31 Mar 2019
Last month, I bought an Olympus PEN-F and then sold my all black E-M5 II earlier in March. I was pretty impressed by my shutter count, 14,813 – until I read more from other photographers. I had hardly spent any time with my camera in comparison. Even still, this was a major upgrade from my Olympus PEN E-PL5 and took my photography from amateur to enthusiast.
I don’t consider the Pen F an “upgrade”. Spec-wise, there are some features that are indeed upgrades, but there are just as many that are on par. Worse, there are a few downgrades, such as lack of weather sealing.
Anyway, here’s why I switched from the Olympus E-M5 Mark II to the Olympus PEN-F.
The PEN-F makes me want to go out and take photos
Seriously – look at this beautiful camera:
Well yes, I’m still in the honeymoon period with the camera, but the PEN-F looks and feels like an accessory – not just a tool. I’ve been so inundated by facts and spec-sheets by the most popular YouTube channels but the PEN-F brings me back to reality – I am not a professional photographer. I am an amateur. This is my hobby. My gear should feel fun.
I am not a professional photographer. I am an amateur. This is my hobby. My gear should feel fun.
The PEN-F makes me want to bring my camera with me everywhere I go – and what do you know? It’s pretty much always in my hands, backpack, or sling.
With the E-M5 II, I felt like it was a chore to bring it everywhere with me. Not because of it’s
The PEN-F’s build quality
The PEN-F has a metal build which makes it cold to touch – I’ve never handled another camera with the same characteristic. It reminds me of the cold touch when you pick up your idling Macbook Pro. As a result, it also feels weighted in a luxury sort of way.
Monochrome profile #2
The first time I started reading review on the PEN-F, most reviewers pointed out two things about the creative dial: (1) they were lukewarm towards it but (2) they really like the second monochrome profile. I’ve never shot black and white film (yet…) but apparently the out-of-camera jpeg brings back nostalgic feelings black and white photography.
The profile focus on high-contrast photos with some added grain. It really allows you to focus on your use of space and light. It didn’t take long to see this as a creative challenge and I’ll sometimes find myself clicking to the second monochrome profile.
In addition, the dial itself feels clicky in a very mechanical and audible satisfying way.
sixteen megapixel sensors
I’ve owned the Lumix G9 for nine months and its 20 MP sensor gave me the flexibility to crop in. With the 16 MP on the E-M5 II, I pretty much kept only straightened out photos. I would at times print up to two-page prints in a 10×10 book and the smaller resolutions would be noticeable.
What I’ll miss
The E-M5 II had a two-piece grip: HLD-6 and the HLD-8G. It gives three ergonomic profiles to choose from. Without either accessory, the E-M5 II is a compact mirrorless. By adding the grip, it keeps the camera small but now benefits from a grip with a better placed shutter button. Finally, the third part is a vertical-battery grip which adds another vertical shutter button. This gives us a grand total of 3 shutter buttons on the camera. Anyway, this just makes it a very versatile camera and helped reduce costs between owning the two different bodies I carry now.
I’ll miss the weather-sealing to an extent. I could throw on the Olympus 17 mm f/1.2 Pro and have a lens-heavy kit for the day, but I could get away with something weather resistant that was relatively small. The PEN-F doesn’t sport weather sealing which means I’ll need to be a bit more mindful.
If you want more example photos from the PEN-F, check out my slowly growing, PEN-F album on Flickr.