Olympus PEN-F Review – the best mirrorless camera so far

I was really happy to be able to try out yet another retro-style camera, the Olympus Pen-F.

A hat tip to Foto Kücher Salzburg and Olympus Austria who gave me the chance to try this beautiful piece of high-tech.

Quick Review:
Stylish on-the-road retro camera with a fantastic picture quality, great manual settings handling at fair price.

The Pen-F is without doubt, a beautifully designed piece, paying homage to it’s analog predecessors. It comes in either a total black version, or in my case, the classic silver. It weighs only 0,6 kilos (lens included) and makes it a fantastic travel companion.

The manufacturing is at a very high level and I love the haptic of all the buttons and switches.

Here is the overview of the KIT I tried:
Olympus PEN-F (1.199€)
Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 (450€)
Total kit approx. 1.500€

The 20.3 MP Live MOS Sensor has 81 focus points and is really fast. ISO and shutter speed up to 1/8000 and down to 8 seconds (in bulb mode up to 30 min) are great for this small camera. The RAW size is 5184 × 3888 pixel and it also films in Full-HD in 60 fps .MOV format and can do 4K timelapses automatically. All saved on a SD-card.

The high-res shot option can deliver up to a RAW size is 10368 x 7776 Pixel which equals a 50 MP sensor at 12 bit (it combines 8 JPEGs with sensor-shift).

The Pen-F has a great in-hand feeling with all buttons and switches. The 3 inch LCD display great and the Pen-F offers an electronic viewfinder – which I didn’t use too often, especially when shooting in portrait mode. I chose the autofocus on the central spot focus point and I loved it. Fast and nice shooting with a great response time. The SD-Card I used was a SanDisk Extreme 95 MB/s.

The attached leather strap doesn’t only look beautiful but isn’t sturdy so it is not in your way when shooting.

The test shots I have done were from very close up to landscape shots and the Pen-F delivered perfectly. The 17mm f1.8 lens is the perfect companion for this camera as it allows great portraits and enough wide-angle to be a versatile travel companion. As I usually shoot with a 35mm lens on my Canon Mark III, this 17mm on the PEN-F comes very close to that.

The menu gives you a vast amount of possibilities for different settings, also very nice Fn buttons which you can set as you wish. The Pen-F also offers a variety of different filters which are controlled by a switch on the front of the camera – for me a very unnecessary thing which could have been just living in the menu and therefore make the front even more sleek. But overall this is a arguing on a very high level.

Shooting in manual mode all the time, I usually have a hard time doing that with mirrorless camera but the Pen-F outdid every other mirrorless camera I tried. The aperture and shutter speed are controlled with 2 wheels and the ISO is only one click away when you set the Fn button right. It is probably one of the bigger points why I am considering to buy this piece.

Carrying the PEN-F around feels more like a fashion piece than a camera, which is a nice add-on to it’s great capabilities. And the big amount of accessories you can buy for the Pen-F is a photographers dream.

Post production:
As always, I use Lightroom to edit my pictures. The Pen-F delivers a great RAW format which is spectacular for a camera this size. The workflow is smooth and very similar to the CR2 I get out of the Canon Mark III. What I was missing was a bit more depth and aperture stops. The depth of the highlights is not comparable to the one from the Mark III but doesn’t have to be obviously.

All in all, a lot better than expected from a camera at this size.

My summary and who should get it:
The Pen-F is definitely the winner of all the mirrorless cameras I have tried so far. The handling paired with the picture quality and more than lovely design is just the way a camera has to be done. I wouldn’t even think of bringing my other cameras to a road trip or walk when I could instead take the Pen-F. A clear winner on so many levels. The kit price at close to 1.500€ is a bit high I think but totally worth spending.

All photo enthusiasts with a scenes for design will love this piece dearly.
And I think it won’t be long until I will call it my own.

Please find some Pen-F pictures I took and some of me shooting with it below.

Big thanks to Foto Kücher for making this review possible.

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[easyazon_link identifier=”B01AW10GM8″ locale=”US” tag=”mhmedia07-20″]Olympus PEN-F[/easyazon_link]
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00CI3R4VU” locale=”US” tag=”mhmedia07-20″]Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8[/easyazon_link]
[easyazon_link identifier=”B007NDL56A” locale=”US” tag=”mhmedia07-20″]San Disk Extreme 32GB 95 MB/s[/easyazon_link]



"I am passionate photographer and digital strategist and love to do weddings, portraits and travel photography. Based in Salzburg but always on the go. I chose the name “because of light” on a very obvious reason: Almost all my pictures are taken in available light, so everything I do is connected to light –> because of light. My style as a wedding photographer can be described as fun, natural, romantic and editorial. I want to make your day look as special and feel as special for you, as it should be. My couples usually tell me at the end of their wedding day – we didn’t even realize that you were here. If you wanna book or work with me, just write me an e-mail at hi@becauseoflight.com"


  1. The best mirrorless from what standpoint? It’s a pretty bold statement not backed up by any evidence. And I do own one.

  2. A warning to Pen F owners: if you haven’t already upgraded to version 2.0 of the camera’s firmware, DON’T DO IT. Some Pen F cameras have severe issues with version 2.0, building up heat to the point the camera is shutting down and stops working. I spoke to Olympus customer care on the phone and they have confirmed issues with version 2.0 to me and recommended I stay on version 1.1.

      1. That’s why I wrote “some Pen F cameras”, not all. Mine was affected, so were many others. Olympus confirmed the issue to me on the phone and recommended staying on 1.1 if you own a Pen F. I am merely passing on the recommendation I got from Olympus.

        1. See, if Olympus made that recommendation without removing the new firmware from their update page it would be really bad. A company that knows of an issue, and tells some people not to update, but still has an update out that can damage your camera…. just wow.

          1. That’s why I’m putting this information out on places like this. A camera heating up to the extend that it shuts down is bad and in my opinion, can leave the electronics damaged or deteriorated permanently even after Olympus decides to issue a later fix via firmware.

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