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Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review: Right For selfies

This is the review for the successor to the E-PL5 with the pen E-PL6, and now the E-PL7 is already following. The E-PL6, however, arrived in the United States only a year late and so it only seems to be happening one after the other. In contrast to the E-PL6, which offered very few innovations, the E-PL7 has more to offer that could attract buyers, as it inherits a lot of features from the more expensive entry-level OM-D E-M10 camera, such as the image stabilizer or live composite. A unique feature of the E-PL7 is the monitor that can be folded down 180 degrees for selfies.

Brief assessment

Pros

  • High-quality processed, nobly designed housing
  • Wide range of equipment
  • High-resolution, large, foldable electronic viewfinder as optional accessory
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 1,600, good up to ISO 3,200
  • Foldable (also for selfies), high-resolution touch screen

Cons

  • Outdated panorama function without stitching in the camera
  • No frame rate setting in video mode
  • Flash unit must be attached and occupies the accessory shoe

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 inherits the 3-axis image stabiliser and live composite function from the OM-D E-M10. [Photo: Olympus]

The Olympus Pen Lite E-PL7, the big sister of the E-PL5 and E-PL6, brings practically all the features of the OM-D E-M10 into the pen series with the exception of the viewfinder. In addition, it has borrowed from the Pen E-P5 in terms of the high-quality design of the housing, while the price is based on the smallest Pen Mini E-PM2 to date, leaving practically no room for an E-PM3, and Olympus has already discontinued and sold out the Pen Mini series. The pen E-PL7 with its noble workmanship and upscale features at a low price is therefore a challenge to the competition in the entry-level segment. We were able to test a production model one week before its market launch.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The 16-megapixel Olympus Pen E-PL7 has a noble metal housing and is to be available in silver, black and white. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The WLAN-equipped Olympus Pen E-PL7 has a 7.5-centimetre screen with 1.04 million pixels resolution on the back, which can be folded up 80 degrees upwards and 180 degrees downwards or for selfies. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 is available with either the flat M.Zuiko ED 14-42 mm EZ, here extended, or the larger 14-42 II R. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

But if you want, you can also buy the Olympus Pen E-PL7 without a lens. [Photo: Olympus]

Meanwhile, there are some cameras that fold the screen up 180 degrees for selfies, but here, attachments like viewfinders or flashes are disturbing. Olympus solves this differently with the E-PL7 and folds the screen down until it “looks” at the photographer. Selfie controls are automatically displayed on the touchscreen and, if an electronic zoom is attached to the camera, are moved to the wide-angle position. Only for the tripod, the screen that folds down is less suitable, which should not be a problem with a selfie that is usually photographed from the hand. The screen can be folded upwards by 80 degrees, so that shots from the frog’s eye view can be taken easily. The monitor also has a resolution of 1.04 million pixels, measuring 7.5 centimetres diagonally.

The E-PL7 has a noble housing with many metal shell elements as well as a high-quality leather not only on the small handle. The 4/3″ live MOS sensor still effectively resolves 16 megapixels. Thanks to the new faster TruePic VII, the E-PL7 achieves 8 continuous frames per second, the 81-point autofocus is also very fast and the switch-on time is short. The image sensor is movably mounted for image stabilization, whereby the old 2-axis stabilizer with micromotors is no longer used, but the magnetically mounted 3-axis image stabilizer of the OM-D E-M10, which has up to 3.5 f-stops. This compensates not only for tilting up/down and right/left, but also for turning the camera as a third axis. Shifting up/down and left/right, on the other hand, is only compensated for on the OM-D E-M5, E-M1 and the E-P5 pen.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

Olympus Pen E-PL7 with 14-42 EZ [Photo: Olympus]

25 scene modes, scene recognition, face detection and 14 art filters, including the two new “Vintage” and “Partial Color”, and the classic creative modes P, A, S and M are available for shooting. As a special feature the E-PL7 offers Live Time and Live Bulb. In these modes, the current exposure is displayed on the screen during the long exposure, so that the photographer can see when the exposure is sufficient or when a light painting is finished, for example. Even the Live Composite function has inherited the E-PL7 from the OM-D E-M10. This function repeats a basic exposure using the electronic shutter until the photographer (or the dead battery) stops. In contrast to Live-Time or Live-Bulb, there is no overexposure, because only the newly added brighter image information is saved from the second exposure on. For example, star trails can be recorded in the night sky without overexposing an illuminated building.

