I credit much of my blog success to the Olympus E-PL5. This compact camera was key in taking me from point-and-shoot to semi-professional picture taking. Its small size and interchangeable lenses made it easy to travel around the world with, 2.5 times to be exact. My readers and Instagram followers certainly noticed…and so did Olympus. With their latest model, the Olympus E-PL8, they are targeting bloggers hard, calling it as the best camera for fashion, lifestyle, and travel bloggers. Although I don’t disagree with this angle, as I found with my Olympus E–PL8 review, there is a better option out there.
Worth the Upgrade?
Let’s get this out of the way, this Olympus E-PL8 review is actually a review of the Olympus E-PL7. Why? Because they are essentially the same camera! Besides the price and a sexy new look, the cameras have the same specs. They are both built with the same sensor and guts as the E-PL5 and even the higher end OMD line! So to compare the Olympus E–PL7 and E–PL8 it is like comparing apples and slightly shinier apples.
That said, the Olympus E–PL8 is one sexy apple! Still, with a $649.99 CAD price tag (~$100 more than the E-PL7) was it worth the upgrade for me?
My beloved E–PL5 has treated me well but travel around the world had taken its toll on this little camera. It has been dropped, abused, and well used. I even had the shutter button replaced with a piece of foam for free by a friendly camera repair man in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. When I was in Japan last year and toyed with the idea of upgrading to the E–PL7 but its new features were not enough to convince me. Again, the specs on the E–PL5 and E–PL7 are the exact same except for a new selfie-friendly LED screen, Wi-Fi capabilities, and something called live composite. I’m not one to take selfies and using the FalshAir Wifi SD card has served me well so I decided to pass on the upgrade. Instead, I waited for the chance to get my hands on the Olympus E–PL8.
You can imagine my disappointment when I found out it is again, essentially the same camera.
So Much More Than Selfies
As mentioned, Olympus went after the selfie-taking lifestyle bloggers with their latest Pen-light camera. Along with the sexy new look comes new packaging, a leather strap, and an improved selfie facing features. It’s pretty sad because, as I found out, the E–PL line is so much more than selfies and fashion photo shoots. It’s a bit laughable considering the amount of power that is never unleashed in these cameras because of this marketing. The PL line even has similar specs to their professional OMD–5 Mark II which I was also seriously debating. The extra ~$300 for the OMD gets you a viewfinder, 20 Meg versus 16 Meg resolution, and a weather-hardened housing. I can live without all these things. What I couldn’t was the ability to take time-lapse photos, something missing in the E–PL line…or so I thought.
This promotional video is cringe worthy.
Enter Live Composite
The one thing I struggled with on my travels with my E-PL5 was taking long exposure photos. Star trails and night photography is something that interests me but I have had little success with it. Although I took a night photo class in Tokyo to up my skills, my hands were tied to the limitations of my camera. This almost had me upping to the OMD line until I found out that the Live Composite feature is also available in the E–PL7 and E–PL8. What is Live Composite? In short, a super easy way to create awesome shots like this:
Essentially, Live Composite lets you watch your night scene unfold in front of you. This gives you ridiculous control of exposer time.
After playing with and conducting this Olympus E–PL8 review, err…E-PL7, for a few weeks I did discover a few extras that are missing on my E-PL5. The built in WiFi is neat in that you can use your smartphone as a remote shutter. This is convenient for group shots or for eliminating blur from your night photos. I find transferring images from my camera to my phone a little less convenient than using my FlashAir card so I stuck with my old habits there. There is also the handy added feature of vertical and horizontal levels on the LCD screen, making for less post work straightening things out.
Olympus E–PL8 Review Conclusion: Save your $$$
The Live Composite feature was enough to make me upgrade, but certainly not for the sexier and pricer E-PL8. As I pointed out, this Olympus E–PL8 review is really about to E-PL7 which is the same camera inside. If you’re the type that is more concerned about looks on the outside, then the Olympus E–PL 8 is for you. If you would rather spend the savings on a great lens like the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm/f1.7, then get the E-PL7 like me.
Wait… now I get why Olympus went after the fashion bloggers with this “upgrade.”
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NOTE: I was not sponsored or provided a complimentary camera for this Olympus E–PL8 Review.
As always the experience, opinions, and saved $$$ is my own.