Best Olympus Pen-F Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020:
Builders are definitely spoiling us at the start of the year! After the resounding announcements of Nikon with its D5 and D500 , or more recently Fujifilm with its X-Pro 2 and EF-X500 , it is the turn of Olympus to make its re-entry announcement with a camera that we have been waiting for long: the Pen-F .
Best Olympus Pen-F Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals & Sales 2020
2. PEN-F Case, BolinUS Handmade Genuine Real Leather Half Camera Case Bag Cover for Olympus PEN-F Bottom Opening Version + Hand Strap – Black
To put it in context, it should be noted that this year, the brand is celebrating its 80th anniversary in the photo industry and that for the occasion, it wanted to mark a big coup by relaunching a modern version of one of its cameras. mythical: the Pen-F, released for the first time over 50 years ago in 1963. Olympus manages to do well in the photo market (that of interchangeable lens, SLR and hybrid cameras) , finishing 2015 good fourth behind Nikon, Canon and Sony.
The beautiful story and positioning
It is therefore the Pen-F 2016 edition which makes its appearance in the range of Olympus hybrids. It’s been a while since we had heard of the Pen range, so we wondered even if it was not doomed to disappear, as the brand has pushed its OM-D in recent years.
The expert model Pen E-P5 still dates back to 2013. The new Pen-F does not replace it in the range, even if the E-P5 becomes technologically outdated. The firm does not prohibit a potential Pen E-P7 in the future.
The Pen-F is therefore a separate camera, a bit like the Nikon Df .
Technologically, the new Pen-F does not revolutionize the hybrid market. It inaugurates a new 20 Mpx Micro 4/3 sensor (of unknown origin, although it is a safe bet that it is the same as that used by Panasonic and therefore manufactured by Sony), as well as some new functions, but nothing to knock down its main competitors. The device puts everything on its very successful retro design which, for sure, will crack more than one.
Ergonomics, design and interface
And it has something to please, this new Pen-F! At the same time, it inherits from its ancestor which was one of the most beautiful devices ever designed. At first glance, impossible not to make the connection between the two devices: same inscription of the model on the front and the top of the device, same shape, same colors and textures, same large adjustment wheel on the face before, etc.
The device has a noble design with beautiful materials and a very good level of finishes. It exists in silver or black version. Unfortunately, and it is quite difficult to understand, its design is not tropicalized . The textured imitation leather on the case is of the most beautiful effect, especially if the screen – orientable and tactile it goes without saying – is in the closed position.
But how on earth can you use a Pen with the screen turned over? Well thanks to the new remote electronic viewfinder and especially now integrated into the camera. It is an Oled model with dioptric corrector displaying a definition of 2.36 Mpx, 100% coverage and an equivalent magnification of 0.62x. On this last point, it’s not what Olympus can do best (the EM-1 is 0.74x), but it’s already quite comfortable to use.
Of course, this is a digital camera packed with technologies and functions that must be able to operate quickly. The sleek controls of the original version therefore give way to an imposing dashboard rich in knobs and buttons.
On the top , on the left, there is a wheel allowing you to turn on the power: this is a nod to the manual rewind wheel of the original model. To the right follow a lockable mode dial, a new exposure corrector and the shutter release circled by an adjustment dial operated by the index finger. Olympus has pushed the game of retro to provide a thread on the trigger to use a flexible mechanical trigger. Finally there is also a second large thumb adjustment wheel. When we first got started, we were a little disappointed with the handling of these upper rollers which, in our opinion, lack finesse.
On the face before the original Pen-F, it was a big adjustment dial for ISO. Olympus kept this wheel, but assigned it its new functions for customizing color and black and white renderings live; great artistic filters, sort of. We will come back to it.
The back of the camera is much more classic with many customizable buttons, as well as a new switch around the shooting modes dial to scroll through certain parameters.
In the end, it is true that the control panel is very rich – perhaps a little too much! We are far from falling into Leica’s purism with its M (Typ 240) , but a happy medium would have been wise. Especially since this new camera is designed for photo lovers who want to find sensations: a simple practice that goes to the essentials. The same goes for the menus of the device, which have still not evolved and still do not benefit from the tactile functions of the rear screen.
Under the hood
The new Pen-F inaugurates a new sensor , still Micro 4/3, of 20 MP. It therefore becomes the most defined sensor of Olympus, a little before the 16 MP of OM-D. In all likelihood, it is the same as that used by Panasonic on its GX8 , and this is the only real novelty in the performance of the device. For the rest, the Pen-F looks like it can be mistaken for the OM-D E-M5 II .
