Olympus PEN E-PM2: Performance

February 27, 2013 by Chris Gampat Reads (18,945)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Expandability
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.00
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

The Olympus E-PM2 has overall excellent performance for autofocusing (with Olympus lenses), responsiveness, and image quality. The fact that the touchscreen was added in as an upgrade over the EPM1 makes operation even quicker. It is far more responsive and faster than Sony’s F3 and the Canon EOS M–which are its closest competitors.

Lens Performance

The kit lens is the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 and provides a 24-84 field of view. The lens is really quite good, sharp, fast to focus, and collapses into itself for more compact storage. What users will need to keep in mind though is that if the lens is locked/collapsed, the camera won’t really work. Instead, when the camera is powered on it will display a screen that states that the lens is locked. This is a problem even for the playback of images.

If used correctly though, the lens’s Bokeh can look very nice though not as pleasing as some of the compact prime lenses that the company makes. Also, this lens will force the camera/user to shoot at higher ISO settings in low light. Thankfully, Olympus’s sensor-based image stabilization system works well to ensure that camera shake doesn’t happen.

If the user chooses to shoot in JPEG mode and auto ISO, then the images they yield will great on the web when using this lens. Chromatic aberration, softness, vignetting and flare are also very well controlled. However, the lens can suffer from some fringing in super high contrast areas.

Video Quality
The E-PM2 has one distinct advantage when it comes to recording video, and that is the fact that it has sensor based stabilization. Additionally, if a user wants to attach an LCDVF and a cinema prime lens to the camera (such as those from SLR Magic) they’ll be hard pressed to change any of the settings while recording. For the average user shooting in all Auto, that’s fine. For the more advanced user, that’s even better news. In the video world, shutter speeds are supposed to stay untouched for the most part while a variable ND filter and an aperture ring around the lens do most of the exposure control. If you need to put a versatile and small camera somewhere on a set as camera C, the E-PM2 might be a good option despite the lack of an uncompressed HDMI out feature.

That means that when you’re moving around trying to record, the footage will look much smoother. But for the best results, we still recommend holding the camera in as close to your body as you can.

The footage looks a little muted even when the camera is set to the vivid mode; so users might want to import the files into their favorite editing software to give it a bit of a touchup. Adobe Premiere Elements and other programs are more than capable of doing this.

Image Quality
Overall image quality on the Olympus E-PM2 is excellent. Borrowing the sensor from its bigger brother, the OM-D E-M5 (and therefore the E-PL5) is the main factor for this. Color capturing and white balancing are extremely true to life, though the camera can sometimes render images warmer than they should be. This can be turned off though by adjusting the according setting in the camera’s menus (which need to be found in the sub-menus). The exposure performance also ranked very well with the images all being very balanced according to the camera’s light meter.

Using the art filters can be fun if you’re looking to be creative, but in the end it will only just degrade the image quality. For the crowd this camera is targeted towards, they won’t care a single bit.

ISO performance is exceptional up to 1600; and there is where the camera starts to not perform as well as some of its competitors in this category. When noise reduction is turned on, it can smear fine details. For the best results, we recommend shooting in RAW and adjusting the noise reduction and sharpness accordingly. Once again though, the crowd that this camera is targeted toward will have no issues with image quality because most of the images will perhaps be going straight to Facebook, Flickr or another sharing platform.

Additional Sample Images

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