Review Olympus E-PL8: quick review.

SilverShutter

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Hello folks!

This week I finally pulled the trigger on a almost-new condition E-PL8 from ebay. For the past year or so, I had been using an EPM1 as my secondary camera, and despite its limitations and the shabby overall state of the camera, I've been quite happy having something more compact and point-and-shoot like compared to the EM10ii I regularly use. It's not my intention to make a full-fledged review of this camera, I'm certain I'm a few years late to that, but perhaps shed some light on using this camera as a possible second body which is something I've not seen discussed as often. As of November of 2020, these cameras go for around 150-200€ body only, a bit more if you want the kit lens.

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The E-PL8 is a bit of an oddball sometimes, and others just too average to draw much attention. First of all, it is an extremely good looking camera to look at, and to hold, with responsive and secure dials, and clicky buttons. However, on the inside, it's nothing revolutionary: this is yet another E-PL7, or a shrunken down version of the EM10 Mark I. Unlike its bigger cousin however, this does not have any EVF and loses a dial in the process. Same 16MP sensor, with the 3 axis stabilisation, and no electronic shutter (although we get the anti-shock option) and WiFi but no Bluetooth capabilities. S-AF is quick and precise. Couldn't tell you about C-AF although I presume its pretty useless, I don't shoot action so I don't care.

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I've heard criticism of the way Olympus marketed this camera, and the subsequent EPLs to the "smartphone" crowd, or the casual instagram/youtube vlogger: personally its seems like a decision by Olympus to sell kinda overpriced cameras (at their original retail price) to a market that won't probably know any better. But let's not be fooled, outside that marketing campaign, this is still a full fledged camera: deep menus that leave any long time user still trying to figure them out at times, and controls for basically any need you may want, Live Composite, focus peaking, etc. The button layout is straightforward and very customisable as is usual with Olympus. I do still however miss the back dial I grew used to in my Pen Mini. The four buttons are alright, but it would have been a nice easy addition. The main dial around the shutter is nice and clicky however. The camera has an AP2 port so you can use the removable EVF, the microphone adapter or the cute little flash that comes with it in a small puch (how adorable it looks though)

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The screen tilts but doesn't fold out. It can come down in a 180º movement to allow selfie photos and videos to be taken. Again, keeping in line with the target audience, but I have to say its a nice feature to have in a camera with no folding screen to get some photos of yourself. Because of this system, the screen movements are kind of strange. In the picture above you can see one of the weird positions this allows, not sure what use it has but it does make the system feel slightly clunky and flimsy and doesnt feel extremely secure.
Some people criticized the fact that the screen tilts downwards because of handheld tripods interfering and so on. It's 2020 and this is not the camera to get for video vlogging: only 1080p and limited controls. I saw Rob Trek used a flash bracket to overcome this however, so I'm sure in a pinch it could work. I don't do video, and I don't understand bit-rates so I'm afraid I cant comment much else.

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The image quality is the same as any 16MP Olympus body. That is, if you like it then you will feel right at home. If to you, however, this sensor is long in the tooth and is not enough, you will have to look somewhere else. I'm still very happy with the output from that sensor, particularly compared to the 12MP predecessor and considering this is a second camera the output matches that of my EM10ii which makes editing a lot easier. That in part is one of the main strong points of this camera as a back up: it uses the exact same batteries as my main body and delivers the exact same results.
Compared to the EPM1, it's bigger and heavier, although very few interchangeable lens cameras are as light and small as the Pen Mini. For the added functionalities, It doesn't bother me too much but it does have some impact if you plan to carry it in a pocket.

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When I see and use this camera, I get the feeling it does not deserve to be as cheap as it is. With EP1 and EP2s hovering around 100€, this model only costed me 80€ more and it is clear to anyone the massive difference between these two cameras. Even more jarring, Olympus still sells the EPL9 and 10 for 400-600€ new, which are a slightly dumbed-down EPL-8, lack the AP2 port but bring 4k video and the electronic shutter. Just like the EM10ii, Olympus decided that the subsequent models needed 4k at the cost of many functionalities, and also like the EM10ii, it's cheap and works very well.

You could also get the EPL7, whichever you find prettiest. They are both cheap and cheerful little cameras.
 
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caonidayeah

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thanks for sharing. i've bought the same camera new at the beginning of this year. And i've gone further to get a EM1 MK2 plus a host of lenses. GAS for sure! I, too, would prefer a dual dial setup as early as my time as an Olympus E620 owner. I'm very happy that entry-level OMD Em10 has already been granted with dual dials.
 
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Nice write up - thanks!

I too have an E-M10ii, and E-PL8. I too like the fact that the IQ is the same, the batteries are the same, etc etc. Most of all I just like how the EPL8 looks, which I know is a bit silly, perhaps, but there you go. I bought mine new for GBP220-ish about a year ago; getting one for under 200 euros would be a steal!
 

pdk42

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I had an E-P5 in the day and loved it. The problem with all the E-PLx cameras is that they lack dual dials. I learned many years ago that no dual dials = deal breaker for me. Still, I agree that it's pretty and the output from the old 16Mp sensor is still way more than respectable.
 

SilverShutter

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Nice write up - thanks!

I too have an E-M10ii, and E-PL8. I too like the fact that the IQ is the same, the batteries are the same, etc etc. Most of all I just like how the EPL8 looks, which I know is a bit silly, perhaps, but there you go. I bought mine new for GBP220-ish about a year ago; getting one for under 200 euros would be a steal!
Don't think its silly at all: a good looking and well designed camera is one I'm more likely to use. And it delivers too in the technical aspect pretty respectably.