We therefore find a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600 (and can drop to 80 now), 5-axis stabilization, Fast AF technology and 81 measurement points. During our quick start, we were very impressed by the responsiveness of the autofocus and the triggering of the camera. In bursts, the box can swallow no less than 10 images per second (i / s). The shutter can go up to 1/8000 s in mechanics and 1/16000 s in electronics. In terms of connectivity, Wi-Fi is always there.
In addition, Olympus renews its ultra high definition mode by assembly which exploits the possibilities of displacement of the sensor (by stabilization) and allows to take on tripod photos of 50 million pixels on static subjects.
Finally, in terms of video , nothing new under the sun either and especially no 4K recording. It is possible to record sequences in HD TV 1080 at 30/25 / 24p in intra compression (ALL-I) and at bit rates up to 77 Mb / s. No microphone jack and even less headphone jack on this model. Unlike that of the E-M5 Mk II, the optional grip offered at 129 € also does not include a headphone jack.
One of the new features of the Pen-F is its wheel, which we will describe as creative. It allows you to quickly activate Art artistic filters, but also a black & white mode. The interface has evolved significantly, with the possibility of creating rendering profiles simply and quickly.
Thus, in black & white mode, you can play on the colored filters (yellow, blue, red …), the high and low lights, the grain, the brightness, the frame. In color mode, it will be possible to go further than the simple Color Creator available on some OM-D. Again, you can play on saturation (12 editable shades), high and low lights, contrast, sharpness …
The photographer will therefore be able to refine the colorimetric (or monochrome) rendering on his camera with an accuracy rarely achieved. Too bad the profiles are not recordable for an even more successful edition on computer.
Our first opinion
In the end, impossible not to be seduced by the devastating look of this new device. It is simply beautiful. When you see it, you want to touch it, use it and possess it. The handling is a little less exciting: the very busy dashboard and the feeling at the level of certain knobs leave us a little taste of disappointment.
On the technical side, nothing to complain about; it is a well designed camera that offers all the functions necessary for the vast majority of photographers. We simply regret the lack of innovation on the part of Olympus, which is “content” to take over the already very successful functions of its OM-D E-M5 Mk II . This new Pen-F is turned towards creativity with its many customization functions for rendering live images. It’s quite fun and well thought out, but you still have to take the time to use them in the field. On this point, difficult to pronounce for the moment.
Availability and price
The new Olympus Pen-F will be available in early March 2016 at a price of € 1,199 naked, € 1,399 in kit with a 14-42 mm and € 1,499 with a 17 mm f / 1.8 (black only).
In the universe of hybrids, it naturally positions itself against the Panasonic Lumix GX8 , which is clearly less beautiful, but more efficient from a technical point of view: 4K recording, better orientable electronic viewfinder, 100% touchscreen interface, NFC.
It must be admitted that the Pen-F is attractive with its lines directly inspired by the silver model of the 1960s. The finish is really pleasant, with a fairly heavy device (430 g all naked), but which inspires confidence. The coating is pleasant and visually successful. The controls (buttons, knobs …) are effective with special mention for the artistic filter selector which is remarkable for fluidity. As with the previous Pen, it (I) misses a small bulge to facilitate the grip. An additional handle (ECG-4) sold for € 149 will make up for this lack.
Another unfortunate point: the absence of seals. We always come back to the same comparison (probably a little too brutal), but compared to the Nikon 1 AW1 , sold at less than 800 € and capable of diving up to 15 m deep, it is difficult to understand that the compact Pen -F, launched at € 1,200, is not more protected.
If the style is successful, some may regret such a profusion of commands, especially on the top of the device. In fact, it suffices to compare a Pen-F film and digital to note the explosion in the number of orders. The perfect opportunity to tour the new Pen-F.
The Pen-F still uses the BLN-1 battery of 7.6 / 1200 mAh, or 9.3 Wh In the context of conventional use, we were able to perform approximately 250 trips, which is consistent with the rest of the range, but which remains very low compared to the several hundred photo possible with a reflex battery. The case still does not have a micro-USB connector that would allow charging on a computer. In addition, the charger that came with the device is one of the slowest we have used. it takes more than 3 hours to fully charge the battery.
