My 3rd Pen-F !

pdk42

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I just bought another Pen-F. It's my third. Am I mad? The first was a silver one but I decided I preferred the black so did a swap. Then when I dipped into Nikon Z last year, I sold the Pen-F (and a few other things) to help fund it. But I kept missing it - despite getting an EM10.2 as a sort of substitute. So despite trying to ignore the cravings, I eventually caved and bought another! It's nice to be back. I know it doesn't take better pictures than my EM1.3 (or the EM10.2 in all honesty), but it's such a lovely camera to handle and use - and that's pleasure in itself! So, a quick shot from today with the new one - with the 17/1.8, because they look just so cute together!

PENF0015_2048.jpg
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BruceRH

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I thought at first that you had 3 of them! I confess I have 2, Black and Silver, a joy to use and I really do enjoy the mono profiles. And yes, the 17/1.8 or the 12/2 are perfect on them! Welcome back!
 
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I don't blame you! I've never owned one, but I've come close, just never found an advantageous enough price. My EM5 mkII is as close as I come (they do have a very similar build "feel" if that makes sense).

There's just a lot to be said for a camera that small that is that capable.
 

doady

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Pen-F was my main choice to get into Micro Four Thirds for a long time and finally replace my C-7070WZ from 2005. I was even planning to get all of the primes from 12mm F2 to 75mm F1.8. I much prefer the boxy rangefinder style over the SLR style (I also considered E-330 back in the day) and Pen F is easily the coolest looking Olympus body to date. But eventually I decided I am more of a zoom user, careful composition rather than cropping in post-processing, and that I am not really a street photographer, so compact or discreet not the primary goal. Also with a planned trip to visit relatives in a tropical country, weather-sealing suddenly became a major concern as well, so I got E-M1 II and 12-100mm F4 instead.

I think with the beginning of a lineup of compact "Pro" lenses with 12-45mm F4 and 20mm F1.4, a weather-sealed Pen-F II with tilting LCD and silent mechanical shutter could appeal to a lot of people. Maybe it would be more a true replacement to my C-7070 if I ever get interested in street photography again. The shocked expression on people's faces, the way people come up to me and talk to me on the street when they see my E-M1 II and 12-100mm F4, it's a much different feeling compared to before. My main interest is more in cityscapes and architecture but I still prefer people taking no notice of me or my camera, and no doubt that would have continued if I had chosen Pen-F instead. I think Pen-F really is a different kind of camera, that can take different kind of photos, so there are practical reasons to have one to go along with other bodies.
 

saladin

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Excellent choice, Paul.

Have you stayed in the Nikon system as well? I'm constantly curious about the Z5 and the new small primes.
 
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I want one too! Sold a silver one that I bought for my dad but he couldn't like it and resorted to good old DSLR eventually.
The prices of these are pretty much the same last few years, around $700-750. And that makes me think. I recently handled Nikon Zfc and was so impressed. What a genuinely great camera, much like the F. The shop owner told me most people are buying it over Z50 because it looks and feels so good. When the time comes I am going to be so confused.
 

pdk42

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Excellent choice, Paul.

Have you stayed in the Nikon system as well? I'm constantly curious about the Z5 and the new small primes.
No, I didn't stick with it, but I gave it a serious try-out for several months. I built a kit of the Z7 + Nikon Z 14-30, 24-70, and (after a wait), 24-200. I also got the TTArtisan 11mm f2.8 fisheye. This is my overall summary of the experience:
  • The Nikon Z7's IQ is obviously and demonstrably better when you go peering at the files 1:1 in LR. That I can't deny at all. But, speaking as a pretty standard amateur photographer, I can tell you that apart from such pixel peeking, the Z7 did nothing to improve the practical quality of my images (I do mostly landscapes). By that I mean that on Flickr, Instagram, my on-line portfolio, plus the occasional A2/A3 print, the difference is zero or as near to zero as matters. This is a point that the various bloggers and reviewers really never fully address. Of course, there needs to be some baseline of IQ (since otherwise they'd all be telling us to go and buy MF), but I think for most people FF is overkill.

  • The one area where the Nikon's improved IQ should have helped me (esp as a landscape photographer) was DR. But the trouble is that nature often throws DR at us that is beyond even the best FF camera; 12-13 stops of DR compared to 10-11 is nice, but if the scene in front of you is exceeding 16 stops, you're in pretty much the same boat whether you have a Nikon Z7 or an Olympus EM1. So you have to do a multi-shot bracket - and the Oly multi-shot burst is faster and better implemented.

  • Once I got past this IQ point, the appeal of the Nikon faded away for me. Compared to Olympus m43, there are a bunch of downsides - slightly bigger, slightly heavier, more expensive, narrower choice of lenses, poorer image stabilisation, bigger files (slower computer), fewer camera features, slower e-shutter readout time, much smaller buffer, more troublesome sensor dust, poor WiFi mobile app, and many more.

