Shooting with the Olympus Pen-FFirst

First impressions of Olympus’ new camera.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
My Reading Room

All the images in this feature were shot with the Olympus Pen-F, and most of them were shot using the new film presets that ship with the camera.

I shoot all the time in raw and do my own post-processing. So I wasn’t excited about the Pen-F’s Creative Dial at first, which gives you quick access to the new Color Profile and Monochrome modes, as well as Art Filters and a Color Creator mode.

That’s why I was quite surprised by how often I turned the dial to the Color Profile and Monochrome modes, when shooting with the Pen-F. The Color Profiles simulate the look of film, and I came to enjoy their colors. It was also quite refreshing to view the world through black and white in Monochrome mode, which simulates the look of classic black and white films.

Because the colors are saved to JPEG, I still saved the original shots by setting the camera to shoot in raw with JPEG. But I liked the colors often enough that I didn’t have to do much with the JPEGs in post anyway. This came as both a pleasant surprise and a nice time-saver.

The rest of the Pen-F handled beautifully, and is itself a beautiful camera, following the lines of the original Pen F from 1963. It’s compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around and remain inconspicuous in crowded areas. I’m still impressed by how many small lenses I can pack into a bag, and how sharp and full of character Olympus’ prime lenses are.

The new 20MP sensor, which doesn’t have an optical low-pass filter, captures a good amount of detail. Auto-focus is quick, and I appreciate how quickly you can take over focus points with the touchscreen and four-way controller. The class-leading five-axis optical image stabilization helped me nail clearer and sharper images in low light than I’d usually hope to get.

As first impressions go, the Olympus Pen-F is off to an impressive start. Look forward to our review of the camera in a future issue of HWM.