The Olympus Pen F for street photography?

Some of you will know that I’ve been testing the new Olympus Pen F for the last few months – a camera which appears to offer everything a street photographer needs. I’m not going to post a lengthy review here (there are plenty of in-depth reviews online) – but I’ll give you the ‘heads-up’ on my thoughts so far.

Pros:

  • Image quality is amazing – better than from my Fujis (X Pro 1 and X100T); the JPEGs straight out of the camera are terrific.
  • The standard lens which ships with the camera, the 17mm f/1.8 (35mm equivalent) is superb and I rarely use anything else. This is now my ‘go-to’ lens. (The camera alternatively ships with the 14-42mm zoom but I don’t like this; the 12-40mm f/2.8 pro version is much, much better – although expensive).
  • Articulated screen can be useful for street photography.
  • All the buttons and controls are very customisable and I could quickly set up the camera to suit my way of working.
  • Although I use manual focus most of the time (using zone focusing), the AF is very fast and accurate – one of the best I’ve experienced in a small camera.
  • The electronic viewfinder (EVF) is very good; it’s bright, has all the info you need and ‘keeps up’.
  • I love the retro look and feel of the camera. It’s very chunky and metallic, yet small enough to fit into a coat pocket.
  • The wireless function (controlled via an app on my iPhone) works well and is better than the Fuji version.

Cons:

  • There’s no real weatherproofing, which could be an issue in the winter.
  • Battery life isn’t great – you’ll need at least 3 with you for a day’s shooting.
  • The ‘art filters’ button on the front is a bit of a gimmick in my opinion – though I guess some may find it useful.
  • I think this button could have been put to better use.
  • That’s about it – there’s nothing much wrong with this camera.

So, overall it’s a big ‘thumbs-up’ to the Pen F and I’ll be hanging on to this one for a good while yet. I’ve been using it on my street photography workshops for a few months now and I’m pretty impressed. Feel free to have a play with it if you come on any of the workshops.

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