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e-pl1 or e-p2?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by pcake, May 8, 2012.

  1. pcake

    pcake Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2010
    i'm currently shooting a panasonic G3 with a canon sx230 digicam as a carryaround. well, today i went out shooting with the canon, and found that even though i love the long zoom, it has too many stumbling blocks to my taking the photos i want to get. the last straw - it could not focus on a bug that i could have gotten in seconds with a micro 4/3 camera with manual focus easily. and the pics aren't great in less than optimal light - which i expected, but still find disappointing.

    since i have a collection of m4/3 and adapted lenses, and considering the very low price of the e-pl1, i thought it might be a good carryaround. then i noticed that the e-p2 is also available at a pretty loveable price, just $70 more, so i started checking out the differences.

    e-p2 has both a dedicated ISO button and an exposure compensation button, and these are things i use enough that in the past i've passed on buying cameras that didn't have them.

    on the other hand, the sample pics on dpreview show better detail for epl1 pics compared to ep2 pics in both raw and jpg. also the epl1 back a couple years was the low light camera, and i shoot in low and challenging lighting.

    i searcged for comparisons between the two cameras, and found this thread here
    Mirrorless Camera ISO Signal/Noise Shootout: NEX5, NX10, E-P2, E-PL1, GF1, G2, GH1
    and seems to me that the epl1 shows more detail at lower ISO's than the ep2, and that the gf1 actually has lower noise at ISO 1600 than either olympus. but it's not a thread about features, grip, etc.

    so i'm hoping people who have used either camera - or both - can give me the real world pros and cons of each. that would be very helpful. thanks!
  2. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    PL1 is definately tops in image quality, particularly sharpness and crispness, right out of the camera. ISO can be changed quickly via using the super control panel. Changing aperture and exposure compensation is also very quick despite having to press a button because the button is large and has a definitive feel to it. I say this as an owner of both an E-1 and E-M5 that have lots more direct control buttons and dials.

    Both the PL1 and P2 are somewhat slow to focus and release the shutter so if you need more speed you should consider the E-PM1. However, the E-PM1 does not seem to be available body only so you might have to pay $400 for a new one with kit lens. But you could sell the kit lens on this forum as others have for around $120.
  3. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Do you know that compared to the e- cameras you're considering, you are spoiled by your G3's performance and superb image quality, particularly at high ISO's? You did mention that you shoot in low and challenging lighting.

    The G3 you have offers noticeably better image quality (significantly so at higher ISO) and more features (built-in EVF and articulating screen) than the e- cameras you're considering. However, if that isn't important to you in what you call a "carryaround" camera, then perhaps you will be content with images resulting from the e-pl1 or e-p2.
  4. pcake

    pcake Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2010
    aren't the iso and aperture buried in a menu, or are they quick to get to once you know the camera better?

    the G3 is wonderful - fast and with great low light and high ISO pics, but i don't always want to carry it around. i want to carry something cheaper, which is a reason i'm not just keeping my GF1.

    i really do need to replace the sx230 - today was pretty dismal. poorly saturated pics due to a little haze, focus issues, zoom that kept going past things. i could have thrown a haze filter on a micro 4/3 camera, and voila - haze problem fixed. zoom done by hand means i wouldn't had to struggle with focus - i could have manually focused.

    also i've never owned an olympus, and would like to get to know one. and if i get one of the oly's and like it, i can get it an EVF a little down the road to make framing easier. i'm also interested in trying a removable lens camera with IBIS, as my canon dslr and my panasonic g's haven't have it.

    the bottom line - i want a less expensive camera to carry around that takes decent pics and it would be a plus if it uses my existing lenses.

    btw, the epl1 has the best detail of the epl1, epm1 and ep2 and on the dpreview comparison tool at a variety of ISO's. not sure how accurate that is but it does make the epl1 seem tempting despite its lack of controls.
    Olympus PEN Mini / E-PM1 Review: Digital Photography Review
  5. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    Olympus cameras have what's called a "Super Control Panel". You hit the OK button and this control panel comes up and gives you access to almost all camera settings like ISO, auto vs custom white balance, white balance compensation, image size, image quality, picture mode, etc.

