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.