Also new in the Pen E-PL7 is the built-in WLAN. The OI.Share app, available for Android and iOS, can be used to download images from the camera or to remotely control the camera including live image transmission. There is even a Windows program “Camera Control” for remote control, but this is not from Olympus.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

For self-portraits, nowadays known as “selfies”, the display of the Olympus Pen E-PL7 can be folded forward. Extra control elements are displayed for triggering. [Photo: Olympus]

By the way, a final test device is already in the editorial office. A test report will follow as soon as possible, the laboratory test, which is subject to a charge, can already be accessed via the links below. Addendum: There are also free test images in RAW/ORF and JPEG. The Olympus Pen E-PL7 is scheduled to be commercially available from the end of September 2014. The camera will then be offered in white, silver and black at a price of almost 400 EUR. The set with the especially compact motorized zoom M.Zuiko ED 14-42 mm 1:3.5-5.6 EZ should cost just under 600 EUR, the set with the older and larger M.Zuiko 14-42 mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R will cost about 500 EUR. As accessories, Olympus offers a bag body for just under 60 euros and a lens cap with leather for 20 euros. Underwater photographers should be happy about the underwater housing PT-EP12, which costs almost 700 Euro, and with the UFL-3 there is also a matching underwater flash for almost 500 Euro. Furthermore, a lot of standard accessories fit the camera like more than 65 lenses, various flashes, electronic viewfinders, a stereo microphone connection adapter, LED macro lights or the PenPAL.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The housing of the Olympus Pen E-PL7 consists mainly of metal and is finished with large areas of bonded leather. [Photo: Olympus]

By the way, the Pen Mini E-PM-2 is sold out in the US, European Union and Britain, and a successor model is not planned either, which means that the Mini series has probably already died after two models. In terms of price, this is not tragic, as the E-PL7 costs as much as the E-PM2 at its time, but offers much better features and workmanship.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 takes its elegant design very much in line with that of the Pen E-P5. [Photo: Olympus]

Ergonomics and Workmanship

Already at the first glance of the Olympus Pen E-PL7 in comparison to the Pen E-PL5 and E-P5 it is clear: The Pen Lite series, whose sixth model is the E-PL7 (the 4 was left out), has optically taken more borrowings from its bigger sister E-P5. The housing is mostly made of metal, even the back plate, which in the OM-D E-M10 is made of plastic, is made of metal here. Olympus has also applied a leather-like texture to the E-PL7 over a large area and with great attention to detail. Even the button for unlocking the lens is leathered on the inside. Olympus offers the E-PL7 pen in black, silver-black or white. The black version that we had for testing is still the most reserved in terms of the retro look. The white Pen Lite with the beige handle looks more like a lifestyle camera and the silver-black version plays the retro trump card to the full, which makes this version also look very likeable and doesn’t put so much emphasis on the aspect of a serious camera with technically high-quality equipment and good image quality. The first question is rather: Can it be digital or is it analogue?

In contrast to the Pen E-PL5, the small handle cannot be removed, because the WLAN antenna is located underneath it. The camera feels good to the touch due to the lack of a bulky handle, but is less suitable for one-handed operation. This is rarely the case with an interchangeable lens camera anyway, the second hand usually supports the camera on the lens, just to operate the zoom and focus ring. The camera controls, on the other hand, are all operated with the right hand. On the upper side there are two wheels, which can be turned either by the thumb or forefinger or both together. In contrast to the E-PL5, whose program selector wheel was found to be too smooth-running negative in the test, Olympus has made improvements to the E-PL7, the wheel runs nice and tight so that it can hardly be misadjusted accidentally. This is used to access the automatic mode, video mode, subject programs as well as the creative programs P, A, S and M. The other dial has moved from the back to the top and encloses the shutter release, as on the OM-D E-M10. The wheel runs much lighter than the program selector wheel, but engages easily and is easy to operate, just like the shutter release, which has two good pressure points.

