Jan 262016
 
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The NEW Olympus PEN-F Camera Review. Just. Wow.

NOTE: Be sure to click the images here to see them larger and how they were meant to be seen.  ALL images here are Out Of Camera JPEGS, 100% (No real RAW support yet) and I mainly tested the new dedicated Monochrome Mode in mode 2 which simulates something like TRI-X so this is the look that mode gives and the Chrome/Slide Color mode as these are new modes for Olympus. Enjoy my look at this new exceptional camera from Olympus but be prepared for a slew of Monochrome images! Next update I will show images from RAW which will be the more standard color and B&W profiles. 

My 1st look VIDEO on the new PEN-F

 

It’s been an amazing last few days. I am here in Austin TX and have had the opportunity to shoot with the brand spanking new Olympus PEN-F every day which is by far, the best Olympus digital PEN EVER. Hands down, no contest. No Hype, No B.S., No Lie. This review will be one of the very 1st full REVIEWS in the world of the PEN-F. Enjoy!

The PEN-F with the 12 f/2 – Using the new Monochrome Mode 2 (Tri-X Style Simulation but with all grain OFF)  – Click it to see it correctly!

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With its gorgeous retro style. swivel screen, 5 Axis IS, 50MP High Res Shot mode, Live Time, Focus Bracketing, new color modes, new Monochrome mode, 10FPS or 20FPS with its electronic shutter, silent mode, 1/8000th s standard shutter, 1/16,000 electronic shutter, large and clear EVF, shortest lag of any other camera in this class, touch screen, and loads of other cool features Olympus have hit it out of the PARK with the PEN-F.

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Yes my friends, this is quite the camera and while not up to Full Frame sensor cameras it can stand up to any APS-C sensor camera made today IMO (been saying this since the pro E-M1) and if given a choice between the new PEN-F and ANY APS-C Mirrorless or DSLR, the PEN-F wins in a huge way, for ME. Maybe not for you, but for me, 100%. I LOVE the PEN cameras and always have, so this one really struck a chord with me.

This may end up being the most loved Olympus Digital yet by the camera buying public as well as enthusiasts because it has cool factor, speed, great construction and feel, some of the best lenses made today available for it and superb image quality. I see it as a “Super Enthusiast” camera with great design and control, just what an Enthusiast wants and just what camera companies need to be doing..making special cameras that people will WANT to use and shoot over their smart phones.

Yes yes yes, this is one of those cameras that can do it and put a big grin on your face while doing it.

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THE BEST PEN EVER

Long time readers will know, I have had them all from the EP1, E-P2, E-P3 and the EP5 and some of the in between (EPL Series) models and this new PEN-F has more than ANYONE would ever want in a  mirrorless camera, and for me, (and others I have spoken to who are using it with me) it beats ANY DSLR made for usability, fun factor, features, size and style, again, my opinion. Oh, and the performance is the best yet from Olympus as well and while it does not have the weather sealing of the Pro level E-M1, in many ways, I’d rather have this than the aging E-M1. In fact, if given a choice I know the PEN would have my heart instantly.

With an all new 20MP sensor is inside, upping the Ante over the usual 16MP in Olympus Micro 4/3 cameras, we finally get a new higher MP Micro 4/3 sensor, and it does not disappoint. In fact, I am seeing some of the sharpest most detailed M 4/3 images yet, and I have only seen JPEG’s so far. I am sure the RAW files will be spectacular.

The new 20 megapixel sensor is indeed an improvement over the old 16MP sensor.

They are even releasing some gorgeous leather accessories for it as well as a half case and the grip. The Leather accessories look pretty sharp to me…

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MONOCHROME & MORE!

I will state right now, the PEN-F is BEAUTIFUL and the new MONOCHROME mode is great to have and quite stunning.

I am thrilled to see a camera company concentrating and working on Monochrome imaging…with a camera under $1200 instead of $7000 like the Leica Monochrom. Of course this is NOT a dedicated Mono sensor but take a look at the B&W images direct out of the PEN-F camera below. Nothing at all to complain about. The way the new sensor handles light is quite stunning. This is a $1200 camera, and believe me, well worth this cost when some cameras these days cost much more and in some cases, give less.

MUST click it for better version! This one with the 17.5 Voigtlander 0.95 at 0.95 – OOC JPEG MONO MODE 2

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When this new PEN-F was handed to me I was super excited as soon as I saw the design and held it in my hands. The Chrome model is GORGEOUS, SEXY and SLEEK but the black is much more stealthy and just as handsome. I am not 100% sure which I prefer. I love the looks of both though the Silver has more definition to the dials as they pop out more giving more of a retro vibe.

I still have an E-P5 on my shelf at home along with my OM-D camera but this one WILL be replacing my E-P5 and may become my main shooter for a while due to the fact that it can do whatever I need it to do except for very super low or no light shooting, which I reserve for my Sony full frame A7 series cameras. But take this and some nice fast primes like the 12mm f/2, 17 f/1.8,  Panasonic Nocticron or even the AMAZING DROOL WORTHY Olympus 300mm f/4 and you will have a camera capable almost anything you need.

Voigtlander 17 0.95 on the PEN-F – MONO MODE 2 (Tri-X Style)

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Now with the awesome Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Pro Lens

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But right here, right now, the big buzz among those shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin along with me? It’s all about the MONOCHROME MODE. Not sure if its a mental thing, a nostalgia thing or a combo of both but we all seem to love it and have had a hard time shooting in other modes. Olympus did a great job with this, and it is NOT a new Art Filter. It’s a new MODE. Very cool. 

As for the Monochrome mode, to me, it is FANTASTIC.  Take a look at these OOC JPEGS while in Mono mode #2. No PP here at all.

CLICK THEM for much better version! These are all MONOCHROME MODE 2 (Tri-X style, so the “look” you see is emulating this film. Deep black, high contrast. 

Next 11 images were shot with the Olympus 45 1.8. A true no brainer lens at $299. Bargain of the decade. 

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The Olympus 17 1.8

Tri X simulation Mode 2 with heavy grain (you can choose OFF, LOW, MED, HIGH)

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The $299 25 1.8

Mode 2 with medium grain

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WITH A FLICK OF THE SWITCH!

With the flick of your finger you can swap modes easily while your eye is up to the EVF. Go from standard to monochrome to chrome/slide and EACH mode has three presets with unlimited customization of each and every preset! It’s quite amazing and may take a day or two for you to learn how it all works but once you do, it is as easy as 1-2-3.

In Mono mode you can choose color filters just as you did with B&W film. For example, using the RED filter will darken and enhance the sky and lighten skin tones. You can also choose the grain and have it off, low, medium or high. The grain is also film like as Olympus made sure to make it as much like film grain as possible. This is NOT the old grainy B&W mode, it is all new.

The nice dial right on the from of the PEN-F allows you to easily select which mode you want, if any

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Myself and others here see the new PEN-F as competition to the new X-Pro 2 or even a Sony A6000..but with the new film modes that look VERY good, along with the gorgeous design and high quality parts and construction, this would most likely be my choice over any APS-C counterpart due to size, speed, lenses available, features, IQ and the gorgeous design and control and customization.

For me it is always MUCH more than just output as a camera needs to have MANY things going for it for me to LOVE it. The PEN-F is blazing fast, has one of the best selection of high quality lenses of ANY brand (I put them 2nd only to Leica for high quality and small size) and has the highest fun factor of ANY camera I have used beating Sony, Leica, Fuji. etc.

THIS PEN IS NOT A TOY ;) 

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But do not confuse FUN FACTOR with it being a Toy as the PEN-F is no toy. It could be used for anything from family snaps to pro work (I know many pros who use Micro 4/3 with gorges results) like weddings or events. When choosing a camera as an enthusiast or amateur or someone who just loves taking photos, never worry about wether a camera is labeled as “PRO” but look at a cameras capabilities, features and how versatile it is. I said it many times in the past but Olympus makes some of the most versatile cameras EVER. I see so many online who stick by their brands and like to call other brands “toys”  – which I feel is ridiculous. NO camera that is made for enthusiasts use is a toy. That is just ridiculous. ALL cameras at this level are very good to great, and it is hard to make a choice on IQ alone, which is why you must look at everything the camera offers you, how easy it is to operate and what it can do FOR YOU and your photography.

The PEN-F motivates and really makes you want to shoot it.

The new PEN-F even has a cool mode where you can be framing your image with the EVF while using your thumb on the back LCD to move your focus point. AMAZING! These are the things that set Olympus apart from other cameras made today. They are truly the leaders of Innovation with digital imaging and I have said this for years. There is a silent mode as well with a 100% silent shutter. I mean SILENT. This one may have all YOU need.

OOC JPEGS with no PP at all. These were shot in the COLOR WHEEL mode 3, which is simulating the super saturated slide and chrome films of the past. If you want a bold color pop that still looks good (it really does look much like some old slide film) use mode 3 when you have your wheel on COLOR. You choose mode 3 in the super control panel which makes camera settings a BREEZE. 

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AN EVF ON THE PEN, FINALLY! 

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The PEN-F is the first Olympus PEN digital to include an EVF. Something I have wished for since the E-P1. The PEN-F uses the same EVF as the one in the latest E-M10 Mark II. It’s VERY good and I would say in the top 3-4 EVF’s made today with the Leica SL being the best I have ever seen or used. Even so, this one is fantastic and it is so cool to have. My fave way of shooting the PEN-F was to close the LCD (which also has the nice leatherette covering) and just shoot with the EVF, while NOT reviewing the images. Was like shooting film ;) So THANK YOU Olympus for making this one with an EVF!

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SHUTTER  – MECHANICAL OR ELECTRONIC

The new PEN-F has the traditional shutter which can go up to 1/8000S or you can activate the Electronic Shutter and enjoy up to 1/16,000S. When using the E-Shutter the camera is 100% SILENT. Super stealth here. This means that if you want to shoot an f/0.95 lens in the sunlight wide open, it will not be a problem.

This camera has just about every tech feature you can imagine.

PEN-F VS LEICA MONOCHROM? WHAT?!?!?!

When I look back at my Leica MM shots I do not see a major WOW difference between those and what I can get with the PEN-F and a nice fast prime when it comes to B&W tonality. I do see more pop with Leica due to the full frame sensor and $3500 Zeiss lens I used but as for tonality, I slightly prefer the Olympus. Crazy. But I like that Tri-X style and I like to get there easy. ;)

THIS tells me that the new PEN-F is special, and quite the accomplishment from Olympus. I SO can not wait to slap on the Nocticron to this. My guess is that it will be a match made in heaven for Monochrome portrait work.

Being Micro 4/3, it still has that super high ISO/Low Light weakness next to full frame but as long as you do not need ISO 50,000 then the PEN-F just may be all you need. If you need the best high ISO low light performance I would look to a Sony A7S or A7SII.

In black with the new Olympus Grip which is much like an RSS style grip. ITS A MUST if you want more grip ;) 

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Yes, the PEN-F is retro and it is beautiful. It is modeled after the original PEN-F film camera which was a half frame camera to cut down on size but quite cute and attractive in its own right.

The Original Half Frame Film PEN

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The new digital PEN-F uses a new 20MP sensor and it is much more than a pretty face, I can assure you of this. As with all Olympus mirrorless cameras these days, the cameras are mature and the lenses are some of the best out there for ANY system. Sure the sensors are smaller, but these cameras are all about FUN, SMALL SIZE, and FANTASTIC QUALITY in build, feel, control and IQ.

PEN-F, Olympus 17 1.8 Lens (review of the lens is here) – Chrome Color Mode 3 (Super Saturated Slide Film)

Remember, click images for better versions!

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Below are the key things I think make the PEN-F one hell of a camera, and things I have really enjoyed about it in my 2-3 days of non stop shooting…

  • MONOCHROME MODE! On the front of the PEN-F is a chunky metal dial that will switch to different color modes. The new MONOCHROME selection is beautiful and provides quite nice out of camera B&W images. Mode 2 recreates slide film and ALL OF IT is 100% customizable to your tastes. Just a switch of the dial with your finger as you look through the new built in EVF is all it takes to go to go to MONOCHROME, SLIDE/CHROME COLOR, ART FILTERS or STANDARD. 
  • The Exposure Compensation Dial! This is new for Olympus and it is much welcomed. Now you can adjust EV comp on the fly. 
  • Tilt OUT LCD – Just like the E-M5 II, this is great for all kinds of things. Video, Selfies, Vlogging, etc. 
  • Speed – As with all of the current Olympus models, this one is blazing fast to AF with most lenses. 

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  • The new BUILT IN EVF! For the 1st time EVER in a Digital PEN we have a nice big EVF. It is the same EVF as the one in the E-M10II, and it is quite nice. I have been asking for an EVF in a PEN for YEARS, now we have it!
  • DESIGN is gorgeous. Not one visible screw. Classic/Retro design that looks like a classic PEN-F. Olympus did this one justice.
  • IT’S FUN AND JUST WORKS! Olympus PEN cameras have always had something special about them to me. They are fun are fast, and just work. They are small, light and powerful with gorgeous color and overall performance. The new PEN-F is no exception and is probably the funnest PEN yet. 
  • CUSTOMIZATION. The new Monochrome or Chrome settings have three presets each but can be 100% customized to your liking. It’s quite intense at first but once you get the hang of it, then it is quite nice. 
  • Best 5 Axis IS inside and Olympus has THE BEST Image Stabilization on the market 

NEXT THREE IMAGES – THE NEW CHROME/SLIDE COLOR MODE (COLOR MODE 3, Super Saturated Slide) – Olympus 17 1.8

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When in mode 3 using the new Color modes, you are getting CHROME/SLIDE with super enhanced color, just like some old slide film that has HUGE color pop. You can turn that back a tad by going to mode 2 while the front control knob is on COLOR…

Color MODE 2

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I have been shooting the new PEN-F here in Austin with 15 or so other journalists and we all seem to be enjoying it IMMENSELY. After speaking with most of these guys the one thing they all agree on is that the Monochrome mode rocks and the camera is amazingly fun and easy to use, and the results and IQ can be BEAUTIFUL with the right lenses. I can not wait to get my full review unit and put it through paces with lenses like the Nocticron and other fast primes.

