The fifth model in the Olympus Pen series is a much simplified version of last year’s consumer mirrorless model, with a new lens and a no-nonsense design. Where the E-PL1 had a more modern, artistic appearance, the E-PL2 would fit in well with the company’s line of E-series digital SLRs. Along with the new body style comes a redesigned kit lens with fewer moving parts and a new twist: a bayonet mount on the front that accepts accessory lenses. The lens has the same focal range of 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent), but with a quieter MSC (“Movie and Still Compatible”) focus motor, more compact dimensions and a more solid retraction mechanism.
The Olympus PEN PL2 differs from the previous PL1 model in a number of important ways. The body styling has been adjusted, providing a more comfortably sized grip, and features a recessed power button, direct movie button, and the familiar rear-panel control wheel seen on the P1 and P2 models.
The rear-panel LCD display on the Olympus PL2 has been upgraded to a larger 3.0-inch type with double the resolution of that on the PL1, at some 460,000 dots. There’s a new Live Guide function demonstrating the effect of adjustments to shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, white balance, and saturation adjustments during composition, and this now works not only for stills, but also for movie capture. A new Dramatic Tone art filter has been added, simulating the look of a contrasty HDR image, and there are now post-capture filter variations available to tweak the look of any particular filter effect. Filter effects can also now be combined, for example to use both pin hole and soft focus effects on a single image.
The fastest shutter speed on the Olympus PL2 has been boosted from 1/2,000 to 1/4,000 second, making it easier to freeze fast subject motion, and the maximum ISO sensitivity doubled from ISO 3,200 to ISO 6,400 equivalent, though base ISO has also doubled to 200. Maximum flash sync with the built-in flash has also been increased from 1/160 to 1/180 second. There’s a new cable release option, and the accessory port above the LCD display has been upgraded to provide for new accessory types not compatible with previous PEN cameras. This includes the new PP-1 PENpal Bluetooth accessory which allows wireless image transfer to other Bluetooth devices.
Face detection in the Olympus E-PL2 has also been upgraded, and now ensures that the camera will set focus specifically on your subject’s nearest eye, rather than possibly focusing on a different area of the face, leaving the eyes unfocused. This should yield more pleasing results, since your subject’s eyes are generally the most important part of the scene.
Other changes in the Olympus PL2 include support for the latest generation SDXC cards, as well as the previous SD and SDHC types, plus three added background music choices for slideshows (nostalgic, love, and beat), three new scene select modes, and a new battery pack type, the BLS-5 lithium-ion pack which is CIPA rated at 280 shots per charge.
The Olympus PEN E-PL2 is available now for around US$600 with the new 14-42mm kit lens. New accessories for the PL2 will include a PT-EP03 underwater housing for use at up to 40 meters (130 feet), Fish-eye Lens Converter (FCON-P01), Wide-angle Lens Converter (WCON-P01), Macro Lens Converter (MCON-P01), Macro Arm Light (MAL-1), and PENpal PP-1 Communication Device.