The thumb finds a safe place on the back without accidentally pressing the rather small buttons. Although they look filigree, they are easy to press with the thumb and have a reasonable pressure point. Very practical is that many of the keys can be individually assigned, such as the Fn key, the magnifier key and even the video key. For example, you can set the AEL function to the Fn button, ISO sensitivity to the magnifier button, and white balance to the video button. When switching to movie mode, the video button returns to its original function. In addition, the camera settings can be saved to four presets to quickly adapt the camera to different shooting situations.

The USB port as well as the micro HDMI interface is hidden behind a small plastic flap on the right camera side, and a remote release cable can also be plugged into the USB port. For the first time on an Olympus Pen, the metal tripod thread finally sits on the optical axis. However, as with the OM-D E-M10, it is very close to the lens, which is good for balance, but can also lead to conflicts between the tripod plate and the lens on bulkier lenses. In the OM-D E-M10 the additional handle offers a remedy, this option is not available in the E-PL7. An affected lens is for example the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5 mm 1.2 Asph Power-OIS. Another conflict may arise with the access to the battery and memory card compartment, only with smaller tripod plates the compartment remains accessible. With the BLS-50, the lithium-ion battery is a new model that offers 60 mAh more capacity than the externally identical BLS-5. The batteries are fully compatible, even the older BLS-1 can be used. However, since the E-PL7 is a bit more power hungry, the battery life still drops to 350 pictures according to the CIPA standard. The batteries are charged externally in the supplied charger.

Another special feature of the E-PL7 is its three-inch (about 7.5 centimeters) touchscreen, which can be folded forward over the bottom for self-portraits. For self-portraits from the hand, this is ingenious, because an attached viewfinder or flash no longer covers the display, unlike the E-PL5, where the display still folds forward over the top. On a tripod, on the other hand, this is now rather disadvantageous for self-portraits, but here, for example, the control of the camera via WLAN with live image transmission to the smartphone helps. The display can also be folded up and down normally, so that shots from near-ground or overhead perspectives are also possible without any problems. Also advantageous is the higher display resolution of 1.04 million pixels and the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is closer to the 4:3 sensor format than the 16:9 display of the E-PL5, which thus became a mouse cinema at 4:3. Another problem is the menu, which is a bit confusing and has many abbreviations not explained in the camera help. However, Olympus can be credited with the fact that the camera can be configured in a very wide range. For example, even the three exposure metering modes or the battery level can be corrected or adapted to individual requirements. Another practical feature is the quick menu with which all parameters important to the photo can be quickly viewed and set without having to go to the main menu.

Unlike the OM-D series, the Pen series does not have a built-in electronic viewfinder; instead, it must be purchased separately and plugged into the hot shoe. Since the E-PL7 does not have a built-in flash (a clip-on flash is supplied), you can only use either the flash or the viewfinder. After all, the E-PL7 supports the full 2.36 million pixel resolution of the VF-4 plug-on viewfinder, which was not yet the case with the E-PL5. A further advantage of the plug-on viewfinder: it can be folded upwards by 90 degrees for perspectives close to the ground.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 has a Four Thirds sensor that effectively accommodates 16 megapixels on a 17.3 x 13 mm surface. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 not only has a trigger and program selector wheel on the top, but also an easy-to-use dial. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

In silver, the Olympus Pen E-PL7 radiates a particularly high degree of retro charm. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

The white Olympus Pen E-PL7, on the other hand, looks a little more stylish, here with the supplied attachable flash FL-LM1. [Photo: Olympus]

