Review: The OIympus PEN E-P5 (updated)

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Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D’s sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also about high time for the E-P3 to be refreshed, too. They’ve taken a bit longer over this one; in fact, the new E-P5 has so much of the OM-D’s technology (and a few other things) that picking one over the other is no longer such an easy decision.

Updated 18 June: I’ve had the chance to shoot with a final production E-P5 and VF-4, and have added conclusions on image quality below. The camera looks and feels physically identical to the earlier prototype I tested. In the intervening time, an update to Adobe Camera Raw has also been released that natively supports the E-P5, so I’ve had the ability to evaluate RAW file quality on a comparable basis to the OM-D.

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I’ve had a prototype to evaluate for a few days now, thanks to the folks at Olympus Malaysia. The usual caveats apply: this is a preproduction but near-final unit. Due to lack of raw support, and because I was curious to see what the output would be like, and to address past criticisms that my processing masks the camera’s capabilities, these are almost entirely out-of-camera JPEGs. There are some minor corrections on a few images (some straightening, local dodging etc.); most have nothing done to them at all other than resizing and adding watermarks. B&W images were converted from color. I believe it is a first for me, actually. Images were shot with a mix of the 75/1.8 and 14-42 X Pancake.

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Aside from the refreshed design, which really recalls the PENs of old – especially in the very fetching chrome/black – one thing that Olympus did get very right with this iteration is the build-feel. Frequent readers will know that haptics and tactility are a very important consideration in picking a cameras now; especially given that image quality sufficiency is pretty much there, irrespective of what you buy. It’s a handsome camera that doesn’t let you down when you pick it up; it’s solid, almost all metal, and interestingly, there aren’t any screws on the top, front, back or sides. Even the buttons have a good amount of travel and a solid click point; this is something very noticeably lacking from the top two buttons on the OM-D (play and Fn). The command dials have moved to a much more sensible position, too – they mirror the OM-D’s position, being under the shutter and on the back. There’s also a two-position switch on the back that lets you use the command dials to quickly set ISO and WB – somewhat reminiscent of the Sony nav system – unfortunately you don’t get a lot of choices as to the functions of those dials; full customization would have been nice. There’s one exception, though – the mode dial should be a LOT stiffer. It’s far too easy to move by accident.

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The E-P5 inherits the OM-D’s 16MP Sony CMOS sensor, again with no anti-aliasing filter, and now a low-ISO 100-equivalent option, too. Coupled with the new 1/8000s, 9fps shutter unit, we’ve now got a lot more flexibility to shoot wide open – given the relatively little depth of field control M4/3 affords compared to full frame, this is noteworthy. I personally have come up against exposure limits at 1/4000s and ISO 200 (base) many times with the OM-D while trying to shoot wide open for a cinematic look. More interestingly, Olympus have also managed to stuff the OM-D’s 5-axis gyro stabilizer system into the E-P5, which now also incorporates automatic panning detection. Readers of my previous reviews of the E-PL5 and E-PM1 will know that I was not a fan of their IBIS systems, which just as often caused double images as much as preventing them. I’m pleased to report that the E-P5’s system is every bit as effective as the one in my OM-D, which is to say, the best in the business. Unlike with the previous cameras, I’ll be leaving IBIS on.

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What you’ll all be waiting to hear is that Olympus finally has focus peaking. However, it seems that the view is applied as an art filter preview, which means that the frame rate of the display drops a bit, and I haven’t been able to make it work in conjunction with magnification and IBIS – I’m not sure it can, actually. But the good news is that with the new 1.2m-dot LCD or 2.4m-dot EVF (new VF-4), it works well enough and the pixels are fine enough that you don’t really need magnification; it also switches a lot faster than the OM-D and gains an eye-sensor over the previous add-on EVFs. A smoother frame rate for peaking would definitely be nice, though. As for the new EVF, the view is pretty darned huge; it delivers a magnification equivalent to 0.74x for a full frame 35mm camera. It’s roughly as big as the viewfinder of my D800E, for comparison. The difference is especially obvious when you go back to using the OM-D, which has the older EVF and LCD – both appear just a little small and coarse by comparison. I was told that the new EVF will be back-compatible with earlier cameras with a firmware upgrade, and replaces the VF-2; perhaps M 240 users might want to give it a try.

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Aside from that, there are the now almost-obligatory software improvements. The E-P5 also has a 5fps C-AF tracking rate (though honestly, I still don’t think any CDAF camera’s tracking system is anywhere close to a PDAF one for reliability) as opposed to 4fps on the OM-D, bulb mode with live preview and live histogram, and a timelapse movie mode. There’s also integrated wifi – it’s aimed primarily at the social media types (requires an app to work) – it’s responsive, fast, and offers live view, too. Personally, not my cup of tea; I’m still waiting for tethered shooting to a PC and transfer of RAW files, not just JPEGs. Hopefully, this is firmware-update material. Finally, there are also black versions of the 17mm, 45mm and 75mm lenses – this time, without the same premium the 12mm version attracted. They’ll be regular production runs and the same price as the silver versions. I’m also pleased to report that the 75mm (finally) has a new center-pinch lens cap that can be used hood on, or off – similar to the Nikon types.

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The actual shooting experience was a rather pleasant one – the E-P5 feels somewhere in between the OM-D and smaller PENs in terms of controls, and if you used the VF-4, then the experience is really not that different at all to the OM-D. The rear (touch) screen even tilts, though this is very well hidden via a thin bezel and recessed hinge – it will do the same movements as the OM-D. Unlike the OM-D, however, if the LCD is not in its recessed position, the EVF’s eye sensor is deactivated – which is fantastic news as it means you don’t have to hold it far away from your body to shoot at waist level. The power switch also falls much more conveniently to hand – it’s easy to activate with your shutter finger.

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Personally, I thought build quality and tactile feel were both better than the OM-D, but curiously weather sealing was omitted. And like every other Olympus including the OM-D, those darn strap lugs are still in a silly position – I can only come to the conclusion that it’s a deliberately masochistic design, or there’s somebody at HQ who really, really likes them; given the attention to detail paid to every other aspect of the camera, it’s inexplicable. Aside from that: I liked the way it felt enough that I’d seriously have a tough time deciding between this and the OM-D on that basis alone, seeing as (aside from the built-in EVF) – the E-P5 is actually of higher spec, and it’s a little smaller, too. They both use the same batteries, and in my use, delivered comparable battery life with wifi off – I consistently managed north of 500 shots per charge with wifi off, and a full battery gauge remaining.

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It would be unfair to form any firm conclusions on image quality for the moment – partly because I’m told what I have is not quite final and there will be some tweaks to sensor output, and partly because there’s no RAW support yet, so all I can see are the JPEGs. However, what I can see suggests that everything will be in line with the (high) expectations we have for that sensor, given the excellent output of the OM-D, E-PL5 and E-PM2. I have no reason to believe otherwise from the JPEG output I’ve been evaluating, which is excellent; for the curious, I used a modified Natural setting for these images, with +1 sharpening, -2 contrast, -1 saturation and auto gradation. In fact, considering the extreme dynamic range the camera had to deal with under our tropical midday sun, I’m very, very impressed with the Olympus JPEG engine – I’ll have to do more testing on this with my OM-D in future…

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Update (18 June 2013): I’ve now had the opportunity to shoot with a final production E-P5 for the last week; there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference between the E-P5, E-PL5 and OM-D – at least as far as raw files via ACR go – colour rendition, dynamic range and noise properties all appear to be nearly identical. For those of you not familiar with the output of these cameras, we’re basically dealing with very crisp (at the pixel level) output, weak-anti-aliasing filters, and very pleasing color; usable dynamic range at base ISO is on the order of 11-12 stops, perhaps a little more with careful exposure and manipulation of the raw file. (Note that the E-P5 has a ‘pull’ ISO 100 mode; this has slightly less – about half a stop – dynamic range than ISO 200, because it’s not a native ISO.) The camera delivers clean output up to ISO 1600 or thereabouts; there’s some fine noise, but it’s mostly high frequency, luminance-0nly and quite filmic. ISO 3200 is usable with a little noise reduction, and I’m okay with ISO 6400 under certain lighting conditions and some post processing. This is excellent performance for a sensor of this size.