Slide Film Mode 3

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The PEN-F construction is special as well. Not ONE screw is visible anywhere on the camera. It is made VERY well with a magnesium alloy base and solid feeling knobs and dials. Nothing on the camera feels cheap and while not built like a Leica M, the build of the PEN series has always been very nice. The PEN-F is even better. lovely.

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JPEG DETAIL 

Again, every image you see here is an out of camera JPEG as there is no RAW support for this camera yet. When RAW support is available I will do an updated post with RAW files and tests. For now, take a look at some detail coming just from the JPEGS!

YOU MUST CLICK IMAGES TO SEE TRUE 100% CROP AND CORRECT SHARPNESS!

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ISO TESTS

With the new 20MP sensor, how does the camera do with high ISO while in low light? Let us see…

1st the whole image..

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Now the 100% crops (no need to click these as they are already 100%)

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Monochrome Modes Explained

The PEN-F has three Monochromatic modes. Mode 1, 2, and 3.

Mode 1 is more of a neutral B&W (click them for much better version)

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MODE 2 has several options with grain and offers a more contrasty Tri-X style of rendering. Below is a samples of Mode 2 with grain off, low, medium and high.

*Must click them for best view*

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Below is Mode 3 which is sort of like an Infrared simulation which is why the images below look like IR with grain and the blowout look. Many love this look, many hate it . ALL OOC JPEGS as with every image in this review. 

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So while the Pen-F offers normal color modes (That I did NOT use here but will add some over the next two days)  it also gives us the Chrome Film simulations and the Monochrome simulations, and I feel these are the best film simulations on any digital camera to date. Easy squeezie to get these results with OOC JPEGS.

Pros and Cons of the Olympus PEN-F

PROS

  1. It’s small, light, but VERY well made
  2. It is GORGEOUS in design and controls
  3. Super customizable
  4. MONOCHROME MODE
  5. SLIDE FILM MODE
  6. Swivel out to the left LCD get for video or Vlogging
  7. New 20MP sensor is fantastic
  8. Some of the best lenses out there are available for this system
  9. Under $1200
  10. NOW A PEN WITH AN EVF!
  11. Control dial on front adds a cool look and is very functional
  12. 5 Axis IS best so far
  13. Touch LCD screen can even change focus point with thumb while viewing through the EVF
  14. Wonderful Image Quality
  15. Decent low light high ISO capabilities though better can be had with some APS-C and Full Frame
  16. Super fast AF, very accurate AF, Fastest I have seen in M 4/3 so far
  17. This is a street shooters DREAM camera, well if not yours, it should be
  18. Exposure Compensation Dial!!! A 1st for Olympus
  19. SO many cool modes – Live Time, Focus Bracketing, Color Controls, Art Filters are still here, so so many things that are so functional that no other cameras have.
  20. Nice quality Leatherette covering, even on the back of the LCD if you want to close it and shoot without it.
  21. SILENT shutter option, and I mean SILENT!
  22. 1/8000 mechanical shutter or 1/16,000 electronic shutter. No problem for fast glass in the daylight.

CONS

  1.  No weather sealing but then again, at this price point and for what it offers I would not expect it to be there.
  2. I would probably prefer large buttons on the back as they are small, and seem hard to push. For example. the focus assist magnify button is very small and she I tried using a manual lens and using magnify I constantly had to take my eye from the EVF to find the button. I am sure after a couple weeks of use it would be second nature though it could have been bigger.
  3. Some of the MONO modes some may consider harsh but it is supposed to be emulating a Tri X style of film. So this is how it is supposed to look. If you wang normal smooth Monochrome, use Mode 1 which will offer less contrast and lighter blacks.
  4. NO MONO MODE IN RAW, only JPEG. But as I said, it is NOT a Monochrome camera, it simulates one very well.

THAT’S IT! It is one of the most “likable” cameras I have ever reviewed.

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My Final Conclusion

This camera is one of those that I love because it has everything I like and really nothing I do not. It’s an inspiration and if you are not a crazed pixel peeping maniac who only views 40-100 MP files at 100% you may not like Micro 4/3. But at the end of the day, Micro 4/3 offers shooters a real alternative to the bulk and size of many Full Frame offerings, even the smaller ones like the Sony A7 series but it does not offer full frame performance in ISO or IQ or DR. It does however keep up with APS-C, and I have proven this in the past with the E-M1. This has a better sensor. What you see here is all OOC JPEGS. My next update will be with RAW (when support is available) but my old E-M1 always did amazing with RAW and this one should be a tad better.

The PEN-F has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled that Olympus created this. There are many PEN fans out there and I feel they will FLIP over this one. I am replacing my old E-P5 with it so yep, I am ordering it even though I have an E-M5 around. I much prefer this to the E-M5 II and what sealed the deal for me was the COLOR DIAL allowing me to go from slide film like color to gorgeous Monochrome or even neutral if I so desired. The new EVF is nice (same one that is in the E-M10 II) and I just really LOVE LOVE LOVE the design here. Olympus outdid themselves and the PEN-F is 100% bonafide winner.

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With that said, for many hardcore enthusiasts and pros it will not replace a full frame camera (it’s not mean to) but for 90% of the camera loving public, it offers much more than most at this price point of around $1200 and if you want a HUGE step up from a smartphone or aging camera (even APS-C), THIS would be the camera I recommend to any and all from now on. Truth be told, if this camera was released in December, it would have been my Camera of the Year 2015 due to everything I just said about it, and the price which is excellent for what you get here. Its small, thin, and so easy to use and shoot. It JUST WORKS!

With its Electronic Shutter which is SILENT and allows up to 1/16,000S shooting or even the normal shutter at 1/8000s you are covered shooting fast glass in sunlight. With its fast AF, 10-20 FPS depending on the shutter mode and even the fantastic video capabilities (that I have not yet tested) along with the best 5 Axis IS in the business, this is a serious camera with a serious fun factor. The best part is that it delivers on all fronts from build to speed to usability to IQ.

The PEN-F will start shipping in March 2016 and will come in at $1199.00. 

Leave a comment below and let me know what YOU think of the new PEN-F!

WHERE TO BUY THE PEN-F & ACCESSORIES?

You can pre-order the PEN-F at B&H Photo & Amazon Below:

Order the PEN-F in Black at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F in Silver at B&H Photo HERE

Order the PEN-F In Silver at Amazon HERE

Order the PEN-F in Black at Amazon HERE

Accessories…

You can order the premium Leather bag at B&H Photo HERE

The grip is available HERE at B&H Photo

The half case is available HERE

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More Samples from the PEN-F!

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Below, with the new 300mm f/4 – THIS IS A DROP DEAD GORGEOUS LENS giving a 600mm FOV and easily hand holdable. 

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FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM OLYMPUS

OLYMPUS’ ICONIC MASTERPIECE: THE NEW PEN-F® COMBINES TIMELESS DESIGN WITH SOPHISTICATED COLOR PROFILE CONTROL FOR THE ULTIMATE STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TOOL

20 Megapixel Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis VCM Image Stabilization, Fully-Customizable Monochrome and Color Profile Control, and Interactive OLED Electronic Viewfinder in a Classic Rangefinder Design

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., January 27, 2016 — Olympus is pleased to announce the PEN-F, a compact system camera created by fusing cutting-edge digital technology with craftsmanship handed down from 80 years of Olympus camera manufacturing. As the digital update of the original PEN-F, the world’s first half-frame SLR, the new PEN-F is packed with incredible performance advancements for photographers seeking superior image quality and creative control. The 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is combined with Olympus’ 5-Axis Image Stabilization, a built-in 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and a new Creative Dial on the front of the camera that accesses a host of controls to deliver a captivating shooting experience, all included in a design that exudes timeless beauty.

Elegant, Meticulous Design
The PEN-F’s classic body lines and silhouette are inherited from its predecessor, which debuted in 1963. The top and front covers of the body are crafted from magnesium, and the precision metal dials (along with the bottom of the body) are crafted from aluminum. Olympus engineers devoted extraordinary resources to ensure superior quality and craftsmanship, so much so that even screws are undetectable on the camera’s exterior. Simple, stylish touches — like the included camera strap and the leather-grained exterior of the camera body and the back of the articulating LCD monitor — provide a unified look and feel. Customizable buttons and dials are positioned for easy operation while the user looks through the viewfinder, and the new Exposure Compensation dial and four custom modes on the Mode Dial offer instant access to registered settings for simple, direct control.

Ultimate Image Quality in Every Situation
The newly-developed 20 megapixel Live MOS Sensor is paired with the latest TruePic™ VII Image Processor to bring out the amazing image quality of Olympus’ M.ZUIKO® lenses. The sensor’s low-pass filterless construction delivers high resolution and a low sensitivity ISO LOW mode equivalent to ISO 80. In addition, the powerful 5-axis VCM (Voice Coil Motor) image stabilization compensates up to 5.0 steps* of shutter speed for one of the world’s highest levels of compensation performance. This technology allows users to capture clear images of night scenes and other low light situations with minimal noise, without raising the ISO. Focal length may be set manually, so that even legacy manual-focus lenses can be image-stabilized. The PEN-F’s High Res Shot Mode captures 50 megapixel equivalent images that reproduce incredible subject detail in ultra-high resolution, perfect for architecture and still life work. Plus, Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 image editing software has been updated to process High Res Shot RAW images.

Complete Freedom of Expression
The PEN-F’s new Monochrome and Color Profile Control functions allow photographers the ability to emulate their favorite films of years past. These functions differ from using photo editing software after shooting, as they allow users to apply and check effects in Live View while shooting to create their own original images. Both functions include quick-select presets designed to give images the look of classic film. Or, settings can be completely customized to achieve specific looks. The camera’s front-mounted Creative Dial accesses Monochrome Profile Control, Color Profile Control, Art Filters, and Color Creator, all with a simple twist.

Monochrome Profile Control combines five photographic effects — Color Filter effect, Shading effect, Film Grain effect, Monochrome Color, and Highlight and Shadow Control — for a variety of monochromatic expressions. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Classic Film Monochrome (Preset 2) for a monochrome film effect with high contrast, and Classic Film Infrared (Preset 3) for an effect that mimics infrared film. In Color Profile Control, users are able to adjust the color saturation of 12 individual colors in 11 steps. This is combined with Highlight and Shadow Control for limitless color expression. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Chrome Film Rich Color (Preset 2), which provides deeper tones in images, and Chrome Film Vivid Saturation (Preset 3), which creates high levels of color saturation. The PEN-F’s rear lever lets users easily toggle through the various effect controls, including Highlight and Shadow Control, a feature that also allows for the adjustment of midtones within plus or minus seven steps for advanced customization.

High-Visibility Interactive Viewfinder
The PEN-F is equipped with a built-in 2.36 million-dot high resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 100-percent field of view and a magnification rate of 1.23x (35mm equivalent: approx. 0.62x) for a clear view without aberrations, even at the edges. Simulated OVF (S-OVF) Mode expands the dynamic range and provides an image similar to what would be seen with the naked eye. The magnified display function and Focus Peaking (which offers three levels and four colors) allow for extremely precise lens focusing. In addition, the PEN-F’s vari-angle, touch-enabled LCD monitor lets users compose Live View shots from a variety of angles, high or low.

Super-Fast Response for Comfortable Shooting
The PEN-F features blazing-fast speed with the shortest shutter-release time lag of any compact system camera** at 0.044 seconds. The 1/8000-second, high-speed mechanical shutter provides superior performance for capturing fast action, and shutter functions can be customized according to the scene. Silent Mode is useful for shooting in situations that require complete silence, and Anti-Shock Mode allows users to prevent shutter shake. The AF Targeting Pad enhances control by allowing users to set focus points by touching the rear monitor with their thumb while composing their shot in the viewfinder. Face Priority AF and Eye Priority AF detect and continuously adjust the focus on faces or eyes for easier portrait shooting. Enhancing the detail of every shot is AF Target Spot Metering, which links the AF Target and the metering area, while Super Spot AF and Small Target AF make it possible to focus on small subjects.

The PEN-F offers additional compatibility with users’ legacy lenses by enabling them to register the information of lenses without electronic contacts for inclusion in images’ EXIF data. The lens information may be recalled with the press of a button. Up to 10 lenses can be registered, including the lens name, focal length and aperture value.

Even More Creative Control
Other creative features include Live Composite Mode, which allows users to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture incredible cityscapes and star trails. With the PEN-F’s built-in Wi-Fi®, users can utilize the Olympus Image Share app for Android® and Apple® to adjust settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops in real time on a smartphone or tablet. In 4K Time Lapse Movie, the camera captures up to 999 images automatically at intervals ranging from one image every second to one image every 24 hours, and combines them into a stunning high-resolution 4K video, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.

For those who enjoy macro photography, Focus Bracketing captures multiple shots at the touch of a button, all with slightly different focus depths. The new Live View Boost 2 makes it possible to easily focus and compose shots while checking visible stars in Live View. The PEN-F’s high-speed sequential shooting capabilities let users capture all the action at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 5 fps with C-AF, and an extraordinary 20 fps with Silent Mode.
Premium Leather Accessories
Optional accessories include the External Metal Grip (ECG-4) that lets users replace the battery without removing the grip, featuring a Quick Shoe Compatible Rail on the bottom for direct connection to a compatible tripod head. Premium-quality leather accessories are also available in limited quantities. The Premium Leather Shoulder Strap (CSS-S120L PR) features high-quality leather with a two-tone design and a thickness that helps reduce shoulder strain. A Premium Leather Wrapping Cloth (CS-48 PR) made of finely textured genuine leather is perfect for wrapping the entire camera with a large lens attached. The Premium Leather Camera Bag (CBG-11 PR) is a compact, genuine leather camera bag produced under the direction of AJIOKA Co., Ltd., a Japanese leather manufacturer, with thorough attention to details including pockets, a shoulder pad, and shoulder strap. The Genuine Leather Body Jacket (CS-47B) is designed to protect the bottom of the Olympus PEN-F from bumps and scratches.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The PEN-F is available now for an estimated street price of $1,199.99 (U.S.) and $1,499.99 (Canada).

