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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review
July 2014, Carl Garrard
Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Poor Olympus. They seem to be a company that are always climbing a mountain but never near reaching the top. Fortunately, they do seem to gather and procure a very committed crowd of photographers that buy their equipment. There are some very good reasons for that, especially these days. But before I get off on a tangent- I'm not here to talk about the company as a whole. Well, not directly at least.  Recently I've come to acquire the little Olympus Pen E-PM2. This is a camera that many of my readers may think I'd not be interested in considering that I love myself a camera with a ton of external controls. We'll to them I say: sometimes there is more to a camera than meets the eye. More...

Olympus E-PM2- Who Needs A Lens?
Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Introduction

What initially interested me in the E-PM2 is its Sony manufactured 16mp sensor, small size, and good price. I like small cameras that can do a lot, as well as bigger cameras that can do a lot more. Small cameras have just as an important place in my daily use as big cameras do, but for different reasons obviously.

Features I look for in a small camera? Small size, excellent image quality, useable controls, and versatility without much sacrifice compared to larger cameras. While the E-PM2 was not my first choice (hello, it's been out for well over 2 years now), the idea of buying and shooting with one eventually made sense after I read more research on it. So that's what I did. The E-PM2 had a few must items, and seemed to check off a list of even more features that I don't require for a small camera too. And all for a very reasonable price in a small case. "Hmmm, ok" I thought,  lets try it out.

Olympus E-PM2- Buy It? 

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Set Up and Shooting Experience

First things first, the camera must feel comfortable in my hand. If I'm going to shoot with a camera I better like holding it. The small grip on the E-PM2 on the front, with the thumb rest on the back, make for secure and comfortable one hand holding shooting. Check. Although its weight seems a bit off center it's not bad at all and is a nice small comfortable camera to shoot with. Wow, and I can even change lenses with it. The post style camera strap lugs did scare me initially, normally those dig into the shooting hand but Olympus did well here and I found no issues with them, thankfully. The E-PM2 is a comfortable camera to hold.

Olympus are anything but consistent with the menu systems they design. Menus are not what I'd call Olympus's strong point in terms of useability. The vastness and expansiveness of them however means that just about everything and the kitchen sink are included for the photographer, even in entry level offerings like the E-PM2. Got to hand it to them for that!

With that said, setting up the E-PM2 didn't take near as long as I thought. Maybe it's my experience with so many cameras or whatever, but I didn't find the menus nearly as complicated as many writers make it out to be. It certainly could use some polish, but an hour later I had the E-PM2 all set up with the custom buttons and functions the way I like a camera to be set up. An hour of my time, that's not bad.

Surprisingly, I found that a camera that gives the impression of such exterior featurelessness (is that a word?) is much more versatile and capable exterior wise than I had assumed! That's why I prefer to test a camera before I judge it, you never know when you'll be surprised. And the E-PM2 did surprise me in a very good way. I have the buttons and dials and menu system set up for quick access to the most common features and modes I use, with two customizable hard points left over. Not what I expected at all!

For example, instead of using the red record button for movies, I set it up to be an AEL lock button. It's in the right place for it, and that is a vital function for my shooting style. The FN button on top, that was set for HDR bracketing initially, but I changed that to EV compensation since the camera doesn't have the capability to stack all the images into one file. Oh well.

Olympus E-PM2- Buy It?

Any other changes I need to make are assigned to the arrow FN buttons or, I just use the super control panel. Activating the SCP (that is the moniker the camera uses), is tedious but not as hard as I thought. You want me to explain how, right? Ok.

First you have to activate the custom menu to show in the main menus, using the tool icon menu. Then go to the custom menu and scroll down to the D sub menu (disp/thingy/pc). Go down to control settings and arrow over to the right and enable the SCP for each of the four shooting parameters you'd like, by again, arrowing to the right. Self explanatory from there.

I turned the live guide and live control menus off, just too much clutter/complication for me... for all four shooting parameters. While the setup process is tedious, choice reigns. The photographer is given a lot of menu customization options and free will, i.e. choice, on how to utilize and use the camera- I like that. If you want to keep it simple just shoot in auto and don't complain. Well go ahead and complain, but complain nicely and in such a way that motivates Olympus to listen to you.

