My New Love – the Olympus PEN-F (2016)!

By 31 May, 2016Gadgets
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On my most recent trip to Melbourne, I was asked “Why do you take pictures of everything? Not tiring ah?” 

That came from a group of people who take the most wonderful pictures with their cameras as well, and would probably be the ones who would understand me most when it comes to picture taking, so I know they’re not mocking me, but really trying to understand why.

I paused for a while, and thought about it.

I don’t really post every single picture I take with my camera on my instagram or blog, but I take plenty of pictures. Scrolling back through my photos from the last trip, I slowly recalled everything that happened during my previous Melbourne trip.

The sights, blue skies, the sound of the tram, the bustling city, the good food, the great weather, and most importantly, how I felt when I was in Melbourne the previous time. Things that I might have forgotten in my short term memory, but not in the back of my mind.

“Memories.”, was my answer.

Taking pictures – it’s my way of making sure that I don’t forget things. Sort of like an extra brain, my SD card contains my precious memories, captured. They just needed to be pulled out of my mind castle with the right jolt. These pictures do the trick, it’s more than just a visual. Be it digital image files or physical prints, they bring back memories and experience. Things you might have forgotten… and things you don’t want to forget.

I don’t always clear my memory card, sometimes only taking action when it’s full, but it’s always so hard to delete any picture at all. How do you bring yourself to delete a memory? That’s why I always take time to decide when it comes to choosing cameras. Weighing the pros and cons, because this camera, once purchased, is gonna be the one key tool to capturing my memories!


Yina and I, our cameras always garner some attention wherever we go – not sure if it’s how “professional” our cameras look, or the Olympus brand name that makes people get a second look, even if they don’t know a thing about micro four thirds. They’d just say… that’s a very nice camera you have there! Heh.

The Olympus brand name is often associated with professional photography, and rightly so. They have themselves a good following – for their creamy images, quality photos, their wonderful range of lenses and also, they were the amongst the first to develop half frame cameras which were the smallest of cameras back then – beginning with the first PEN camera in 1959.

I know it seems like I JUST got my Olympus E-PL7 – it’s a little over a year and a half old now actually, and the thing about cameras – a new one comes out every 1 – 2 years, and it’s always a good idea to upgrade every now and then, and get one with a newer sensor (as advised by a photographer friend)!

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The Olympus PEN-F was a long awaited, legendary release, a digital reincarnation of the original PEN-F (film camera) first released in 1963.

It doesn’t replace the E-PL or EP series, but it’s in a new premium class of its own above all the other PENs. With a an electronic viewfinder, more convenient dials for easier control over exposures and apertures, and even a color profile mode, it’s the best of its class, and almost enough to challenge the OM-D series – with one exception – that it is not weather-sealed. A negligible factor for some, I might say. Especially since the EPL7 doesn’t have weather sealing either and I made it through fine with that for almost 2 years!

I had the chance to test-drive this baby at an Olympus event as well as bring it around for 2 weeks to decide whether I wanted it or not. If it’s not obvious enough by the blog title, I most definitely wanted this vintage looking baby after trying it out.

Other than the solid aluminium and magnesium build, the much sought-after vintage look, there are many other reasons why one should consider getting the Olympus PEN-F.

In short, and in more technical terms before I go into details:

  • 20MP Live MOS Four Thirds format sensor
  • 50MP High Res Shot Mode
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization with automatic panning detection
  • 10fps sequential shooting
  • 1/8000 sec high shutter speed
  • Monochrome & Color Profile Control
  • 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Fully articulating 1.04 million dot, 3″ LCD touchscreen
  • Full HD 1080p video recording
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Focus Live Composite mode
  • 81-point selectable autofocus (touchscreen!)

First thing most people ask when it comes to cameras… Is it bulky/heavy?

Well to be very honest, I don’t feel very much of the weight difference because what’s heavy is the lens I mount on the camera.

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But the PEN-F IS slightly heftier (actually, 73g heavier) and more well-built than my E-PL7 – it feels much more solid when I have my bigger lens on (the 12-40mm f/2.8) as it balances out the weight of the lens.

Psst… With a good strap, you can get great support and feel lesser tension on your back when carrying the camera around!

1. In-camera filters for different moods

We live in a digital world, where application filters help to accentuate and show the mood we are in.

A function which no other Olympus camera has at the moment – the creative dial located at the front of the camera allows you quick access to the monochrome mode, art filters, color creator and color profile mode – in short, this dial allows you to apply “filters” onto your images as you shoot, eliminating and/or reducing the need for further editing or post processing with apps.

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I love the monochrome mode, and the dial allows further in-camera “processing” – it has controls to edit the shadows, highlights and contrast levels with  a flick of the quick lever located at the back of the camera, just above the touchscreen.

Some images of Yina and I trying out the gorgeous monochrome mode during the Olympus shootout event!

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On a separate day, just to show you how the monochrome mode can alter the mood of an image…

Even without filters, Olympus' already pretty well known for its nice creamy colors!

Even without filters, Olympus’ already pretty well known for its nice creamy colors!

