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Thread: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

  1. #1
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    The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    So after a lot of back and forth, holding the camera 3 times and not buying because something just didn't click, I was doing some experiments the other weekend with the IBIS of the OMD and decided that I wanted IBIS for some night shots.. and took another look at the PenF and got one.

    I still love the Gm5. Really. Love its form factor. And I got the 20mm F1.7 Panasonic lens (finally) which to my surprise in its MKII version makes the GM5 super classy while still being amazingly portable.

    It's just too bad Panasonic didn't do a GM7 with the new 20MP sensor, and ability to convert in-camera raw... but tried a few more things on the PenF and got it.

    And I am completely surprised just how good- and I mean darn good- the JPEG engine is. I always said that to me Fuji and Olympus did the best Jpeg engines but that lately Olympus while still ranking high was falling a bit behind Fuji- well, the PenF puts them virtually at the same level.

    The color film modes and the B&W modes are simply outstanding. It also has that "presence" I said seemed to be lacking on the OMD EM5 MKII as if it still had an AA filter (sometimes I still think it very well still might) and cameras like the Fuji which has none.

    The PenF does have that "presence look" and the files are simply gorgeous. The JPEG engine is so good, in fact, that I may go back to shoot mainly in JPEG and not bother with sitting in front of the computer converting raws.

    This is something that today I would have said only of Fuji, but the PenF has it.

    Largely gone seems to be that nitty gritty posterization that was rearing it's head a bit too often in recent Olympus m43rds camera models in the sky. How did Olympus manage to do such nice smooth transitions with only 12-bit raws- don't know and don't care but they managed it. At least to a point that seems like a step up.

    I am not going to hi-jack the Fun with Pen-F ahead, so eventually I will post there but wanted to give some impressions on the camera.

    Achilles heel- AF as some reviews pointed out is not all that. It's ok, but feels a notch worse than OMD EM5 MKII and a bit worse than the GM5. Also Panasonic really got the pin point focus workflow nailed down and runs *circles* around Olympus implementation in terms of speed of usability.

    Anyhow, really surprised with the PenF. Some quick test shots/samples below- all are 100% JPEGS out of camera other than the resize down. I do not consider these photographs.

    Film Sim color 2





    Film Sim color 3 (saturated film sim)





    ISO 25600 F1.8 1/100


    - Ricardo
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    Senior Member Annna T's Avatar
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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    You are very convincing.. If I wasn't using the A7rm2 more nowadays, I would be very tempted by that new body.

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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    Quote Originally Posted by Annna T View Post
    You are very convincing.. If I wasn't using the A7rm2 more nowadays, I would be very tempted by that new body.
    Thanks Anna though you got a fantastic camera. As I keep saying- all cameras are good now! :-) To me the key thing is to get that "Fuji thing" they were doing and seems like now I can have it or as close as I can in m43rds. I wish myself to shoot Fuji but I know the size of the system will not make me enjoy it as much.

    You also know that I pride myself on being accurate- even if some think I am being "pessimistic"- I try to give credit where due so hopefully this certainly comes across as honest and legitTM :-)

    One word on "presence" and lenses though-

    So something I noticed today, I was taking some shots with the Olympus 25mm F1.8 m43rds prime and the Pen-F and noticed the PenF didn't quite have the same pizzaz as with the Panny 20mm F1.7. It still looks pretty great but some of the super micro contrast seemed to be missing.

    Effectively so- the lens is making the difference.

    I always felt the Olympus m43rds tiny primes were not at the same level of the old 4/3rd lenses- and most of the m43rds lenses in general. The Panasonic F1.4 25mm Leica for example, is not quite the same as the old 4/3rds counter part.

    One notable characteristic of old 4/3rd lenses is their incredible resilience to chromatic aberrations and this helped make the colors more vibrant and better micro contrast- seems to me.

    I hope Olympus announces that Pro prime F1.2 lens soon. That should do it. And if you have an OMD EM5 MKII that should "level up" your camera a bit. That or get a Nocticron if you like that focal and got the cash. Or the Panny 20mm F1.7.

    I shot the OMD EM5 MKII tonight with that lens (20mm F1.7) and it still seems the PenF holds a bit of an advantage but not as big as I thought at first in terms of this particular area.

