From Fuji X to the Olympus Pen-F

Since 2011 I have been using Fujifilm X cameras exclusively. Starting with the first and original Fuji X100, the X-Pro1 with the XF 35 1.4 to the X-E1 and the X-T1, X-Pro2 both with the awesome XF 16-55 2.8

I think I have used nearly every native Fujinon X lens, all three Zeiss Touit lenses and some Samyang lenses on the Fuji body´s you can think of. Except for the telephoto lenses! This is due to the fact that I am no telephoto guy. The last camera I had and used was the X-Pro2 with the XF 16-55 2.8 which delivers some stunning files to the SD card. Why then, you might ask yourself, why did I switch from the awesome X-Pro2 to the Olympus mFT gear?

The answer is simple. Size!

After using the X-T1 with the XF 16-55 2.8 in Myanmar and the X-Pro2 with the XF 16-55 2.8 in Ireland I realized that even the quite small X gear is still too large for me. In Myanmar I also had the Sony RX100M3 with me and figured that I had been using it more than I thought. It was actually only meant as a backup camera in case something went wrong with the Fuji gear. You can read more about my experience here.

After weeks of thought what to do, a befriended photographer gave me the hint to take a look at the Olympus Pen-F with the small prime lenses! This is just what I did. The Pen-F was ordered and with it came the Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 and the M.Zuiko 17mm 1.8. These two lenses are just so small. Incredible!

After using the Olympus Pen-F for some two weeks now I can honestly say that this camera is made for me. I love the retro design of this masterpiece.

The image quality is all I need. Yes it is not right up there with the Fuji X-Trans III files but let’s be honest even for larger prints like 80cm x 60cm or even larger ones like 140cm x 105cm the image quality is more than enough.

That mode dial on the front works magic and I did not think I would use it that much but found that I was. Like a lot of people who use or have used this camera the monochrome mode 2 is also one of my favorites. The tones in the finished jpeg files are just purely amazing.

This should not be a full review of the Olympus Pen-F, it is more a first look to show you some of the first images I have taken with the camera and the by now three lenses I own for it. As stated above I have the two prime lenses M.Zuiko 12mm f/2, the M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 and I also got myself a travlezoom namely the M.Zuiko 12‑40mm 1:2.8 PRO. Naturally the Pen-F is not as compact as with the small Olympus M.Zuiko prime lenses but it is a very good travel combination.

Now lets get to some images to show you what I have shot with the Olympus Pen-F over the last two weeks since I have had the camera. Give me some time to get to know the camera and take some more real world pictures and I´ll be sure to come back with more about this wonderful camera from Olympus.

Sunburst through the tree, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Sunburst through the tree, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The path, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The path, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Hay bale and the sunburst, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Hay bale and the sunburst, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Hay bale and a tree, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Hay bale and a tree, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Lavender, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Lavender, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Picknick, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Picknick, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Colorful edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Colorful edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The Dragon edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The Dragon edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The Plane, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

The Plane, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

American Style, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

American Style, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

American Style Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

American Style Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Reflecting Car, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Reflecting Car, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Reflecting Car Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Reflecting Car Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

VW edited raw file with Lightroom 6

VW edited raw file with Lightroom 6

VW Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

VW Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Mercedes 190 SL ,edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Mercedes 190 SL ,edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Mercedes 190 SL Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Mercedes 190 SL Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Porsche Speedster, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Porsche Speedster, edited raw file with Lightroom 6

Porsche Speedster Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Porsche Speedster Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Lanz Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

Lanz Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

BMW Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

BMW Jpeg OOC Monochrome Mode 2

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34 Kommentare

  1. Hi,
    You are absolutely right about the size. I tried Olympus and Fujifilm. Now I am using a T10 and only small lenses of Fuji. I am happy with the IQ of Fuji but I remember how I was happy with the size of m43 lenses. I think all mirrorless camera makers should consider the size of cameras and lenses. Otherwise there is no point of moving from a mature D-SLR system to a new born mirrorless system.

  2. A very timely review. I’ve spent the last 2 days tossing around if I want to move from Fuji to the Pen-F. Your points are well taken, thanks.

  3. Hello Von Stockografie…

    You have discovered the gem in Olympus‘ line-up. It is without a doubt the best camera they have made to date. I use it quite a lot in my work, and my personal projects. You can peruse my work at 500px.com/urbanindustrailimaging/galleries/sin-espejo-mirrorless.

    Great images, btw.

  4. Hmmm…try the CORRECT link:
    500px.com/urbanindustrialimaging/galleries/sin-espejo-mirrorless. Sorry for any mixup.

    • Your work is beautiful. All made with the Pen F?

      • Thanks David,

        All the pictures in the switch from x to f post are taken with the Pen-F. The other pictures in other post have been taken with several different cameras.