Menus overall: Olympus just needs to organize the menu system experience more, not cut down on menu options. Doing so will remove one of Olympus's Achilles heels of the system itself. They are probably working on that though, one would think? Bottom line here is that the menu system does not bother this photographer nearly as much as it has bothered some others, and your experience will vary.

Once the E-PM2 is set up to your likings, you really don't have to do much further in the menu's unless you want to touch up some settings or experiment.

Now after all that...

Olympus E-PM2- Black Silver or White?

Shooting with the E-PM2 is now a very simple experience for me. I prefer aperture priority mode, and all the main controls I need to use can be operated with one handed shooting. Nice. Small cameras ought to be operated with one hand, in all ways, without complication. The E-PM2 delivers here. And if I want to get fancy and use the touch screen to activate autofocus and fire the shutter, I can do that too. It's actually kind of fun to do that- sometimes.

With a small lens attached (the 17mm f/2.8 or 20mm f/1.7 Panasonic being my overall choice) the E-PM2 makes a nice quick grab n snap camera for times when I want a small camera with me. The fact that I can changes lenses makes it more versatile than my Ricoh GR, but always slightly more bulky no matter what lens I'm using on it (I'm omitting the lens cap lenses from Olympus mind you).

Still, its small enough even with different lenses to serve the role well. It's easy to stick it in a jacket pocket, camelbak (hydration pack), or even pants pocket sometimes. For a small vacation camera, it doesn't sacrifice capability for size. A near perfect little vacation system camera if there ever was one.

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Image Quality

Image quality is overall- good. Notice I didn't say great or excellent. While many on the net praise the 16mp chip that Sony customized for Olympus, I'm not shouting thank you to the gods for it. Yes, it is indeed an improved chip for Olympus, however, there are three things to keep in mind here that are sobering facts to all the celebration:
  • Stated ISO is not the actual ISO. If you don't believe me take a look at any exposure test on the net, namely DXOMark. In fact every ISO setting is almost one full stop lower than the claimed sensitivity. So if you think this chip is doing great at ISO 3200- it's really just shy of about 1600 ISO in real exposure terms. Er hem. Interesting.
  • Base ISO does not go down to 100 (which would be a 50ISO value if Olympus included it), and anything over ISO 5000 is a push setting. Even Olympus tells you that by stating anything over that ISO value is an "extension".
  • Banding occurs in shadow regions with this sensor on higher ISO settings. I didn't expect that honestly, I thought Sony's sensors were pretty much beyond that by now, but apparently not. Granted you have to push the files pretty hard and at higher settings to see the banding, but alas, trust me, its there. Low light shooters take caution.
At base ISO, dynamic range, color, are very good. This is where I notice and praise the main improvements to its predecessors on image quality. On the whole, an extra 2 stops of dynamic range compared to previous cameras from Olympus is a pretty significant improvement which quite frankly, Olympus was long overdue for. I shoot in raw, so having about 12 stops of DR latitude is plenty for most of my needs.

Higher ISO values are improved over first generation Pen cameras, and I'd have no reservations shooting to ISO 5000 (which is really ISO 2500) in this camera. Anything over that I start to notice issues that annoy me in the raw files. That's not to say I won't shoot at higher ISO values, I'll just be more hesitant too than I would with some of my other cameras.

Jpegs from this camera are very good as well. Olympus are one of the companies out there that seem to know how to properly process a Jpeg in camera. And while they aren't perfect, they get it mostly right. I'd like to see Olympus shut down noise reduction completely in Jpeg output, since they do offer an "off" setting. It's getting rather irritating to see manufactures still trying to pull the wool over photographers eye's in this respect. Make off OFF, and low LOW. Not hard to do.

Art Filters are the best in the business here, although the Cross Processing filter could use some work. I think Ricoh have that nailed. Still, using Olympus cameras- your going to have fun with these filters no matter how serious of a photographer you are. They are just a BLAST to experiment with. I like how Olympus continues to add new filters frequently and most importantly, allowing more and more tweaking options to each filter as time goes on. Bravo, fun stuff!

In retrospect, still think that Olympus have a LONG way to go with sensor performance if you take into account the issues I've bulleted above (and agree with me that they are indeed issues). Sony's 1" sensor  for example (smaller than the 4/3 sized sensor in the E-PM2), is more densely packed with pixels and smaller. And yet, it still seems to lack the issues I've mentioned above - while producing similar image quality in all other areas as the Pen and OMD cameras. While progress is nice, lets not praise Olympus too much on what is currently being included in their interchangeable lens camera lineup currently. They can and better do better.

