More from the SLR Magic Toy Lens & The new Olympus E-PL2 1st thoughts

More from the SLR Magic Toy Lens & The new Olympus E-PL2 1st thoughts!

Just got a new Olympus E-PL2 today and shot with it for about 30 frames. I will post a review of this camera SOON but so far I can say that the body feels a bit more solid to me than the E-PL1. In fact, it feels more like the E-P2 in many ways and also mimics the style of the E-P2 way more than the E-PL1 did. The LCD is a huge improvement and the 1/4000s shutter speed helps with fast lenses. It now has a jog wheel on the back and manual control over video, and a new version of the kit lens modified for video. Woo hoo! Makes me a bit excited to see what the E-P3 will bring ๐Ÿ™‚

So far, from my limited use today I can say that it is a worthy successor to the E-PL1 and now actually equals or exceeds the features of the E-P2. I have a soft spot for Olympus and the E-P series of cameras. I’ve owned them all and while the E-PL2 does not offer an improvement in image quality over the E-PL1 it does offer enough to make it attractive to those looking for a new M4/3 camera. The question is…will I like it better than the E-P2 and the Sony NEX-5? That remains to be seen but I will go over all of that in my full review which should be posted in the next two weeks. Ill probably shoot the 20 1.7 when I review it as it seems that is THE hot lens for m4/3.

For now, some quick snapshots I snapped today with the super cool and fun SLR Magic Toy Lens, specially made for M4/3 cameras! $119..WELL WORTH IT! I will be giving one of these away soon as SLR magic has kindly donated one for a contest! I also may have some more exciting news regarding future give aways/contests so stick around!

and some crazy bokeh, in color ๐Ÿ™‚ as always, click an image to view a larger and more detailed version!


  1. Must disagree here. I love the out door shots. That swirly bokeh does it for me! Could be the Noctilust talking but swirly rocks my world. ๐Ÿ™‚ nice Steve!

      • I got one of these and I love the keyhole effect, they seem to add a little something extra to all of my photos. The busy/swirly bokeh mainly happens when you have a busy background.

        I have noticed that you can get a very similar lens on ebay for about half of the price. I am tempted to buy one to find out if there is any difference in quality. They are the Fujian brand. They look the same and they come in the same sizes, 26mm & 35mm, and from the images I have seen on the internet, the image quirks/quality are very similar – see link

        I also think that SLR Magic’s delivery fee is very steep. I sent them an email asking why they charge US$29 for delivery when it only cost them less than US$8 in postage stamps. Their reply was as follows:

        Hi, thank you for your enquiry. I will try to explain to you how we ship then how others ship.

        We ship only with insured mail and as you can see we use the best packing materials. We have tracking number for our shipments and we also ship to you with registered express. all these costs are not shown on the package. We deliver everyday meaning that even if we only have one package we still deliver on the day you made your order (unless it is weekend order). Shipping and handling fees also includes all our transportation costs and as we are in the city of Hong Kong and not suburbs transportation and parking is very costly for us (USD $8 per hour).

        As for other Hong Kong sellers, they ship without insurance meaning that if it is lost then the package is lost. They also have no tracking information and do not ship with Express registered mail. Thirdly, they ship by putting in the mail box which save time as I believe you bought smaller items from them before. We are shipping a lens to you and requires a person to line up and stay at the post office for 2 hours to ship as it is a package and not a letter. Lastly, they ship on Fridays only with all the orders collected for the week. This leads to slow delivery time due to their part as well as slow delivery time as there are no planes for postal service over the weekends.

        The price difference is due to the different logistics method. For local buyers we do not charge any shipping fee.

        We hope we managed to answer your inquiry. We have to ship this way because many customer complained about slow delivery time when we use to charge less by using the shipping method most buyers in Hong Kong do. Further, many buyers keep asking about the status of the package and we have to add tracking to the postal which again cost extra and also require us to line up in the post office for this service.

        I find this answer slightly confusing – parking @ US$8per hour? and 2 hours waiting in post office?? I also have gone to the Hong Kong Post web site and used their online calculator to calculate postage for a 305g small packet with insurance, registered express etc and I came to a total of about HK$62.00 which is about US$8.00!

        p.s. it is a fun lens and i love using it but it might be cheaper to look elsewhere. Anybody out there that has both the Fujian and Toy Lens?

