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Olympus Pen E-PL7 review



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Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7
  • Olympus Pen E-PL7


Our Score:


User Score:


  • Great sensor performance
  • Charming retro design
  • Decent touchscreen


  • Underwhelming video capture
  • Not ideal for bigger hands
  • Odd tilt-under screen

Key Features

  • 16.1-megapixel Live MOS MFT sensor
  • 1080p/30fps video recording
  • Wi-Fi
  • In-body image stabliliser
  • 8fps max burst mode
  • 357g
  • 114.9 x 67 x 38.4mm
  • Manufacturer: Olympus
  • Review Price: £499.99

What is the Olympus Pen E-PL7?

The Olympus E-PL7 is a 16-megapixel compact system camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. It’s the smaller, cheaper, more stylish alternative to the company’s very popular OM-D cameras.

Olympus has taken the idea that this needs to be a casual camera a bit too far in the E-PL7: it’s rather selfie-centric. However, it doesn’t stop this from being a camera that can take serious photos, just like its bigger brothers.

While physical controls could be a little better, this is a very solid Micro Four Thirds camera. You’ll pay around £400 for it with the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 (max aperture) kit lens.

SEE ALSO: Best Cameras Round-up

Olympus Pen E-PL7 – Design and Handling

Like the Olympus E-PL6, which only launched in some areas as recently as this summer, the E-PL7 has a retro-style body made using a mix of plastic and metal.

Most of the frame is aluminium, giving the camera a very hardy feel. It's the leather-effect parts on the grip that are plastic, and they don’t detract from the feel that the E-PL7 could really take some abuse.

You may notice that Olympus has tweaked its logo style for this year’s Pen Lite, using the same retro look as the Olympus E-P5. It’s a minor tweak, but one that fits well with the retro style. Like most other Pen models, it’s a good-looking, well-made camera.

However, we do think that those with larger hands may find it a bit dinky, and may prefer a slightly larger frame. Benefit or compromise? It depends on your perspective, and how you like to shoot, and the Olympus E-PL7 does have both a small front contoured grip and a small thumb rest on the back. It’s 114.9 x 67 x 38.4mm in size and weighs 357g.

It was when trying to shoot manually that we encountered a few handling niggles. There’s a manual control dial we didn’t get in the E-PL6, but the E-PL7 does seem a little cramped when trying to get fully involved in the camera’s settings.

It does feel as though the Olympus E-PL7 is intended for more casual photographers, something supported by the lack of any viewfinder. You have to use the screen to compose with this camera, which may take a bit of getting used to if you’re accustomed to a viewfinder.

Want one? The Olympus E-M10 offers an EVF and an integrated flash. It’s this camera’s bigger brother.

Olympus Pen E-PL7 – Screen

The screen itself is decent. Three inches across and 1.04 million dots in resolution, it offers fairly good image quality. It’s a touchscreen too, letting you touch-to-focus.

Again, this is handy for more casual shooting. But other elements of the E-PL7 screen suggest Olympus may care a bit too much about the casual crowd.

The camera uses a rather unusual tilt mechanism where the screen flips out under the body rather than, as is more common, above it. Olympus claims this is there to offer the best selfie experience, but in person it feels overengineered and awkward.

There’s an obvious reason why it has this inverted screen, though. The Olympus E-PL7 doesn't have an integrated flash, instead offering a bundled slot-in unit that sits on the hot shoe. By flipping the screen under, its usable with the flash attached.

We did find that the flash has a tendency to overexpose people’s faces, but flash selfies explains one of the E-PL7’s design oddities. The til screen also makes shooting below head level easier – it’s not just for the selfie crowd.


December 5, 2014, 11:36 am

It's a fair review for the most part, but I think it misses the point of the PEN range a little. These cameras are incredibly versatile. They can be a very compact point and shoot option for family days out, say. Then you can fit an EVF and perhaps a legacy lens and indulge in more conventional photography with a body that handles very well. You don't even need to take the camera from your eye to shoot and can control shutter speed or exposure compensation with the control dial around the shutter button (assuming legacy lens with aperture ring and being aware of what click stop it's on)
Something that is hard to quantify, but I got from the E-PL5 before it and now even more so from the E-PL7, is the enjoyment factor. Photography is FUN with the PEN Lites! :-) Seeing the likely result as you shoot (very handy with the ART filters) and moving the focus point around with a touch of the screen is a great way to work. You don't need an EVF for this kind of photography as the AF is very accurate and really does work well in low light, especially compared to the previous PEN Lites (I haven't seen the issue you mention of shutter beating AF to the shot but will look for it now!)
I even shoot wildlife with the VF-4 and an old 300 2.8 hooked up to it (you handle the lens more than the body here so there's no stress on the mount). Here the IBIS and the EVF combine to make it a very feasible exercise and it's already turned me out some shots I was very happy with, even handheld in not so good light.
So this camera can be a pocket job or a camera bag filler, and that is the beauty of the design of these bodies. IQ is excellent too. The JPEGs seem to have less artefacts than the previous models and even with the noise filter set to "off" I've had some surprising results at ISO6400.
Downsides? Can't fit a flash and an EVF. If you need to, then from Olympus you need an E-P5 or an OM-D variant. I also have a Panny GX7 so I'm OK there!
Yes it's quite small but the main controls are actually quite well placed. Make sure the Super Control Panel is activated to get the best experience though. Continuous AF is still not too hot compared to Phase Detect systems of course. And the video mode isn't a patch on the Panasonic models. And a mention for the Focus Peaking - it's virtually useless. I can focus better with the VF-4 fitted and the Peaking turned off. Plus the Peaking mode darkens the viewfinder AND turns off at half press of shutter button. Completely defeats the point of having it for stills in the first place. Sony and Panasonic (particularly Sony) do it MUCH better.
The price is pretty good, for the feature set. People mention the E-M10 of course and that is a great camera. But add a VF-4 to the E-PL7 (you can get them for £150-ish on ebay) and you have a BETTER EVF and can take it off when you don't want it. Of course not everyone wants this in a camera, and at that point I'd go for the E-M10. For me there's a real benefit to being able to make the camera small and pocketable when I need one like that.
I really think Olympus want shooting for their marketing campaign. Versatility should have been the selling point, NOT the selfie screen! It does work well for the 1% of the time you might take a selfie, mind.....

8/10 is probably a fair score if you consider the other options out there. I might score it a 9 personally though as currently it's (almost) every camera I need in the one body.
Hope that's some useful input! I think the E-PL7 really is a great little camera. Just waiting for the 300 f/4 now to get a really compact wildlife outfit with great quality output (I don't do birds in flight, btw).

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