One camera range has been missing from the Olympus effort over the past few years, and it’s the Pen rangefinders. Fortunately, it’s back, and it has the bones of the bigger mirrorless cameras to rely on.
For the past couple of years, we’ve seen Olympus return its OM series of cameras to the real world, bringing retro back once and for all as the company found a way to make the compact interchangeable lens cameras it produces look a little more like a real camera and less like a toy from the future.
The good news with these cameras wasn’t that Olympus hadn’t merely made a nice looking body, but had also thrown in some high quality camera gear, producing a solid little range of cameras capable of taking some decent photos and even capturing some motion stable video.
But these cameras were a little bulky, not like the “Pen” cameras Olympus had originally pushed the Micro Four-Thirds with.
Fortunately, if you prefer the smaller Pen cameras and have been longing for a new variant, you have your wish because one is coming.
Heading to Aussie store shelves in the next few weeks will be just that, a new Pen camera called the “Pen-F” taking that smaller style of camera design and applying some of the changes the OM-D range has received in recent years.
For instance, there’s the 5-axis image stabilisation system being brought over to this model, as well as the extra high-res shot mode we saw in last year’s OM-D E-M5 Mark II allowing you to take images with four times the megapixels (and technically detail) by moving the sensor ever so slightly as a capture is being made.
And there’s a new sensor here on the Pen-F, with a 20 megapixel LiveMOS sensor being used here, boosting the capture size a little even from the previous OM-D models.
You’ll find quite a few wheels and dials, with three on the right side of the body when you hold the camera, there for a variety of functions including program mode, exposure control, and aperture and shutter speed control, too.
The front of the camera holds a new wheel, too, and this one feels like it’s skewed for the arty out there, providing a quick switch to get the camera into various colour modes, including art options, colour, monochromatic, and custom modes, with this toggle letting you get into the modes super fast instead of going through the menus.
Olympus even suggests that the monochrome mode does a little more than its standard monochromatic mode, adding digitised “film grain” if desired.
Outside of the tech inside, there’s the design of the Pen-F, and you’ll find this is a metal body made to look and feel like cameras once did, albeit with new technology used instead of relying on the 35mm film of yesteryear.
To push that message through, the Pen-F will be the first digital Olympus Pen model with a built-in viewfinder, going back to the sort of features film cameras needed, which we suspect is one of those requested features for mirrorless interchangeables like this one.
As for pricing, the Olympus Pen-F won’t come cheap, appearing to be a premium example of a compact digital and carrying a price reflective of that, with the Micro Four-Thirds compatible body hitting an RRP of $1799 in Australia without a lens, or $1999 with the 14-42mm electronic zoom lens.
Alternatively, there will be a 17mm low-light f/1.8 lens available with the Pen5, arriving for $2199 when the three options hit shelves in mid-February.
It’s not the only camera Olympus has arriving in mid-February, either, with a new variant of the OM-D E-M10 Mark II coming, this one a “limited edition” designed to look as retro as the Pen-F.
This one is merely attaching the words “limited edition” to the E-M10 Mark II name, with the bulk of the design staying the same as well as the feature set, but with a brown synthetic leather body covering the body the main drawcard as well as the properly leather shoulder strap.
Oh, and there’s a special metal lens cap, too.
Frankly, we’re a little more intrigued by the Pen-F, but you’ll find the Limited Edition M10 on the way in mid-February also, arriving for a recommended retial price of $1099.