The E-P5 and E-PL5 appear to have a very slightly weaker anti-aliasing filter than the OM-D, but the difference is so minor (and not always apparent) that I suspect the exact distance of the focusing plane may make a difference, especially with very three-dimensional subjects. The good news is that the E-P5 delivers the same excellent image quality as its siblings, and my initial conclusions don’t change. On the JPEG front, I don’t see any difference between the test images from the earlier final prototype and this final production camera; I still think they’re still a hair better than the OM-D in terms of color and tonality, and possibly the best I’ve straight-from-camera output I’ve seen. If you don’t want to postprocess at all, I highly recommend taking a look at the E-P5 over the OM-D (or any other camera, for that matter).

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I think the way street prices will shake out will mean that the OM-D body will be slightly more expensive than the E-P5 body, but slightly cheaper than the E-P5 plus VF-4. It’s a tricky choice, because unless you really need the EVF all the time, or weather sealing, or the grip, then I think the E-P5 may well be the better buy. It’s both a little more compact and feels nicer in the hand (I personally also think the all-black is a very stealthily handsome camera, but that of course shouldn’t enter into a real photographer’s purchasing decisions), and has additional technology (wifi, peaking, higher resolution LCD) over the OM-D. Actually, paying a little more for the VF-4 isn’t a bad thing either, because the view it presents is noticeably better than the OM-D’s built in EVF. I’m personally very glad that I’m not entering the mirrorless market now, or upgrading from one of the 12MP bodies – all I can say is good luck choosing! MT

A full set with additional sample images is available here on my Flickr stream. Before anybody complains about oversharpening haloes again, it’s Flickr’s downsizing algorithm. The ‘original’ size is NOT oversharpened.

The Olympus E-P5 is available to preorder via Olympus Malaysia, for Malaysian residents. Various kits and bodies are available from Amazon here. Bodies are also available for preorder from B&H in black, silver and white, and the VF-4 is here. The new black lenses are also available to preorder here (you may have to scroll down a little.)

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

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Comments

  1. Nigel Blumenthal says:

    Ming, I’m a very recent convert to M4/3, from a Sony Alpha 500 DSLR. I borrowed an E-PL5 for a day to compare, and it simply knocked the Sony into a cocked hat, so I went out and found a E-PL5. I really wanted the E-P5, but that was too expensive, but there’s one for sale, body only, at a good price and I could afford to swap. The question is, is it worth doing, for the $250-300 that it would cost? (I’d keep the lenses and the VF2 that I have bought for the E-PL5, and use them on the E-P5)

    I also echo others’ sentiments here – the photo samples on this blog are incredible. Makes me feel quite inadequate!

    • It’s worth it for the 5-axis stabilizer. The E-P5 shares the same hardware as the E-M5 and E-M1, and that portion alone is quite a notch up on the E-PL5. But if you’re going to pay that much to upgrade, I’d look a used E-M5 and gain the EVF, too…

      • Nigel Blumenthal says:

        Thanks for the input, Ming. I was really looking at the EP5 for the focus peaking indicator, and because it’s a little smaller; like that form factor (and it has a high WAF too!) If I wanted to go back to the DSLR-type body shape, I’d save hard and probably go for an EM-1.

        Any comments on the VF2 with the EP5? If I hadn’t already bought it, I would think about the VF4, but since I already have it, it seems sensible to use what I’ve got.

  2. calm sea raging undertow says:

    I own an OMD-EM5 or at least did. I would like to get the new Ep5.
    Do you have any opinion or experience with the tales of shutter shock issue or double images created by some with this camera.

    Mucho thanks mate
    Cheers

  3. Thanks for the very detailed review. I am a fan of this blog since about a year.
    I own the E-P5 and some Oly primes since a few weeks now and came a cross the recent review on DPR where the shutter shock issue was pointed out. I am not overly fussed about this shutter issue but a bit concerned. I mean I bought a camera in a premium price segment and paid a fair bit on good lenses to find out that exposures between 1/60 and 1/200 can easily get blurred due to the shutter mechanism.
    This is actually the typical shutter speed used in low light situations and to be honest, I would expect no flaw like this in such an expensive camera. I mean even any low end DSLR without IBIS would produce tack sharp images with e.g. a normal focal length and let’s say 1/100 shutter speed. No camera would fail here but the E-P5 does?? I am a bit disappointed if this is really true… I am about to give up most of my FF gear to move towards a lighter and smaller kit and now this? Would you be able to comment on this hot debate and shed some light on the issue if it is existent? Many thanks.

    • I didn’t find any issues in the camera I tested, and I used 45, 50, 60 and 75mm lenses a lot. This is not to say the issue doesn’t exist, only I didn’t encounter it…

      • Thanks for the quick reply Ming.
        Since this is such a hot topic would you not be interested to investigate this a bit? I mean you are invested in this system as well and might want to know how much is about the issue?

  4. PAUL TIRAJOH says:

    Ming,
    Very excellent review and beautiful pictures.

    I have OMD and 4 prime lenses, shoot in RAW, convert to JPEG using DXO Optics raw converter, and just beginning with B+W. I don’t have Photoshop, and have still difficulties to achieve a good B+W using iPhoto (Apple computer), usually +Yellow and +Magenta.

    What kind of postprocessing would you advice me to get a good B+W ?

    kind regards,
    paul

    • None of the above methods. PS is unfortunately still the only good way because it’s the only software that gives you full control over dodging and burning. As for the how – there’s no simple answer to that either. I cover it in the Intro to PS workflow video though, and in several articles on the site…

    • If I may butt in here for a moment … Ming is right when he says below that PS is the way to do dodge and burn, especially because you can overlay multiple layers for truly subtle and precise adjustments. But if you watch his PP videos (either intro to PS or the B&W stuff on his iPad app), the adjustments he makes are pretty mild and only serves to enhance what is there already. From what I’ve seen, there’s really no heavy handed PP going on.

      This is all to say that what you capture, especially the quality of light and its relation to the shadows in the frame, will affect your B&W quality more than anything else: workflow, camera, lens, etc. What the PP does is just to bring out (subtly) the qualities and relationships you captured in the first place. I have PS, but I’m lazy and often just use the single-layer dodge&burn in Lightroom to finish my B&W pics.

      Anyway, I wanted to offer that as someone who’s in a similar position, and learned how to do digital B&W via Ming’s teaching materials. Hope it helps, and good luck!

      • It looks relatively easy because I only usually make a couple of passes – experience tells you just how much you need :)

        • PAUL TIRAJOH says:

          Ming and Andre,

          Thanks for the explanations.
          In the past I have quite a lot experience with analog B & W, Ilford Delta 400, 30×40 cm print on Ilford paper, but truely no experince in the digital B&W.

          Is there any digital gradual ND filter, or we should perform dodging & burning ?

          paul

  5. Heather says:

    I recently was given the E-PL-5 (twin lens kit) as the E-P-5 was not available. The seller is willing to change it to the E-P-5 17mm/f1.8 V4 EVF when it arrives. I am finding the E-PL-5 IQ quite disappointing (possibly the kit lenses?) and so was going to upgrade but the seller says there will be no difference in IQ, whereas Oly say there will be a considerable difference. As someone who has reviewed both cameras, do you have an opinion please?

    • The E-P5 and E-PL5 use the same sensor. The kit lenses aren’t fantastic at all; big difference to the primes – and even then the 17/1.8 isn’t the best of them, either. You need to determine if it’s the sensor performance (noise, dynamic range, color) or the lens performance (sharpness, CA, microcontrast etc) you’re not happy with…

      • Heather says:

        Thank you. Your reviews are extremely helpful and your photos are fabulous. Funny that Olympus AU told me that the sensor was superior in the E-P5…I’d probably have to point the finger at the lenses then.

  6. I have both the E-P3 (with the large optional grip) and the E-P5. In comparison, the grip on the E-P5 is small and uncomfortable. Your experience?

  7. Hi, can i know the difference between the olympus ep5 and epl5? i’m newbie at photography and am wanting to get my first camera so i am not too sure what the differences are. can you tell me please? and which one would you recommend for me? i am a fashion student so i will mainly be using it for school, shooting street style, fashion shows/events etc. thanks! please get back to me!

    • Price, stabilizer, number of external controls. If you’re going to buy the E-P5, I’d go for the OM-D instead; price is about the same and you get an EVF built in.

      • How bout between the epl5 and ep5? Which would you recommend? I think there is a pretty big price difference as ep5 is still full retail price if I am not wrong. I prefer the design or the ep5 though :/ thanks again for the help!