        • With the lens you speak of on e-bay you will beed an adapter for to use it on M4/3 so that will be an extra cost. Also, $29 shipping is actually about right. I used to ship 100+ packages daily years ago and shipping to anywhere besides the USA for me always cost me well over $20. If I wanted express or insurance added it would run me $60+. For this lens figure about $100 or so total. Up to you to decide if it is worth it for the lens already being configured for M4/3 use, in a box, caps, manual, etc. I am still having fun with this lens. It’s a great size for any M4/3 body and the effects are interesting to say the least ๐Ÿ™‚

        • There are so many sleazy companies in the world that it makes me happy when I find a good one.

          I’ve bought 3 items from SLR Magic. Each one arrived very quickly, was professionally packaged and did exactly what it was supposed to do. In 2 cases they threw in little extras that were unexpected, useful, and fun to find.

          I told them about a tiny technical problem with one item, and they made it clear that they were willing to do whatever was necessary to make it right.

          Their email communication is quick, professional and helpful.

          I don’t have any connection with them, except as an eBay customer. If their shipping charges are a little high-end, their shipping performance is high-end too. You really do get what you pay for.

  2. It’s a really strange beast that SLR Magic lens! All your photos of people with it look wonderful – all the outdoor shots look horrible! And I know it’s not the photographer’s fault… Still can’t decide whether I want one or not!

  3. @TomB

    I hear what you are saying but I still don’t see the point in refreshing the cameras so often. The biggest bone I have to pick is that they tie the sensor to the body (in most cameras) and whereas most of us don’t care about features, dials and menus, we do care about image quality and image quality is tied to the quality of the sensor.

    Changing features is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. If the senor goes from 12mp to 24 and (somehow) the high iso capability is the same, most go for the new camera, ignoring any new ‘feature’ that has been added. The new feature sales pitch means nothing to me. It is why I bought the D700 over the D3. Image quality is above all else, what I care about. The greatest business trick the camera companies pulled was to tie the sensor to the body in a world where sensor technology changes by the week. If you were in the business of producing images for sale/medical technology AND were a camera (and sensor) manufacturer and the last thing you would ever do is create a camera that cost large amounts of money to make only to have to throw it away next month. You would create a camera which had inter-changeable sensors. That for me is the elephant in the room. This is what the public want but it is like a car wheel that does not wear down. Can it be done? I am pretty sure it can. Will it be done? No because it means a big drop in sales and a complete rethink of the camera business.

    Imagine buying a top of the range film camera 20 years ago and being told, it takes the state of the art 35mm film but guess what, in 6 months time, there is a new film coming out which has much better resolution, colour, dynamic range, everything! Wow, that is great you say… Well, no, because to use it, you must buy a new camera…? That would be completely unacceptable and outrageous. People would have said that it was crazy and boycotted the brand. Well, guess what… this is exactly what we have now.

    • The last paragraph is great; however, the missing factor is the enjoyment many derive from the research and purchase of new gear. Just as manufacturers of diving, golf and other expensive products drive sales with clever repackaging and slight modifications, so do the camera folks. All great fun in my book!

    • I agree – I don’t like the fast turnover in models either, but then I’m a dinosaur who still uses the M4 I bought when the model first came out. I skipped all the DSLRs and finally bought an M9 because I can use it just like a film camera.
      I also use and collect 60s-70s film SLRs, but not with exposure automation or auto-focus. I stay with manual settings.
      Technology is close to being able to make “digital film” – a film-cassette sized module with a thin sensor extended that could be inserted in most 35mm cameras and record 24×36 images when the shutter was tripped. Preset ISO and “white balance” just like film, micro SD to hold 50 or so shots, so it would need little battery power. Use the film rewind knob as on-off control, and sense film-sprocket motion to activate and wait for the next shutter snap. Snap on a new sensor for IQ upgrades, different ISOs etc.
      But the economics wouldn’t justify such a device for camera companies, as they can make more profit by selling new cameras for upgrades.
      With the millions of 35mm cameras out there a sensor company might make a business case for it; but the market would still be limited to those who don’t mind being seen with an old camera.

  4. I can only agree with the thrust of Vlad’s post. Upgrade mania has hit not only Olympus, but all the other big names as well. What happened to the days when we bought a 35mm SLR and used it for a decade? Maybe invested in a couple of fancy lenses over that time?

