Olympus Pen E-PL8 2022 new camera review.

I like to make sure I really know a camera before I make a review on it, as I know that reviews can influence others. I’ve had the camera for exactly a month now, and I’ve used it almost daily in one situation or the other, and taken hundreds of photographs with it in many different scenarios. Here is my honest review.

After a couple of family holidays over the school summer holidays, I realised that although the Fujifilm X-T3 is not really big, it’s still bigger than need be, especially with the children always around and having father type things to do! I know mobile phones are great for images, but I wanted something with a large sensor, interchangeable lenses and that could produce good results in dark conditions.

The Olympus E-PL8 is a micro four thirds sensor camera, meaning its sensor is much much bigger than that of a mobile phone, but half the size of the sensor in my Fujifilm X-T3 which has an APS-C sensor. This means that the camera can be very small, yet pack a powerful punch.

Size and weight

The E-PL8 is small… Very small. It is shorter in length than my Google Pixel 6, but its body is thicker at about the size of two packs of cards placed together. With a lens on, it then becomes slightly bigger again.

The camera fits easily into my hand, I have purchased two pancake lenses for it, so even with these attached, it is still very small. You can easily carry it with your hand engulfing the camera safely. Its not heavy either, but feels very solid.

Image quality

The Olympus E-PL8 produces exceptional image quality. It has a 16mp image sensor (my X-T3 has 26mp), giving a 4:3 aspect ratio. This is a very different aspect ratio to other sensor interchangeable cameras. It is actually really nice to work with, giving a much more square look to your images, with more height to work with.

Images are clean with great detail, and noise is remarkably controlled. I have taken images at ISO3200 in very low light and they have been much cleaner than I ever thought they would have been.

Raising shadows shows some noise, but its nothing that can’t easily be cleaned up.

Dynamic range

You’d expect with a smaller sensor and older technology that you’d have less dynamic range to work with, and you do. In the real world, numbers mean nothing, its when you’re editing you might notice a difference between the E-PL8 and larger sensor cameras.

I’ve had no issues recovering shadows, the dynamic range is sufficient for this. However, for highlights, I have occasionally suffered more than I have on other cameras. It’s usually only with the brightest part of white clouds it white skies.

It is not an issue in most everyday photography, but if the sky is important to you, it is something to be aware of.

Autofocus

The camera comes with 81 focus points (compared to the X-T3’s 425) but I’m not using the Olympus for wildlife or bird photography. The autofocus has been more than capable of keeping up with the children and point and shoot photographs. I have noticed that like other cameras, this can be lens dependent. The Olympus 14-42mm can focus instantly while the 17mm F/2.8 lens definitely feels a little slower at locking on focus.

Overall, the autofocus is more than capable of day to day photography. In single point focus it’s extremely fast and confident. In continuous focus mode, I had the odd shot that missed focus (that could have been because of lens choice though).

Viewfinder and display

The viewfinder and button layout of the Olympus E-PL8

Now for the elephant in the room. There is no viewfinder on this camera. I deliberately chose a camera with no viewfinder as I want to use it discretely or in the way I use my mobile phone (which I always like the compositions from).

The back screen is a nice bright three inch touch screen panel. It is easy to see in bright light, and it tilts upwards so you can take low shots. It also tilts downwards, so much so that it ends up underneath the camera and faces forward so that you can have a selfie screen. Ideal for family fun or vlogging!

User interface and controls

The camera is very minimalistic compared to the Fujifilm X-T3. It has only a mode dial and shutter release on the top of the camera. The shutter release also has a rotating dial as part of it, which can be used to adjust the aperture, shutter speed or whatever it is needed for depending which mode you are in.

The back of the camera has the rest of the buttons on the right hand side. There are buttons for the menu, a four way pad for moving the focus point (and also each direction has a task attached such as exposure compensation, flash, select focus point etc) an Ok button which can access a useful quick menu, a record button for video and play and delete buttons. There are also two buttons located in a handy place that act as a function button and a zoom button. Both are easily configurable and have been configured!

The user interface is simple and quick to use. All the options you’ll ever need are easily accessible fairly quickly once you know how to use the menu system.

The experience of taking a photograph

All the specs and writing in the world means nothing without knowing how the experience is when taking a photo. Because the camera is so small, you treat it differently to a larger camera. There is a little grip, and it does feel nice in the hand, however, it does feel different to a larger camera.

With the controls and layout being so simple, it is actually a lot of fun taking images with this Olympus. At its most basic, it is like using an old point and shoot camera, it really has that vibe. And that’s why I like it. No one thinks of it as a “real” camera, so it just blends in to society when you’re using it. Of course, you can put it on a tripod, and suddenly it’s a serious camera with digital horizon, histogram, highlight warnings, bracketing and much more!

One of the benefits of Olympus cameras is the extremely good in body image stabilisation. This is evident when taking images in dark locations, where you can photograph without a tripod easily with really low shutter speeds and low ISO.

Low light performance

And talking of image stabilisation and dark locations, the camera actually blew me away when I started using it in low light situations. The camera really handles low light extremely well!

Thanks to the stabilisation, you can have those longer shutter times, lower ISO settings, plus the images just come out looking spectacular! Noise is controlled really well in even the darkest locations, and you forget the sensor is relatively small.

The camera certainly bats above it’s weight in low light situations.

Conclusion

In the month that I’ve been using the Olympus, I have never once felt like it was a lesser camera than any other camera I have used. I’m pleased with the jpeg output of the images, and the raw files are a joy to work with.

Its a brilliant small package, that certainly performs as if it was a larger camera. While the lack of viewfinder may put some people off, it really hasn’t been an issue at all to me, although for you it might be a concern.

Overall, a welcome addition to my photography and one which anyone could be happy using in day to day photography.

Published by Mark G.Adams

Fujifilm Documentary Photographer & Blogger.

4 thoughts on “Olympus Pen E-PL8 2022 new camera review.

  1. Excellent review Mark. The Olympus cameras seem to punch above their weight with the micro 4/3 sensor. Your images look great and have a kind of Fujifilm look. It also looks like the format still has life with the latest camera releases. I have yet to read and negative review of the new OMDS Olympus OM-1.

    Liked by 1 person

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