Olympus PEN E-PL9 review

Olympus updates its stylish entry-level mirrorless camera

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Expert photographers will be quick to point out deficiencies in the PEN E-PL9’s specifications. There’s no viewfinder, for example, the sensor is a little smaller than some rivals, and with fewer megapixels. It’s also not that cheap, costing only a little less than the brilliant DSLR-style Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III.

But the E-PL9 isn’t aimed at experts. It’s aimed at a new generation of photographers stepping up from simpler imaging devices and hoping to get the visual quality and control of an interchangeable lens camera without the jargon and the complexity.

And it does that brilliantly. No viewfinder? Well that’s no problem if you’re used to a smartphone. The modest sensor specs? They’re still a massive step up from a smartphone and in reality the E-PL9’s pictures hold their own with any similarly-priced DSLR or mirrorless camera. Too expensive? Well, most smartphones cost more than this – and for a camera like this to meet people’s expectations of features, ease of use and quality, it will cost a little cash.

In fact, the E-PL9 delivers a lot more than you might expect. Hidden behind that fashion-conscious facade is a seriously powerful set of creative tools. They’re not in your face right from the start, but they are there waiting to be discovered when you’re ready to try them out.

Most of all, the E-PL9 delivers an almost perfect hit rate of great-looking shots even in the hands of the most inexperienced users.


Rod Lawton is Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography magazines, including Digital Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Professional Photography, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop.