Olympus Pen-F: 20MP sensor was no huge surprise
January 27, 2016
Due out at the end of February, priced £999.99 body only, the Pen-F will be available in black or silver versions.
It was not exactly a shock to hear Olympus announce a 20.3MP sensor for the new Pen-F, especially given the impressive 20.3MP in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 launched last year.
Olympus has doggedly stuck to a 16-million-pixel sensor for the past three years but hinted it may go higher after unveiling the OM-D E-M10 Mark II six months ago.
‘Basically… they were waiting for the sensor to come along that was at least as good [in terms of] dynamic range and light capabilities as the one we already had,’ said product manager for Pen & Stylus at Olympus Europe Mark Thackara.
‘Olympus’s pitch has always been they don’t want to just go for megapixels, they want to go for overall image quality.’
Thackara, who declined to name the sensor’s maker (believed to be Sony), said that ‘if the extra resolution is available and you are not compromising any of the other performance aspects, then it is a logical thing to do’.
The sensor has no low-pass filter ‘for exceptional street photography at low ISO settings with low noise and enhanced dynamic range’, claims Olympus in a statement.
Another key part of Olympus’s ‘pitch’ for the Pen-F is the inclusion of a rangefinder-style EVF, which, Thackara suggested, people have been demanding for some time.
The 2.36m-dot OLED EVF is able to display focus peaking on its 0.62x magnification screen.
Such a viewfinder is made more pertinent by the expansion of creative options to include colour filters in the Pen-F ‘like you would have been able to do on a film camera’.
The dial of the front harks back to what was the shutter speed dial on the original Pen F – providing access to four creative options, including Monochrome Profile Control.
The effects of a b&w or blue filter can be seen in the viewfinder in ‘real time’, for example.
‘One of the things that we perhaps haven’t been strong enough in talking about is just how useful it is to be able to see exactly what’s happening in the viewfinder,’ added Thackara.
‘And when you have got all of these colour options, they are not always as visible on the LCD because of the daylight. But you put your eye to the viewfinder and you can see absolutely what’s going on.’
However, Olympus has yet to decide if the digital Pen-F is a one-off or the first in a range.
‘In theory it should be an ongoing product, but the market is very volatile at the moment, so everybody [in the industry] is trying to see what works and what doesn’t,’ said Thackara.
Key features also include a 50MP High Res Shot mode, True Pic VII processor, 10 frames per second shooting and a top shutter speed of 1/8000sec.
The Pen-F has built-in Wi-Fi and 5-axis image stabilisation.
Harking back to a 60s classic
Made between 1963 and 1966, the original Pen-F was the first half-frame 35mm SLR featuring a porro-prism to allow ‘streamlined design without roof prism’, explains the classic camera bible McKeown’s. The half-frame format meant the user got twice as many shots from a roll of film. Later variations included the Pen-FT, made from 1966-72, boasting improvements such as a single-stroke lever advance and a self-timer.