Equipment

With the Pen E-PL7, Olympus wants to achieve the balancing act between an entry-level camera and one for advanced photographers, which also works well for the most part. For example, it offers an intelligent automatic system that automatically recognizes motif situations and adjusts the camera parameters accordingly. However, if you wish, you can also select the subject programs manually. The number of Art Filters climbs with the E-PL7 to an impressive 14, whereby each filter can still be adapted to your own ideas. Pop art, water colors, soft light, dramatic effect, soft sepia, cross development, diorama (miniature effect), monochrome film, pinhole camera etc. are still represented, with vintage and partial color two more interesting effects are added. The former fits perfectly with the retro look of the camera, the latter allows interesting effects, as not only a special color, but whole color ranges can be selected with different methods. By the way, all Art Filters can also be used in the creative programs P, A, S and M and are therefore not limited to the pure fully automatic mode. And if you can’t decide on an art filter, simply set up art bracketing, where multiple filters are applied and saved as individual images. The ISO automatic system is also easy to configure, and both the upper and lower limits can be set here. If you want the ISO automatic to work with manual exposure, you must first enable it in the gear menu.

Furthermore, the Pen Lite offers an HDR mode, either several images are automatically merged in two strength levels, or the camera produces a configurable spread exposure series, whose images are subsequently assembled on the PC. The unfortunate thing is that this effect is not located in the exposure bracketing, but has to be selected in the menu.

A new feature is a scene mode program especially for “pull-along” shots. The camera measures the drag speed and adjusts the exposure time so that the main subject is in focus and the background is blurred. The panorama mode, on the other hand, is no longer up to date and Olympus should urgently modernise it (update 2020. Please download the latest firmware to solve this and test the panorama mode afterwards). This only shows a few auxiliary markers, but it neither composes the images in the camera, nor does it fade in a part of the previous image transparently in order to get the connections as good as possible. The E-PL7, on the other hand, cannot offer a pan and tilt panorama mode, as many competitors now offer, although its continuous shooting speed of 8 frames per second would be predestined for it. By the way, if you want to have the focus adjusted for continuous shooting, you have to limit yourself to a meagre 3.5 frames per second. And that although the single autofocus of the pen works extremely fast with about 0.2 seconds including 0.05 seconds shutter release delay, even though it uses a whole 81 focus points. Also practical is the built-in, extremely effective image stabilizer, which allows about three to four EV steps longer exposure times with each attached lens. The image stabilizer is audible by the noise when the shutter-release button is half-pressed.

Via the built-in WLAN, the recordings can be sent to smartphones or tablets with iOS or Android, for which the free app OI.Share is required. There is also a privately programmed PC program called Camera Control, which can be used to control the E-PL7 (see photo tip in the links below). Officially from Olympus, however, there is no PC application. The E-PL7 can also be controlled remotely via the app or the PC program. A new feature is the possibility to take serial pictures with the self-timer via WLAN, and finally video recordings can be started with the app. It remains to be seen whether Camera Control will be extended accordingly by the programmer. Those who want to edit the images before transferring them will find numerous possibilities in the camera playback, as for example a backlight correction or a black and white or sepia mode, only the art filters are not available for JPEG images. But also raw images can be developed in the camera, either with the current parameters or with individual settings, here the application of art filters is also possible, even as art filter bracketing. So you don’t necessarily have to record in Raw+JPEG to get a JPEG to the raw in the camera. At this point a tip: The highest JPEG quality “Super Fine”, abbreviated “SF”, is not selectable in the factory settings at first, you have to set it first in the gear menu G under the point “Set” to one of the four quality modes, from which you can then select the image quality for shots. A small example that the menu navigation at Olympus is not always optimal. In any case, the image quality in SF is visibly better than in “F”, since there are fewer compression artifacts.

Another highlight of the Pen E-PL7 is Live Bulb or Live Time. During a long exposure, the current exposure level is shown on the display, if the photo is bright enough, the exposure is stopped. The innovative Live Composite function, which Olympus introduced with the OM-D E-M10, has also inherited the E-PL7. This makes it possible, for example, to capture star trails or moving clouds without overexposing the rest of the image. With the E-PL7 the total exposure time is now also noted in the EXIF data, which was still missing with the E-M10. Also the HDR function now affects the meta data, so that it can be traced later.

