Olympus E-PL7 Review and Samples
Just announced (and just arriving in some retail locations), the Olympus E-PL7 appears to be little more than a glorified “selfie” cam aimed squarely at the narcissist in us all. But the performance of this plucky little pipsqueak says otherwise.
A Beautiful Manifestation: Shooting with the Olympus E-PL7
When I was in college, my father gave me his old Pen FT. I fell in love right away. Besides the fact that you could cram 72 frames into a 36-exposure roll of 35mm, the design was breathtaking. No telltale hump of a penta-prism. No unnecessary/gimmicky features. Not even a hot shoe.
Then I found out that Olympus was reviving the Pen cameras and I was amped UP. Then I found out what the new digital Pens looked like, and I was no longer amped at all.
I believe that a tool is a tool. If it looks bad, but it still does the job, it is still a good tool. But if you can have a beautiful tool, and it still does the job, even better.
When the E-P5 came out, with that sexy “Olympus PEN” emblazoned on the front of the camera, I was sold. When I handled that camera, I was astounded at the image quality. And when I looked at the pricetag, I was a little sad.
Enter the Olympus E-PL7, a lightweight, fun, and more economical alternative to the E-P5. The image quality is excellent. With built-in WiFi, an articulating LCD screen that can also be front-facing, touchscreen controls, and a slick design, it’s plain to see this baby isn’t a slouch. Certainly, it is worlds above the E-PL5 in comparison. Just holding the camera, and firing off a couple of shots confirms as much.
“A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.”
Perhaps Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki said it best: If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.
So what was the review? I took the Olympus E-PL7 out for a stroll on 50th street, from 6th Avenue over to Lexington, and then back down to 46th, and then back to 6th.
Pros for Street Shooting:
- kit lens ain’t bad wide open (it is so-so when you zoom with it; you get workable results, but no “oomph”
- unobtrusive/looks like a toy/not threatening
- chicks dig it
- looks vintage (hipsters may not roll their eyes at you. maybe. unless they’re doing it ironically.)
Cons for street shooting:
- controls are limited
- maybe a little cramped for big hands
- not a Leica rangefinder
Overall, I was amazed at how strong of an impression this camera made on me. Unboxing it with some other people, I jokingly dubbed it the “Narcissist 5000” because of that front-facing LCD. However, after an hour touring midtown with the camera, I had come to a different camera: something fun but functional, offering capability at an economical price.
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