CNET First Look
Olympus E-PL7's mainstream appealA good interchangeable-lens series for budding enthusiasts gets better.
[MUSIC] Olympus's latest update to its midrange Pen line is the E-PL7. An attractive full featured interchangeable lens model that should appeal to people looking for a more flexible alternative to an advanced compact. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Olympus Pen E-PL7. At $700 with a Four Thirds size sensor. The E-PL7 competes more with advanced compacts in the same price range than it does with DSLRs and their larger sensors and larger bodies. It's relatively small with a nice retro design and some nice features, and a lot of control flexibility. The most novel aspect of the design is the flip-down LCD for selfies and groupies. By constructing it to flip down, Olympus didn't need to sacrifice the available tilting angles like some cameras with the flip up displays have to. Like the rest of the PEN line, the EPL-7 lacks a viewfinder. Plus, it stills has no built-in flash and instead ships with one that fits into the hot shoe. It also has the PEN shallow grip. Which is okay with small, light lenses, but not up to the heavier glass. Overall, the camera should be easy enough to learn and use for anyone who's used a camera before. But there's still the gotcha of the hidden menu that you have to reveal in order to change a lot of the settings. Its performance is pretty good, but it doesn't grab and lock focus fast enough to get quickly moving subjects. You know, like a squirrel. As for photo quality, it's good. Certainly, as good as an advanced compact. But it's not great like the APS-C based interchangeable lens model. You can get decent JPEGs as high as ISO 1600. And I did manage to get some usable ones on for viewing scale down. At settings as high as ISO 25600 but in pretty dim conditions. The tonal range overall is pretty narrow, though, and it has a tendency to blow out highlights a lot more than I'd like. And shooting raw doesn't seem to help that. The movies aren't as good as I like, either, and they have lots of edge artifacts and noise and midrange sensitivities. But they really should be fine for people used to cell phone and cheap point and shoot quality video. With the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, the camera's an attractive alternative to an advanced compact. Though the latter does tend to come with much better lenses than the kid lens you get for the money of the E-PL7 [MUSIC]