The video function is the second function after the panorama mode that Olympus has somewhat neglected. The Full HD resolution, the stereo sound via built-in or plugged in microphone and the MOV format with H.264 compression are still completely OK, the picture and sound quality are good. Even the image stabilizer works excellently, with electronic stabilization supporting the mechanical one, which ensures even smoother shots. However, the frame repetition rate is fixed at 30 frames per second in video mode, 60, 50, 25 and 24 frames per second are not offered by the E-PL7. Also the C-AF is not so good to use in video mode, because it pumps visibly. Focus peaking for manual focus is only available in the photo programs, not during video recording. After all, the focus peaking is now updated three times as fast at 30 frames per second, which allows you to manually focus finer and faster.

Unfortunately, the Olympus Pen E-PL7 does not have a built-in flash, but it does have a hot shoe and a small attachable flash is also included. From flash to end of exposure, long time sync and flash exposure correction to wireless flash in multiple groups and channels and manual flash output control, the Olympus system offers virtually everything you could wish for. Actually, because a large, powerful attachable flash is currently not available directly from Olympus. The FL-600R is a successor model of the FL-36R, but the more powerful FL-50R has not got a current successor. But you can also use the flashes from Panasonic, also with wireless TTL, as well as from Metz and some other manufacturers.

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

Unlike the E-PL5, the tripod thread of the Olympus Pen E-PL7 is located in the optical axis. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

With the M.Zuiko digital ED 14-42 mm 1:3.5-5.6 EZ, here in extended, ready-to-use condition, the Olympus Pen E-PL7 is particularly compact. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

On the side of the Olympus Pen E-PL7, the connections for USB and Mini-HDMI are hidden behind a flap. [Photo: Olympus]

Olympus PEN E-PL7 Review

Both the battery and SD memory card are inserted into the bottom of the Olympus Pen E-PL7. The new BLS-50 offers with 1.210 mAh 60 mAh more capacity than the externally identical BLS-5 and is sufficient for 350 exposures. [Photo: Olympus]

Image quality

Like any other camera, the Olympus Pen E-PL7 had to prove itself in laboratory tests, where together with the set lens M.Zuiko digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 EZ the image quality was measured.

Like the OM-D E-M10 and Pen E-PL5, the E-PL7 has an effective 16 megapixel resolution image sensor in Four Thirds format, i.e. 17.3 x 13 millimetres in size and an aspect ratio of 4:3. The sensor, which is a quarter of the size of the 35 mm format, thus halves the angle of view and the focal lengths must be multiplied by a factor of two for comparison with 35 mm format. The pixel density of the sensor corresponds approximately to that of a current APS-C sensor with a resolution of 24 megapixels.

The signal-to-noise ratio starts at ISO 100, which is called ISO Low on the E-PL7, at a very good value of 45 dB and remains in the good range of over 40 dB up to and including ISO 400. Up to the high ISO 3.200 it stays in the acceptable range of more than 35 dB, only above that the noise starts to superimpose the useful signal. Noise reduction keeps color noise under control at all ISO levels, and brightness noise begins to be visible at ISO 6,400, but remains just below the critical range even at the highest sensitivity level of ISO 25,600. The noise remains fine enough with a grain size of about two pixels. Up to ISO 800, there is no loss of fine image detail due to noise reduction. Although the level of detail decreases from ISO level to ISO level, the E-PL7 still shows enough fine details even at ISO 3,200. Only from ISO 6.400 onwards do individual black hairs start to blend into a pulp or dissolve against a grey background.

