Beautiful unknown Pen F

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Doug Janis Regular Member • Posts: 483
Re: Beautiful unknown Pen F

UppercanadianAcadian wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

UppercanadianAcadian wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

yellodog wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

UppercanadianAcadian wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

UppercanadianAcadian wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

UppercanadianAcadian wrote:

Doug Janis wrote:

Wigelii wrote:

I experienced once more some excited reactions to the Pen F, last Sunday.

It is not the first time that this happens but this time it was extreme.

I was a whole day making pictures at a classical music event in a big and very busy cultural centre in Antwerp, using an em1 II and 2 PenF (1 silver, 1 black) and during the day a lot of people approached me to ask questions about the Pen F.

Some thought it was analog, a lot of them thought that it was something from Fujifilm, but everybody was raving about how beautiful the Pen Fs are.

When I told them that it were Olympus camera's, as always, they were all surprised and/or only vaguely knew Olympus.

This shows 2 things:

1. Fujifilm does a great job branding their camera's. When I first saw the Pen F, it was clear to me that this should be heavily marketed as a "must have" luxury item. Unfortunately Olympus never did.

2. Olympus shouldn't abandon the Pen F but reintroduce an updated, even more beautiful and design oriented, version

By the way, I use the Pen Fs very intensely (together with 2 em1s and a em10) because I do lots of theatre, classical music and wedding photography, and they are very reliable work horses, something you would not expect from such beauties.

The PEN-F was heavily reviewed. It's design piqued a LOT of interest from photography media.

It had 2 knocks against it:

1) The price was too high for the specs. The trendy, hipster (see the video ad and the packaging with its own Dolce & Gabbanna model printed on the box) marketing didn't help. It didn't look like a step up from the EPL/M-series and didn't look like a rangefinder alternative to the OM series entirely. The grip helped with the Pro/2.8 glass...they got that part right, but the lack of any grip made it not so comfortable to hold for the price. And no weather sealing and a lacklustre EVF. Not a real value camera.

2) The JPEG-centric color dial and Art and Scn filters came across as a feeble attempt to replace post-processing on third party devices. In doing so it alienated the same buyers at a price point who are RAW shooters almost exclusively. The overall design screamed "traditional rangefinder" or "street", while the software and color wheel yelled back "consumer grade".

Once again, I must admit I completely do not understand this anti art filter and anti colour dial mentality.
When the pen-f came out, there were so many people making negative comments (of varying intensity) regarding these things, that I actually thought:

‘good lord. Did Olympus disable the ability to shoot in raw if you use the front colour dial of the pen-f??????’

I actually asked that question on these forums, and was obviously told that of course you can shoot raw AND jpeg/art filter/colour dial.

The color dial was Japan Inc. trying to do in-camera, on a tiny, low res rear screen, what everyone does with a free app on a mobileOS device...and the latter does it 10x better and can share instantaneously.

Yes you can reconfigure, but the whole concept and labelling is Olympus practically begging you NOT to use your smartphone. It didn't work, was a waste of resources, confused the market, looked cheap (RAW snobbery), and came across as an unfocused (sic) design and marketing effort.

Most reviewers agreed.

Art filters etc. are a throwback to the pre-mobileOS days. They are essentially crappy apps resting on the already substandard camera OS, using resources better applied elsewhere.

This is an interesting view. It is not really instantaneous, or quicker at all, as you would have to transfer the original pic to the camera then open the app and modify it with whatever filter, and then you can send it off

with the art filter in camera, you send it to your camera through the app and share it already done

Plus if I remember correctly the app significantly downsizes the pictures which to me is ridiculous

The workflow you described has to be done anyway as pretty much the major gateway to all image networking now is done via mobile OS devices followed a distant second by PC/Macs.

Jane and Joe Consumer...the ones in the PEN-F ads, are likely far more nimble with mobileOS apps than any junk app or color dial on a dedicated camera. Literals, this was Olympus trying to reinvent the wheel.

The main flaw affecting the dedicated optical camera maker industry is an inability to transfer images onto mobileOS at the highest quality, quickly.

I was just at a café today and three grandmas were each with an iPad sharing photos of a trip they'd taken together. Over 70s very familiar with the workings of an iOS device, comfortable with organizing, sharing, and enjoying photos. That's the very function of a dedicated computer device, but not an optical camera. The PEN-F was a very naked attempt by Olympus to usurp that pattern and make the camera itself the editing device. The fact they actually engineered a dedicated control dial to do that speaks volumes about Olympus's misplaced understanding of the imaging market.

And it's probably a factor adding to the PEN-Fs cost and, ultimately, it's lack of market staying power. That's the shame, because the RF design is useful and has a place in m43.

Again I’m confused.

Are you saying that it is better to take a picture on the camera, transmit it to the phone, open up Olympus pallette app, apply the art filter, then send out versus take the picture in camera with art filter already applied, transmit to phone and then send out?

Also, you mention about transmission at the highest quality possible. My understanding is that any file transferred to the phone from the camera and edited in the Olympus pallette will be downsized, so why not edit it (apply the art filter) in camera to avoid this???

Watch the PEN-F ad.

At the 1:00 mark they dive into the Creative Dial with "The excitement of selecting film, shooting, developing, and printing - relive it all as you create the image you envisioned" and the further as they spend the next 30 seconds on those controls. Mid-ad, mid-story, those are emphasized, ahead of IBIS. Some serious combined engineering and marketing effort went into that.

