Olympus celebrates its 80th birthday with the unveiling of the Pen-F, a digital update of the original PEN-F half-frame SLR. The 20-megapixel Live MOS sensor is combined with 5-axis image stabilization, a built-in 2.36 million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and a new Creative Dial on the front of the camera.
The camera’s body lines and silhouette are inherited from its predecessor, which debuted in 1963. The top and front covers of the body are crafted from magnesium, and the precision metal dials (along with the bottom of the body) are crafted from aluminum. Customizable buttons and dials are positioned for easy operation while the user looks through the viewfinder, says the company, and the new exposure compensation dial and four custom modes on the Mode dial offer instant access to registered settings.
The newly-developed sensor is paired with the latest TruePic VII image processor. The sensor’s low-pass filterless construction delivers high resolution and a low sensitivity ISO LOW mode equivalent to ISO 80. The image stabilization system compensates up to 5 steps of shutter speed. Even legacy manual-focus lenses can be image-stabilized.
The camera’s High Res Shot Mode captures 50-megapixel equivalent images which are said to reproduce incredible subject detail in ultra-high resolution. Plus, Olympus Viewer 3 Ver. 2.0 image editing software has been updated to process these high res shot RAW images.
The PEN-F’s new Monochrome and Color Profile Control functions let photographers emulate their favourite films. These functions differ from using photo editing software after shooting, as they allow users to apply and check effects in Live View while shooting to create their own original images. Both functions include quick-select presets designed to give images the look of classic film. Or, settings can be completely customized to achieve specific looks. The camera’s front-mounted creative dial accesses Monochrome Profile Control, Colour Profile Control, Art Filters, and Colour Creator.
Monochrome Profile Control combines five photographic effects – Colour Filter effect, Shading effect, Film Grain effect, Monochrome Colour, and Highlight and Shadow Control – for a variety of monochromatic expressions. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Classic Film Monochrome (Preset 2) for a monochrome film effect with high contrast, and Classic Film Infrared (Preset 3) for an effect that mimics infrared film. In Color Profile Control, users are able to adjust the colour saturation of 12 individual colours in 11 steps. This can be combined with Highlight and Shadow Control. In addition to the default setting (Preset 1), there is also Chrome Film Rich Colour (Preset 2), which provides deeper tones in images, and Chrome Film Vivid Saturation (Preset 3), which creates high levels of colour saturation. The camera’s rear lever lets users easily toggle through the various effect controls, including Highlight and Shadow Control, a feature that also allows for the adjustment of midtones within plus or minus seven steps for advanced customization.
The PEN-F is equipped with a built-in high resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a 100 percent field of view and a magnification rate of 1.23x (35 mm equivalent approx. 0.62x) for a clear view without aberrations, even at the edges, says Olympus. Simulated OVF (S-OVF) Mode expands the dynamic range and provides an image similar to what would be seen with the naked eye. The magnified display function and Focus Peaking (which offers three levels and four colours) allow for extremely precise lens focusing, notes the company. In addition, the camera’s vari-angle, touch-enabled LCD monitor lets users compose Live View shots from a variety of angles.
The camera features what is claimed to be the shortest shutter-release time lag of any compact system camera at 0.044 seconds. The high-speed mechanical shutter delivers 1/8000-second top speed, and shutter functions can be customized according to the scene. Silent Mode is useful for shooting in situations that require complete silence, and Anti-Shock Mode allows users to prevent shutter shake. The AF Targeting Pad enhances control by allowing users to set focus points by touching the rear monitor with their thumb while composing their shot in the viewfinder. Face Priority AF and Eye Priority AF detect and continuously adjust the focus on faces or eyes for easier portrait shooting. Enhancing the detail of every shot is AF Target Spot Metering, which links the AF Target and the metering area, while Super Spot AF and Small Target AF make it possible to focus on small subjects.
The PEN-F offers additional compatibility with users’ legacy lenses by enabling them to register the information of lenses without electronic contacts for inclusion in images’ EXIF data. The lens information may be recalled with the press of a button. Up to 10 lenses can be registered, including the lens name, focal length and aperture value.
Other creative features include Live Composite Mode which allows users to extract and composite the brightest areas from multiple, sequentially shot images to capture cityscapes and star trails, for example. With the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi, users can utilize the Olympus Image Share app for Android and Apple to adjust settings and monitor the progress of the image as it develops in real time on a smartphone or tablet. In 4K Time Lapse Movie, the camera captures up to 999 images automatically at intervals ranging from one image every second to one image every 24 hours, and combines them into a high-resolution 4K video, all in-camera, without the need for additional software.
For those who enjoy macro photography, Focus Bracketing captures multiple shots at the touch of a button, all with slightly different focus depths. The new Live View Boost 2 makes it possible to easily focus and compose shots while checking visible stars in Live View, says Olympus. High-speed sequential shooting capabilities let users capture at 10 fps with the mechanical shutter, 5 fps with C-AF, and 20 fps with Silent Mode.
Optional accessories include the External Metal Grip that lets users replace the battery without removing the grip, featuring a Quick Shoe Compatible Rail on the bottom for direct connection to a compatible tripod head. Premium-quality leather accessories are also available in limited quantities.
The PEN-F will be available in early March, for an estimated street price of $1,499.99.