  261 Responses to “The NEW Olympus PEN-F Camera Review. Just. Wow.”

  1. Great review Steve,I already have the Omd1 and various Olympus lenses including the 75mm which is a gem but now I’m 99 pcnt.sold on the Pen F which I’m going to look at tomorrw.My main reason for getting it would be the B/W mode as I like the idea of creating the tonal range and grain on camera.Just one question, will the resulting image be in any way better than what I might achieve in PP work using Nik software?

    • Well, the in camera BW is so customizable – I think Olympus said there are thousands of looks/combos one can create. The OOC BW vs PP thought is tough to say. In camera would be much quicker ;)

  2. Steve, I think you have answered my question. It sounds like I’ll have more fun shooting this when “out and about” owing to the size/fun factor of the Pen. If the IQ is in line with a Fuji X then it may be worth adding to my kit. So, are you buying one yourself still?

  3. Steve, Love the detailed review. Thanks for “keepin it real” and more importantly interesting. You are in a category of one my friend.

    Now for my question: You successfully got me to buy a Sony A7S (best camera ever in my opinion) and the equally stunning RX1R. So..

    Do you feel that I can be satisfied with this Pen? I’m into the style, portability of the device and love street shooting & travel. At the end of the day I want the images to be stunning. Can I get close-ish to the quality of the Sony’s with this device or am I going to be disappointed?

    • After the Sony, you will probably not be 100% thrilled with the IQ. While fantastic, and very good, you do get spoiled by full frame and the A7s has some fantastic abilities. With that said, I still love the PEN even though I shoot full frame. It’s fun, small, lenses are all very good and tiny, its a blast to shoot and the color is so nice. Its fast, and offers a unique experience with its B&W mode, Chrome mode, etc. In fact, its more fun to shoot over a full frame due to size, style, speed and fun factor. IQ will not match your Sony but it will not be far behind.

  4. Love your review, love the camera, love the specs, love the mono… I have to rule it out (and it’s killing me) because I one a single camera that can also shoot video, but this has no mic jack? Why would Olympus think of everything except that? I guess it’s back to the EM1

  5. Steve, been following your blog for a while now. Used it to get my original M8 which I still have (can still match most cameras at low ISO today), then the M9 which I have held since 2011. I have been in the market for a companion to my M9 or just a spare rangefinder but did not want to spend the money buying another M body. The M8 now sits with my daughter was her 18 yo birthday gift. My dad owned a film Olympus back in the 70’s and I always had this nostalgic connection to these cameras. I saw your review of the OM-D E5Mk11 and was close in buying it. What stopped me was that for me I love the feel of a rangefinder. Its all personal right and its about the connection with the tool that allows you to capture the world through your own eyes. I read up all the technical reviews but for me its all about the feeling when you hold the camera. I have read all the comments in this post and I feel people spend a lot of time arguing or debating technical details and not being the tool for what it is. If you are a pro then you probably have to focus on technical but for most of us amateurs its about the passion of capturing a special moment. I think I better get to the point or I will write an essay… I guess I love rangefinders so I went and looked at the Pen F… 2 hours later I bought it. I found it a joy to use and the photos are beautiful. Bought the 75mm f1.8 and the 25mm f1.8. Happy times :-) Thanks for the post.

    By the way… that Leica SL… I need to sell my car soon…

  6. Hi Steve! Thanks for a great review. I managed to get my hands on one of this at my local camera store with an Olympus rep from the Uk. It certainly is a beautifully crafted and well made camera and a far cry from some of plasticy DSLR’s on offer today. It is a camera that would inspire me to pick it and go out and shoot with it and for me that is a very important factor. Just to reiterate what you said in your review regarding the b&w and col mode dial that although there are three standard settings for each of these, they can be fully manipulated in many ways (contrast, colour filters and grain) . The olympus rep said that there are over 1000 configurations to each mode. With that in mind I’m pretty sure you could emulate any look or feel you wanted. I want this camera, I’m not sure I need it (I already have the E-M5 MII) but through hook or through crook I will buy one this year and it WILL get properly used. Thanks again for your review, very much appreciated. I have seen some comments on here would frustrate even the most patient of us but you have answered them well.

  7. The #1 burning question on my mind these days is PEN-F monochrome mode 2 vs Fuji X-PRO2 Acros simulation – I want to see comparisons!

  8. Pen F vs. Leica Q
    Thank you for your “Down to Earth” reviews. I am (or was) about to buy a Leica Q until I saw a comparison of the image quality/resolution on dPreview – is the Pen F rearly that good…….

  9. Thank you for the great review and photos. I cannot wait to get mine.
    I’m taking the family on a ski trip the week before it ships. Any idea where I can get one before the 5th? I’d love to break it in on the mountain.

  10. Some time ago you tried some Leica glass on an older Olympus and anything under 50mm was somewhat disappointing. Does this experience still hold for the Pen-F with the new sensor?

    • I would never use Leica glass on Micro 4/3 for anything but a test. Due to the doubling of the FL it is a waste IMO. The WA test was on a Sony Full Frame though, not Oly.

  11. Steve, I’ve been waiting to upgrade from an old Canon EOS Rebel for several years. This review convinced me to quit waiting and get on with it. Not only does it have the features, but I love the look.
    I’m curious what you’d recommend as a good all around lenses to start with.

    • Im a prime lens guy so I would go with whatever focal length suits you best. For some it would be 35 or 50, which means a 17 or 25. Olympus has a lovely 17 and 25 as does Panasonic. I love the Olympus 7-14, 17 1.8, 25 1.8, 75 1.8. I love the Panasonic 25 1.4, Nocticron and 15 1.7.

  12. Hello Steve, thank you very much for your very clear review of the PEN-F.
    I have a question: is it possible to shoot raw only and then make in-camera raw conversions while keeping the raw file, too?
    Thanks a lot again!

  13. Steve, love the review. Quite thorough and quite on point. I am a longtime digital Olympus user and was excited to pre-order the Pen-F. I got it last week and even though I’ve only had it out on the streets for a long Sunday photo walk just once, I totally agree with everything you’ve outlined in your review. If I had a blog like yours I would’ve written the very same review. I really love this camera even from the first time I held it in my hands in the store. This is my kind of photographic tool! I haven’t tried all the functionality by a long shot BUT am going to LOVE exploring its capabilities. I am looking forward to a whole lot of fun using it and to the creation of some great street images.

  14. Hi Steve, very nice review. I think you give very thorough and honest reviews that we can rely on.

    Ok, so I own a GX7 and want to upgrade. I would consider the GX8 but it seems to defeat the purpose of M43 i.e. compactness. Would you go for the new Pen F or the EM5 mark 2? Price would not be the issue.

  15. Hi Steve, nice review, I was very excited to get to try the F for a few hours in NYC recently. The camera control and usability are very nice, although a bit heavy for its size. I did print a few jpeg black and whites, which turned out to be very lack luster. On screen they looked better but in even smaller print, 8 X 10, they lacked any mid tones and any details in shadows or highlights. I have to say even older camera’s like x100t have much better black and white photos, jpeg B and W red filter. This would have been my main use for this camera since I enjoy black and white and do not want to spend 7,000 on a Leica mono, as a fun gimmick camera. I’m hoping the xpro 2 will do the trick but I haven’t had a chance to try that camera yet and it’s a bit larger than I was hoping for. Not sure how anyone can compare the micro 4/3 to the best apsc sensors out there though. The poor shadow detail, hopefully converting from raw helps. Unfortunately I was not impressed with Olympus’s jpegs and not sure how anyone can state they have more or even close to the same dynamic range as new larger sensors, not 2 or 3 year old sensors. Would be an interesting comparison between the xpro 2 and the f, my bet is the xpro 2 and a6300 have better DR, more details and better high ISO. It’s ashame since the f is a looker, nice controls and feels built well, just doesn’t do it for me with image quality. Although there was no way to test raw so only based on jpegs from a short period of time. For people questioning the autofocus, it’s not a tracking monster but has no issue quickly locking on a target. For Nikon folks it’s more a d610 for tracking and d810 for acquiring focus on center point moving objects than a d4. This is only true with object moving across the screen, struggles more with objects quickly moving towards you, than only center point focus works ok. But very impressive for a camera it’s size a big step forward from my x100t.

    • The key is “tried for a few hours”. To get the files right with any camera one needs to work with them for at least 2-3 weeks to dig in and pull the best results. I guarantee you there will be stunning B&W prints made from this camera ;) Never judge a camera from a couple hours of use. But thank you for your thoughts! Only time will tell.

  16. Hi Steve, great review, it was a nice read from Italy!
    With pen-f can you move af point zone using the 4 keys rear selector as on m5 II?
    The shutter release lag time is the same on M5 MII?
    Thanks!

  17. Thanks for the awesome review Steve! Been a reader here for quite a long while and this is the first review that had me convinced to actually go out and buy something. It’s apparently the first day the Pen-F arrived in stores here in Singapore and I’m guessing I’m actually one of the first fortunate few to have bought one.

    Just set it up and transferred some test files to my Mac and I must say that the files look very good indeed. As someone who has gone through a whole gamut of cameras, compact to full frame, this is definitely going to meet my needs (i.e. a small lightweight setup with quick AF to shoot my little toddler). Can’t wait to put this little beast through it’s paces!

  18. not having a DSLR since the change from film, I’ve been using a Nikon Coolpix, but recently, decided to stop messing about and go for a high end digital. DSLR’s are too big, super-zoom compacts too small and not enough ‘control’. Have always had Nikons, the only Olympus was the ‘trip’ back in the 70’s, Discovering mirrorless in my search for something more compact but with changeable lenses, I was erring on either the PEN EPL7 or Sony a5000, until now. But which one, the PEN F or the OM-D 5 mkII? Thanks for a fabulous review, it certainly helps to decide… now just need to compare the 2 live (in hand) before deciding…

  19. Hi Steve
    So it was your advice a few years ago that convinced me to get the EM-5. Now, with about 5 lenses in, I’m thinking of trading in the body and upgrading to a newer Olympus body with the MUCH better tech. I mostly use it for when we go away for the weekend, or out and about with friends and family, and especially during my annual *big* trips.
    Now, with that in mind, would you recommend the EM-10 II or this? They both look like solid investments – one I’m especially looking forward to using during a trek through New Zealand later this year. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

  20. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines looking at camera reviews for several years. This is the first camera I’ve seen that I actually want to purchase. Thinking of pairing it with the Olympus 25mm 1.8 for a very simple setup. Thank you for another excellent review.

  21. GREAT review as usual Steve! I think people are missing the point. I used to lug around a sexy DSLR and all the very high end glass….tooks some amazing pictures as well. I ended up going in the complete opposite direction…slowly downgrading to a simple Canon point and shoot for convenience. I just got tired of lugging the gear around, and taking things soooo seriously. It lost the fun for me.

    Fast forward to today…and I miss having a nice camera to shoot with. And now with cameras like the amazing Micro 4/3 offerings over the years from Oly, Panasonic, Fuji and the likes….guys like me are being sucked back in to getting a camera that not only takes great pictures (I-do’t-do-this-for-a-living-great)…allows for use of high quality glass…and looks absolutely stunning……all in a very small and convenient package.

    Brilliant work Olympus…this one will be with me for years to come.

  22. Hi Steve, How does this rate against the Leica M8 APC sensor camera?

    • M8? The M8 is awful when compared to anything today if you want to go past base ISO. Or past ISO 640. The M8 is great at base ISO, in good light. It is not good in low light or past ISO 640. The PEN will have superior DR, ISO, and color and be much more versatile.

  23. Hello Steve

    Thank you for the review. I wanted to ask you about Subject tracking. Were you able to evaluate that? If so, how did it fare? What are the pros and Cons against the OM-D 5 Mark II?

    Thank you

    André

  24. Thanks, Steve. Loved your review. As far as monochrome is concerned (not counting Leica), I think the Ricoh GR can’t be beat. Also because of the APS-C sensor. Next week, there’s a presentation of the PEN-F in the photography museum here in Amsterdam/The Netherlands. I will attend and see how it feels and performs. Cheers, Ron.

  25. An earlier comment about a vertical format reminiscent of the original half-frame Pen F has given me an intriguing thought. Why doesn’t Olympus/Panasonic, in future, develop an 18x18mm sensor so that with the flick of a switch the user could select vertical (portrait) format, horizontal (landscape) format, or a nifty square (mini Hasselblad!) format with extra pixels to boot! No change to lenses required. What do you think?!?

  26. Love the look but having handled one for 15 minutes or so (my local store has a resident Oly rep) that front dial ruins the handling and unless a grip is made for this a deal breaker for me. The dial gets in the way of gripping the camera properly and will dig into the middle finger after a few minutes holding the camera, and that was with the 45mm 1.8 so I can imagine using a heavier lens it will break through the skin. Just keep that in mind before ordering one online, go and handle it for a few minutes with a medium size lens and you’ll see what I mean, pity Steve in his enthusiasm didn’t mention this but every person I know who’s handled it has said the exact same thing.

    • As shown there is a grip made for it from Olympus. Also, no one I spoke with who used it extensively said the dial ruins the grip, at all. In real use, the dial is a non issue if held correctly, unless you have giant hands. If so, the grip will fix that quite easily.

  27. Hi Steve. As usual, thanks for the informative and down to earth reviews. Which lenses do you think pair well with this exciting body?

  28. Hi Steve, since you own both, do you know if there is a way to emulate the ‘Color Mode 3’ using the commands on the E-M1? I absolutely LOVE that color rendering, and it would be great to use it without spending extra bucks on a new camera (just for the moment…)

    • No, no way to emulate that. With any luck, Olympus will add it to the next FW update for all others, but I am not so sure they will as its a feature of the PEN-F and probably what is to come next.

  29. imo, as a loooooong time street shooter, the choice to abandon the flip-up lcd in favor of the articulating swivel is a mistake . . . . it may offer some advantages, but as a tool to be used for street shooting stills it is unquestionably misguided . . . . . i’d be curious to hear ANY argument to the contrary . . . . . .

    • I have been on a street shooting marathon in India. I carried both an old OMD with a up and down articulating screen and the OMD EM5 II with a fully articulating screen. The up and down moving screen is no match for a fully articulating screen in my opinion. The biggest benefit I find when using a fully articulating screen is that I can take very candid pictures in street without ever facing in the direction of my subject. This feature alone has kept me away from the Fujis for so long. And yeah the touch screen, but that’s besides the point :-)

  30. Thank you for the in-depth write up. I really want one now. New to this sized sensor. So what’s the equation for Mirco 4/3 for lens equivalency? If APC-C is 1.5 * x , what’s this? What lens would you recommend for a new Oympus mount shooter?

