Olympus PEN-F Mirrorless Camera Review

The first Olympus PEN-F camera, introduced in 1963, was the first of its kind. It soon gained popularity because of its gorgeous, yet basic appearance, as well as its compact size, which was based on the half-frame film format. It’s likely that getting 70 shots on a single roll of the film helped as well.

Olympus PEN-F (Body-Only) (Black)

1 used from $1,058.97
Last update was on: November 30, 2023 3:41 pm

Now, 53 years later, the PEN-F has made a triumphant return.

However, the digital reincarnation of the 35mm film Olympus PEN-F does not take the place of the existing digital PEN flagship E-P5, but rather sits next to it as the PEN family’s “premium” choice, replacing the E-P5.

The reason for this is that, unlike previous digital PENs, the F includes something much more OM-D-like: a built-in 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2,36 million dots. The F also has the greatest output resolution of any Olympus camera to date, thanks to a Four Thirds sensor with a resolution of 20MP (which is most likely the same sensor used in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8).

The PEN-F has a lot going for it, especially considering that it was released primarily to cater to street photographers and the design-conscious who are searching for a competent camera with retro-style and rangefinder-like features.

Machined aluminum and magnesium body house all of the components listed above, with no visible screws anywhere on the device.

The PEN-F is encircled with a faux-leather wrap, and the body itself is well-weighted and has a very sturdy feel to it.

The Panasonic GX8 is the most direct Micro Four Thirds opponent to the PEN-F since it has much of the same internals as the OM-D EM-5 II and has a sleek rangefinder-style design (reminiscent of Fujifilm’s X100 series cameras).

It also has a 20MP sensor, making it a good match for the PEN-F. There are a number of other cameras that compete with the Sony a6000, such as the Sony a6300 and the Fujifilm X-E2S, which are also APS-C formats.

Of course, the PEN-F will be up against competition from other models in the OM-D series as well as other manufacturers.

We spoke with Eric Gensel, a technical specialist with Olympus, in order to have a better understanding of how the PEN-F fits into the market as a whole. He goes into detail on how the PEN-F fits into Olympus’ lineup, who the camera is aimed at, and what went into the design of the camera:

Olympus PEN-F in Comparision

Many of the standout characteristics of the PEN-F are not novel. In reality, many of the most important specifications are shared with other recent Olympus offerings.

Some functions, on the other hand, have been enhanced. For example, because of its 20MP sensor, the PEN-F is capable of better resolution in multi-shot mode when compared to the OM-D E-M5 II, and up to 80MP in Raw mode when compared to the E-M5 Mark II (50MP in JPEG).

A dedicated creative control knob is located on the front of the camera, and it also has four customizable shooting modes that may be accessed through the locking exposure mode dial.

Given how many of its basic functions are carried over from previous models, it’s difficult to perceive the PEN-F as a significant advancement, but it does provide a handling experience that is unparalleled in Olympus’s portfolio. Is the PEN-F more than simply a lovely face, or is it anything more? Let’s get started.

Olympus PEN-F Specs

MSRP$1199 (body only)
Body type
Body typeRangefinder-style mirrorless
Body materialMagnesium alloy + aluminum
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels20 megapixels
Sensor photodetectors22 megapixels
Sensor sizeFour Thirds (17.3 x 13 mm)
Sensor size notesHigh-resolution mode produces Raw images at 10368 x 7776 or JPEGs at 8160 x 6120.
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorTruePic VII
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Boosted ISO (minimum)80
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (4 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Image stabilization notes5-axis
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, fine, normal, basic
File formatJPEG (Exif v2.3)Raw (Olympus ORF)
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points81
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3″
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification1.23× (0.62× 35mm Equiv.)
Viewfinder resolution2,360,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic)1/16000 sec
Exposure modesauto program AutoShutter PriorityAperture PriorityManual
Scene modesPortraite-PortraitLandscapeLandscape + PortraitSportHand-held StarlightNight sceneNight + PortraitChildrenHigh KeyLow KeyDIS modeMacroNature MacroCandleSunsetDocumentsPanoramaFireworksBeach & SnowFisheye Conv.Wide Conv.Macro Conv.Panning3D
Built-in flashNo (external flash included)
External flashYes
Flash modesFlash Auto, Redeye, Fill-in, Flash Off, Red-eye Slow sync (1st curtain), Slow sync (1st curtain), Slow sync (2nd curtain)
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Continuous drive10.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 seconds, custom)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264, Motion JPEG
Videography notesChoice of ALL-I, APB codecs
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Wireless notes802.11b/g/n
Remote controlYes (wired or via smartphone)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBLN-1 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)330
Weight (inc. batteries)427 g (0.94 lb / 15.06 oz)
Dimensions125 x 72 x 37 mm (4.92 x 2.83 x 1.46″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes (video)

Olympus PEN-F Price

1 used from $1,058.97
as of November 30, 2023 3:41 pm