This guest review is brought to you by Rachel Patterson.
I’ve been seriously interested in photography for about five years now, but it was only this January that I finally decided to upgrade from my sort-of-high-end point-and-shoot. Part of my hesitation was price. The other part was a strong desire not to have to lug around a giant DSLR on all my travels.
Recently, though, there’s another option for travelers who want good pictures – the mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, sometimes called Micro Four Thirds Systems. These are smaller than a DSLR but the sensor is the same size, meaning the picture quality is greater than a point-and-shoot. They also have changeable lenses.
I chose the Olympus E-P2 as my new camera and have been quite pleased with it. Here are some pros and cons of this camera.
- Size: Indeed, this camera is smaller than even the smallest DSLRs out there. The body of the camera is even a little smaller than my super-zoom point-and-shoot.
- Picture Quality: This is probably the most important thing about a camera. The picture quality is excellent! I saw a definite improvement right away, even before getting to know the camera well (and my technique hasn’t changed).
- Customization and Manual Mode: The manual mode allows you to change everything, unlike the limited manual mode on most point-and-shoots. You can also set up custom modes. I recommend perusing the user guide that comes with the camera at some point and figuring out what everything does.
- Art Filters: These are what drew me to this camera specifically. You can make some cool effects while you’re shooting, which is fun and could cut down on your picture processing time. As an added bonus, you can use these filters while shooting video! The filters are: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, and Cross Process.
- Style: Another thing I like about the Olympus E-P line in particular is the funky, retro style. They look like old film cameras. In fact, I regularly have people ask me whether it’s film or digital. Not only do I love the way it looks, but it could also deter thieves who may glance at it and think it’s old and therefore not worth very much.
- HD Video: Boy, does the video look beautiful on this thing. HD Video is not available on a lot of DSLRs. You can take video with different lenses, and as I mentioned with art filters. You can also use several different shooting modes with video! It’s great.
- Size: I know, I put this in pros. But it must be said that with a lens on it (probably even the super-thin pancake lenses that are available), it is bigger than my point-and-shoot. It’s still smaller and lighter than a DSLR, but its size means that I can’t put it in a pocket. It needs its own case. I do wish it was a little bit smaller.
- Cost: This type of camera is still new, and therefore expensive. It’s more than a point and shoot, and actually more than some entry-level DSLRs. I got the E-P2 because it’s not the newest model (there’s an E-P3 now) so it was cheaper – $500 when I bought it. It’s now about $430 on Amazon. Hopefully the cost will go down on these, since the latest models are around $700-800. In addition to this price, bear in mind that if you’re looking for something to replace a super-zoom point and shoot, you’ll need to buy multiple lenses. The E-P2’s 14-42mm kit lens is pretty versatile, but it doesn’t go beyond 3 times optical zoom. Each new lens is going to set you back $200-300, and add to your carrying space and weight.
- Flash: The flash is not included. You either have to pay extra for one or do without. Personally, I rarely if ever want flash, so I don’t really care.
- No Optical Viewfinder: Just a big ‘ol LCD screen. Which can be a bit of a drain on batteries. I like having a screen but I kind of wish I had the viewfinder option at times. You can, of course, buy one to stick on top… but you’ll be adding to the weight and size, of course.
- Battery: Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like using AA batteries in my camera. You can get the rechargeable ones, and there’s also always the option of buying extras if you’re desperate. That’s not an option when you have a Lithium Ion Battery Pack. You can get an extra, or even two, but they’re more expensive, and when all your batteries are out of juice, you are now out of options unless you happen to be standing next to a camera store.
Overall, I love my camera and it was the right choice for me. It’s not too big or heavy and it takes great pictures. They’ll only get better as I learn more about photography and get used to the camera. If you, like me, are looking to take the next step from a point-and-shoot but have concerns about the size of DSLRs, a Micro Four Thirds camera might be right for you. The Olympus EP line is a great option for its Art Filters.
The best way to choose between different Micro Four Thirds camera is to play with them in a camera store (or better yet, borrow your friend’s). They’re made by all the major camera companies except Canon at the moment. I bought my Olympus E-P2 on Amazon.
>> Buy the Olympus E-P2 on Amazon
About the author: Rachel is a 24 year old American who decided to escape the lack of jobs at home by teaching abroad in South Korea for a year. She loves food, board games, horses, and adventure. She is currently planning a round the world trip to begin in Mongolia. You can find Rachel at World Flavor, on Twitter, or on Facebook.