        Have a nice weekend
        Stockografie

  5. Good points and beautiful pictures. I have used an MFT camera (E-M5) for several years now and I want to buy the E-M1 mark II next year, but I am also considering a ‚better‘ camera mainly for landscapes. Fuji would be a kind of compromise concerning size, but now that Pentax K-1 is available, I’ll probably stick to MFT until I can afford a full frame camera with at least 36 MP. I am extremely happy with MFT for macro and telephoto (40-150mm Pro) and I believe the next Olympus flagships are going to have a lot better autofocus. I think MFT represents a near-perfect compromise between size and image quality and its only weakness is wide angle images with lots of detail and wide dynamics, IF one is trying to compete with larger cameras.

  6. The lens was too big by the sounds of it, of course switching to primes is going to reduce size.

    You could have just used primes in the Fuji or the smaller 18-55. But I guess really you were looking for an excuse to buy a new system which is OK but seems crazy to say that’s size.

    • Hi Cat,
      I could have done that. But do take a look at the size difference between the Fuji XF 23 and the Olympus 17mm. Or the Fuji XF 16 and the Olympus 12mm.
      And I can assure you that I was not looking for an excuse as I have been using the Fuji X system for five years and it took me a long, long time to decide if I should switch or not. Do not judge on me if you don´t know me.

      • The difference between 1.4 and 1.8 is going to be substantial, f1.4 to f2 even more so. So Not so much a size difference just slower cheaper lenses, whichis definitely a benefit of m43.

        • I personally do not really care about bokeh and blurry background photographs much. And the IBIS on the Pen-F compensates the slower lenses with ease. I know that for me the switch is a good thing. Cheers and have a nice weekend

        • f/1.4 on m43 gives the same DOF as a f2 on APSc, which is the same as f2.8 of FF. As current APSc sensors give 1.5-2 stops noise advantage over m43, and FF frame another 1-1.5 stops on top of that, and the faster glass on m43 is a necessity, not an advantage.

          I own both a Fuji X-Pro 2 and a Panasonic GM5. In good light, there’s only a small difference in IQ at ISO 1600 and above the difference is noticeable.

          • Hi Michael,

            Of course you are right about the DOF, but as stated that does not really interest me. The nice thing about the mFT fast glas is that it is more than just usable wide open. My 12mm f/2 is tack sharp from corner to corner at f/2. Try that with an full frame lens. Not even the Zeiss Loxia, which I tested and had myself, can do that.
            At the end of the day one can not go wrong with any camera brand these days. It´s all a matter of personal taste and wants.

          • „APSc sensors give 1.5-2 stops noise advantage over m43“

            As far as I know this is plain wrong. Two stops would mean four times the surface and this is certainly not the case because as an APS-C and an m43 sensor have about the same surface especially if you compare both in 4:3 format. The APSC is more wider the bigger.
            The noise difference is about 0.5 to 2/3 stops depending on how you account for the aspect ratio difference. The crop factor is 2 or 1.8 for the same reason versus 1.5/1.6.

            You may find a discussion about this here:

            https://www.mu-43.com/threads/sensor-size-and-the-importance-of-aspect-ratio.72803/

            The comparison about DoF is correct considering lenses with the same „equivalent focal length“.

  7. Nice review. I suppose you were using the largest lens you could possibly use in the X system. The heavy 2.8 pro zoom. There is a large demand for smaller primes and I think the current 35mm f2 and 18mm f2 certainly fulfil those demands. Fuji just announced a 23mm f2 and a 50mm f2 on the way. All should be very compact and competitive with m/43 size wise.

    I only use the zoom for paid jobs otherwise it is never on my camera. The new 35 is more or less glued to the X-Pro2.

  8. I use both Fuji and Olympus, and I agree with you. The only place the Fuji has a quality advantage is in low light/high ISO shooting, which (judging from your photos) you seldom do. The smaller Fuji bodies (e.g. X-T 10) compare well in size with the larger Olympus bodies (e.g. E-M 1) and the smaller Fuji lenses are only slightly larger than the average Olympus lens. But the larger Fuji lenses are larger by a lot, rather than a little… and once you start assembling a camera body plus a few lenses, the differences add up quickly. Overall it’s possible to assemble a MUCH smaller Olympus kit than an equivalent Fuji kit.

    Of course mobility isn’t always the most important factor, and sometimes it’s necessary to make tradeoffs (which is why I still have the Fuji system, because I do a lot of photography in low light.) But if mobility is the top priority, an Olympus (or Lumix) M43 system has a strong edge.

    Of course mobility isn’t always the most important factor

    • Thanks for your kind words. You´ve got the point. Low light is not important to me at all.
      Greetings
      Stockografie

  9. I really really like the car shots, fantastic. I take it these were taken with the 12-40? I almost went Olympus for size, the 12-40 is a gem for sure.

