Olympus PEN E-PL8 Review - Performance

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Olympus PEN E-PL8 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.175secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.225secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.3secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.4secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
8.3fps (20 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.4secs
Continuous Shooting - RAW 8.5fps (12 shots)

Focus is reasonably quick, but not as quick as the fastest mirrorless cameras. Continuous shooting speed is good reaching 8.3fps and 8.5fps when shooting JPEG and raw respectively. IS set to off for quicker continuous shooting. Switch on time is slowed by the 14-42mm power zoom lens extending.

Olympus PEN E-PL8 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Photos have good exposure, with good colour straight from the camera, with the Olympus camera producing good looking JPEG images straight from the camera. To capture additional dynamic range in shots, you can use the highlight/shadow adjustment, shooting using the HDR mode, or shoot raw images and then process images later. Finding these settings isn't the easiest, and it would be good if there was a Backlight or HDR scene mode available to make it easier to find. 


Olympus PEN E-PL8 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Whilst the Olympus 14-42mm Power Zoom lens isn't as sharp as a dedicated prime lens, the results are good, and the compact size of the lens makes it an ideal companion for the size of the camera. There is minimal purple fringing or chromatic abberation, and distortion is well controlled, with the camera automatically correcting images in-camera. The closest the lens can focus is 20cm, so for better macro results a different lens is recommended, whether that's a different zoom lens or a dedicated macro lens, just as long as it can focus closer. Focus is quick, but not as rapid as some competitors. For the best results, we would recommend a prime lens.


Olympus PEN E-PL8 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the best image quality possible, with the lowest noise and high levels of detail we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced as the ISO speed increases. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO25600 is best avoided as noise is high and detail low.

There's been a slight improvement in noise performance with the E-PL8, compared to the E-PL7, with sharper images at ISO6400, although noise is still quite high at this setting. There are options to adjust the Noise Filter, and these photos were taken on the default setting of "Standard". If you want slightly sharper images, and don't mind a little bit more noise, you can set this to "Low" and noise performance is still good. 


Olympus PEN E-PL8 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance (AWB) performs well under fluorescent or incandescent (Tungsten) lighting, with a warm result produced under the Tungsten lights. The presets give accurate results under Tungsten lighting, although the Fluorescent preset gave a magenta colour cast. You can have the choice of setting what you want the camera to do when you are shooting using the AWB. You can set "Keep warm colour" to on or off - with this on, results are warm, which is great for portraits, or with this off, results are more accurate, which is great for product shots. It would be nice if all cameras had this feature, and some of the more recent Canon cameras do, plus some of the higher end Nikon cameras.


Olympus PEN E-PL8 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are now 28 different Art Filters you can select from - although a number of these are simply variations of an effect for example, you can shoot Partial Colour I, Partial Colour II, and Partial Colour III. There are 25 scene modes available, although strangely you won't find HDR or Backlight Scene in here, and instead, the HDR mode can be found in the second Shooting menu.


Video - There are a range of video options, as well as manual controls available. However, there aren't many options regarding what level of compression to use when recording video, and you also don't get the option to change the frame rate for FullHD video. 3-axis image stabilisation does a good job keeping video steady when recording handheld (as shown in the example below), but it's not as impressive as the 5-axis image stabilisation system found on the E-M10 Mark II and E-M5 Mark II


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Photographs taken using the Olympus PEN E-PL8

Lone tree RaisdaleThe Green DragonNursery School

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josa 8 25 Czech Republic
26 Nov 2016 8:59AM
"The menus are long overdue a re-design. Please, Olympus, make it so we don't have to write this in every review."
It also makes me wonder why the cameras don't have built in flash. The first ones (E-PL1 & E-PL2) had flash on board. Weird strategy thinking.

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