Olympus E-PL8 Review

December 8, 2016 | Amy Davies | |

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.

Being as the Olympus E-PL8 uses the same sensor and processor as its predecessor, image quality remains - as far as we can tell anyway - pretty much unchanged.

That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, as the previous camera was a good performer. In good light, the camera produces well-exposed, bright and punchy images. There’s a tendency to underexpose slightly when faced with darker conditions - you may find you need to dial in some positive exposure compensation more often than we’d strictly like. On the plus side though, this does mean that details should be well kept in any fashion garments etc, without the risk of blown highlights.

Automatic white balance copes well with a mixture of different lighting conditions. Under artificial lighting, the colours are perhaps ever so slightly weighted towards warmer tones, but the look is pleasing enough to be satisfactory. You can switch to a more specific white balance setting if you’re after more precision.

Low light performance is pretty good, with images looking great at A4 or below up to around ISO 6400. If you want to print something very large, then you  may want to stick to ISO 3200. ISO 12800 and 25600 are useable if you intend to keep the print or shared image size on the small side.

The 14-42mm lens is a good lens to get you started with, and it covers a decent focal length range for lots of different situations. However, in order to get the best from the Olympus E-PL8 - such as really nice shallow depth of field effects - it probably won’t be long until you’re thinking of investing in extra lenses. Luckily there are plenty available.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Olympus E-PL8. 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

Flash

The Olympus E-PL8 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-PL8 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-PL8 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.jpg
 

Red-eye Reduction

flash_redeye.jpg

Night

The Olympus E-PL8 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 1/160th second at ISO 200.

Night

night.jpg

Art Filters

The Olympus E-PL8 offers an extensive range so-called ‘art filters’, which allow you to quickly apply an artistic effect to a photo before taking it. Art filters are easily accessible via a dedicated setting on the mode dial on the front of the camera.

ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64
   
ISO 64 ISO 64