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Features

Well let it be said that the E-PM2 does NOT lack on features. It's PACKED. It's loaded with the following that I've noted:  Wifi capability, a touch screen interface, Full HD movie, high speed 8FPS sequential shooting, sensor image stabilization, hi frequency dust reduction, dedicated AF assist lamp, Art Filters, multi-function interface hot shoe (for evfs/flashes/etc), and much more. All in a small unassuming stylish and diminutive case. It's quite the surprise to the advanced photographer, actually. For a photographer that wants a small but capable camera, the E-PM2 is hard to beat features wise.

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Conclusion

Compact system cameras are here to stay. Olympus has put all bets on CSC's as the way of the future and they make some very nice cameras in their lineup these days. As boring as the initial press release seemed for the E-PM2, it's a camera that has grown on me fast. Most importantly I find it to be a real good value on the market today. In fact I'd go so far to say that it's one of the best deals in terms of price vs. capability out there right now. It's still highly available in most territories too.

It's certainly not a camera without its faults, but I found a lot less faults than I assumed I would. This camera surprised me in a kind of humbling way. It's looks are the reason for my assumptions. On the exterior- its a simple (but somewhat stylish) camera that has the look of a boring point and shoot in terms of capability. The truth of the matter here  is that what lies underneath the simple casing is a very serious and capable beast, nothing like a dime for a dozen point and shoot camera at all.

Shooting with the E-PM2 is quite fun. I love the sound of its snappy shutter (much better than the delayed and strained sound of its predecessors), using its art filters, and working with its Jpegs and Raw files alike. For a small and unassuming looking design, it's a camera that has charisma and charm- but one I'd rely on for serious shooting as well. It reminds me of the underdog that has a vicious bite, and I always like cameras that surprise me like that- they are rare in this industry it seems.

While it's image quality is good and meets my needs, its not great. I may get flak for saying that but I've backed up my opinion with some sobering facts that are both on the net and available through testing the camera myself. There are fortunately no deal breakers in the image quality department for me, but just because there aren't any doesn't mean I should be celebrating like it's 1999. Olympus can and should improve image quality in future cameras equipped with Sony sensors.

With digital camera sales declining overall globally, camera companies seem to be paying more attention to enthusiast shooters these days (it's about time).  I'm seeing more and more cameras with capabilities they should have always had before. Even entry level cameras like the E-PM2 have more capability than the average shooter would ever require. That's not a bad thing at all for most customers. One way of looking at it, is that its better to have more and not less. The Olympus E-PM2 delivers that.

A few recommendations for improvement on its successors, etc. :
  • Use the standard USB and HDMI ports instead, get over yourselves Olympus
  • Never omit a 100 ISO setting again, for the successor to the E-PM2 or any camera you make
  • When you state an ISO value, make sure it's the value you state
  • Noise reduction, off should mean OFF, not low
  • Get rid of the banding
  • Abandon the 16:9 aspect LCD screen when you have a 4:3 native aspect ratio/sensor
  • Always put the tripod mount inline with the center of the lens
  • Organize the Menu system better, just don't remove anything
  • Include an HDR function that stacks several images into one file, automatically
  • Include a panorama function that auto stitches into one big file (or even in camera after shots are made)

Olympus E-PM2- Deal With It

As always, safe and happy shooting!

