Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7

Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7

Olympus' new mid-range mirrorless camera, the PEN Lite E-PL7, is all but made for the selfie lover.

The E-PL7's display flips downwards 180 degrees and provides an unobstructed view, and you can mount the bundled external flash for a fill-in flash. The display can also be flipped up 80 degrees.

The camera automatically offers a selfie- optimised touch interface when the display is flipped down 180 degrees. A virtual shutter button appears at the bottom of the screen. When you tap it, you will have a second to compose your selfie before the camera takes the picture.

Although the E-PL7 is made of composite metal and plastic, it does not feel flimsy or plasticky. The review unit was in silver (the camera is also available in white or black) and had a silver-coloured M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-f5.6 EZ power zoom lens to match.

This lens is only 22.5mm thick - almost a pancake lens. When powered off, this makes for easy storage. With this lens attached, the camera weighs only 450g.

Button layout is generally well-conceived, allowing easy access with the fingers and thumb of your right hand. A mode dial, control dial, shutter release button and power button sit on the right side at the top. A dedicated video-recording button is next to the rear thumb rest.

Handling is good overall. The only downer is the manual mode. You have to press the Up button on the four-way controller on the camera's back to access the aperture setting before you can adjust it with the control dial.

Operation-wise, the E-PL7 powers up in 1.2sec. Shutdown takes 1.3sec - a wee bit faster than the 2sec of its peers. Using an SD card with a writing speed of 25MB per second, it was able to shoot 12 RAW images in 1.3sec before the buffer ran out.

The camera has 81 autofocusing (AF) points, a huge jump from the 35 AF points of the previous model. And the result is fast and accurate AF.

Using the 14-42mm EZ kit lens, AF is almost instant in bright light. Even under dim conditions, this camera locked onto a focus in around 1sec with the AF-assist light on. I like the fact that I can use any single one of the 81 AF points.

Images shot with this camera are sharp, with crisp details and rich vivid colours. You get noise artefacts at ISO 800, but ISO 3,200 shots are still acceptable for small prints. The high-definition videos shot are crisp and tidy, but the video does pick up a fair bit of wind and ambient audio.

Battery life is average, at around 350 still images on a full charge.

For enthusiasts who also want the option of having a convenient selfie camera, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7 is a great choice.

This article was first published on Oct 1, 2014.
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