Olympus Aims at Street Shooters with New PEN-F
Olympus debuted its first PEN-F in 1963. Quite a few things have changed in the intervening years but evidently our affection for knobs and dials is not one of them–at least if the 2016 edition of the PEN-F is anything to go by.
Aimed at street shooters and rangefinder aficionados, the new PEN-F is loaded with manual controls and a retro esthetic but boasts plenty of modern technology on the inside. That tech includes a new 20-megapixel Live MOS sensor with no low-pass filter, 5-axis image stabilization for up to five stops of correction per CIPA standards, Micro Four Thirds lens mount and a 2.36-megapixel OLED viewfinder.
The OLED EVF has a 100-percent field of view and a magnification of 1.23x (or 0.62x in 35mm equivalent). There’s a Simulated Optical Viewfinder (S-OVF) Mode that seeks to mimic looking through an optical viewfinder by expanding the dynamic range of the EVF. The viewfinder is situated off to the side of the camera so photographers can keep one eye on their scene while the other peers through the EVF.
The camera’s 3-inch vari-angled touch screen can be popped out and turned around to lay flush with the camera for those who want to shoot eye-level.
The top and front covers of the camera body are built using magnesium, while the dials and bottom of the camera body are forged from aluminum. An interesting design touch: the screws aren’t visible on the exterior. There’s a dedicated exposure compensation dial and four programmable custom mode slots on the mode dial.
To complement its street cred, the camera has new monochrome and color profile controls to emulate analog film looks. These presets looks can be previewed in live view and tweaked by the user to fine tune the effect. The monochrome profile has three presets. In the color profile control, there are also three presets plus you can adjust the color saturation of 12 individual colors in 11 steps.
There’s a dedicated “Creative Dial” on the front of the camera to quick access these presets plus Olympus’ Art Filters and Color Creator mode.
Similar to the E-M5 Mark II, the PEN-F has a high-res shot mode that moves the sensor in tiny increments to create a 50-megapixel image. You’ll need Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 software or a free plug-in for Photoshop to process the final image and it requires that both camera and subject be completely still to avoid motion blur.
The PEN-F offers a shutter release time of 0.044 seconds and mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec.
You can burst at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter when focus is fixed at the first frame though speeds will drop to 5 fps with C-AF engaged. You can hit 20 fps using an electronic shutter, which tops out at a maximum speed of 1/16,000 sec.
The camera also features Focus Bracketing, which captures a series of images with different focus depths which you can composite in post for a single in-focus image.
Additional features include:
- Native ISO range of 200-25,600 with a low ISO 80 setting
- the ability to make 4K time-lapse movies from up to 999 images.
- an anti-shock/electronic first curtain shutter mode to reduce shutter vibrations
- face and eye priority AF
- magnified display and focus peaking in three levels
- 12-bit RAW file
- 1920x1080p30 video using ALL-I compression or 1920x1080p60 video recording using IPB compression
- Live view output from HDMI
Olympus is also making sure that users who sprung for the original PEN aren’t left with a bag full of incapable glass. You can register the information of older lenses without electronic contacts so that lens name, focal length and aperture value appear in your image’s EXIF data. You can store info on up to 10 lenses in the camera.
The PEN-F will retail for $1,200 and ship in March. It will be sold in silver and black.