Olym­pus PEN E-PL9

£549/$699 with 14-42mm EZ lens Olym­pus’s lat­est fash­ion-con­scious PEN model ticks all the right boxes

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

Rod Law­ton

Olym­pus has crammed a good se­lec­tion of ex­ter­nal con­trols on the E-PL9’s small body

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The rear screen tilts up and down and ex­tends fur­ther on a dou­ble­hinge mech­a­nism to ro­tate 180 de­grees for self­ies

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The touch­screen dis­play of­fers touch-fo­cus and touch-shut­ter modes, but you can dis­able these if you like 2 3

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The E-PL9 comes in a sil­ver fin­ish with a choice of trim colours, in­clud­ing white, black and brown

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The 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom (28-84mm equiv­a­lent) is re­mark­ably com­pact, re­tract­ing into a very short bar­rel when it’s pow­ered down 4

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