By National Geographic Adventure Contributing Editor Steve Casimiro, editor of The Adventure Life
The runaway camera of 2009 was the Olympus E-P1. Its drop-dead gorgeous retro styling took the photo world by storm, and we at National Geographic Adventure named it one of the best products of the year in our awards issue. But however slick the E-P1 was, it came with limitations, namely a slow autofocus, no flash, and a screen that was tough to see in bright sunlight. Then Olympus released the E-P2, with just one significant change—the addition of an accessory port—and just this month brings out a silver version to accompany the black. Seems small, but this one addition is enough to move the E-P2 decision from one of the heart to one of the head.
The reason is that the port lets you add an electronic viewfinder to the camera’s hot-shoe slot on top of the body. At $280, it isn’t cheap, but the viewfinder allows you to shoot in any conditions and still see exactly what you’re snapping. To anyone serious about taking photos with great composition, you’re going to want this kind of control.
The autofocus is notably faster, too, but there’s still no on-board flash. Like the E-P1, the new version has a 12.3-megapixel sensor that captures RAW or jpeg files, plus 720 HD video shooting. It’s based on the Micro Four-Thirds format that was developed through a partnership between Olympus and Panasonic. This format eliminates the traditional mirror system that channels light through the lens into a viewfinder. Ditching the mirror opens the door to much smaller cameras, and the Olympus was one of the smallest interchangeable-lens models when it made its debut. It also means no optical viewfinder, but now, of course, you have the option of an electronic one. It’s enough to give the camera of 2009 a solid bump halfway through 2010.
For more by Steve Casimiro, go to The Adventure Life
Photograph courtesy of Olympus