the Olympus Pen-F keeps coming back again!

 It is one of a kind never preceded, never replaced (by Olympus) after all those years of love and discussions about its possible future. But, in one way, the Olympus Pen-F digital camera was already at its evolutive pinnacle right from its introduction. Sure you may argue there is always place for improvements and it has been a pity that Olympus has stopped its effort after this very unique camera model.

This spring I was totally unable to resist to own a third copy of the Olympus Pen-F. Finding one a good shape at a reasonable selling price on the use market was an outmost challenge (Thanks to Louis, a fellow Canadian, that made this dream to happen again).

The Olympus Pen-F (2016) was release only seven years ago and have appeared to be a very niche Micro Four Third (MFT) digital camera model right from its start. Controversies about its video interface (No microphone & headphone ports) have introduced certain doubts about its overall capability but photographically speaking, the Pen-F have certainly equaled and have surpassed the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II model available at the time. The absence of the weather resistant (WR) characteristic has been also a deterrent factor for some others. At the end, all these reserves regarding the Pen-F have been proven to be less important today if you consider that the Olympus Pen-F in use condition is selling an higher price than it was brand new!

The fact is that the Olympus Pen-F is a very discrete camera model (even more in its black livery). For street photographers, for travelers, for everyday photo takers, the Olympus Pen-F is a small marvel to interact with and can give excellent picture results. Moreover it perfectly suit the use of small lenses with good maximum aperture of F1.8-2. Its handling is similar of what we can expect of a rangefinder style digital camera. Additional grip can be obtained with the optional ECG-4 grip but at the cost of a more bulky photographic device. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is detailed although its magnifying ratio stay modest compare with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II or Mark III models for example. The back screen is fully articulated and can fold in for maximum anti-scratch protection.

All the control dials and function buttons are easily accessible. The mode dial have four different custom setting available which is exceptional. The dedicated exposure correction dial is also an exception compare to many other Olympus models. The special effects front dial allows you to set directly the Pen-F at its monochrome and color modes. The shutter release button is smooth and its pressure reactivity is predictable and you can use it with a traditional photo cable release cord. The On/Off switch mimic the older rewind reel used into past analog-film cameras. No flash has been incorporated to the Pen-F body but an add-on and head-orientable mini-flash (FL-LM3) was furnished by Olympus with the other usual accessories. You can consult these further personal reviews of the Pen-f here.

The Olympus Pen-F interface is very complete although it will ask you a certain learning effort on your part (as for all Olympus camera model interfaces). I suspect that more and more the camera manufacturers will introduce new camera models with extendedly integrated artificial intelligence (AI) that will take charge of all the parametric aspects of their camera. That could be tricky considering that the personal bias of the photographer might be ignored and be overpassed in favor of implanted algorithms. Creativity and originality may be the last frontier to preserve for the art and cultural human evolution. Only the future will tell if this artistic threat can be overpassed.

One of the best lens combination with the Olympus Pen-F can be obtained when you are selecting one of their Premium series optic: M.Zuiko 12mm F2, 17mm F1.8, 25mm F1.8 and 45mm F1.8 (the ED 75mm F1.8 is also a brilliant choice but with a larger size factor). All those Premium lenses will perform neatly with the 20 megapixels Pen-F image sensor. Pictures will be crisped and fine definite and color rendition will be similar along the entire focal range. Because of the bulk of the M.Zuiko Pro lenses, you can felt much less handheld comfortable to attach them on the Pen-F except if you intend to use your left hand as the main support of the lens-camera combo.

Few words about the esthetic presentation of the Olympus Pen-F: it is classic, it is gorgeous, it is glamour. It is still a reasonable pleasure that a photographer can afford to pay for (in the used market) at this very moment in time that digital camera “rangefinder like” new models tend to disappear from the actual camera manufacturer catalogue. For the record, specialized photographic devices have been always a niche market (but it is true to say that all the past Brownies and Instamatic of this world have been replaced by the today multi-fonctional phones).

The Olympus Pen-F is a very creative tool as least for its supportive users like me. It suit a specific style of photographers that want to be less intrusive with their subjects, let say, more casual in their approach. If you are an observer type of person that like to further analyze your preferred subjects with a repeated visiting, the Pen-F will be an almost perfect companion.

Photos Daniel M : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (Pen-F Illustration); Olympus Pen-F

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