Olympus PEN-F Review

Olympus PEN-F Review

The PEN and OM-D series of Micro Four Thirds compact system cameras (CSC) is Olympus’ two lines of Micro Four Thirds compact system cameras. The OM-D series is the more “serious” of the two and is geared toward amateur photographers.

The OM-D cameras are designed to look like classic single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, while the PEN models have a more rectangular form, similar to the Olympus PEN film cameras from the 1960s. Both ranges have a unique vintage aesthetic.

Previous PEN models, such as the E-PL7 and E-P5, had 16 million pixels on their Four-Thirds-type sensors, while the PEN-F has a total of 20 million pixels on its sensor. As a result, the PEN-F is now the most advanced model in the PEN lineup.

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One of the most notable differences between the two lines of cameras is that the OM-D models come equipped with an integrated viewfinder, while the PEN cameras do not have this function. However, this is about to change. This is changed by the PEN-F, which incorporates an OLED electronic viewfinder into its body. This viewfinder has 2.36 million dots.

It’s a huge update that makes it much simpler to frame photos even when the sun is shining brightly. In addition, when you look through a viewfinder, the camera is often held more steadily since it is held closer to your face. This might lead to crisper photographs.

However, the PEN-F also has Olympus’s superb 5-axis image stabilization built-in. Olympus claims this will extend the safe hand-holding shutter speed by up to 5EV, which is the difference between 1/500 of a second and 1/15 of a second. Additionally, the stabilization technology works in video mode to assist in smoothing out some of the slight jitters that arise from holding a camera.

Olympus PEN-F Build Quality

Instead of adopting the SLR aesthetic of the OM-D series, Olympus has kept with the more rectangular shape of the PEN series and gone for a style that is more rangefinder-like for the PEN-F. Consequently, the viewfinder is located in the upper left corner of the camera when it is held for usage — much like it is on the Fuji X-E2S and X-Pro2.

The vintage design of the PEN-F is not confined to its appearance; instead, the camera has the kind of construction that, when picked up, causes photographers to grin and get a little misty-eyed since it is so sturdy and constructed of metal.

The machined metal dials exude quality; each is pleasant to the touch, rotates easily, and clicks satisfyingly into place. On the other hand, the buttons on the camera’s rear are a bit more standard, adopting the small, plastic design that attracts some criticism of the Olympus PEN and OM-D series. Despite this, they are effective, and the camera reacts swiftly whenever they are utilized.

Olympus PEN-F Performance

The image sensor of the PEN-F contains 20.3 effective pixels, which is almost 25% more than the image sensor in any other Olympus PEN or OM-D camera that is currently available. Compared to the PEN E-M10, our in-house testing has shown that an increase in pixel count results in a considerable increase in the amount of detail seen in a picture when the sensitivity setting is set to a lower value.

However, at ISO 3200, the amount of detail in the photos captured by the PEN-F is slightly less than that charged by the E-photographs. M10’s This is probably because the photoreceptors (pixels) on the new sensor are smaller, which results in an image signal that is weaker and has higher noise overall.

Our analysis of the signal-to-noise ratio in raw files demonstrates that this hypothesis is correct, as the PEN-scores F’s are somewhat lower than those of the E- M10’s. It’s interesting to see how close the JPEG scores are.

Despite the disparity in the ratings for the raw signal-to-noise ratio, the PEN-F manages to keep noise under control across most of its sensitive range. However, as is customary, the default option for noise reduction will cause JPEGs with higher sensitivity levels to lose some of the finer details captured by the camera.

Despite this, ISO 6400 photographs (both raw and JPEG) appear high quality when viewed at A3 size. However, above this level, the camera begins to have some trouble with reds, making them look too saturated and brilliant. Additionally, the details in JPEGs start to take on a more painterly aspect when seen at 100% on the screen.

