Olympus PEN E-PL4 Review

After just having experience with a smartphone camera, the transition to a “real” camera might seem overwhelming. Still, Olympus intends for the PEN E-PL9 to appeal to consumers in this market segment. It offers some fascinating features for experienced photographers as well. Still, its primary target audience is first-time users who are apprehensive about upgrading to a mirrorless camera but want to take advantage of its larger sensor, higher resolution, more powerful capabilities, and interchangeable lenses.

It is designed in the conventional manner of a small system camera that is user-friendly for novices. It does not come with a viewfinder; for that, you would need the OM-D E-M10 Mark III. However, the rear screen does include a mechanism that allows it to tilt in either direction so that it may be flipped upwards or downwards.

It pivots outward on a hinge that allows for a complete downward flip of 180 degrees, turning the screen around so that it faces front for selfies.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Features

Olympus made the PEN E-PL9 so that it is simple to use, even for inexperienced photographers. Still, it also includes a comprehensive collection of manual settings and functions for when you are ready to start taking charge of your photography.

In full Auto mode, you can tell the camera to determine all of the settings for you, and all you have to do to modify the look of your photographs is use the basic sliders on the touchscreen display to make adjustments to the color saturation, brightness, warmth, and background blur, among other things.

It avoids the typical photographic jargon in favor of describing camera changes using language that is easier to understand.

Alternately, you can move the mode dial to the Scene position to tap on the subject you’re shooting, such as People, Nightscapes, or Motion, or you can use the PASM modes, which stand for program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and manual, to have direct control over the shutter speed and aperture settings.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Build Quality

The E-PL9 is an attempt to make a move from a smartphone to a compact camera as pleasant as possible, and it is pretty successful in this endeavor. The screen is smaller than a smartphone’s, but it responds comparably. However, to share your photographs instantly, you must go through the somewhat complicated procedure of connecting via Bluetooth and then over Wi-Fi. However, after you’ve gotten the hang of it, things should flow relatively smoothly from then on out.

It’s worth your time to download the free OI. Share app. You may import images, edit them, share them, and even geotag them with the phone’s position by using it as a remote control for your camera. In addition, there is a helpful Camera How To section that includes instructional movies and other forms of assistance.

If you use an Apple device, you will be required to pick the camera’s Wi-Fi network each time manually. However, this is a function of Apple’s operating system, and it is the same for all Wi-Fi-equipped cameras, not just the E-PL9.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Autofocus

Most manufacturers of mirrorless cameras, including Olympus with their most sophisticated models, have switched to hybrid on-sensor phase detection autofocus systems for quicker focusing times. The E-PL9, on the other hand, has a contrast autofocus technology, which is supposedly slower. We say “theoretically” slower as a result of the fact that the static focusing speeds on this camera are pretty quick indeed.

It is possible that the smaller sensor area of the Micro Four Thirds format, which is around half the size of the APS-C sensors used in some competing cameras, contributed to this advantage. In addition, Panasonic used the more compact Micro Four Thirds sensor and developed its focusing mechanism based on contrast, and quite effective.

You have the option of using the automatic area AF selection, in which the camera decides what to focus on, the single point AF selection, in which you tap on the screen to set the position of the focus point, or the 9-point ‘zone’ mode, in which you select a larger area and the camera chooses the focus target within that. Everything is straightforward to understand and not complicated at all.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Performance

The E-PL9 is quick to start up, can focus in an instant, and in general, has a highly responsive feel to it. The autofocus does have a slight slowdown while working in low-light conditions, but it is not to the extent that it becomes a significant impediment.

The Olympus 3-axis in-body stabilization is a feature that should not be overlooked. Because it is a camera component, it is compatible with every Olympus lens. It also provides a stabilized image on the LCD screen when you’re creating images. It unquestionably raises the ‘hit rate’ of sharp shots when you’re shooting pictures in low light, such as inside restaurants, museums, and other places with low ambient illumination levels.

