While Olympus may have started the trend for rangefinder-style digital cameras with the launch of the original PEN E-P1 in 2009, other manufacturers have since jumped on board and the market is now awash with super stylish rangefinder-esque digital cameras.
Olympus’ latest response is the PEN-F; an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera that ramps up the style stakes with an even greater nod to the past than previous PEN models. Underneath all this hipster retro-styling, however, lies a thoroughly modern and generously specified camera that’s a joy to use and capable of fantastic image quality.
Aesthetically speaking the PEN-F is a proper head-turner, for which it owes a huge debt of gratitude to the original Olympus PEN-F half-frame rangefinder manufactured in the early 1960s. Right down to the colour processing mode dial on the front and textured leatherette finish the PEF-F oozes ’60s cool. Perhaps more importantly, its all-metal construction gives it a solid and decidedly premium feel in the hand too.
Internally, the PEN-F is built around a 20.3-million-pixel Micro Four Thirds sensor capable of excellent image quality, especially at lower sensitivity settings. While sensitivity does stretch to a maximum ISO 25,600 the PEN-F is at its best when used below ISO 1600. The PEN-F offers plenty of JPEG processing styles, each with its own unique colour and toning profile, and there’s also a generous set of creative digital filters to play around with under the Art settings.
Despite the convoluted in-camera menu system, the PEN-F is quite easy to use, with all physical buttons falling neatly within range of your fingers. The PEN-F excels as an all-round camera, especially when paired with a standard or wideangle prime that complements the camera’s small form-factor.