Digitally Retro
February 2010
  • responsive
  • excellent image quality
  • comprehensive photographic features
  • highly customizable
  • beautifully designed and solidly built
  • well placed controls and buttons
  • digital leveler
  • excellent optional/kit viewfinder VF-2
  • good 3.0" LCD
  • Art Filter mode (special effects)
  • RAW files



  • slightly complicated menu
  • focus not bad, but could be faster

  • a real-pleasure to use, nomad's favorite

The Olympus Pen E-P2 not only has an elegant retro look, it comes with a shooting mode called Art Filter that digitally simulates retro effects such as grainy film, cross process, diorama and pinhole. The E-P2 is beautifully designed and built, and the camera has a very solid and serious feel to it. Add the small 17mm pancake lens, and the whole makes for a handsome, compact and highly capable camera package. The kit also comes with the external viewfinder VF-2, which is excellent, but frankly, we rarely need to use.

The Pen E-P2 has comprehensive photographic features, controls and is highly customizable. External buttons and dials are easy to access and well placed; some are customizable which we find very useful. With so many features and options, the menu is slightly complicated - but not hard. To get the most out of the camera, it's worth to spend a little time to go through all of the features and options the camera offers.


Shooting is very responsive, even with RAW. Pure focusing speed is adequate, although the Lumix competitor focuses faster. However, we take advantage of the E-P2 ability to customize the AEL/AFL button to pre focus - an excellent feature which enhances actual shooting performance in the field, by eliminating constant refocusing.


Some Art Filter effects like pinhole and diorama slow down the camera considerably. But because we found the pinhole effect perfect for Cairo, we decided to exercise patience by taking all pictures in pinhole mode with the square format.


Olympus Pen cameras use sensor-shift image stabilization which is not as effective as lens-shift, especially for longer focal lengths, but provides some help for non-stabilized lenses including the 17mm pancake lens. We found that Panasonic Lumix lenses with optical stabilization work well on the E-P2 which should give Pen users more lens options.


The E-P2's main competitor is the Lumix GF1, one of which we have been using for a while with the 20mm pancake lens. In our opinions, there's no winner or loser between these two. The Lumix has built-in flash, but using the camera with the 20mm lens means no image stabilization. The Pen has no flash but has the cool Art Filter mode.


For us, there's no higher praise than to say that the Olympus Pen E-P2 makes photography thoroughly enjoyable.


>> cairo photo gallery

  • Micro 4/3 interchangeable-lens camera
  • price tested: $1099 kit
  • kit lens: 17mm F2.8 (34mm equiv.)
  • kit external finder: VF-2
  • CCD / sensor shift image stabilization
  • multi-format: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 (6:6)
  • 3.0" LCD 230K pixels
  • 720 HD video
  • SD/SDHC memory card
  • rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • 12.3 megapixels
  • body dimension: 4.74" x 2.75" x 1.37"
  • weight: 11.1oz / 335g
  • Olympus Pen E-P2 info @