    Aperture is more directly available via two large buttons on the front of the E-PL1 camera. You just hit one button and that selects aperture and then hit another one to change the aperture setting. You can do it real fast - almost as fast as with a dedicated rotary dial. Yes, the Digital Photography Review comparison tool can be used to accurately compare the pen cameras as they all have 12 MP sensors and the same kit lens, but the tool is not foolproof when comparing pens to other brands of cameras
  6. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Not sure what you mean by buried in the menu.

    But, changing the aperture in aperture priority is one button, then you press up or down to change aperture and left right to change exposure compensation.

    Same with shutter priority. It's not buried in menu. It's just a few button pushes versus a scroll wheel.

    ISO is buried in menu, but I leave mine on Auto ISO and turn on super control panel. One button press brings up all the options.

    The EP2 does have a nicer screen, much better for manual focus.

    Either way, I think manual focus will be pretty difficult with the LCD in bright light.
  7. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    pcake... while owning a GF1, GH2, and a G3 I bought an E-PL3 because I wanted to try out an Olympus body. While I do like the camera, I was really surprised at the poor IQ at higher ISOs. I truly wasn't expecting to see such poor performance in that regard. So, if you get a pen and expect to use it under low and poor light conditions... be prepared for that. The E-M5 is the Olympus body that finally brings up Olympus performance at higher ISOs, though I'm not sure it still quite matches the G3 in that regard. I have to do more shooting with the E-M5 I just got to confirm.
  8. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    I think the difference in IQ is not as remarkable as mit seems, in real life, between the two cameras. I've owned them both and still have the EP2, but if you notice the difference then get the Epl1 and don't worry. High iso performance is not anyway near the G3 you have and I have also owned.
    Make your choice beeing aware that handling is a bit different on the two cameras but not so tricky once you get used to it.
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    * Get the E-PL1 put the $70 towards an EVF. I use adapted lenses with an E-PL1, the EVF is an absolute must.
    * The E-PL1 has a dedicated magnification button.

    IMO, those two reasons make it a no brainer when it comes to adapted lenses.
  10. artsifrtsy

    artsifrtsy Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2011
    I own an E-P2 and have several family members with the E-PL1. Both are great cameras. I prefer my E-P2 because there are more customizable buttons, the menus have more options and the overall feel of the camera. The IQ out of both is almost identical in real world use. Both have accessory ports - so no difference there. The E-PL1 is simpler to use - that's why I have recommended it to so many friends and family who are wanting to move to an interchangeable lens set-up. Using theirs I miss the dials on the back and find myself searching menus.
  11. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    I agree with you: the EP2 is a great camera.
  12. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The buttons on both cameras are customizable. You can have a dedicated ISO button on the E-PL1 as well, and I don't know why they changed that from the default. The original default, as you see on the E-P2 was to have White Balance and ISO on the 4-way controller but they changed that and put something else in. I don't remember what they changed it to, because I always put it back the way it's supposed to be as soon as I get a new camera, lol. :tongue: At any rate, what you see printed on the sides of those buttons makes no difference. They can both be set up the same as the E-P2.

    However, what the E-PL1 lacks is turn dials. The E-P2 has two of them, a thumb wheel and a rotary dial, and that allows you to scroll through your setting changes quickly and efficiently. The E-PL1 requires you to repeatedly push a button to do the same thing, which is a real pain. There is some functionality which was improved on the E-PL1 in the button system, such as the magnifier which really helps in focus assist for any lens that doesn't use the automatic MF Assist feature (and for a lot of people this is better than MF Assist even for native digital lenses because not everybody wants the camera to zoom in automatically with every touch of the ring, or they may not want to always zoom into the center of the frame), plus the built-in Remote Flash Commander which allows you to trigger wireless remote flash or slave flash while using the VF-2 or VF-3 viewfinders, or the EMA-1 3.5mm stereo mic adapter (for video), and a larger grip for heavier lenses.

    Are you sure you can't swing the cost of an E-PL2? It is such an improvement over both E-PL1 and E-P2 models, with almost all the benefits and advantages of each. The E-PL2 is the E-PL1 done right. It has a turn dial (though is still missing a thumb wheel) and being one thumbwheel short is the only real disadvantage it has from the E-P2 that I can think of. Of course there's minor things like the orientation sensor and the classier looks of the E-P2 (and E-P1) with the recessed mode dial, but nothing else with practical impact.

