I did have a chance to set up the camera and play with it around the house.  Here, in no particularly order, are my early impressions:

  1. Image quality is indistinguishable from the E-M5.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the cameras use the same sensor, but the output is for all intents and purposes the same.
  2. Lens IS priority works.  On prior Olympus bodies, if you had a Panasonic lens with optical stabilization, but no on/off switch for it, there was no way for you to use OIS.  That’s no longer the case.  I tried with the Panasonic X 14-42 and when you turn Lens IS priority on, and enable IS, you can both see and hear the OIS working.
  3. Small AF point mode is a godsend.  On all Olympus models, the AF box is rather large.  That’s fine if you trust the camera to generally grab the correct point to focus on, but in my experience that’s not always the case.  On earlier models, you could make the AF box smaller, but doing so disabled a lot of other things like the live histogram.  That’s no longer the case – you can have your small AF point, and other display functions are not impacted.  I’ve had markedly fewer out-of-focus shots than I usually did with the E-M5.
  4. There’s an orientation sensor.  I seriously missed this on the E-PM1.  If you shoot a photo holding the camera vertically, your image will come out so-oriented.
  5. More buttons.  This is mostly a good thing, as with the E-PM1 I was always short a button for some special function.  Here I can both have a button for changing the ISO, and one for magnifying the viewfinder.
  6. Build quality isn’t as nice as the E-PM1.  The camera is well made, but there’s a lot more polycarbonate and a lot less metal in the shell of this one.  This also makes it seem a little larger, even if it isn’t really.
  7. Menus are even deeper than the E-PM1.  Another model, another dozen new menu options.  At this point, I don’t really care but it is really kind of ridiculous just how many different settings there are that can be customized.
  8. 16:9 LCD still doesn’t make sense.  This was one of the more baffling decisions they made on the E-PM1/E-PL3 and it’s been retained on the newer model – the LCD uses a 16:9 aspect ratio with is perfect for video but wastes a lot of space for photos.
  9. First thing I did after I found the setup menu was disable the touchscreen. Cool feature, but I’m just not interested.

Overall, I’m pleased. It’s not a perfect camera, but it looks darn good so far, and with the Panasonic X 14-42 it’s a perfectly pocketable combination. For less than $500 with kit lens, this camera can do darned near everything.

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