January 27th, 2016

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.

 PEN-F-SLV_back_LCD-180_backside_tilt-high (1)

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.
  • Wi-Fi
  • 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.

PEN-F-SLV_front PEN-F-SLV_rightside

Read More:

Olympus E-M10 Mark II Review

Olympus E-M5 Mark II Review

January 14th, 2015

PDN Video: Jay Maisel on How to Be a Better Street Photographer

Jay Maisel on How to Be a Better Photographer from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

Based on the lessons he’s taught to photography students over the past five years at PhotoPlus Expo and elsewhere, legendary photographer Jay Maisel recently published Light, Gesture & Color (New Riders Press). He describes the book as one “for people that are tired of bullshit books that tell them exactly what to do, and so they get rote results.” In this video, Maisel shares advice from his book on how to take better photographs, including tips on how to be a more successful street photographer. In a separate PDN video, Maisel explains what he means by the term “gesture,” why it is an important element of good photographs, and how to recognize and use it to your advantage.

Jay Maisel on the Importance of “Gesture” in Photography

August 1st, 2013

Detroit Native Dave Jordano Uses Street Photography to Counter “Ruin Porn”


© Dave Jordano 2013

© Dave Jordano 2013

Photographer Dave Jordano’s three-year project “Detroit–Unbroken Down,” featured in this week’s Time magazine and on a recent post on Time’s Lightbox, represent a return to Jordano’s roots – both personally and professionally. Jordano grew up in Detroit, and he began revisiting it three years ago to document how it had changed since 1977, when he moved to Chicago to launch his commercial photography career. The project also represents a return to the documentary street photography he had done before he began shooting ad campaigns. Almost a decade after he began transitioning from advertising work to fine-art photography, Jordano, 65, has had several projects exhibited and sold prints to several museum collections. But, he says, “This Detroit work is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think the project’s finished yet.”

In 2010, Jordano noticed that there were many photo books being published about Detroit, all focused on “abandonment and emptiness.” He says, “The term ‘ruin porn’ was used to describe it.” Jordano still had the street photos he’d shot in Detroit as a photo student in the 1970s, and he decided to try a re-photographing the same streets 35 years later. But the project soon changed course. Over the course of 22 trips in the last three years, he’s started focusing on “portraiture and small moments.” He explains, “There are people living here and they’re stuck here because they can’t afford to leave.” His view of Detroit isn’t rosy. City neighborhoods lack grocery stores, bus service or street lights; calls to 911 take at least an hour to rouse a response. “Anyone there will tell you it’s awful, but this is what they deal with every day” he says. His images capture people managing to survive.

As a native of Detroit, Jordano says, “I was just more emotionally connected to the place than photographers who were just coming in and out, and then posting work that made the whole city look bad.” (more…)

July 1st, 2013

PDN Video Pick: Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography

Chicago Tribune staff photographer Scott Strazzante has built an Instagram following of more than 18,000, and is also author of a popular blog called Shooting from the Hip. He sat down for a video interview with PDN at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia last month to explain the tools and techniques he uses to capture unguarded moments of everyday people on the streets of Chicago, New York and other cities he visits while covering news and sports assignments for the Tribune.

Scott Strazzante on iPhone Street Photography from PDNOnline on Vimeo.