Olympus PEN E-PL9
£549/$699 with 14-42mm EZ lens Olympus’s latest fashion-conscious PEN model ticks all the right boxes
Will the latest PEN grab the attention of smartphone upgraders and beginners?
Olympus is targeting beginners and smartphone upgraders with the E-PL9, just as Fujifilm is with its new X-A5 (reviewed on page 116). The E-PL9 has no viewfinder, so images are composed using the rear touchscreen display, which pivots through 180 degrees for selfies.
The E-PL9 will usually be sold with Olympus’s excellent little 14-42mm EZ ‘pancake’ zoom. This retracts when the camera is switched off, making the camera really pocketable.
It’s not just a simple snapshot camera for beginners, though. The E-PL9 has no fewer than 16 different Art Filters and an Advanced Photo mode for multiple exposures, focus bracketing, HDR, sweep panoramas, live composite long exposures and keystone correction. It also offers 4K video.
Build and handling
Olympus has crammed a good selection of external controls on the E-PL9’s small body without making them feel particularly cramped or awkward. The touchscreen is responsive, though some of the icons are quite small and, as ever with touchscreens, you can find yourself accidentally activating settings, modes and features you didn’t mean to.
The EZ kit lens has an electric rather than mechanical zoom function, which makes it feel a little less responsive than a regular lens; but the autofocus is really fast, even though it uses a contrast-based system rather than phase detection.
Olympus’s in-body stabilisation works with all of Olympus’s lenses and with video too. It’s not going to give you a perfectly stable shot if you insist on walking and filming at the same time, but it will smooth out the jitters when you have to capture a video clip handheld.
Technically, the E-PL9’s smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor and 16MP resolution puts it at a disadvantage next to 24MP APS-C rivals, but you won’t often notice the difference in real-world shooting. In our tests, we rarely needed to apply any exposure compensation, the auto white balance produced attractive, natural looking results in a variety of conditions and the colour rendition was great.
Olympus has crammed a good selection of external controls on the E-PL9’s small body
The rear screen tilts up and down and extends further on a doublehinge mechanism to rotate 180 degrees for selfies
The touchscreen display offers touch-focus and touch-shutter modes, but you can disable these if you like 2 3
The E-PL9 comes in a silver finish with a choice of trim colours, including white, black and brown
The 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom (28-84mm equivalent) is remarkably compact, retracting into a very short barrel when it’s powered down 4