Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

Review posted 02/26/2013

Quick Take

  • Outstanding image quality
  • High-quality widescreen LCD is great
  • Touch screen option on LCD is nice for beginners
  • Various control buttons give you a second option if you choose not to use the touch screen
  • Small camera design versus DSLRs is appealing, yet camera remains comfortable to use
  • Classic retro look of PEN camera design remains
  • Nice mix of automatic and manual control features
  • Fun "Art Filters" are great to use
  • Really good starting price, especially considering E-PM2 includes a starter lens and external flash
  • Pleasing design and color options for a entry-level ILC camera
  • 16.1 megapixel image sensor
  • Great image quality
  • Very good response times
  • Some nice advancements versus E-PM1
  • Optional Wi-Fi connectivity via a Toshiba FlashAir card or Eye-Fi card - Get one free from Olympus
  • Menu structure can be a little tough to master
  • Doesn't quite have the image quality you'd find in a DSLR camera
  • May require investment in additional lenses in the future
  • No built-in or popup flash option means you have to carry the included external flash unit with you at all times
  • Touchscreen LCD can be a little tough to master at first
  • Camera is missing advanced add-on features found on some ILC models, such as an articulated LCD or built-in GPS
Bottom Line
The latest camera in the line of the ILC PEN family of cameras from Olympus, the PEN E-PM2 has a desirable combination of features and performance; at a good starting price. This is one of the better ILC models on the market, offering quite a few advancements versus its predecessor. It doesn't have a few of the add-on features that you may expect to find in a 2013 ILC camera, such as a built-in GPS or an articulated LCD screen; but if you're in the market for this type of interchangeable lens camera, the E-PM2 is a great entry-level model offering a very good value. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
In late 2012, Olympus announced two Micro Four Thirds PEN series cameras, the "Mini" E-PM2 and the "Lite" E-PL5. Spec-wise, both cameras are virtually identical, and we'll get to that in a moment, but let's start out with why they're different and how.

The PEN E-PM2 is the "smallest and lightest" PEN series camera on the market. It will be available in silver, black, white, and an exclusive red color. It's also priced $100 less than the E-PL5, primarily because the E-PM2's 3.0-inch touchscreen display does not swivel. The E-PM2 also lacks a Mode Dial (users must make use of the Menu or Live Guide buttons) as well as an unnecessary Movie Teleconverter function (avoid Digital Zoom at all costs, friends). Lastly, the pricier E-PL5's grip is detachable, where as the E-PM2's grip is permanent.

The main difference, though, is really about that swiveling display which is, admittedly great for self-portraits or you-plus-BFF portraits. Otherwise, the E-PM2 is an advanced Micro Four Thirds camera system that's offers DSLR quality imagery and video in the body of a point-and-shoot. Want more evidence? You got it. Both new PENs feature the same 16.1-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor and new TruePic VI image processor as Olympus' flagship Micro Four Thirds system camera, the OM-D E-M5. There's also a great Touch AF shutter function where, by tapping the screen, the camera will instant focus on where your finger touched and take a photo (welcome to the future, folks!). 8 frames-per-second high speed shooting will come in handy during sporting events or during nature photography.

1080i HD Video recording is nice, but a little suspect at this price-point (we want to see 1080p). 11 in-camera Art Filters allow users to make their high resolution digital photos look like byproducts of a analog era. Olympus is also pretty excited about FlashAir capability, which boils down to this: Toshiba makes WiFi-capable storage cards and when you combine that with the Olympus Image Share app (for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets), your PEN-series camera can now load images onto phones and social networking sites. Fun stuff.

Olympus PEN "Mini" E-PM2 Features
  • Micro Four Thirds System
  • 16.1 megapixel High-Speed Live MOS
  • 3.0-inch Touch Screen LCD
  • 1080i HD Video Recording
    • Access Art Filters WHILE recording (see below)
  • TruePic VI Image Processor
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • AF Illuminator
  • Olympus Dust Reduction System
  • Touch AF Shutter
  • FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF
  • 8 frames-per-second high-speed shooting (in Single AF mode)
  • Live Guide Button
  • 11 in-camera Art Filters
    • Diorama
    • Pop Art
    • Soft Focus
    • Pale & Light Color
    • Light Tone
    • Grainy Film
    • Pin Hole
    • Cross Process
    • Gentle Sepia
    • Key Line
    • Dramatic Tone
  • Variations
  • Monochrome Effect
  • In-camera RAW data editing
  • Self Timer
  • Toshiba FlashAir Compatible
    • Use Olympus Image Share smartphone app to
      • upload images onto a smartphone
      • add Art Filters to images on the smartphone
      • share images on your favorite social networking site

The Olympus PEN "Mini" E-PM2 is silver, black, white, and red. Pricing options include a $549.99 body-only MSRP as well as a $599.99 body plus MSC M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED m14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Prime Zoom Lens. See our Lowest Price button at the top right of this page for the most current online pricing.

What's in the box?:
  • 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

Additional Product Views

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