BY DAISY DICKINSON
If you love taking pictures, but are looking for more control, quality and style than your phone offers, then I’d like to introduce you to the stunning little Olympus PEN E-PL8. Perfectly portable – and a total looker – this dinky camera makes it easy to carry always, and capture incredible-quality stills and movie footage wherever you go, plus it’s a great fashion accessory, too! Here are my top 8 reasons to love this camera…
1. The Science Bit: Quality and Control
Without getting too techy about the bits that make this camera an absolute powerhouse of a picture-taker, what you need to know is that the 16.1MP-sensor beating at it’s pretty little heart means you can capture stunning images in superfine detail, and print them as large as a high-quality 30X40” print, but your pictures will even be capable of being blown up to billboard size! There are plenty of other great features, too; which include: flip-down LCD touchscreen and selfie modes, built-in Wi-Fi for remote shooting and easy upload to your device, Art Filters, easy menus and modes, and the ability to change lenses for new effects.
2. Style & Portability: Compact & Lightweight
This gorgeous camera has retro-chic styling harping back to the film era, and is ready to be accessorized with your own outfits, and personal style. And at just 326g without battery and memory card, it’s super-portable and compact, meaning you can keep it in your bag always, ready for any fleeting photographic moment – in fact, it weighs less than a large bar of chocolate!
3. Ease of Use: SCP Menu and Mode Dial
I’ve always found the Olympus system incredibly user-friendly and quick to get to grips with, and thanks to the Super Control Panel Menu, accessed by pressing OK (once set up), you’ve got all the most-used functionalities at your fingertips, such as changing your aspect ratio; so if you want to shoot in square 1:1 format for your instagram grid, or 16:9 for stories, you can easily do this by scrolling through the menu, and previewing your frame as you shoot. To set up press Menu, scroll to the cog icon, then across into C1; clicking Control Settings. In each shooting mode, scroll through and select LV-SCP. That’s it! Exit the menu system and try clicking OK, you’ll now have a panel of functionality at your fingertips!
The mode dial on the top of the camera makes it easy to scroll through functionalities like iAuto where the camera does all the work for you, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Program, Video, Scene and Art, as well as Photo Story for fun framing.
4. Super Selfies: Flip Down LCD Touchscreen
One of the main perks of this little camera is the versatile and ergonomic touchscreen. As well as being able to flip down 80-degrees, and rotate up to a whopping 180-degrees, its ability to be used below the camera lens means it’s much better placed for capturing a natural eye line – plus, with touchscreen control, you can easily tap to select the self-timer mode and capture consecutive images in a row – with time in between to perfect your pose – and no tell-tale arm obscuring your shot thanks to the comfortable positioning.
As the PEN E-PL8 is so lightweight it’s a great option for budding Vloggers, and you should be able to comfortably hold the camera extended away from you without getting a tired arm, however, if you did want to use a tripod, you’ll just need a cheap and cheerful plate to fasten the camera to the side, and away from the tripod mount obscuring the lens.
5. Progress and Practice: Scene Modes
While the camera’s iAuto mode is great for getting started, I’d encourage you to not let it become a crutch, and instead start to explore a little more functionality and control. Try turning your mode dial to Scene, and scroll through the camera’s presets for an even better chance for photo-success if you’re not quite ready to try out some of the more manual settings yet. Portrait mode, for example, sets the camera up best for shooting flattering people pictures, or e-Portrait, which applies a subtle skin-smoothing effect – saving you time in post-processing or in having to use filters.
6. In-Camera Effects: Art Filters
Following on from the Scene modes, you’ll also find every Olympus camera equipped with some well-loved Art Filters. There are plenty to choose from, which makes creating artistic images in-camera so easy, so there’s no need to spend time on filtering apps before getting your content on socials straight away. Just switch the mode dial to Art, and scroll through. I love the Vintage III filter for a retro, dreamy effect, or Grainy Film for something a little edgier. If you’re shooting in one if the other camera modes, like Aperture Priority, you can also add filters by pressing OK to access the SCP menu, then browse through them this way; the filter will be applied to the screen in front of your eyes, so you can easily see what the effect will be like.
7. Shoot and Share: Built-In Wi-Fi for Remote Control and Upload
If you’re used to snapping away with your mobile and concerned about losing the convenience of having the pictures on your device – don’t be! Built-in Wi-Fi makes it so easy to transfer your shots from camera to your phone or tablet in seconds. First, make sure you’ve downloaded the Olympus Image Share App to your device, then simply turn your camera on, and tap the Wi-Fi logo in the top left of the screen, following the instructions to hook up your device by scanning the QR code, or navigating to the camera in your device’s Wi-Fi settings. You’ll only need to set this up once, and following this it will be even quicker to connect your camera each time. Once in the app you’ll be able to select and download your shots. You can choose the file size too, so if you’re only putting them online, opt for the smallest resolution. Amazingly, you can also use your device as a remote control, too – which I find so handy for getting those self portraits in and being fully in control if I don’t have a secondary pair of hands to help out.
8. Take a New View: Interchangeable Lenses
One of my favourite things about the Olympus system is that all the camera’s are interchangeable, which means you can use any of the Olympus M.Zuiko lenses in the range, giving a whole new world of shooting options. You’ll probably find your PEN comes with a M.Zuiko Digital 14‑42mm F3.5‑5.6 II R Lens, which is the perfect little starter lens. It’s ultra-compact and portable and is great for zooming in on details, and getting those closer portraits too, but for some really stunning shots, I’d always recommend adding at least a second lens to your kit bag. If I had to choose just one to accompany the PEN, it’s got to be the M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Lens. It’s so small, but boasts such high-quality results. You know that blurry, out of focus background that we all love? This lens is a total pro for achieving it thanks to its wide-open aperture of F1.8. It can let in tonnes of light, and give you beautiful bokeh in your shots – not sure what that is? It’s the effect of out of focus light that looks so pretty in pictures.
I know that lots of camera phones now offer portrait modes which mimic this effect, but the result – in my opinion – will never be as good as from a camera, and often looks a bit fake. So if you want to be the real deal, I couldn’t recommend this pairing enough. Another great benefit of the M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Lens is that it’s also great in low-light conditions, so if you’re shooting at a dark restaurant or party, you’ve got the best chance of bagging some ace shots, too.
For a limited time, the PEN E-PL8 is on offer with the M.Zuiko Digital 14‑42mm F3.5‑5.6 II R Lens and a FREE M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 Lens included, all for just £349, here. This is an incredible saving, so hurry to get yours now!