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Thread: EP-2 First Thoughts

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    Senior Member Show Performance's Avatar
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    EP-2 First Thoughts

    After much agonizing, I picked up an EP-2 from Precision Camera in Austin (Thanks Robert) and thought I would share some thoughts with the forum.

    First off, this is my first m43 camera so I won't be comparing it directly to other m43 models other than some comments on the viewfinder vs. the GF1's.

    Quick backstory, as an owner of an LX3 I was heart set on picking up a GF1 and had actually purchased a GF1 body on eBay. The day the body came in (Friday), I went up to Precision to talk to Robert (Monza) about his upcoming Contax G lens adapter and while I was there I spotted the EP-2. Robert spent some time with me comparing the cameras and their EVFs. Long story, short, I sold the GF1 body, GF1 viewfinder and bought an EP-2.

    I'll preface my pros and cons by saying I was looking for a modern replacement for the Contax T2/T3/G line and was also interested in using some fast legacy lenses, mostly for video.

    EP-2 Pros

    Viewfinder is amazing. Comparing it to the GF1's was a joke. Magnification is at least 100% with no discernible pixels. Really, really nice. I can shoot this viewfinder with both eyes open as compared to squinting hard with one eye to see the tiny GF1 EVF output. Manual focusing legacy lenses with the EVF (or LCD) is quite simple, although I wish Oly would optimize the interface a bit (see cons).

    In body stabilization (but you already knew this)

    Stereo audio in movie mode is a huge surprise. Crystal clear, stereo sound. Best sounding footage I've taken with an on camera mic. Better than my Canon HV20 camcorder. Video isn't too shabby either!

    IQ - Since I'm new to m43 but understand the limitations, I wasn't expecting to be blown away and I can't say that I am. I love the Oly 17mm for the 34mm view it gives me (comparable to my Contax and Yashica T cameras) and it certainly gives a nice shallow depth of field without presenting as a bokeh whore. So far, total IQ is not leaps and bounds better than my LX3 however, without Adobe support for the EP-2 RAW format, I'm unable to do my own RAW processing and am limited to in camera jpeg. Overall, I'm sure IQ is going to be sufficient for my expectations.

    CONS

    Slow low light focusing. Without the a focus assist lamp like the GF1 and LX3 have, the EP-2 is a real dog in low light. Frustrating, considering I have the darn accessory flash on the camera, just waiting to flood the scene but the camera can't hold up it's end of the bargain. Not good.

    Frustrating Interface. For the most part, I've quickly become accustomed to the Olympus interface and find it easy to use. However, there are some glaring issues that either need to be addressed or perhaps I am missing something.

    1. While it is easy to focus a legacy (non m43s) lens in manual focus mode, getting there, and then having quick access to other settings is a real chore and frustration. First of all, the only display mode that is really usable for MF on legacy lenses is the "Zoom Display" mode. This mode is essential to quick access of the 7x and 10x focus assist (or zoom). Unfortunately, once in Zoom Display mode, you cannot use the quick buttons to access ISO, WB and Drive settings. Pushing any of the quick buttons on the wheel simply moves the focus point. I'm going to play around with the control customizations but so far the controls for MF with a legacy lens are poor. In fairness to Oly, the controls work fine with m43s lenses and I really like how the focus assist is triggered automatically in MF mode when you engage the focus ring on the lens.

    2. When shooting with the EVF, you can't review shots on the LCD without pushing the EVF/LCD button. There needs to be a menu option to either shoot with: a. image review on the EVF b. image review on the LCD, or c. no image review. Please fix this quick Oly!

    Given the processing power of these systems, I'd love to see a "Legacy Mode" that emulates a split level view with info display from an older OM system camera while retaining quick access to vital functions like ISO, EV compensation, etc. Ok, now I've ventured into daydreaming...

    Overall, a really nice system and I'm pretty sure, for my needs at least, the right choice. I'm still holding out for a manufacturer to make an affordable version of the Leica X1 (no changeable lenses please) for a truly pocketable DSLR alternative. And while they're at it, full frame would be nice too.
    Last edited by Show Performance; 13th December 2009 at 17:31.

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Just a couple shots, will fill in with more samples as I get a chance to shoot more.

    http://gallery.me.com/wadsworths#100...or=black&sel=1

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    If you were going to add a flash what would you suggest, would an FL 20 work. Thanks for any information.

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    I thought the new Camera Raw release candidate handled E-P2 Raws.

    Enjoy your new camera!

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    I thought the new Camera Raw release candidate handled E-P2 Raws.

    Enjoy your new camera!
    Ahhh! Thanks for the heads up. Downloading now.

