I’ve already discussed the aesthetic advantages of having the EVF built into the camera, but this is such a big advantage it’s worth restating. It’s so much more elegant than having a huge ugly plastic VF-4 sitting atop the flash hot shoe on the Olympus E-P5 camera that precedes the Pen-F.
The primary benefit of the VF-4 is that it has greater magnification and presents an image that’s noticeably larger. (A secondary benefit is that it swivels. And the diopter dial is a little bit easier to use.)
But otherwise, I find that I prefer the Pen-F EVF. The image is clearer and has more accurate colors. It somehow looks more natural and less electronic. I haven’t found the Pen-F EVF any more difficult to use with eyeglasses than the VF-4.
The Pen-F has improved live-view display options over what was available on previous Olympus cameras. The E-P5 can only display one of the following features at a time: shadows & highlights, histogram, or level indicators. With the Pen-F, you can display all three at once if you want to!
Shadows & Highlights is a display mode unique to Olympus cameras, which causes highlights (that would be blown out in the JPEG) to display in orange and shadows (that would be black in the JPEG) to display in blue. I always have this feature turned on, and it’s one of the main reasons I could never go back to using a DSLR. This mode allows you to expose to the right (thus minimizing noise) without blowing out any highlights. Even when ISO is set to “Low” (which I recommend whenever you have the time to carefully adjust your exposure), you can have a little bit of orange and still recover the highlights in Adobe Camera Raw.
Most (but not all) other brands of mirrorless cameras now have zebra patterns, which are supposed to do the same thing as the orange highlight indicators on Olympus cameras, and in fact they may offer more customization over when the zebra patterns are displayed. However, I have not personally used any camera which offers zebra patterns. As far as I know, only Olympus has shadow indicators.
Another new feature of the Pen-F which wasn’t available with the E-P5 is that you can set the viewfinder display so that various indicators such as f-stop, shutter speed, exposure compensation, etc., move to a bar below the image. This makes it easier to compose the photo because those indicators are no longer blocking your view of the bottom of the image. It also makes the viewfinder more SLR-like.
In conclusion, the EVF and the live-view display options on the Pen-F are a big improvement over earlier-model Olympus cameras.
* * *
Read my previous Pen-F post: Pen-F review, part 2, buttons and dials out the wazoo