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Take five: Best budget cameras on test

Olympus PEN E-PM2 w i t h 14-42mm l ens £339 / $329 he E-PM2 looks more like a basic snap-shooter than a serious camera at first glance, thanks to its disarmingly simple design. It even lacks a mode dial, while buttons are kept to a minimum. However, advanced shooting modes and a wealth of effects modes are all present and correct. It’s just that you have to embark on a little more menu navigation than usual. Beginners will find the Live Guide a useful addition. We’re generally keen supporters of direct-access buttons for as many shooting parameters as possible. However, considering the small size of the E-PM2, there’s something to be said for reducing clutter. As a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-PM2 has a range of lenses and other accessories available,

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from both Olympus and other manufacturers. The 14-42mm kit lens supplied with the camera is tiny; it has a similar retractable design to the Nikon but is much smaller overall. Even though the E-PM2 packs 16.1MP into its small Micro Four Thirds sensor, sensitivities of up to ISO 25,600 are available. The standard ISO range in auto tops out at just ISO 1,600, but you can increase this in custom settings. Focusing on specific areas is aided by the touchscreen display, but the camera fails to take full advantage of touch facilities for menu selections. Here, there’s more reliance on the directional pad. Autofocus itself is surprisingly fast, rivalling the Canon and Nikon cameras in their preferred phase-detection modes, at least using kit lenses.

Photography Week Issue 100  

Photography Week, the world's best-selling digital photography magazine, has been given a makeover, and to celebrate we're giving away a fre...

Photography Week Issue 100  

Photography Week, the world's best-selling digital photography magazine, has been given a makeover, and to celebrate we're giving away a fre...