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Olympus PEN-F has classic name, built-in EVF and no low-pass filter

Create: 01/27/2016 - 06:52
Olympus PEN-F


  • New 20-MP Live MOS sensor has no low-pass filter
  • Uses OM-D's five-axis image stabilization
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder 

Olympus has reached into the past for the design and branding of its latest digital camera.

The Olympus PEN-F, which was announced on its U.K. site, is a link back to its highly regarded half-frame film camera of the same name that was popular in the 1960s.

The digital PEN-F, however, isn't just a warmed-over E-PL model. It brings with it some very strong specifications.

  • New 20-MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • Olympus claims a 25% increase in resolution
  • No low-pass filter
  • Five-axis image stabilization
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder
  • 3.0-inch variable-angle LCD
  • Spot metering is linked to the autofocus spot region

Olympus has gone to some lengths with the PEN-F to show that this is a special camera. It mentions that the model name is engraved and filled and has a "leather-like" body covering. By the way, the body is available in both silver and black. In its press release, Olympus is calling this a "collector's item."

Olympus also is offering some high-end accessories for this camera, such as a leather neckstrap, bag, a body grip and half-case.

The PEN-F has no built-in flash, which separates it from other PEN models. The hot shoe should be able to use an Olympus flash.

One thing that is built into the body is the electronic viewfinder, which provides 100% frame coverage.

The camera can record a 50-MP high-resolution shot. Olympus says the camera will take eight photos and merge them into a single photo. The camera's top shutter speed is 1/8,000, and the low end of the ISO range is 80.

The PEN-F can shoot at up to 10 frames per second with focus and exposure fixed for the first shot.

Images are recorded in JPG and RAW, including RAW+JPG, as well as full HD 1920x1080 60p video.

As can be seen in the accompanying photos released by Olympus, there is a dial on the front of the camera, just like the original film camera had. In this case, it's to allow the photographer to select a creative mode (on the film camera, it was the shutter speed selector). The creative mode now includes two new options for "colour" and monochrome.

The top deck is a bit busier with several other dials, knobs and buttons, which are necessary for today's digital cameras.

There still are some gaps in the specs, such as the ISO range.

The Olympus PEN-F will be available at the end of February for US$1,199 (£999.99) for the body only. In the U.K., several kits are offered: £1,099.99 for the body with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm EZ Pancake lens and £1,199.99 for the body with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL f/1.8 17mm lens.

Interested buyers can make an appointment at select U.K. retailers to view and test the camera. 

Watch Olympus' promotional video for the PEN-F:


About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.