Olympus PEN E-PL8...Part One

on November 21, 2016

If you touch me there again, I shall screen...

And while you struggle with that, I hasten to add that I am talking about the new Olympus Pen E-PL8 camera. It is the first of the Photokina 2016 items that has come to the Little Studio for review - and it is a delight.

The announcement at Köln this year has already been seen on some YouTube clips and Facebook pages, but it makes a considerable difference to what you feel when you hold the camera in hand. It is very solidly built for a mirror-less camera and gives an immediate impression of quality. The kit you are seeing is supplied with the 14-42mm f:3.5-5.6 EZ zoom lens and is targeted at general users and travellers. And flower shooters. And jeweller shooters...

Aww, let's face it - it's targeted at you.

The tech sheet is impressive; 3.0" LCD, 16 MPxl, 3-axis image stabilisation, 81-point AF, 100/25600 ISO, full HD video, etc. Those of us with a bent for figures will be well served by the official Olympus Australia web page for this camera - it has a full list of the specs. Those of us with a bent forefinger that is itching to try the camera out will just charge up a battery and charge out of the house...

But pause...you have to get into it first. Olympus have always been keen packers - they employ origamatic skills to find how to ship delicate devices in cardboard boxes with a minimum of plastic foam. I think it is a case of self-discipline for them, or a contest in the factory. Of late, they are making it easier for the customers to actually get into the darn box, and we are grateful.

The target audience may not read the instruction booklet that comes with the camera. With that in mind, the makers have preset the thing to an intelligent setting and put as much basic automation as they have to work. The tourist can clap the lens on, the battery and card in, and head out of the motel door within the first hour...and bring back excellent results. The more sophisticated photography readers can wander for days in the art, special effects, and manual settings and get results that are nearly as good.

Note the march of progress as evinced by the LCD screen design - it is the main view-finding and aiming mechanism for this camera and has been taken to a sophisticated level to do so. It swings up, out, back, and down under the body and makes the lens' view available at the front of the camera. This is to enable the photographer who is taking a selfie to see what they are doing.

Better yet - as the camera has haptic control - ie, a touch screen - and you can see that selfie image from the front as you grip and grin, you get precise narcissism. The addition of pathos, bathos, art, or angst is entirely up to you - the E-PL8 will capture it faithfully. It will also deliver it to your smart device - phone or tablet - through Wifi if you want to bedevil your friends with the images.

Should you wish to be an eye-level shooter, you can also purchase an Olympus electronic viewfinder that slots into the hot shoe and gives you what the lens sees...indeed, as it is a mirror-less micro 4/3 camera it gives you what the sensor sees.

But how does what some people might think as an entry-level* camera perform out in the field? Read our next weblog column.

* Entry level? Entry into a world of sophisticated design...

See the Olympus PEN E-PL8 with 14-42mm lens on the Camera Electronic website
230 Stirling St, Perth
2/324 Murray St, Perth