Olympus Updates PEN with EP-2, Still Chases Panasonic

Olympus PEN EP-2 with VF-2 Viewfinder

Olympus

Olympus today continued the game of cat-and-mouse that is the land of Micro Four Thirds cameras with their new PEN EP-2. The new shooter, which comes on the half-iversary of the EP-1, is chasing Panasonic's much-lauded GF1 but feels unlikely to overtake it.

The EP-2 is makes a few improvements over the EP-1, minor though many of them are. First, it's black. Cosmetically, everything else looks the same, save for a new port underneath the hotshoe accessory slot up top. The port is designed to work with Olympus' new VF-2 viewfinder (bundled), which replicates the 3-inch LCD when connected at 1.5-times magnification, and the company's EMA-1 external microphone connector (sold separately).

As far as shooting goes, the changes feel more like firmware upgrades than true hardware leaps. First up is autofocus AF tracking, which allows you to lock onto the subject and the camera will follow it in the frame to keep it in focus. In video mode, the EP-2, like the Panasonic GF1, now has full manual control over aperture and exposure settings -- but still only shoots 720p.

There are also two new art filters to tinker with: Diorama mode makes the picture look something like a 3-D model; and Cross Process plays around with color and contrast to create trippy snaps of purple apples or whathaveyou.

I leave the specs until last, because, well, the guts of the EP-2 are the guts of the EP-1. Both shoot 12.3 megapixels with a Live MOS sensor, and both have the same 4.74-by-2.75-by-1.37 inch (WHD) footprint and 11-ounce body.

If you don't have an EP-1: The E-P2 will be available in December bundles with the VF-2 viewfinder and either a ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens or 17mm f2.8 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens. Both configs will run $1,100.