It’s Friday, I am on the train to Carinthia and this is finally today’s image, again taken with my new Olympus PEN E-P2.
While the previous post was about the reasons that made me buy the E-P2, this one is about how it matches my expectations.
I didn’t need a new camera, I wanted a new toy, and as such, the E-P2 has great value. Not only is the camera with the 17/2.8 a great choice for my street photography, it is also beautiful, light and small enough (though heavier and bigger than I had expected), and it lets me use my Nikon lenses. I had not been sure which lenses I can use, but to my surprise and pleasure it works with all lenses, even modern ones that don’t have an aperture ring any more. That’s cool.
The image quality is approximately two stops better than that of the LX5 and almost one stop worse than that of the D300. That’s what I had expected. No surprises.
One of the reasons why I chose the E-P2 over the much cheaper E-PL1 was, that the E-P2 has a wheel that also functions as four-way controller (like Canon DSLRs) and a separate metal wheel (actually shaped more like a small vertical cylinder, the secondary “wheel”) on the back, above the four-way controller, where the thumb rests.
Both “wheels” default to operate aperture in A mode, but I have set the secondary to change aperture, and the primary to set exposure compensation. That’s great, the camera is so configurable, that you can even set the preferred direction of the wheels, but both are not without ergonomic problems.
Being at your thumb rest, the secondary wheel is not only easy to operate, I also tend to move it while holding. In fact I have accidentally changed aperture a few times. The other wheel is also easy to change accidentally, not because of its position, but because it reacts to the slightest touch.
I don’t use the secondary wheel very often. At the moment light is low and I mostly shoot wide open. Even so, auto-ISO frequently puts me to ISO 1600. If I could choose, I would opt for aspect ratio as the parameter that I want to control with the secondary wheel. I can’t though. The choices are limited and aspect ratio can only be changed in the menus.
While we are at aspect ratio, I can hardly imagine a better system than on the LX5. I love its dedicated switch and its position. Still, I am not unhappy with the Olympus. I can’t change aspect ratio blindly, but one press of “OK” (center of the four-way controller) brings up a universal menu that can quickly be operated with the two wheels. The camera remembers the position from the last change, and normally it is on aspect ratio anyway. Not as great as on the LX5, but easy enough.
You may remember, the LX5 produces one RAW format per aspect ratio. This is not the case for the Olympus, here you only have one RAW format with the actual aspect ratio recorded in the metadata, but while you purportedly see the whole 4:3 frame with an overlaid crop in the Olympus RAW converter, the Adobe DNG converter produces something similar to what the LX5 does. The resulting RAW files have exactly the aspect ratio selected during exposure. That’s what I prefer, what I didn’t expect, and it came as a welcome surprise.
Stabilization is also not exactly what I expected, but it is a negative surprise. For DSLRs with a conventional glass prism viewfinder, sensor stabilization does not stabilize the viewfinder image. It can’t, because what you see in the viewfinder is not the sensor image at all. Thus for DSLRs and long focal lengths, stabilization of the lens is preferable.
On the Olympus there is no optical viewfinder, you always see the sensor image, and I had expected it to be stabilized, at least when the shutter is half pressed. It does not seem so though, but I may be wrong, I’ll check again with a long lens this weekend. Technically the stabilization works, can’t complain about that.
Focusing manually is much easier than with the D300. The 1:1 pixel level view at the focus point allows for extremely precise focusing. I really would appreciate it to switch back to the frame overview as soon as the shutter is half pressed. As it is, it is unnecessarily tedious and really splits taking an image in two distinct actions, focusing and composing.
The electronic viewfinder is excellent. Not incredibly gorgeous as the Sony, but still a pleasure to use and in a class of its own compared to the LX5.
Not so the LCD. It has a very low resolution for today’s standards, half of the LX5’s and a quarter of the D300’s. I’m surprised that it does not matter though. Colors and contrast are great, visibility in daylight is great and, interestingly enough, I don’t miss the resolution at all. Maybe it’s the fact that I can switch to pixel level with one button press, just as on the D300 and the LX5. Judging the composition does not need higher resolution, and at pixel level the actual resolution does not matter, I can perfectly judge sharpness anyway.
What else? The camera is not as fast as I’d like. After switching it on, it takes a second until I can take an image, and after I’ve taken the image, the camera does not let me view it until is has been written to the SD card. I have a slow SD card at the moment, I’ll try the class 10 from the LX5 this weekend. At least on the LX5 it did not make a difference, maybe it does on the Olympus.
Am I satisfied? Yes, definitely so far. Will I sell it on? Don’t think so 🙂