Olympus PEN F reveal

Why would I buy another camera? I just bought the new OM-1 and have an EM-1 II, I don’t NEED another camera. Simply, this purchase is pure indulgence, something I WANT, and have coveted for some time.

Timeless classic? the Olympus PEN-F

I watched this mint PEN-F for three weeks on Gumtree – an Aussie buy and sell site. I received an email advising the ad would expire in two days. I ummed and erred before messaging the seller. The price was high and he was a reluctant seller who was switching to Fuji, the system his wife uses so they can share lenses. He was lovely to deal with and we eventually reached a price we were both still reluctant with, but also happy with. I still wasn’t 100% sure I should get it.

The discontinued Pen F doesn’t often come up for sale in Australia, especially in this as-new condition with just over 1200 shutter releases – practically new, at a good price. I thought I’d let fate decide and tossed a coin – (as I did with the OM1 with three heads up) – HEADS = YES, I tossed it again to confirm – TAILS = NO, fate didn’t know. I asked Google, “Should I buy another camera?” Google’s reply: “Do you need another camera?” Ha!

I slept on it …

Released in March 2016 to mark the 80th anniversary of the first Olympus camera, the ‘Semi-Olympus 1′ from 1936, the PEN F was at the time Olympus’ most advanced and expensive camera, featuring a new 20MP sensor – the same used in the later OMD cameras. Reminiscent of the 1960s-era PEN-F, it has an array of mostly customisable physical controls and dials including an art filter selector on the front, a built-in EVF and an articulating touchscreen.

Full control over your images in a beautiful body

Feature wise, it sits roughly between the EM5-II and the EM1-II and is VERY capable despite it’s age, having many features that other brands still lack. While in-camera focus stacking is absent, it does have bracketing – I haven’t yet checked if it has the latest firmware. There are only two features I wish this camera had – weather-sealing and Phase-Detect Focusing rather than Contrast-Detect, otherwise for me at least, IT IS PERFECT!

A bespoke, retro style camera that is gorgeous to look at, handles beautifully and most importantly FEELS like a classic camera, with all metal Magnesium Alloy construction, including all those wonderful knurled dials!

The sound of the mechanical shutter releasing is so satisfying, it really takes you back to the days of film cameras. While it has advanced internals and four Custom-Modes on the dial just like the new OM-1, it doesn’t feel like your holding a plastic image capturing computer. When I pick it up, it instantly brings joy – and that for me, is what photography is all about. I hope that emotion or dare I say, passion shows through in my images, because it really does put me in a different mindset.

The new flagship OM-1 top, Pen-F bottom – just over 200g lighter.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like or appreciate the OM-1, technically it is brilliant, but I just love the classic tactile handling of the Pen. Perhaps my only possible regret would be if OM Solutions released a new, updated Pen-F in a few months and even then, it would have to be good, really good, to beat this classic.

Included a bespoke leather Garis half-case, which protects and improves the hold.

This camera is not for everyone or for every use. It’s not meant to be, some – probably most people, simply won’t get it. “What’s he banging on about?” But in just a few days of use, I can tell this is a keeper for me. A lovely second body to complement the OM-1 with a different purpose.

All images above taken with the EM1 Mark II

I was already unlikely to use the EM1-II again except as a backup body if I do another event/wedding. Now it will get sold. I will also sell my lovely little Sony RX100 III which went down the Franklin River with me. I still use the RX occasionally but the Pen-F will more than happily replace both of these cameras. In early hindsight, I think this purchase is well justified.

To finish off, some more mono shots from the first day – or rather night, with the PEN-F and 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 II (shown in previous two images). A short stroll while waiting for my daughter to finish up in a lab at the Menzies Centre.

Thanks for visiting, I hope you’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy my little indulgence!

18 thoughts on “Olympus PEN F reveal

    1. Thanks Allan, I’d love to collect Leica’s too, beautiful cameras! but unfortunately the budget doesn’t quite stretch that far. Maybe one day. I would love to try Fuji medium format too, but then there’s more gla$$ – and the missus, she doesn’t get it 😉


      1. As a widower, I can tell you that it’s far better to have a good wife than a good camera. And I had a GFX, but traded it in for a Leica. The Fugi was so heavy I kept leaving it at home.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, this camera is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, Tone, and beyond my experience with cameras. Your descriptions are really good, I would love to have a few minutes just to try a couple of shots! I had the Sony RX100 series but also sold it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had never tried or even seem a real Pen-F before John, so it was somewhat a gamble. I loved the Sony RX when I used it, very capable though everything was small and fiddly by comparison with few buttons and dials. It stood up to my “adventures” surprisingly well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to shoot Nikon, only with kit lenses due to budget. I always found the focus soft around the edges but I enjoyed using them and challenging myself to do things like bracketing and stacking manually. I’d get an idea and figure out how to achieve it. It taught me LOTS!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s great, Tone! This camera came with a 16-50mm lens, I have since added a Nikkor 18-140mm lens which works very well for my non-professional photography. Photography keeps me busy and out of trouble too. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s a great hobby – once you have the gear, it’s practically free, and the gear no longer needs to be the latest to get great results. Plenty of second-hand bargains around!


    1. I tell you what John, I think it will get used more than the OM-1, I like it that much! It’s like a Classic Mini vs a BMW Mini, less advanced, but much more character and so much fun!

      Liked by 1 person

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