Olympus unveils E-PL2 for CES

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This fourth generation digital Pen features a slight redesign. The E-PL1 was outfitted with chrome accents and a more linear design. The E-PL2 has a slightly different shape and overall styling with less chrome and more black (that is, unless you order it in white, red or silver color options).

It uses the same 12.3 megapixel Four Thirds sensor as all of the other digital Pen cameras. Most other functions are the same, and features like the pop-up flash, 720p HD video recording and in-camera art filters are still here.

So what’s different? The E-PL2 will ship with the updated 14-42mm II lens. It will offer beginning users Live Guide II for assistance in adjusting settings in still and movie capture mode. The control wheel on the back panel can now be used to make changes in Live Guide II. The E-PL2 offers a larger 3.0-inch LCD over the EPL-1’s 2.7-inch monitor, and the E-PL2 boosts monitor resolution to 460k-dots.

The maximum shutter speed has been raised to 1/4000, where the EPL-1 topped out at 1/2000 second. ISO has also been given a bump. Users can now change the sensitivity up to ISO 6400. Face detection has been upgraded to include eye detection, a function Olympus calls iDetect.

The look is more sophisticated, and the color options are appealing. But as we love to say, these updates look more evolutionary than revolutionary. That’s not all bad. The second generation 14-42mm lens shows every indication of being a faster, more accurate piece of equipment than its predecessor. The bump to ISO 6400 is not likely to be very helpful considering how poorly the EPL-1 performed at ISO 3200. But the increase in maximum shutter speed will be appreciated, and making the unit compatible with the SDXC memory format is a necessary step forward.

A few new Pen accessories debut with the E-PL2. A macro arm (MAL-1) that clips into the camera’s port provides two flexible arms equipped with LED lights for help illuminating close-up subjects.

A handful of conversion lenses are now offered for the new 14-42mm lens including a fish-eye converter covering 120 degrees, a wide angle converter, and a macro lens converter for close-ups from 24 cm. The macro converter (MCON-58) is compatible with 14-150mm, 40-150mm and 75-300mm lenses.

A new wireless transmitter called – cleverly – the PENPal transimts data from the camera via Bluetooth signal to another Bluetooth enabled device such as a PC or smartphone. It will even transfer images to another Pen equipped with the PENPal.

Sample Images

Pricing and availability
The E-PL2 is available beginning this month for $599.99 bundled with the MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED m14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

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