Olympus E-PL7 Review

October 13, 2014 | Gavin Stoker | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

If anything, as a default, we found the Olympus E-PL7 had a tendency to under-expose slightly. While this might maintain the detail in fine garments for the fashion blogging fraternity and avoid blown highlights, it did mean that occasionally an application of Auto Levels was required to add a bit of brightness and punch to an image. In bright sunshine however it’s a different story and we were pleased to see detail maintained in both foreground subjects and the sky for an even, naturalistic result. That naturalism also extends to the colours, with the option to select vivid picture mode or Pop Art from among the Art Filters if you want an overly-saturated look to really enhance autumn hues. Indeed as we have mentioned in past reviews of the Olympus brand, such digital effects really come into their own when days are dull and lighting is poor and it might not otherwise be worth creating an image at all.

In terms of low light performance without the aid of the built-in flash, the E-PL7 makes a good job of retaining detail too. While shots taken at maximum ISO25600 setting look a little smudged in terms of sharpness, arguably they are usable at a push – if there was absolutely no way you might be able to take a shot otherwise. Indeed results appear no worse that we would have at one time got from selecting ISO1600 on a cheap point and shoot compact.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-PL7. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and the RAW equivalent on the right:

JPEG RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Modes.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Flash

The Olympus E-PL7 features a flash that has multiple modes including Auto, Red-eye reduction, Slow synchronisation, 2nd curtain and slow synchronisation, Fill-in for exclusive flash and Manual. In addition to the on-board unit, the Olympus E-PL7 also has a hot-shoe for system flashes. The pictures below were taken of a white wall from a distance of 1.5m, with and without the built-in flash.

Flash Off - Wide Angle

Flash On - Wide Angle

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto

Flash On - Telephoto

ISO 64 ISO 64

And now for some portraits. The add-on flash of the Olympus E-PL7 did not really cause a red-eye effect, so the only noticeable difference between the Forced On and Forced On with Red-Eye Reduction settings is that the second causes the subject's pupils to contract.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Olympus E-PL7 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 60 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times as long as 30 minutes, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/20th second at ISO 1600.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg