Furthermore, AF was very speedy overall. Paired with prime lenses, such as the aforementioned 17mm f/1.8, or with larger zooms, such as the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12–35mm f/2.8 (a 24– 70mm full-frame equivalent), the E-P5 locked on its target as fast as you can expect any ILC to do so—it rivals what most DSLRs can do in this area.
As far as the camera’s controls go, there’s more to talk about than usual. Not only has Olympus done away with the vertical control wheel and tiny scroll wheel found on its earlier Pen E-P3, it has replaced them with very nice command wheels positioned so you can use them with your thumb and forefinger. And you can assign various functions to these wheels, depending on which shooting mode you’re in.
You can also use a lever on the back of the camera to change between two sets of functions for the wheels—a really great way to change ISO, white balance, or AF mode, or to activate video capture. During our field tests, we used it mainly to control aperture and exposure compensation while shooting in aperture-priority mode, occasionally switching to access white balance and ISO. (This lever was inadvertently switched in our camera bag a few times, so take a quick gander before you start shooting.)
As is the growing trend in fancier cameras, the P5 has built-in Wi-Fi. Download Olympus’ app to let you transfer images to your smartphone for easy sharing. You can also use the app as a remote control of sorts, though this is available only in the camera’s iAuto mode. We prefer an interface along the lines of Canon’s Wi-Fi, which lets you control aperture and shutter speed from your phone. But, this is likely something that could be added in later iterations of Olympus’ app, if the company sees fit to do so.
The E-P5 includes in-the-camera RAW conversion, multiple exposure shooting, a slew of filters you can apply to images after the fact or while shooting, and focus peaking, to help with manual focusing. We’re a fan of focus peaking, which traces colored outlines around objects and surfaces that are in focus at any given time. We especially like to use it in conjunction with magnification.
Both are available on the E-P5, and can be linked when using a lens that controls focus electronically. But you’ll have to assign magnification to one button and peaking to a second if you want to use both of these features simultaneously when you switch to mechanical focusing on an Olympus lens that includes real focusing helicals, such as the 17mm kit lens or 12mm f/2—or when shooting with a lens mounted on an adapter. It was a bit of a bother to figure this out, but that the camera lets you work around this limitation speaks to its versatility. We hope that Olympus can update the firmware to let you assign simultaneous magnification and focus peaking through a single button press.
The Bottom Line
Olympus’ Pen E-P5 is a well-thought-out, elegant little camera with enough imaging and performance prowess to satisfy a huge number of shooters. It might not deliver the most resolution you can get from an ILC, but it certainly delivers sufficient resolution to make prints large enough to satisfy most people’s needs, and it makes sharing your images electronically particularly simple.
Along with its compact size and the large number of lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds system, we think that the E-P5 is a fierce competitor in the ILC game. If you’re looking for a small, interchangeable-lens camera, this new Olympus definitely deserves serious consideration.
IMAGING: 16.1MP effective, Four Thirds-sized Live MOS sensor captures images at 4608x3456 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode
STORAGE: SD, SDHC, SDXC slot stores JPEG, ORF RAW, RAW + JPEG files
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode), up to card capacity at 5 fps; RAW (12-bit), up to 18 shots at 5 fps
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast detection with 35 selectable focus areas; single-shot and continuous AF with face detection and subject tracking
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/8000 to 60 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments); shutter life not rated
METERING: TTL metering with 324-area Multi-pattern (evaluative), centerweighted, spot (size of spot not specified); EV 0–20 (ISO 100)
ISO RANGE: ISO 100–25,600 (in 1/3-EV increments)
VIDEO: Records at up to 1920x1080p30 in H.264 format; built-in stereo microphone; no mic input. Maximum clip length 22 min. in Fine quality mode.
FLASH: Built-in pop-up; GN 23 (feet, ISO 100); flash sync to 1/320 sec (built-in) or 1/250 sec (external flash). Wireless flash control with Olympus external flashes.
MONITOR: Tilting 3-inch LCD with 1,037,000-dot resolution; 15-step brightness adjustment
OUTPUT: USB 2.0, micro HDMI video, composite video
BATTERY: Rechargeable BLN-1 Li-ion, CIPA rating 330 shots
SIZE/WEIGHT: 4.8x2.7x1.5 inches, 0.9 lb with a card and battery
STREET PRICE: $999, body only; $1,449, with 17mm f/1.8 lens and VF-4 EVF