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Olympus E-PL9; A Decent Upgrade from the Predecessor

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Olympus E-PL camera line has been started since April 2010 with E-PL1. Ever since then, this camera line has continuously gone to serve Olympus low-end mirrorless market. Almost each year, the company releases new model within this E-PL series as an update from the predecessor. And now, in early 2018, it’s time for the manufacturer to release the latest E-PL series called Olympus E-PL9, a successor of the previous E-PL8 that was released back in 2016. Many people think that there is nothing much changes on this camera compared to the predecessor. But, who knows? Let’s find out!

Olympus E-PL9; A Decent Upgrade from the Predecessor

As public assumed, this minor upgrades in this camera make the new E-PL9 seems to be released to fulfill the release cycle only. However, the care still has several good upgrades such as in-body pop-up flash, which we don’t find it in the previous E-PL8, and 4K video shooting, which we think it’s because 4K is getting mainstream even low level camera, so eventually Olympus has to add 4K in the new E-PL9. Despite all those criticism, we also think that new Olympus E-PL9 is still a good choice for price and simplicity, which makes the camera perfect for beginners.

Olympus E-PL9 Design

If you follow the E-PL camera series, you’ll know that design is not that dynamic. Yes, you may find design upgrades, but it’s not that significant. All E-PL cameras seem to have this one blueprint of design. Just like in the new E-PL9, we still can see the cues of the previous E-PL8, which is a compact mirrorless camera without EVF. The body is very similar too, only the new E-PL9 has bigger and heavier body compared to its predecessor. The dimension is about 4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in” (117.1 x 68 x 39mm), with 0.6mm thickness and weight around 13.4 oz including battery and memory card. This weight is possible due to the use of plastic exterior materials.

Olympus E-PL9; A Decent Upgrade from E-PL8On the front side, we can find new handgrip which is a little bit different from the E-PL8, but similar to E-PL7. This grip is large and provides easier handling and operability. Moving to the top plate, you can see that the top speaker on E-PL8 is gone, and replaced with new pop-up flash. Mode dials is also re-arranged with some dials additions and removal. Accessory port is also removed, which is such an unfortunate thing. It’s because without accessory port, you can’t add any accessory such as clip-on flash, additional EVF, external microphone, or others.

Layout control on Olympus E-PL9 is still the same with E-PL8, with only one small button addition to pop up the flash. However, small changes can be seen in term of aesthetical value. Around the buttons, now it’s circled by trim rings to secure the edge of leatherette trim material. This material now is not only covering the front side, but also the back side and the body sides as well. As for the screen, E-PL9 has 3 inches TFT LCD screen with 1,040,000 dots. This screen can be flipped 80 degrees upward and 180 degree downwards.

Olympus E-PL9 Specification

In the sensory aspects the camera uses 16 Megapixels Four Third CMOS sensor. With this kind of sensor, Olympus E-PL9 will be able to reach maximum image resolution at 4608 x 3456. This sensor will be paired with double quad-core TruePic VIII image processor, which is the same processor used in OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Clearly, this is the huge step forward for E-PL series camera to use this processor because it makes user able to feel the flagship sensation. And also, due to the use of this processor, E-PL9 could reach burst range in 0.1 fps to 8.6 fps. However, buffer depth is now decreased from 20 in the previous PL8 to 14. ISO sensitivity is still the same with the previous model, which ranges from ISO 100 (Low) to 25,600 (high).

Autofocus System

Olympus E-PL9; Camera rear sideIn the focusing system, the camera has quite a jump with 121 focusing points, while the predecessor has only 81 focus points. These focus points cover almost all of the frame area, makes you’re able to put focus on all objects within the frame. To choose the focus point, it can be done either manually or automatically by touching the object you want to focus on on the display.

When aiming a certain object, focus can be locked in 0.05-second in bright light condition, and 0.3-second in dim light. Then, full focus and ready-to-shoot position can be reached in 0.8-second. Moreover, to help creating steadier image, the Olympus E-PL9 has been equipped with image stabilization system with three-axis sensor shift. With this feature, company guarantee that the shooting result will be clearer with minimum blur from your hand shake. While when you’re in the movie mode, the camera also allows this sensor-shift to be featured with electronic stabilization

Video Recording Capability

Video recording capability is vibrant in Olympus E-PL9. Unlike its predecessor, the camera now is completed with Ultra High-Definition 4K shooting mode. This 4K video is recorded in 102Mbps bitrate. But, if you think that 4K is too high resolution, you can choose to shoot in Full HD or HD video. The shooting rate is also various. You can choose to shoot in 24, 25 or 30 fps when shooting in all formats (4K, Full HD, and HD). While for the maximum shooting time, you can shoot 80 minutes movie when using zoom or any other adjustments. But, when you don’t use them, the maximum shooting time turns to be 140 minutes, which is pretty long.

Olympus E-PL9; Camera top sideFurthermore, to add more artistic value to the video, Olympus E-PL9 is also equipped with various scene modes and art filters. The scene modes available are Light trails, Multi-Focus, Backlight HDR, and Silent Mode. For the art filters, there are 2 new filters added; Instant film and Bleach by Pass, makes the total art filters you can choose are 16.

Olympus E-PL9 Connectivity and Battery

Connectivity is something important for today’s camera, especially when social media has turned to become a thing. People want instant connection from camera to their personal device such as laptop and smartphone. So, they can do transfer the photos instantly then upload them in their social medias. And for this purposes, the new Olympus E-PL9 has been equipped with advance wireless connectivity, which are Bluetooth and WiFi. With these, you can connect your smartphone and camera easily to do either remote control or file sharing.

Olympus E-PL9; Camera front side

Besides wireless, Olympus E-PL9 is also equipped with wired connection. It has two data ports, which are micro HDMI and Micro USB. However, the Micro USB port can’t be used to do charging. So, you still need to charge the batter via battery charger. As for the battery capacity, the company claims that Olympus E-PL9 can shoot about 350 images or shoot 80 minutes of video in one single charge.

Olympus E-PL9 Price and Impression

Overall, the new Olympus E-PL9 is a good camera with interesting upgrades. It has 4K shooting, it has faster burst image, and better focusing system as well. However, we still think that the upgrades are just minors, and we need Olympus to go way further than that. On the sensor resolution for example, we think 16 MP is way too small now, especially when many other brands have came to offer more than 20 MP in their new products. So we need Olympus to do the same thing. Moreover, in term of flexibility, USB charging should be a very good idea to apply too.

Olympus E-PL9; Camera variants

So, for you who are interesting to own this camera, Olympus E-PL9 is already available in the market since April 5th 2018. For the price, it’s offered in US$ 599.99 for body only, and US$699.99 for kit lens bundling. Specifically for this bundling package, you get M.Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens, Quick Tip Card, custom camera strap, custom camera bag, Quick Start Guide, and 16GB memory card. And there are 3 different color schemes offered; Onyx Black, Pearl White, and Honey Brown.