The latest addition to Olympus’s much-vaunted PEN family of cameras, the PEN-F, is a camera that takes the classic mid-century design of its predecessor and reworks it for the digital age into a camera squarely aimed at the design-conscious photographer on the street.
With the PEN-F, form and function arrive together in one finely-tuned package. In terms of pure aesthetics, the camera’s styling deliberately looks like something straight out of the ’60s. With the solid engraved metal casing married to the deluxe leather-like body, the design DNA of the original ‘analog’ film PEN-F camera clearly runs through, making the modern digital iteration its direct successor.
However, on the technical side, the Olympus PEN-F comprises a solid rack of features designed for the dedicated urban documenter as well as the design-conscious casual photographer. For instance, so that you can get your shot looking good on the fly, the PEN-F’s Creative Dial gives quick and easy access to two new filter settings alongside its already existing Art Filters and Color Creator (introduced in previous PEN cameras). The Monochrome Profile Control and the Color Profile Control debut on the PEN-F, both of which allow for finely-tuned gradient adjustments. All of which can be seen and monitored in real-time through the 2.36million-dot resolution OLED touch display.
The new PEN-F also hosts the fastest response time between shutter release and image for the Micro Four Thirds category (tested against interchangeable lens DSLRs and other MFTs). It contains a 20-megapixel live MOS image sensor that lacks a low pass filter and, therefore, allows for longer exposure times at low ISO settings. The image sensor also grants you 25% better resolution on shots, reducing noise and improving the dynamic range performance (i.e. pretty much whatever light you’re working with, you’re going to get quality results).
Olympus’s PEN-F also allows for high-speed sequential shooting at up to 10 frames per second and also features a hi-resolution vari-angle LCD monitor for capturing videos or stills in tricky spots. Other tricks include the obligatory Wi-Fi support for image sharing and a cool supersonic wave filter that automatically shakes any dust off from the sensor when you’re changing lenses. And, speaking of lenses, the PEN-F is compatible with some 40 M.ZUIKO lenses including the professional M.ZUIKO PRO range.
The PEN-F’s tech functions combined with its famous design means that, if you’re looking to up your photography game, Olympus’s PEN-F is a pretty good place to start. It’s a beauty, and a beast.