-Carl Garrard

Olympus Pen E-PM2 Review: Manufacturer Specifications

Product Type
Product type
Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera
SD Memory Card*1 (SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible, Flash Air compatible, Eye-Fi Card compatible*2 )
*1: Class 6 or higher is recommended for Movie shooting.
*2: Not compatible with Endless Memory.
Screen size
17.3 mm (H) x 13.0 mm (V)
Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds Mount
Image Pickup
Product type
4/3 Live MOS Sensor
Number of pixels / Aspect ratio
Number of effective pixels : Approx. 16.1 million pixels. Total number of pixels : Approx. 17.2 million pixels. Aspect ratio : 1.33 (4:3)
Dust reduction
Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system for image sensor)
Recording format
DCF, DPOF compatible / Exif, PRINT Image Matching III, MPO compatible
File format
RAW (12-bit lossless compression), JPEG, RAW+JPEG, MPO(3D still)
Recording image size
[RAW] 4608 x 3456 pixels
[JPEG] 4608 x 3456 pixels - 640 x 480 pixels
File size
RAW: 4608(H)x3456(V) (approx. 1/1.5 lossless compressed) Approx. 17MB
Set1(LF): 4608(H)x3456(V) (1/4 compressed) Approx. 7.5MB
Set2(LN): 4608(H)x3456(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 3.5MB
Set3(MN): 2560(H)x1920(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 1.1MB
Set4(SN): 1024(H)x768(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.3MB
Image Stabilization System
Built-in (Imager shift image stabilizer*3)
*3: yaw/pitch
3 modes (S-I.S.1, S-I.S.2, S-I.S.3), OFF
Focal length setting
Available manual focal length setting
Input focal length : 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 18, 24, 28, 30, 35, 40, 48, 50, 55, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 100, 105, 120, 135, 150, 180, 200, 210, 250, 300, 350, 400, 500, 600, 800, 1000
Stabilization performance
maximum 3 EV steps*4
*4: Based on Olympus in-house measurement conditions.
Shutter speed range
2 - 1/4000 sec. (Not available when Bulb is selected.)
Live View
Live view
Approx. 100% field of view, Exposure compensation preview, WB adjustment preview, Gradation auto preview, Face detection preview (up to 8 faces), Grid line, Histogram, Magnification display (x5/x7/x10/x14), Highlight and shadow, Off
Display of Face Detection
Max 8 frames of face detection can be displayed.
Monitor type
3.0-inch wide monitor*8
*8: Approx. 460k dots(16:9), Touch control in electrostatic capacitance Type
Touch control
Touch shutter release, Touch enlargement, Touch Live Guide, AF area selection, AF area enlargement, Frame forward/backward, Enlargement playback, Touch Super Control Panel, Touch Art Filter selection, Touch scene mode selection, Touch stripe screen (picture mode control)
Tilting angle
Brightness / Color temperature control
±7 levels / ±7 levels
Color tone select
Vivid / Natural
AF system
High-speed imager AF
Focus mode
Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF)*9 / Manual Focus (MF) / S-AF + MF / AF tracking (C-AF + TR) *9
*9: C-AF and AF tracking are not available with non-mFTs lenses. It works as S-AF in C-AF mode.
Full-time AF
Magnified frame AF
Selectable from over 800 AF points
Enlarged view check by magnify button (available with old lenses*10)
Magnification x5, x7, x10(Default), x14 selectable
*10: old lenses without data communication
Face detection AF / Eye detection AF
Available / Available Eye Detection AF mode : Off / Nearer-eye priority / Right-eye priority / Left-eye priority
Focusing point / Focusing point selection mode
35-area multiple AF