The Olympus Pen also performs very well in terms of input dynamics. From ISO 200, which is the basic sensitivity, up to ISO 3,200, it is in the high range of 11.2 to 11.4 f-stops; at ISO 100 and ISO 6,400, it is still a good 10.7 to 10.8 f-stops. Even the 10 f-stops at ISO 6.400 are really not to be complained about and the 9 f-stops at ISO 25.600 are in the absolutely acceptable range. The tonal value curve is steep and the resharpening is crisp. In JPEG, the images are suitable for printing without post-processing. But those who want to process the images should reduce the image parameters in the camera a little or better go straight back to the raw format that is predestined for a post processing. Despite the steep tone value curve, the E-PL7 up to ISO 400 reproduces very fine brightness gradations (224 and more of the maximum possible 256 levels) in all color channels, even up to ISO 3.200 the value is still good with 160 brightness levels. Although the Olympus Pen E-PL7 delivers print-ready images with offensive image processing, it has amazingly accurate colour reproduction. The average color deviation is small, even the maximum deflections hardly reach into the range of the clearly visible deviation. The white balance also works formidably, but if you want an equally warm and not neutral color rendition under warm light sources, you should set this accordingly in the gear menu, where the pen offers an option for warm colors. By the way, the good colour reproduction is also reflected in a fine colour nuance, especially up to ISO 3.200. Up to this point, the E-PL7 distinguishes at least four million colours, whereby the value slowly drops from eight million at ISO 100 to four million at ISO 3.200. Above that, the measuring curve drops steeper, two million colors at ISO 6.400 are just about good, one million at the highest two ISO sensitivities only acceptable.

No image quality without a lens, and here the Micro-Four-Thirds system offers a very wide choice, especially Olympus has concentrated on many fast yet compact fixed focal lengths. The inexpensive 45 mm 1.8 can only be recommended to every fixed focal length beginner, but the 25 mm 1.8 is also very good, whereas the 75 mm 1.8 is already much more expensive, but it takes image quality even further. However, for beginners and universal use, it may be more compact, less bright and more universal. Olympus offers two standard 14-42 mm zoom lenses in a set with the E-PL7 pen. We had the more compact but also in the extra price compared to the normal 14-42mm with 200 Euro twice as expensive Motorzoom 14-42 mm EZ available for testing. Equipped with this lens, the pen disappears easily into a jacket or handbag. Nevertheless, it offers good image quality for a set lens. In relation to a 20 x 30 centimetre printout, the image sharpness is impeccable at all focal lengths and apertures from the centre to the edge of the image. The edge darkening runs softly to the edge of the image and is a maximum of one f-stop, which means 50 percent light loss. Dimming by one step at a time reduces the edge darkening by half. The distortion is well corrected and practically non-existent at medium and long focal lengths. In the wide angle a slight barrel distortion is visible, but with a maximum of 1.2 percent it is in the uncritical range and is hardly perceived subjectively. The color fringes in the form of chromatic aberrations are also low on average at less than half a pixel, only the maximum deflections of up to 1.5 pixels can be easily seen in the outer areas of the image, especially at wide angle.

The lens also performs well in terms of resolution at 50 percent edge contrast. It reaches its maximum in wide angle at open aperture with about 49 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) in the center of the image. For comparison: Even the best fixed focal lengths hardly exceed 55 lp/mm on the 16 megapixel sensor. During fading the resolution decreases continuously, but remains above 40 lp/mm in the center until F11. At the edge of the image, the resolution in wide angle is significantly lower than in the center of the image, but at around 35 lp/mm it is at a good level, so the resolution loss is a maximum of 30 percent. With a medium focal length of 25 millimeters (50 mm KB), on the other hand, the lens can gladly be stopped down to F8, where it reaches its maximum resolution with 45 lp/mm at the center and 42 lp/mm at the edge of the image; with an open aperture of F4.6 it is “only” 40 and 36 lp/mm. Especially with the uniformity of resolution over the image field, the lens can score points at this focal length. In telescopic position, the uniformity of resolution is even better, reaching up to 44 lp/mm in the center and at the edges, with practically no difference between F5.6, F8 and F11. From F16 on, diffraction starts to be clearly visible in the Micro Four Thirds System, the resolution decreases considerably, especially at F22. The E-PL7 is trying to counteract this with a stronger re-sharpening, which it is partially successful in doing. The sharpness artifacts increase at F16 and F22, but the resolution does not drop as much. All in all, the 14-42mm EZ is a good all-round lens that is worth taking, given its price and size.