  31. Hi Steve,

    I got to handle a pen-f on Friday (there was an olympus rep in Jessops on Oxford Street in London). It is a beautifully made camera. Very comfortable to hold. Its light weight, but not in a cheap or hollow way (just compared to my Nikon Df and Bronica etr!!!). The viewfinder was great, it felt on par with the Sony a7ii. Though for some reason I could see the whole of the screen better (that might be my mind playing tricks on me!). I loved that you could flip the screen over and not see it. I wish all digital cameras were like that.

    I’ve never used a micro 4/3 camera before, but I think I’ll be owning one soon after trying out the pen-f. I want a back up to my Df and I don’t want to carry the weight of another Df (its the only dslr body I like) and I’ve owned a x-pro-1 and a Sony a7ii, both produce great pictures but had there downsides (the xpro-1 took more work in lightroom to get me my final image and the Sony would hunt a lot with af lenses and the body was just functional, it didn’t get my creative juices flowing).

    Apart from being a back up to my Df, the pen-f is likely to be my walkabout and travel camera too. I want to start with a 50mm eqv. lens. I was wondering does the m4/3 viogtlander 25mm f/0.95 have a similar look to the 50mm f/1.5vm? I love that lens and it would be amazing if I could replicate it on the pen-f.

    Thank you for sharing your first impressions of the pen-f. I always enjoy reading previews/reviews, even on cameras and lenses that I have no intention of buying. As they are always done in real world terms, and not scores and test charts. Just how photography should be.

  32. thanks for the quality review, Steve. I’m a hobbyist with a critical eye but shoot just about everything. I’m drawn to this by its sexiness, size, and ability to output great images. That being said, can the 10-20 FPS be put to good use shooting some middle aged kids soccer games, etc – with the right lens, of course. e.g. 40-150, 2.8? I haven’t read anything about the auto focus speed and tracking and ability to nail moving subjects. Again, I’m not making money shooting these but I’m the unofficial-official photographer of my kid’s soccer teams ;-) As a point of reference, I’m using a Canon 6d with with a 70-200, 2.8. Not a great sports camera by any means but I still manage some great captures and nail focus 85%+ of the time using single AF point. Sports isn’t my number one priority but its important and I will disqualify a camera if I cannot make it work. My favorite shooting is family, travel, and landscape.

  33. I would love some good black & white modes. I used to shoot Ilford XP2 Super. While I could shoot RAW and endlessly fiddle with settings inside a photo developer app to get nice b&w pictures, there’s something to be said about shooting JPEGs.

    I’m no pro photographer. I never did dark room stuff back in the film days. Ultimately, I would like to keep editing and tweaking to a bare minimum. And good JPEGs out of the box has always been a stepchild of digital cameras — Olympus always seems to do good, mostly in color modes.

    Of course, the “dark room” — RAW developing — will always have its place, but is it a must for most people? In the film days, selecting a specific film was a very simple aspect in the creativity of taking a picture with my camera. Coupled with the personal choice of camera and lens. And finally, choosing the kind of photo paper you’d like your pictures on. This hasn’t changed much, because people now use their favorite filters on their smartphones. People like simple, and they like their choices to be simple. Most people don’t want to endlessly tweak.

    In the age of digital, there is no separation of camera and film anymore, of course. You choose Fuji digital camera if you like the Fuji film simulations. And the same goes for Olympus, etc. This is not a bad thing. Although I do think there are not a whole lot of people who choose a brand because they like the specific JPEG output. But ultimately, I do think that having very distinctive creative color modes is what most people want. A simple choice of film — or a filter — at a specific moment in time and place and that’s the picture — a snapshot in time with a creative choice that is baked in time. Which is why I think this focus of Olympus on these color modes, and especially great B&W is really not bad. The Pen F seems like a camera for me.

  34. The elephant in the living room here is the X-Pro 2. From what I’ve read of the 20 MP Micro 43 sensor (both on the Pen-F and the GX8), it’s lucky to compete with X-Trans II (16 megapixel) – this makes sense – the newer sensor with extra resolution is making up ground that it loses due to small size. In straight out of camera JPEGs of subjects with modest dynamic range, it’s hard to judge the difference. The X-Pro 2, however, has a sensor two or three generations newer than the older Fujis (one generation newer than this sensor) with 50% more pixels. Early reviews suggest amazing image quality.
    It’s also got the two big body features missing from the PEN-F – weathersealing and phase detection AF. It’s missing the IBIS, which is too bad (Olympus’ “Hand of God” IBIS is truly amazing). Yes, the X-Pro 2 IS more expensive, but the camera I most often see its image quality compared to is the Nikon D750! Not the D7200 (APS-C, same resolution, but a slightly older sensor), BUT the FULL-FRAME 24 MP D750. The only camera anyone seems to be able to pull out that beats the X-Pro 2 consistently in image quality (apart from nutty comparisons like Phase backs – which I haven’t seen) is the much higher resolution A7rII.
    Olympus has ALWAYS made lovely bodies (and some nice lenses), although I have to say this one doesn’t appeal as much, due to the lack of weathersealing and the non-reassignable Instagram dial. What’s let them down is image quality. I’ve used both 16 MP Olympus and 16 MP Fuji extensively, and I can get about a full extra print size out of the Fuji. This sensor would have to be quite a bit better than its predecessor to catch the OLDER generation of Fuji, then the X-Pro 2 comes along!

    • I saw that new Fuji 24mp xtrans is still mushing the green foliage all to hell. A real deal breaker for anybody wanting a serious camera for landscapes.

  35. Ah great review and amazing camera which makes me want to shoot again. Now… is it worth selling my EM1 for this? Something tells me I will enjoy the new pen much more…

  36. This camera is what I’ve been waiting for.

    I’m heading to Rome/Greece in the fall and this camera with a few primes will be with me.

    Thanks for the great review.

  37. It’s probably just me, but I would have preferred a flip up/down LCD screen like the one on my EM-5.
    I don’t see the use of a camera opening up like a book and doubling its width, forcing you to view left when in fact you’re shooting straight ahead. Not very stealthy either. And of course I don’t care zilch for videos or selfies. BUT… nevertheless I must have one of these – once I managed to decide between the chrome or the black one.

  38. Hi Steve
    First post here, but I have been listening in for a while. I love the full frame quality both in stills and video I’m getting from my Mark II Sony A7’s and have a good collection of FE glass, But this PENN has that undefinable weekend ‘FUN’ factor somehow missing from the Sony’s and has got me interested.
    I really don’t want to get into another system so just for a one off 2 lens kit purchase what two lenses would you pic?

    hello and thanks

  39. Hi Steve, great pre-review! Owning a EM5 (I), thinking of upgrading, question I have is whether going for EM5 (II) or this one? Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • They are comparable in IQ and output so would depend on if you wanted the DSLR style body of the E-M5II or the thin RF styled body of the PEN. Id go PEN for me, but some would maybe prefer the OM-D

      • Steve,
        you did a nice comparison between em1 and em5 mk 2.
        Owning an E-M5 (Love it), I plan to upgrade (screen, EVF, buffer, many points I think are better in the mk2)
        I am more on the mk2 side vs e-m1. Old Nikon FM11 I guess as my first dive into the photo world :) big/bulky DSLR form factors are not my taste :s
        So I would go for em5 2, but this one is soooo temtping.
        Can you tell me if
        1. same buffer as em5 II?
        2. same EVF as EM1/EM5 2?
        3. same specs as EM5 2?
        4. low light: you said Em1 operates better in low light (do you think it is firmware?)
        5. low light: does the em5 mk 2 handle low light better?
        6. I don’t go high on ISOS (well, 3200 max), I have oly 45mm 1.8, do you think going nocticron 1.2 would solve that “low light” limit?
        7. AF speed: same as em5 2? (faster than the e-m5?)
        8. can it handle as well big lenses as the em5 2? (the em 1 is more balanced for these, but I am okay with that)
        9. Image stabilisation: same as in e-m5 mark 2? or not that good?

        Thank you very much!!!!

        • Well, Olympus was supposed to send a PEN-F to me weeks ago for follow up, they never did. So from memory…

          1. Better from what I was told
          2. Same EVF as E-M10 II
          3. All New sensor, so not same as E-M5 II
          4. Not firmware, just the sensor and camera. Both are very close.
          5. No, this operates in low light just as well
          6. Sure, the faster the lens the better for low light.
          7. Seems about the same
          8. I am not aware of any large lenses for M 4/3, except maybe the 300mm f/4 which was usable on the PEN-F. Huge, but usable, and fun.
          9. Should be the same.

          • Thanks for your answers!
            However, and you are not responsible for this :) this is not helping me.
            I was going for the em5 ii, but it is not that cheap yet, and the pen F looks also fun and less “sovietic”, if you see what I mean. looks like a weapon more than an art object.
            So, if guts are similar, … ouch.
            Weathersealed could be an issue, but I use non weatherproof lenses, and plan to buy other non weatherproof ones, so not sure if it is worth it.
            Video (no mic possible) could be an issue (not sure about it).
            same 5 axis stab,
            fast AF,
            fast booting,
            good buffers.
            The evf is my doubt: I read this
            “Both cameras sport excellent 2.36-million-dot electronic viewfinders. But the E-M5 II’s is larger, making it easier to compose your images”
            “One key area where the cameras differ is focus point selection when shooting with the viewfinder. The E-M5 II uses its d-pad, whereas the PEN-F is set up to use the touchscreen. But if you’re a left-eyed shooter, you might find that your nose contacts the touchscreen, inadvertently resetting the focus point.”

            “One key area where the cameras differ is focus point selection when shooting with the viewfinder. The E-M5 II uses its d-pad, whereas the PEN-F is set up to use the touchscreen. But if you’re a left-eyed shooter, you might find that your nose contacts the touchscreen, inadvertently resetting the focus point.”

            And the sensor: the pen F ships the most recent sensor, which will probably come in the E-M1 II

            I am still confused ;-)

  40. A nice choice for street photography! Really like the fact you can do away with the back screen as well.

  41. I can’t see a lever to change AF mode. Like the Panasonic GM5, GX8 or Fuji’s. On the OMD I had setup the A/B switch to change between them. Looks like unless you have one of the “snap focus” lenses, you can’t do that on the Pen F. Given all the retro this/that and all the dials, I wish Olympus would have put that in.

  42. The design and concept looks inspired on Pentax qs1 (with evf).

  43. Great review a lot of effort went into this. I have different cameras for different subjects. Xt1, Nikon 5300, epl7. I use the Nikon for macro as it’s so much easier to use. I use the the epl7 with a long lens as its so compact and image stabilised. I might ditch the Fuji as I haven’t used it for a while. I never use art filters b/w simulations etc. All my work is recorded in JPEG/raw. Mostly I use the JPEG, but about 30% have to be tweaked in raw, (PS CC LR) Especially when nailing white balance, or processing to b/w. Would I buy the Olympus. Well of course, if I had the spare cash. Would I buy a Nikon D800. No, it’s too heavy.

  44. Nice to move out of the $10,000 + reviews. I might trade my OMD10 IN. I’LL WAIT for your next review of this camera in a few weeks.

    Great review thanks steve
    Bob in chicago

  45. thank you for this great review steve ! could you please tell me which lens you used for this pic ?

    http://i1.wp.com/www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/300.jpg

    be well !

  46. The original E-M1 really put the fun back into digital photography for me. I’d never heard of micro 4/3, but instantly liked the form factor and use of adapted lenses.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the quality of lenses is on-par with any APS-C camera – the Pen led to me buying an OM-D EM-5 which I used happily for over three years.

    I’ve printed huge canvases from that camera with tons of detail and dynamic range, I think anyone considering trying out these cameras should take the plunge! So small and light, and such kick ass quality… very hard to fault! This looks great.

  47. Hi Steve.Thanks for this preview. Just one observation: what is that near the battery door?is this a punch ?Is the camera so fragile like the ep1 i own

    • This was a sample that has been traveled around and handed around from CES to Olympus Employees to all the crowd at CES. It’s been around the block a few times. When it was given to me for this event it already had the dent, no idea how it got there.

  48. Hi!

    Great review.

    I had a PEN EP-3 and have an EP-5. I use it with 1980’s macro lenses on flowers and insects. The flippable external viewfinder made it possible to use this camera with great precision up to ground level. To my extremely big disappointment, the viewfinder is now built in, which makes it unsuitable for this kind of photography.

    Two years ago, I got annoyed by the great amount of chrome noise of the PEN EP-5 and stopped photographing digital. I now use a Canon F1 with a Speedfinder.

    I won’t buy another M4/3rds camera, now, instead I’ll go for the Sony A7S for its absence of noise, that is, if I ever get back interested in digital.

    I must say, the EP-5 and viewfinder and a 200mm macro were an absolute killer combination. It taught me how to do interesting macro. I advise anyone who wants to do serious macro to get an EP-5, external viewfinder and a Canon FD 200mm macro or such.

    Now, for another camera with flippable viewfinder. I think small chance of that… The flippable LCD is no good, not big and accurate enough, I tried it.

    my website is http://www.kridmod.zenfolio.com, if you want to see what a PEN is capable of in macro.

    Bye,

    Dirk.

  49. Moving to 4/3’s or even the Fuji sized sensors is all about ‘feel’. The best camera is the one you have with you, and if the 4/3’s or Fuji will put the camera in your hands more frequently and enhance your shooting experience, great. I normally use an Olympus EP-2 and absolutely love the shooting experience, are the images as good as my Nikon D600? Probably not, but its the camera that I have. The feel of the Olympus equipment is fantastic and a pleasure to use. I would like to see how this stands up to the Fuji and then compared to the EM-1.

  50. Hi Steve
    I’m a long time user and lover of the Pen series from the very start. Does the new art filter set up still offer the original type Black and White conversions as in PEN 1 onwards in addition to the new more advanced Tri X options etc? I can’t seem to find any reference to that but the original art filter B&W in itself was so good!

