If you are here for a complete review of the Olympus PEN, you are in the right place. Keep reading to see if this stylish camera is a good buy for you this year.
We’ll take a closer look at the specs of the Olympus PEN-EPL9 and then compare it with its younger brother, EPL8. We’ll also try to determine who this camera is best suited for and discover some hidden features that you could greatly benefit of.
Olympus PEN-EPL9 Specs
- Sensor: 16.1MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds
- In-body 3-axis in-body image stabilization
- TruePic VIII Image Processor
- 121-point contrast AF
- 4K video
- 3.0-inch Flip down touchscreen, 1040k dots
- Dimensions 117.1 mm (W) x 68.0 mm (H) x 39.0 mm (D)
- Weight Approx. 380 g (with battery)
Let’s start by taking a look at the target niche of the Olympus PEN-EPL9.
Who’s it for?
Though it has some cool features for more experienced shooters, the Olympus PEN-EPL9 is the perfect buy for first-time camera buyers who have never used one of these devices before. This camera is a great fit for users who have only used their smartphone cameras, but are ready to go to the next step and need a mirrorless camera to capture sharper, better images.
Thanks to its small size and portability, this device makes for a perfect fit for people who travel a lot and need something simple and easy to use without compromising quality and style. No other entry-level camera can match the level of simplicity, creative effects, power and utility the PEN-EPL9 brings to the table.
I bought it as a second camera. I own the Olympus OM-D EM-1 MII and wanted to buy a smaller simpler camera for every day use. The great advantage I have now is that the EPL9 supports all my Pro Olympus M.Zuiko lenses.
What’s New Compared to the EPL8?
4K Video. PEN-EPL9 was released 18 months after its predecessor, the EPL8. Just like its previous model, the EPL9 is specially created to appeal to social media photographers, bloggers and newbies. However, the new model features a more comfortable grip as its predecessor, feels better in your hands and comes with a better image processor that supports 4K videos at 30/25/24fps as well as Full HD up to 60fps.
Improved Auto Focus. Another upgrade over the previous model is the AF system. On the EPL9 the contrast detection auto focus received a well-deserved upgrade, up to 121 points, so it can cover most of the frame.
Image Quality. Both camera feature the 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, but the EPL9 benefits fromthe new Olympus TruePic VIII image processor, that delivers better quality.
Connectivity. Ultimately, PEN-EPL9 supports both Bluetooth and WiFi connection, enabling you to use your phone for easy remote transfer and to stay connected at all times. It doesn’t take long to set up the connection between the camera and your phone and once it’s done you can use the OI.Share app on your phone to import your Jpg images and control your camera remotely.
Aesthetic, Design and Build Quality
This stylish camera is designed to make it easy for smartphone shooters to transition to their first interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. With the same responsive screen rate of a smartphone, sharing photos on Instagram is only a few taps aways thanks to theOI.Share app. So with the EPL9 smartphone photographers now have a chance to discover the true power and benefits of a camera.
Olympus shooters will find the settings menu very familiar since it’s pretty identical to other Olympus cameras. The big Ok button for quick on-screen settings options and the other main buttons are all positioned in a very efficient way on the body and well labeled and designed.
In terms of build quality, Olympus PEN is rugged and can withstand a few bumps. It’s designed to last long and it’s an aesthetically pleasing mirrorless camera. It comes in four different colors, black, honey brown, blue and pearl white.
The EPL9 doesn’t have a viewfinder but the rear screen that can be flipped down 180 degrees and it’s big enough to not make you miss the viewfinder. The flip down screen is perfect for vloggers since once it’s completely unfolded it faces forward. Also perfect for selfies.
Sensor and Image Quality
Olympus PEN-EPL9 really shines when it comes to image quality. Thanks to the 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor which is coupled with a latest-gen processor from Olympus, the image quality is extraordinary. The shots are super high in detail, even if you shoot at lower light conditions.
In terms of dynamic range we’re talking about a small 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, still able to deliver great images despite not being as performant as bigger APS-C sensor cameras. Its 16MP is more than enough for sharp and highly detailed images. You can create decent prints out of these images.
Details of your photos don’t vanish even if you get to ISO3200. However, at over ISO6400, the noise and softness become quite obtrusive. Nevertheless, for the average consumer, when compared with other cameras in this price range, the EPL9 from Olympus is one the best you can get.
You can let the camera in full auto mode and rest assured that the device will select all the correct settings in your place. You can also benefit of two top features, the art filters and advanced photo mode, to go deeper into creativity. Ultimately, choose the 4K mode to create gorgeous 4k movies.
In-body Image Stabilization
The Olympus EPL9 boasts itself with an advanced image stabilization sensor. The three-axis sensor works just fine, even if more advanced models have a five-axis sensor. You can easily work with slow shutter speeds and enjoy a stabilized lens. Even if you place an older lens with an adaptor to this camera, the in-body image stabilization kicks in to stabilize your image.
Olympus PEN-EPL9 comes with an innovative 4K video mode, which you can use in 24p, 25p and 30p. In addition to 4K video, you can shoot in full HD, or in HD at 120 frames per second. At 120 fps, the image is super smooth and you can play the movie slower than usual to get all the juicy details.
Thanks to the in-body image stabilization, you get to enjoy superior movie quality, especially if you’re not using tripods. Even if you walk and film at the same time,you can rest assured that the device will smooth out the image and make it as stable as possible.
Olympus PEN-EPL9 benefits of more autofocus than the EPL8. More specially, it has 121 points autofocus. You can enjoy a wider field of view area, so you can benefit of increased creative options. When using S-AF, the autofocus works smooth and accurate. However, in C-AF, the autofocus has a few issues focusing on moving subject.
This modern camera has a very good shooting speed of 8.6 images per second, which is fairly good. You can either use the automatic AF selection or tap on the screen to select the preferred focus point. Moreover, you can select a wider 9-point area that allows the camera to focus on that specific area.
Price and Final Thoughts
You can find the Olympus PEN EPL9 on Amazon for $499 body only but I highly recommend getting the really convenient kit at only $549. It includes the 14-42mm lens, camera case, camera strap, and 16GB SD card.
The Olympus PEN-EPL9 is an excellent mirrorless camera for beginners, vloggers, social media shooters and for any amateur photographer who is still using his smartphone to take photos. This compact camera includes a wide range of features, coupled with good autofocus, in-body image stabilization and seamless smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth and Wifi. Add to that 4K video recording capabilities, handy zoom and numerous creative and visual tools and you get one of the best cameras for beginners right now.
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.