The first thing that may occur when you carry the newly announced Olympus PEN E-PL10 Mirrorless Camera is that people will ask you, “Is that a film camera?” Whether it is film is not the point (it’s digital), but the camera gets a second glance, a reaction from the casual observer, and that reaction is very positive.
The size and design of this camera are its best draws and, in my opinion, the black version is a gorgeous, compact interchangeable-lens camera, ideal for everyday carry, street photography, family gatherings and nights on the town. Olympus also offers white and brown models, which display a simple elegance, recalling great film cameras of the past and providing a stylish accessory to enable high-quality imaging, ease of handling, and simple pairing with your smart device.
Like its predecessor, the E-PL10 has a 16.1MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor, the TruePic VIII Image Processor, 4K video capability, 3-axis image stabilization, a 180° tilting touchscreen LCD, and built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In addition to its updated design that complements the Olympus ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ SLV kit lens better, the major updates to the E-PL10 enable better image transfer from camera to phone. Images to transfer can be easily organized by date and by swiping the LCD screen.
The camera’s user interface and wizard guide have been improved to help those who want to step up from a smartphone to utilize the camera’s comprehensive auto and manual functions. Scene mode is also available to make for easy capture of nightscapes, macro, motion, and other common types of shots that do take some experience. Ideal for street photography and discreet moments, silent shooting is now also possible in manual and ART modes, and the E-PL10 can fire at 8.6 frames per second.
Despite its streamlined form factor, the camera features a built-in pop-up flash and a hot shoe that accepts a speedlight. It is also compatible with the Olympus wireless RC flash system. The overall design quality of this camera is attractive and highly functional, from the selfie-ready flip-down LCD to the ergonomic grip and dial placement to the touch screen that enables art filter controls, to touchscreen autofocus and shutter.
After a week using the E-PL10 kit with the 14-42mm lens, particularly for everyday carry, I can attest to the camera’s quick focus and ideal color rendition. I missed having a viewfinder, but that is a sacrifice of size and speaks to the camera’s niche as a high-resolution, versatile replacement for your smartphone. The 3.0" 1.04m-dot LCD touchscreen is plenty large, responsive to the touch, and very sharp, but if a viewfinder is important to you, there are many options available to attach to the camera’s hot-shoe mount. On a related note, I was very pleased with the battery life.
As mentioned, I used this camera with the 14-42mm kit lens, which is notable because of its size, weight, and power functions. Given that it is less than 1" long when powered down and weighs only 3.2 oz (91 g), its equivalent focal-length range of 28-84mm is remarkable. The electronic zoom ring provides smooth point-and-shoot-like control of the focal length with the organic and ergonomic action of “pulling” focus on the lens barrel. Though this lens looks great and is compact and versatile, the true beauty of the PEN E-PL10 is its compatibility with a wide range of Micro Four Thirds-mount lenses from various brands. When you are ready to step away from the “kit” lens, I suggest the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO Lens for wide-angle work, or the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens for a range of applications.
Let us know your thoughts on the latest in a long line of Olympus PEN cameras and, whether or not you are ready to ditch the smartphone as your primary everyday camera. Comment just below.