A consummate all-rounder, the E-PL7 scores particularly highly for speed and style.
Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds (17.3x13mm), Focal length multiplier: 2x, Viewfinder: Optional VF-4 unit, LCD screen: 3in (1,037,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 3x (28-84mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/7-11.2, Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds, Weight: 450g, Size (HxWxD): 69x127x67mm
Shooting performance is perhaps the E-PL7’s greatest strength. Autofocus often took as little as 0.2 seconds, and being able to tap the screen to set the focus point helped enormously too. We timed 0.5 seconds between shots in normal use, both for JPEGs and RAW capture. Continuous shooting was at 7.4fps in our tests, slowing to 3.2fps after 37 frames. For RAW, it slowed to 2.2fps after 13 frames. Enabling continuous autofocus gave a 3.5fps shooting speed. These figures are among the best we’ve seen at this price, both from CSCs and SLRs.
Its video credentials aren’t quite as impressive. Support for manual exposure and touchscreen-powered spot focus is welcome, but the fixed 30fps frame rate will deter keen videographers. So too will the slightly coarse details compared to 1080p footage from Panasonic G-series cameras. Noise levels were impressively low at ISO 3200, though, and overall quality was more than up to scratch for casual use.
Olympus has been fitting its PEN and OM-D cameras with 16-megapixel sensors for three years. Image quality of the E-PL7 was in line with previous models we’ve seen, and it also compared well with its current rivals. The lens performed superbly, with sharp focus into the corners of frames and very little evidence of chromatic aberrations. It’s an impressive outcome for such a slim zoom lens.
JPEGs displayed punchy details, although comparing them to RAW files processed in Lightroom, there was a slight glossing over of the subtlest of details. We’d expect best results to come from RAW files, though, so this is hardly a criticism. Similarly, Lightroom’s noise reduction outperformed the camera’s JPEG output, but the camera still managed to deliver print-quality JPEGs at ISO 3200. Low-resolution copies for online sharing looked respectable all the way up to ISO 16,000 – a superb result.
^ Expertly judged exposure settings and sharp details from corner to corner adds up to an excellent result in this challenging scene. (1/320s, f/9, ISO 200, 46mm equivalent)
^ Another tricky scene, but the camera has retained lots of detail in both the highlights and shadows. (1200/s, f/5.6, ISO 200, 24mm equivalent)
^ Focus is just as sharp at the long end of the zoom range. (1/320s, f/10, ISO 200, 84mm equivalent)
^ However, comparing the JPEG and RAW (via Lightroom) output reveals that the camera’s handling of very fine detail is a little coarse.
^ There’s a light smattering of noise in this shot, but it’s still good enough for critical use. The clipped highlights aren’t so impressive, though. (1/60s, f/3.5, ISO 2000, 28mm equivalent)
^ Processing the RAW file in Lightroom has let us recover highlight detail and apply noise reduction more effectively.
^ Respectable JPEGs at ISO 16,000 make this a superb camera for low-light shooting. (1/60s, f/5.1, ISO 16000, 60mm equivalent)
There are lots of things to praise and very little to criticise about the E-PL7. It’s not short of competition, though, and the price is currently double that of the Samsung NX3000. The Olympus is faster, it’s arguably better looking and the choice of lenses is much greater – that’s enough to keep it in the running. If it’s not quite your thing then check out our regularly-updated Best Cameras guide.
[Price, rating and specs based on the 14-42mm EZ kit]
|Sensor resolution||16 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Micro Four Thirds (17.3x13mm)|
|Focal length multiplier||2x|
|Optical stabilisation||Sensor shift|
|Viewfinder||Optional VF-4 unit|
|Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage||N/A|
|LCD screen||3in (1,037,000 dots)|
|Photo file formats||JPEG, RAW (ORF)|
|Maximum photo resolution||4,608×3,456|
|Photo aspect ratios||4:3, 3:2, 16:9 1:1, 3:4|
|Video compression format||QuickTime (AVC) at up to 24Mbit/s|
|Video resolutions||1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps, VGA at 30fps|
|Slow motion video modes||N/A|
|Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)||25m 0s|
|Exposure modes||Program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual|
|Shutter speed range||60 to 1/4,000 seconds|
|ISO speed range||200 to 25600|
|Exposure compensation||EV +/-5|
|White balance||Auto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin|
|Auto-focus modes||Multi, flexible spot, face detect, tracking|
|Metering modes||Multi, centre-weighted, spot, spot highlight, spot shadow, face detect|
|Flash modes||Auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction|
|Drive modes||Single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, ISO bracket, HDR, time lapse, multiple exposure|
|Kit lens model name||M.Zuiko Digital ED 14‑42mm 1:3.5‑5.6 EZ Pancake|
|Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)||3x (28-84mm)|
|Maximum aperture (wide-tele)||f/3.5-5.6|
|Closest macro focus (wide)||25cm|
|Closest macro focus (tele)||25cm|
|Lens mount||Micro Four Thirds|
|Connectivity||USB, AV, micro HDMI|
|GPS||Via smartphone app|
|Accessories||USB cable, neck strap|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Price including VAT||£499|