  51. Mirrorless Mirrorless on the wall… whats the most useless feature of them all…

    Why are we building cameras to compete with iPhonography? You don’t have to be a purist to realise this isn’t a flattering grey area to be in…

    • Whats wring with building a camera like this? It’s actually smart as the MASS public would buy this over most DSLRs or other cameras for its style and features. If you do not want one like this, you have PLENTY of choices elsewhere, even with the E-M1. Choice is good.

  52. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Do you see anything in that camera the A7II with Zeiss lenses couldn’t do?
    Or even an old Om1 with film?

    Thank you,
    Regards.

    • Sony A7II, A7SII and A7RII are the superior cameras, no question. The Micro 4/3 sensors can not match ANY full frame sensor for quality (noise, depth, dr, etc) – so if quality of the final image is your top priority, the Sony wins.

      If convenience, size, speed, and cool factor are more important, along with top Micro 4/3 IQ (which is excellent but different from FF) then the PEN or any other Oly Micro 4/3 will be great.

  53. Hello, thanks for the review look awesome, if I had just not bought a e-m5 mark ii that would be it. I am not like most people here I really like the Tri-X look and feel, any idea if they plan to make it available for my e-m5 via a firmware update?

  54. It is a nice camera, but Olympus came to late for me. At the time of my entry into mirrorless, Sony had the cheaper gear with the larger sensor, the better AF, the focus peaking and the EVF where I like it.

  55. Well I am confused about all these models. What is the difference between the E-M1, M5 etc and the PEN-F? The sensor size? Why buy a E-M1? Why is the E-M1 better?
    The PEN-F looks so nice, but you did not mention hos good the focus is. Is it as good as the Sony a6000? Is it good enough for fast street photography? Or is the Ricoh GRII faster and better for street? And the Leica Q, is the Leica faster for street? For high ISO? What about low-light focusing? Does it hunt? Is it as good as my EOS 5DIII in low light?
    The IQ awaits answer, until we get RAW ability, but I feel 20 MP is overkill, they should have kept it at 16 MP and improved the dynamic range and high ISO. But please Steve, lets us know if the camera is good, and not just small, sexy and beautiful :)

    • E-M1 is the PRO Olympus model. It is built to the best standard, wether sealed and shock, freeze and everything proof :) It has a high quality everything about it. Top of the line. The E-M5 II is like a mini E-M1 but smaller, not built to the same standard but still gives the same IQ and control and features. Just a lighter weight build. The PEN-F continues the PEN tradition of cool design, fun factor, and is just a smaller slimmer design with massive MOJO. All will give equivalent IQ and color. The PEN is the 1st to feature the new color mode and mono mode features. All are fantastic, none are bad.

    • They’re pretty much all the same except for body shape. The difference between 16mp and 20mp is zippo. And none do 4k video.

  56. Hi Steve, yours is the first review I’ve read of this camera that really highlights what Olympus are trying to do with the camera. That is to say, a real attempt at a monochrome styled shooter that does colour as well. No other review really hit home that side of the deal for me.

    I’ve said in a few other reviews that I’m not totally sold on the design. Don’t get me wrong, I do like it, a lot. But It seems a long way away from the sleek loveliness of the original PEN-F. I’m not sure it needs all those dials if I’m honest. But that’s just me. Maybe I’m being too romantic and nostalgic? I’m sure once I try one I’ll want it.

    This might be one of those camera where version 2 streamlines some of the quirks and irons out fluff that isn’t needed……

  57. Congratulations Steve, in getting the first review of the Pen F. I went to the launch yesterday in London to look over the camera and I have to agree with you that this is a huge advance over previous Pen cameras and I have had the E-P1, E-P3 and now the E-P5 with VF4.

    Having the inbuilt EVF is reason enough to buy the new Pen F but there is so much more to this camera than that. It is so customisable with regard to picture quality and you have elaborated on that in your review, it even has configurable tone curve adjustment before you take the picture as well as being able to tweek individual color sensitivity. You can make the o/p to your own personal taste.

    It really is a gorgeous design and feels great in the hand. Olympus made a serious error in the E-P5 in not making the grip interchangeable as was in the E-P3 but they have changed that now with the Pen F making it an add-on which will make it more comfortable for those with bigger hands.

    Think this will be a future classic.

    Look fwd to your full review.

  58. Steve,

    what options are available for customizing the monochrom filter? Can
    I adjust the graduation curve and also the sensitivity of the color channels?

    Thanks!

  59. Steve

    Thanks for a long review with lots of images. I have just sold my E-M10 and considering what to get to replace my E-M5. I have also used E-P1, E-P3 and E-PL1 so familiar with both OM-D and PEN styles both normal and light versions.

    What I might have missed in your review (Apologies skimmed late here in the UK and then got up at dawn to try and photograph the planetary alignment from the local beach at pre dawn) is whether the new sensor has no anti-alias filter (Believe this is one differentiator with the E-M1) This combined with the new sensor could explain the improvement seen over say E-M5 or E-M10 (Mark 2 versions)

    I read a lot of reviews and also looked at a lot of samples yesterday evening and I could see a small improvement in image quality based on the Jpeg samples posted but only very small. This is not unexpected as the sensor size is only a moderate increase of 25%. What was surprising and a little disappointing is the Jpeg engine is the same as the current OM-D’s.

    For High ISO the samples I have seen show again a very small gain over the OM-D’s. Rumour is the sensor is as per the GX8 and looking at lab testing there is minimal difference in terms of High ISO and Dynamic Range between the GX8 and E-M10’s (Both Mk1 and Mk2) This matches the findings of other well known reviewers.

    What I think is fantastic is the front dial and the monochrome and the chrome colour options. This is a fantastic addition, combined with the lack of anti-alias filter and also the increase real estate of 20 Megapixels. What I am not clear on is whether the viewfinder is as large as the new OM-D’s. The magnification factor is less but is this because the sensor is bigger so in all intents they are the same.

    Over in the UK the body only price is £1000 and this combined with the lack of weather sealing means for me it feels overpriced for 25% additional image size plus the front dial. I also feel too much is crammed into the body (Love the minimal design for instance of the Leica Q). The other dial (Is it programmable) is the Exposure Compensation Dial – I feel this is an excellent addition.

    What is exciting is I expect the new OM-D’s from Olympus will be spectacular particularly if there is a new EM-1 Mk2 hence I am going to save my pennies and wait. Keep up the great work Steve and enjoy your PEN-F – look forward to the reviews of the RAW files once available.

    Martin

  60. It has a beautiful body ;-) Low Light (hight ISO) and Grain, … I’m going to test this settings.

  61. I would just like to ask you Steve, you often mention that Olympus has some of the best lenses but how come they seem to be rated quite low compared to Nikon and Cannon for example on dxomark? The highest rated Olympus lens is the 75mm 1.8 with a DxOMark score of 27 and sharpness at 12. Compare that to Nikon’s best (85mm 1.4) with a score of 44/30 and Canon’s best (35mm 1.4) with a score of 42/37. I’m an OM-D user myself and I love my camera and lenses but I was just wondering if I’m not understanding DxO’s scoring system properly or if you have different criteria when judging lenses?

    • Sensor size seems to play a role in DXO marks testing. Rely on the eye test and if it looks good, believe it’s good. Don’t let tests dictate whether a lens or camera is good enough for you.

  62. These new color or BW modes looks like what we can find on the actual fujis where you can choose a film simulation ( or black and white red/Green/yellow filter simulation )and adapt contrast saturation or noise to your taste. The fujis to come are supposed to leave you change the film grain effect.
    The ricoh gr leave you fine preset the jpegs to.
    It’s quite the same to my eyes but with a direct control.
    I really like these kind of option , if olympus put the in raw camera converter inside ( the ricoh allows you to act on the histogram ! ) it can be something very usefull when you just whant to change a little the exposure or when you have so many things to do instead of turning on a computer and spending precious time on lightroom !
    Very very nice camera, I’m looking forward to see some samples with the almighty 75mm on the new sensor.

    Thanks for the review

  63. Steve!

    great article!

    you’re honestly one of the best bloggers out there. It’s always a joy to read your stuff. Please keep on posting work that you have done. A lot of us just love reading what you have to say among all others out there.

    You’re the first and only person so far to have mentioned the front dial in a positive way. Everyone’s been viewing it negatively. I have to say, you made me thing I would actually personally like that front dial. I also like to see what art-filters do right at the moment of snapping the picture rather than going home and changing it there. It makes photography that much more fun. Not to mention, fully utilizing the power of an EVF over an OVF.

  64. Colors, colors, colors….Olympus does anot amazing job with their colors…talk about pop….

  65. Drool-worthy camera, that’s for sure.

    Steve, is this a review or a first impressions story? I’d expect a review to talk about battery life and results with RAW files…

    • I will be doing a follow up when I get an official review unit in two weeks. I will go over the rest that I did no here such as RAW, Battery, Etc. Battery seems the same as the E-M5II and E-P5.

  66. Hi Steve,
    didn’t you go over the top quite a bit with this comment:
    “The new PEN-F even has a cool mode where you can be framing your image with the EVF while using your thumb on the back LCD to move your focus point. AMAZING! These are the things that set Olympus apart from other cameras made today. They are truly the leaders of Innovation with digital imaging and I have said this for years. There is a silent mode as well with a 100% silent shutter. I mean SILENT. This one may have all YOU need.”

    I believe, the GH4 and the GX8 or even the GX7 have had those features for at least a year. Most of the features that can improve IQ you could also find in the latest Panasonics, including the 20 MP sensor AND the “new” EVF

    cheers
    Christian

  67. Nice review and some of the better sample photos I have seen. A little shame about the viewfinder being the size of em10ii one, obviously great to finally have it inbuilt however.. Surely a bigger brighter large evf would have increased the wow factor here?

  68. Great colors. Curious to see if you can pull the details out of the shadows when processing the Raw files in monochrom..

  69. Excellent review.
    …but the best thing about your site Steve, is no matter what camera you review the naysayers give me a smile while drinking my coffee…lol…onwards and forwards to another great review, probably the X PRO 2.

  70. These pictures are some of the best off all your reviews. I shoot Olympus for the E-P5 alone and it’s Olympus that threw a wrench in my full frame endeavors a few years ago. I pick up my olympus gear more than anything else- so price be justified if this lives up to the hype.

    I think it’s the best looking camera to come out in the past three years. I’m not a JPEG shooter but these pictures on here are making me a believer.

    LONG LIVE THE OLYMPUS PEN!!!!

  71. I like it. I am not interested in the Tri-X mode, as I shoot actual Tri-X on a regular basis I’l just stick to that. However, it’s a pretty camera, small and the images look good enough for me. I’d love the original Pen-F though!

  72. Dang, just when I was getting my gear lust under control.

  73. I saw one photo with the 300mm lens. How does this camera handle and feel with the larger lens?

  74. Nice review Steve … it helps to see so many sample photos … Thanks a lot. Are you planning any such review on the Fuji X-Pro 2 ?

  75. Any camera that can make the Olympus 45mm 1.8 look good to my eyes deserves a serious consideration. I have never been a fan of the 45mm, finding its images particularly in colour a bit flat, digital like and generally uninspiring. But the B&W samples from that lens here look really good. Can’t wait for the next chapter — hopefully we will see samples of the Pen-F with the 75mm 1.8 (one of my fave m43 lens) and 25mm Summilux (my other fave m43 lens).

  76. Wow! I’ve been waiting for this since beginning PEN and OMD cameras. I love my OM-5 sooo much, but PEN cameras are so pretty (but no built-in viewfinder). And now? Compact size (compared to OM-D cameras), viewfinder with 2,36Mpx and the design. Love it!

  77. A really sexy timeless design camera!!!
    The novelties introduced here give a flavor of what could be the EM1 mk2: enhanced/fine tuned of the new features introduces with the pen f + some extra qualitative properties / functions to really position it as a pro / premium camera of the m4/3 line up. Really looking forward it – I am waiting for it.

    By the way, the pen f was not supposed to have & enhance the picture staking mode – allowing 60-80m pixel picture introduced with the em5 mk2? Is yes, how does it perform? If no, my misreading in some other website

  78. Thanks for the review.
    B&W looks okay to me, but the color JPGs are quite terrible. The color just looks plain off and all over the place and mushy, especially the ones with all the graffiti. There is no depth and microcontrast in the color, looks like untastefully cranked up contrast in photoshop. And due to the sensor size, there is just no pop no matter how wide the aperture.

  79. Great review! Just wondering if the mode selection is capable of producing images in raw files or just JPEG’s. Thanks!

  80. Thank you for this fantastic review, Steve!

  81. I don’t get the film simulation excitement. Why do people want digital photos to look like something they’re not? It’s so fake. If you want the look of Tri-X, then shoot real Tri-X. It’s like sticking a BMW badge on a Ford Focus and then thinking it’s great that your car looks like a BMW.

    • The keyword is “convenience”, brother. Instead of the car analogy, let me put it to you this way:
      If you want to listen to a song, would you put on your headphones and play it on Spotify/Youtube, or catch the band halfway across the globe? Obviously, the live performance will beat sitting in your room anyday, but you would rather have nearly the same experience right that second.

      Just imagine, wanting to put a high contrast B&W film onto Instagram, with this camera, just press a button, send it to your phone via WiFi and done! With Tri-X, you have to buy the film, finish the roll, process it, scan it and transfer it to your phone. Tri-X is definitely better, but there’s a pay off.

      Welcome to the digital and lazy age.

      • Yes, it’s somewhat more convenient to shoot digital, and certainly convenient to turn a dial that says Tri-X. But it’s not Tri-X, and never will be Tri-X. It will always be just a fake simulation. What is the point of that or the satisfaction as a photographer…so that someone can claim on Instagram that his photo was shot in Tri-X mode? Respect for the effort and the art and honesty of photography is important too; it’s not all about convenience and short cuts. To be clear: I have no problem with just shooting a normal digital image and sending it to Timbuktu. But having a computer sprinkle on some fake film grain and then calling it Tri-X is an embarrassment.