Olympus PEN-F Image Quality

Throughout the evaluation time, the Olympus PEN-F delivered photographs of exceptional quality. It provides photos free of noise from ISO 100 to 1600; at ISO 3200, some very slight noise emerges in the images. Noise is rather noticeable at ISO 6400, with a loss of fine detail. The fastest settings of ISO 12800 and 25600 are considerably noisier, but they may still be used for tiny prints and the web.

The pictures came out of the camera with a level of default sharpening that was a little too soft, so they should be further sharpened in an application such as Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively, if you don’t like how the default honing works, you can change the setting within the camera itself.

The Art Filters allow you to quickly achieve distinctive effects that would take significant time in the digital darkroom without them. Even when the camera is being held by hand at prolonged shutter rates, the image stabilization technology produces exceptionally high-quality results for still and moving images.

Olympus PEN-F Specs

Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Body materialMagnesium alloy + aluminum
Image ratio w h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels20 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors22 megapixels
Sensor sizeFour Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor size notesHigh-resolution mode produces Raw images at 10368 x 7776 or JPEGs at 8160 x 6120.
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorTruePic VII
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Boosted ISO (minimum)80
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (4 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Image stabilization notes5-axis
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuper fine, fine, normal, basic
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 points81
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification1.23× (0.62× 35mm equiv.)
Viewfinder resolution2,360,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic)1/16000 sec
Exposure modesauto program AutoShutter PriorityAperture PriorityManual
Scene modesPortraite-PortraitLandscapeLandscape + PortraitSportHand-held StarlightNight sceneNight + PortraitChildrenHigh KeyLow KeyDIS modeMacroNature MacroCandleSunsetDocumentsPanoramaFireworksBeach & SnowFisheye Conv.Wide Conv.Macro Conv.Panning3D
Built-in flashNo (external flash included)
External flashYes
Flash modesFlash Auto, Redeye, Fill-in, Flash Off, Redeye Slow sync (1st curtain), Slow sync (1st curtain), Slow sync (2nd curtain)
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Continuous drive10.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 seconds, custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264, Motion JPEG
Videography notesChoice of ALL-I, APB codecs
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Wireless notes802.11b/g/n
Remote controlYes (wired or via smartphone)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBLN-1 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)330
Weight (inc. batteries)427 g (0.94 lb / 15.06 oz)
Dimensions125 x 72 x 37 mm (4.92 x 2.83 x 1.46″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (video)

Olympus PEN-F Final Verdict

The PEN-F is the first Micro Four Thirds small system or mirrorless system camera from Olympus, and it features a sensor with 20 million individual pixels. This implies that it provides a boost in pixel count that is 25% more than other current Olympus cameras.

Even though this has a marginally detrimental effect on the amount of noise present in the images we capture in our lab, noise is effectively managed for the vast majority of the sensitivity range available to the camera when used in real-world shooting conditions. The images also have an excellent degree of detail, substantially more so than the ones produced by the 16Mp OM-D E-M10, for example.

There is also an outstanding High Res Shot option that, when used, can generate raw files of up to 80 megapixels. These files may make far larger prints than a desktop printer can create.

A built-in viewfinder is a critical feature that, up until now, Olympus has reserved only for its OM-D models. The PEN-F looks quite at home among the other PEN cameras, but it comes equipped with this essential function. This is positioned in the top-left corner of the body of the PEN-F, as opposed to the top-right corner of the OM-D series, which gives the camera more of a rangefinder-like form than the SLR shape of the OM-Ds.

Olympus PEN-F Price

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Joseph is a talented photographer and videographer based in the USA, with a thriving career as a freelance creative. Over the past several years, he has had the privilege of working with renowned brands, capturing captivating images and videos. His portfolio encompasses a diverse range of subjects, specializing in fashion, portrait, and lifestyle content creation. From editorial shoots to engaging social media videos, Joseph's versatile skills ensure exceptional visual storytelling in every project. Beyond his professional endeavors, he nurtures a personal passion for travel and nature photography, channeling his deep appreciation for the environment into a commitment to sustainability and environmental causes.

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