  • The biggest downside on that list above is the image stabilisation, and the way that it constrains the shooting envelope available (at least for landscapes). The problem is this - you need to stop down FF lenses by 2-stops more to get to optimum optical performance and have the same DOF as m43. Then you can take away another two stops to be using both cameras at their base ISOs (what else for best IQ?). You are now at a 4 stop shutter speed disadvantage compared to FF. But you have an IS system that's probably 2-3 stops behind an Olympus EM1.3 + 12-100. That meant I found myself 6-7 stops nearer to needing a tripod and that made a HUGE difference shooting landscapes in the blue/golden hour. Tripods are not only more weight and bulk, but they compromise the flexibility of shooting. Of course, I could up the ISO on the Z7 - but 6 stops up from ISO64 is ISO2000, at which point I’ve more than cancelled out the larger sensor’s improved IQ.

  • I could perhaps have coped with all the above, but the final straw was being pretty disappointed with the 24-200. Now it’s not a bad lens, but it just felt cheap and its IQ, esp at the long end, didn’t match the 24-70 at all. In particular, purple fringing was quite an issue and I had a number of shots where I couldn’t get LR to remove it. On top of that, at 200mm I found the image stabilisation significantly worse than the sync IS on the EM1.2/3 + 12-100 - despite the Nikon lens offering combined lens+body IS too. At this point I decided to return the 24-200 but looking at other options at 200mm, the only real alternative was the 70-200 which is huge, heavy and ££££/$$$$/€€€€.
My conclusion at this point was that the downsides were outweighing the upsides and I couldn’t see a way to get to 200mm that was sufficiently portable. So, I decided to cut my losses and admit my mistake...

Now don't get me wrong, the Nikon Z is a very nice system. If you need the IQ it delivers, need to shoot in low light at high ISO, or demand shallower DOF then it's a great choice. But you need to ask yourself whether you really need any of those because they come with their own set of compromises and limitations.
 
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pdk42

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I want one too! Sold a silver one that I bought for my dad but he couldn't like it and resorted to good old DSLR eventually.
The prices of these are pretty much the same last few years, around $700-750. And that makes me think. I recently handled Nikon Zfc and was so impressed. What a genuinely great camera, much like the F. The shop owner told me most people are buying it over Z50 because it looks and feels so good. When the time comes I am going to be so confused.
I was looking at a used Zfc at a store this morning. As you say, it's the same retro design ethos as the Pen-F and it's a nice piece of kit. Still quite large compared to the Pen-F.
 
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I was looking at a used Zfc at a store this morning. As you say, it's the same retro design ethos as the Pen-F and it's a nice piece of kit. Still quite large compared to the Pen-F.
And you might disagree with me, I dunno, the Zfc build felt very chintzy to me. There's some metal but it's so thin it doesn't feel like metal, and the grip is disappointingly plasticky.
 

saladin

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No, I didn't stick with it, but I gave it a serious try-out for several months. I built a kit of the Z7 + Nikon Z 14-30, 24-70, and (after a wait), 24-200. I also got the TTArtisan 11mm f2.8 fisheye. This is my overall summary of the experience:
  • The Nikon Z7's IQ is obviously and demonstrably better when you go peering at the files 1:1 in LR. That I can't deny at all. But, speaking as a pretty standard amateur photographer, I can tell you that apart from such pixel peeking, the Z7 did nothing to improve the practical quality of my images (I do mostly landscapes). By that I mean that on Flickr, Instagram, my on-line portfolio, plus the occasional A2/A3 print, the difference is zero or as near to zero as matters. This is a point that the various bloggers and reviewers really never fully address. Of course, there needs to be some baseline of IQ (since otherwise they'd all be telling us to go and buy MF), but I think for most people FF is overkill.

  • The one area where the Nikon's improved IQ should have helped me (esp as a landscape photographer) was DR. But the trouble is that nature often throws DR at us that is beyond even the best FF camera; 12-13 stops of DR compared to 10-11 is nice, but if the scene in front of you is exceeding 16 stops, you're in pretty much the same boat whether you have a Nikon Z7 or an Olympus EM1. So you have to do a multi-shot bracket - and the Oly multi-shot burst is faster and better implemented.

  • Once I got past this IQ point, the appeal of the Nikon faded away for me. Compared to Olympus m43, there are a bunch of downsides - slightly bigger, slightly heavier, more expensive, narrower choice of lenses, poorer image stabilisation, bigger files (slower computer), fewer camera features, slower e-shutter readout time, much smaller buffer, more troublesome sensor dust, poor WiFi mobile app, and many more.

  • The biggest downside on that list above is the image stabilisation, and the way that it constrains the shooting envelope available (at least for landscapes). The problem is this - you need to stop down FF lenses by 2-stops more to get to optimum optical performance and have the same DOF as m43. Then you can take away another two stops to be using both cameras at their base ISOs (what else for best IQ?). You are now at a 4 stop shutter speed disadvantage compared to FF. But you have an IS system that's probably 2-3 stops behind an Olympus EM1.3 + 12-100. That meant I found myself 6-7 stops nearer to needing a tripod and that made a HUGE difference shooting landscapes in the blue/golden hour. Tripods are not only more weight and bulk, but they compromise the flexibility of shooting.