        • The advantage is for the market this is aimed at. People who have no desire to shoot film. People who are not pros or people who just want a nice camera, a step up from their phone. Its a step down from the E-M1 but a step up from any other PEN. It’s a beautiful crafted and designed camera, and many who will buy this will shoot JPEG only, ad that dial will be right up their alley. Olympus knows the target for this camera, and its not pros, film snobs (not saying you are one), or crazy pixel peepers.

        • “It will always be just a fake simulation…”

          Well, let’s extend your analogy one step further: all digital photography is just a fake simulation of film. So the point’s a bit moot, it seems to me.

          Oh, and we long ago passed film in terms of both color accuracy and acuity [though not in tonal gradation just yet].

          Film was great in its day, but the world has moved on, and today’s top-of-the-line digital sensors outperform it in nearly every metric, from IQ, to convenience, to speed of confirmation and delivery.

          • “Fake simulation”. Mmm.

            Anyway. Film was a (poor?) simulation of life (as I saw it hrough my eyes, not yours!) as well. Pointless issue imo.

            Although, there’s hyperrealism, photorealism, all acknowledged art forms.

  82. Agree, camera looks fun and well thought out, but photos are uninspiring and will add, one should not always have to shoot raw to get good photos. It’s a travel camera – a camera and an iPad should be all that’s needed. I’m hoping that this Pen can also produce great jpegs, so that one CAN have options with this camera.

  83. Thanks- Steve for a all of your hard work on this and all of your reviews.
    I have been looking at the Fuji XP2. Stayed up last night to see new Pen F
    I CAN’T PUT MY FINGER GET ON IT BUT I AM DRAWN TO THIS CAMERA,Really nice

    Have you had a chance to use the 12-40mm lens yet? If so what do you think?
    Thanks

  84. Nice camera, horrible photos
    Not trolling just giving my opinion

    • Well, that was useful. “I don’t like pink.” Why? “Because.” Okay.

    • I would love to see some of your wok. Not trolling, just curious.

    • Sure sounds like trolling to me.

  85. I don’t share your enthusiasm for this camera (although I haven’t tried it). If I want interchangeable lenses I use a full frame camera. If I want a compact camera I use a Leica D-Lux typ 109 with a micro 4/3 sensor and amazing lens, much smaller than this Oly. Personal choices.

  86. As always your reviews are great! This camera is amazing! I love film looking cameras, especially Olympus! So excited about this release!

  87. Great review and looks like a terrific camera, however for the price of the PEN
    ‘body only” I can buy an A6000 + SEL 50mm 1.8 and SEL 35mm 1.8 – both having OSS.

  88. Is there a negative side to the silent shutter? If not, why use anything else?
    Have you tried shooting a 50 mp image? How is that?

  89. Same Sony sensor – sorry

  90. I so hope this sensor has lost the noise issue that previous have had for extra long exposures – I did use the gx8 for a short time and found the noise a problem too and I know its the same snow sensor in the pen- F. If you can Steve share any info you might have on this subject please. I know there are work around’s on the Olympus cameras but being a a firework show shooter I don’t have time to wait the extra seconds that are required for the black frame – at 30-120second shots for fireworks it can be a deal breaker

  91. Mighty Steve, you are so fast!

  92. This looks like a really great camera.

    I’v always loved Oly’s JPEG processing, but used Panasonic m4/3 cameras (from GX1 to GM5) and Fuji X-E2 because I wanted a viewfinder in a rangefinder-shaped body.

    But Pen F might be a great camera to switch to (or, rather, add to the collection;).

    My only wish is that they replaced the [useless for me] “mode selection” knob on top with a shutter speed knob (a la Leica or Fuji).

  93. Finally! I think that sums it up, the Pen many of us have been waiting for since the original. Looking forward to more from you on this. Any, yeah, I preordered….

  94. Steve, thank you for the review.

    This is a very, very nice camera. If I had not had my EM-1, I would definitely get this model. I am looking forward to see an advanced review on how the sensor performed, if there was any shutter shock etc, high ISO performance etc. This camera is a one big nail into the DSLR coffin.

  95. Thanks Steve. Did you get a chance to test the Panasonic lenses that have aperture rings? I’m wondering if the Pen-F recognizes them now.

    • I just realized you didn’t have any Panasonic lenses with you. Did any of the other reporters/bloggers try the Panasonic lenses with aperture rings? Maybe you heard someone mention if it worked or not?

      • No one with a Panasonic lens but I highly doubt it will work with the aperture dial as no other Oly camera does. So I would guess no. I will try soon, in about 2 weeks when I get an official review unit.

  96. When fiddling with in built software “film” presets this is just what you can do with ANY camera on your PC after shooting. That’s why most people use RAW files. Of course every new camera must add something to play with to attract new attention/buyers. The question should be: does this take you one step further into taking more involving pictures? To compare this pronounced “not a toy camera” with a Leica MM is missing the point. Less is in my opinion more. Less fiddling does prevent from loosing control over what you do. Some like to play others don’t. Make up your my mind and be happy.

    • No fiddling required and of course you should always shoot RAW. When RAW support is there I will have a huge update, part 2 with all RAW files ;) It’s nice t have options.

      • Is RAW support a matter of choice of software?

        RawTherapee supports the oldish EM-II even in its high-res mode (and is the only open-source converter I have here that does). I’m wondering whether it might handle this as well by merely changing the megapixel count, or if further code changes are required.

        Translation: if you’ve got a sample hi-res .ORF, by all means let us at it ;)

  97. Hi Steve,
    thanks for your first impressions!

    I’m currently using Fujis X100T for street photography and I’m really in love with the film simulation (velvia , chrome etc.). I tried some lightroom presets, but nothing matches these lovely colours.

    Beside the Fuji I have also an Olympus EM5 with awesome prime lenses. If the Pen F can convince me with the OOC colours (or if anybody can give me a hint how to get the colours from Olympus raw), I will definitely switch to the Pen F for its focus and stabilization capabilities!

    Steve, it would be extremely interresting for me if you can also check the colours side by side with a X100T (if you still have one available) ;-)

    Thank you for your great work!

  98. My first impression of this was the same as your article began. Just wow. As an owner of a Pen, I have to say this one looks much nicer and appears to have much improved ergonomics.

    But looking at all the images here (both color and monochrome) I have to say I’m very disappointed. Blown highlights and distinct lack of sharpness in EVERYTHING. The images here are no better than what I get from my TG-850. I guess I’ve become spoiled with Sony sensors and Zeiss glass.

    • Seriously, you read this review and watch the pics(on you phone maybe?) If you like Sony that great, they have great gear. But why do write down such stuff like you TG-850 has equal pics… Doesn’t make sense at all.

      I use a TG-4, a E-M5, E-M1 and GX8 and Coolpix-A. Use to shoot with (pro)Canon.

      • No, I viewed all the images on my work computer which is a 27″ color calibrated monitor. I’m a professional image editor (for 8 years now). I look at photographs all day long, 5 days a week.

        As I said in my previous comment, I own several Oly cameras, so I’m not biased against them. But these images (and the images in the DPreview first impressions preview that just hit the interwebs) don’t do anything for me. They look flat and soft. Perhaps that could be remedied with a better lens. But for what I’m seeing now, I would have to pass on the camera.

  99. Sorry Steve, I don’t see the ‘wow just wow’ in those black and white photos. Blocked shadows, blown-out highlights don’t quite do it for me (at least that’s the way they’re appearing on my screen). While I do like the look of the camera, the image quality of the photos you’ve posted here don’t quite convince me.

    • Im not trying to “convince” anyone of anything. I have thousands of Tri-X shots. I have thousands of Leica MM shots. I have a few shots from the PEN-F which as just announced and all are OOC JPEG. Wait for RAW’s my friend. This is also not aimed at pros or pixel peepers, no pen ever was. It’s a lifestyle camera or a street camera or whatever you want it to be. This would make a 100000X better family cam or vacation cam than ANY smartphone. SO if you shoot street, or just want a high quality fast and really capable camera, take a look. Some people get so geeked out with things such as this…quite incredible.

      • Well Steve but to be fair you are talking image quality of the images in the review. So whole package or inage quality? ;-)
        I do also see your point. Personally I see this as an overdue Olympus joeg engine catch up because they were falling behind Fuji. I still think Fuji does better from real world experience and thIs an xt10- not even xpro2. Shouldnt be surprising given Fuji vast experience making Film and 14-bit color capture combined with no AA filter. Olympus got their good jpeg engine know how from Kodak when they launched 4/3 in the first place.
        Not bad but Fuji actually makes film ;-)

        That said- i like what i see a lot and looking at the whole package deal one deal breaker for me on xpro2, xt10 is the overall size of the system. I will have to see the pen f in person but looks like its still much bigger than the stealthy gm5.

        I dont think waiting for raws is much necessary. This will be a gx8 class performance (which isnt bad at all), but one of the big draws of this camera is precisely the new Jpeg engine. Its what Olympus is also marketing as a key ppint and what they spent enginering time on.

        I would like to see how well thejpeg engin holds in the new color and b/w simulations at isos 3200, 6400, 12800 in real world shots – if you cpuld do some pf those i would be grateful (or i missed that in the review- did see the watch)

        Thanks for reading.

      • If this is Olympus’s ‘Tri-x’ style, then they’ve underexposed and overdeveloped it :)

  100. First of all I would like to thank you for all your efforts!!!

    Please advise how large can I print from this type of sensor ?

    Thanks !!!!

    • Well, I do not print much but I have huge prints from my E-M1 and it was 16MP- They are beautiful. I have 20X30 prints from my very old Nikon D2hs 4MP camera. ;) You can print as large as you are happy with. I would not print 20X30 gallery prints from Micro 4/3 but this is not the intended audience for this camera.

  101. I love the look of this camera. It is probably the best looking camera out there right now.

    The front dial would be useless for me though since I like to process my pictures after the fact… unless I just don’t understand what it can really do other than what I can do in lightroom afterwards. I understand that a lot of people like film simulations etc, but I always like to do my own processing. I feel like this is an extra step I would have to worry about while taking pictures.

    Question: I assume that no matter what you choose on the wheel you can still have a untouched raw created along the jpg.. correct?

  102. GREAT review! I have to admit I’m glad this new PEN didn’t make it out last year, would’ve made my decision into the M4/3 realm just that much more difficult. As it is… I’m super happy with my EM5II, it’s gotten me back out with my camera, taking pictures when & where I want to ( regardless of the conditions) I must admit though, I’m jealous of the new mono mode of this new PEN and of course the slightly larger sensor to boot! I have friends that just seem to know nothing about these modern Olympus cameras, they all “drool” over the size, quality & features of my little dream. What Olympus is doing for us “non-Pro” shooters is nothing short of FANTASTIC!

  103. I know the answer, it is supposed to work fine with my Panasonic lenses, including the 25MM, 1.4; however, did you take any test shots with the Panasonic lenses just to make sure that the integrity is in fact seamless. Thanks, great review. I still use my GX1 over my Nikon D7000, especially when traveling.

  104. Is it a dent at the bottom of the camera? (in the video 4:21) How sturdy is this body?

    • Just as sturdy as any other camera that is made of magnesium alloy (all higher end cameras). As I said, this is a sample unit that has been everywhere – CES, many hands, and then me. It was given to me like this. I dropped it down a hill and it was 100% fine at the bottom but the dent was already there. It’s just as hefty feeling as the E-P5 but built a tad better IMO. No issues.

  105. Great work Sire, thanks for the review so far. Waiting for that Crazy comp, with the germans

  106. Great review as always, but after my fail attempt with the em5, I will never go m43 again. Yes cameras are great, yes lenses are wonderful, but files to me were lacking. If you tried to push them in editing they will deteriorate quite fast, for thin dof you need huge lenses, I had the Voigtlander 17.5mm and it made the camera a burden to handle. The Nikon d800 plus 35mm 1.4 was more comfortable. I think these cameras are for those looking to post better quality Instagram pictures.

    • I’m a fulltime professional photographer and make a living using m43 only! Not any client ever complained about files, brand, camera etc.

      A D800 is a wonderful camera, just different. If that one suits your needs, than you are a lucky user.

      But saying m43 is a step up for social media pics doesn’t make any sense at all.

      • Always trolls, always ;) Ignore them.

        • Hi Steve, I posted quite a few times in your blog as follow it constantly. Also had the opportunity to participate a couple of times with some posts. I think calling me a troll just because I disagree with the fact that m43 has excellent image quality is a bit harsh, don’t you think so? Yes is your blog, and yes you decide what to post and not, but still remember is us the followers who bring life to the blog. I really like your reviews and it’s been one of the reasons I been bankrupt almost :) but you can not expect everyone to agree with your vision. Yes you can obtain wonderful pictures with m43, is the photographer not the equipment. But you can’t deny in regards to image quality it’s still far behind other apsc cameras. Not all those disagree with you are wrong :)

          • I think your view about image quality on Micro 4/3 vs. APS-C is outdated. Although Micro 4/3 lagged behind initially, I have heard many reviewers say that IQ is about the same now. The IQ difference between my E-PL1 and my E-PL5 is considerable…at least one if not two stops better with noise. I can get usable shots at small sizes at ISO 6400 with my E-PL5 if I don’t crop too much (and it goes up to 25600), whereas the E-PL1 only went up to 3200…and that was for emergencies only.

            There would certainly be a difference in image quality with full frame, but any IQ differences between newer APS-C and newer Micro 4/3 cameras are negligible. If you don’t believe me, just go to DPReview and do a side-by-side comparison between, say, the OM-D E-M10 Mark II and the Nikon D7200 at ISO 6400. If I’m being kind to Nikon, I’d call it a tie.

          • Indeed, my comparisons have only been with the em5 and Fuji x100 as Nikon d7000. Which currently are all outdated technologies so probably the new m43 are much better. But don’t based your opinion only in dpreviews comparison tool for some reason it’s not the best tool, just take a look at the rx1 in that tool and we all know it’s a wonderful camera.

      • Yep, I was a bit harsh by saying that pictures were only for Instagram :) there are many photographers doing amazing Picts with m43, but my experience was not at all satisfying, from an image and handling perspective.

  107. Still, maddeningly, no phase detect AF. Doesn’t Olympus want people to photograph sports or birds in flight with something other than the E-M1? Street photography is fine, but what about photojournalism?

