Olympus Pen F: My First Impressions

First published in this month’s issue of Olympus Magazine, here’s my thoughts on the just-launched Olympus Pen F and how to use the colour wheel and set custom settings…

The new Pen F has been creating quite a stir since its launch last month. You probably don’t need me to tell you it’s modelled on the 1960s half-frame Pen F rangefinder, has a built-in viewfinder (a first for a Pen), 20 megapixels (also a Pen first) and a fantastic suite of colour controls. The design is super sleek, not a screw in site, and the leatherette covering and moulded handgrip make it an absolute pleasure to hold.

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All these shots taken with my preferred colour settings on the Pen F

When I first saw it and held at the launch, I was immediately struck by the different layout of buttons and dials: on/off dial on the left corner, dedicated (new feature) exposure dial on the right corner and colour control dial on the front right. These all turn well and feel solid with a reassuring roll mechanism. That first encounter I also discovered you can select your focal point using the touchscreen with your thumb as you peer through the viewfinder, a feature I adore – it makes the whole process so much more seamless.

I also saw for the first time – what to me was genuinely quite a revelation and felt like being zapped into the future – the totally brilliant colour wheel. Once you bring this up you can customise your colours by increasing or decreasing the saturation of each. (By toggling left you bring up a highlight and shadows graph which you can customise too.

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Using monochome mode Profile 2

This opens up a whole of possibilities but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later – I ordered my F body as soon as it came online – that I realised the practical implications. By being able to edit your colours in camera can work wonders for your overall photography style. Something that ties in really well if you are interested in creating a unified aesthetic for your work, which applies to so many today – Instagrammers, bloggers, brands and businesses. A strong aesthetic for your photography is the key to capturing an audience’s interest.

I played around for a little while with my colours until I found a desaturated, dark and slightly moody feel that felt just right. Such fun to shoot with this new set of modified colours as it throws everything you see through the viewfinder into a brand new light. All the shots in this post are taken with my new colour settings.

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I am using my new colour set-up for both my Instagram (both my recent Athens and Cornwall posts)  and blog and have had some great feedback so far. So far I’ve assigned settings to three custom modes; my personal Instagram settings, a more natural colour for when I’m shooting for other outlets and a mono setting. I should also mention that when customising my colours, I had already selected already quite-muted Colour Profile 3 – these profiles (which you can select in the Super Control Panel) simulate saturated slide and chrome films for a not-overdone retro feel. There are also three monochrome profiles in Mono mode to check out – my current favourite is Mono 2.

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How To Use Your Colour Wheel

There are a couple of ways to access the wheel – set the front dial to CRT to bring it up or to Colour and switch the toggle above the screen to the right. You can adjust all colours at once by pressing info which highlights the wheel and then use the circle control to make the wheel smaller and colours desaturated. Press info again and then you can modify individual colours with the circle control. Get experimenting!

How To Save Your Colour Settings to Custom Mode

Once you are happy with your settings, go to Shooting Menu 1. Press Reset/Assign Custom Modes, and then C1/C2/C3/C4 to assign your settings. Remember the position of the front mode dial can override your Custom Mode, so make sure you’re switched to Colour or Mono on the dial to correspond to you custom settings.

All images shot on the Olympus Pen F


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  1. Love the style and colours. You are tempting me to buy an Olympus and book myself on a course. This might be the moment!
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Thank you for the tips. However, my understanding is that Colour Profile 3 is the most vivid of the three available whereas you state it is quite muted?

    1. Hmm, it definitely is the most muted on my camera… I can check on someone else’s and see what theirs is…

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