Is this the most beautiful camera ever made?

This is our 2nd. E-P2. The first, a black one, was sold back in the winter to help towards the cost of the Leica M9. At the time it was something we regretted, as we enjoyed the camera very much. Originally this silver version, similar to the E-P1 was not available in the UK. When it was announced that it was going to be released here, we knew we couldn't resist!

There are lots of comments on the E-P2 regarding our previous example at when it was used extensively.

Olympus E-P2  40-150mm 4/3 zoom

Olympus E-P2  14-42 Kit Zoom

Olympus E-P2  40-150mm 4/3 zoom
The E-P2 demonstrates all the strengths of weaknesses of m4/3 as a format. Small, light, good IQ, "difficult" dynamic range etc. However, the recent work we carried out has improved the latter enormously. On the E-P2 shooting at the "native" ISO 200 and "underexposing" by 1/3 to 1 stop helps prevent the burning out of highlights as well as increasing colour saturation. All m4/3 cameras we have used have a tendency to overexpose anyway. We find that dialling back from the meter readings gives much more satisfactory results.

The other great advantage is the VF-2. The wonderful Electronic Viewfinder from Olympus. After using the EVF on the GH1 for a while, then coming back to this we appreciate just how good it is. The shooting position that it creates is also a pleasure to use. Some people find it difficult, but we find it very stable. In general this is a great camera from a handling point of view.

Olympus E-P2  40-150mm 4/3 zoom

Olympus E-P2  14-42 Kit Zoom

Olympus E-P2  14-42 Kit Zoom
A brief word on lenses. It is possible to manually focus with the VF-2 viewfinder without going into the magnification options, which on the E-P2 are a bit of a pain with lots of button pushing. We tried it with some fast lenses, f1.2 and f1.7 and found our focusing spot on. Makes life a lot easier on that front. With the benefit of in camera Image Stabilisation this makes it a real manual focus/legacy lens friendly camera.

In terms of zoom and autofocus lenses, we are planning to use the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 which performs really well with this camera. We also really like the 14-42mm kit zoom.
We always have. It never gets much attention and always seems to get compared unfavourably to the Panasonic 14-45mm. We think people should "stick up" for this lens more. Its really very good. Incredibly light, with little CA and pretty sharp. Its always worth remembering that many people who buy m4/3 cameras wont use anything other than the "kit" lens. The manufacturers are aware of this and tend to make some decent examples. This lens and the Panasonic 14-45 are good examples of a "kit zoom" as indeed are the Samsung 18-55mm for the NX10. We've also liked the 18-55VR that Nikon produce. The glaring exception to this is Canons appalling 18-55mm's. All of them are dreadful.

Once more we shall go into raptures about the Zuiko ED 40-150mm f4-5.6. Olympus 4/3 lens. We have always rated this lens very highly. It deserves some sort of award for value for money. Having sold our previous example as part of a kit, we have now bought our third one! The price for this little gem is gradually creeping up. Maybe people are catching on. However we found a brand new unboxed one on ebay for the princely sum of £89.00 and bought the Olympus 4/3 to m4/3 adapter for it. Total cost of these was less than the current price for a boxed version of the lens. We can't say enough times how good this lens is. Its really sharp, even wide open. Yes its slow, but working outdoors in the sunlight it produces beautiful results. Its way better than the Panasonic 45-200. We know nobody will believe us, but we get results comparable to the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 monster that we used to carry around.

So good news all round. But what happened to the original question? Is this the most beautiful camera ever made? Does that really matter? Should it matter?
There will be no apologies here for taking pleasure in good camera design. Obviously the most important considerations when we buy and use a camera are does it do what we want? and does it deliver in terms of results? Having established that the E-P2 does both of those things, we take great pleasure in using this beautiful little silver machine. While not "an electric line to your Zodiac sign" it is the nicest looking and handling camera we have ever used. The weight and feel are just perfect and the design is simply stunning. There's a bit too much button pushing for our liking but overall its a delight. Whether its the most beautiful camera ever made is down to personal taste, but surely few would argue that its not one of the best.

The last year has seen a steady and constant downsizing in terms of our camera equipment. A year ago a Nikon D3X, a Canon 5D MKII + Battery Grip and some monster lenses were in everyday use. Currently the Canon 550D is our largest camera and the Leica M9 our heaviest. The E-P2 sits alongside our GH1, NX10 and X1 in the AF small camera section. This is increasing alarmingly! Some of the kit we use is so small that we don't notice its rapid expansion.
As serious sufferers from "Small Camera Syndrome"
/soundimageplus/2010/06/scs.html we value our long term fitness and ability to walk without pain. We also believe that the more we enjoy the process of photography and take pleasure in the equipment we own, the better our results. No the E-P2 isn't going to produce images as good as a Leica M9 or Nikon D3X, but as the man said, "The best camera in the world is the one you have with you" The E-P2 will be that camera an awful lot in the future.