Why I’m not impressed by the new Olympus Pen-F

Don’t get me wrong. It’s beautiful. The modern touch on a vintage camera has me swooning. But I’m still not impressed.

When a leaked image of the black version with the grip popped up two weeks ago, I was ecstatic to see a redesign for the struggling Pen line:

Though I loved the design, much better than the Panasonic GX8, the specs left me for wanting more.

New 20mp Sensor

Like the GX8, the redesigned Pen-F also boasts a new 20mp sensor, a first for Olympus. It’s a nice addition, but increasing the pixel count 25% doesn’t really matter to me. I prefer quality over quantity. But we’ll have to wait a bit for the real reviews as launch reviews are always a little biased. Regardless of that, be sure to checkout Robin Wong’s review of the Olympus Pen-F, though an Olympus employee he’s also a great photographer who puts up solid posts.

Other than that, what else is new?

  • New sensor, but still the same imaging processor (Truepic VII that first launched with the original OM-D EM-10).
  • The “creative dial” that allows you to choose from different artsy filters. I’m sure there’s a market out there for this, but since I shoot in RAW I prefer to take care of this in post.
  • The high res mode has improved from 40mp to 50mp (but still no handheld mode).
  • ISO Low 80, a little talked about feature that I love is the improvement in the ability to have a lower ISO. As I often shoot with plenty of light (whether natural or through strobes), I love the idea of improving the quality of pixels. There are arguments that the “ISO Low” feature can’t really offer a true number, but everything I’ve seen is conjecture at this point as Olympus hasn’t confirmed anything.

Other than that, that’s just about it. Still no 4k. Feel free to checkout Olympus, Amazon, and DPReview for additional information though.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that it’s a quality camera. It will have a market just like the Olympus Pen EP5 had a market. But at $1199, I think it’s still under the shadow of the OM-D line, which in my opinion is a better value. 

I realize that I might be coming across as a hater. And perhaps I am. I write a blog on Micro Four Thirds but when we look at mirrorless sales and innovation in the last few years, Sony is the clear cut winner. People on µ43 forums said 4k with IBIS is impossible. That you can’t dissipate that much heat, even with the bigger bodied GH4. Yet, Sony does it with a much larger sensor with the new A7R II. And it’s rumored at the successor of their APS-C A6000 will also have 4k with IBIS.

I feel like the thoughts of switching to Sony is something that is often thought about, but seldom talked about. It’s crossed my mind many times. Yes, there are tradeoffs. And I still prefer the Micro Four Thirds format. But with the lack of innovation perhaps falling in love with Sony won’t mean breaking up with µ43.

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  • bluevaping

    Not a camera for you or me I guess more money our pockets. And I like shoot Olympus pictures in JPG, not being a full time painter in post. You can tweak the JPB engine before too. Non destructive jpeg editing workflow… Just too rich for my blood. There nothing wrong get a full frame for lowlight sport type shooting or whatever, It’s just not my cup of tea. More m43 cameras will come later.