[Review] 5 Things I Love About Olympus PEN-F
I have had my Olympus E-PL 6 for slightly more than 2 years now. It was my first micro 4/3 camera and it has seen me through some memorable milestones. It captured the various stages of my pregnancy, our house moving, numerous events that I attended, uncountable OOTDs of Laurent, and most recently, his 2nd birthday.
It has been a great companion and I haven’t really thought of changing it to a better camera because it is still working fine and I haven’t found another suitable camera to replace it with.
I really liked the picture quality that the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II produced when I tried it last December. But I remember the angles of the tilt screen are rather limiting and I wasn’t able to take selfies and low angle vertical shots too well. Furthermore, the Olympus PEN-F was already launched then. I was instantly attracted by its super retro feel and that fancy alphabet “F” written in gothic script (which can be found on the original PEN-F).
Thanks to Olympus Imaging Singapore, I had the opportunity to bring the Olympus PEN-F along for our Paris trip a few months back and that was when I fell hopelessly in love with it.
I could really go all wax lyrical about how much I adore this camera, but to make your reading easier, let me just summarise it to 5 things I love about the Olympus PEN-F, and 1 thing I didn’t quite like about it.
I am a sucker for good-looking things. Period. Then again, who isn’t, right?
The Olympus PEN-F had me at “retro”. It’s a digital remake of its predecessor, the original PEN-F, from 50 years ago.
The PEN-F sports a sleek, timeless design and a streamlined shape with not a single screw visible. The textured faux leather which encases most part of the camera even covers the back of the screen. This means that if I want to purely shoot through the electronic viewfinder, I can swivel the screen around and my Olympus PEN-F will look all the part of a sexy vintage camera. LOVE!
Similar to the other Olympus cameras that I’ve used and tried, the camera feels sturdy and solid, without a single part of the camera feeling loose or flimsy.
2. Creative Dial
I hardly, if ever, use the art/ filter mode on any of the cameras that I’ve owned. In fact, I don’t even use the filters on my Instagram. I simply love my photos bright and natural. Which is why I didn’t quite get the huge fuss over the creative dial, besides maybe having it emulate the film shooting and the physical look of the original PEN-F.
But when I actually used it, I realised shooting with the creative dial can really add depth, emotions and mood to the photos. The tones and colours of these shooting modes are customisable via the colour wheel which appears when you switch into the mode. This means that even your monochrome photos won’t be monotonous at all because you can choose which colour, and how much of it, to filter out.
Being able to access these shooting modes easily (and intuitively), rather than having to navigate deep into the menu for it, encourages me to try them out more often. As I look back at some of the photos taken with the creative dial, I believe it allows me to tell better stories with my photos.
3. 20MP Sensor
The 20MP sensor is a HUGE deal for Olympus users because it has the HIGHEST resolution among the Olympus family, surpassing even the OM-D E-M5 Mark II (16MP sensor, at the point of writing).
What this simply means, is better quality and sharper photos. I won’t (and don’t have the know-how to) go into the techie details so I’ll simply let the photos do the talking.
4. Stabilisation & Focusing
If you have been using Olympus cameras or at least have been reading reviews of Olympus cameras, you will notice that Olympus prides itself of its 5-Axis Image Stabilisation. It functions to compensate for the 5 types of movement (yaw/pitch/vertical shift/horizontal shift/rolling) which affects the sharpness of our images, even in low-light settings. Given that my E-PL6 only has 3-Axis Image Stabilisation, I can tell you, the 5-Axis Image Stabilisation system really makes a difference to the image quality.
One thing I thought is pretty interesting about its focusing system is the ability to use the Touch LCD as an AF Trackpad to select your focus point WHILE shooting from the viewfinder.
5. Vari-Angle Touch LCD
The Olympus PEN-F’s Vari-Angle Touch LCD is the icing on the cake for me. For my blog posts and IG posts, I often need to take selfies, flat-lays and photos of Laurent. Unlike the limiting Tilting Monitor of the OMD E-M10 Mark II, the versatility that comes with PEN-F’s vary-angle LCD means I can snap a shot at almost any angle I need.
The touch LCD of the Olympus PEN-F also allows me to access some useful functions with ease, such as turning on the wifi simply by tapping the wifi icon on the screen. In playback mode, I can control the percentage of zoom when viewing a photo by adjusting the slider bar on the screen and move the photo around to control the area I want to zoom into.
Remember I mentioned that there was this one thing I didn’t quite like about the Olympus PEN-F?
It’s the PRICE.
The Olympus PEN-F is priced at $1798 for BODY ONLY. For comparison, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II is priced at $1998 (with kit lens) and the OM-D E-M10 Mark II at $1148 (single kit lens).
Before I did an in-depth research on the Olympus PEN-F, I couldn’t think of why I would buy it over the E-M10 Mark II because the E-M10 is in the OMD class and it is so much more affordable!
When I looked carefully at the specs of the Olympus PEN-F, I realised comparing it to the E-M10 was like comparing apple with orange. Although in the PEN series, PEN-F is at the apex of the PEN family and almost all its technical aspects are on par with the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, with the only exception of not being weather sealed like its OM-D counterpart. And, as mentioned previously, the updated 20MP sensor of PEN-F is even better than the current 16MP of the E-M5 Mark II.
So do I think that the Olympus PEN-F is worth buying? Well, I bought it.
It was love at first sight (heck, I liked it even BEFORE I held it in my hands) but it wasn’t an impulse purchase. I tried it, I researched on it, I tried to let the feeling of infatuation wear off for a few months, I tried to convince myself to find an alternative, I researched even more, and I finally convinced myself that this is the right camera for me at this season of my life.
It is quite an investment (but I had a good price at my trusted camera shop) so I am really looking forward to the new memories that this camera will create and capture together with me. Maybe, just maybe, 50 years later Laurent will show me the next updated version of the Olympus PEN-F and I can bring this little masterpiece out from my treasure chest and share it with him 😉