Two weeks ago representative from Olympus Malaysia called me to let me know they have something new they would like to show me but on the phone they couldn't tell me what it was. As i have a been an E-M1 user for the pass few years I became very excited. Arriving at Olympus Malaysia they led me into a room and on the table covered in black cloth you can see shapes of something. While they were explaining the NDA stuff i have to agree too, my mind was wondering whats under the black cloth, could it be a new flagship, new lens , new something nobody thought of or.............
The Tiny Flash That Bounce
The unveiling was very tense. Once fully uncovered a pair of camera one all black and one chrome black that i would describe as beautiful, gorgeous ummmm i think the more appropriate word would be HANDSOME lay on the table. In my thirty years in photography, camera such as the Hasselblad 500c, the Rolleiflex TLR, the Leica M3, Graflex Super Graphic and a few more i would consider them as beautiful and iconic, and here lay the new Olympus PEN-F with its multitude of dials all over the top plate, the specular glisten of the the camera lines as the lights hits it and the leather cladding the camera just make you want to pick it up and shoot.
Dials, Dials, Dials
Twist to On.... Its retro
Picking up the PEN-F. it felt very solid in hand still small and light but with a bit of heft that inspires confidence, and Drumroll...... A EVF is now built into the camera. The same resolution as the E-M1 but now OLED illuminated. From the back there is an articulated LCD Screen and when you rotate to cover the LCD there is even a leathery material to maintain the overall classical look of the camera. The top plate is packed with dials from modes to exposure compensation and a rotating dial on the right side to switch on the camera. Hmmm where have i seen this kind of dial before..... Now onto the new features that this camera brings
Shooting with the PEN-F involves more turning and twisting. Twist to On, turn mode dial, compose, turn dial to adjust or compensate then shoot. After using the camera with the Pro series lenses such as the 7-14, 12-40 and the 40-150 f2.8, i find that the PEN-F is more suited to the prime lens such as the 25mm f1.8 and the 75 f1.8 that i have in hand. With the prime lenses the PEN-F balance is just about right whether shooting using the EVF or the LCD in any position the PEN-F seem to balance very well. Heck even shooting selfies with the prime was superbly enjoyable. With the pro lens attach the PEN-F is still great but for better handling you will need the ECG-4 grip which provide better handling when using longer or heavier lenses. The ideal combination is to have the PEN-F with a selection of primes such as the 12mm F2, 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and the 75mm F1.8.
Iso performance are comparable to the E-M1. I think up to 6400 is usable but will need more further testing
With the new 20 megapixels image sensor you can now shoot 50 megapixels images if your camera is on a tripod and the subject does not move in jpeg, and the RAW file is 80 megapixels. In this mode if you you are shooting still life i find that the colors are much more accurate as each pixels will receive all the RGB colors when the sensor pixel shift and if you are shooting fine patterns such as clothing there is no moire, and the resolution is real. its really 50 megapixels.
ISO 1600 1/30 f1.8
ISO 400 1/15 f1.8
Today photography has fully transition to digital photography. In one decade since the first affordable DSLR appeared on the market. the technologies of digital cameras have improve tremendously up to the the point now where even a mobile phone can take amazing images. The New Olympus PEN-F to me is like a breath of fresh air, a return to classical aesthetics and classical controls. A camera that is simply Handsome to look at and easy to use. Peering through the viewfinder it feels natural and fluid both in bright and low light condition. The files from the camera are to me simply beautiful a hallmark of Olympus famous jpeg engine.
Olympus have create a truly beautiful camera in my humble opinion in the PEN-F. Image quality is better than all the previous Olympus camera. New features to enable the photographer to selective control contrast, color saturation, color hue will allow the photographer to spend more time shooting and less on the computer. A small system camera such as this would make the perfect travel camera, and if you love selfies the PEN-F is great at it as the LCD is adjustable and when you are holding it for selfies it balances very well.