Olympus PEN-F Field Test

Premium & pricey, but oh so fun

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Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 45mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 80, Color Profile 3

Form meets function: classic design with modern goodies

The new Olympus PEN-F is all about style and function. Sporting a cool, classic design that hearkens back to the original PEN-F of the 1960s, the new digital PEN-F is nevertheless packed with lots of new technologies and modern amenities. The PEN-F borrows lots of goodies from its neighboring OM-D family members, namely the E-M5 Mark II, including 5-axis image stabilization, dual control dials, and a fully articulated LCD touchscreen, as well as tons of user-customizable functions.

As the new flagship PEN-series camera, the PEN-F also features a number of "firsts," including the first Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera with a 20-megapixel sensor. This subsequently helps bump up the resolving power for the camera's High-Res Shot mode -- another feature borrowed from the E-M5 Mark II -- to astonishing numbers: 50MP JPEGs and 80MP RAW files!

Customization is also a major feature of the PEN-F, and not only functional customization for things like buttons and dials, but also creative customization for the look of your photos. Creative functions have been expanded way beyond the simple presets and "Art Filters" of Olympus' earlier cameras. The PEN-F's new "Creative Dial" opens up a whole new way to tweak the colors, tones, monochrome filters, and more all on the fly, and in a rather fun and intuitive way.

Prior to the PEN-F's debut, Olympus invited a number of journalists to Austin, Texas to get some hands-on shooting experience with the new PEN-F, myself among them. After shooting with this for a while now, I've walked away rather impressed. As a DSLR guy who's quickly being wooed by the magic of mirrorless cameras  -- my current personal go-to camera is an E-M1, by the way -- the new PEN-F is a fantastic camera. Still, this camera is not for everyone, and there are few things (not much, to be honest) that might hold me back from buying it. Read on to find out…

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
7-14mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 7mm, f/3.2, 1/30s, ISO 200, +0.3EV

Beautiful design with excellent build quality...

Having talked extensively about the new design features and cool retro styling in our Olympus PEN-F Hands-On Preview, I won't do a detailed overview of every feature and characteristic, so feel free to jump back to our Preview to get a lay of the land first before proceeding.

To start, the Olympus PEN-F is simply a cool-looking camera. It's hard to deny that, though if you dislike throwback, retro-y camera designs, well then, this might not be the camera for you. This camera looks and feels great, to me anyway. Offered in both a two-toned silver and black styling as well as an all-black one, I personally would pick the more understated and stealthy black model, but the two-tone color certainly looks as though it was pulled straight out of a time machine from the 1960s.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Product Image

Built out of magnesium allow, the PEN-F feels very solid with a nice heft to it. There's nothing creaky, squeaky or flimsy about it. The dials all rotate with a nice, solid "click" and don't feel light, or loose, to the point where you'd risk rotating them accidentally. The rear buttons might be a little small for some, but I never ran into any issue with them; they're small, but there's enough space around them to make them easy to distinguish and press.

...that does not have weather-sealing for some reason

One of my first gripes about the PEN-F is that while its build quality is highly touted and the mag-alloy construction feels fantastic, the camera is strangely not weather-sealed. To be fair, I'm not a professional photographer braving the harsh arctic snow, the dusty Sahara or a rainy tropical jungle; in other words, I probably don't need weather sealing for 99% of the subjects I'm photographing or locations I'm in. However, I've been caught out in inclement weather more than once while carrying a camera and having that bit of protection is nice. On a $1,200 camera that's all about premium design and metal construction, it would certainly be a nice amenity to have…you know, just in case.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Product Image

Getting a grip

It's certainly not the most curvaceous of cameras, but the camera actually fit rather nicely in my hand. Despite not having any sort of front grip, the rear thumb grip is quite deep with a nice recessed design with a prominent curved protrusion that gives you a nice, secure grip. If you do fancy a bigger grip, this is certainly possible thanks to the optional ECG-4 grip accessory. Undoubtedly taking some design cues from Really Right Stuff in my opinion, this all-metal Arca-Swiss compatible baseplate simply screws into the tripod socket and adds a bigger handgrip to the front.