All target, Group target area (9-area), Single target,(normal) Single target(small)
AF Illuminator
Manual focus assist * Customize function
Live view image is magnified when the focus ring is rotated. (at S-AF+MF or MF mode)
Exposure Control (Still)
Metering system
(TTL Image sensor metering)
Digital ESP metering (324-area multi pattern metering), Center weighted average metering, Spot metering, Spot metering with highlight, Spot metering with shadow
Metering range
EV 0 - 20 (at normal temperature, 17mm f2.8, ISO 100)
Exposure mode
iAuto, P: Program AE (Program shift can be performed), A: Aperture priority AE,
S: Shutter priority AE, M: Manual, Bulb, Time, Scene select AE, Art Filter,
Underwater wide / macro*11
*11: Selectable from menu as a function on Fn-1/Rec button
Scene select AE
Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night, Night + Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Fisheye Conv., Wide Conv., Macro Conv., 3D *
*Using 3D lens(H-FT012) , still only
ISO sensitivity
AUTO ISO 200 - 25600 (customizable, Default 200-1600)
Manual ISO 200 - 25600, 1/3 or 1 EV steps selectable
Exposure compensation
±3 EV in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps selectable
AE lock
Locked at 1st release of shutter button (can be set to Fn1/Rec button)
Shutter type
Computerized focal-plane shutter
Shutter speed
1/4000 - 60 sec. (1/3, 1/2, or 1EV steps selectable)
Bulb/Time: default setting 8min. (1/2/4/8/15/20/25/30 min. selectable)
Flash intensity control method
TTL Auto, Auto*13, Manual, super FP*13(FP-TTL AUTO, FP-MANUAL)
*13: Available on the external flash
Bundled flash*14
TTL flash, GN=7(ISO100m) / GN=10 (ISO200m)
*14: Bundled FL-LM1. Attach it on the hot shoe and connect it to the accessory port 2. Available on FL-LM1/2.
Flash mode
Flash Auto, Redeye, Fill-in, Flash Off, Red-eye Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(1st curtain), Slow sync.(2nd curtain), Manual (1/1 (FULL) 1/64)
Synchronization speed
1/250sec. or less*15
*15: It depends on flash models or flash mode
FL-LM1/2: 1/250 sec., FL-50R: 1/180 sec., Other: 1/200 sec., Super FP: 1/125-1/4000 sec.
Flash intensity control
Up to ±3 EV in 0.3, 0.5, 1 EV steps selectable
Compatible external flash
FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-20, FL-14, FL-300R, FL-600R
Wireless Flash Control
Compatible external flash
FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-300R, FL600R
Control method
Triggered and controlled by bundled flash FL-LM1*16 *16: Available on FL-LM2/ FL-600R.
(Olympus Wireless RC Flash system compatible)
External Flash intensity type
TTL Auto, Auto, Manual, FP-TTL-AUTO, FP-MANUAL
4 channels
Group No.
4 groups (External flash 3 groups + a bundled flash*17)
*17: Available on FL-LM1/2 / FL-600R
Drive mode
Single-frame shooting, Sequential shooting, Self-timer
Sequential shooting maximum speed
[Sequential shooting H mode]*18 8.0 fps * in case of "I.S. Off" *18: Focus and exposure are fixed at the values for the first shot.
[Sequential shooting L mode] *19
3.6 fps* in case of "I.S. Off" (in 3.5 seq. shooting L)
3.0 fps* in case of "I.S. On" (in 3 seq. shooting L)
*19: When using the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm
R f3.5-5.6
Max. recordable pictures
on sequential shooting *
[RAW] Max. 27frames (in 3 seq. shooting L), Max.15 frames (in 8 seq. shooting H)
[JPEG] Unlimited consecutive shooting (in 3 seq. shooting L), Max. 19 frames ( in 8 seq. shooting H)
* When using the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm
R f3.5-5.6.
* With TOSHIBA SDHC UHS-I card R95-W80 8GB model, based on Olympus in-house measurement conditions.
Operation time: 12 sec., 2 sec., custom (Waiting time 1-30sec.,Shooting interval 0.5/1/2/3sec.,Number of shots 1-10)
Exposure bracketing
2, 3 or 5 frames in 0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable, 7 frames in 0.3/0.7EV steps selectable
ISO bracketing
3 frames in 0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable
White balance bracketing
3 frames in 2, 4, 6 steps selectable in each A-B/G-M axis.
Flash bracketing
3 frames in 0.3/0.7/1.0EV step selectable
Art Filter bracketing
i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone, Custom, Art Filters selectable
bracketing for HDR post process
3 or 5 frames in 2.0/3.0EV steps selectable, 7 frames in 2.0EV steps selectable.
*HDR picture can not be made by this function.
Art Filter
Mode (Variation / Effect)
Pop Art (I, II / a.b.c.d.e.)
Soft Focus ( - / c.e.)
Pale & Light Color (I, II / a.b.c.d.)
Light Tone ( - / d.)
Grainy Film (I, II / b.c.d.f.g)
Pin Hole (I, II, III / d.)
Diorama ( - / d.)
Cross Process (I, II / b.c.d.)
Gentle Sepia ( - / a.b.c.d.)
Dramatic Tone (I / b.c.d.e) (II / b.c.d.e.f.g)
Key Line (I, II / a.b.c.d.e.)
Watercolor (I, II / a.c.d.)
Art Effect
a. Soft Focus Effect

b. Pin-Hole Effect

c. White Edge Effect

d. Frame Effect

e. Star Light Effect

f. B&W Effect (Yellow, Orange, Red, Green)

g. Pict. Tone (Sepia, Blue, Purple, Green)
Recording format
MOV (MPEG-4AVC/H.264) , AVI (Motion JPEG)
Movie Mode

