OM-D vs PEN

ArizonaMike

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A couple of days ago I posted a thread asking about the functionality of the M5 Mk II and Mk III. I have been thinking about buying a second camera to go along with my M1.2 so I am not always finding myself with the wrong type of lens (300mm Tele vs 12-40mm walk-around) when my wife and I are traveling. I got very helpful responses from @SojiOkita and others, for which I am grateful but decided before I actually spent any money I should also think about the PEN models.

I was new to Olympus when I bought my M1.2, having just decided that the Canon FF I was using was just too heavy and bulky given the hikes my wife and I go on and given how I am not as young as I once was. I have become familiar with the M1 cameras but never looked at the M5 series and hence my post. But the same is true for the PEN. I have never even seen a PEN in our local camera store (which is Nikon and Canon centered) and was wondering if the PEN cameras were better, worse or jut different from the M5 series. I did look up the specs on the new PEN cameras and the PEN-F seem somewhat comperable to my M1.2 in many respects while the other PEN models lack an electronic shutter (which I find very, very helpful. As with the M5, I can not go to the local camera store to look at a PEN because they just don't have them and hardly anyone there is knowledgeable about Olympus camera.

Before I buy a used M5.2 or a PEN-F I thought I should ask, as I did about the M5.2 and M5.3, how the PEN cameras compare to the M5. Any information would be helpful. I would assume that I would use my M1.2 for tele photos and use the new camera, PEN or M5, new or used, for walk-around photography. For me that is just general family photography mostly using my 12-40, 12-50 or 8mm FE.
 

pdk42

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I have a Pen F and an EM1.2. The IQ is very close - there’s slightly better highlight recovery in the EMM1.2, but it’s not night and day (ha, ha). However, in many other ways they are quite different cameras. Handling, speed, feel etc.

The Pen is a better fit with the small primes and of course is smaller and lighter. I normally have it in a small bag with the 12-40, 17/1.8 and 45/1.8 which covers most casual shooting. If I want lighter, I just mount the 17 and carry the combo in a compact bag. It’s an excellent small camera in this configuration. I’ve tried lots of compact cameras, but the Pen F + 17/1.8 delivers a compelling compromise of great IQ and size - and of course it takes interchangeable lenses if you want more. The camera also has fantastic build and a quality feel. Its only real let down is the AF. It’s mostly fine for static subjects, but even then it’s not great in low light with slower lenses. However, it doesn’t really stop me from taking sharp images.

The EM1.2 by contrast is bigger and uglier. I normally have it in a bigger bag with the PL8-18, 12-100 and 8/1.8. It’s my landscape bag. The 8-18 and 8/1.8 get replaced with the 40-150 when I need a longer kit. It’s a more capable camera overall than the Pen F, is more robust and is faster with much better AF. But unless I need its features or want to use bigger lenses, I prefer shooting with the Pen F. OTOH, if I could only have one of them, it would be the EM1.2.

Finally, many define the Pen F by its JPEG knob. Personally, I never use it - I only ever shoot raw. I wish the knob could be reassigned to something else - and the rocker lever on the back.
 
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ata3001

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I have a Pen F & recently helped 2 friends move to m43. They both preferred the m5 due to it's weather resistance. The Pen F & m5 menus are probably 90% identical. The m5ii does have an electronic shutter as well as the mechanical one. I & one other shoot for a local theater group, but I do all the post processing of the images. The Pen F is 20mp & the m5ii is 16mp. To be honest, I don't see enough of a difference to be a factor in choosing one over the other. The m5ii can be bought at a much better price than the Pen F & both are magnesium bodies. I would not even consider an m5iii due to its polycarbonate body & the fact that several new owners of them have experienced the tripod socket breaking off the body due to improperly reinforcing the body around that socket. The Pen F does render some amazing jpgs, especially b&w images thanks to the custom control b&w/color wheel. The AF on the Pen F isn't very good in continuous AF but in Single AF it works just fine, even in low light theater plays I've only had issues in extremely dark stage lighting. I also have an Oly 12-40/2.8 which is a little unbalanced on it, but not too bad. The new 12-45/4 would be a better fit.
 
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ArizonaMike

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The Pen is a better fit with the small primes and of course is smaller and lighter.
That is very helpful. Thank you.

My M1.2 is much smaller and much lighter than the Canon 5D3 I used to use and the lenses are much, much smaller and lighter, but it still feels a bit on the heavy side when my wife and I are hiking out of one of the canyons at Bryce Canon National Park in the summer, so lighter and smaller is even better. I have no experience with the PEN but then I had no experience with the M1.2 when I traded my Canon and I have been very, very pleased with Olympus.

The walk-around lenses that I use are the 12-50 (which many people do not think much of, but which I have found to be a great little lens and very helpful with its pseudo-macro functionality), the 12-40 and the 8mm FE. The PEN probably does not have the auto-correct FE functionality for the 8mm FE but that is of minor importance since my software (Dxo's PhotoLab) does that automatically anyway.

The camera also has fantastic build and a quality feel. Its only real let down is the AF.
All of my walk-around work is done with stationary or nearly stationary subjects and all of my birding photos would be done with the M1.2 and either the 40-150 F2.8 or the 300mm.

I will look to see if I can find any used PENs as they might be more of what I am looking for than the 5.2. I noticed that the PEN-F is more expensive than the 5.3 new so I would expect it to be a better built camera.