        • They’re not that different feature-wise, at least not that you’ll be able to tell at your level of experience. Buy the cheaper one and spend the difference on better lenses.

  8. rwestcott says:

    I am trying to make a choice for small automatic camera and struggling to understand the following: ignoring for a moment EFOV and price, would an EP5+17/1.8 deliver equivalent IQ to the APS-C Ricoh GR, or does the sensor size make a difference? Thanks

  9. rwestcott says:

    The EP5 is very impressive. Yet when you look at the form factor of the Leica M and the size of the lenses, you realise what an astonishing achievement that system is, to give FF capability in a comparable size.

  10. Michael Matthews says:

    A little more, if you will, on the phenomenon of “shimmer” when changing focus — versus use of focus peaking.

    I had not noticed anything of this sort until making the plunge to acquire the ZD 60mm macro (yes, dutifully using your B&H link).
    When fiddling about with the new lens in 1:1 or 1:2 and manually changing focus along the angled surface of some fabric I saw what may be that effect — a sort of highlighting in the center of the very narrow field of critical focus.

    Having only an E-PL1 there was no focus peaking possible, of course.

    Does this happen only with subjects offering high contrast edges? Is harshness or angle of light a factor? Is it limited to the latest lenses with a specific coating? I’ve never encountered it with other lenses or on soft, evenly-lit subjects.

    Thank you again for content which makes it worth returning to read comments months after the topic’s first appearance.

    • Thanks for your support :)

      You need to turn sharpening up to maximum to see the ‘shimmer’ – it’s basically a sharpening halo around in-focus edges. This will NOT affect the raw file but it WILL affect the JPEG. If you use focus peaking, for whatever reason, the frame rate drops (even on the E-P5). It’s definitely better with high contrast edges and strongly directional light, but to some extent will be visible on all edges.

      • Michael Matthews says:

        Thank you, Ming.

        Perhaps I can program one of the many configurable buttons on the camera to serve as a maximum sharpness toggle. If the shimmer turns out to be of any value, having it available briefly on-demand could be helpful.

        • I think you can do a shortcut to picture styles (or whatever they’re called) but not to adjust sharpness specifically. You could just have one of them toggle point magnification – I have that as a backup.

  11. Ming – the richness and depth of your previous set of 50Lux + OMD Chinatown images were enough to convert me to make a switch to the m43 system (along with your 75mm 1.8 review). I will be waiting a month or two before the E-P5 shows up locally and would like to know how what you think about the balance and ergonomics of the 50Lux + E-P5 + VF4.

    • It’s not so different to the OM-D and 50 Lux. I just prefer to have my EVF built in – one less thing to lose and it doesn’t block the hotshoe. Hope you can use my referral links for your order! :)

  12. Daniel Mercier says:

    Ming, that was very helpful!

    Again, my sincere gratitude,

    Daniel (aka ‘Marathonianbull’)

  13. Daniel Mercier says:

    Hi, Master Ming (that sounds pretty cinematic, doesn’t it?)

    Thanks a lot for this excellent review, as well as for all others including one pertaining to the intriguing albeit costly “Ultimate Travel Camera” namely the Leica X Vario!

    I am pretty much decided now, bull charge towards the E-P5! One little hurdle before committing myself to purchasing, though… I already own a silver m.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8 AND a somewhat decent “VF-2″; would you then, in spite of this, still recommand the whole awesome trio (including said VF-4) or the sexy naked E-P5 body only?

    Daniel

    • Not sure I deserve the master bit, but no problem! If you’re going to get the E-P5 with EVF, I’d look at the OM-D – it’s smaller and cheaper than E-P5 with VF4 attached. Whether you need the EVF or not is down to the way you shoot – are you a waist level, arms’ length or eye level shooter?

      • Daniel Mercier says:

        In French, lawyers are often unduly called “Master”; it wears off quickly, so let me tell you to simply enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts!

        I’m an eye-level shooter, mostly. Or dare I say, a pentaprism OVF lover (second major reason for getting an E-5 from FT Land, the first being the exclusivity of the almighty Zuiko 12-60mm superhero & its faithful 50mm Macro sidekick!) In this regard, could perhaps the VF-4 at last turn out to be a truly more-than-decent (more-than-“VF-2″) substitute or not quite yet?

        As for my biggest everlasting photomania/photophobia – color accuracy obtained from OOC JPEGs taken under various lighting conditions (you know.. what Olympus is rather quite famous for, and therefore my third major reason for getting into that system), would you according to the very privileged experience that you’ve amassed so far be able to really place the E-P5 in a category of its own versus the rest of the Olympus family?

        Thank you so much in advance, Ming, for sharing your personal feelings about these two quandaries of mine!

        • Haha, we have a similar name for lawyers…but I’m pretty sure it isn’t meant in a complimentary way.

          The VF4 is much better than the VF2 in magnification, detail and eye relief; you can judge manual focus accurately with the VF4, but with the VF2 you must use magnification. The E-P5’s jpegs are better but not leagues ahead of the OM-D/E-PL5/E-PM2. How you set up the camera will make more of a difference.

      • Paul Thor says:

        Ah yes, but if you get the kit (Olympus EP-5, 17mm 1.8, and the VF-4 viewfinder), the viewfinder nets out as free!

        • That’s true – I’m personally not a huge fan of the 17/1.8 though. Fast to focus but the corners suffer from CA and aren’t as sharp as the 20/1.7.

  14. rwestcott says:

    Ming, you wished us luck making a mirrorless choice. Can I ask then why you chose the GR over the EP5? Was it even better IQ or another reason such as compactness. Does seem that you rate the Oly IQ very highly. Hard to understand whether the qualifier is “for MFT sensor size” or in absolute terms. An EP5 and pancake would be larger than the GR of course (most cameras are!) but still pocketable, in return for multiple lens choices and high grade EVF add-ons. Choices, choices!

  15. rparmar says:

    Your photos simply out-do other reviewers. They get mediocre shots from every camera. You produce excellence that encourages me to purchase the camera.

  16. I heard the E-P5 is delayed due to the 5-axis stabilization. On one the dpreivew forums they mentioned you had an issue with it? is this true?

    • If I had an issue I’d have noted it in the review. DPR forums are full of bad information :)

      Short answer: no, I found it to be as good as the OM-D.

  17. “What you’ll all be waiting to hear is that Olympus finally has focus peaking. However, it seems that the view is applied as an art filter preview, which means that the frame rate of the display drops a bit, and I haven’t been able to make it work in conjunction with magnification and IBIS – I’m not sure it can, actually.”

    Sounds like they blew it again. Is focus peaking available in video mode, too? I’ve read in one source that it is not, but didn’t find any more information on that. It sounds absurd, but considering it’s Olympus we’re talking about here, I wouldn’t put it out of the question. I still *love* my OMD, but the firmware is so horrible that my next camera is probably going to be a Panasonic. Unless Olympus includes Android in the meantime; then we’d be able to freely use Olympus hardware without being tortured by their software.

    Another thing – you’re writing the new EVF is so sharp focus peaking wouldn’t be that necessary anymore. On my OMD I need focus peaking (read: that comic look art filter) or the magnification to really focus precisely. But when in video mode, I’m forced to focus “nakedly”. And without being able to magnify and without the visual aid of focus peaking, I have to squint my eyes badly to be able to make out where the focus lies exactly. After some time that really hurts my eyes. Even if the image was sharper, I’m skeptical of being able to focus precisely at that size. So do you think the slightly bigger EVF for the EP5 really makes all the difference (I think it’s 0.74x versus 0.7x in 35mm)? Like you, I’m wearing glasses; do you keep them on when looking thru the EVF?

    • Not sure, it wasn’t something I looked for. I suspect not as it would affect the frame rate too much – refresh rate seems to drop a bit when you enable peaking. Honestly I found that I preferred to skip peaking, turn the sharpening up, and just look for the ‘shimmer’ that happens when you transit the focus point.

      As for the new EVF, it’s not the size – though that helps – it’s the large increase in resolution. Yes, I keep my glasses on; not a problem.

      • Hi,

        Just to note that focus peaking does indeed work in magnified view, as can be seen in part 7 of dpr’s e-p5 review (and I’ve recently confirmed on my own just-bought e-p5.) The impact to the frame rate is noticeable, as you say.

        But hey! While I’m here, it’s worth congratulating you on your remarkable industry and generosity in making the wealth of informed opinion and objective fact constituting this website available to all, and in such nicely designed and usable form! It should also be mentioned that few, if any, online camera reviews are graced with such consistently great sample shots, certainly none that I’m aware of. Thanks for all the work!

