If you are looking to step up from a point-and-shoot without getting a camera that is significantly larger or more expensive than the one you are currently using, the Olympus PEN E-PL2 is an excellent option. It offers better controls than the typical point-and-shoot and a larger sensor, but remains easy to use and reasonably priced, plus there are multiple lens options for the Micro Four Thirds format. The camera is a follow-up to the PEN E-PL1, which ended up being one of the most affordable Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and a good all-around options for people that wanted a better camera without the size, price, and hassle of some DSLRs.The E-PL2 has a number of changes from the E-PL1, which we’ve outlined here (and in our preview). Basically the sensor is unchanged so in many ways this is a minor upgrade, but a number of nice tweaks were made. The newer model did get a recessed power button, a dedicated video button, improved grips, and upgraded accessory port, some new art filters, an updated 14-42mm kit lens, and a larger LCD so the changes are numerous if not dramatic.AdChoices广告The E-PL2 sells for $499 for the body alone, $599 for the 14-42mm kit, and $699 for the double zoom kit (tested), which also includes the 40-150mm f4-5.6 ED lens.For more background on the camera check out the video below:The E-PL2 feels a lot like the E-PL1. That’s to say that it’s a nicely sized, easy to use MFT camera. It feels more consumer-y than higher end models, like the Panasonic GF1 or GH1, but it uses the same lenses and sensor size so in some ways it have an advantage over the competition. The changes aren’t huge from the old consumer PEN to the new one, but the improved grip is nice to see and dedicated video button is convenient. The single biggest usability change is the addition of an adjustment dial to the back of the E-PL2, which immediately makes it feel like a more powerful camera than the E-PL1. The LCD is a nice step up too–it’s not just larger but it’s sharper and brighter.On the software side the E-PL2 has some changes like an improved Live Guide (this is Olympus’ easy mode where the camera helps beginners do use advanced functions) as well as more art filters. These changes are nice to see but ultimately aren’t that significant. There is improved facial recognition too, but at the end of the day the biggest software change for me was the Dramatic Tone filter, which gives shots a fun faux HDR look. See the gallery below for sample shots.I didn’t get to test out any accessories, but E-PL2 still has an optional electronic viewfinder, an adjustable macro light accessory, and the PENpal, which will send images to your smartphone via Bluetooth. This last one is the most interesting but from what I understand it has some serious limitations so I’m not sure it will be a better option than the Eye-Fi (though it is different in some ways).The two lenses included are perfectly capable but unextraordinary kit lenses. The 14-42mm is collapsible and has a nice range so it’s great for day-to-day use, plus now it’s optimized for video which marks a big improvement over the original. The 40-150mm is larger but offers a significant amount of zoom for such a small camera so while I didn’t like it as much it will come in handy. The better complement to the kit would be the 20mm “pancake” lens which really cuts down on the size of the camera. The lenses are rather plastic-y but they are very reasonably priced ($100 each with the kit) and offer good sharpness for what you are paying. They are both variable aperture, which means you often looking for more light if you want the to use the zoom in less than full brightness.As far as the actual shooting goes, I found the E-PL2 to be both intuitive and fun to use. It’s reasonably powerful but the easy to wrap your brain around, making it a nice option for people who are new to photography to as well as some enthusiasts. Noise is minimal below ISO 1600, colors are reproduced nicely and the sharpness is very good given the size of the camera. The smallish sensor won’t blow you away with shots the way a nice full-frame will, but it’s a noticeable step up from the point-and-shoot that most people will be coming from. I’d say it’s more of a step up from point-and-shooters than it is a step down from entry level DSLRs.The new 14-42mm steals the show as it’s a very nice size and it’s both quicker and quieter than the original. And while the improved Live Guide wasn’t something I used much if you know the shot you want it will help you get it.Overall, the PEN E-PL2 is a really nice camera for the money. It’s probably not the best Micro Four Thirds camera out there, but it’s versatile and a pleasure to use, with no major flaws. If anything was lacking it would be that the camera doesn’t mark a huge change from the E-PL1, it’s seems like it’s more about Olympus fixing what they got wrong with the previous camera (not that it was bad at all, aside from the slow auto-focus, which was addressed).So, while the E-PL2 is focused at consumers and beginners it is still a very good MFT camera. It won’t be the top choice for enthusiasts’ (either as a primary or secondary camera) but it lands in a very nice spot in the overall scheme of price vs. performance vs. size.oly_epl2_test-78982oly_epl2_test-78982oly_epl2_test-788542oly_epl2_test-782oly_epl2_test-22oly_epl2_test-2e_pl2_07e_pl2_05e_pl2_04e_pl2_03e_pl2_02e_pl2_01The E-PL2 kit was loaned to us by Olympus.