Olympus PEN-F

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by pniev, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    I am using the Olympus PEN-F for approximately 2 weeks now and thought to share some impressions from a usage perspective. Let me start with a moonshot:


    Insane! I used the Nikon 300mm PF lens with 1.4X teleconverter, giving me a reach of 840mm. The PEN-F has a Digital 2x TC function. So you can shoot at 1600mm. Well, it’s a bit of cheating since the Digital TC basically is a crop. But I think it is a cool feature, assuming you shoot jpeg. This is a cropped raw-version.

    My primary intention is to use the camera for watch photography during events and visits where I can’t use my usual setup. I could test it recently and the results are acceptable for web publication. Herewith some examples:






    So what do I think of the camera?


    • The PEN-F is tiny yet surprisingly heavy. You feel the build quality.
    • I like its size. Not too small. Not too big. It is possible to bring the camera in a golf bag, coat pocket, or small bag.
    • The PEN-F / 17mm feels better in the hand than Fuji X100(S/T/F) with 23mm lens.
    • The grip is made of metal and definitely adds some weight. Adding the grip has two advantages. First, it is easier to hold the camera for a longer period of time and second, the tripod can be attached in the middle of the body rather than the front.
    • Generally speaking, I do not have problems in finding the right button, even when I am looking through the EVF.
    • Although it is always possible to nitpick, there were actually only two things I do not like. The first one is the location of the SD-card. Although it is no a problem to raise the card by pushing it, it is a challenge to get the card out. My second problem relates to the LCD-screen. It requires some practice to flip it. I am wondering who the industrial designer was who came up with these solutions.


    The menu seems to be designed by someone without any User Interface skills and is not a photographer. It is just a dump of potential settings. You really have to dive - indulge ?- into the menu to find all settings. The C1 thru 4 banks are a great help but require careful thinking about your needs. But it is rewarding to do so. I will share my settings in a follow-up post.


    What about IQ?

    Here is where you pay a price for a smaller sensor. Not as much compared to APS-C as well compared to full-frame. ISO1600 probably is the max although ISO3200 is possible in emergency situations. However, the image stabilizer is a great way to deal with the ISO limits. I have shot at 1/10 second without any problem.

    Otherwise the images are crisp, colorful and clear. They don’t have the 3D-pop that can be seen in fullframe/medium-format but


    Things I love
    • Focus bracketing! It works well.
    • DoF
    • Color Mode dial

    Things that could be improved:
    • SD-card slot
    • Swivel



    color mode knop:

    ...To be continued (also feel free to add your own views)

    Mods: if there is another thread that this post belongs to, feel free to move it.
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  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Those watch shots look about as good as I think you'd ever need them too, short of really big print ads on really high quality magazine type paper. And maybe even for that???

    Looks great.

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  3. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    Thank you. Yeah, for web they look fine unless you start to look into the details. Then they do not hold up against the D810 with 60mm and (especially) 85mm PC-E lens. But I do not mind. This is more than enough.

    Next steps will be using the 17mm and 60mm Olympus lenses.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  4. christilou

    christilou Legend

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Thanks for that review, I have a Fuji XT10 I never use, was thinking about going back to M4/3rds.
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  5. tonyturley

    tonyturley Hall of Famer

    Nov 24, 2014
    Scott Depot, WV, USA
    That black Pen F with the black 17mm looks sharp. I rented a Pen F for a week, and it was a nice camera, just a bit too rich for my pockets at the time. I might some day be persuaded to get one with another 17mm/1.8.
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  6. Ripleysbaby

    Ripleysbaby supernatural anesthetist

    Sep 9, 2011
    Cumbria UK
    I've just sold all my Sony ff gear. I decided that my Panasonic GX8 was more than adequate for my needs. That and my GR.
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  7. donlaw

    donlaw All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Very nice review. And photos of the camera are great since I have never seen a PenF in the real.
    Watch photos are very nice.
    I left m4/3 and came back with the EM-1 which has proved to be such a wonderful travel camera a can't see not keeping it.
    Still have a EP-5 which needs a new home, but could never get a reasonable offer to sell it. I would be very tempted to try the PenF if I could sell the EP-5.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
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  8. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    Thank you. I noticed that as well. The images I saw did not really help me get an idea. Especially with the grip attached to the camera. So I took and included some shots. I am glad it was helpful.
  9. pniev

    pniev Student for life

    May 13, 2013
    Thank you. The XT10 was another option for me. I am not sure if MFT will bring addt'l benefits. To me, the availability of the Focus Bracketing (sadly, not the focus stacking) function was the key factor. I also liked the 'looks' of the PEN-F better.

    If not for my watch photography, I would have opted for the Sony RX1R2 or Leica Q as a "small" camera addition to the Nikon FF cameras.