Have there been any firmware upgrades? And does it do exposure bracketing (I tend to take a lot of HDR sequences although often I end up processing only the middle photo).

Thank you again.
 

Hendrik

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I have the Pen-F and the E-M1 II and have carried them side by side on the same trip. Luckily, it was a predominantly dry trip. If I wanted to have a light, weather resistant camera that matched the E-M1 II, I would look immediately at the E-M5 III. Otherwise, I love the Pen-F even if I have no current use for most of the stuff available from the front knob. My small bag is identical to that of pdk42 with a little bit of flash added.

Firmware is up to 2.1 and yes, it does do all sorts of bracketing, including focus (but no stacking). It also has an in-camera HDR function. It is not an unsophisticated, entry level camera.
 

BosseBe

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I have recently gotten the Pen-F, it has replaced my GM5 as a daily carry camera (It actually fits in the Tenba BYOB7 that I used for the GM5, in that bag I have the PL15, P12-32 and P35-100, one of the lenses on the camera.) so it is not very large.

If you want a camera that people comment about (What a beautiful camera) then go for the Pen-F!

I was thinking about getting the E-M5II when I saw a good price on the Pen-F and jumped!
It is such a beautiful camera (Did I mention that?) and has all the important functions that I wanted (Live Comp ...).

Some people complain about the lack of a front grip, but for me it works fine. (I prefer to have my little finger(Pinky?) under the body and that gives me a stable grip.)
 

Matt Drown

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I was the first one to suggest the PenF in your thread :) I think the previous posters are giving you good info. I use the JPG wheel and shoot in JPG+RAW to get both the "fun" image, and the raw to deal with. Gives you flexibility in shooting.

Weather-sealing. I think it's more important to figure out the last time you went out shooting in something where this mattered. If you often go out in inclement weather, rain, dust storms, etc, then yes. Light sprinkles, or "english fog" doesn't count.

I think of the PenF as a street shooter, not a sports shooter. In that capacity it easily excels.
 

Mack

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Some say the B&W JPEG straight from the Pen-F is better than the larger E-M model's B&W.

I like the front selector dial as well as the +/- Exposure dial on the top right which I miss on the E-M models as you need to do some button and dial juggling with them which is slow.
 

AaronE

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Other things to consider in the Pen-f is that it has no grip which may feel strange coming from the excellent grip on the EM1 MKII. I put the Olympus grip on it and it really changed the camera for shooting with any larger lenses. Pen-f also does not have focus stacking but you have the EM1 for that. I have had my Pen-f in some inclement weather with no issues so far. No dust spots on the sensor. My two favorite lenses with the Pen-f are the Panasonic 20mm and the Panasonic 12-35mm. I walk around with the Pen-f slung over my shoulder all day with no issues. The front selector dial is OK. Kind of fun but I have it set to JPEG and RAW just in case. I have had on again, off again problems with the wifi that seem to have no rime or reason. Other than that its been perfect.
 

gary0319

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I have the E-M1 II, the E-M5 III, and the Pen F.
My E-M5 III is my sidekick camera to my E-M1 II for wildlife excursions off-road, and is my light weight travel camera.

My Pen F is for the street, festivals and Monochrome stints.
 

Tom Marshman

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My Pen is enough of a difference from my OMD that it fills a tactile niche that the similar sized EM 5 doesn’t....
 

davidzvi

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They can go well together UNLESS you're looking for a similar shooting experience, they aren't. I've gone through my Pen F and E-M1.2 to set them up as close as I can even going so far as to set the exposure comp to flash comp so the front and rear main control dials function the same between the two.

But still I get a different felling when using them.
 

pdk42

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On the Pen F grip point. I personally found the screw-on grip too big for the camera and it spoiled its looks. I now use a little leather half case for it which both provides protection for the base plate and offers just enough extra grip to stop any feeling of being slippy.
 

gary0319

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On the Pen F grip point. I personally found the screw-on grip too big for the camera and it spoiled its looks. I now use a little leather half case for it which both provides protection for the base plate and offers just enough extra grip to stop any feeling of being slippy.
I agree..
On the Pen F, I didn’t care for the OEM grip either and opted for a cheap $10 leather half case from EBay. It gives just enough extra purchase for larger lenses like the 12-100 or the 12-40, pictured here. I also like the looks of the half case.

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I have owned the M5i and M5ii as well as the E-P5 and Pen-F and now the M1ii.

The Pen-F has great IQ and plenty of features for sure. Great looking camera. I used the Half leather case for some extra grip mainly because mine was bought with one used. Not sure I needed it.

My issue was the user interface. After using the Olympus models noted above as well as several earlier pens, I found the Pen-F to be quirky and inconsistent. It frustrated me when I was in a hurry and forced me to work a little more than I would like to get it set just to where I wanted it. So much so that I sold it. Later buying another, I found the same basic issues. Hard to describe quantitatively, but I always felt it had some software bugs and needed some Olympus developer love and a major firmware update. It it different from the OMDs in some subtle ways.

I would have my eye on the newer lighter EM5-mkiii body which should complement your EM1-mkii very well for a lighter body and great (I would expect) controls.
 

Panolyman

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I'm a bit of a numpty and am trying to get my head around how the Pen-F has such "great IQ". I've been mighty impressed by lots of the images in the various Pen-F forums (especially the black & white shots) but surely it all depends more on the lens being used?
How would I get true comparison for instance, between a Pen-F, M5 mkII and M10 mkIII all using the same lens?
Ta.
 

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