Olympus PEN-F Comparison Review
The Olympus PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was officially introduced in January 2016 and is equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. It offers a resolution of 20.2 megapixel.
Is the Olympus PEN-F a good camera? The PEN-F has a Camera Elo of 2310. This rating puts the PEN-F among the top 50 percent of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (Four Thirds cameras), the PEN-F ranks among the top 40 percent. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3.5-star performance rating.
|Mirrorless system camera|
|Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|ISO 80 - 25 600|
|Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1037k dots|
|10 shutter flaps per second|
|330 shots per battery charge|
|125 x 72 x 37 mm, 427 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Olympus PEN-F vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Olympus PEN-F alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M10 III||122 mm||84 mm||50 mm||410 g||330||n||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|Panasonic GX80||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Olympus PEN-F was launched in the US market at a price of $1,199. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
The Olympus PEN-F features a Four Thirds sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Olympus PEN-F among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M10 III||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic GX80||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The PEN-F indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the PEN-F can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the PEN-F has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2360k dots. The viewfinder offers a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.62x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus PEN-F and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-M10 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.6||Y||Y|
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
One feature that differentiates the PEN-F from many other cameras is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The PEN-F reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while cameras without IBIS have to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus PEN-F and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M10 III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the PEN-F offers wifi support. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the PEN-F in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Olympus E-M10 III||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2017||649|
|Olympus E-M1 II||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Olympus E-PL8||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|Olympus E-M5 II||+ +||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|Olympus E-M10 II||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|Olympus E-M10||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|Olympus E-P5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|Panasonic GX80||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|Panasonic GX8||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Sony A6500||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Olympus PEN-F FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the PEN-F.
What technology is the imaging sensor in the PEN-F based on?
The camera has a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.
Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?
Olympus equipped the PEN-F with the TruePic VII image processor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the PEN-F?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 25600.
Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?
Yes, the LCD-screen of the PEN-F is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Olympus PEN-F?
Olympus does not publish a shutter rating for the PEN-F. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.
Is completely silent shooting possible with the Olympus PEN-F?
The camera has an electronic shutter option, so that it is indeed feasible to capture images without any shutter noise.
Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?
No, the Olympus PEN-F has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.
Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Olympus PEN-F?
The PEN-F offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.
Does the Olympus PEN-F feature an autofocus assist light?
Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.
What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?
The PEN-F's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.
Does the Olympus PEN-F support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?
Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-II cards (data transfer speed of up to 312 MB/s).
Which battery does the PEN-F use?
The camera gets its power from the BLN-1 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Camera to camera comparisons
In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities with other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon SX720 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Canon SX730 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Canon XTi vs Olympus PEN-F
- Hasselblad X1D II vs Olympus PEN-F
- Hasselblad X1D vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon A1000 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Nikon D700 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Olympus E-M1 II vs Olympus PEN-F
- Olympus PEN-F vs Panasonic G95
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony A6300
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony HX350
- Olympus PEN-F vs Sony NEX-5N
|Camera Model||Olympus PEN-F|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 1 199|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||225 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5 184 x 3 888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 25 600 ISO|
|Image Processor||TruePic VII|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||894|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|LCD Size||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||Electronic Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||Intervalometer Built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in|
|Battery Type||BLN-1 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||330 shots per charge|
125 x 72 x 37 mm
(4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||427 g (15.1 oz)|
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