Conclusion

The Olympus Pen E-PL7 could almost be called a stroke of genius, as the camera has almost no weaknesses. At a low price of just under 400 euro for the case, it offers a high-quality finish with a case mostly made of metal, designed with great attention to detail and covered with a grained texture in leather look. The equipment list leaves virtually no gaps, from the selfie folding screen with touch operation, automatic programs, numerous configurable image effects, semi-automatic and manual setting options to WLAN with image transmission and camera remote control, practically nothing is missing. It is easy to use yourself, apart from the sometimes somewhat confusing and cryptic menu. Only the panorama mode appears to be very outdated without automatic stitching and the video function could use an update regarding the frame rates and the C-AF. The camera is fast and beats any DSLR in single-frame focusing, the continuous frame rate is also very fast at 8 frames per second, only the focus tracking to only 3.5 frames per second is not among the fastest. Even in the most important discipline of a digital camera, image quality, the Olympus Pen E-PL7 is convincing, especially up to ISO 1,600, but even at ISO 3,200 it still offers good image quality and up to ISO 6,400 acceptable image quality.

Firmware update 1.2 for the Olympus Pen E-PL7: Improved serial function

Olympus has released new firmware version 1.2 for the E-PL7 mirrorless system camera pen. This improves the stability of recording operations during fast continuous shooting “H” from ISO 2,000 with the following five Panasonic lenses: Lumix G 20 mm 1.7, Lumix G Vario 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 Asph Mega-OIS, Lumix G 14 mm 2.5 Asph, Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42 mm 3.5-5.6 Asph Power-OIS and Lumix G Vario 100-300 mm 4-5.6 Mega-OIS. The update is done via the Olympus Digital Camera Updater, the exact procedure is described in a photo tip.

Profile

Profile
Manufacturer Olympus
Model Pen E-PL7
Price approx. EUR 600 at market launch
Sensor Resolution 16.2 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.608 x 3.456
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ
Filter thread 37mm
Viewfinder Electronic
Enlargement 0,74-fold
Field of view 100 %
Resolution 2,36 Mio
(1.024 x 768 Pixel)
Dioptre compensation yes
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 1.037.000
rotatable
swiveling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output AV and HDMI (each PAL/NTSC)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure yes
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 19 additional scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes (attachable)
Flash connection System hot shoe
Remote release Cable, WLAN
Interval recording yes
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video mode yes
Format MOV or AVI
Codec H.264 or Motion-JPEG
Resolution (max.)
1.920 x 1,080 (MOV)
1.280 x 720 (AVI)
at frame rate
30 frames/s
Sensitivity
automatically 200-25.600
(upper and lower limit adjustable)
manually ISO 100-25,600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Shade, underwater, flash, manual colour temperature selection
Manually yes
Autofocus
Number of measurement fields 81
AF auxiliary light Orange
Speed approx. 0,2 s
Languages English
More 33 additional languages
Weight
(Ready for operation)
355 g (body only
)446 g (with lens*)
Zoom
Zoom adjustment at the lens
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)

Brief assessment

Pros

  • High-quality processed, nobly designed housing
  • Wide range of equipment
  • High-resolution, large, foldable electronic viewfinder as optional accessory
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 1,600, good up to ISO 3,200
  • Foldable (also for selfies), high-resolution touch screen

Cons

  • Outdated panorama function without stitching in the camera
  • No frame rate setting in video mode
  • Flash unit must be attached and occupies the accessory shoe

