Olympus E-PL2 Review

 
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Olympus E-PL2 Performance


Timing and Performance

Good speed for a compact system camera.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.3 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~0.9 second

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 14 large/superfine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
11 seconds after 10 RAW files*
18 seconds after 9 RAW+ LSF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup and shut-down times were slower than those for most SLRs, but fairly typical for a compact system camera. Startup was noticeably faster than the E-PL1 which took 2.2 seconds. Buffer clearing time depends on the quality and number of shots, and on the speed of the SD card. With a fast SDHC card, the E-PL2's buffer clearing times were good; slightly faster than the E-PL1.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.8 second
Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.8 seconds
Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.2 second
Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was pretty fast, except for Record to Play. The E-PL2 was faster than the E-PL1 in the first two metrics (approx. 0.8s vs 1.1s and approx.1.8s vs 3.7s), and about the same for the last (approx. 0.2 second).


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.434 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting. (All AF timing performed with the new Olympus 14-42mm II kit lens at about 14mm.)
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.461 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Wide Angle
Auto Flash Enabled
0.620 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, TTL Auto flash enabled.

Prefocused

0.068 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.
Continuous AF
0.287 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
0.248 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

The Olympus E-PL2 showed full-autofocus shutter lag in single-area AF mode (center AF position) of 0.434 second with the 14-42mm II kit lens. That's a bit slower than most SLRs, but pretty good for a compact system camera, and much faster than the E-PL1's 0.820 second result. In 11-point "All Targets" AF mode, this time increased just slightly to 0.461 second, also much faster than the E-PL1's 0.938 second.

Full autofocus shutter lag increased to 0.620 second with the flash enabled, which includes an additional delay for the preflash metering. This too was faster than the E-PL1's 1.13 seconds. Continuous AF mode resulted in a shutter lag of 0.287 second which is slightly faster than the E-PL1's 0.293 second. When manually focused, the E-PL2's lag time was 0.248 second, which oddly, is slightly slower than the E-PL1's 0.202 second. The E-PL2's prefocused lag time of 0.068 second is faster than many SLRs, and slightly faster than the E-PL1's 0.070 second.

While autofocus is still slower than most SLRs, the Olympus E-PL2 coupled with the new kit lens really made quite an improvement in AF speed over the E-PL1 and other previous PEN models. Though autofocus speed still slightly lags its chief rival, the Panasonic GF2, it's at least in the same ballpark. Unfortunately, we didn't have the GF2 long enough to compare AF speeds with the same lens, so we're not sure if the GF2 is slightly faster because of the lens or the body.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/SuperFine JPEG

1.03 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW

1.01 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 9 seconds to clear*.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LSF JPEG
0.88 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, 17 seconds to clear*.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Mode
Large/SuperFine JPEG

0.33 second (3.04 frames per second);
14 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 14 shots, then slows to an average of about 0.49s or 2.02 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW

0.33 second (3.03 frames per second);
10 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 10 frames, then slows to an average of about 1.13s or 0.88 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous Mode
RAW + LSF JPEG

0.33 second (3.04 frames per second);
9 frames total;
18 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 9 frames, then slows to 2.04s or 0.49 fps when buffer is full.

Flash Recycling

2.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec 8GB SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times are a bit sluggish, at about one second for JPEGs or RAWs, and (surprisingly) a bit faster at 0.9 second for RAW + large/superfine JPEGs, however this is an improvement compared to the E-PL1's 1.6 seconds for all quality types. Continuous mode was very similar to the E-PL1, at about 3 frames per second no matter what image size or quality before the buffer filled. Buffer depth was also quite good for its class, at 14 frames for large/superfine JPEGs, 10 for RAW and 9 for RAW + large/superfine JPEG, about the same as the E-PL1. Note that our test target for this was designed to be difficult to compress, so JPEG burst lengths should be longer with typical subjects. (Particularly in the case of buffer depths, we're careful to test under worst-case conditions.) Flash recycle time was pretty good, at 2.7 seconds after a full power discharge, though not a surprise given the small flash. Still, that's quite an improvement over the 4.2 seconds the E-PL1 took.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

9,383 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds were fast, quick enough that you probably won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Extreme III 30 MB/sec SD card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, the Olympus E-PL2's performance has improved over the E-PL1 and is more in-line with the competition from Panasonic and others. Burst speed remains about average, but buffer size is pretty good. If you prefocus, you can capture some action shots, but the E-PL2 is best suited for relatively static subjects.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Below average battery life, but not atypical of SLR-style cameras operating in Live View mode.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
280

The Olympus E-PL2 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with both a single battery and charger. The rated 280 shots per charge is a bit lower than the E-PL1's 290 shots, and below the capacity of most SLRs and Point & Shoots. But this relatively short battery life isn't atypical of SLR-style cameras being used in Live View mode: Live View operation burns a fair bit of power. We do recommend getting a second battery for your E-PL2 if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Olympus E-PL2 accepts SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and does not ship with a card. Olympus recommends a Class 6 or faster card for recording video.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Super
Fine
Fine Normal Basic RAW RAW +
SF JPEG
4,032
x
3,024
Images
(Avg Size)
101
10.1 MB
145
7.0 MB
320
3.2 MB
477
2.1 MB
54
19 MB
35
29 MB
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
5:1
11:1
17:1
1:1
-
3,200
x
2,400
Images
(Avg Size)
154
6.6 MB
255
4.0 MB
504
2.0 MB
747
1.4 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
6:1
11:1
17:1
-
-
2,560
x
1,920
Images
(Avg Size)
269
3.8 MB
395
2.6 MB
776
1.3 MB
1,143
896 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
6:1
11:1
17:1
-
-
1,920
x
1,044
Images
(Avg Size)
473
2.2 MB
696
1.5 MB
1,346
761 KB
1,954
524 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
6:1
11:1
16:1
-
-
1,600
x
1,200
Images
(Avg Size)
673
1.5 MB
993
1.0 MB
1,893
541 KB
2,753
372 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
6:1
11:1
16:1
-
-
1,280
x
960
Images
(Avg Size)
1,044
981 KB
1,514
676 KB
2,884
355 KB
4,038
254 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
6:1
10:1
15:1
-
-
1,024
x
768
Images
(Avg Size)
1,594
642 KB
2,243
457 KB
4,038
254 KB
5,507
186 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
4:1
5:1
9:1
13:1
-
-
640
x
480
Images
(Avg Size)
3,563
287 KB
5,048
203 KB
8,654
118 KB
10,096
101 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
3:1
5:1
8:1
9:1
-
-

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4 or 8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW or video files. -- If you're going to shoot much video, you'll definitely want a large, fast card; look for a card with "class 6" speed or better. (Check the shopping link above, memory cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

Olympus E-PL2

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