  18. Great write up (as always!) and very interesting product from Olympus, my only negative point about the new E-P5 is the fact that you can not use EVF and a remote radio flash trigger (for example my Skyport for Elinchrom) at the same time. This is sad IMHO, or is there any solution to that? (No, triggering my studio flash with the onboard camera would be not a solution, since I want to use the Elinchrom Quadras outdoors and remote triggering via Flashs might not be reliable in full sun light…).
    I know there is the OM-D for these kinds of scenarios, but I have the fear that Oly at some point in the future only offers cameras like the E-P5…
    Any advice? I really would like to replace my existing DSLR gear and move over to Oly for the “studio jobs” and use the Leica for pleasure, street, whatever…
    Any ideas? Recommendations?
    Thanks in advance, all the best and I hope you will be able to keep up the great work!

    • I’d use the OM-D for studio work if you need a flash trigger, but a bigger question is might you not be better served by a DSLR? Then again if you’re operating on a tripod, the EVF is not really required anyway since live view yields more accurate focusing and easier framing anyway.

      • You are certainly right for pure “Studio” indoor work, but I am trying (learning) to do more and more portraits outdoors with flash/ strobist style, and I prefer to use the camera “free” not bound to a tripod when working/ communicating with the subjects (i.e. humans).

        • That makes sense. If its outdoor semi-controlled work you’re after, maybe one of the leaf shutter cameras like the Sigma DPs might work better – the higher sync speed would be incredibly useful, I think. Of course no EVF there either…

  19. Michael Matthews says:

    Thanks, Ming. Assuming the improved qualities of the VF-4 this looks like the one. Unless Olympus blows it out of the water with the next iteration of the OM-D later this year. Suffering from Last Camera Syndrome here.

    • Haha, there’s no such thing as last camera – but I admire your determination :)

      The OM-D replacement is nothing but speculation at the moment. Think of pictures now vs. waiting vs. not quite getting what you want in the end. In any case, I’d base that decision on whether you need a built in EVF or better JPEG output more…

  20. Any improvements on shutter sound/noise?

  21. Ming,

    On your review of the EPL5 you mentioned the shutter was not optimal, hard to press with too short a distance between half press and full.
    How is it with this EP5 ?
    Something else, have you thried this cam with M lenses ? Would be nice to get some pictures with a Summicron 35 or 50 for example.
    Thanks

    • It’s a bit better and definitely less prone to accidental presses, but travel is still not as ‘deep’ as the OM-D.

      M lenses wider than 50mm do not work well on M4/3. I’ve used the OM-D with the 50/1.4 ASPH here.

  22. Jae Yoon says:

    Something I noticed from doing pixel level comparisons on the popular review sites is that the OM-D produces slightly sharper files than the E-PL5 and E-PM2. I hope the E-P5 produces the same level of files as the OM-D.

    You can see the discussion here

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1218920/

    • I feel the same way, I have OMD and EPM2, I see EPM2’s file is less sharper than the OMD.

      • Wow, this is a shocker. I’ve always assumed since they share the same sensor, the IQ would be the same. Besides, DXOlabs seems to publish reports confirming same “sensor quality” but someone on fredmiranda does mention they only look at noise and not per-pixel performance? I’ve been looking for reasons to trade my PL5 in for the EP5, but since I don’t pixel peep, this doesn’t qualify as legit justification to my financial advisor :)

  23. Nice viewfinder :-) Did you make it in the kitchen?

    But seriously… Price-wise, between the kit w/lens and the finder on B&H, would you pick the Oly over the Fuji X100s for a simple carry-around? Same money…

  24. Peter F says:

    I have enjoyed following this review and updates. I’m an OMD user and like reading about the EP5 enhancements as they will likely be included in the next OMD. When you used the final version of the EP5, did you find that the same JPEG adjustments used on the preproduction version were indeed the “right” ones? ( i.e. Natural, sharp +1, Contrast -2, Saturation -1, auto grad)

  25. Gary Breyssem says:

    With the OMD, RAW-photos shot in different aspect the 4:3 can’t be reset to 4:3 aspect in Lightroom. Other cameras as the Canon or Nikon gives this opportunity in Lightroom. Did they change this for the RAWs of the E-P5?

    • No, it appears that it was originally an ACR thing – even though the whole file area is recorded (you can see it during playback). The latest version of ACR fixes this – you get the whole file area, regardless of the crop. Note: I’m using the latest version of DNG converter and CS5.5.

      • Really? I have the latest ACR 8.1 but still don’t see a way to restore the whole file area on the 16:9 cropped OMD RAWs. I have tried converted them to DNG but only the cropped area remains. Maybe I’ve missed a setting somewhere.

        • There doesn’t appear to be any options/ settings – I just shot in 16:9, converted the ORF in DNG converter, and when I opened it in ACR/CS5.5 it came up as a 4:3 file with the whole image.

          • I did some testing on my PL5 and found that LR and ACR respect the original native ratio even if in-camera crops are made. Then I did some digging and found that only camera models released after ACR 7.2 can be corrected directly within LR and ACR. So, for earlier cameras like E-M5, the only option is to convert to DNG and additionally use a plugin called Recover Edge if you’re working with LR. Why doesn’t Adobe extends support to older cameras is beyond me.

  26. Do you know if this has the silent electronic shutter as found in the Lumix GH3, would be great if it has.

    • No it does not.

      • HI Ming,
        I just read the dpreview.com review of the Olympus EP-5 where they didn’t recommend it due to camera shake with mid telephoto (equivalent 100 mm in 35 mm speak) native lens and the inability of the IS to manage. It is not shutter shock related.
        Did u ever encounter this issue when testing? Allegedly they tested with 5 different bodies and all exhibited this problem.

        Not heard or read about this anywhere else!

        regards
        Akkers

  27. Are you sure there is no aa filter on this sensor? Isn’t it just a weak one? Love the review btw great shots

  28. Hi Ming
    Just wanted to ask you as I can’t find this out anywhere else, Does this E-P5 have a SILENT electronic shutter like the Lumix GH3.
    Thanks in advance
    Steve

  29. Dear Ming, thanks for the great review and insight! I am deciding to get an EP5 as soon as possible since i would have to go travel at the end of June. What is the difference between buying it from B&H website and Malaysia Olympus? I don’t mind to pay a little bit more if i can get this baby in time. Sorry for asking non-photography-related question. Cheers!!

  30. Roger V. Abbott says:

    Thanks for the great preview! I found it more informative than any other I have read on the E-P5. Would you say that with the new configuration of buttons and dials, as well as the thumb grip, that the E-P5 is more comfortable to hold than the E-M5 without the landscape grip? How does the E-P5 handle with a larger lens, like the 75mm? I shoot a lot with the 12-35mm Panasonic, and my understanding is that it is roughly the same size and weight as the 75mm Olympus.

    I’m thinking of selling off my EM5 and grip. I love the EM5’s image quality and IBIS, but only use the viewfinder if I have to (i.e., bright sunlight). I never have gotten used to electronic VFs, so the ability to have the VF attached only when you really need it appeals to me. I’m also frustrated by hump on the EM5, the inability to shoot wide open in the sun without a ND filter, and by some of the operational quirks of the EM5 (the inability to assign a myset to the mode dial–e.g., for bracketing). Plus the implementation of the two-position switch on the E-P5 looks very attractive. Finally, I don’t shoot much when it’s raining, so that’s not much of a consideration.

    The only thing keeping me from switching at the moment is the grip…

    • Yes – just make sure you take off those silly strap lug things and use a ‘thin string’ style strap. Handles just fine with larger lenses, I was shooting it with the 75mm and 60mm most of the time.

      Sounds like the E-P5 will work better for your needs.

  31. Thanks for the nice photos.
    Is it correct to say that you are using the 75 mm more and more and you’re loving it.
    I’ve read reviews of the 75. Then you were not yet convinced of the use.

    • I wanted to shoot with it again for the review; I still think the length makes it special purpose, but it does have its uses if you need the 150mm (equivalent) field of view. I was not convinced of its use for conventional street photography because it’s too long; that view hasn’t changed. For cinematic work, it’s still an excellent choice – that hasn’t changed, either. Neither opinion changes the fact that this is an optically excellent lens.