    Yes it is a shame the Fuji 16-55 f2.8 is so big, especially as it has no stabilisation.

    • Hi Marcus,

      Thanks for your comment.
      The car shots were actually taken with the M.Zuiko 12mm f/2 lens which is so small.

      Cheers
      Stockografie

  10. Great article. I switched 4 weeks ago from a Fuji X-E1 with the 18-55 mm Zoom and the 35 mm F/1.4. The Fuji was a great cam which offers a very great image quality but it was also very slow in focusing – especially with the 35mm F/1.4. Then I thought about buying either the X-Pro 2 or waiting for the X-T2 but I found their (nearly same sized) predecessor to large and most of the lenses on my wish list are also huge.
    So I decided to go back to m4/3, in my case to the Olympus O-MD 5 Mark II with the 12-40mm F/2.8 Zoom and the 17mm F/1.8. What can I say, it is such a joy to use it. The Image quality is outstanding, the colors are so great (much warmer then from the Fuji) and the bokeh of both lenses is great. Beside that, the Live Composite feature is a thing that left me standing there with my mouth wide opened – Olympus is truly a innovative digital camera company. So for me, m4/3 is the perfect system.
    Have fun with your PEN-F.

  11. You and I share the same conclusion and overall reason. I love Fuji’s stuff. I really do, but I was looking for the smaller size.

    And I do work in low light.. been experimenting a lot lately on lower iso/slower shutter + IBIS.

    If Fuji could do an XE-3 smaller than the X-E2/X-E2s line- and Xpro2/XT-2 tech maybe I could think about it again with their new primes, but it’s hard to beat something like the Olympus 75mm F1.8 at its size for work I am interested in shooting.

    Also the PenF finally puts the Olympus JPEG engine forward again to where I think it should have been in the last few years, which is right along or near right along Fuji’s. I still give Fuji the win there, but they are very close. The JPEG engine of the PenF is fantastic and the files from the 20 MP sensor in RAW seem to deliver a bit better than what they had.

  12. Your images are very beautiful. I was immediately attracted to the images you made with the Pen F.

    Your post and the comments that follow are very interesting to me because I just bought my first micro four thirds camera. I bought the Panasonic GX85 because I like the size. For travel, I bought two zoom lenses: The Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 and the Panasonic 35-100 f 2.8. They have OIS and the GX85 has stabilization in the body. The combination is very impressive. These lenses are much bigger than many primes but are maybe 1/4 of the size and weight of my Canon f2.8 zooms. It is liberating. I was (an am) tempted by the Pen F. The nice thing about micro four thirds is that the lenses will work on both Olympus and Panasonic.

    I have long been tempted by Fuji. But when I look at the lenses, they are just bigger than I want to carry. I no longer want to carry heavy equipment.

    One question I have about the Pen F, can you use the art filters while shooting RAW+jpeg?

    I have just started posting images on Flickr with my new equipment — here is one example: https://www.flickr.com/photos/enzel/28429046706/in/dateposted-public/

    • Hi David,

      first of all thanks a lot for taking the time.
      Your kit is very good and compact at the same time. I personally wanted the 5 axis IBIS and that mode dial on the Pen-F which is why I decided on the Olympus body.
      You can use the ART filters with Jpeg + RAW and will get a jpeg with the applied filter and a raw file with no adjustments.
      I´ll head over to your flickr account in just a moment.

      Thanks and have a great weekend.

      • With some of the earlier Olympus m4/3 cameras you could set them to shoot RAW only, but if you selected an Art Filter they automatically produced the processed JPEG and a RAW; when you switch out of Art Filer mode the automatically reverted to RAW only. The Pen F, OM-D E-M1 etc currently seem to switch from RAW to RAW+JPEG normal (not fine) when an Art Filter is selected, and then stay in that mode when the Art Filter is not selected. To get RAW+JPEG Fine with the later cameras it is best to select RAW+JPEG Fine and leave it at that. In the case of the Pen F it seems that Mono and Colour front mode dial does the same as the Art Filter in terms of switching to RAW+JPEG Normal, if it was previously in RAW only mode, and stays in that mode subsequently unless you deliberately switch to RAW+JPEG Fine, in which case it remembers this mode. Personally I preferred the original system, i.e. I could select RAW and in non-art filter modes I would just get a RAW file, but if I used an Art Filter it would give me a JPEG as well, then revert back to RAW only when I deselected the Art Filter.

        I have some Fuji kit as well as micro four thirds, but mainly use the Olympus because of size, weight and image stabilisation.

  13. Funny to see the same decision reflected I did recently – selling the biggest part of my Fuji X gear to buy a Pen-F and some of those wonderful small lenses, such as the Panasonic Leica Summilux 15 1.7. And I am so happy now with the quality and size of this package.

