Olympus Pen F First Impressions- Retro Reloaded

Thanks to Olympus India, I received a pre-production sample of Olympus Pen F to use, review it and offer my feedback to them.This blog post is about my first impressions of the Olympus Pen F.

The original Olympus PEN-F was first launched in 1963. It was based on half-frame film format and enjoyed a great cult like following thanks to its elegant, simple design and small size. Now, 53 years later Olympus has re-launched  the PEN-F but in a modern and digital format. The Olympus Pen F is also the first Olympus micro four thirds camera to come with a brand new 20 megapixel sensor which is coupled with the TruePic VII imaging processor.

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OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO200)

 Important Specifications

  • 20MP Live MOS Four Thirds format sensor.
  • 5-axis image stabilization with automatic panning detection.
  • 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder.
  • Up to 10 fps continuous shooting and 20 fps with electronic shutter.
  • Highly customizable interface, twin controls.
  • Fully articulating 1.04 million dot, 3″ LCD touchscreen.
  • 50MP High-res Shot mode
  • 1/8000 sec top mechanical shutter speed and 1/16,000 with e-shutter.
  • 1080/60p video recording.

Look and Design

I may sound like a fanboy here but honestly speaking I haven’t seen any camera in my life so far which is as beautiful as the Olympus Pen F. The look and design of the Olympus Pen F is showcase of top notch craftsmanship from Olympus designer’s. It is astonishing to see that the entire range finder style body of the Olympus Pen F doesn’t have a single screw visible. The body is made of machined aluminium and magnesium. A very grippy to touch stylish faux leather is wrapped around the body giving it a premium retro look. The body is well weighted in hand and has a overall substantial feeling to it.The solid and well designed dials, switches placed on the top plate of the camera also add a touch of style. Even the shutter release button is designed in old style to maintain the overall retro theme of the camera. The Olympus Pen F is available in black and silver colour and in my opinion both look stylish and sexy.

“In short the Olympus Pen F is solidly built stylish, elegant and a beautiful camera.”
imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (25mm, f/3.2, 1/50 sec, ISO200)

imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (25mm, f/1.8, 1/200 sec, ISO200)

imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (25mm, f/4, 1/40 sec, ISO200)

The EVF
Olympus never in the past equipped the digital Pen series with an in body EVF. The in body EVF was equipped only with OM-D line of cameras but the Olympus Pen F is the first camera in the digital Pen series to come with an EVF which is nicely integrated into the stylish range finder style body. The 2.36 million dot OLED EVF of the Olympus Pen F is the same found in the Olympus OM-D E-M10 mark 2 and offers very clear, crisp readability and very little lag time. The EVF also features the simulated optical viewfinder mode, or “S-OVF” mode, which simulates the view one would see with an optical viewfinder thereby eliminating various colour adjustments, white balance settings and exposure compensation changes.
imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO200)

Dials and Buttons

The dials on the Pen F have a beautifully milled finish and click precisely as they’re turned. The PASM dial on the top plate is redesigned and comes with a locking mechanism and spots for up to four custom shooting modes.The Olympus Pen F also gains a dedicated exposure compensation dial offering+3 to -3 increments. There is also a dedicated movie button above the exposure compensation dial. Depending on the mode you are in the twin dials offer control over aperture and shutter speeds. At the extreme left of the camera there is dedicated on and off switch. Back of the camera down, there is dial pad with direct control of white balance, ISO, metering and flash.You will also find the Fn1, Magnify, Record, View Selection and L-Fn buttons which can each be customized as per your liking. The entire four-way Dpad on the back of the camera can also be re-programmed to allow direct selection of the AF point(s).There is also a jog switch attached under the Mode dial, allowing for JPEG tone curve adjustment on the go.
imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (25mm, f/4, 1/40 sec, ISO200)

imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO200)


imageOLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO200)

The LCD Screen

The PEN-F comes with a 1.04 million dot, 3″ LCD touch-sensitive, fully articulating screen.This can be used to specify the focus point and (optionally) release the shutter.The touchscreen offers image browsing and double tap to magnify function.The screen is vivid, crisp and clear even in broad daylight.The fully  articulating screen also allows users to get creative with different angles or even selfie shots.

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OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (25mm, f/1.8, 1/100 sec, ISO200)

Handling & Grip 

The Pen F feels well balanced and feels very substantial in hand. Some reviewer’s complained that since there is no front grip on the Pen F it may feel awkward to handle. To be honest I never felt any discomfort in handling the Pen F thanks to the very well designed thumb rest at the back which provides adequate grip. The faux leather wrap which covers the body  also has grippy touch to it further helping to make the grip more secure. Olympus also sells a optional grip designed specially for the Pen F. In case you intend to use some larger Olympus lenses the grip can be very useful and maybe even required to hold and grip the camera securely. I so far have only used prime and pancake lenses with the Pen F mainly the Olympus 25mm F1.8 lens, Olympus 14-42ez kit lens and sigma 60mm F2.8 and found no need for the optional grip while using the above mentioned lenses.

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OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO200)

The Creative Dial  

Olympus has introduced a dedicated JPEG centric creative dial on the Pen F which is not found on any of the OM-D or Pen digital series cameras so far. The creative dial with a flick of switch gives you access to Olympus’s popular art filters, color creator and and 2 new modes color and monochrome modes which try to replicate a slide film and black and white film look.

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OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO200)

Initial Thoughts

Overall, Olympus has managed to make a camera which is a perfect combination of style and substance. It has a stunning design and is made with high quality materials. After using it for a day so far, I can say that Olympus has launched what looks to be another classic in the Pen-F. In coming days I intend to put the Olympus Pen F through its paces under various scenarios and accordingly update my findings and thoughts on the blog. I have shot sample images with the Olympus Pen F which I am attaching below and in coming weeks I will further post more images from the Olympus Pen F with variety of lenses in the subsequent blog posts so stay tuned.

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OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP. E-M10 (60mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO200)

Important notes

1) All images posted in this post are shot as JPEGs and then transferred via WiFi to my phone and then post processed very minimally in Snapseed for Android.

2) Special thanks to Sainath Shetty , Ravindra Kumar and Tushar Singhal from Olympus India for contacting me and  sending me the very first sample unit of the Olympus Pen F in India.

Thanks and enjoy the pictures.

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/1.8, 1/125 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/3.2, 1/50 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/3.2, 1/30 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/1.8, 1/50 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/1.8, 1/125 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/4.5, 1/30 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.2, 1/200 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/1.8, 1/25 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.2, 1/200 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.5, 1/500 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/4.5, 1/30 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.5, 1/40 sec, ISO200)

 

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/1.8, 1/80 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/3.2, 1/30 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.5, 1/20 sec, ISO200)

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OLYMPUS CORPORATION PEN-F (25mm, f/2.8, 1/30 sec, ISO200)

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Raviraj Kande Written by:

I'm a self-taught photographer whose interest lies in shooting people, fashion, food and life-style.This blog documents my endeavors in photography.

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