With the promise of 'fuss free' photography for those wanting to take higher quality pictures than their current compact allows, the 12.3 effective megapixel E-PL2 is Olympus' fourth Micro Four Thirds compact system Digital Pen camera. It arrives in the wake of 2009's E-P1, its bigger brother in the E-P2, and last year's E-PL1, of which this is its direct, beginner-friendly descendant. The enticing pitch for the mirror-less model is once again DSLR-like quality - thanks to a physically bigger chip than your conventional compact, plus interchangeable lenses - and with shoot-from-the-hip accessibility and portability.
With its manufacturer having seemingly abandoned future digital SLR plans following the last gasp release of the E-5, there's now a lot more riding on the Pen's success, especially as regards maintaining the brand's heritage and prestige among photographers at all levels. So how does the new E-PL2 stack up? Well, for starters it's available for around Â£500 depending on which kit lens configuration you wish to opt for (we're looking at the 14-42mm (28-84mm 35mm equivalent) kit lens), an identical price to an entry-level DSLR, such as the Nikon D3100, with its own standard lens.
Like Panasonic's direct rival in the GF2, there's not an advertised body only option for anyone considering upgrading from an earlier iteration, though they can be found for around Â£380. Other mirror-less compact system competitors of course include the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5, the Samsung NX series, and to extent Ricoh's modular GXR system, on which not only lens but also sensor are swappable. The big two of Canon and Nikon remain tight lipped on if and when they will be joining this particular 'hybrid' camera party.
Encouragingly for anyone buying into Olympus' own camera system for the first time and considering its future expandability, there are now 16 Micro Four Thirds lenses and three further conversion lenses, with older Four Thirds DSLR optics attachable via an optional adapter ring. This is in contrast to a year or so ago where a much smaller range was available.