For those who loved the Olympus PEN E-P cameras but found the prices a little dear, the E-PL1 offered a more affordable alternative minus the frills like dedicated controls, but with the same quality sensor and a built-in flash in a smaller body.
The E-PL2 follows one year later with many improvements over the original. A control wheel has been added, making manual control easier. The LCD screen size has been enlarged from 2.7 to 3 inches, and its resolution has been doubled, making the image not only easier to see but higher quality to boot. ISO sensitivity has been increased, from ISO3200 on the E-PL1 to ISO6400 on the E-PL2. A raised back-grip helps the camera sit more comfortably in the hand. And it sports a sleeker, smoother body design, which makes it look more modern than the retro-looking E-PL1.
Olympus claims that a MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism built into the new kit lenses improve auto-focus, and we certainly saw that when using the camera. AF was fast, silent and accurate, with none of the slow focusing problems which plagued our initial use of the first E-P cameras (although firmware updates have been issued after our reviews which promised to fix those problems). The new silent 14-42mm kit lens we used was especially useful during video recording; no focusing sounds could be heard during video playback at all.
In iAuto mode, Olympus has added a new Live Guide which overlays on top of the LCD. Instead of fussing around with aperture, shutter or white balance settings, Live Guide has easy-to-understand controls like 'Blur Background', 'Express Motions' and 'Change Color Image', with corresponding sliders you just dial up or down. It's useful for beginners who want an easier way to control the shot without having to learn the technical part of using a manual camera.