Sunday, September 04, 2011

First Impressions: Olympus E-P2

Olympus E-P2 with the 14-42 lens.
Holding a micro-third camera in my hand feels very strange. Owning a camera from Olympus or Panasonic (the 2 manufacturers who make the 4/3rd cameras) was never in my agenda. Last year when Sony announced their NEX cameras, I thought I had found my perfect travel camera, and almost purchased it. However, after reading couple of expert reviews, I decided against it.

My recent trekking trip to Kashmir made me realize that I really need a more compact camera. One that is small enough to carry - but does not compromise on quality.

My back and shoulders demanded a smaller and lighter camera - especially after carrying a 8 kg load for 7 days straight. A bit of research indicated that the micro 4/3 format has evolved and matured to a point, that investing in this format felt like a sound idea. I was further goaded into this purchase when Olympus suddenly dropped their price for the E-P2 from a lofty $899 to tantalizing $499. The reason for the price drop was the introduction of a newer model E-P3.

For my particular needs (a small backup camera), the E-P2 felt just right. My only concern before I hit the "Add to Cart" button was the one negative comment that was mentioned by most review sites - its slow focusing speed. (Micro 4/3rd cameras use a slower contrast detection system as opposed to the fast "phase detection" system used on traditional dSLR cameras). For $499, it seemed like a reasonable compromise so I went ahead and purchased it.

Sleek Retro look.
The camera looks slick with lots of buttons, and has a solid feel (thanks to the all-metal construction of the body). Compared to my D300, it looks like a tiny toy, and can easily be mistaken for a point & shoot camera.

My initial impression regarding the focusing speed is that it is pretty good. I read that Olympus released a firmware update to improve the focusing speed on the E-P2, and perhaps my copy has the latest firmware.

But what really made me buy the camera is this tiny $38 accessory.

Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter, Nikon G-type lens to MFT Micro 4/3
The Fotodiox lens mount allows me to attach all my Nikon lenses to the Olympus E-P2, essentially making the Olympus a Nikon camera!. I do lose the ability to auto-focus, but as I am very comfortable with manual focusing, this makes the camera a very versatile tool.

Olympus E-P2 with the Nikkor 50mm f1.4
I suddenly find my 50mm f1.4 converted to a very useful portrait lens. The micro 4/3rd format have a smaller sensor size, and lenses mounted on the camera gives an effective focal length that is 2 times the stated focal length. In essence, the 50mm is now 100mm on the E-P2, which is the ideal focal length for portrait shots.

How about my monstrous 80-400mm lens? No problem.

Nikkor 80-400mm mounted on the E-P2.
The camera seems tiny when mounted on such a big lens.
The effective focal length here is 160mm to 800mm. Spying just got easier. Or perhaps I will use it for more mundane tasks such as better shots of the moon.

I haven't really got time to experiment with the camera. I will do that over the next few days and post a proper hands-on review of the camera with the different lenses.

Most importantly, I am waiting for the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens that is currently on its way to me. Once I get hold of that lens, I will really get to explore the potential of this camera.


Marzouq said...

Man that seriously looks like an impressive! I have been thinking of getting a 4/3rds camera for a while now! Getting a Lumix with a few good lenses! Too much of an investment! Lol

Cajie said...

Marzouq, these cameras are small, sleek and give impressive output - but nowhere near the quality of a proper APS-C dSLR or a Full-frame dSLR. The 4/3rd lenses also are more expensive than the dSLR equivalents.
I only plan to use it as a casual second body - but for serious photography, my D300 (and soon a FX upgrade) will get first priority.