  • I could perhaps have coped with all the above, but the final straw was being pretty disappointed with the 24-200. Now it’s not a bad lens, but it just felt cheap and its IQ, esp at the long end, didn’t match the 24-70 at all. In particular, purple fringing was quite an issue and I had a number of shots where I couldn’t get LR to remove it. On top of that, at 200mm I found the image stabilisation significantly worse than the sync IS on the EM1.2/3 + 12-100 - despite the Nikon lens offering combined lens+body IS too. At this point I decided to return the 24-200 but looking at other options at 200mm, the only real alternative was the 70-200 which is huge, heavy and ££££/$$$$/€€€€.
My conclusion at this point was that the downsides were outweighing the upsides and I couldn’t see a way to get to 200mm that was sufficiently portable. So, I decided to cut my losses and admit my mistake...

Now don't get me wrong, the Nikon Z is a very nice system. If you need the IQ it delivers, need to shoot in low light at high ISO, or demand shallower DOF then it's a great choice. But you need to ask yourself whether you really need any of those because they come with their own set of compromises and limitations.


Thanks mate,

A great reply.
 

davidzvi

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.......
My conclusion at this point was that the downsides were outweighing the upsides and I couldn’t see a way to get to 200mm that was sufficiently portable. So, I decided to cut my losses and admit my mistake...

Now don't get me wrong, the Nikon Z is a very nice system. If you need the IQ it delivers, need to shoot in low light at high ISO, or demand shallower DOF then it's a great choice. But you need to ask yourself whether you really need any of those because they come with their own set of compromises and limitations.
I didn't go as far as you did or as deep. I only bought a used Z5 and 24-70 f/4; and they only lasted a few weeks. But I shot Nikon DSLRs for years so everything was very familiar. I think I just needed a reminder of how well m4/3 meets my needs and how enjoyable it is to shoot.

But again yes, it's a great system and I really like what Nikon has done. If I needed what it offers I'd take it hands down over any other FF system.

As for the Pen F. Have you had a look at the E-P7? In my trip from the Pen F to a Fuji X100v and Z5 then back to just Olympus stumbled across reviews of the E-P7. I decided to take a BIG chance and buy an import. I'm really enjoying it. It's not the build of the Pen F. But it's a lot simpler in many ways I like, it's got the tilt screen I prefer, and feels a little more responsive than the Pen F. I think that's probably due to the processor, but there could be some streamlining in the bios that helps as well.

Just wondering since I think they are available in the UK.
 

pdk42

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I didn't go as far as you did or as deep. I only bought a used Z5 and 24-70 f/4; and they only lasted a few weeks. But I shot Nikon DSLRs for years so everything was very familiar. I think I just needed a reminder of how well m4/3 meets my needs and how enjoyable it is to shoot.

But again yes, it's a great system and I really like what Nikon has done. If I needed what it offers I'd take it hands down over any other FF system.

As for the Pen F. Have you had a look at the E-P7? In my trip from the Pen F to a Fuji X100v and Z5 then back to just Olympus stumbled across reviews of the E-P7. I decided to take a BIG chance and buy an import. I'm really enjoying it. It's not the build of the Pen F. But it's a lot simpler in many ways I like, it's got the tilt screen I prefer, and feels a little more responsive than the Pen F. I think that's probably due to the processor, but there could be some streamlining in the bios that helps as well.

Just wondering since I think they are available in the UK.
I started my m43 journey with an EPL5 and really enjoyed it. But an EVF is a non negotiable requirement for me and I really don’t like the removable one that pops on the top (and I’m not sure the latest PL Pens support this anymore anyhow). But I too prefer a tilt screen and consider this the only real downside of the Pen F.
 

Ghostbuggy

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I sold my first Pen-F a few months ago to help funding my venture into Fujifilm X-Mount, to be honest now, a few months later, I do have so e regrets about that decission. I still have my much newer back-up Pen-f, which I only bought new and sealed last year, but just thinking about my first F makes me sort of sentimental. On the other hand I'm dead honest, if Olympus would've released a proper F Mk II instead of the E-P7, I most likely would have sold my first Pen in order to fund that one anyways.

It still is a lovely camera and especially in terms of image quality you aren"t missing out anything when compared to the latest MFT bodies available. I have been using mine quite a bit more than my Fuji stuff the last few weeks.
 

davidzvi

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I started my m43 journey with an EPL5 and really enjoyed it. But an EVF is a non negotiable requirement for me and I really don’t like the removable one that pops on the top (and I’m not sure the latest PL Pens support this anymore anyhow). But I too prefer a tilt screen and consider this the only real downside of the Pen F.
No support for pop on EVFs. I wish it had an EVF, would rather it had that in place of the pop up flash. The Fuji X70 was one one of my favorite small EDC cameras, so I got pretty use to not having an EVF. The tilt screen and simplified operations are an even enough trade off for my.

But if they ever do come out with a Pen F II.....
 

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