Olympus OM-D EM-1 / Pen-F Review

17 thoughts on “Olympus OM-D EM-1 / Pen-F Review”

  1. Like you said, not really a review but I enjoyed understanding your thoughts of both cameras and ultimately what you chose to keep. The why is so much more interesting than the what and based on your words, it would be difficult to find fault in your choice.

  2. Interesting read. Especially, because I recently also got one of the OM-D cameras (E-M10 mkII).

    I always liked the Olympus brand, shooting mainly with OM and XA cameras in my film days. And I love that you can buy high-quality but relatively cheap lenses for MFT from Lumix and Sigma Art.

    Like you, I prefer the Olympus SOOC files over the Fuji ones. So, happy about that.

    However, I do have two issues, and maybe you have some thoughts or suggestions – although they might be specific for the E-M10.
    Preview in EVF seems way too bright (as in blown out hightlights and stuff). It’s not exactly a WYSIWYG kind of deal. So firstly, I was heavily EV compensating but ended up with a lot of underexposed shots. And: battery life. Even for mirrorless standards, it seems to be poor. I needed two fully charged batteries to get me through shooting one event. I am now trying to improve this by tweaking some settings, but still, I had to buy an extra, third battery.

    1. Hi Robert!

      As for the viewfinder, I have not experienced this at all. The viewfinder for me is always spot on. That being said, there is a setting for S-OVF (supposed to mimic an optical viewfinder) that makes things seem a lot brighter. I usually leave it on the normal mode and I’ve never had the problem you mentioned. Ironically, I have experienced that problem quite a lot with the EVF in the X100.

      As for battery life, I’m probably a bad person to ask. Even on an all day shoot I probably only shoot a couple hundred photos, max. On the OMD EM1 that means the first battery has maybe 40% left by the end of the day. I use the optional grip with an extra battery just in case. It makes the camera bigger but gives me some peace of mind. I haven’t actually gotten into the extra battery yet though. I do find when I use the flash it hurts the battery life a lot. I don’t know a lot about the model you have, but I would guess there is a way to fix the viewfinder problem at least?

      1. Josh, thanks for the quick reply.

        S-OVF is off, so I guess it’s in normal mode (Olympus menus can be a bit cryptic). Now, I toggled EVF auto luminance to OFF, and put the EVF brightness to -2. Hopefully this will prevent me from uncessarily screwing around with EV compensation. In-camera histogram is accurate, so I will need to check it regularly, just to make sure.

        For my first real shoot I needed two batteries for 200/250 shots (without flash). So that was quite bad. I think it’s better now after changing some settings. But I guess it might also be the difference between the “pro” EM1 and the mid-range EM10.

  3. All I can say is that I liked your review better than the DPreview stuff!

    Thanks for the insights. As ever the cheaper camera seems to be better than the overpriced ‘hip’ vintage looking stuff.

  4. Thanks much for your thoughts – looking forward to Volume II of the zine. Regarding suggestions, just a detail: Maybe add the date of publication to the imprint at the last page. The pictures are of timeless beauty, but an anchor in time could be helpful if someone somewhere in the world looks with curiosity at the zine in a few decades from now. (Maybe even add the period in which you took the pictures.) – Kind regards from Germany and all the best for the house project!

  5. Thanks for your review, I really enjoyed it despite all the apologies! M43 has been my main system for 5 years so I am obviously sympathetic to your defences of it as a format.

    Just one thing about the bokeh/DOF/equivalence section of your article. Yes, your 50/1.4 full frame Leica lens is obviously still having the same DOF at 1.4 no matter what sensor size you attach it to — only the crop/frame changes, not the image’s qualities within that crop. Exactly as if you had cut the 135 negative down to M43 size. BUT, there is a but. Yes your 50/1.4 image focused at 1m has exactly the same background bokeh on FF or M43, but if you want the same frame of the main subject, e.g. top of head to mid waist, with both M43 and FF, you now have to back off to 2m from the subject with M43 to get the whole subject in the frame. And when you refocus to 2m, the background bokeh now changes to less blurred. Put it back on the FF, stand closer at 1m and focus, and the background bokeh is more blurred. Change to f/2.8 on FF and the background bokeh will look same as the M43 image at 2m and f/1.4.


  6. I know that relative to DSLRs, the OM is not a large camera. However it’s definitely bulkier, especially with a grip, than other M43 or rangefinder cameras, and seems significantly bigger than all the cameras you’ve gravitated toward in the past. Do you ever feel that the size means you’re less willing to bring the camera with you?

    1. Well, it is all relative. During that time you mentioned I have had a Leica rangefinder that I carry more than anything else. I think my M3 is actually heavier and slightly bigger than the em1. Anyway, to answer your question it doesn’t stop me from carrying it, no.

      1. I didn’t realize that the M3 was that big/EM1 was that small!
        Another question; do you notice people react differently since it’s shaped like an SLR?
        I use a Panasonic GH2 and GX1 and I find that people usually don’t pose or react when I use the GX1. When I use the GH2, though, people will be more likely to pose or ask me not to take a picture. It’s like they register the “pro-camera” look and close up.
        Maybe it’s just because I treat the cameras differently, though.

  7. I actually liked this kind of review. Not too technical but more personal. Anyway I did once had the omd em10 as my first camera when I got into photography. Loved the camera but sold it and bought a Fuji X100T after getting married . Though I lusted the em1 for the longest time back then. Haha


  8. I’m not sure if I’ve really posted a comment a few day ago or if it has simply reached your bin, so here I’m once more time for saying you’ve a nice pic collection. The Pen F is a great camera but damn it costs really too much.


  9. What put me off this review was the reviewer using an expensive leica lens on a review about olympus cameras!
    I dont like the bulky om-1 as for me it defeats the purpose of micro four thirds cameras.
    Ive kept my olympus ep-5 rather than get a pen f because the VF-4 external EVF has greater magnification than the pen f EVF.

    1. Not sure there should be an issue with using a Leica lens on an Olympus camera. I also stated it was a review from my perspective on how I used the camera. There are Olympus lenses that cost more than the lens I mentioned in the article 😉 Anyway, sorry to have disappointed you with my choice of including lenses I use daily in my independent blog review.

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