There is a pop-up flash, but the light produced by these is dim and glaring, and it is nearly always preferable to use the light already there whenever it is feasible.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Image quality

The sensor of the E-PL9 is not as large as those found in competing mirrorless cameras from Canon and Fujifilm. Additionally, the resolution is reduced, coming in at 16 megapixels rather than the 24 megapixels seen in some competing models.

Nevertheless, 16 megapixels is plenty for pretty crisp and detailed photographs, which can also be blown up to a decent size for printing and are readily sufficient for any form of social sharing or internet use.

In theory, the smaller Micro Four-Thirds sensor should mean a slight drop in quality compared to APS-C cameras. However, there is not much evidence of this in the E-picture PL9’s rate, which is very good at low-to-medium settings and better at high ISOs than you might expect from a Micro Four Thirds camera. The E-PL9 has a larger image sensor than other Micro Four Thirds cameras.

This is an excellent performance for a camera of this type, even though detail begins to disappear around the time you reach ISO3200 and that ISO6400 is probably about as high as you’d want to go before softness and noise become too noticeable in the image; however, the performance is still awe-inspiring overall.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Specs

Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Body materialComposite
Max resolution4608 x 3456
Image ratio w h4:3
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor sizeFour Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorTruePic VIII
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
ISOAuto, 100-25600
White balance presets6
Custom white balanceYes (4 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
CIPA image stabilization rating3.5 stop(s)
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuper fine, fine, normal
File formatJPEG (Exif v2.3)Raw (Olympus ORF)
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points121
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier
Articulated LCDTilting
Screen size3″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic)1/16000 sec
Exposure modesAutoProgramShutter priorityAperture priorityManual
Scene modesPortrait-PortraitLandscape + PortraitNight + PortraitChildrenNight scene and-held StarlightFireworksLight trailsSportPanningLandscapeSunsetBeach & SnowBacklight HDR1PanoramaCandlelightSilentMacroNature MacroDocumentsMulti Focus Shot
Built-in flashYes
Flash Range5.40 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (via hot shoe)
Flash modesRedeye, Slow Sync. (1st curtain), Slow Sync. (2nd curtain), Redeye Slow Sync. (1st curtain), Fill-in, Manual, Flash Off
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Continuous drive14.1 fps
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (3, 5 frames at 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Modes3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 60p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 50p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 23.98p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC card (UHS-I supported)
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
USB chargingNo
HDMIYes (Micro HDMI)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Wireless notes802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth
Remote controlYes (via wired remote or smartphone)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBLS-50 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)350
Weight (inc. batteries)380 g (0.84 lb / 13.40 oz)
Dimensions117 x 68 x 39 mm (4.61 x 2.68 x 1.54″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Verdict

The specs of the PEN E-PL9 have certain flaws, which knowledgeable photographers will point out almost immediately. There is no viewfinder, for example, and the sensor is smaller than some of its competitors. Additionally, the number of megapixels is lower. On the other hand, a superb DSLR-style camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, costs just a little less than this.

However, the E-PL9 is not designed for advanced users. Instead, it is intended for a new generation of photographers upgrading from simpler imaging devices. These photographers are looking for a way to achieve the visual quality and control of an interchangeable lens camera without the jargon and complication of using such a camera.

And it does a fantastic job of doing so. No viewfinder? If you’re used to using a smartphone, that shouldn’t be an issue. The limited capabilities of the sensor? They are still a significant upgrade over the cameras found in smartphones. In all honesty, the images produced by the E-PL9 are on par with those produced by any DSLR or mirrorless camera priced in close range.

Too expensive? The majority of smartphones indeed cost more than this. Still, if you want a camera like this to live up to people’s expectations regarding functionality, usability, and image quality, you’ll need to shell out a little extra cash.

Olympus PEN E-PL4 Pros & Cons

Good For
  • The quality of the image and its effects
  • Portability and overall size
  • Attractive design
  • Very simple to use
  • New modes for 4K video and Clips
Need Improvements
  • Comparatively high cost
  • No viewfinder
  • The maximum allowed by ISO is just 25,600
  • No auxiliary port is available
  • Relying solely on a 3-axis IS system

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