The mood changes when it's black and white! Using the Olympus 12-40mm for these two shots ; )

The mood changes when it’s black and white! Using the Olympus 12-40mm for these two shots ; )

And more from the color profile / color creator modes…

Original image without filters.

Original image without filters.

Adjust hues, saturation, contrast all from the camera!

Adjust hues, saturation, contrast all from the camera!

Colour Creator / Colour Profile filters!

Colour Creator / Colour Profile filters! These are slightly exaggerated to show you the effects you can apply on the images!

You may find yourself spending some time fiddling with the settings to get a right “filter”, especially since we have many different situations – indoor, outdoor, sunny etc – but when you do get it right, it’s really worth the time and effort – after all, this means that you’re one step closer to fully mastering your camera and relying less on app filters! (Usually after a trip I find myself with thousands of images to edit… imagine how much time that takes…)

2. Better, sharper and less blurry images

Other than the fact that this is probably one of the first few cameras in the market to have a 20mp resolution output (that’s 4mp more than the EPL-7!), the Olympus PEN-F allows you to shoot at high resolution of max 50mp too!

I know you’ll be thinking… what would I need this for? You can’t use the function on moving objects (landscape, clouds, people) but only on inanimate objects, but it’s still handy to have. The object you are shooting has to be still for at least 4 seconds while the camera does its magic.

I’m not going to go into details about the pixel shifting technology, but this can, and will be useful when it comes to studio/product shoots, and I’ve tried it out on a painting myself! It produces so much more detail and enables the artist of the painting to get a good quality print if she wished to.

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I’ve only begun to realize what a god-sent 5-axis stabilization can be recently – it makes shooting in dimly lit places a breeze, and captures clear images with minimal blurring, and this extends to videos as well. It makes my handheld shooting so much more stable (have you seen my shaky snapchat videos? gah!).

You can’t compare this to images with a tripod of course, but who has the luxury of lugging a 2kg tripod around when you’re on the go?!

Examples: An image shot at 7pm, as well as a handheld shot video.

A video posted by Evonne Ng ★ 琳 (@evonnz) on

3. Instant Live Updates / Built in Wi-Fi

‘Nuff said.

This is a must-have in all cameras now so that we can actually be more instant on our Instagram accounts, yes?

I love how you can wifi image over to your phone quickly (beats phone quality any time!) and edit with your phone on the fly, or share images instantly.

Here’s a little story: Most recently (in April ’16), I was in Japan, Harajuku and Ron took some really nice images of this adorable toddler playing with bubbles at a small playground. Before we left the area, I thought… Why just keep the images for ourselves? We approached the mother/aunt, and with our limited Japanese, got her to turn on her airdrop – we wifi-ed the images over from Ron’s camera to his phone, and transferred it to her instantly via Airdrop. I love technology. And I loved that smile on her face when she saw the beautiful pictures Ron took!  

2016-03-Evonnz-Olympus-PEN-F-Singapore-10Plus, Olympus has an app that turns your mobile device into a remote control, along with live view on your mobile device – I’ve always found that handy for group photos, especially when there’s no one to help me take photos!

I simply position the camera, set the timer and place the phone somewhere less visible yet within reach for me to tap shoot!

An example:

This was shot at my new place, with my camera mounted on a tripod. The phone's there, but you'd never guess that it's a remote (with a live screen for you to see how to position yourself)!

This was shot at my new place, with my camera mounted on a tripod. The phone’s there, but you’d never guess that it’s a remote (with a live screen for you to see how to position yourself)! I was also actually looking at the phone, but you can’t tell! ; p

4. Selfies & images from more angles


Swivel screens are much, much better and flexible than a flip screen! It’s so easy to take selfies and shots from more challenging angles now.

I’ve always loved the touchscreen function in my Olympus cameras – focusing is easier and faster with a touch screen. Plus, it allows you shoot from extreme angles – way up high, or down low – you don’t even need to press the shutter because the touchscreen allows you to focus and shoot with just one tap! 

EVF + Trackpad focusing
The Electronic Viewfinder is such a lovely treat – It helps when you’re taking shots against glaring backgrounds (like sunsets and bright background lights) and for the PEN-F, it’s nicely flushed along with the body (less obtrusive looking). What’s even better is how you can change the focus by just thumbing the touchscreen even when you’re using the viewfinder – It’s one of the first few cameras to have that function!

5. Shooting in silence

I’m not trying out for a career as a private eye, but this function (to turn off the shutter sound) was one that I gladly welcomed – it makes stealth street shots so much easier, and renders me less shy when taking selfie photos in public since you don’t hear the shutter sound (which can be quite loud when you’re say, in the library?!). 

The Olympus PEN-F is an upgrade that I definitely did not regret. Did I mention how photogenic the PEN-F looks too? It goes with every single outfit I have! I’ll be sharing with you guys all the cafe hopping I’ve done in Melbourne – all images taken with the PEN-F, of course!


 

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 18.22.31The Olympus PEN-F is available in two colours: Silver, or Black. View more information about it here!

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