Olympus pairs vintage looks and mod cons with the PEN-F

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The Olympus PEN-F looks like it has come straight from the 1960s, but is full of mod cons(Credit: Olympus)

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Olympus has revealed its latest retro mirrorless camera, the PEN-F. Designed as a digital successor to its iconic namesake, the new camera looks like an old-school rangefinder, but packs a thoroughly modern punch. The 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds PEN-F features a high resolution electronic viewfinder, 5-axis image stabilization, and the ability to shoot 50-megapixel images.

A few years ago Olympus celebrated the 50th anniversary of the PEN F camera with the launch of the PEN E-P5 which was inspired by the 1963 classic. However, the controls and lack of a built-in viewfinder made using the camera a very modern experience. The new PEN-F looks like it could do a better job of mixing old and new, and be a great option for street-shooters.

Inside the retro PEN-F is a 20-megapixel Live MOS sensor which measures 17.4 x 13.0 mm. Paired with camera's the Micro Four Thirds Mount, there are plenty of lens options available. A True Pic VII processor means the PEN-F should give high image quality and it has an ISO range of 200 to 25600, expandable down to ISO 80. It is also able to shoot a burst of images at 10 fps (frames per second).

Other mod cons include 5-axis in-body image stabilization which helps reduce blur caused by camera movement, and the option to use the sensor shift to take a quick series of eight shots which can be combined into a higher resolution image. This enables the PEN-F to shoot 50-megapixel shots of still subjects, compared to the 40-megapixel shooting we saw on the E-M5 II. Video recording is possible at Full HD 1080p at up to 60/50 fps.

Physically the PEN-F is a looker, arguably one of the best-looking cameras we've seen in quite a while. It measures 124.8 x 72.1 x 37.3 mm (4.9 x 2.8 x 1.5 in), weighs 427 g (15 oz) and features metal construction, switches and dials. Olympus has even gone to the effort of making sure screw heads are nowhere to be seen on the camera, which the firm (perhaps optimistically) suggests could become a collectors item.

On the rear of the camera things start to look more modern with a 3-inch vari-angle 1,037k dot touchscreen monitor. However that's not the only method of composing shots as the PEN-F also has a high resolution interactive OLED viewfinder with 2.36 million dots. This lets users see a real-time preview of settings adjustments and can deliver rangefinder-style shooting, with focusing assistance, focus peaking and image magnification.

The PEN-F also has built in Wi-Fi for wirelessly sharing images and remote control. While we'd normally advocate shooting RAW images, which the PEN-F can do, and post-processing your images, there's a Creative Dial on the front of the camera to quickly switch between a selection of image art filters. The 1963 original used a dial in that position to access shutter speed settings.

The Olympus PEN-F will be available in black or silver from the end of February. It will sell for US$1,200 body-only.

You can check out a promo video for the PEN-F below.

Product page: Olympus PEN-F

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