Full HD: 1920(H)x1080(V), 30p (29.97fps) Recording
20Mbps (Fine) / 17Mbps (Normal) : Aspect 16:9

HD: 1280(H)x720(V), 30p (29.97fps) Recording
13Mbps (Fine) / 10Mbps (Normal) : Aspect 16:9

[AVI Motion JPEG]

HD: 1280(H)x720(V), 30fps *20, Aspect 16:9

SD: 640(H)x480(V), 30fps *20, Aspect 4:3

*20 : Except for some of the Art Filters
Maximum Recording Time

Full HD : Approx. 29min(Normal) / Approx. 22min(Fine)

HD : Approx. 29min(Normal) / Approx. 29min(Fine)


HD : Approx. 7min*21 / SD : Approx. 14min*21

*21 : Except for some of the Art Filters
Movie Function
Movie Effect : One shot echo / Multi echo / Art fade
Art Filter Movie, Aperture priority Movie, Shutter Priority Movie, Manual Shooting Movie
IS for Movie
Built in (Electronic image stabilizer)
2mode (M-IS1,M-IS2), off, Panasonic OIS lens priority
AE Lock
Exposure control (Movie)
P: Program AE, A: Aperture priority AE, S: Shutter speed priority AE, M: Manual, Art Filter
* S mode and M mode : Shutter speed is limited in less than 1/30 sec.
Compression ratio
Motion-JPEG Format : 1/12(HD), 1/8(SD)
File size
MOV Format : Max 4GB
Motion-JPEG Format : Max 2GB
Recording format
Wave Format (Stereo linear PCM/16-bit, Sampling frequency 48kHz)
Microphone function
Wind Noise Reduction, Recording Volume
Audio dubbing possible for still pictures (up to 30 sec.)
White Balance
White balance mode
Auto WB, 7 Preset WBs, 2 Capture WBs, Custom WB(Kelvin setting)
White balance compensation
±7 steps in each A-B/G-M axis * Except for Custom WB
Preset white balance
7 preset WBs (3000K - 7500K)
- Sunny(5300K), Shadow(7500K), Cloudy(6000K), Incandescent(3000K), Fluorescent(4000K), Underwater, WB Flash(5500K)
Color Mode
Color matrix
sRGB, Adobe RGB
Picture Mode
i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait, Monotone, Custom, Art Filters
Auto, Normal, High Key, Low Key [except Art Filters]
Multi Exposure
Number of picture / Function
3 frames / Auto gain, Exposing on Recorded picture (RAW)
Multi Aspect
Aspect Ratio
4:3(Default) / 3:2 / 16:9 / 1:1 / 3:4
One Push Tele-converter
Playback mode
Single-frame, Information display, Index display (4/9/25/100 frames), Calendar, Enlargement (2x - 14x), Movie (with sound, FF/REW/Pause), Picture rotation (auto), Slideshow *(with BGM/BGM+Sound/Sound)
* Slideshow : Still/Movie/Still+Movie, When a camera is connected to HDTV with HDMI cable, 3 new slideshow effect can be selectable.(Still)
1 BGM replaceable. Auto angle correction
Information display
Histogram (independent luminance / RGB available), Highlight/Shadow point warning, AF frame, Photographic information, OFF
34 languages selectable :
- English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croat, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovakian, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Rumanian, Indonesian, Malay, Thai
Reset & custom setting
My Set
4 settings recordable
Image Editing
Editing function
RAW development, Gradation auto, Monochrome, Sepia, Red-eye fix, Saturation, Resize (1280x960, 640x480, 320x240), Trimming, Aspect, e-Portrait, Image Overlay, Post recording
RAW picture editing
RAW development based on settings of the camera(including Art Filter)
Detail edit acceptable.(Preview, Memory of 2 setting, re-development)
Print function
Print reservation (DPOF), Direct print (PictBridge compatible)
USB/AV/Remote controller connector
Dedicated multi-connector [USB: USB2.0 Hi-Speed, Video: NTSC/PAL selectable, Optional Remote cable RM-UC1 can be used.]
HDMI connector
Micro HDMI (Type-D)
Flash attachment
Hot shoe
Accessory Port 2
Dedicated multi-connector [Available for VF-2/VF-3, SEMA-1, MAL-1 and PP-1.]
PC interface
USB2.0 Hi-Speed
TV interface
HDMI (HD/Stereo Sound), VIDEO-OUT(SD/Mono Sound)
Power Requirements
BLS-5 Li-ion battery (included)
Sleep mode
Available (1/3/5 min. off selectable)
Number of recordable pictures
Approx. 360 shots [IS ON, CIPA test standard]
(with BLS-5 and TOSHIBA super high-speed Class 6 SDHC 4GB card)
Dimensions / Weight
109.8 mm (W) x 64.2mm (H) x 33.8mm (D)
[CIPA guideline compliant, excluding protrusions]
Approx. 269g [CIPA guideline compliant, with BLS-5 battery and Memory card]
Approx. 223g [body only]
Operating Environment
0 ~ +40 (operation) / -20 ~ +60 (storage)
30 - 90% (operation) / 10 - 90% (storage)
Box contents
Box contents
Body, Flash FL-LM1, Li-ion battery BLS-5, Li-ion battery charger BCS-5, USB cable, AV cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2 (CD-ROM), Instruction manual, Warranty card