Connections and memory
The memory card slot is unfortunately still located in the sole of the device. On foot, therefore impossible to change a card without having to dismantle everything. As for connections, it’s the union minimum: USB / AV output and an HDMI output. That’s all. No micro-USB socket for recharging or headphone or microphone socket. Good point, however, the USB cable allows remote control from a PC with Olympus Capture.
A Wi-Fi chip allows wireless remote control and transfer of photos to a smartphone or tablet for sharing on the Internet. The fairly comprehensive Olympus Image Share application offers fairly fine management of many shooting parameters. it is also possible to geotag images from data collected by the smartphone’s GPS.
The Olympus Pen-F has an autofocus module by contrast detection and for the moment, only the OM-D E-M1 “pro” box integrates a hybrid module with phase correlation on the main imager and detection of contrast.
However, the Pen-F is nonetheless very fast. It is logically in the same vein as the OM-D E-M5 Mark II , with a swift autofocus (between 0.2 and 0.3 s in full light with 17 mm), even in low light, and a power up which could be a little faster. Unfortunately, Olympus hasn’t updated its data processor, so there’s really no improvement to be expected.
On the burst side, the figures announced by the manufacturer are there. In High mode, the burst reaches 10 ips, but “drops” to 5 ips when subject tracking (continuous autofocus) is activated.
The Pen-F of Olympus is equipped with a sensor 4/3 “20 megapixel. We have no details on its origin, but it is probably the same model as the GX8 Panasonic .
With this definition (20.3 effective Mpx), the size of the photodiodes is approximately 3.3 µm. The ISO range natively ranges from ISO 200 to 25,600. A low position is also proposed and corresponds to 80 ISO.
As with all 4/3 “sensors now, electronic noise is imperceptible from ISO 80 to 400 at 100% on the screen. You have to push to ISO 800 to see the first effects of granulation. Again, no surprise, we will push without hesitation to 1600 ISO, the stereotypes preserving an excellent behavior with a good rendering of colors, clear borders and a dynamic of good quality.
ISO 3,200 clearly marks a stage with a much more marked smoothing of fine details. The 20 MP allows you to shoot an A4 without too many problems. The transition to ISO 6,400 is more difficult. The granulation becomes coarser, therefore more visible. It blurs the fine details, the borders are more blurred and there is a slight dull veil on the picture.
The pictures are logically more degraded when you go up in the towers: ISO 12 800, ISO 25 600 are more difficult to use. For these values, treatment with development software is recommended. You can also use filters, including the excellent monochrome modes of the Pen-F.
Raw compressed, but lossless
The raw .ORF files of Pen-F oscillate between 16 and 24 MB. The images are compressed (the weight varies depending on the scenes photographed), but with a lossless method. It is not possible to choose between a compressed or uncompressed RAW file in the menus.
Latitude of exposure
To check the exposure latitude from an “artistic” point of view, we photographed our test scene over a range of +/- 5 EV and corrected the raw files with RawTherapee software which has the advantage of opening a large number of raw files and in particular those of the latest cameras which are generally not supported by so-called “classic” software like Adobe Lightroom or PhaseOne CaptureOne.
All, the rendering information not being taken into account with RawTherapee for too recent cameras, the images appear by default a little dull.
For underexposed images, it is easy to reassemble a variation of 2 EV. At -3 EV, electronic noise is already clearly visible and above all quite colored. This is the limit of the sensor.
- Excellent level of finish, pleasant handling, successful retro look
- Good noise management up to ISO 3200
- Fast autofocus in most bright situations
- Effective 5-axis stabilization in photo and video
- Touch screen, swiveling (on ball joint) and covered with the same plastic as on the front
- Rather nice integrated viewfinder
- Possibility to select the point directly on the LCD screen
- Totally silent trigger in electronic shutter
- Efficient dust system
- High level of customization
- 50 MP mode for packshots in JPEG and 80 MP in RAW
- Many artistic and creative filters (LiveBulb, Color Creator …)
- Wi-Fi connection simple enough to set up
- Interesting and complete optical park
- Slightly smoothing JPEG files from ISO 3,200
- No built-in flash (but optional)
- No weatherproof finish
- Battery life limited to less than 300 views. Very slow charger.
- Convenient LCD screen opening
- Non-tactile menus and generally overly convoluted despite contextual help
- Non-backlit controls
- No 4K video recording
- No microphone input or headphone output
- Mechanical stabilization diffuses an unpleasant breath
- Proprietary RAW format (.ORF)
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