    • This is a PEN and the AF is faster than my A7RII or A7SII. Focus speed is not an issue but I would not buy the PEN to shoot sports anyway. If I shot Sports I would be shooting a E-M1 or DSLR.

      • Perhaps with single shot AF and stationary subjects. But no way will contrast detect AF on the Pen come close to phase detect on A7RII for tracking moving subjects.

  108. Looks like a nice camera, but need to see better/different image samples to be convinced. Didn’t like the samples here, highlights blown on all B&W’s and skintones as mentioned by others is not to my liking (Yes, I read the while text)

    • You must have missed some text as I clearly stated color photos were in mode 3, super saturated slide emulation which is NEVER good for skin tones. Want skin tones just use normal mode like any other Oly camera.

      • Steve, you keep talking about how the nasty skintones and blown out highlights are due to presets on the camera…so it begs the obvious question, why use those presets?? I realize this comes down to personal taste but when you are providing a ‘first look’ of a camera I feel it would be better to provide samples that show what image quality the camera is capable of.

        Personally I’m more interested to see what the dynamic range and natural colours of the sensor is capable of then seeing a bunch of B&W photos with burnt highlights that could have been done with literally any camera…doesn’t do justice to what this Olympyus is probably capable of.

        • If one is going to use a SUPER SATURATED slide film emulation, like Mode 3 it would be for landscape style scenes, or where you want color pop and high contrast. If you want to talk a portrait, slide it to mode 1. If you want slight pop, go mode 2. Its all there and you can pick what you like. If you want standard neutral set it to the middle with no modes and you are rolling with the PEN-F as you would any OMD. Choice is good. Why was slide film so popular in the 70s and 80s? Not for skin tones, so why did they make it? Yes.

  109. Hi Steve , thank you for an interesting and informative review .

    One question at this point , do you think the C1-4 settings on the mode dial mitigate the removal of the 2×2 switch from the current OM-Ds ?

  110. WOW, Great review of the one of the two cameras I’ve been waiting for. Interesting that both Fuji and now Olympus didn’t go the extra mile with the EVF and look at greater resolution or magnification. We’ll see but I’m betting the X-Pro 2 is the complete camera and what the X-Pro 1 should have been… but with the minimal size of the m43 lenses, price, manual control and the awesome look, I’d say that this camera will take away sales from Fuji with fence sitters such as me.

    Steve, were you able to tell if we can attach and eyecup to the Pen F? Thanks again for such a cool no BS review!

    • It has a built in sort of mini eyecup. Not sure if one can be added. Im sure the Fuji will be great, it has to be as Fuji could not afford to release something lackluster. Good to have choices.

    • The Pen F is a great camera from everything I’m seeing. Not having shot with it, I cannot comment on IQ, however … but having used the E-M1 extensively, I’m pretty familiar with what m4/3 is capable of [and not capable of].

      However, I’ve shot with the X-Pro2 now since early November, and I can say unequivocally that the IQ is hands down the best I’ve ever personally seen from an APS-C sensor, and very likely capable of rivaling 24mp full frame bayer sensors with low pass filters.

      Think of it as a 24mp APS-C version of the 42mp full frame sensor that resides in the Sony A7rII, as it uses the same technologies … and in fact, it’s the first APS-C sensor in the world to employ these same core technologies.

      So does it beat the E-M1 for image quality? It blows it away, frankly, with much greater richness, depth, dynamic range, and high ISO capability. And B&W images are the best I’ve ever seen from digital — with the exception of the Leica Monochrome — due to the increased number of green [luminance] photosites in the X-Trans configuration.

      So I would expect the X-Pro2 to handily beat the Pen F as well when it comes to IQ.

  111. Steve, do you know what would have brought the “cool factor” all the way up to “11”? – A portrait oriented sensor (and EVF). :)

    • Well that it already has so guess you are at 11 ;) With a really good portrait lens (say a Nocticron) this camera will ROCK. I will be showing this as soon as I get a review unit for home. Maybe you missed all of the amazingly lovely portraits with the E-M1, and this sensor is better ;)

      http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2015/07/24/olympus-em1-sony-a7s-still-my-favorite-combo-by-neil-buchan-grant/

      Whoever says you can not do portraits with Micro 4/3 is biased as all get out

      • Steve; I think what Freddo means is that the original (film) Pen cameras, like the Pen-F, were half-frame film cameras with a VERTICAL (‘portrait’) orientation film frame and viewfinder.

        ..It’s a rather obscure joke..

        • Correct David! Steve, I am NOT claiming you cannot take great portraits with the camera, there is no doubt you can. Just as you could shoot landscape just fine with a (film) PEN F/FT. It’s just that it was kind of a hallmark of a PEN shooter back in the days, shooting portraits holding the camera normally, and landscape holding the camera as if you were shooting a portrait, that’s just how they were designed. Now I might sound like an old geezer, but this is stuff told to me by a retired news journalist who sold his two trusty old worn black PEN FTs to me a couple of years ago. A really cool guy with lots of fascinating stories.
          Funny enough, I notice I shoot more in portrait orientation when using a PEN F/FT than I normally do. It could boil down to me being too lazy to turn the camera, or the fact that the first composition I get presented in the viewfinder is in portrait, and if it looks good, I take it. So yeah, my initial comment was part serious, and part joke. I don’t expect a camera maker to do this kind of thing in this day and age (unfortunately). :)

  112. Hey what’s the silver button below the color dial? is that a FN buton? or a focal-setting for manual lens?

    I’ve been dreaming of this Pen since I got my E-P1.

    I got the Zuiko Vintage family WAITING for it.

  113. If only the front dial (the art mode dial) had been an ISO dial instead… a bit of a missed opportunity there.

    • There is no art mode dial on this camera. The front dial can choose the art modes but it is mainly for the MONO and COLOR mode which is not an art filter. ISO dials are not very popular these days as 80% of people use Auto ISO. If you want to change ISO, it takes about 2 seconds with a button push. No issue and if that was an ISO dial, it would have taken away from what it is now.

      • I agree with him on this one. It might not need to be a ISO dial, but it would be better if it can be used as a configurable function dial instead. It might not be ART modes but it is essentially like something Fuji did with their Film Simulation JPEGs. And I am pretty sure many photographers, would prefer to have the option of having the ability to configure what it can be used as, instead of having it fixed as a dial to switch between JPEG processing modes, like say, Focus modes, shooting Modes (P/A/S), etc.

        Either way, this is still a really good looking camera, and a nice step forward from Olympus.

  114. Nice review, and great to get is so soon! I think that my next camera should have really good manual focusing (Leica M series is nice, but so expensive) . I did some google-work and found one lense with true mechanical focusing (Olympus 12/2.0 ) . Others seems to be focus by wire lenses. Or is there also other great manual focusing lenses available or rumours from future.

  115. So, this is what happens when you leave a Leica 3 series and Olympus PEN F stored next to each other! Maybe we’ll see Olly recreating the famous Eugene Smith ‘System camera stored in a shoe’ advert?

  116. Hi Steve,
    Thanks great review and this camera looks truly awesome, may even make me change from Fuji :) Interesting how the first comments are negative, either as you said did not read the text or worried that a camera at this price point can outperform cameras up to 7 times it’s RRP?
    Thanks again, Paul

  117. Nice. And nice to see the Voigtlander getting a run ;-)

  118. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the review. It’s a great camera!! Now we hope a new 17 f1.2 lens in spring for the ultimate street fun :D

  119. Thank you very much for this excellent first review. Is the regular shutter sound as silent as on the EM5MII? I know there is a silent mode, but in some situations occur that weird rolling shutter effect.

  120. With clear stylistic cues from Leica, stealing the look of the mode dial from Leica iii’s slow shutter speed dial, I was so excited , until I saw the top plate and read those four letters: P A S M. I would have loved to have seen a real shutter speed dial, like a Leica, or the Fujis have gone back to. I much prefer having real dials, and setting aperture on the lens. If you’re gonna make a retro style camera, why do it half way, with a PASM mode dial? So on that front, for me, the X-Pro 2 wins the round for control dials. Beautiful looking camera though.

  121. Very tempting camera. If I’d had the money and the room for it (and if I would actually like the handling, which can of course only be shown in practice), I’d get it (in black of course) with the 17, 25 and 45 Premium Zuiko’s in a heartbeat. And that grip of course; it really needs a grip. Plus a small(ish) worn leather or distressed wax cotton messenger bag…

    I was wondering if this is the camera that would get me off of my full frame dslr (f1.4 primes) bias… Or would that be the quaint X-Pro2…?

    Mmm. Just stick with what I have I guess.

    Thatnks for the extensive and thorough review!

  122. Camera looks great, and great that they finally put in an EVF. In all enthusiasm though, it should be worth at least mentioning the lack of built-in flash. I know you’re not so much of a flash shooter, but it’s a big difference to the previous PEN models.

    I love the PENs (owned both E-P3 and now E-P5). What I had hoped were that they had made this one lighter. After using the Ricoh GRII for some time, I have realized the weight really makes a difference for a carry-around camera.

    Price, weight and no built-in flash makes this a no-buy for me.

    • I haven’t used a Flash in 16 years. Some like flash, some do not. This is not a flash style camera, its more of a street shooting camera which is what Olympus is marketing it as.

      • Sure, it’s a street style camera. A lot of street photographers use flash as well. And even if you use it for street mainly (which I think most enthusiasts don’t), you may want to use flash in other situations, but not carry around extra equipment.

        It’s relevant enough to be mentioned imo.

        • +Seagrove, agreed. Missing flash is a bummer. Guess we will have to wait for EP-6

          • I found out it comes with a flash in the box if one wants one, but the target for this camera usually will never use a flash anyway. But there is a small one that it does come with.

  123. Hi Steve, does the Mono mode produce RAW files?

    • yeah, that’s what I’m dying to know… While film simulations are fun, I tend to shoot either RAW or RAW & JPEGs so that I can tweak things later in post. I’d LOVE a camera that can shoot RAW B&W but I can’t afford the leica MM. I also can’t MF very well or at least that’s what my wallet keeps telling me. ;) Great enthusiastic review though Steve, makes me want one even though I’m fully committed to sony! I am certainly jealous of the lenses, both size and selection!

  124. Nice camera but the lack of weather sealing is a bummer considering the price and the Pana GX8 as serious competitor with weather sealing, grip and tiltable EVF on board.

    • The GX8 does not have anything close to the 5 Axis IS or many other features of the PEN-F. Some will prefer weather sealing, some will prefer 5 Axis and the slew of goodies the PEN offers that the Panasonic does not. All personal pref. The GX8 is larger as well, some will prefer this or some may prefer the sleeker PEN. Ive heard of maybe 3 occasions in 15 years where a camera failed due to rain, all Canons from long long ago. If shooting in a thunderstorm a weather sealed camera would always be best. ;) Light rain will not hurt the PEN or a Leica M or a Sony A7. But heavy downpour, yes.

      • Hi! I am looking at the PEN F with lots of desire. I think it´s looking “supa sexy” as a friend of mine use to say. I did look at, and try out, the Lumix GX8 and the “soul” was not there designwise. For me. Brilliant pictures though and the seller stressed the 4K videomodes and the ability to shoot 30 frames of 8 Mpixel frames in a second, in order to choose the exact right moment och even placement of focus afterwards. Since I hardly don´t record any videoclips at all this is not a selling point for me, even if I can see it beeing just the right feature for others. I used to own a Lumix GX7 together with my beloved EM-1 and I really adored that small camera despite it´s poor, smallish, viewfinder. That camera had the brilliant possibility to use the touchscreen to change the focuspoint while framing the shot with the viewfinder. I really like that Olympus have that now as well, it makes it easier to frame and shoot manual lenses when you can move the focusbox around and enlarge the view where you want to focus. When my daughter wanted a camera, she got the GX7 and she loves it.
        Now I hope to see see a review of the EM-1 MkII soon as well. I will want to see that as well before commiting to un upgrade. But the PEN F just look soo nice!

        Great and positive review!

      • “some will prefer 5 Axis and the slew of goodies the PEN offers that the Panasonic does not”

        Would that be like the ‘innovative’ features from Olympus such as the ability to use the touchscreen to select focus point while your eye is up to the viewfinder like you mention in the review?

      • One thing the GX8 has, a marvelous nice sensor! I’m quiet surprised this sensor(+camera) doesn’t get high fives as this new Pen or other Olympus m43.

        After buying the GX8 I get myself an E-M1 as well. Mainly because of shooting sports with C-AF.

        I understand you are very positive about this new Pen. It looks wonderful, has a new sensor as well. And I might end up with one. But for its price…, it doesn’t have PDAF and that surprised me lot. So C-AF will for fast moving objects will probably a pain again. The now pretty old Sony A6000 does very well with C-AF. Since Olympus and Panasonic do have the knowledge and system available for it, it should be in all models coming after the E-M1. I like you enthusiastic review about the Pen, but why no words about PDAF/C-AF?

        The E-M1 does OK with C-AF, but still need for improvements. But its sensor is outclassed by the GX8 one. But the GX8 can’t do flash at more than 1 frame a second. (or I overlooked something). Curious about what the E-M1-II will bring us.

        • Exactly. The lack of PDAF is a deal breaker for me. Olympus needs to offer PDAF in all of its Micro 4/3 models, not just the E-M1. I have an E-PL5 with the VF-4 viewfinder, but it’s absolutely maddening shooting sports or birds in flight with it.

          C’mon, Olympus! It’s not like a small camera with long zoom lenses that are relatively compact because of the crop factor would be ideal for photojournalism or anything. And for $1,200 it should be able to do what the Sony a6000 can do for half the price! Track. Moving. Subjects. Accurately.

          I like reading Steve’s reviews because of his enthusiasm about photography and cameras (especially Olympus cameras), but enough gushing. Tell Olympus what they got wrong too especially when it’s so obvious to their users like me.

        • Also, PDAF in more Olympus models would enable more users to take full advantage of the legacy 4/3 lenses. Yes, I could adapt 4/3 glass to my E-PL5 and still have autofocus, but AF performance would be very poor to say the least.

  125. Hi Steve,
    Great review, I love your enthusiasm and it does look like an awesome camera, almost gutted that I’ve just bought the E-M5II but needed the weather sealing, so still very happy with my choice!

