The Olympus PEN-F marries classic compact camera design with modern smarts

Latest compact system camera has throwback appeal, but is plenty capable

Olympus' PEN line has provided the cameras of choice for anyone who wants a sleek, old-school design with impressive modern capabilities, and the company's newly revealed PEN-F is its most powerful option to date.

While previous PEN options have echoed decades-old Olympus offerings, the PEN-F absolutely nails the classic aesthetic, with a compact, boxy shape that has no visible screws and hearkens back to the days of film. It's made of milled aluminum, and even has a dial on the front, which is used to swap between four creative functions (like monochrome or the art filter).

Olympus says the PEN-F is the best-equipped model to date, maintaining the Micro Four Thirds format while featuring the optical tech from the higher-end OM-D cameras. It has a 20-megapixel Live MOS sensor without a passthrough filter, and can combine eight shots to create a super high-resolution 50-megapixel image, as well.

Continuing the retro theme, the PEN-F is also the first of the line to offer rangefinder-like shooting thanks to the electronic viewfinder, with focus assistance and image magnification available on the 2.36 million-dot resolution display. And the larger, adjustable LCD screen on the back is available for less traditional shot attempts, of course.

The PEN-F can also do 4K time-lapse photography, but not 4K video, plus it can grab 10 photos per second in sequential shots. Expect Wi-Fi sharing and remote usage via the mobile app, as well. There is one drawback to the design, however: it's not weather or dustproof, which means you might not want to brave the elements after shelling out for this one.

Eager to wrap your paws around this compact system throwback? It'll be available from the end of February at a price of US$1,200 for the body alone (in black or silver).