Olympus E-PL2 – Part 2 – Looking for Alternatives

Continued from the last post!

I’d actually been looking for a replacement compact before deciding to sell the E-PL1. Initially, I toyed with the idea of an underwater-capable compact and/or setup, but dropped the idea when I found no end to the horror stories of supposed waterproof cameras, even the premium ones, going uplorry on their first swim.

There’s been a series of very attractive and feature-laden high-end small cameras; some lens-interchangeable and mirrorless like the E-PL1, and others which are solidly in the ‘compact’ class but still offering very good performance. I narrowed the entire lot based on what I was willing to pay (up till about $1K), and ended up with my usual spreadsheet comparing between eight models: Canon G12, Nikon P7000, Panasonic LX5, Olympus ZX-1; Panasonic GF-2, Samsung NX100, Sony NEX-5 and the Olympus E-PL2.

The first four are all-in-one compact camera solutions, and in the case of the ZX-1, features a slightly larger than normal for its class sensor coupled with a marvelously bright lens with a large maximum aperture. Attractive price points too. Thing is; it’s hard to go back to these compact cameras when you’ve experienced mirrorless formats which are just slightly larger but way more versatile and routinely offering better performance and optics. So, all four got dropped in consideration last week, and it was back to the micro four-thirds format (the GF-2 and E-PL2), the Samsung equivalent (NX100), or the Sony NEX system.

The Samsung NX100 got dropped out of reckoning next. Limited lens range and no optical stabilization were the killers for me, despite its APS-C sensor size and very low price point. The GF-2 was a recent update of the well-received GF-1 but it eschewed mechanical buttons and dials for touch-screen operations (yuck).

So, it became a toss-up between the Sony NEX and the Olympus E-PL2. That was a really hard decision to make. The NEX is slightly more expensive than the E-PL2, but is packed up the wazoo with features that are missing on the E-PL2, including in-camera panoramas and HDRs, super-slick UI, full 1080i HD video recording, and excellent noise handling in high ISO. Unfortunately, a couple of its quirks killed it for me too; relatively huge lenses compared to its diminutive camera body, very limited lens range, built-in flash can’t be bounced and no option to mount an external flash.

sony-nex-5-test

The Sony NEX-5. Nearly went with this one.

So it was the E-PL2. Continued in the next post!

2 Comments to Olympus E-PL2 – Part 2 – Looking for Alternatives

  1. Matt says:

    From looking at it I’d guess one of the Sony Nex’s extra features included expanding into a fishing rod handle. That right-hand grip looks comfortable though.

  2. CY says:

    It does have a comfortable grip for sure bud, but that’s the pancake lens in the picture above. In reality, its 18-55mm kit lens is relatively huge compared to the camera body, and it made holding the unit tricky.