Specifications and design are subject to change without notice.


  1. Nice way to describe the fine tools that are around us for not much money at all. ! And very personal too.
    But: what's wrong with the banding. Did you only percieve it with the pana pancake? If so, that was stated in 2012 already.

  2. The banding was with the 17mm f/2.8 mZuiko actually. Doesn't seem to matter which lens. I do remember the issue with the 20mm as well.

  3. fair review. I'd probably do it differently since I have been buying Olympus, 7 in a row, so menus have become a second nature, Still I would like to have direct access to bracketing or other stuff, at least in the higher models.
    Absolute ISO I don't care. There is no such thing. The Mftr. is free to choose among 5 (!) different definitions, and in Digital only brightness (amplification) is the value to watch. Starting from higher up is a necessity to reach higher sensitivities, keeping some DR.
    You didn't express ysf. about IBIS, which i find pretty important for freestyle shooting. I'd love talso o hear you about the 17/2.8 which I keep on almost always for size.
    I have no gripes with IQ, but perhaps because I could do with previous sensors, which were quite worse.
    I didn't like the grip but solved by appllying a thin strip of hooked velcro on the front one. In fact I use the E-PM2 far more than the better E-M5. If Oly added a wheel for EV correction (On the PL7?) it would have everything I need in the Street. Thanks again!

  4. Great down to earth review! I bought it for a steal with the 40-150mm included a few months ago, and I agree with almost everything you write. But Im curious of the banding you mention, Ive seen it but only when lifting shadows at around iso 4000-6400. And then I think you forget to write about one of this cameras greatest flaws, the horrible shutter-shock issue. My camera is not hand-holdable below 1/250. Anything slower than that and the image get blurry because the whole camera rattles around in my hand when the shutter goes off. This problem almost dissapears when using the Anti-shock setting set to 1/8. But the problem is that the shutter delay introduced by the anti-shock function makes me miss alot of shots as Im used to the shot being taken when I press the shutter, not a few moments after that.. Well well, all in all I am very pleased with the camera and the sensor performance, But REALLY looking forward to the M43 camera that is small and has Global Shutter, no more shutter-shock issues then :

  5. Hi Daniel, thanks for your comments! :)

    On the SS issue, I'm not experiencing the issue with this camera so I didn't mention it. That's not to say that I don't think the issue exists with Olympus cameras, because it certainly does! However, I can't mention what doesn't happen to me during trial periods/testing. I can shoot just fine all the way down to 1/2 second hand held (using both hands and being very steady) and have no issues with blurring above that shutter speed at all.

    I'm not sure just why I'm not having the issues with Shutter Shock, but I'm not. For this review I've used the 17mm f/2.8 and the Panasonic 14-42mm second generation kit lens, and have my IS setting to S-1 in the menu.


