Olympus E-PL7 Review

on Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Olympus' E-PL7 was a strong competitor in our Best Mirrorless Camera for Under $1,000. Its lower price compared to the E-M10 allowed us to stock up on more of the incredible Micro Four Thirds glass, giving its competitors a serious run for the money. Check out the article to read about the other options under $1,000!
In mid-2013, Olympus introduced its latest PEN Lite PL-series compact system camera, the E-PL6, but with only very minor tweaks from 2012's E-PL5, that camera never came to the US market. There's no such fear this time around: The brand-new Olympus E-PL7 has had a pretty comprehensive revamp, although its heart -- a 16.1-megapixel Live MOS image sensor -- is unchanged from the earlier cameras.

The E-PL5 and PL6 were mid-range models, sitting in between the top-of-the-line PEN E-P5, and the extremely compact E-PM2. Although they were part of the PEN range, they lacked the P5's Olympus PEN badging and more than a few of the high-end model's features. In fact, most of these earlier PL-series cameras' features were almost identical to those of the smaller, lower-cost Olympus PM2.

There were a few key differences, though: a physical Mode dial, a level gauge function (single-axis in the PL5, dual-axis in the PL6), and perhaps most significantly, a self-portrait friendly, tilting, touch-screen LCD monitor. And of course, they were a little bigger and heavier than the PM2. They were also sold in one fewer color, with no red-bodied option, an indication perhaps that they were aimed more at advanced amateurs, and less at the entry-level shooter.
The 16.1-megapixel Olympus E-PL7 retains all of these differences, although as we'll see in a moment, there's been a pretty radical tweak to the tilting, touch-screen display. It also switches to a newer-generation TruePic VII image processor, although it still has the same ISO sensitivity range as the E-PL6, and shoots at the same maximum rate of eight frames per second with focus and exposure locked. 

Buffer depth has been increased by one raw frame, though, to a maximum of 16 raw shots at the maximum frame rate. There's also a much more significant 17 frame improvement in the JPEG buffer depth, which now sits at 36 frames.
What else is new? Well, perhaps most notably, the touch-screen monitor now has higher resolution, and tilts downwards for selfies, where the previous design tilted upwards. The Olympus E-PL7 also sports a completely redesigned body with a fixed grip, rearranged controls, and a metal, top-mounted control dial alongside the existing Mode dial.
There's also in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity, and an uprated image stabilization system that should have a greater corrective range, and corrects on one more axis than that of the PL5 and PL6. Both autofocus and metering are also uprated, and there are a variety of new creative functions on offer.

 Available in either black or silver-bodied variants -- there's no white version any more, at least in the US -- the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is priced at around US$600 body-only. A kit version bundling the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42 mm f3.5-5.6 II R zoom lens will be sold in the US market, priced at US$700. And since there's still no built-in flash, a compact external flash (FL-LM1) is included in both body-only and kit options.

There are also several new accessories, including a 45-meter underwater housing (PT-EP12; US$750), 75-meter underwater strobe with faster recycle and guide number of 22 (UFL-3; $500), real leather camera body jacket (CS-45B; US$60), and real leather lens jacket (LS-60.5GL; US$45). Note, though, that this last is intended for use with the 14-42 EZ zoom lens, which isn't in the kit in the US market, so you'll want to buy the body-only version of the camera, plus 14-42mm EZ lens and lens / body jackets, if you're going for the seamless look.
The Olympus PEN E-PL7 ships in the US market from late September 2014; the new accessories will follow from October 2014.

Basic Specifications
Full model name: Olympus PEN E-PL7
Resolution: 16.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 4/3
Kit Lens: 3.00x zoom
(28-84mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 100-25600
Shutter: 60-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in.
(115 x 67 x 38 mm)
Weight: 16.4 oz (465 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $700
Availability: 09/2014
Manufacturer: Olympus
Full specs: Olympus E-PL7 specifications


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