I had a chance to use the handgrip attachment for a while, and though it's certainly nice, I don't think it's completely necessary for this type of camera. The camera is already easy to hold, and the grip adds more weight and bulk. I do love the Arca-Swiss compatibility, though, and the fact that you can still access the battery and memory card door with the grip attached. Also, if you don't use Arca-Swiss-style tripod mounts, the grip provides a secondary standard 1/4-inch tripod socket.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 45mm, f/2, 1/400s, ISO 400, Color Profile 3

Tripod troubles thanks to awkwardly-placed socket

While we're on the subject of tripod sockets, here's another one of my little complaints about the PEN-F: the tripod socket is located too close to the lens mount. On the base of the camera, the tripod socket is right up at the edge below the lens mount. Given that there's not much space between the lens mount and the base of the camera, the placement of the tripod socket can make it difficult or nearly impossible to mount larger lenses, such as the 12-40mm or 7-14mm Zuiko PRO lenses for instance, while a tripod plate is attached. Smaller diameter lenses, like a number of their compact primes, work just fine with tripod plates, as they don't encroach below the edge of the camera. Adding the optional grip attachment raises the base of the camera and helps when mounting larger-diameter lenses.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Product Image

I'm guessing that due to the size of the camera itself, its large sensor, and perhaps the mechanics needed for the 5-axis IS, there was probably no other place the tripod socket could go. Still, it's all a bit frustrating, especially since you need to use a tripod for High-Res Shot mode.

The devil's in the details

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Screenshot

Moving on, there are a couple of small design details that enhance the ergonomics of the PEN-F that you may not even notice at first glance. On the bottom rear corner of the camera, you'll see a small chunk missing. No, this isn't from dropping the camera and bashing the corner, but rather a conscious decision by the designers to make the camera more comfortable to hold. Fitting right in the crux of your hand, this small cutout should make the camera slightly more comfortable.

Moving over to the front left of the camera, there's yet another small indentation, this time to the bottom edge, which is angled so that it rests flat up against your left hand as you hold underneath the lens. I obviously can't really say for certain that the camera would feel awkward to hold had these notches not been there, but I find it rather clever that the designers took the time to go to this level of detail.

EVF is great, but left-eye users should disable AF Targeting Pad

One of the major features of the PEN-F is its built-in electronic viewfinder -- a first for a PEN-series camera. Sharing similar specs to the E-M10 II's EVF, the viewfinder is certainly nice; the display is large, crisp and easy to read. It's great when shooting in sunny conditions, but, depending on my position, I still found myself using my hand to block stray glare at times due to the shallow eyecup.

As I mentioned in the Hands-On Preview, the corner-positioned EVF is great for right-eye shooters, since it moves the camera off to the side and away from your face. For left-eye shooters like myself, we don't get such a benefit; the camera is squarely in front of our face. This isn't really a big problem, in my opinion, but I had to quickly make sure I disabled the AF Targeting Pad (which keeps the display active to touch input while using the EVF), otherwise my nose would constantly move the AF point each time I raised the camera to my face!

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
Having an EVF is a much-welcome feature, especially when shooting with long lenses, like the 300mm f/4.
300mm f/4 Zuiko Pro Lens: 300mm, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 80, Color Profile 3

Responsive, articulated touchscreen offers flexibility

Lastly, the PEN-F borrows the same articulating LCD touchscreen as the E-M5 Mark II.  The screen is crisp and clear with responsive touch performance and performs well in brighter conditions (though glare can still happen, and the articulating design makes it is easy to move slightly to adjust for it). For me, personally, I'm more a tilting screen fan than an articulated one. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to have an adjustable screen first and foremost, but for shooting low, I find it easier to simply tilt a screen up than having it off to the side.

On the plus side, the PEN-F's screen can, of course, be rotated and closed completely, making for a more traditional shooting experience with just the EVF, which is quite nice actually. Interestingly, not only does the LCD screen turnoff while closed, but the EVF does as well when the camera is not up at your eye. Though I couldn't really test this, I would imagine this could help conserve battery life, with the EVF only activated while the camera is at your eye.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
300mm f/4 Zuiko Pro Lens: 300mm, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 80, Color Profile 3
The PEN-F is compatible with the 5-axis Sync I.S. feature on the 300mm Zuiko Pro lens, for excellent handheld operation and nice stabilization.