  32. Jason Davidson says:

    Dear Ming

    This is’t meant to be a “nit-picking” comment, it is a genuine enquiry as I am one of those “upgrading from one of the 12MP bodies” (GF1) and really don’t know where to go next… (NEX 7 or OMD or just E-PM2).

    You state in this review that:

    “Readers of my previous reviews of the E-PL5 and E-PM1 will know that I was not a fan of their IBIS systems, which just as often caused double images as much as preventing them.”

    Yet in your review of the E-PL5 you stated that this issue is fixed

    “On the subject of stability, the in-body sensor-shift stailization system is improved over the last generation; I actually turned it off on my Pen Mini because it tended to give odd double images under some conditions. I left it on on the E-PL5, but it’s worth noting that it still isn’t as effective as the 5-axis gyro system in the OM-D.”

    Was this a misprint as far as the E-PL5 is concerned (and by extension the E-PM2) or have your opinions changed on this matter after further review?

    As I say I am not trying to find issues, it’s just that IBIS is appealing to me and may influence any decision I make (despite the fact I seem incapable of making a decision…on my next camera, at least!)

    With many thanks and thank you for your website. I look forward to purchasing your app as soon as I get an iPad!

    Yours

    Jason

    • In summary:

      E-PM1, E-PL3, E-P3: IBIS is useless and tends to cause double images under some circumstances. Better to switch off.

      E-PL5, E-PM2: IBIS is better, doesn’t cause double images, but also doesn’t really give you that much extra shooting envelope.

      E-P5, OM-D: IBIS is significantly better than the other two, better than almost all lens-based systems and good for 3-4 stops as claimed.

  33. I was just thinking of getting the Fujifilm X-E1 as the sooc JPEG, no AA among other things. Tricky choice indeed. Was hoping you’d do a comparison with Fujifilm cameras and Olympus cameras.

    • Almost certainly never going to happen since a) the system is of no interest to me because of the extremely poor raw support and b) nobody seems to want to lend me Fuji gear in Malaysia.

      • bill lew says:

        the raw support has improved since the x-series came out. some say it’s a non issue now.

        but i noticed you don’t have a lovey dovey relationship w/ fuji x- cameras. it’s a shame since they seem to be very good cameras, albeit with some kinks. with another generation or two, i expect them to be one of the top mirrorless around. their pictures already look fantastic.

        it’s too bad. would love to read what you have to say about the x-e or the x-pro.

        • I had a bad experience to begin with, a continuously disappointing one now with Fuji locally, and insufficient interest and time to investigate further. There seem to be plenty of Fuji evangelists out there…

  34. Presuambly, as well, a major disadvantage of this camera is that you cannot use the hot shoe and the EVF at the same time?

  35. Can you look “down” into this viewfinder? Its not clear to me whether you can.

  36. Damn, those colours…

  37. Kevin D says:

    Ming, are you going to do a side by side comparison between this and the OM-D? I know that the features are excruciatingly similar, but I’d like to hear your take on the sort of shooter who might prefer one over the other.

    • No plans to. Short answer: if you don’t need the EVF or weather sealing, get the E-P5; there are some worthwhile improvements like the 1/8000s shutter and better JPEG engine. Otherwise, get the OM-D. The prices aren’t that different…

  38. Timur Born says:

    One question coming to mind: How much bulkier is the E-P5 compared to your E-PM1 (with the pancake)? I suspect this wouldn’t match your criteria for a compact camera?

  39. Peter Boender says:

    “It’s a tricky choice”. This may become even trickier with the announcement of the PEN Lite E-PL6 available from June 2013: http://www.olympus-global.com/en/news/2013a/nr130510epl6e.jsp and http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/05/10/olympus-announces-pen-lite-e-pl6-in-japan. Good luck everyone :-) I’m still contemplating a second m43 body next to my OM-D E-M5, no decision yet…

    • If you already have the OM-D, I say wait until there’s a significant technical improvement otherwise you’re just getting the same sausage in a shorter length…unless you need a second body right now.

      • Peter Boender says:

        On second thought, going through the press releases I don’t think the E-PL6 has a 5-axis IBIS, which makes it a no-go for me. A second body would be very nice in my current setup (I used to do this with my Nikon bodies): wide lens on one body, tele on the other. So I guess I’ll be comparing PEN E-P5 with OM-D E-M5… On the E-P5 I really like the improved IBIS, 100 base ISO and 1/8000th shutter speed, so I’ll probably put the 45mm f/1.8 on that body… Ah, choices…

        • I don’t believe it does either. Only the OM-D and E-P5 have the 5 axis system. Good choices to have – and by the way, the E-P5’s JPEGs seem to be a notch up on the OM-D…

      • Peter Boender says:

        On third thought, all the added features in the new E-P5 will undoubtedly trickle over to a new OM-D series body (E-M6?). Anything through the grape vine about the OM-D line up?

  40. Sorry if I missed it, but the only real drawback (for me at least) with the E-P5 and the EVF would be that I will not be able to trigger my remote (studio) flash in any way. Except with the internal flash triggering the IR receiver, but that is not really an option if I am outside in bright sunlight, I am looking for full radio trigger support. So it looks like that I am still need to get the OM-D if I want to have EVF AND flash trigger via remote.
    Or does the E-P5 offer any additional sync sockets?
    Honestly that is the only thing which olds me a bit off the whole M4/3 thing, I am afraid that at some point Olympus will drop bodies with EVF AND full flash socket support, so in other words leave the OM-D alone, let ist pass out…
    Any thoughts on your end?
    Thanks!

    • I’m not sure we even have full TTL RF trigger support for the OM-D – I might be wrong – in any case, for flash work I use a Nikon with the SU-800; works just fine outdoors, too.

      • Of course you are right, there is no (afaik) ttl support over radio wireless for Olympus (as it is available for Nikon/ Canon via Pocket Wizards and others).
        Year, that is basically my dilemma, i would like to go for Olympus for all my wrk, but it looks like that Nikon is still the way to go for remote flash work…too bad, because to SLR-style camera systems are one too much :-(

        • I suppose the only choice we have is to separate out work from personal shooting – the irony being I complain about system size/ weight and then carry a film Hasselblad on my days off…

  41. Thanks again Ming for a most insightful and useful review.
    Years ago I had an Oly XA1 and I have had a soft spot for Olympus ever since
    I have a birthday coming up. Now if I can plant the same idea with ea of my four daughters and the wife:)
    Cheers

    Tim

  42. … that 60mm F/2.0 macro now looks even better on this new E-P5, as will the other lenses. That really is a handsome camera ….

  43. bill lew says:

    the price of the body for both the om-d and e-p5 is the same price. that is an interesting pricing strategy. and for shooters who prefer an evf, that actually makes the e-p5 a more expensive option.

    considering the price, not sure if there are enough of an upgrade in the e-p5 to warrant an upgrade over the om-d for existing owners.

    for ppl looking to get into m4/3, like myself, the pricing is a bit on the high side for the new pen. better to wait for the price of the om-d to drop.

    • In this part of the world, the OM-D sits between the E-P5 and E-P5 with VF4. I agree that it’s probably too high; it probably also signals that the eventual OM-D replacement is going to be even more expensive. Given the sensor size, Olympus really are running the risk of pricing themselves out of the market here – the OM-D replacement will compete with midrange DSLRs like the D7100, which are now a stop up on high ISO, DR and one notch higher on the resolution scale. And let’s not even talk about AF-C capability.

  44. Timur Born says:

    Thanks for the review!
    One comment: As far as I can tell from experience using “AUTO Gradations” inactivates the “Contrast” setting on the E-M5, and I expect it to be the same on the E-P5. This also makes kind of sense.

    • Might well do. In any case, it seemed to be doing an excellent job – much better than the DRO/ Extended DR/ HDR modes of other cameras, so I just left it there.

      • Timur Born says:

        I mentioned it, because you listed “Contrast -2, Auto Gradation” in your text. So the “Contrast -2″ part likely did nothing. ;-)

        Auto Gradation can be problematic where light and shadow are within close vicinity. That is because automatically pushed shadows can be quite noisy and smeared in comparison, which gets visibly exaggerated being right beside a well lit area. Here is an example I called “auto gradations vs. clip-on flash”:

        http://masters.galleries.dpreview.com.s3.amazonaws.com/1944494.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=14Y3MT0G2J4Y72K3ZXR2&Expires=1368250683&Signature=4q6eMhd2otiyIWhhu7Y5d8Mr5nE%3d

        • Quite possibly so. I tried running low contrast with normal gradation, but in our tropical sun I could have highlights or shadows but not both; that little bit of toe the curve seems to add to the tonal response helps in harsh light (and when you have no raw support because its a prototype, for instance).

