If you read my September Favourites post last month you’ll know that I recently treated myself to a new camera – the Olympus PEN E-PL7. Despite it being the blogger camera of the moment, I was very keen to do my homework and not just jump on the bandwagon without thoroughly doing my research first. I always see people tweeting their deliberations over whether to buy an Olympus PEN or not and, whenever I’ve got mine out at an event, I’ve had heaps of questions about it. The one thing I always say is – you know there’s a scheme where you can try before you buy right? And that they give you a £50 discount should you decide to buy one? You didn’t? Well keep on reading!
Unless you’ve got mega bucks to burn, buying a new camera is probably quite a big deal to most. It certainly was to me – I’m not in the habit of blowing £400 on a single purchase, so I wanted to think very carefully about which camera I bought and whether it would be money well spent. I had bought a camera a couple of years ago but I barely used it as, although it sounded great on paper, it didn’t actually serve my needs and was too big and bulky to be carried around anywhere. Unfortunately of course I didn’t figure this out until I’d opened up the box, given it a go and then it was too late to return it. Determined that my next camera would be one I would actually want to use and not end up being a huge waste of my hard earned cash, I read endless reviews and watched countless YouTube videos of people talking about and demonstrating their new cameras. It gave me a good idea and a couple of cameras clearly stood out to me as strong contenders, one of which was the Olympus PEN E-PL7.
|Here are some of the photos I took during my weekend borrowing the Olympus PEN E-PL7|
Now I’m sure everyone and their aunt’s gerbil have heard about the PEN – it seems to be the camera of the moment, especially in the blogging world, due to its oh so instagrammable white and cream body, retro good looks, and the fact it has a flip screen which allows you to take the perfect selfie. Certainly all the big professional bloggers and YouTubers are singing the praises of the PEN. But, ever the sceptic, many of these are working with Olympus. Whilst I’m sure they wouldn’t endorse a product they didn’t truly believe in, I wanted to seek some totally unbiased opinions too and make my own mind up. After tweeting such a quandary, Olympus tweeted me back to let me know about their Test and Wow Scheme. What wizardry is this I thought?! And why does no one else seem to know about it?!
(and FYI – I guess here’s a good time to point out I’m not being sponsored to write this post either – I was just super thrilled with the service and my new camera, and think EVERYBODY should give it a go!)
Basically Test and Wow is a scheme officially run by Olympus which allows you to try out a selection of their cameras and lenses FOR FREE! The idea being that you’ll test it out and – wow! – you’ll be swayed to make the purchase by having experienced the greatness of the camera first hand. But there is no obligation to buy, so no pressure if it doesn’t live up to your expectations or you simply want to buy it another time or at another place. However if you do take part in the Test and Wow scheme you are given a £50 cash back voucher off the price of your Olympus purchase. Good eh?!
There is a slight catch in that the Olympus PEN is only available for collection at Park Cameras in London, so if you’re not based in the capital (oh how Hunger Games!) it might not be too convenient for you. But you do get to have three days with your borrowed kit – the day you pick it up, the next full 24 hours and the day you drop it off. So if you are down in London, even for a night, it could be worth signing up to give it a go. After all, it’s free!
It’s super simple to sign up to the scheme – just go online to the Test and Wow website, enter your details and book your time slot. My tip would be to pick it up on a Friday as it should technically be taken back on Sunday (you get one full day between your pick up and drop off days) but the scheme doesn’t count Sundays so you don’t have to take it back until Monday, giving you more time to play and explore. The same goes for bank holidays too, so you get even more time to play! You hand over photocopies of your ID and proof of address, and sign up with your credit / debit card details (to prevent you from running off with the camera – don’t worry though, nothing gets charged as long as it comes back on time and all in one piece!) In return I received a full starter kit of everything I’d get had I just bought the camera myself, as well as a carry case to keep it all together in. Make sure you take your own memory card as you don’t get to borrow one of these and the camera won’t take any pics without an SD card.
I made a list of things I knew I wanted from my new camera and made sure to check that the PEN was up to all these jobs whilst I borrowed it. I also made sure I took a variety of photo types with it – product photos, out and about pictures and of course some selfies – everything I as a blogger cover. I also made sure to go for a long walk and wore the camera round my neck and in my handbag to check it wasn’t too big and heavy for me. I’ve put a selection of the photos I took over the weekend here. It gave me a fantastic idea of what I could achieve with the camera and gave me the opportunity to have a go without realising too late it may not be what I was after. I was so impressed with its capabilities and found it really easy to use and navigate. Many reviews I’d read claimed the menus were hard to get used to but I picked the navigation up pretty quickly, which was fab as I could cross this firmly off my potential “cons” list.
After borrowing the camera I was absolutely convinced that the PEN was the camera for me. Whilst on paper the Sony Alpha a5100 seems fairly similar and is quite a lot cheaper, it was a wonderful comfort and reassurance to me having actually had the opportunity to try before I buy, that the PEN was a good purchase. I could have gone for the Sony and found it not as good as the Olympus. Of course I could have found it better, but without a similar scheme available for the Sony I felt confident in purchasing the Olympus. Seriously, all manufacturers need to operate a Test and Wow Scheme!
A few weeks later after payday I went back to Park Cameras and bought my own Olympus PEN. The camera was on sale for £409 for the basic kit with pancake lens (which is what I’d trialled and knew I wanted for its smaller size than the other kit lens option). Again the staff were super friendly and helpful and showed me how to go online and claim my £50 cash back using the voucher which they gave me because I’d taken part in the Test and Wow scheme a few weeks before. With the £50 cash back voucher it came to £359 which is the best deal I’ve seen around, even better than the 25% discount offer some professional bloggers were offering through their affiliation with Olympus.
I’ve been absolutely thrilled with my PEN and am so glad I bought it. I really recommend giving the scheme a go if you can – it’s such a great way of making sure you’re as informed as you can be before buying a new camera and it definitely gives Olympus the edge by giving customers that freedom and piece of mind. I’ll definitely be using it again to try out new lenses before I extend my photography kit.
Did you know about the Test and Wow Scheme?