    That said, the PenF JPEG engine new film sims still rock.
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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    Thanks Ricardo for this review, makes me increase my hopes for m43 and me staying in this system.

    What I am really looking forward is the upcoming EM1m2, that will hopefully solve the PenF AF issues and add dual SD card slots, so I could store RAW on one and JPEG on the other card.

    Maybe we can hope that this camera will also have at least the film simulations from the PenF and quality of JPEG engine.

    And maybe then I might buy a PenF as my second body

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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    I find the PL 42.5/1.2 an incredible performer on E-M1/5/5.2 and expect it to do equally well on the upcoming E-M1.2.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    Quote Originally Posted by ptomsu View Post
    Thanks Ricardo for this review, makes me increase my hopes for m43 and me staying in this system.

    What I am really looking forward is the upcoming EM1m2, that will hopefully solve the PenF AF issues and add dual SD card slots, so I could store RAW on one and JPEG on the other card.

    Maybe we can hope that this camera will also have at least the film simulations from the PenF and quality of JPEG engine.

    And maybe then I might buy a PenF as my second body
    I really think the EM2 will be something special- I believe it will have Olympus first implementation of hand held super resolution which will open that feature to more landscapes and portraits on the go. I also understand Olympus has been working on a new level of AF for it.

    Won't be my camera- I don't like the size of that tier but should be interesting to those who like the EM1 form factor.

    - Ricardo

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    I find the PL 42.5/1.2 an incredible performer on E-M1/5/5.2 and expect it to do equally well on the upcoming E-M1.2.
    The Nocticron is definitively a different category- that's more 4/3rds than m43rds for sure! :-) So I would expect the new announced F1.4 wide PL.

    - Ricardo
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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    So I went to a wedding tonight and used the PenF a bit liberally though didn't walk around taking shots, etc. since I was not the hired gun. Though I was commended enough by the bride no less herself of some of the shots I took and she wanted some of them- that that she would have hired me to do some shooting -had she known.

    Anyhow, I just say again the JPEG engine and looking at the RAWS of the PenF seem definitively better than the OMD EM5 MKII. I think the reason why some reviews- even Olympus (often biased, imho) Wong's is because they are all looking at it at 100% not realizing that the valid comparison would be to resize down the PenF files to 16 MP, since that's what the OMD has, and in doing so, the files acquire an advantage since it's effectively resampling with more data even if it's at the same noise/DR/color sensitivity level- which seems to me the PenF sensor does a tiny bit better there anyway while still being 20 MP.

    The one caveat again is that AF... it can work great, but sometimes it just lets you down. And with the Panasonic 20 mm F1.7 you have to be real careful. That's really the only pity. On that end I thought about the GX85 again since I am pretty darn sure that camera will focus with notably more confidence than the PenF (since the GM5 focuses better than the PenF).

    But after seeing those jpegs and tones + color, it's hard to go back. I guess. I am sure the GX85 also looks a bit better being that it also lacks an AA filter, but I get the impression the DR and overall effective tone at 16 MP doesn't hold as well as the PenF, and there's definitively that Olympus tweaking they did for the new color/B&W film profiles... which is more of the thing Fuji would do...

    I wish I could post these shots, but since it's not my wedding, I don't feel I can just post them so I won't. If I find something I can crop for I may be able to post some of that.

    - Ricardo
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    Re: The Amazing Pen-F - Olympus got the JPEG engine right

    I have to say at this point I am pretty taken with the Pen-F - a camera at first I was pretty cold to warm-cold. And I am kicking myself for not buying the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 MKII earlier! (Anna, I believe you suggested me to get this lens before to satisfy my 'travel small' want).

    I am surprised how well this lens renders, and equally surprised how much the PenF uses its resolution with it along with color/contrast.

    I apologize for not posting more photos- hopefully that will come within a week but been swamped at work and the first real workout I gave the penF was in a wedding of which I was a guest of people I don't know- so don't feel right sharing those pics.

    I do have some pictures form gay pride SF 2016 and I will post some of those later.... but again swamped with work at the moment unfortunately :-(

    When I post the shots they will be in the Funw with Pen-F - as I have no intention to hi jack that thread (which I asked someone to start anyway! :-) ).

    - Ricardo

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