          • Timur Born says:

            It’s an absolutely useful function. One just has to be aware of the caveats. If you want even lower contrast you should give the “Portrait” picture mode a try.

            Does the E-P5 not inherit the Shadows and Highlights control of the E-M5, by the way?

            • It did, but being an ingrained raw shooter, I’d never bothered with the jpegs before.

              • Timur Born says:

                I usually use RAW, too, partly to overcome my shortcomings as a photographer, though. ;-)

                The different JPG picture modes comes with different inbuilt contrast settings even if every other setting is the same. Mute is less contrasty (more DR) than Normal, and Portrait is even less contrasty (more DR) than Mute.

                Just noticed that the image link expired. So here is a non expiring one: http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/3262748529/photos/1944494/em5_auto_gradations_vs_clipon_flash

                • Interesting. I’ve been using a mixture of normal and natural. I’ll have to do some more testing to see how much of a difference it makes if you change the gradation…

                  • Timur Born says:

                    You can do a simple test. Set all picture modes to the same settings, including Auto Gradations or Contrast -2. Then enter the Picture mode selection by pressing OK instead of just turning a dial over it. This will get you a full screen image where you can change between Picture modes and see the differences while switching back and forth.

                    In my experience Portrait gives the widest DR, aka lowest contrast of them all. I posted the wrong order earlier, though. Portrait lifts shadows most, then Natural, then Mute. There is no “Normal” on the E-M5, I meant Natural earlier. Sorry for the confusion. Combined with Shadows and Highlights this can help get a better picture of what the dynamic range of a RAW file can be (at the cost of Live View contrast).

                    And if you want even more true to outcome Live View try shooting stills in Video mode (dial). In normal Stills modes (PASM) Live View always auto-exposes the screen to keep things visible, and thus also affects the reliability of histogram/blinkies. In Video mode Live View always shows the real sensor exposure (within JPG confinements) and thus even allows the screen/VF to go clipping black or white. As an added bonus you get a permanent DOF preview for A and M (within Video mode), because Live View constantly uses the chosen aperture/F-number, whereas in Stills modes Live View stays wide open (unless you use a Fn key for DOF preview). Main disadvantage of Video mode stills shooting is that activating IS cuts 5% of all edges in Live View, though not from the final image. At least all of these things apply to the E-M5, so likely to the E-P5, too.

  45. i just noticed your subtle watermark on the pic with the vf-4! well done, but for me, i still like OM-D’s angular styling, and yes, i like the Cadillac CTS more than a BMW ;-)

  46. Thanks for your very informative preview, Ming. One question: Does Olympus still not permit exposure compensation when Auto-ISO is enabled in M mode? Nikon and Pentax/Ricoh (TAv mode) allow this and it would be exceedingly useful for the way I work.

    I’m fairly impressed with the E-P5 based on your preview and others. The new EVF looks excellent, improved EVF/LCD switching is very welcome, 1/8000 shutter and 1/250 sync with external flashes is useful, and the new control layout with 2×2 switch is a step forward (though I agree it should be more configurable). The customizable mode dial and expanded HDR bracketing from the E-PL5 are also included. Every one of these would make a practical difference to my use of the camera. To top it off, the E-P5 is an exceedingly handsome body.

    I’m happy enough with my E-M5 to stick with it for now, but I’d say the E-P5 bodes very well for next OM-D. Hopefully, we’ll see improved focus peaking (including for video) and more capable Wifi shooting in that body.

    • Nope, no way I can see of getting EV comp in manual mode. Of all of these, I think Ricoh/Pentax’s TAv mode is probably the most useful; they still give you full M with fixed ISO at the flick of a dial, but the Nikon M mode doesn’t.

      It appears that flash sync might actually be 1/350s…at least that’s as high as mine goes in M or S with the internal flash.

      • Thanks, Ming.

        Regarding flash, Olympus is doing the same thing here as on the E-M5: they’re offering a higher sync speed with the internal/clip-on flash than with external units. I suspect the internal/clip-on flash must have a very short t.1 time to allow this. I was quite annoyed by the 1/160 sync limit with most external TTL flashes on the E-M5; 1/250 is much more competitive and presumably will come over to the next OM-D with the new shutter.

        • I’ll see if I can get an external flash to check this. The higher sync speed of internal flashes is probably because lower power permits a shorter flash duration.

  47. Rich Kenny says:

    Thanks for the review – nicely done.

    How does your X lens behave on this behave. Any problems with double images that have been noted by others?

  48. Thom Hogan has discussed the issue that Olympus does not recommend that users clean the sensor on their cameras with the multi-axis stabilization. This means a trip to the factory service center when you need cleaning. Do you have any experience with this? Could add a significant cost of ownership.

    • It may well be true as the sensor is suspended rather than fixed. In any case, after 50,000 shots with my OM-D – that must surely be on the high side for any of these cameras – and changing lenses in many dusty places, I’ve never had to clean the sensor…so score one for their SSWF.

  49. Michael Matthews says:

    Fortunately it’s so expensive — given the need for the VF4 in my case — I’ll have to wait well past the production model full review and any bug fixes to buy one.

    I must say, Ming, some of those isolated portrait shots are breathtakingly beautiful. Being JPEGs does them no harm at all for online viewing. I know buying the camera won’t make me capable of that quality, but one can always aspire.

  50. Tom Liles says:

    mingthein.com etched onto the EVF?

    Bravo :)

    I’m quite envious if that’s the case. I have a fantasy about getting a Leica M8.2 and etching “Gretel” onto the top-plate [I want to call the camera Gretel, I mean]. I can’t afford an M8.2 and I doubt I could find a trustworthy etcher, locally—and I shudder to think what Leica’d say if ever it broke and I took it in for servicing…

    But as the song says:

    gotta have a dream to have a dream come true

  51. Sorry, I almost hate to ask, but does it beat the Coolpix A or Ricoh GR in pure IQ? (different types of cameras, of course)

  52. Steve Jones says:

    Out of all the choices we have for new cameras I’m most impressed by the images from the Olympus products every time I see them.
    They stand out. Just LOOK at Ming’s shots here. For a system camera and someone diving into the mirrorless pool for the first time that’s where I’d go. And I did, with no regrets. As far as shooting and haptics go I’ve been most impressed with ( of all things) the Nikon V1 I picked up a few weeks ago.That thing has a menu system that doesn’t get in my way ( LOUD applause! ) and an amazing metering system that gets things right, straight out of the box.Forget the stuff you hear about the small sensor, stop laughing in disbelief and just try one. Go on, I dare you. Even though technically the Olympus products will beat it for serious work, I haven’t been able to put the thing down since I bought it. It’s the ‘feel’ you see. exactly the kind of thing Ming has been writing about.

    • If I can find one cheap enough (since it’d be no more than a curiosity) I’d be keen – but I’m also happy to let the system mature a little first…

      • Steve Jones says:

        I sincerely hope Nikon will let the system mature.But I feel they don’t know where they are going with it. Version 2 seems to be a response to the critics of version 1 and an attempt to appease them. Unfortunately the mini -SLR shaped V2 doesn’t have the same feel as the V1 (which is what i really like about it) and they’ve now decided to put a smaller battery in there.One step forward, two steps back.We’ve all done this dance before.
        E-P5 is seductive ( Quite especially in your photos Ming!!! ) but if I keep a clear head when looking at what it really is, I think the EVF should have been built in there. Adding one on the top deck reminds me that the add on OVFs on my Leicas didn’t take knocks very well and were more difficult to get in and out of a bag in practice without breaking something or scratching the finder glass.. The artificial 100 ISO is somewhat of a disappointment too, but that’s the digital universe at the moment. And knowing Olympus it’ll be a pricey package by the time you’ve added a finder and ( heaven help you! ) a lens hood. But…they get top marks in the styling department from me and look!…they put the on / off switch in a nice place and made lovely black versions of the lenses for those who couldn’t live with silver.

        • Steve Jones says:

          Random thought…I wonder what kind of watch would make a good companion for this camera in the same photograph?

        • Agree on add-on EVFs; my preference is always for built in since I know I’m going to want to use it anyway. Without it, I just don’t bother with the finder at all.