    Seems as though you’re still trying to convince people that m43 can be used as a serious camera. Whilst doing my research before buying into the system I came across Damian McGillicuddy, 2 time grand master at the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers! Not only that but at the awards in 2015, the photographer of the year award went to an OM-D shooter plus a raft of other awards went to OM-D shooters. Just goes to show M43 is a serious system and if its good enough for those winning photographic awards then it’s good enough for probably 99% of people!

    • I tend to agree. I’ve seen his unboxing video and test shots with this camera. He, like Steve, is an awesome photographer. His shots with the pen are awesome. I love Olympus’s art filters and have sold more Olympus images than all my other cameras. I may have to give this one a try.
      However I wish they would put weather sealing in the cameras at this price point. I would spend the extra to avoid climate damage.
      Thanks for the review Steve and your comment RichardH

  126. Wow..

    This looks tempting.. I thought I’ve left MFT for good after selling my EM5 II and moved to my dream camera which is leica M240. Leica M has stopped me from G.A.S. I’ve been succesfully kept it for more almost half year and what I’m lusting is just the Lenses now. Usually I change my camera every 2 months.

    With the reality that I won’t be able to spend money on another Leica lens (got 50 cron only) until mid year, selling it and getting back to the modern camera with macro capability (not only 0,7m) is tempting. Been ogling newer cameras ever since Fuji XPRO2 announced. Now this one.. Damn.. I left MFT because of its ISO performance, if they improve it now, I think it may sway me again..

    However, there’s still XPRO 2 to be observed.

    Hmm.. Funny thing is.. I didn’t want to get some lenses from MFT/Fuji/Nikon/Pana because they are expensive (talking about $800 lenses). Now, after owning Leica.. I can’t believe how cheap those lenses are!! Oh how perspective changes.. If I were to sold mine, I could get Fuji XPRO2+56+10-24+35 or EM5 II+75+42.5 Leica+12+24-70 and still have some money left! Crazy…

    • ‘Usually I change my camera every 2 months’
      Seriously??? Wow.

    • Why do you change your camera every two months?

      • You MUST have missed the part about me being a CAMERA REVIEWER. A guy who keeps his personal cameras for a long time (I have an E-P5 from 2 years ago, a Leica M, and a few others that have stuck around a long long time. A7s Mark 1, Sony RX100 V1, etc. BUt I get new caeras every few weeks to review them. It is my job, my career, what I spend 60 hours a week on. It is WHAT I DO. So I will ALWAYS have the latest mirrorless to shoot with as I have to review them. If they suck, I skip the review and do not give it any press at all. If it is outstanding, and I have a camera in my collection that is an older version or the new one is MUCH better, I will swap them out. I will swap my old E-P5 with the PEN-F as the PEN-F is so much nicer just due to the EVF alone. So before you ask a question like this, read the About Me page or realize that you are on my website, which is a camera review website. Thank you.

  127. Another great enthusiastic review, Steve.

    I also really like this new Pen-F, and as much as I love my e-m5 mkII, and I think in general the e-m5 mkII is technically more capable, I would seek out and get this new Pen-F as well.

    I really like the styling and features.. Did I mention I really like the styling?

    Speaking of the styling, however, I know this is suppose to celebrate the original Pen-F in modern form.. But, I have to say I don’t think it looks like a classic Pen camera to me so much, the previous digital Pen models look a lot closer to the original film Pens cameras in that they look smoother and sleeker.

    This new Pen-F is very angular and boxy, but I really like that and glad that it’s designed the way it is now.

    I feel if you look closely at the details primarily around the top plate, it actually looks a lot more like a vintage Leica III.

    On the front, the new Pen-F has the mode dial, the Leica III has a similar looking dial in the same location. On the far right of the new Pen-F you have the AF assist light, and that looks similar to the small circular viewfinder the Leica III has close to the right side of the camera. Of course, there are no other front details on the new Pen-F that relate in looks to the circular rangefinder window and rectangular frameline illuminator window you’d find on the Leica III.

    Moving onto the view from the top, you have same number and placement of dials, features and button. On the new Pen-F, from left to right, you have the on/off dial, hot shoe, mode dial, shutter release button and rec button, and exposure comp dial. If you look across the top of the Leica III, from left to right, you have the rewind dial, hot shoe, shutter speed dial, shutter release button and rewind button, and film advance dial.

    That center section on the top plate that is raised and chunkier leaving the dials on the left and right of it more exposed, the new Pen-F and Leica III have similar design form in this regard.

    Lastly, I’d say from the rear of the camera on the left top plate side, the new Pen-F reminds me more of a classic Leica M3, instead. On the new Pen-F, from left to right, you have the round viewfinder, then the diopter correction dial, then the Fn2 button. On the Leica M3, you have the round viewfinder window, then the flash socket, then the bulb socket.

    Sure, it’s not 100% function per function exact, but you can see a lot of the design elements and aesthetics are related.

    Either way, I really like this new Pen-F. I’d definitely get one if I were in the market for another M43 camera.

    • I have always wanted a true digital version of the film Pen-F but then it would just be a dumbed-down almost point-and-shoot type camera with minimal controls.
      And honestly, I’d probably still buy it anyway. Then regret it. But I’d still keep it cos I’m a camera hoarder. Hehehe

      • If I’m understanding your statement, I’m not sure I could agree this a dumb-downed point and shoot camera. There’s a lot more to this Pen-F, and all the other current Olympus M43 cameras, than just a simple point and shoot.

        I really like this Pen-F, but other than the styling, it’s pretty much an OM-D E-M5 MkII with new body…. the upgrades may be the 20mp sensor and some of the new shooting modes.. some more custom monochrome and color modes, apparently. A little more hard to decide between this and the Panasonic GX-8.. the GX-8 is actually more capable, especially since it can shoot 4k, as well.. and it has some focusing tricks up its sleeves to help with fast action shots. But, on pure aesthetics, I think the new Pen-F is a lot better looking.

        I think if you want a bit more video capabilities, the E-M5 MkII is probably a couple points better just because it has audio monitoring via the HLD-8 grip and you have the option for a little better handling consequently because you have the HLD-8 option… but, I don’t do a lot of video so a nice stylish stills camera such as this new Pen-F would fit my personal bill just right.

        Performance wise, it’s still hard to beat the E-M1.. I did sometimes regret selling it for the E-M5 MkII.. the main thing I noticed is the start up time is a lot faster on the E-M1, about 4 seconds on the E-M5 MkII. Also, the buffer and file clearing capacity in the E-M1 is significantly better.. I often have to wait several seconds to be able to change settings and continue shooting on the E-M5 MkII. I’m not a speed shooter, but there are times when quick timing and fast adjustments are necessary and I’ve missed more than just a few potential shots because I was waiting for the buffer to clear on the E-M5 MkII. Hope the new Pen-F has a lot better start up time as well as buffer.

        Lastly, the E-M1 is the only Olympus M43 camera that has phase detect and that does help with AF and tracking.. that is something the Pen-F definitely does not have.

        Still, if I had my M43 gear still, I’d definitely sell the current to pick up the Pen-F. I like they included the AF track pad like on the E-M10 MkII… I wonder when, of if, they will ad AF track pad to the E-M5 MkII and E-M1?

  128. I like the monochrome but I don’t like it over what I have seen the Fuji do (and not even the Xpro 2). I am not sure how you can say it matches up to any APS-C when the Xpro 2 is looking oh so phenomenal…. and don’t get me wrong- I decided to go m43rds (OMD EM5 MKII/ GM5) but I will give Fuji its due.

    That said- I am glad Olympus focused on leveling up their JPEG engine because I felt they were behind the E-3 4/3rd times.. and I think the new color modes nailed it well, which is something I felt they needed to do.

    I want to see how small the Pen F feels. The Gm5 is ultra small. If the PEN F feels small enough, I may pick for my street photography for having the latest sensor of Sony for m43rds and the IBIS. Otherwise, will wait for the Panny GM7 whenever that comes out.

    • I have not touched an X-Pro 2 but I would take this over an X-Pro1 or X-T1 without question. It’s about the entire package for me as I always say. That is how I judge a camera and in the past most Fujis fell flat for me in usability, speed, build, and even IQ. The X-Pro 2 may change that, who knows.As for the in body 5 Axis, its the best in the world, speed is there, AF accuracy is there, video is fantastic with the 5 Axis IS, EVF rocks, size is SMALL and it kicks the bootie of the GX8 I recently tested due to what it offers, size, build, etc. The whole package. These are all 100% OOC JOEGS without any PP whatsoever. None. When RAW support arrives I will be posting more from the RAW files ;) Thanks for reading.

  129. nice review. not impressed by IQ

  130. “…so easy from the PEN-F, today I can no longer recommend the Leica Monochrom (At a $6000 price difference)….” Really Steve?? There’s no way you can compare a 2x crop sensor to the Fullframe Leica sensor.

    I must say, i’ve always loved the Olympus camera’s but in IQ they’ve always lacked behind compared to the competition. Last year i bought a E-M1. And man!, those lenses are good. But when it comes to the shadows of a photo. They just don’t look good, even at ISO 200 the shadow parts are noisy and the look weird when shot in color.

    • You are right: Olympus is going a different approach in shaddow-rendering with more grain and details, which I like very much
      You can`t compare fullframe to m43, just push IBIS with the a prime lens to keep ISO low: there is no APS-C mirrorless camera, wich can beat Oly here

  131. I don’t know about this camera…it really doesn’t do skin-tones well, at least not in JPEGs. That is a very important aspect for me.

    • You must not have read the text. ALL color images were shot in COLOR MODE 3 which simulates CHROME/SLIDE film as this is a new feature. So just as saturated SLIDE FILM does not do skin tones well, this will behave the same with more reds. Its doing what it is supposed to. If you want skin tones, it does just as well as ANY other Olympus which is damn good. Just set it to normal mode and you are set. But please read the review ;)

      • Again real slide film renders skin tones beautifully this doesn’t… This is what he was getting at…

        • NOT some slide film. Mode 3 is set after SUPER saturated slide film. Mode 2 is standard. These are all MODE 3 and no, some slide film renders skin tones HORRIBLY as they are not meant for skin tones. I can link to TONS of samples showing this.

          • steve is right if its super sat like slide film you use something like velvia 50 and use it on someone fair skinned they look like a bad sunburn pink skin, that film isn’t good for fair skinned or caucasions, and that is a known thing.

        • Evidently you have never shot Velvia.

    • It’s emulating color positive film. Shoot portraits with Velvia 50 and look at the skin tones. They look awful, too red. Slide emulsions are for high color saturation and work well for landscapes. Well, except Kodachrome. That s— was magic for everything.

  132. Is it just me? I really don’t like the black and white images. Might be conversion, but there’s no real tones, just dull white and heavy blacks. The camera is quite noisy even from ISO1600 as well..

    • You must have missed the text…or not read it..

      1st, all OOC JPEGS here only. Noise reduction is 100% off for these and finally, the B&W rendering is 100% CUSTOMIZABLE to your tastes from contrast, shadow detail, noise level, contrast, etc. I used the preset 2 for 80% of these which is a TriX simulation. Take a look at Trix X and you will also see heavy blacks and dull whites. It is doing what it is supposed to be doing ;) The Leica MM has pretty dull whites and deep blacks as well. $7k.

      • this definitely does not look like tri-x… I shoot film.. maybe if the film is pushed 5 Stops…

        • Well, if you dig in and customize the presets to your own liking you can nail it 100%. I will be doing this when I get a review unit. Did not have the time to go deep into it during this event. Thanks for reading!

      • Hey Steve, thanks for the reply. I’ve read the text, but somehow I though you still did some kind of post processing over the jpegs :) To be honest, images look a bit better (for my tastes) on my retina displays. Anyway..the camera is admirable, so is the review. I shouldn’t have started with what I don’t like.
        Thanks for the review.

        • Well thank you for reading. Yea, these are all OOC jpegs, using the new color and mono modes. I will do an update soon with RAW files that will not have the in cam processing. Thanks

      • It is a very interesting camera because of the 50 MP shot, time bulb and others. But finally I would not buy it because it has no 4K Video and insuffucient Resolution. You can use it only below ISO 1600 – maybe even less (or why all these boring B/W-images? Lets wait and see what comes next from Oly, Fuji or whatsoever…

    • have to agree. Love the look of the camera though

    • “…it can stand up to any APS-C sensor camera made today…”

      I wish this were true, I really do, because the Pen F has a lovely, retro, 1960s ‘Man from UNCLE’-type design, with a compelling feature set, some great technologies, and a very responsive shooting experience [e.g. you can now tie the spot meter to the focus point; in conjunction with the touchscreen shutter activation, this is a very useful feature combination].

      But the reality is that IQ is nudged out even by 16mp APS-C sensors, to say nothing of the latest, cutting-edge APS-C sensors [e.g. Nikon D500 / Fujifilm X-Pro2].

      Which is a shame … but, alas, you just can’t beat the laws of physics: just as APS-C cannot quite match FF on many metrics, m4/3 can’t match APS-C, either.

      Of course, m4/3 has some advantages over its larger sensor cousins, too, chiefly DOF and reach, but m/43 cameras really perform best below ISO800, and in reasonable to good light, and won’t offer the same degree of tonal transitions that larger sensors possess. Those are the caveats.

      Stellar job with design, though. Props to Olympus for that.

    • The (pushed) TriX simulation looks a bit digital. Instead of getting a smooth ‘silky’ grain structure as with real film this looks harsh. At least at my monitor. The regular black and white though is good, very good indeed.
      But thanks Steve, for this attack at my wallet and my happy marriage. I am almost at the point of ordering one because of one photo that has a stunning technical quality. The first color picture of “More examples from the PEN-F!” that guy with a camera. What color mode is that? Standard? And which lens? The new 300mm?

  133. wow, just wow, thanks for the impressive review of this impressive camera, it win in so many aspects and it’s by far the coolest looking retro-style digital camera on the market imo.
    i think I’ll recommend it to my wife as she want a new camera for her trip in March.

    • classical phenomenon of the fuji trap, x-th reiteration of almost the same thing without real progress. the lens road map has been slowly drying and dying out, no real sight yet of a potential new hit (em1mii), so lets drum the drums and have those photographers we sponsor write rave reviews for boring cameras

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