    On the other hand, the E-PL2 has ALL the advantages of the E-PL1 plus many more. It has the same sharp image quality and better high ISO performance. I can't say much for the E-PL1 as I couldn't take the body build long enough to get along with it but the E-PL2 is a significant leap in high ISO over the E-P2 (in particular in JPG with Noise Filter OFF), giving you more detailed images free of chroma or luma noise. The noise you see at high ISO out of the E-PL2 is natural grain with natural color, not blue or white streaks like you used to see with older generation cameras which can't be cleaned up in post. The E-PL2 uses the same imaging system as the pro-grade E-5.

    The E-PL2 has the same large-grip ergonomics as the E-PL1, but with a stylish, contoured look. It doesn't look blocky, plasticky, and cheap. :) 

    The E-PL2 has the same built-in Remote Flash Commander as well as the new custom button functions and layout which started with the E-PL1 and has moved on to all the new PENs. It has the rotary dial on the back though, which makes it so much more efficient to use in the field than the E-PL1.

    The E-PL2 has twice the screen resolution of BOTH E-P2 and E-PL1. The E-PL1 has the worst LCD seen in any of the Micro Four-Thirds cameras, being both low resolution (220k dots, like the E-P2) but with a 10% smaller 2.7" screen. The E-P2 at least had the standard 3" screen, even though it was as low resolution. The E-PL2 screen however is a nice 3" 460k dot screen which in some ways is even better than the new LCD screens on the next generation PENs which are also 3" and 460k dot, but are 16:9 aspect instead of 4:3. The 4:3 aspect screen gives you more real-estate and better enlarged clarity for stills, but the 16:9 aspect gives you the same for video. I know I'm a little bit of a minority, but I personally prefer the 16:9 screen because I need that real-estate and better view for manual focusing when I'm shooting video, even though I shoot stills more. When I'm shooting stills I have the EVF and the Magnifier (auto on some lenses or manually on others), so I don't need the larger view on the LCD.

    I think the E-P2 and E-PL1 were both excellent cameras for their time, but I would personally not consider them next to the E-PL2, which is a significant upgrade to either. The E-PL1 was dumbed down too much for me, made cheaply and reduced in functionality (ie, removing the dials, reducing the maximum shutter speed by half, removing remote release compatibility, etc.), but it pioneered new designs which have been carried on to all new PENs (ie, magnifier function, built-in flash commander, etc.). The E-PL2 did it right though, without dumbing down the camera and allowing it to instead compete and overtake the top-end (at the time) E-P2. Most importantly, it brought with it the improved image quality of the E-5 era, which is what makes the E-P2 "obsolete". I put that in quotes, because that's all based on personal perspective and standards. Photos I took with the E-P1/2 era cameras were fantastic and easily stand up to the photo quality of today's cameras, but owning cameras with the new generation imaging I wouldn't go back.

    Keep in mind that all the cameras being compared here (E-P2, E-PL1, E-PL2) are all PEN system cameras which take the same accessories such as the great VF-2 viewfinder or EMA-1 external mic adapter, and take the same wonderful Micro Four-Thirds lenses. You won't go wrong with any of them! I may nitpick here and there, but I have great respect for all three.

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    Only caveat to that is that depending on where you are you may not find the E-PL2 for much cheaper than the E-PM1 Mini. Both E-PL2 and E-PM1 have advantages over each other. The E-PL2 still delivers awesome photo quality which in some ways is even slightly better, but the E-PM1 delivers much improved Auto White Balance and focus/response speed, as well as a greatly reduced body size. The same body-size advantage of the E-PM1 is an advantage for the E-PL2 though, as it offers a beefier, more stable hold with a better grip, built-in flash, and more custom function buttons to use. I still use both of these cameras and they both serve different purposes. I own two Minis and one E-PL2, so I guess you can kinda tell where my preferences lie. ;)  However, the E-PL2 gets much more studio time with me for a long day of real work, while the Minis go with me everywhere when I'm out on location.

