Review: Pen-F for Street Photography

2017 Update

After over five years using the MFT system I've sold my entire Olympus Micro Four Thirds Kit and now only use the full frame mirrorless Sony A7RII.

This decision came, since writing this article, after using both systems for a year and a half on client commissions.

Curious as to why? Read this:

Full Frame or Micro Four Thirds?

Early February 2016 I was sent the new Olympus Pen-F by my dear friends at Olympus. I’m an E-M5 Mark II user and absolutely love that camera with nearly nothing to complain about. Yet the Pen-F still has a lot to offer on a different level.

It’s a true street photography camera and the more I use it the more I’m falling for it.

(oops... crappy phone photo)

(oops... crappy phone photo)

Here are the main reasons why:

-          It’s a tad smaller than the E-M5 Mark II, and in street… smaller definitely is better. It fits in a big winter jacket’s pocket.

-          Love the shutter sound, or rather the lack of noise. Having used the Sony A7RII, I was shocked how loud it is making it not really great for street photography. It actually put me off that camera all-together.

-          The Mono mode is excellent. It's fully customisable (level of grain, level of vignette, colour filters and intensity of these, contrast, sharpness, highlights, shadows, mid-tones). This means that you can really achieve a quite unique look from having so many variants. A black and white photographer’s dream really!

-          The colour mode is also equally as customisable, I particularly like how each colour can individually be tweaked, more saturation… less saturation…

-          The two previous benefits lead to a last one… Less time in Lightroom or Photoshop, more time out there shooting.

The only two things I think need to be addressed/considered in the future by Olympus to make a better street photography camera are (and were on the E-M5 Mark II as well):

-          The camera is too slow to wake up from sleep mode… I’ve lost shots because of that. Then if you disable sleep mode the battery just won’t last.

-          The flip screen needs to revert to how it was for the E-M1 or E-M10… it needs to flip up/down only. There is no need for a fully articulate 360 degrees screen which makes for very awkward use with the screen hanging out from the side of the camera. It’s a video type of screen which the Pen-F isn’t.

It doesn’t have weather sealing but I never have really felt the need for that. I rarely shoot under torrential rain.

So overall, I love that camera and will be shooting lots in the coming weeks.

You can read more about it in my review of the Pen-F on Street Photography London.