    I started going to Fujifilm exactly of the same reason I switched systems now: Coming from a big Canon DSLR, I bought a Fuji X10 a couple of years a ago, and it was a liberation. Then came the X20, a used X100 two years later, and an X-Pro1 with a couple of lenses (35 1.4, 18 f2, 27 2.8, 18-55). I also wanted to use my older lenses and bought a couple of adapters. Last year, I even added an X100T. It was a beautiful system, but suddenly I realised that the XF system was to big for me to carry around all-day, especially when on the road with my family. Some day, I got myself a very cheap, used Panasonic GM5 to be able to capture video and to have a small, pocketable camera. And that was the point where I realised the potential of MFT. During holiday early this year I used it much more than my X100T, and the results where at the same high level in most cases, at least for my style of shooting. I just saw that it would need some more high-quality primes, and the differences between MFT and APS-C would further diminish. Some test shots with the still gorgeous Panasonic 20 1.7 even gave me lots of the X100 feeling (regarding DOF, bokeh). The Panasonic 45.2 1.7 joined the setup as an unbelievably small yet capable portrait lens.

    I had already sold most of my Fuji XF primes, but this month, I decided to completely jump to the new system and ordered a Pen-F and the Panaleica to achieve almost the same focal range as on the X100/T. The X-Pro1, my last XF prime, and the X100T went to Ebay…

    I don’t want to say that Fuji X isn’t a wonderful system, its Jpegs are quite beautiful, yet I started using RAW alone due to some disappointments I had regarding the X100T’s radical jpeg noise reduction, which wasn’t an issue with me with Fuji’s pre-Xtrans sensors.

    Now, with the Pen-F, it looks like I could go back to Jpeg without missing too much. I simply started mimicking my favourite Lightroom presets for creating Pen-F colour profiles – and the results are astonishing. I might not go completely without RAW and Lightroom, but after all the promises that had been given for the X100T, I would say if you are really looking for great and individual Jpegs, you should go Pen-F. You can even mimic Classic Chrome, if you want.

    Additionally, for me as a user of classic lenses such as Pentax Takumar, I very much appreciate the Focus peaking and lens set-up features the Pen-F has; they are much better than in Fuji’s X-pro 1 or X-E2 which I could test as well. The X-Pro2 is surely another league in this regard, but it would have been to heavy for me.

    The Pen-F is anything I ever wanted: An interchangeable-lens camera with the size of an X100 (so much I would like to change it’s lens for a portrait or wider lens, I always told myself looking at the X100), offering a choice of small and sexy lenses that do the same or even more for me than most of the more affordable XF lenses ever could. And when I want to have something that’s comparable to the 56mm some day, I would go for the Nocticron 42.5 😉

    Yes, I somehow miss Fuji and I will never part from my old X100, but this Pen-F with a few primes (for the hobby stuff) and zooms (for the family stuff) feels just perfect to me.

    One point regarding low light… (as DOF & bokeh really isn’t an issue for me with those Panasonic primes): I don’t get the discussion. When I used to shoot with a film camera back then in the old days, shooting in low light meant working with exposure for me, not ISO. Ok, i don’t shoot concerts or club events or that kind of stuff, but for me a tripod and upping the exposure the is still the recipe for shooting low-light landscapes or city scapes, and that’s all I personally need. Even though hand-held IBIS shots with the Pen didn’t look that bad either…

  14. Hi Daniel,

    Nice to see a fellow Pen F user as happy as I am with the camera.

    Beautiful images.

    I’ve also used most Fuji and Olympus gear over the years and I got the Pen F for the same reasons as you.
    I still have the X100T and just did a video omparison of the two.

    I think the image quality difference is so close that you have to be really pixel peeping to see it.

    And that colour dial for black and whites on the Pen F is fantastic.

    Where in Germany are you?

    I’m planning to move to Munich in Spring next year.

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunatelly I had to sell most of my gear due to a financial situation which I did not see coming. As soon as the cash is flowing again I am most likely going to get myself the Pen-F again. Until then I am using my X100T which I never sold.
      And yet, the Pen-F was and is one of the many cameras I have used so far which gave me the most pleasure.

      I live near Stuttgart which is about 2 1/2 hours by car from Munich.

  15. Sorry to hear you had to sell the Pen F.

    Let me know when you are in the market again as I can help with cheap camera supplies.

    Mind you, the Fuji X100T is the only camera I had for a while and its great.

    Here is a link to my comparuson of the X100T and the Pen F http://thecotswoldphotographer.com/videos/fuji-x100t-vs-olympus-pen-f-video/

    I looked at Stuttgart. I hear good things about it. I’ll most likely visit next year sometime.

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