E-PM2 or E-PL5 for first m4/3 body?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by yokken, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. yokken

    yokken Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hey all,

    I've been doing a bunch of reading, seeing some beautiful pictures, and been unable to contain my old fantasies of having a good camera. Currently I have none other than my phone, which takes acceptable pictures, but obviously nothing of real quality. I'm trying to keep it semi-low budget, but I want a good setup. I want to be able to stick it in a jacket pocket and carry it around. I was thinking the E-PM2 with the infamous Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens. I was also thinking about the 14mm f/2.5, but I love fast apertures for low light shots and crazy depth of field. However, buying both new from Amazon is going to run me just short of $800. Even if I can somehow find someone to buy the kit lens for $100, that's still a decent chunk of cash for a hobby. I've been looking around for E-PL2s, E-PM2s, and E-PL5s for a decent price... but they're hard to find! Ideally I'd love to snag an E-PL5 body for like $350 and the Panny lens for $250, but from what I've seen, that's a pipe dream. I've seen used E-PM2s for ~$220 and one of the Pannys for $280, which isn't bad... I'm the type of guy who likes to buy the best I can afford at the time. Cry once, smile forever... that sort of thing.

    I know a little bit about photography, like rules of composition, how all the settings work, and the general principles like white balance and all that. I've never taken a class, but I had plenty of friends back in high school and college who did, so I got to play with their DSLRs. I mostly shot in aperture priority and got fairly decent results with their (usually) kit lenses.

    Any recommendations about where I might be able to snag a good (hopefully black) E-PM2 or E-PL5 with a gently used Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 (or 14mm f/2.5)? I'd looooove to keep it under $700... any advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    The image quality of the two cameras is pretty much identical. The E-PM2 is a bit thinner and has fewer dials and buttons. The E-PL5 has an articulating LCD screen which can be nice, and more external controls.

    That said, the best deal in MFT right now is the E-PM2 dual lens kit.

    I use the 20mm with the E-PL5, it is a nice small combo for street shooting, and the E-PM2 would be a bit smaller still. I bought my 20mm used, for about $300 last year. The price has come down some since then, since Panasonic released a refreshed version. There's no real difference other than looks. Check out ebay and the used section of various online stores like Adorama, B&H, Roberts, Amazon.

    You have the option of selling or keeping the 2 lenses that come with the E-PM2. You could probably get over $200 combined, maybe $250. I'd keep them though, even if you mainly use the 20mm, having those two lenses is a nice addition. The 40-150 is essential if you want to shoot any wildlife. The 14-42 is better than the 20mm for lanscapes and architecture shots, because it goes wider and those are things where you don't need a fast aperture.
  3. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    After all fees and shipping expenses netting $150 for both lenses is more real number. And know this because I'm currently selling my E-PL5 here with 2 zooms plus some extras for $499
  4. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I'd say for starting off, an E-PM2 2-lens kit ($400) and a secondhand Panasonic 20/1.7 (~$260 in these parts) are pretty much ideal. You'll pay quite a bit more for an equivalent kit with the E-PL5, and what you gain amounts essentially to a mode dial, two more buttons, a screen that tilts, and slightly nicer feeling body (more metal, less plastic). If you really don't want the kit lenses, you can save money just getting the body, but I think you'll find that the kit lenses are awfully handy.
  5. yokken

    yokken Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    Well I think I'm sold on the E-PM2 then! I might try to sell the 14-42mm kit lens... I've read it's not as sharp as the 20mm/1.7. Even if it's wider... I'd venture to say 90% of the time I'll be using the thinnest lens available to me for convenience and more candid shots. Time to try and snag a Panny pancake...
  6. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Don't give up on e-pl5 just yet. the tilting display and those few extra dials go a long way and the build is phenomenal. there are plenty of deals here from people that snagged the 2lens kit for 500. Used/refurb e-pl5 body and kit lens also can be found for 380.
    Also, don't dismiss the kit lens, although it is a bit slower aperture wise, af is faster than with p20 and it's pretty sharp for its price,