Here's the marketing irony...after each shot they flash the image on the screen as a finished, shared product. But realistically the shared product would be through the other device that is not shown in the video...the smartphone, or tablet, or laptop. Even the YouTube ad would be seen on one of those devices as it is a 1:30 ad, so not for television broadcast.

Then the Olympus slogan flashes at the end with the logo: "Capture your stories".

Sure, it's an excellent capture device. But as an editing platform even at time of composition? Using the film and print metaphor? Really?

They use film era nostalgia (and a Gothic script...those clever Japanese) to sell the product as a complete film selection and end result product. The entire concept of the PEN-F was to pretend that the whole smartphone, mobileOS, and even digital undertaking are somehow the problem.

It positions the PEN-F as not needing any other editing or even sharing technology.

The PEN-F exemplifies all of the reasons why Japan Inc's photographic industry is struggling. The attempt to avoid the real world where people now 99% of the time capture, edit, and share on a smart device is not even addressed. They went an entirely different way as if to insist those non-Japan Inc. products and technologies aren't really even part of using a camera.

If you want to know why the camera industry is struggling against smartphones...this is why.

I think you have underestimated the the marketing process behind "the wheel". The whole selling point of the Pen F was that it was unique and by using "the wheel" you would have access to high class filters not available to the hoi polloi on Google Photo or what ever flavour of editor was currently trending on IOS, thereby motivating the higher margin. You are right that a more painless transfer process would have be welcome but nothing is perfect although the PenF gets pretty close when it comes to loveable camera gear.

And all they reall needed instead off the color wheel was a single, dedicated button for sending image to phone (or just send all images to phone). Even if they'd have put a Lightning SD card reader in the box, or equivalent for Android. That would have made the camera far more viable than the idea we can select film, compose, edit, and even print all through the EVF.

What a waste of resources and good design.

Realistically, you cannot edit on the back of a PEN-F or any camera screen. You're going to a mobileOS retina screen or equivalent or to a PC/Mac, especially with a $1300 camera.

The resources that went into NOT networking out-of-the box were wasted on putting a JPEG control dial hardwired to manipulate a terrible app on a poor UI within a clumsy camera OS.

That's the shame.

You are not making much sense here.
you take a picture in camera.
Raw needs to be converted into a jpeg to be printed or viewed. The camera has some ability to do this )art filters, colour wheel etc etc), and apps and pc programmes can do it quite extensively.

so do you think there is a difference between opening the raw file in an app and then applying an art filter to it (or a colour wheel setting) versus your camera doing the identical thing to the raw file via art filter setting or colour wheel setting?

the Olympus app art filters are identical to the camera’s.

you seem to be lamenting the interface and transfer issues rather than the editing, because for the life of me you are not explaining your dislike of the colour wheel or art filters at all.

use art filters in camera. Apply them via the app on phone or via the Olympus pc programme. Same damn filter. Same look.

of COURSE the pc programme you can do more with.


There is no point in doing any editing on the back of a camera with their small, low-res rear LCDs. They were never designed for that.

Olympus put a lot of effort in trying to push the rear LCD and EVF as a superior editing process over transfer and edit dominance.

They failed.

It's kind of like  in the way they ruthless omit things one *might* do to streamline the product. Olympus put a lot of resources into TruePic and in-camera editing and conversions. Really, they need to stop doing that at all and outsource it entirely to the editing, storage, and sharing platforms. What you've noted is a redundancy where Olympus does in-camera what is done better out of camera. So stop spending $$$ and pricing based on a need that is not there.

Japan Inc. has been struggling for years with huge internal debates about the loss of technical capacity in the new world of software services. They've largely been locked out of that market worldwide. Much discussion talks about competing against smartphones using existing tech, probably like the in-camera processing engines and JPEG.

Why do Japanese cameras come with an HDMI or RCA cable and DPOF? Because the original concept was that consumers wold not process on non-Japanese products, like PCs. They'd view or print on Japanese made TVs or printers. The old guard engineers at places like Olympus still think that way. They are deeply threatened (and shamed) by the manner in which those technologies have been sidelined by American and South Korean and Chinese devices and software.

I had no idea that a simple colour dial and art filters had such nefarious global business implications.

It's just an example of how Japan Inc. has been struggling with adapting its traditional products to changes in technology, networking, and marketing.

A few years ago some senior Japanese executive ranted on about how people used smartphones to scan documents rather than using a $20k photocopier. He wanted to ban phones with cameras in workplaces to preserve copier sales.

At the Annual Report and shareholder level, there is a growing backlash against companies hanging on to old methods, tech, and practices too long. Public companies are being criticized for not trimming product lines, old tech, etc.

Don't forget about a decade ago the Japanese companies were reluctant to even release RAW files on even upper tier models. They wanted tp preserve their investment in processing in-camera (like TruePic, which is a major cost centre in development). They were deeply worried about Adobe and  and off-camera software replacing their investments in JPEG and proprietary RAW as the image standards. When Sony's CEO was on stage with Steve Jobs discussing photography, he was seen by many as a traitor pushing a non-JPEG, external tech friendliness into traditional Japanese dominant areas.

Now, the $$$ part of the photo market routinely processes off-camera. This still is a sore point with Japan's optical industry. They've lost considerable revenue or potential to American OSs and apps.

The color wheel probably cost 50,000,000x what a $0.99 app can do, developed in a dorm room somewhere for minimal overhead. And that contributes to over pricing and a freefall in camera sales, even while the world overall grows richer with more potential customers.

 Doug Janis's gear list:Doug Janis's gear list
Ricoh GR III Olympus E-M5 II Olympus E-M1 II Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro +3 more
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