  6. Regarding SS (Shutter Shock) issue:
    I own both the EP-3 and the EPM-2 and I have never experienced or noticed shutter shock problem with either of these cameras.
    I always shoot hand held and often with shutter speeds between 1/50 and 1/200 second.with Image stabilisaiton on.
    On the other hand i always take care ofusing a firm two hand grip, almost never single hand grip.
    When changing from a heavy DSLR (Nikon D7000) to the Little Pens, I sometimes forget this and can end up with a few blurry shots.
    I Wonder if the SS problem is caused by a combination of camera holding techniques and defective image stabilisation systems in some but not all Pen cameras ?
    Overall I am perfectly happy with the RPM-2, a great travel camera.
    I can have the EPM-2, the tiny flash and the 45 mm F.1.8 and pan 14 mm F.2.5 in a small camera bag attched to my belt.
    Great value for money


  7. ok i emailed olympus to request the ''0sec antishock'' for e-pm2 and e-pl5 and this was their response, what a joke:

    Thank you for your e-mail enquiry regarding your E-pm2 and E-pl5.

    We have no reported issues with shutter shock on these models so they would not require the 0 second antishock fix.

    Should you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to
    contact me.

    Kind regards

    Chris Dale

    European Customer
    Support Centre

  8. I own two E-PM2 cameras and can say that this is the best review of the camera I have seen on the internet.

    I myself have a love/hate relationship with these cameras. The small size and limited number of physical controls are great, the general image quality potential is quite good, and as a frequent low light JPEG shooter, the excellent auto white balance is a revelation compared to earlier m4/3 and DSLR cameras.

    As the review points out, the overstated ISO is a small-minded deception, and the banding in shadows a sometime annoyance. But my three biggest beefs with the camera are, in reverse priority order:

    3. that the camera produces very obvious banding when used with the Panasonic 20mm lens which would otherwise be its natural partner in my hands; some claim never to have seen it, but it was visible in most night time shots with a camera ISO setting of about 1000 or higher (ie a real ISO of only between 500 and 640 or so). The effect varied from shot to shot but was almost always there; increasing the ISO increased the incidence and severity of the effect.

    2. The poor physical quality of the main control interface, the four way button thing with the ring around it and button marked "OK" in the middle. This part is not just fiddly to use...its responsiveness varies so hugely that it almost always overshoots in use. One of my cameras was very poor in this regard from new; the other is deteriorating. The other buttons are not always reliable, either.

    1. The worst thing about this camera is that it delivers inconsistent levels of critical sharpness due to shutter shock. One of mine (the one with the more reliable control interface) is worse than the other in this respect, but with both cameras I find that even activating 1/8 sec antishock is insufficient. The problem occours with speeds as high as 1/500 when shooting with longish telephoto lenses, so eventually I sold my Olympus telephoto and bought another DSLR with 100-300 lens (a secondhand Sony shutter shock, ever). With the 45mm, the shock seems worst at what would normally be the lowest safe handholding speeds of 1/60, 1/100 etc. And it occours with every single lens I've used with these cameras. My old E-PL2 and E-P2 both did it sometimes, but my E-PM2s do it more often. This is a problem that simply doesn't exist with other camera systems I've used, and I've used many. I haven't shot extensively with Panasonic m4/3 cameras (because the JPEG processing pleased me so much less than that of Olympus), but in my experience they don't seem to do it. My el cheapo Sony A37 definitely doesn't do it. None of my many Canon or Nikon DSLRs did it, ever. My Olympus XZ-1 and XZ-2 cameras didn't do it. Nor did a whole string of others back to my original Nikon Coolpix 990 or film cameras. How Olympus could have made it possible totally escapes me. And I know how to hold a camera!

  9. And my fourth-biggest beef with these has to be the stabilisation system which, at most shutter speeds, dramatically INCREASES unsharpness. It can improve sharpness when shooting at a shutter speed of between about a third and half the reciprocal of focal length (eg I use it when shooting at 1/5 with a 14mm lens, or 1/15 with the 45mm). At normal daylight shooting speeds, it is necessary to remember to keep it turned off. Why on earth Olympus couldn't have been honest about this in the manual, I don't caused me a lot of irritation and head-scratching until I worked both it and the shutter shock out.

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  11. I've been using one of these recently (a red one!) and it has impressed me also. Not exceptional perhaps but Plenty Good Enough for nearly all shooting I do. The few features that I miss are available on the em5, and a used one just hit my price point & will arrive next week. I'll enjoy the tip screen, VF and weather seals, and it should be a fairly simple step from the ePM2.. we'll see about that.