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  13. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    When I am shooting manual lenses on the E-PL1, the dials (lack of) are less of an issue. The primary dial I need is the aperture ring on the lens itself, the magnification button (which is missing in the E-P2), the FN button for AEL, and the focus ring on the lens itself. Its probably much to do with how I shoot... 90% of the time the rest of the settings remain static. I actually had the E-P2 originally but returned it because I was relying so much on magnification which was several button presses away.

    Ergonomics wise the E-P2 is better for native AF lenses because so much of the operation of the camera is on the back of the camera itself; including aperture.
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  14. azngigolo64

    azngigolo64 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 16, 2012
    Out of curiosity, have you decided? I have the same dilemma (already have G3) and decided to pluck down 150 today for the Cameta e-pl1 body. Figured it would be good as a backup/2nd body to stick manual lens on...plus it dirt cheap =)
  15. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Tend to agree with Usayit. I started with the E-P1 but wanted to use the VF-2 and have easier access to magnification for legacy MF lenses, which is why I got the E-PL1. I also loved the bigger grip of the E-PL1, especially when using longer lenses. Having onboard flash was also handy for rare moments when I needed the boost in lighting. There were moments, though, when I missed a shot because it took just a few more seconds for me to change settings (auto compensation or shutter speed when shooting M) using the E-PL1 buttons vs. dials on P1 or P2.

    So, after more than a year, with the E-PL1 and with brand new E-P2 bodies to be had for $225 on Cameta Camera, I bought an E-P2 as well. I now use P2 with manual lenses, and E-P1 with native :43: lenses (45mm and 17mm, mostly). My wife and sons tend to use the PL1 a lot these days.

    In my experience JPGs OOC are very similar, though PL1 colors appear a bit more vibrant on my MacBook display.

    At the end of the day, I would go with advice of others---if you are on a budget, you can find a brand new PL1 body for $125-$145, and can get a used VF2 for $165.
  16. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    I had the E-PL1 and thought it was a great little camera. It had, however, one major flaw: The rear LCD is quite literally useless in bright sunlight. Trust me on this. You'll be shooting blind. If you're going to use the E-PL1 outdoors a lot, the VF-2 EVF is a must.
  17. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand

    Like Ned said, why dont you go for the EPL2? I had the same problem when buying my first mu43 body, and i went for the EPL2, why?.....because at the end of the day (and bottomline for me)...The only difference with the E3 generation is that the EPL2 doesnt have the lightning fast AF of the latter. Does that mean that the EPL2 is a "slow" camera as some reviews say?....no, not at all!. It just doesnt mean its not "lightning fast" as the new gen. And by this, im saying that the EPL2 is no slower than most of the DSLR around in the market these days...and for a lot lens money as well!.:thumbup:
  18. pcake

    pcake Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2010
    wow, there's a lot to take in here, and i'd like to thank everyone for their input.

    have i decided? not yet. the epl1 was the camera i came close to buying when i bought my GF1, so there's always been a hint of "what if?" around it for me. the price is amazing right now, grip is good, pic quality is good. on the other hand, i like the ep2's focus motor, faster shutter speed, more direct access controls and orientation sensor, and i will be shooting pany lenses on it as well as adapted. i'm concerned about the epl1's smaller screen as my eyes aren't the best, and till i decide if i like either camera, i won't be investing in the evf. there are things i really like about each camera that the other doesn't have, but ain't that always the way? ;) 

    i don't go for the epl2 for a couple reasons - it doesn't have the magnification button that seems like a very handy thing on the epl1. and since this is to be a second camera - later possibly a third - this should be the one i can carry everywhere without worrying. cheap is good since i won't have to worry about it. i have a G3, and for that matter, i still have my GF1, so it's not like i need a m4/3 body.
  19. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    When you say that the EPL2 doesnt have the "magnifying" button that te epl1 does have, you mean that little "magnifying glass" icon button in the back to do manual zoom with legacy lenses or to verify focus in images and such? well if its that one, the EPL2 has it! look again on top of the "info" button! :2thumbs:

  20. pcake

    pcake Mu-43 Regular

    May 3, 2010
    hey, i'm just repeated what people tell me :D 
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