Olympus E-PL6 converted to full spectrum  

After my Olympus E-PM2 converted to full spectrum was stolen, I replaced it in 2017 with an E-PL6. Also this camera was converted to full-spectrum by eBay seller eeassa, by replacing its built-in anti-aliasing, UV- and IR-cut filter and piezoelectric dust shaker with a silica glass window transparent to NUV, VIS and NIR across the whole wavelength range that can be recorded by this camera's sensor.

The E-PL series was meant as a cheaper consumer camera than the E-PM2 series. The E-PL6 was announced in 2013 and distributed only in certain markets, while the E-PL5 remained the most recent E-PL model available in other markets. Like the E-PL5 and E-PL7, the E-PL6 has a 16 Mpixel sensor and sensor-based image stabilization. The E-PL5/E-PL6 was replaced in 2017 by the E-PL7, which added WiFi connectivity and improved image stabilization and anti-shutter shock, but had essentially the same image quality.

The E-PL9 is the current model in this series, and still uses the same 16 Mpixel resolution, the same 3" LCD screen size, and largely the same placement of controls. However, it no longer has an accessory port to mount an electronic viewfinder on the flash shoe. Olympus must have decided that mobile phone users are no longer interested in eye-level viewfinders and are more familiar with framing and composing on an LCD screen, or perhaps the separately sold electronic viewfinder was not sufficiently popular with customers to justify the extra cost of the proprietary connector.

General E-PL6 characteristics

Olympus E-PL6 Olympus E-PL6
Full-spectrum E-PL6 with Sigma 19 mm f/2.8 and Baader U filter.

The E-PL6 is a consumer-level small Micro 4/3 camera, lacking an eye-level viewfinder (although an optional viewfinder, now discontinued, could be mounted on the proprietary flash hotshoe) as well as built-in flash. The rear LCD screen is large and tiltable. The grip for the fingers of the right hand is obviously too small for a normal-sized male hand, but third-party grips are still available on eBay. The number of controls is small, with most functions accessed through a rotary dial that also works as a quadruple arrow button with OK center button. With respect to the E-PM2, this camera has two additional, programmable buttons along the top of the rear side, which increase its versatility.

The camera is so small, and the tripod socket (offset from the typical position underneath the lens) so close to the battery door, that most Arca-compatible plates are too large to fit at its bottom without blocking the battery door, and a right-hand grip with integral Arca plate contoured to specifically fit the E-PL series is a better choice.

The camera is turned on and off by pressing a small flush button at the right of the shutter release. A blue LED at the top of this button indicates the power status.

The conversion

Olympus E-PL6 conversion
Replaced window in front of sensor.

The conversion was done in the same way as my earlier E-PM2, with the replacement window of this E-PL6 apparently separated from the sensor front window by strips of double adhesive tape along the edges, then sealed around its edge with silicone. The window shape is slightly trapezoidal, rather than rectangular, and there is a probable chipping of the window's edge along its lower right side. There are also large air bubbles and some dirt between tape and glass, and a gap between two pieces of tape near the top right corner.

There is a little trapped dust between sensor and replacement window, present since I received the camera, but not enough to be a problem. In spite of the defects mentioned above, the converted camera has survived a couple of years of occasional air travel and vacations in different climates (and even geyser fog and chemical aerosols in Yellowstone National Park) without dust breathing into the space between sensor and window.

Like in the converted E-PM2, switching off the camera causes the image stabilization mechanism to move the sensor in a small circle and to vibrate.

Performance of this camera is very similar to my previous E-PM2 (taking into account that differences in the custom white balance do significantly affect the JPG appearance), and is therefore not discussed here in detail. A recent full-spectrum E-PL model is therefore a fully acceptable substitute for the now discontinued E-PM series.

Summary

The converted camera works as expected. Like my previous commercially converted E-PM2, conversion to full spectrum of this E-PL6 was done in a relatively amateurish way, but without resulting problems and at a reasonable price.



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