Highest-res Olympus camera to date captures excellent photos

With a new 20MP Four Thirds sensor, the PEN-F is the highest-resolution Olympus camera to date. I've been impressed with Olympus image quality from their earlier 18MP-based cameras, so it's not really surprising that the new PEN-F does a great job overall in the image quality department. Shooting in and around Austin, in a variety of outdoor and indoor settings, the PEN-F managed to capture fantastic images. With a sharp lens, the camera is capable of capturing a ton of detail, especially at lower ISOs (and even with regular, non-High-Res images at 20MPs).

I found the dynamic range to be quite pleasing, and though Photoshop has yet to be updated to handle PEN-F RAW files, using the latest version of Olympus Viewer 3, I was able to pull quite a bit of detail out of the shadows -- even from higher contrast photos with deep black areas. Even so, before editing, I found the PEN-F often did a nice job balancing highlights and shadows. In this image below, shot at default settings, you can see nice detail in the shadows while the bright sky is not over exposed or blown out.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
7-14mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 7mm, f/2.8, 1/3200s, ISO 200

In less-than-stellar lighting, the PEN-F handled higher ISOs quite well for this class of camera. The PEN-F captures quite a bit of detail at the higher end of the ISO scale, though JPEGs can become a bit soft due to in-camera noise reduction (which I left at its default "Standard" level). Looking at RAW images, however, even an ISO 6400 image with NR set to "OFF" in Olympus Viewer 3 displayed very well controlled noise levels and a nice amount of fine detail.

Beware of overly warm Auto White Balance

On some newer OM-D cameras, and this new PEN-F model as well, Olympus includes an auto-white balance option called "Keep Warm Colors," which maintains warmer lighting colors than the straight Auto WB would normally account for. This option to keep colors warm is enabled by default, for some reason. In normal, daylight and outdoor lighting, images looks just fine in terms of auto white balance performance, however with indoor lighting, particular dimmer, warmer incandescent lighting, the resulting images can be too warm; skin tones can become very reddish-orange in particular. Turning Keep Warm Colors 'off' seems to clear this up quite nicely. Of course, if you shoot RAW, this doesn't really matter, as it's simple work to adjust the white balance in post.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
Auto White Balance option "Keep Warm Color" enabled.
Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
Auto White Balance option "Keep Warm Color" disabled.
12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 21mm, f/2.8, 1/20s, ISO 6400.
Note: These images were converted straight from the RAW file using Olympus Viewer 3, which lets you to toggle white balance presets.

Lack of OLPF brings increased risk of moiré & aliasing artifacts

Starting with the E-M1, most of Olympus' new camera models have done away with an optical low-pass filter, and the PEN-F is no exception. While you gain some resolving power for very fine detail, you run the risk of moiré and aliasing artifacts. Though not a major problem with the PEN-F, I did manage to capture evidence of moiré and aliasing artifacts in a variety of places, including carpet patterns and along the edges of the Texas State Capitol's molding, as you can see in the examples below:

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
7-14mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 7mm, f/2.8, 1/40s, ISO 200
Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
7-14mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 7mm, f/2.8, 1/20s, ISO 250
Note: This version was converted from the RAW file using Olympus Viewer 3 with default settings.

High-Res Shot Mode can be stunning if done correctly

Lastly, I want to talk briefly about the new High-Res Shot mode, which the PEN-F carries over from the E-M5 Mark II. Thanks to the camera's higher-resolution 20MP sensor, the PEN-F goes a step beyond the E-M5 II with even more resolving power from this multi-shot mode. The PEN-F's High-Res Shot mode produces huge 50MP JPEGs as well as massive 80MP RAW files! You also get a standard 20MP RAW image file as well.

Mike Tomkins goes into great detail about the PEN-F's High-Res Shot mode and how it compares against competing cameras in our Hands-On Preview, so I'll refrain from repeating too much here. Suffice it to say, the PEN-F is capable of capturing some stunning images with this special shooting mode, if you're willing to work around some limitations.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
100% crop from a High Res Shot Mode image (click for full-res image).
Notice the stitching issues caused by the moving flags during the multi-shot exposure process.

