Olympus PEN-F Brief Review


REVIEW SUMMARY

Specifications

  • 20.3 megapixel 4/3 Live MOS sensor
  • ISO 80- 25600 (expandable)
  • Shutter speed 60 sec. - 1/8000 (Bulb up to 30 minutes, Composite up to three hours)
  • 5 axis image stabilization rated at 5 stops
  • 81-area autofocus mode with magnified frame 800 selectable AF points
  • 10 fps burst mode with stabilization off (max. 39 RAW files)
  • 5 fps burst with stabilization (Max. 250 Raw)
  • Auto and manual modes
  • RAW and JPEG
  • Focus peaking
  • Color mode with physical control
  • Highlight and shadow control
  • Bracketing modes: exposure, ISO, white balance, flash, art filter, focus and HDR
  • High resolution mode combines 8 shots into one 50 megapixel photo
  • OLED electronic viewfinder with 100% field of view (left side of camera, rangefinder design)
  • 3” tilting touchscreen LCD
  • No built-in flash, external flash included in most bundles
  • Flash sync speed 1/250 (Super FP: 1/125-1/8000)
  • 1080p HD video at 60 fps (up to 14 minutes MOV, 7 min. AVI)
  • Wi-fi
  • Li-ion battery rated at 330 shots
  • Weighs 427 g
  • Release Date: 2016-02-14
  • Final Grade: 89 4.45 Star Rating: Recommended


Olympus revives an old rangefinder-style camera with the digital PEN-F
Old style, new tech is the name of the game for the Olympus PEN-F.
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 7/25/2016

Reviving old cameras and filling them with digital innards isn't a new strategy for Olympus, but their latest reincarnation of an old camera looks pretty promising. The Olympus PEN-F on the outside is a sleek version of the older film camera, but in the inside houses an upgraded sensor and solid stabilization system.

Just a month before the PEN-F was announced, Fujifilm introduced the X-E2S which moves the viewfinder to the left edge instead of the center, much like a rangefinder camera. The PEN-F follows this same rangefinder inspiration, putting the viewfinder on the edge. And since the viewfinder is electronic, it captures a 100 percent field of view unlike traditional rangefinder cameras. While the switch may seem small, it allows photographers to shoot with one eye open and on the surroundings.

The top of the camera houses a mode dial, on/off switch, two control dials and an exposure compensation dial, much like Olympus' other traditionally styled PEN cameras. New to the line though is a switch at the front to quickly swap between color and monochrome as well as art and creative filters. The back houses a few shortcuts as well as a touchscreen that flips out to the side for a full range of possible angles.

But what's really important is on the inside. The PEN-F still uses the Micro 4/3 sensor, but they've upgraded it to 20 megapixels. And while consumers shouldn't base their camera buying decisions on megapixels, it's a nice upgrade to see.

That sensor is paired with a pretty nice burst mode of 10 fps. Beware though, that high speed isn't available with the five-axis image stabilization system, which is rated at 5 EV stops. With the stabilization on, the maximum burst speed is 5 fps, and users can eek quite a few more photos out without a pause at that slower speed. Shutter speed is a nice 1/8000 and that's paired with a nice 81-point autofocus system. That AF system is a contrast-detection style, which doesn't track subjects quite as well as a hybrid design.

The enhanced sensor and speed increase is a nice boost for the Olympus line, but that does come at a price. The PEN-F, body-only, is listed at $1,199. That's in the same price range as the Fujifilm X-T1, which offers weather-sealing and a larger APS-C sensor. The same rangefinder inspiration can be found in the Fujifilm X-E2S for $200 less--and that includes a kit lens. The Olympus PEN-F looks like a solid camera with plenty of features, but the price isn't quite as competitive as we'd like to see.


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Olympus Reviews

Olympus is a long-time camera manufacturer, but lately they've been offering innovative, compact imaging options that are well worth a look. While Olympus doesn't have a camera in every category like Nikon or Sony, their focus on the cameras they offer shows.

Olympus' main, and best, cameras are their mirrorless line. The OM-D line offers mirrorless cameras that rival professional results while their PEN options offer the most portability and affordability. Most of their mirrorless cameras have simple, retro designs that work really well. Their kit lenses are often a bit higher quality than most. The Olympus mirrorless cameras we've been able to test have shown excellent image quality and usability.

While most of Olympus' focus seems to be on their excellent mirrorless line, we haven't been disappointed with any of their compacts we've put through our tests either. The TG-3 and TG-4 are among the best waterproof compacts on the market. And when we put the super zoom SP-100 to the test, we were quite happy with the image quality and performance.

Olympus may not have a camera in each and every category, but they've really put a lot into their existing cameras, making them excellent options.

We here at Digital Camera HQ offer unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations to guide you to the right camera. We're not an actual store; we're just here to help you find the perfect camera at the best price possible by using our camera grades. Let us know if you have any problems or questions, we're happy to help.