Comparing cameras in this price range is tough. People interested in a body at this level may already be invested in a particular system. If you already own an entry-level or midlevel Olympus body and are looking to step up, the E-5 offers a very solidly built, well-thought-out design that can provide a high level of image quality.
Olympus E-3 owners face a harder decision, but given the E-5’s increase in resolution, added stop of sensitivity, new HD video capture, and Art Filters, we think there’s a compelling enough argument to switch, especially if your E-3 has seen heavy use.
Against equivalent Canon and Nikon bodies, it’s a different game. Both the 7D and D300s have certain performance and image-quality advantages over the E-5, but the Olympus has features these two lack—a major example is its sensor-shift image stabilization, which works with any mountable lens and which gave our testers 3 stops of shutter speed leeway when shooting at 200mm.
The E-5’s rugged construction and weathersealing are also a notch better than those of its competitors. And, finally, unlike the 7D and the D300s, the Olympus has an articulated LCD. Even though the Canon offers 1080p video recording, recording video with the E-5 is less tricky to do.
For DSLRs in this price bracket, if you’re looking for a powerful imaging tool with rugged construction and a lot of versatility, the Olympus E-5 may be your match.
IMAGING: 12.3MP effective, Four Thirds-sized LiveMOS sensor captures images at 4032x3024 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode.
STORAGE: Compact Flash, SD, SDHC, SDXC. Stores JPEG, ORF RAW, and RAW + JPEG files.
VIDEO: Up to 1280x720, 30-fps, AVI Motion JPEG; built-in mono mic with optional stereo mic input; contrast-detection AF.
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode): 5 fps up to card capacity. RAW (12-bit): 5 fps up to 16 shots.
AF SYSTEM: TTL phase detection with 11 illuminated focus points (all twin crosstype). Single-shot and continuous with tracking. Tested sensitivity down to –2 EV (manufacturer’s rating) at ISO 100, f/2.
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/8000 to 60 sec plus B (1/3-EV increments). Shutter rated to 150,000 cycles.
METERING: TTL metering using 49-point evaluative, centerweighted, and spotmetering (approx. 2% of frame). 1–20 EV (at ISO 100).
ISO RANGE: ISO 100–6400 (in 1/3- or 1-EV increments).
FLASH: Built-in pop-up with TTL autoflash with +/–3-EV exposure compensation (1/3-, 1/2-, or 1-EV increments), GN 43 (ISO 100, feet), covers 14mm lens field of view. Flash sync to 1/250 sec. Dedicated Olympus hot-shoe and wireless control of optional flash. VIEWFINDER: Fixed eye-level pentaprism.
LCD: Tilting, swiveling 3-in. TFT with 920,000-dot resolution.
OUTPUT: Hi-Speed USB 2.0, mini HDMI video, composite video.
BATTERY: Rechargeable BLM-5 Li-ion, CIPA rating, 870 shots with optical finder.
SIZE/WEIGHT: 5.6x4.6x2.9 in., 2.0 lb with card and battery.
STREET PRICE: $1,700, body only.
FOR INFO: www.olympusamerica.com