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by boxerlover View Post
    If you were going to add a flash what would you suggest, would an FL 20 work. Thanks for any information.
    I have the FL-14 but w/o the focus assist I can't recommend it.

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Hi, and welcome to the forum...

    a couple of brief tips I've found useful - first, switch CDAF to the AEL/EFL button so that you can set focus on a spot and then shoot much more quickly.

    There's a post here on how to do that, and there are a number of other tips here by early adopters around the world.

    Second, get yourself a flash extension cord... the FL-14 becomes much more useful off camera where you can point it around freely and bounce off surfaces.

    Good luck! and please post some more images in our fun with 4/3rds thread as you get going.

    Cheers

    Brian

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    Hi, and welcome to the forum...

    a couple of brief tips I've found useful - first, switch CDAF to the AEL/EFL button so that you can set focus on a spot and then shoot much more quickly.

    There's a post here on how to do that, and there are a number of other tips here by early adopters around the world.

    Second, get yourself a flash extension cord... the FL-14 becomes much more useful off camera where you can point it around freely and bounce off surfaces.

    Good luck! and please post some more images in our fun with 4/3rds thread as you get going.

    Cheers

    Brian
    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the welcome and the tip(s). So far, I'm ok with CDAF and pretty much anything related to AF with the exception of low light focusing with flash. As I mentioned, my major issue, and one that there appears to be no solution for, is the lack of quick access to ISO, WB, Drive, etc in Zoom Display mode. Is there a better way to focus legacy lenses that I'm missing? I realize I could just skip the 7x and 10x zoom and still focus with a good degree of accuracy but I really like that closeup functionality.

    Best,
    Chad

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Hi Chad,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of m4/3.
    Yes - my biggest "problem" with both the EP1 and now the EP2 is the focusing (or lack thereof) in low light. Not as bad as some P&S cameras I have had -but those have all had some sort of focus assist lamp. What is even stranger is that if you put one of the larger Oly flashes on the EP1/2 (I have the FL36R) that have a focus assist lamp, the darn EP1/2 can't access it.
    Personally, I have tried (several times) the suggestion of switching the AF to the AFL/AEL button, but unless I am taking multiple shots of the same exact thing/person in the same exact position, I don't see the big advantage. Hopefully, for these types of situations the CAF - Tracking mode will help. (Have not really played with it yet.)
    Having never used the LX3 I can't make any direct comparisons, but compared to the P&S cameras I have used (most recently a Canon G7 and SD960) and all the Oly DSLRs I have used (still have the E30), I have been EXTREMELY happy with the IQ - especially considering the size of the package. I am sure that when you get used to the various camera settings - and being able to see/use the RAW files - your initial thoughts about IQ will change.
    Enjoy the camera,
    Steve

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by swandy View Post
    Hi Chad,
    Welcome to the wonderful world of m4/3.
    Yes - my biggest "problem" with both the EP1 and now the EP2 is the focusing (or lack thereof) in low light. Not as bad as some P&S cameras I have had -but those have all had some sort of focus assist lamp. What is even stranger is that if you put one of the larger Oly flashes on the EP1/2 (I have the FL36R) that have a focus assist lamp, the darn EP1/2 can't access it.
    Personally, I have tried (several times) the suggestion of switching the AF to the AFL/AEL button, but unless I am taking multiple shots of the same exact thing/person in the same exact position, I don't see the big advantage. Hopefully, for these types of situations the CAF - Tracking mode will help. (Have not really played with it yet.)
    Having never used the LX3 I can't make any direct comparisons, but compared to the P&S cameras I have used (most recently a Canon G7 and SD960) and all the Oly DSLRs I have used (still have the E30), I have been EXTREMELY happy with the IQ - especially considering the size of the package. I am sure that when you get used to the various camera settings - and being able to see/use the RAW files - your initial thoughts about IQ will change.
    Enjoy the camera,
    Steve
    Thanks for the info on the other flashes Steven. I was wondering if the PENs could access the focus assist lamp on the bigger models.

    I now have the Adobe RAW Release Candidate so I'm happily processing in RAW, thanks.

    The IQ is so close between the LX3 and the E-P2 and in terms of sharpness, at least in some of my comparison shots, the LX3 was visibly superior (a big surprise). What the m43s cameras seem to do well is give a shallow DOF and overall very pleasing results. For available light photography, I'd say the E-P2 IQ (with the 17mm) is about 80-90% of what I get with a Contax T3. Factor in all the benefits of digital, flexibility of switching lenses, the option of using the EVF and the amazing video output and you have a top notch system.

    Now if they could just streamline that interface.

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    Re: EP-2 First Thoughts

    LX3 by E-P2

    800 ISO f2.8 - no sharpening, colors adjusted

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