We enjoyed reviewing the Olympus E-PL5 and gave it high marks for image quality--its replacement keeps a lot of the solid interior while giving the exterior a much welcomed makeover. The Olympus PEN E-PL7 includes advanced features like interchangeable lenses, manual modes and RAW shooting--but tosses in wi-fi for social sharing and a flipping touchscreen designed for taking selfies. It's an interesting mix of features, but being among the more affordable Olympus mirrorless models, it certainly looks to have a place among consumer's hearts.
The previous model was a bit plasticy, but the E-PL7 takes on the now characteristic Olympus look, with leather and brushed metal that makes for a sturdier, retro-styled camera. The shutter release is surrounded by the control wheel at the top, right next to the mode dial. At the back of the camera is 3" touchscreen that flips 180 degrees for a selfie. Touchscreen functions keep some shooting options available from the front too. Add in wi-fi, and it's easy to see why it's a good camera for the social media lover.
We're fans of the image quality coming from Olympus mirrorless cameras, and the E-PL7 maintains a lot of what made the previous E-PL5 good. It houses a 16.1 megapixel Micro-Four Thirds sensor, with all the capability of manual modes and RAW shooting. The solid 81-point autofocus system remains the same, though the burst shooting has been improved to a nice 8 fps. For those that are more interested in the social media features, there's a good selection of scene modes and artistic features, though you're missing out if you don't eventually learn manual modes.
The battery is rated at 350 shots, a bit better than the older model. All of these features are wrapped up in a compact, 10.9 ounce body. At the introduction, the camera is $599 for the body only, or $699 with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. All things considered, the Olympus PEN E-PL7 looks to be a good camera for beginners and enthusiasts on a budget, as well as consumers who want to step up their images while still easily sharing online.