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This Beauty is a Beast! – Olympus announces the Pen F

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If you are familiar with film cameras from the seventies you might recall the Olympus Pen F, a small interchangeable-lens system that used the half frame format. The series inspired the popular digital Pen Micro Four Thirds camera and today the Japanese brand is paying tribute to the original film model by releasing its digital version. What’s more, it is also a celebration of 80 years of Olympus cameras.

The new Pen F (note that the name is exactly the same despite being a digital camera) is the most advanced Pen camera by Olympus. It is the first to incorporate an electronic viewfinder and shares many specs with the OM-D series.

A lot of effort has been put into the design. The camera is made of magnesium and aluminium (including the dials) and doesn’t have visible screws on the body. The camera features lots of dials including the exposure compensation dial on top and a new Creative dial on front which was originally the shutter speed dial on the film camera. This new dial allows you to select the Art Filters or various colour and monochrome profiles whose saturation can be adjusted, B&W filters and tones. The build quality is excellent and the camera is available in two versions: black only or black and silver. Unfortunately the body is not weather sealed.

Inside we find a new Micro Four Thirds sensor with 20MP like the Panasonic GX8. The ISO range remains the same as the other OM-D cameras (200-25600 ISO) with an extended pull value of 80. The Pen F inherits the same 5-axis sensor shift hardware as the E-M5 II, which is currently the best on the market (5 EV of compensation). The cameras share the same High Res Shot function of the E-M5 mark II: the camera takes 8 consecutive shots and after the sensor moves between these 8 shots, it merges them into one large file. Thanks to the new sensor, the camera can go as high as 50MP in JPG and 80MP with Raw. Note that this mode only works well with the camera on a tripod and without moving elements inside your composition.

olympus pen f 03

The autofocus is based on contrast detection with 81 points. The camera can shoot as fast 10fps in Single AF and 5fps in Continuous AF and Tracking. There is an Anti-Shock mode to reduce shutter shock and an electronic shutter that offers a silent mode and extends the speed to a maximum of 1/1600s. Interestingly Olympus states that according to their in-house tests, the Pen F has the shortest release time lag among interchangeable lens cameras, including SLRs.

The EVF has 2.36M dots of resolution and 0.62x magnification (35mm equivalent). The LCD screen can be flipped to the side and rotated. It has touch capabilities including the AF Targeting Pad to change the focus point while composing with the EVF.

PEN-F_EVF

Concerning video, the Pen F can record Full HD up to 30fps with the ALL-I codec (77mbps) and up to 60fps with the IBP codec. There is no 4K option if not for time-lapse but it is limited to 5fps. The 5-axis stabilisation also works in movie mode with two settings available.

Finally the Pen F includes all the major features we see on the OM-D cameras including Live Time and Live Composite, Focus Bracketing and may other things.

The new Pen F will be available at the end of February at the suggested price of $1199, €1199 and £999.