Camera makers have attempted, several times, over the past fifty years to combine the creative potential and flexibility of an interchangeable lens SLR camera with the convenience and usability of a pocket-sized Point and Shoot camera. Unfortunately, that’s sort of like trying to combine a sports car with a minivan – it usually doesn’t work. The new Olympus Pen E-P2 may be one of the few exceptions to that rule – it really does a very good job of merging the creative flexibility of a DSLR with the convenience and ease of use of a compact point and shoot.
The E-P2 and its predecessor the E-P1 were designed to meet the needs of a remarkably broad demographic. The E-P2 should appeal to pro and semi-pro shooters looking for a pocketable back-up camera with lots of creative potential, casual shooters looking for a stylish and easy to use camera with lots of automatic capability, and amateur photographers looking to move up from their consumer and prosumer point and shoots. The EP-2 is compact, unobtrusive, responsive, easy to use, and capable of consistently and dependably delivering “pro” quality images.
I had an Olympus Pen FT (with Zuiko Auto S f/1.4 40mm lens) for many years and I also had a Pen EE (fixed lens ultra-compact 35mm) for a while – I liked both of them, but I like the EP-2 more – it is a 21st century reincarnation of the “street” cameras of yore. After spending some quality time with the E-P2 I believe it is a first rate image making tool for adventurous shooters who want to channel the spirits of great street shooters like Henri Cartier-Bresson or compelling documentary photographers like Dorothea Lange.