As mentioned in the Hands-On Preview, given the multi-shot nature of this sensor-shifting high-resolution mode, a tripod or some form of stationary platform is needed in order to capture crisp shots. Furthermore, any subject movement during the multiple exposures will show up distorted in the final stitched shot. Keeping this in mind, I tried my hand at a couple of High-Res shots, but even for what I assumed was generally static shots, I ran into issues -- either a waving flag or subtle ripples in the water came out distorted. What seems like a very cool, impressive feature is quite limited to a few use-cases, unfortunately, such as architectural or product photography, where you can ensure that nothing moves during your shot.

Customization is the name of the game with the PEN-F

Beyond simple image quality performance, one of the hallmark new features of the PEN-F is its highly customizable creative image modes. Using the front-facing knob, dubbed the "Creative Dial," the PEN-F gives you quick access to its four primary creative functions: Monochrome Profile Control, Color Profile Control, Color Creator, and Olympus' long-standing Art Filter mode.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Product Image

As I mentioned in the Hands-On Preview, the user interface for how all these creative options work is rather simple, despite being spread across a number of buttons and menus. The front-facing dial activates the various creative modes; the top-deck front and rear control dials are used to adjust the various parameters; and then other effects like film grain simulation and choosing profile presets are accessed via the Super Control Panel. It can all be a little overwhelming at first, especially if you're not already familiar with Olympus' menu system and UI quirks, but you quickly get the hang of it.

To start, simply turn the front Creative Dial to the mode of your choice. Both the Monochrome Profile and Color Profile modes offer three default presets (with profile #1 in either mode being the neutral preset, with no effects or filters added), but using the on-screen color wheel interface, you can then customize the look and style of any profile further to suit your preference.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
25mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 25mm, f/1.8, 1/250s, ISO 4000, Mono Profile 2

Super fun Monochrome modes, but careful with Film Grain effect

I had a blast playing with the various color and monochrome image styles, even with just the default profile presets. The Classic Film Monochrome (aka Mono Profile 2) was my initial favorite, producing striking, high-contrast black and white images.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
17mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 17mm, f/1.8, 1/80s, ISO 1600, -0.3EV, Mono Profile 2 (Film Grain "HIGH")

In the Monochrome Profile mode, the PEN-F defaults to adding some film grain simulation effects, however I found it difficult to discern just how strong the film grain effect is by looking at the LCD. By default, Mono Profile 2 defaults to a "High" level of film grain effect, and while Olympus touts the grain simulation as being intelligently applied, rather than just evenly across the entire image, I found "High" to be much too strong for my taste after looking at the images on my computer. I ended up disabling the film grain simulation altogether, and stuck to more pure black and white images. To each his own, however, but I suggest playing with the strength of the film to see what suits you.

Vibrant & saturated with eye-catching color profiles

The highly saturated "Chrome Film Vivid Saturation" profile in the Color Profile Mode (aka Color Profile 3) was my next favorite for outdoor shots, landscapes and anything with bright, rich colors. This preset, even without much manual tweaking, is a lot of a fun, and produces photos with nice contrast and vibrant, saturated colors. A word of warning for this preset, too, as it can go a little too far with the saturation boost, especially with people, giving skin tones an over-saturated orange-y/reddish look. For people shots, dial it back to Color Profile 2 (aka Chrome Film Rich Color), which doesn't boost the saturation as much, or tweak a custom color profile to fit the look you want.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 40mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 200, "Natural" (normal) Color Profile
Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 40mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 200, Color Profile 3

Of course, you can go beyond the Monochrome and Color presets to fine-tune your images in a variety of ways. For example, I often liked to experiment with adding a red-color filter to my Monochrome images in order to darken the blue sky for a really stark, dramatic look. Also, the high-contrast Mono Profile 2 can sometimes be a little too contrast-y, in which case, I simply opened the Shadow/Highlight curve tool to make the necessary adjustments.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 45mm, f/1.8, 1/8000s, ISO 200, Color Profile 3

Shoot RAW+JPEG for the best of both worlds

Now, there's a caveat to all these color adjustments, filters and various effects: it's JPEG only. For RAW shooters, you'll miss out on all the fun, as these effects aren't applied to RAW (at least not directly -- you can add Profile effects and tweaks to RAW files using the Olympus Viewer 3 desktop software). However, if you shoot RAW+JPEG, you can get the best of both worlds. You get a customized JPEG image for quick and easy "Instagramming" (thanks to the camera's easy to use built-in Wi-Fi), and you also get a standard, pure RAW file that you edit and process in your typical editing workflow.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
17mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 17mm, f/1.8, 1/4000s, ISO 200, Color Profile 3

Autofocus is quick & accurate, despite lack of phase-detect

On the performance front, the Olympus PEN-F feels light, fast and responsive, which is similar to other Olympus OM-D cameras I've used. Autofocus performance is quick and nimble, though despite Olympus having the technology for on-sensor phase-detect AF, that feature remains an E-M1 exclusive for now. The PEN-F's AF system therefore remains contrast-detect only.

