Remember when Olympus’ PEN series was the future of ultra-compact, mirrorless cameras? There was even a time when Olympus made their own housing for a PEN camera. Ah, how times have changed, and the PEN series is fighting to remain relevant in underwater photography—much credit to the success of Olympus’ higher end OM-D mirrorless cameras.
But the announcement of the new Olympus PEN E-PL9 camera might be just the thing to reinvigorate interest from underwater shooters. There are several internal and external changes that are aimed at attracting more advanced shooters looking for a mirrorless camera sized more like a compact than a DSLR.
In terms of design, the E-PL9 has a more substantial grip and mode dial. There’s also the significant addition of a built-in flash. This means you don’t need to worry about using an extra external flash just to trigger your strobes.
The E-PL9 is built around a 16-megapixel live MOS sensor and inherits the powerful TruPic III processor from the E-M10 Mark III. The cameras also share a 121-point contrast-detect AF system. The inclusion of internal 4K recording is another feature that moves this PEN model more towards the advanced underwater shooter.
Who knows if these improvements will be enough to make the PEN a familiar name in the underwater photography market. Ikelite is the only company to manufacture housings for several of the previous PEN models. And Olympus hasn’t produced an underwater housing for the PEN series since 2014. The company currently makes housings for its TG tough line of cameras and their high-end mirrorless cameras.
Pricing and availability for the E-PL9 will be announced in the coming weeks.
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