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Olympus PEN E-PL9 Hands-On Review

Olympus PEN E-PL9 Hands-On Review - We go hands-on with the new Olympus PEN E-PL9, and post sample photos and video with the new 16mp, 4K camera.

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Olympus PEN E-PL9 in Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Olympus PEN EPL9 Black (13)

Olympus’ latest PEN camera, the E-PL9, updates the E-PL8, and now features 4K video recording, 5-axis image stabilisation, a built-in pop-up flash, and Bluetooth. The 16mp Micro Four Thirds camera is available in white, light brown, and black.

Olympus PEN E-PL9 Features

Olympus PEN EPL9 Brown (2)

The camera features the same 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor as the E-PL8, but with a new image processor (which is said to be the same as the flagship E-M1 Mark II) should mean there’s a slight improvement in noise performance and image quality. The camera has 3-axis sensor-based image stabilisation, like the the E-PL8.

The 3inch tilting touch-screen tilts up and down, with it possible to tilt completely down and forwards for selfie shots. You can view a dual-axis electronic level on screen.

The camera records 4K video at 30/25/24fps, and the 3-axis image stabilisation will help keep videos steady and smooth. Stereo microphones are built-in.

There’s built-in Wi-Fi, and this has been joined by low-power Bluetooth, so that you can connect to your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth.

4K Video FullHD Video
3-axis IS 3-axis IS
121 AF points 81 AF points
2 new Art Filters -
Bluetooth + Wi-Fi Wi-Fi
Advanced Photo Mode -
Built-in Pop-up Flash External flash
- Accessory Port (EVF)
Updated Grip -


The shooting modes available have been updated, to include Advanced Photo (AP) mode, which is designed to make it easier to use some of the more advanced shooting modes, of which there are many, including Live Composite, Live Time, Multi-Exposure, HDR, Silent, Panorama, Keystone Compensation, AE Bracketing, and Focus Bracketing.

The scene modes have been updated with a new graphical user interface, and you can use the touch-screen to select the scene mode you want. These have been designed to be easy to use, and the Nightscenes including "Light Painting" and other night scene modes that you can use, without advanced photographic knowledge.

There's an Auto mode, with easy on-screen controls, P, A, S, and full manual controls. The number of AF points has been updated, with the camera now featuring 121, compared to 81 on the E-PL8.

Olympus PEN EPL9 Black (9)

Key Features

  • 16.1 megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor
  • Micro Four Thirds lens mount
  • 3-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation
  • 3inch tilting touch-screen, 1037k dot resolution
  • 4K video at 30/25/24fps
  • FullHD video recording at 60p, stereo sound
  • ISO100 to ISO25600 (extended)
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • 8.5fps continuous shooting
  • HDR, Focus Peaking
  • 31 Art Filters
  • Available in black/silver, white/silver, and brown/silver

Olympus PEN E-PL9 Handling

Olympus PEN EPL9 Black (1)

The Olympus PEN E-PL9 features a metal bodied camera, and on top the metal dials and shutter release button give the camera a more premium feel. The front grip has been improved over the E-PL8.

The rear grip for your thumb is quite small, and some of the buttons seem quite small, but they are clearly labelled, and the 4-way controller around the OK button gives quick access to some of the key controls.

The rear touch-screen looks good, with a decent resolution of 1037K dots. The frame surrounding it is quite large, and it would be nice if Olympus were able to slim this down in future models.

Olympus PEN EPL9 Screeens (2)

Advanced Photo mode was first seen on the E-M10 Mark III, and is designed to make it easier to access some of the more advanced features on the camera. There’s also an updated Scene modes menu, with quick access to settings. These can make the camera easier to use, however, the main menus on the camera are long overdue a good update, and can be quite tedious when looking for a specific feature.

Use of the Super Control Panel can make it easier to access settings and controls, so that you can avoid having to use the menu system. The back (top) Function (Fn) button, can be customised. The camera doesn't have an accessory port, so you can't add an electronic viewfinder to the camera.

Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth means you can connect to the camera from your smartphone or tablet. The Olympus O.I. Share app is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s easy to set up a connection, and from there you can remotely control the camera, import photos, edit photos and add Geotag (location) data to images.

On the side is a MicroUSB connection, and an HDMI connection.

Olympus PEN EPL9 Black (10)

Battery Life is rated at 350 shots, which is the same as the E-PL8, and the camera uses the same battery (BLS-50), which is shared with a number of other Olympus PEN, and OM-D E-M10 cameras making it easy to find spares.

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altitude50 13 11.0k United Kingdom
7 Feb 2018 9:48AM
I don't really understand why manufacturers keep bringing out expensive cameras with no viewfinders.
Screens are next to useless in bright sunlight.

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alan53 10 United Kingdom
7 Feb 2018 10:31AM
Agreed, and they’ve even dropped the port to add the accessory EVF! Well, they keep offering us cameras without the features we want, no surprise that sales are dropping. Effectively they are saying buy our top of the range if you want an EVF and 20Mp. Obviously there are cheaper alternatives if we give up on the format and choose APS-C, so this is a really puzzling marketing strategy, n'est ce pas?!!??
franken Plus
15 4.5k 4 United Kingdom
7 Feb 2018 10:59AM

Quote:I don't really understand why manufacturers keep bringing out expensive cameras with no viewfinders.
Screens are next to useless in bright sunlight.

I agree and will never buy one without a viewfinder.
ChrisV Plus
11 2.0k 26 United Kingdom
7 Feb 2018 12:25PM
I think the manufacturers would say the entry PENs and the Panny GF series are mainly aimed at those thinking of upgrading their photography from a smartphone. I'm often surprised by the number of people who will frame shots on an LCD back rather than a VF, even when the camera has one [particularly outdoors].

These sorts of models are naturally not going to find much interest with traditional or more seasoned photographers who know the benefits of using a viewfinder. But the OEMs would say we're not the target buyer in any case.
7 Feb 2018 3:52PM
You state (in various places) in this hands on review the new EPL9 has 5 axis and 3 axis image stabilisation, surely it must be one or the other, not both?
Nice sleek looking body, otherwise a very predictable, uninspiring and expensive upgrade to 4K.
8 Feb 2018 3:58AM
I left when I was thousands into the 4/3's system...have never looked back and never will.
Paul Morgan 16 19.0k 6 England
9 Feb 2018 3:15PM
This camera`s at least from the EPL7 up were really targeting the selfie video market, loosing the option for an additional evf is no great loss, if push comes to shove you always add a plain old glass optical viewfinder.

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