Image quality. On the PEN-F we see a moderate increase from 16 Mpx to 20 Mpx. That’s not bad, but most competitors made the jump from 16 to 24. If we take the smaller sensor area into account, we can expect that all current cameras of about the same price segment have about the same pixel sizes with about the same per-pixel quality. I can’t verify my expectation, but the fact, that most of the sensors involved originate with Sony, supports my expectation. Obviously different sensor sizes make for a difference in resolution.
When working with images, I frequently look at them on pixel level. The higher the resolution, the smaller the part of the image that I see, but while I am at pixel level, resolution is not a criterion for image quality. Noise is one. I know how it looks like on pixel level. I know how it looked on the D200, D300, the LX5, E-P2, OMD E-M5 and finally on the twins OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5.
There was a distinct quality gain from the D200 up to the D300. There was an even bigger step back to the LX5. The E-P2 was worse than the D300 and maybe about equal to the D200. The OMD E-M5 was a big step over the E-P2 and it also surpassed the D300. The last two didn’t make much of a difference, their advantages were elsewhere.
The PEN-F? Maybe slightly better on pixel level, but it is close. Therefore the relevant difference is again the number of pixels.
Does it count? My logic would say no (or only slightly), but working with the pictures, I’d say the difference is significant. I try to frame precisely, but I still find myself cropping or rotating or skewing. Doing so, I always have to sacrifice a few pixels, and having more of them to begin with, definitely helps.
Is it worth the few annoyances? Yes, I think so. At least I wouldn’t want to go back. The PEN-F is it, and if I find enough common sense, I’ll put the E-P5 up for sale within the next days 🙂
Is it worth the money? Do I recommend you sell your E-P5 + VF-4? That’s a tough question. As a recommendation, I’d say no. At least you should try to look through the PEN-F’s viewfinder first.
And what if you have only the E-P5 without VF-4? Well, I’d probably still recommend buying a used VF-4.
And if all that is like I said it is, why, you ask me, did I buy the PEN-F at all? Good question, I’d say. I suppose it was mostly for the looks and because I could afford it. It also was for the integrated viewfinder, a feature that I like, but if I think of why I like it, it’s probably also mostly for the looks.
Interestingly enough, the most useful feature of this camera over its predecessors is the dedicated exposure compensation wheel. And I guess that’s it.