Olympus Pen-F(antastic) – Part 3
– Featuring Guest Editor Daniel Ho.
Image: Our Guest Editor Daniel HO from Singapore Journal of Photography (SGJP)
24th March 2016, Singapore – The Editorial team decided to invite a Guest Reviewer to test out the Olympus Pen-F and he is none other than Daniel Ho, a professional street photographer who dabbles in the dark art of monochrome realm, an activist for film photographer and a lover of classic cameras. Daniel came across to us as a quiet guy who reasons with photographs, a nice guy who is willing to share his knowledge to anyone who is willing to listen and photographer that produces soulful and contrasty nostalgic images.
Following my Part 1 review of the Olympus Pen-F in Krabi, and after our Sub-Editor Gary Chow took the Pen-F out to spend time and wrote the Part 2 review, we decided to contact Daniel and let him have the Pen-F for a week. And we are not editing Daniel’s review and decided to publish the article”as it is” for everyone! Here we go!
First impression on Olympus Pen-F with 17mm f1.8 Olympus M-Zuiko Digital Lens
– Review by Daniel Ho.
Olympus was one of the first camera manufacturer to take the jump into the micro four third format cameras and has remained as one of the leading micro-four third camera brands ever since. After years of the introduction of their OMD line up and an aging micro-four third sensor compared to their competitors, Olympus’ latest Pen-F launch after the Pen Series and moving back into their nostalgic Pen Film and entry level Pen Digital Series, a 20-mega pixel sensor is like a breath of fresh air for the Micro Four Third Aficionados.
I have the privilege of having this beautiful camera for a quick review and I have decided to do one that I feel, is uniquely to what this specific camera has to offer, the incredible Black and White or Monochrome mode that can deliver out of the camera a Tri X 400 Effect. Before I get ahead on my comments and thoughts, do take note that I am not providing a technical review of this camera nor a comparative analysis of this camera against other camera, but just a user review of using this camera for the last one week.
These are the specifications of this camera:
- 20MP Live MOS Four Thirds format sensor
- 5-axis image stabilization with automatic panning detection
- 36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- Up to 10 fps continuous shooting (20 fps with electronic shutter)
- Highly customizable interface, twin controls
- Fully articulating 1.04 million dot, 3″ LCD touchscreen
- 50MP High-res Shot mode
- 1/8000 sec top mechanical shutter speed (1/16,000 with e-shutter)
- 1080/60p video recording
The body comes in an aluminum and magnesium body with a faux leather wrapped around which I think is classy and sexy compared to the more professional range of OMD series. The various knobs on the top plate have a solid feel to it. The handling of this camera, however, is less than an ideal camera, as the small knobs to the settings will take some time to get used to, and especially for someone like me with big fingers, I could not respond to a change of exposure fast enough in order to adjust the compensation dial, or fiddling with the back and forward dial to figuring out where is the aperture settings and realizing both of it can be used to change my aperture.
The dial in front of the body is a stroke of genius compared to the OMD where I have to go into the menu to make a change to the filter available to me, but I am just not used to the weird location for me to get to the dial where I can set the artistic filter options.
The Black and White Mode
This camera does renders beautifully the photos even in the various artistic filter available in the camera, but I will do a more immersive review on the monochrome mode which appeals to me as a photographer more especially when I have grown up falling in love with Black and White, and I am till today, still shooting on my Nikon Fm2 with the Tri X 400 films, so you can imagine how exciting I am when I learnt and read that Pen-F does Black and White in a simulated mode of Tri X film, and that’s something that unless you have to post process in a software like Lightroom by Adobe, I have to say, the nostalgia of a Tri X film and its beauty is something every Black and White photographer will want. So the end result, I took the opportunity when I was offered a chance to do a review of this camera
My First Thought
I love not just the simulated mode of the Monochrome that is very closed to a Tri X 400 look, but the custom settings allow me to change the highlight and shadow, and this function was more or less what I do on Photoshop if I want to change the look and feel of my photo to a more contrasty black and white but now I can do this off the camera custom setting immediately. I took a few test photos and it looks really good out of the camera (OOC) and you can see below.
Image: This photo was taken straight OOC at a café, which shows a beautiful rendering of shadows and contrast against the hard shadow on the floor with the chairs.
Image: This was a really cute dog taken at a farm, and I love how close at this proximity to the dog, the 17mm at 1.8 at 35mm equivalent of full frame.
There was a pinochle effect but it was not too adverse to my liking, the bubble effect does lend to an unique perspective looking down at the dog waiting for her next treat.
Image: Tested the camera shooting through the foliage has produced a desirable effect while showing the good details of the leaves.
As expected on the Black and White tone of green, it does render the tone of colours as appearing on the monochrome setting, it is however, slightly more balanced than the contrasty Tri X effect.
From the real life testing of this camera on the monochrome exclusively, I believe this is the more affordable alternative to the revered Leica M Monochrome, and with better lens option from the increasing number and better quality than before micro four third lens out in the market and the custom settings by which you can alter the histogram, the ability of getting OOC Black and white photos is indeed very appealing.
In terms of the camera ability to capture brilliant Black and White photos on its monochrome setting, and the OOC Camera capability, this camera could turn out to be a legend on its own. However, there are some issues that unless Olympus resolve this soon, this could be a hit and run on another camera model that made it to the shelf; which is the key, so far, this camera seems to be only working for social media junkie where like many modern camera that is equipped with wi-fi, you can transfer JPEG to your phone to be shared on the social media such as Instagram, and that’s the end of the use of this camera, unfortunately.
The RAW file is not readable by Lightroom and that’s a pain, as RAW is crucial to every professional workflow and without this being made available to be read and manipulated in any post processing applications, this camera is just another nice toy among many other capable alternatives with OMD, Fuji X Series and even Sony.
In conclusion, this is a great camera to be in the bag, as it is small and portable, and enough power in a single charge to do some street photography and the monochrome function is a revelation from Olympus and good thought on that.
Review by Daniel Ho –
Singapore Journal of Photography (SGJP)
SGJP Facebook Group.
You can view the above review at SGJP’s website here.
For Pen-F Part 1 Review by Editor AL, click here.
For Pen-F Part 2 Review by Sub Editor Gary Chow, click here.
Thank You Daniel for sharing your thoughts about the Olympus Pen-F!
Read up past reviews that we had done for Olympus here.
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Be careful making statements about the inability of lightroom to read the RAW files – as with all other cameras when a new format is released it takes time for the software to get upgraded to read the new RAW format. That is ot the fault of the camera, it is a dely in the software house keeping up. I continuously had to upgrade my camera RAW saoftware as new models were released
Thank you for the feedback. We will inform the reviewer.