    sent from my Xperia Z
  7. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    If you are stateside, and are willing to buy used, then you can easily have an EPL-5 and 20mm within your budget. Looks like there is a body for sale from a long-standing member in the BST section right now for just $300. A used 20mm is usually even less than that.
  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    The E-PL5's tilt screen is very useful. Put it horizontal and you can rest it against your midsection and shoot from the waist. That's a very comfy and stable shooting position. I've had both the PM2 and the PL5 and for an "only" camera I'd prefer the PL5 because of the titling screen. However, the PM2 has the same IQ and no one's photography would be severely limited by the PM2 with the 20.
  9. WhidbeyLVR

    WhidbeyLVR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 14, 2014
    Whidbey Island
    Haven't tried the E-PM2, but I love my E-PL5. The tilting LCD can go all the way up into "selfie" mode (unlike any other current-generation Pen), but it is extremely useful for waist-level and overhead shots that are iffy without the tilting screen. The E-PL5 is already as small as I prefer for grip and handling.

    If none of that matters to you, that two-lens kit on the E-PM2 is surely a sweet deal!
  10. Crushader

    Crushader Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 11, 2013
    Melbourne, Australia
    I have an E-PL5 and I love it, my very first camera. Had a good deal for it with a single lens kit. Highly recommended
  11. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    The epm2 and 20mm rarely live apart from each other in my backup camera bag (aka, my wife's camera bag).
  12. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    except if you have flash attached. There is no way to use E-PL5 for proper selfies with bounce flash. Wifi live view (e.g. E-P5) is more practical. Also, I find E-PL5 tilting mechanism is very clumsy, not even close to the simplicity of Nex.
    To the OP, I think E-PM2 is a perfect first m43 body. It will allow to learn the new system at low cost while producing same if not better images than top of the line E-M1 (there are long exposure IQ issues reported by E-M1 owners).
  13. yokken

    yokken Mu-43 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2014
    Minneapolis, MN
    I got the E-PM2 and I have the 20mm Panny en route from a member! I've been taking pictures of pretty much everything. It snowed a little bit yesterday/last night and left a nice light dusting on my balcony and chairs outside. I got some nice shots of the flakes. I'll post some up here after I've had the time to touch them up a little in Lightroom.
  14. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Yokken, good choice! When I read your OP I was surprised because I thought that was something *I* myself wrote a year or so ago! I come from a pocket P&S background. When I bought my first m4/3s camera it was not to replace the P&S, but I bought it to learn on and take places when I didn't need a small camera. I chose m4/3s because of the smaller size and better image quality than the DSLRs I saw.

    I returned that POS PL2 with the faulty sensor. In the meantime, however, I discovered how good a PM2 + 20/1.7 would be; and how small! (I returned my 20 too, didn't fit on the mount, but I have a tiny 12-32 and 14.) This would have been good 10 years ago as I was happy shooting with a fixed 39mm Canon sd20. I graduated to belt holster and not pocket a few years ago, however :)

    Upon getting the PM2 and my first small lens (the 14 because it was cheaper), I realized that when I didn't need anything tiny I had a good time using adapted lenses on the camera. Sure, a 20/1.7 is a good lens, but when you want to get into blurring the backgrounds, fun factor, and creativity, it just can't match a 50mm f1.4 all-metal manual focus lens from the 70s! Get yourself one of those (a 50/1.7 will be under $50) and enjoy!

    But if you start doing that with the bigger lenses, you're going to wish you'd gotten the PL5. But, by then, if you're like me, you'll realize that you're going to keep the PM2 to use with the 14, 20, or 12-32 (the silver 12-32 + the PM2 looks the sh*t!) and if you're using bigger lenses anyway you'll want an OMD with the viewfinder and 5-axis stabilization.