Olympus Pen E-PL7 Data Sheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 4/3″ 17.3 x 13.0 mm (crop factor 2.0
)17.2 megapixels (physical) and 16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 3.7 µm
Photo resolution
5.184 x 2.920 pixels (16:9)
4.608 x 3.456 pixels (4:3)
4.608 x 3.072 pixels (3:2)
4.608 x 2.592 pixels (16:9)
3.456 x 3.456 pixels (1:1)
3.216 x 2.144 pixels (3:2)
3.200 x 2.400 pixels (4:3)
2.400 x 2.400 pixels (1:1)
1.296 x 864 pixels (3:2)
1.280 x 960 pixels (4:3)
1.280 x 720 pixels (16:9)
960 x 960 pixels (1:1)
Panorama Stitch panorama assistant (for external stitching)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.2), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p 29 min
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p 29 min
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p 29 min
Maximum recording time 29 min
Video format
AVI (Codec H.264)

Lens

Lens mount
Micro Four Thirds

Focus

Autofocus mode Contrast autofocus with 81 measuring fields
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Tracking AF, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light, Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (14x)
Sharpness control Depth of field control, Live View

Viewfinder and monitor

SLR viewfinder Grille can be faded in
Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, transreflective, anti-glare, brightness adjustable, tilts down 180°, with touchscreen

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 324 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 2 s (automatic
)1/4,000 to 60 s (manual)
Bulb with maximum 1,800 s exposure time
Exposure control Fully automatic, Program automatic (with program shift), Shutter automatic, Aperture automatic, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 7 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 200 to ISO 25,600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 (manual)
Remote access Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
Scene modes Various scene modes: documents, fireworks, candlelight, children, landscape, macro, night scene, night portrait, panorama, portrait, sunset, sports, beach and snow
Picture effects Fisheye, pinhole camera, soft focus, pale, cross development, various tint and filter effects in parameterizable b/w mode, high key, grainy film, light tint, low key, model making, pop art, b/w filter (yellow, orange, red, green)
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sunny, White balance bracket, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp, Tungsten lamp, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 8.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 20 stored images, up to 3.5 fps in L
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 or 12 s interval
Recording functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableHot shoe
: Olympus/Panasonic (also Leica compact camera), standard center contact
Flash range Flash sync speed 1/250 s
Flash code Guide number 10 (ISO 100)
(Supplied with attachable flash)
Flash functions Auto mode, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, flash on second shutter curtain, manual flash output, red-eye reduction, master mode, flash compensation

Equipment

Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD
GPS function GPS external (Smartphone as GPS logger)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply 1 x Olympus BLS-50350
images according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Red eye retouching, cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 14.0x magnification, image index, slide show function with music, zoom out
Face recognition Face recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, color saturation, noise reduction
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Grid fade-in, Pixel mapping, Orientation sensor, Live View
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
AV Connections AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″ in optical axis
Special features and miscellaneous TruePic VII image processorQR code settingFlashAir

compatibleAdditional
aspect ratios of 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1Dust reduction filter
with ultrasonic self-cleaning functionBuilt-in
low-pass filter and infrared cut filterAF Working range
: 0-20 EVManual
focus with 800 measuring points and magnifying glass (magnification factor 5x, 7x, 10x or 14x)
Tracking autofocus (also when recording video)
3-step adjustment of gradationSimultaneous
recording in RAW and

digital modes

JPEG format possibleRAW processing functionWhite-balance bracketing

and ISO bracketing function Manual
mode also for video
recordingMemory for individual usersArtFilter bracketingAdditional

video-art filters Multiple echo, single echo

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 115 x 67 x 38 mm
Weight 357 g (ready for operation)

Miscellaneous

standard accessory Olympus BLS-50 Special Battery Battery ChargerUSB Connection CableAV CableStretch BeltCamera Software

Olympus Viewer

additional accessories Olympus FC-WR (Radio Control Unit) Flash AccessoriesOlympus
FL-700WR Slide-on Flash with Swivel ReflectorOlympus
MAL-1 (Macro-LED) Other AccessoriesOlympus
PTBK-01 Universal ProductOlympus
P12 Underwater HousingOlympus
RM-UC1 Remote Cable ReleaseOlympus
SEMA-1 Universal ProductOlympus
UFL-3 UW-FlashOlympus
VF-3 Universal ProductOlympus
VF-4 (electronic viewfinder)
Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm 1.7 (H-X1025) zoom lens