For single-shot use, the AF was very fast and accurate and functioned like other Olympus cameras I've used. In good lighting, the AF speed is nearly instantaneous after half-pressing the shutter button, however in dim or very low-light conditions or on low-contrast subjects, the AF can slow down and hunt for focus at times. The AF assist beam helps in these less-than-ideal situations, but the beam can be very bright and distracting, so I typically turn the AF assist beam off and deal with the consequences.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
25mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 25mm, f/2, 1/125s, ISO 800

Given the camera's use of contrast-detect AF, its continuous autofocus performance is a little lacking. Flipping the camera into C-AF mode, you get the characteristic "wobbling" affect as you half-press the shutter button and the camera continuously attempts to maintain focus. That being said, its C-AF performance certainly isn't terrible. Using the Sequential Low option at 5fps with continuous autofocusing between frames, I did a few walking tests with the 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens, and the PEN-F managed to capture a fairly decent number of sharp photos from each sequence. Every now and then an image would appear slightly back-focused, as if the camera simply couldn't keep up with the walking subject -- rather the face is crisp focus, the person's ear or shoulder would be instead. For casual people shots and slower-moving subjects, the PEN-F's C-AF performance is pretty good, but I would be hesitant to reply on it for fast-paced action or sports.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko Pro Lens: 20mm, f/4, 1/160s, ISO 200, -0.7EV

Fast burst rates & new 20fps mode, but buffer can hold you back

Continuous AF aside, the PEN-F does have some speedy performance capabilities. With focus locked at the first frame, the PEN-F is capable of 10fps burst shooting, though you dip down to 5fps if you chose low-speed burst with AF between each frame. The PEN-F also has an all-electronic shutter option, which in addition to allowing for up to a 1/16,000s shutter speed in Silent Shooting mode, there's a new "H+" burst mode that Olympus says shoots at 20 frames per second.

The buffer capacity was pretty respectable for both JPEGs and RAW+JPEGs for standard mechanical shutter-based burst shooting, but for the new H+ high-speed burst, things aren't as great. Though we've yet to test the H+ mode in our lab, I found that with RAW+JPEG the buffer filled only after a couple of seconds of shooting in H+ mode. In one instance, I got about 24 frames before I felt like it slowed down. The H+ mode is also completely silent, so there's no auditory cue to note that the frame rate as slowed. You can continue to shoot after a moment's pause as it clears some of the buffer, but I found that it will only capture about 4-5 frames or so until the buffer refills and it slows down once more.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Screenshot

Clearing the buffer of all of these RAW+JPEG images from H+ mode takes quite a while too, which I've unscientifically timed to be around 15-16 seconds with a UHS-1 card. With SuperFine JPEGs, however, I got around 32 or so frames before the buffer filled and after what felt like a second or so longer of shooting time compared to RAW+JPEGs. The buffer clearing also was also much quicker with JPEGs, at around 5-7 seconds.

On a related note regarding the electronic shutter features on the PEN-F, users should be aware of potential rolling shutter distortion. Panning quickly or capturing a fast-moving subject like a car at 1/16,000s, will likely show rolling shutter effects with noticeably slanted vertical lines.  I also noticed this distortion quite easily with the H+ burst mode, where even small side-to-side movements showed very wobbly, slanted vertical lines, especially when using a telephoto lens.

Decent video featureset with ALL-I, 1080/60p & great I.S.

The PEN-F offers a decent featureset when it comes to video, including 1080/60p and a variety of bitrate options. though the increasingly popular 4K video is sadly absent. Fine and SuperFine quality levels use the space-saving IPB compression, however "ALL-I" intra-frame compression is also available for even higher image quality. Opting for ALL-I mode restricts the frame rate to 30p or 24p (or 25p for PAL), however, which is fine for most use-cases.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Screenshot

In typical Olympus fashion, the highest quality ALL-I video setting is confusingly disabled and hidden by default. Similar to the "SuperFine" JPEG option, you have to dive into the Movie options in the "Gears" menu, and then under "Movie Specifications Settings." Once there, you'll need to assign the ALL-I option to one of the four video quality settings.

