Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 16-Megapixel 4/3 MOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Tilting LCD Screen
  • TruePic VII processor
  • 3-Axis Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Micro 4/3 mount
  • Included External Flash
  • Hot Shoe for accessories
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Camera produces excellent overall image quality
  • Very compact and lightweight, easy to carry and operate
  • 3-axis IS is very handy and effective
  • High Res 3.0-inch LCD is great for shooting and viewing images
  • Screen tilts a full 180° for easy "selfies"
  • Great shooting performance
  • Built-in WiFi lets you share from anywhere
  • WiFi allows smart device to control camera
  • Good Battery Life
  • Competitively priced
  • HDMI output
  • Excellent collection of lenses available
  • No built-in flash. Possible to forget external unit at home
  • No built-in OVF/EVF, although there is an optional EVF
  • Occasionally iAuto produced unreliable exposures with face detection
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.9 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 4/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.52 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.28 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 8fps
  • All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, Flash off, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults.
Bottom Line
The Olympus E-PL7 is a compact and very portable ILC that provides very good image quality and performance. A great collection of lenses and creative shooting modes makes this camera a must see for the photography enthusiast.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an affordable and compact ILC. It is a great choice for anyone looking to step up from a point-n-shoot or just looking for a compact camera with great quality to travel with.
Olympus continues its charge as one of the leaders in the ILC (interchangeable lens camera) market with the incredibly compact and surprisingly powerful E-PL7. The newest addition to the Pen Lite collection gives us a compact classic rangefinder look and feel with the all of the great features that are usually found on an Olympus ILC. Sporting a 16-Megapixel 4/3 Live MOS imaging sensor, TruePic VII image processor, Micro 4/3 mount and a 180° tilting LCD screen gives this camera the power and ease of use that will keep just about anyone happy. Its very compact body makes it incredibly easy to carry, with a small camera bag, or in a purse. You can also sling it over your shoulder and hardly even notice that it is there. The classic styling is available in either a silver or all black body that is almost guaranteed to turn heads when you start shooting.

The E-PL7 also comes loaded with convenience features that allow for easier shooting and sharing of your images. A 3-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system helps to steady the camera while you shoot, even when you are on the move. Since it is built-in, it also keeps the price of new lenses down, letting you add to your collection more often. Built-in WiFi allows you to share images from anywhere, as long as you have a smartphone or tablet with cell service. It also allows you to use your smart device as a remote control for the camera, letting you shoot and view images without having the camera in your hands. Finally Olympus has included a slew of creative and artistic shooting modes that make it easy for anyone to capture popular and stylish images, even if they do not know the processes behind them.

Handling the E-PL7 is a pleasure. The leather and small rubber grips provide a great surface to hold onto, giving you confidence while shooting with the small camera. On the body are several small controls, including the mode dial and command dial on top of the camera, that are easy to use thanks the great placement and spacing. Composing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch tiltable LCD screen. Featuring 1,037k dots of resolution, the screen is very sharp, displaying a great deal of detail and color. Adjustable levels of brightness allow you to see it in just about all lighting conditions, including bright sunlight. The spring-loaded LCD screen even allows you to tilt it when the flash or optional EVF has been added to the camera. Since the back of the flash unit blocks the very top of the LCD, it has to be slightly pushed down to tilt.

Performance from the E-PL7 was very good, allowing the camera to capture its first image in just 1.9 seconds after being turned on. There was no noticeable shutter lag when the camera is pre-focused, allowing you capture that perfect moment with ease. The autofocus system did pretty well, allowing us to capture images between 2/10 and 4/10 of a second while allowing the camera to focus before the capture. This is a little slower than ILCs that have incorporated a Hybrid AF system with phase detection, but is still very good. Shot-to-shot delay was very good as well, only taking 0.52 seconds between images. This goes up a bit when you add the flash and its recharge time, slowing the delay to 1.28 seconds. An optional external flash can cut down on this time while providing greater power as well. Burst mode really shined, as the camera was able to capture 8fps at the Sequential High mode. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, Flash off, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults.

Our outdoor image samples provide excellent overall image quality; with sharp focus, great exposures and vivid colors. When viewing the images at 100%, we do see a little bit of image noise in the shadows and darker areas that dull the details a bit. Other than that, most of the flaws and aberrations have been controlled nicely. The included 14-42mm lens, featuring a 35mm equivalent of 28-84mm, provides a great zoom range for portrait and other everyday image capture. The Micro 4/3 mount provides a fantastic collection of Olympus and other lenses that will suit any situation at an affordable price.

Our indoor sample images provide us with a more consistent look at the image quality throughout the ISO range. At the lower settings, the camera provides an amazing amount of detail with little or no image noise. At ISO 800, the image starts to show some noise, however, even with the noise the fine details in the image remain. As the ISO increases so does the noise slowly. It's not until ISO 3200 that the noise really starts to become a problem in the image. After that you will want to avoid the top ISO settings if possible. Assisting you with your low-light images is the included compact external flash unit. It only provides the power of a typical pop-up flash unit, but being detachable keeps the body more compact. It attaches via the hotshoe and component port, which also allows for more powerful external flash units or an optional Electronic Viewfinder.

Shooting portraits with the E-PL7 couldn't be easier. Whether you are using iAuto, Manual or one of the preset Portrait Scene modes, the camera's Face Detection kicks in and does the work for you. The camera does an excellent job of finding and tracking any faces within the frame, keeping it focused and constantly adjusting the exposure settings to guarantee the face is the main focus of your image. For the most part the camera did very well shooting our portrait samples. The subject is sharp and well exposed, showing a ton of detail in the images. In iAuto mode, we did have a few instances where the camera would select a shutter speed that was too slow for handheld images, leaving them a bit blurry.

Olympus included a fantastic collection of creative art filters and an Automatic HDR shooting mode, allowing you to take on any situation, or recreate your favorite image styles. The HDR mode features two options with different settings for different results. The camera captures several images before combining them in the camera, unlike some other Auto HDR modes that only capture one or two images to create the effect. For manual HDR shooting, this mode can also be set to various BKT settings for capturing your images. The art effects start with the standard, high quality image, to produce the best possible custom image afterwards. Several samples of these filters as well as examples of the Auto HDR images can be found on our samples page.

With the ability to capture full 1080p HD videos, your home movies will look as good as ever on your HDTV. The camera captures beautiful video with stereo sound from the small built-in stereo microphone. Our sample videos show sharp video with excellent color and decent audio. Via HDMI, the videos play back smoothly and with minimal effort on any HDTV. The optical image stabilization is a big help to steady your video when shooting handheld. The biggest drawback with all digicams with built-in microphones is the amount of background noise that they record. This noise tends to take over the video, and can be very distracting. An external mic or external recording device is a must if audio is important to you. Carefully positioning yourself away from anything that produces noise and out of the wind will help to reduce these unwanted noises.

Powering the E-PL7 is a 7.2V, 1210mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During our tests, we were able to capture over 150 images and several short videos on a single charge with no problems. This sits well with Olympus's claims that the battery is enough to capture up to 350 images on a single charge. Even 350 images can go quickly during a day of shooting, so we recommend having at least one spare battery charged and ready to go at all times. Included with the camera is a portable quick charging unit that makes it easy to keep your battery and a spare charged and ready to go.

Bottom Line - The Olympus E-PL7 is a fantastic ILC, providing a great balance between power, features and a compact and easy-to-carry size. Outstanding image quality and performance make this classically designed rangefinder model a must have for anyone looking to upgrade from a point-n-shoot or just someone looking for a compact ILC to travel with. With a MSRP of US $599.99, it provides excellent bang for your buck.

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