The Poor Man’s…

The Poor Man’s…

Wait a minute…what the heck. That’s a bad way to start a column about a good product. And it’s not an accurate way to do anything.

Likening something to another product by saying that it’s a poor man’s version is faint praise indeed – for either product. In this case, it’s not accurate, either. The Olympus Pen F is no poor relation. It’s a desirable little gem of a camera. And you’ve got to be careful when you talk about cameras – they are sensitive things and if you offend them, they’ll turn their backs on you…

Well, you can see that it’s smaller than the medium format Fujifilm – after all, it’s a micro 4/3 sensor in the Olympus and the company has always prided themselves on being able to put a great deal of cameras into a small package. In this case, it is a form intended to remind people of the rangefinder-style camera of the 20th century – while keeping the digital capabilities of the 21st. Shooters with smaller hands will appreciate this more than the ham-fisted.

You’ve seen a major report on this camera before here in the weblog with some playing with the colour and art controls. They’re a lot of fun and if you’ve nothing to do of an evening while on holiday you can sit and torture the files into all sorts of art. Wise photographers then put this onto a hard drive and wait until the camera club has a Distortion Night.

But it’s later in the day and we have all done the novelties of the Pen F. Time to consider the real features. The 5-axis stabilisation may sound pedestrian when you look at all the other mechanisms that Olympus put in their cameras…but you’d be going to find in amongst other makers in as small a form as this camera. And remember that it stablises all the lenses you  – not just the ones with inbuilt circuits.

Want to be able to turn off your camera when you pack it into your messenger bag and make sure it stays off – instead of sitting there in the dark roasting away? Olympus has made a positive switch. Off means off.

And finally, the flip screen. We love ’em or hate ’em, but sometimes we’re at a loss as to how to manage ’em. But just now I handed the Pen F to one of the staff members with small hands and she showed me how to arrange the side-screen so that it is safe and you can pass through crowds while watching it like a waist-level finder.

There’s no such thing as poverty of ideas or capability on this Olympus. But there is an opportunity for people to get one at a reduced price. Camera Electronic’s website has some ex-demo bodies going at a very considerable saving. Combine it with a lens of your choice and you’ll be doing your pocket and your photography a favour for some time to come. There’s a holiday in that price differential and this would be a great camera for the trip.


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