    Enjoy that PM2 + 20! Unbeatable at that size! (Use MF after dark.) And get you a 50/1.8 or something to try. So much fun!
  15. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
  16. HaViet

    HaViet Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2014
    Hartford, CT
    I just got that kit this morning. It went out of stock pretty quickly though.

    I have been wanting a good quality camera for a long time, but couldn't really justify spending more than $500 on an entry DSLR, especially I am only taking pics of our kids, family events, etc.

    I have spent weeks, literally reviewing $300 dollar range mirrorless cameras such as the Sony Nex-3N, Sony a3000, this EPM-2 and a few others. From both expert and owner reviews, the E-PM2 seems like a clear winner.

    Now a few questions, if you don't mind:

    1) Which SD card would you suggest to use with this camera? Something fast, and reliable I supposed?
    2) I'll be mainly shooting portraits, pics of our kids, birthday parties, kids outdoors activities, etc. What lenses would you reccommend besides the kit lense? if I could only spend money onelense, what should it be? I hear a lot about this 20/1.7. Is this the one to get?
    3) Is there an EPM-2 101 tutorial for a complete new amateur? I'll need to do a lot of readings as I am coming from a P/S and phone camera.

    Thanks much,
  17. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    Any class 10 SD card should be good for the E-PM2. I use a Sandisk Extreme 32gb in my E-PL5, with some 16gb backups. It has a 45mbps write time and works well when the camera is in burst mode.

    For portaits the ideal native lens with autofocus is the Olympus 45mm. You can get a refurb for $279 from Olympus: http://www.getolympus.com/us/en/out...zuiko-digital-ed-45mm-f1-8-reconditioned.html
    But if you are only spending money on one lens I would get the 20mm for compactness. It can do decent portraits too, but you'll need to be closer. The new Olympus 25mm is another excellent choice, if you don't mind a larger lens.

    If you don't mind manual focus, the really cost effective thing to do is get an old 50mm lens from the 70s or 80s. The 50 1.8 was a standard, so you can find a lot of excellent lenses in that range. You'd just need to pick up an adapter from ebay, usually they are around $15. You could get a 50mm lens for about $30.

    The budget autofocus options to look at are the three prime lenses from Sigma. They they're not as fast as the Panasonic and Olympus lenses, but they are only $200 new. They come in 19mm, 30mm and 60mm.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    Sounds like you did your research. Good job. I think you picked a perfectly suitable kit. I can help you with a couple of your questions.

    1) A Class 10 SD card keeps things snappy. Pretty much any brand should do the job. But make sure you buy an extra.

    2) I strongly feel like the Olympus 25mm F1.8 lens is the best answer to the "what one lens…?" question for most people. Especially for the activities you described.

    3) If you already have a good understanding of the fundamentals of photography, then you'll know what to look for — either in the camera manual, or by asking for help in the "Olympus Cameras" sub-forum here. Otherwise, you would gain a lot by reading a book like "Understanding Exposure" by Brian Peterson. Beyond that, if I can dig up any helpful threads or pages specific to Olympus cameras, I'll post them.
  19. HaViet

    HaViet Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 20, 2014
    Hartford, CT
    Thanks all for the replies, they are certainly very helpful.

    madogvelkor, the old 50mm seems cheap enough that I probably want to pick one up to play with. Is there any particular 50mm lense/brand that I should lok for?

    mrjr, i see a Zuiko Lens 25mm f2.8 on the Olumpus outlet store. what' the difference betweetn f1.8 and f2.8?

    again, sorry for these very basic questions. i;ll do lots of reading on this forum and learn a little more so i can ask smarter/more advance questions.

  20. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    The Olympus 25mm f2.8 is a 4/3 system lens (not a micro 4/3 lens) made for Olympus DSLRs. It's not usable on your E-PM2 without an adapter.

    I found one page that will help get you started: http://blog.atmtxphoto.com/2013/05/07/turning-on-the-olympus-super-control-panel/

    Turning on the Super Control Panel will be really helpful for making changes to settings since the E-PM2 doesn't have many customizable buttons.
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