          If you’re on the fence – I say wait. It’s a lot of coin, and choice is very much on the consumer’s side these days. The manufacturers are oging to have to explore more and more niches as the mainstream stuff runs out of traction.

  53. Hello Ming, Looking at your photos, I’m having a hard time believing your camera settings of neutral with the contrast, saturation and sharpening as you have had. The photos are very good with a substantial “pop” to them (micro contrast even ?) but the settings suggest it should result in a slightly duller image.

    Do the images straight out box without any modification to the settings are a bit over the top for you that you have reduced the sharpening and saturation a bit ?

    A bit curious – as I would generally pump up the saturation and sharpness to get the same effect.

    Cheers
    Arpit

    • Agree with you Arpit, I use the E-M5 and without playing with LR I cannot get anywhere near of Ming results under any light or setup conditions, I guess he has the magic touch..

      • I don’t like the way these accusations are going. Try shooting the camera in low contrast under harsh tropical sun, and this is what comes out. To my eyes, the quarter tones aren’t as rich as if I’d worked over a raw file, and the highlight roll off is abrupt. Note: there IS NO RAW support for this camera at the moment anyway, and if you do any extensive tonal work on a jpeg, it just falls apart and starts to posterize.

        It’s also possible that I might just have some skill as a photographer and understand my equipment well enough to be able to get the best results out of it…

    • Simple answer to that: I live in the tropics and the sun was extremely harsh. So, low contrast and auto tone results in more punch than you might expect. I have absolutely no reason to represent otherwise…

      • I can speak for myself only that I didnt meant to accuse or anything – I was simply curious as that your pictures are indeed wonderful LR or no LR. I may have looked up on KR’s site a bit too often with his +7 sharpening and +9 saturation settings for all his pictures which have affected my judgment

        And I will try these settings in harsh sun when I will next have the opportunity as the smog here does not give contrasty scenes.

        Chill Ming – you are indeed a skilled photographer. I was not accusing of anything.

        • None taken, just a little difficult to tell sometimes with text only. I’m definitely not KR nor do I use LR (not enough control over dodge and burn).

          I’d go the opposite way in smog: either high key or low key gradation, +2 contrast, and +1 sharpening. The camera settings have to compliment ambient to maximize tonal range retention.

  54. Thanks for the write-up. It looks like the grip is not interchangeable like on the E-P3?

    The pricing at $1000 body leaves me cold though. When the E-M5 body was announced at the same price it seemed expensive, and that was with a built-in EVF, weather-sealing and when the yen was near an all-time high. Yesterday the yen hit 100 to 1 USD for the first time in four years, or about 25% lower than when the E-M5 was announced.

    • The grip is fixed because that’s where the wifi antenna is hidden.

      Price is definitely stiff…and I don’t see price adjustments on any of the other cameras, either. (Odd how nothing ever gets revised downwards :) I can’t help but think in this case we are definitely paying a premium for design/ materials.

  55. This has got to be Olympus’ best looking digital camera to date. Colour me impressed. I’m a E-M5 user but really think about swapping bodies. Ming, you write:”The E-P5 inherits the OM-D’s 16MP Sony CMOS sensor, again with no anti-aliasing filter, and now a low-ISO 100-equivalent option, too”. Is this confirmed or your finding? AFAIK general consensus (i.e. the internet agreed on) now is that both the E-PL5 and E-M5 actually have an AA filter, albeit a very thin one. Also, does the low-ISO option give you cleaner files?
    Thanks for this great in-depth preview!

    • Agreed; it’s one sexy camera. Not sufficiently sexy or high spec to have me wanting to swap bodies, though.

      The internet is one thing, reliability of the source is another. The text could be clearer – the OM-D has an AA filter, I was told the E-PL5 does not, and neither does the E-P5 – but I will check again.

      Low-ISO option is a compressed DR ‘pull’ setting much like other DSLRs – it’s no cleaner, and dynamic range is compromised slightly. Useful when you need to drag the shutter or shoot wide open in daylight, but optimum image quality is still at 200 (base).

  56. I’m a really big fan of your product shots here. The depth of field and texture captured on the hand grip pulls me in. I’d be curious to know if you are so inclined to share. (It looks and feels similar to the photo you took of the Leica S2 with the Dlux5: If i had to guess, cross lit with a centre fill.)
    In regards to using the VF-4 on the M240; I don’t think it will work. From what I understand, the VF4 will work on older olympus model only after a firmware update. Likewise using VF-4 on the M typ240 will require a similar firmware update – and that is presuming Leica would make such an update. I am hopeful that it will happen, but I’m preparing myself that it wont.

    • Actually these were quick and dirty with a single light but thanks all the same, I shoot product and static objects for a living. The S2 was shot with a ring of about 30 small LED panels – I was mucking about before a teaching session.

      You’re probably right about the new finder and M240 – turns out it doesn’t work on my OM-D, either.

  57. Anthony says:

    It is a pity that Flickr messes up your images by oversharpening on downsampling. Have you thought about moving to another photo sharing site so that we can see them as you intended?

    • Yes, but then I’d have to correct links for 3,000 images in 600 posts. I don’t have the time, frankly. And this never used to be a problem until a few months ago. I’ve removed all post-downsizing export sharpening from my workflow but it doesn’t seem to solve the problem – flickr’s algorithms just seem to be optimised for soft images. (I throw away anything that isn’t critically sharp at 100%).

      • Anthony says:

        Yes, that would be a tough task. Perhaps Flickr is being optimised for less proficient photographers. I do find it a pity, as I really like your work and for quite a while I thought (obviously wrongly) that you were over-sharpening.

        • I have no idea why they changed it, to be honest; output used to be perfect. Now we have a very coarse sharpening alto indeed. I might migrate at some point, but not in the near future. Can’t dial pre-output sharpening lower than zero, unfortunately. Doesn’t look the same if you soften then crudely sharpen…

      • Its not just me then that noticed this kicking in a few months back? I have not posted a few images purely because I hate the way they look on Flickr compared to what I see in LR :(

  58. Have they sorted out video yet to stop te indoor flickering of lights in PAL countries?

    • I think this has more to do with PAL and NTSC frame rates interfering with the power frequencies in these countries, and being a physical limitation, but I’m no expert.

  59. Great preview, as always! Can you please, in your future review, comment or compare EP5 with new 28mm compacts (Ricoh and Nikon)? It would be interesting how they compare to 12 and 17mm lenses, particularly since there is no IBIS in the compacts. Many thanks for great work and inspiring pictures

    • Thanks. Not practical otherwise I’d eventually land up comparing everything to everything…plus the M4/3 system has no lens of equivalent quality to the A and GR’s optics.

      • Thanks for the comment, that is almost enough, if the lenses on 28mm compacts are significantly better than any m43 optics, then for me decision is simple, keep OMD (with 25 and 75mm lenses) and add one of the compacts for wide angle needs instead of getting wide lens for m43 (and upgrading to EP5). Thanks again for the great work.

        • Exactly what I plan to do – one of these plus an OM-D with the Leica 50/1.4 ASPH for cinematics and telephoto perspectives.

          • I love the size and flexibility of the RX100 but in some scenarios the IQ is not good enough. As a hobby photography I’d prefer to stay with one compact unit, but perhaps the only available step-up would be two cameras: the 28mm Nikon A / Ricoh GR and an Olympus m43. I guess no manuf is considering a fixed 90mm compact, to pair with their 28mm compact?

            BTW, I appreciate your photos and writing. Even your camera reviews are a mini-lesson in photography :)

          • In that case, switch to E-P5 is a no brainer – focusing manual glass should be a lot better due to focus peaking and higher resolution screen/evf. I wonder which one of the 28mm compacts you will get – so far I’m getting closer to Nikon mostly due to, in my opinion, better lens and consistent AF, but I will wait for few weeks for the prices to drop. I also believe that there might be some new choices, maybe Sony mythical RX10 with Zeiss lens

            • Yes, it’s easier to MF, but not so much so that I’d switch because of it (I don’t use MF glass enough, and I can make it work on the OM-D – moreso than my D800E, to be honest).

              Both of my 28mm compacts have now gone back. Let’s see which one I miss…

  60. Looking for the perfect match for my Leica M glass… I have a Ricoh GXR right now, but am looking for an “upgrade”.
    I’ve narrowed my selection down to: Sony NEX-6, E-M5, and now there seems to be another candidate…
    Although I don’t need high video specs (Panasonic GH3 is too much), I do want a camera that can shoot decent video with manual control. Seems like the E-P5 has pretty much the same level of video control that the E-M5 has.
    Arrgghh..! Who is willing to give me the final push into the right choice!? :-)

    • Can’t help you here, I’m afraid – no experience in your set of requirements.

