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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!