I had an E-P5 in the day and loved it. The problem with all the E-PLx cameras is that they lack dual dials. I learned many years ago that no dual dials = deal breaker for me. Still, I agree that it's pretty and the output from the old 16Mp sensor is still way more than respectable.
The EP5 is still a better camera than this one in many aspects, but also older, bigger and somewhat more expensive. I still catch myself trying to find the second dial with my thumb every now and then. But it's a compromise to live with for the price and size, since I mostly shoot A or P I lose out on quick adjustments on exposure compensation.
 

mfturner

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Nice review, I too use a pm1 as a beater camera, and have been eyeing the pl-7 or pl-8 as a 16 Mpx upgrade. Or maybe a pm2? I agree that i find the rear dial on the pm1 useful, but tilt screen can be useful too.
 

scb

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My first micro 4/3 camera was the PL-2 which was replaced by the PL-5 and they were pretty good cameras. Getting one of the viewfinders made a big difference, and I just can't stand a camera without a viewfinder. As good as the PL-5 was, when I replaced it with the E M10, I ended up having the first camera that I really loved. The ergonomics of the M10 and ability to adjust settings while looking through the viewfinder was such a major improvement. After that, I picked up the M10 Mark II which is still in my bag along with the M5 Mark II. Although the M5 Mark II has some advantages over the M10 II, I still love that M10 II. I think the M10 is a great "first" camera for anyone exploring micro 4/3 photography and there are great deals on them used and new. If on a restricted budget, I'd advise anyone to save a few bucks by buying the M10 used rather than a new PL model. Then, get a couple of really good lenses and enjoy. Down the road, you can always move up to different body.
 

SilverShutter

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My first micro 4/3 camera was the PL-2 which was replaced by the PL-5 and they were pretty good cameras. Getting one of the viewfinders made a big difference, and I just can't stand a camera without a viewfinder. As good as the PL-5 was, when I replaced it with the E M10, I ended up having the first camera that I really loved. The ergonomics of the M10 and ability to adjust settings while looking through the viewfinder was such a major improvement. After that, I picked up the M10 Mark II which is still in my bag along with the M5 Mark II. Although the M5 Mark II has some advantages over the M10 II, I still love that M10 II. I think the M10 is a great "first" camera for anyone exploring micro 4/3 photography and there are great deals on them used and new. If on a restricted budget, I'd advise anyone to save a few bucks by buying the M10 used rather than a new PL model. Then, get a couple of really good lenses and enjoy. Down the road, you can always move up to different body.
Totally agreed, I could not do with the PL8 as my main camera. The EM10 just does everything a lot nicer, and as a camera it can pretty much do everything you ask of it. It's still my go to recommendation for starting in M43. But I didn't want to own two of the same body, and since this is replacing the Pen Mini, it keeps the smaller form factor.
 

caonidayeah

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I had an E-P5 in the day and loved it. The problem with all the E-PLx cameras is that they lack dual dials. I learned many years ago that no dual dials = deal breaker for me. Still, I agree that it's pretty and the output from the old 16Mp sensor is still way more than respectable.
I had been eyeing for EP5 for a while, but now I intend to get Lumix GX9 instead
 
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I still have my E-PM2 as a "beater" camera.

But it turns out that for me, what that actually means is, it's the camera I am willing to take to the beach and leave wrapped in a towel while I go for a swim, with not too much dread if someone steals it.

So it doesn't get used very often any more. I think the "beater" concept doesn't really work for me.

Probably because I live such a low risk lifestyle...

I just think "you can't have too many cameras..."
 
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I've had the E-PL1. This 8th iteration of that camera is so much better is seems.

Also had the E-P3, really liked that one more. Built as a tank en that big thumb wheel was a joy to use. Hope JIP will come with a compact E-P5 successor. And a new cheap E-PLxx that has 5 axis ibis and a new sensor.
 

SilverShutter

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I've had the E-PL1. This 8th iteration of that camera is so much better is seems.

Also had the E-P3, really liked that one more. Built as a tank en that big thumb wheel was a joy to use. Hope JIP will come with a compact E-P5 successor. And a new cheap E-PLxx that has 5 axis ibis and a new sensor.
Unfortunately I think the current EPL10 is the final and last Olympus Pen we will see released. But we can still hope.
 

grcolts

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I have the EPL-7 and enjoy it a lot. It is my go to camera to take with me while out bicycling as it fits in my bike case very well.
Since JPL probably won't be doing much if anything with the EPL series I might try and find a good used one as a back-up to my EPL-7.
Anyway, enjoy yours! And, don't forget to post images in the EPL-7, 8 and 9 forum.
Cheers.
GQR
 

threeOh

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Nice write-up. The E-PL series are the only Oly's that attract me. Every time I pick one up I look towards a way to justify squeezing it into what’s already more cameras than I need. Nice product.
 

SilverShutter

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If your calendar tells you to use 4k shooting vlogs, maybe throw that calendar in thrash. Don't let year numbers dictate what to do.
That's true. We all get a bit dismissive of 1080p nowadays when just a decade ago it seemed stunning. I do still think that if someone is specifically looking for a vlogging camera, there is probably better options out there, that can shoot 4k should you need to, the mic input and you dont have to deal with the akward flippy screen. But for someone on a budget it will work perfectly well! And it is body-stabilised, something that the vlog oriented G100 cannot say.
 

scb

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The VF-4 is what I consider a "must have" accessory for the PL camera bodies. When I had the PL-5, I had the VF-3, which was OK, but then I upgraded to the VF-4 and it was such a major improvement. I thought the image quality of the PL-5 was very good. When I moved up to the E M10, I really appreciated the extra dials and the ability to make more adjustments with the camera up to my eye. I've always preferred to use the viewfinder rather than a LCD screen, and I'm one of those guys that advise people to buy a camera with an optical viewfinder as there are going to be times when it's hard to see a screen.
 

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