I found image quality to be pretty good, from both SuperFine and ALL-I video, with a nice amount of fine detail. Using the default "Natural" picture profile, the video does not appear overly contrast-y or overly saturated, and the dynamic range looks quite good with visible shadow detail even on heavily backlit subjects. There's an array of other picture profiles to choose from, and you can even use the front Creative Dial to capture video with any number of image customization tweaks, even monochrome.

Olympus PEN-F Sample Video #1
1,920 x 1,080, 30 fps, ALL-Intra Quality
Download Original (220.8MB MOV)

Given the camera's lack of an optical low-pass filter, I did manage to capture some moiré and aliasing artifacts on certain objects, such as the repeating parallel lines of a wooden deck and on lots of very small objects like a distance cluster of trees. These artifacts are quite difficult, if not impossible to remove in post, so be cautious of what or how you shoot.

Olympus PEN-F Moiré Example
1,920 x 1,080, 30 fps, ALL-Intra Quality
Download Original (265.1MB MOV)

Similar to the E-M5 Mark II, the PEN-F features 5-axis image stabilization, and for videos, users get an overall really nice stabilization system. The default M-IS 1 mode offers a combined sensor-shift and electronic image stabilization. I found handheld video looks very stable, though it can look a bit wobbly and distorted or jerky if you move too much past the camera's ability to correct for shake and movement. I found that if you have a reasonably steady hand to begin with and pan slowly, I.S.-enabled video looks excellent and very smooth.

Olympus PEN-F Video Image Stabilization Demo
1,920 x 1,080, 60 fps, SuperFine Quality
Download Original (162.1MB MOV)

Continuous AF is available during video recording, and it overall does a nice job maintaining focus, though it can shift in and out of focus depending on the size or contrast of the object behind the focus point. Focus transitions between different subjects all appeared smooth and controlled.

Olympus PEN-F Sample Video #2
1,920 x 1,080, 60 fps, SuperFine Quality
Download Original (293.8MB MOV)

Overall, video is quite nice from the PEN-F, though moiré and aliasing can be a bit tricky and I.S. a bit wobbly if you're not careful. Quality is good, though the lack of a headphone jack and a microphone jack is disappointing, which could certainly be a deal-breaker for advanced videographers.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 45mm, f/1.8, 1/4000s, ISO 200, Color Profile 3

Premium & pricey, but PEN-F is an all-around great camera

All said and done, the Olympus PEN-F, by most counts, is a fantastic camera. The design is excellent, the materials used for its construction feel great in the hand, and the controls are plentiful -- all combined, it's one solid-feeling camera, though inexplicably not weather-sealed. A throwback to the 1960s, the shape is certainly not the most contoured, but Olympus makes some smart choices that make the camera quite comfortable and secure to hold. The EVF and LCD are both excellent and perform well, as I've come to expect after shooting with a number of Olympus OM-D cameras.

With its higher-res sensor, the image quality is impressive for this class of camera at both low and higher ISOs. The new sensor allows for more resolving power with its multi-frame High-Res Shot mode, but given the limitations necessary to get a crisp shot, it comes off feeling a bit like a novelty feature or at least a very niche one.

Olympus PEN-F Review -- Gallery Image
45mm f/1.8 Zuiko Lens: 45mm, f/2.8, 1/4000s, ISO 200, Color Profile 3

The big story, though, is all the creative features built into the camera. With tons of customization to colors, tones and filters, you can tweak and tailor the look of your photos all in-camera on the fly, and then easily share them via the built-in Wi-Fi. For the travel or street photographer on the go, for example, the vast range of in-camera image customization and wireless connectivity is a very compelling combination -- especially if you love to share images online.

The Olympus PEN-F is the most premium PEN yet, and certainly the priciest. I would have liked weather sealing and phase-detect AF, but overall, it packs in a ton of features, the image quality is great, and with all the creative customization all built-in, it's a very fun camera to use.

 



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