    I really think the manufacturers are living in a fool’s paradise; it’s inevitable that the digital-buying plateau will soon be reached. If the IQ of this new E-PL2 is no better than its predecessor, why then would you upgrade โ€” considering that any camera’s image quality is the ultimate determinant of its ability as a practical tool?

  5. If it doesent offer better image quality, unless its a significant improvement as far as ergonomics go, why not just buy a EPL1 once every store tries to dump them at crazy discounts.

    • Well, if someone owns the E-PL1 its probably not a good choice to upgrade UNLESS they want the better ergonomics, better LCD screen, Manual control over video, 1/4000s capabilities, the new art filter, new jog dial and the new smaller silent kit lens that has been optimized for video use. Other than that you will get the same IQ. If someone were buying into M4/3 for the 1st time, the E-Pl2 is a very attractive choice and I would take it over the E-Pl1 for the new features, mainly the 1/4000s speed and the new body design.

      • That is a decent list of upgrades, im just thinking from the broke ass student perspective that works in a camera store, these things will get huge discounts, probably bundles deals too with lenses and memory cards , bags, etc.

      • Hi Steve,

        thank you for your review and the cool lens shots.
        Did you have a chance to compare E-pl1 vs E-pl2 in terms of image sharpness/details. Many reviewers have spotted that images of the same object from E-pl2 are softer then from E-pl1with the same settings, suspecting a bit stronger AA filter on the E-pl2. Any thoughts on that?

        • I did not compare side by side but it does appear to me that the E-PL2 is not as crisp with the OOC JPEGS as the E-PL2 but I have to do more testing with it to be sure.

    • IMHO, the EPL1 is kind of cheesy looking.
      Shiny plastic bits? Yikes. Call the Design Police!

      The higher-res LCD is a huge improvement on many levels. The EPL2 just looks and feels better than v.1. Tried both at B&H yesterday, if they’d had a body only, I might have bit.

  6. Thanks for the quick thoughts Steve! I don’t get the PEN series cameras sometimes, it’s been 2 years (don’t quote me on that) since the debut of the first PEN and now its on the 4th model. I mean its little too much especially for people who bought E-PL1 not that long ago to find their model superseded? I sold my last m4/3 and awaiting delivery of the NEX-5.


    • @Vlad. I agree that the turn over of new versions these days is way too quick. Of course this only happens because the public go and buy the new model and dump their older ones so fast. If we all just held on to our cameras and did not touch the new ones, the companies would quickly stop hitting the refresh button and concentrate on longer on R&D.

      • Camera companies have to generate revenue to stay in business, In their golden age they could afford to produce one model body for a longer time, because there were few zoom lenses, and they made a LOT of profit on all the prime lenses and accessories people bought for their bodies. When buying a body you considered the range of lenses the company offered, and of course the 3rd party lens makers thrived as well. As new models added features (like multi-coating, full aperture metering, then autofocus) people would repace their many lenses to get the new features. (Sometimes forced if the mount changed to be incompatible with older lenses, such as the Canon autofocus shift.)
        Lots of great camera companies folded with the shift to new-model-itis, and then again with the falling sales of prime lenses, as most people are satisfied with the kit zoom (and maybe one more), or their cell phone camera, etc. They have to find some way to generate sales and stay in business, and small changes take less R&D, while new model announcements generate sales. Big system sales can only support a few makers now, and most effort goes into point-and-shoots for the mass and impulsive market.
        Leica does boutique models at incredible prices to stay in business (but can make great cameras), Olympus tries to recreate the competent compact-system success of the film Pen (and OM), Minolta’s best are hanging on (but fading) at Sony, and while Pentax is still able to make nice pro-sumer systems, they seem to be fading out of remaining camera shops in favor of the big two.
        On the other hand, there are lots of incredible orphan film cameras and lenses on the used market at great prices – especially for lens lines that won’t fit on digital. It doesn’t help the manufacturers, but is quite an opportunity (while film is still available) for real photographers.

      • Its funny, but on the 43’s fora, the fanboi are crying for MORE bodies. I guess they like chocolate chip cookies ;-).

        • Yes, they like chocolate chip cookies, but when the ingredients aren’t up to snuff, that’s not a good thing.

          Dumbing-down cameras like the GF2 or releasing trick lenses like 3D and fisheye, when good, fast primes are wanted/needed. Witness desirable ones, like the Voightlรคnder 25mm cannot be found. ANYWHERE.

          Steve, excellent articles. Glad I found your site!

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