      • And when just regarding still images? NEX-6, E-M5 or E-P5…?

        • E-M5 or E-P5 with the VF4, because you’ll almost certainly need to use an EVF for focusing and stability; the latter plus Olympus’ excellent IS system means you’ll have a much easier time both focusing and shooting than with the NEXes, which only have stabilization in the lens.

  61. John Prosper (Atlanta, GA) says:

    Nice preview! This body seems to have everything really essential except for weather-sealing. It would be nice if they would weather-seal the new black lenses too—after all, some of us like to shoot despite the elements. This body along with at least two copies of the upcoming pro body would make nice set.

    • I can’t understand why the highest grace metal lenses aren’t weather sealed; seems like a curious omission. At that price, no excuse, really. That said, I’ve shot with mine in light rain and not had any issues, but I wouldn’t recommend risking it.

  62. you know i was thinking is quite difficult for someone to understand the quality of a system you test ride as all your photos with nearly any given system are simply epic! i mean there are some difference but the performance fluctuation overall falls within the “epic” region.
    the texture in these pics is just amazing!

    • So I should post crap images like most other reviewers? :p

      I got hammered for not posting SOOC JPEG. Now that I do, I seem to be getting hammered again…

      • …it was a compliment… sorry if it got interpreted the wrong way

        • Haha, no worries. I’m just poking fun at the blogosphere in general.

          • Wait–you mean someone insulted someone on the internet for absolutely no reason? Pfft, that would never happen! But seriously, take it all in strike, Ming. Simply know that you are one the best contributors (if not THE best) to the photography community online. Haters gonna hate.

            –daily reader

  63. Good first review.

    What is the new viewfinder like in use. i.e. size, position, view etc?

    Thanks.

    • I’m pretty sure I covered this already in the main text! It has a significantly higher resolution and magnification than the VF2 and OM-D finders. Physical size is identical to the old one.

  64. Great article and great pictures (like always), Ming! “For the curious, I used a modified Natural setting for these images, with +1 sharpening, -2 contrast, -1 saturation and auto gradation.” So you forego RAW this time? For all puctures?! Best wishes, Valerij

  65. Such a handsome camera! Great pics as well!

  66. Ming – does this camera with the viewfinder give you more space for your nose than the OMD? It looks like it does, so breath and smudging of the screen are easier to avoid? It was the only thing I found annoying about the OMD

  67. Any high ISO sample? Thank you for the write up

  68. Thank´s for, as ever, a very fine review. Just have one Q. Do you have any idea of the refresh rate for the EVF? One thinh I hate with mirrorless cameras is the to slow EVF refresh rate. Most of the time, to my view, it´s so slow that it´ll brake my “creativity flow”. That´s why I prefer rangefinders. But still hoping for a EFV with at least a frame rate of 120 Hz/fps.

    • This one looks about as fluid as my OM-D, so it’s at least 60. There’s a high frame rate option like the OM-D, so it probably *does* have 120Hz; in any case, I thought it was fast enough. A bigger deal is that switching between LCD and VF is a lot snappier…

      • How is the delay of the EVF’s on/off eye sensor? It always annoyed me how long it look for the
        NEX-7’s EVF to recognize that my eye is in position so it could turn on.

        • Quite short; noticeably shorter than the OM-D, which I thought was mostly acceptable (though I’ve occasionally wished for it to be faster).

  69. Ah, the long awaited. I’ll have to wait for the production version but this definitely gives us a great idea of what to expect. Nice to hear about the black versions of the prime lenses. Btw, how’s the 14-42 X pancake?

    • I rather like it as a walk-around, actually; it’s actually excellent at f8, which is where a lot of my photography is these days. That said, I’m probably picking up a black 75/1.8 at some point, too. I have some corporate documentary jobs for which it would be excellent.

  70. Ming

    Thanks for the post. Would you please post an image of the EP5 alongside the EM5 for a size comparison of the bodies.

    Thanks
    PaulB

  71. Kevin Dharmawan says:

    I thought you made a typo when I read EP5, but excellent insights and shots. I was thinking of grabbing an OMD but this is more food for thought. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to wait a bit and try one out.

    • Nope, new camera!

    • Rain S. says:

      Great preview Ming, I totally agree with you on the Olympus JPEG’s they have that distinguished pleasing looks that makes them stand out. Seems like the OMD was really a big boost to Olympus overall hopefully the momentum will keep rolling.

      • I think that Olympus have been leading the way with jpegs for some time now (Fuji being a close second). I turn my om-d’s sharpening to -1 and let the naturally sharp lenses do most of the work. This also helps keep artefacts in check. Also I hope that the custom myset to the mode dial comes in firmware to the om-d, something that would truly push it into legend status as a photographer’s camera.

        • That would be very useful indeed…though less so than a camera which you shoot in two distinctly different ways, e.g. photojournalist vs studio (as I do with the Nikons).

  72. Thank You Ming! A wonderful Preview!

  73. Hello,
    Thanks for the insight on the new Olympus. Any thoughts on how it might compare to the Fuji XE1. The latter has some AF and raw conversion issues?

  74. Wai Fan says:

    Cant view the pictures on your Flickr…it says “This page is private” :(

Trackbacks

  1. […] Working preview: The OIympus PEN E-P5 Ming Thein | Photographer […]

  2. […] better still, develop it. Not long ago, my desk had three cameras for review/ testing on it (the Olympus E-P5, Leica X Vario andSigma DP3M – none of them were DSLRs. I now routinely travel without one; in […]

  3. […] grip, which houses the wifi antenna – the camera acquires the remote abilities of the E-P5 (reviewed here) with extended control capabilities. We have a good old-fashioned PC sync port for use with studio […]

  4. […] better still, develop it. Not long ago, my desk had three cameras for review/ testing on it (the Olympus E-P5, Leica X Vario and Sigma DP3M – none of them were DSLRs. I now routinely travel without one; […]

  5. […] go into details about the camera, you can read Ming Thein and Robin Wong’s posts about it here (MT) and here (RW), they are an enjoyable read. Here’s what I really like about the new […]

  6. […] Hands-on dengan contoh foto oleh Ming Thein […]

  7. […] Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D's sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also ab…  […]

  8. […] Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D’s sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also about high time for the E-P3 to be refreshed, too. They’ve taken a bit longer over this one; in fact, the new E-P5 has so much of the OM-D’s technology (and a few other things) that picking one over the other is no longer such an easy decision.  […]

  9. […] image quality section of the review. You can find the whole thing (including the update, of course) here. […]

  10. […] Added on 5/10/2013: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/05/10/oiympus-pen-e-p5/ […]

  11. […] Working preview: The OIympus PEN E-P5 (mingthein.com) […]

  12. […] Source: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/05/10/oiympus-pen-e-p5/ […]

  13. […] I’m not going to go through all the specifications here, you can read them from other websites (Ming Thein’s blog, for example) and press releases, but I’ll point out a few interesting […]

  14. […] Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D’s sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also about high time for the E-P3 to be refreshed, too. They’ve taken a bit longer over this one; in fact, the new E-P5 has so much of the OM-D’s technology (and a few other things) that picking one over the other is no longer such an easy decision.  […]

  15. […] Olympus launches PEN E-P5 Thanks David This is Ming Thein's take on it At first I was unimpressed, but the extra small focus point and the 1/8000th together with the new […]

  16. […] Additional hands-&#959n coverage available &#1072t Thephoblographer, Ming Thein &#1072n&#1281Dpreview. […]

  17. […] E-M5 camera body comparison at ePhotozine + 8-page preview at dpreview + ePhotozine + Pocket Lint + Ming Thein + Dkamera.de + ThePhoblographer + CNet Australia + Pop Photo + Tech Radar + Imaging Resource + DSLR […]

  18. […] Not so long ago, Olympus updated both the E-PL series (E-PL5 reviewed here) and the E-PM series with the OM-D’s sensor and other trickle-down technology. Thus it only made sense that it was also about high time for the E-P3 to be refreshed, too. They’ve taken a bit longer over this one; in fact, the new E-P5 has so much of the OM-D’s technology (and a few other things) that picking one over the other is no longer such an easy decision.  […]

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