New Gear: Olympus E-5 DSLR

720p video and super-fast AF make this $1,700 body top dog in the Olympus camp.

olympus e-5 1

olympus e-5 1

Today's camera announcement bonanza wouldn't be complete without a full-fledged DSLR, and the Olympus E-5 fills that spot nicely. They claim that their new body has the "highest image quality of any Olympus camera" thanks to its 12.3-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS sensor and TruePic V+ image processing engine.

Other high points include the 3-inch HyperCrystal LCD display, which has 920,000 dots of resolution and swivels 270 degrees. The weatherproofing on the "thixomold" magnesium alloy body has been upgraded from the E-3, making the new E-5 "splashproof and dustproof." Image stablization is handled in-body and they claim it offers up to five steps EV.

The E-5 is the first Olympus DSLR to employ an HD video mode — the PEN models have had it for a while now — but the video resolution tops out at 720p at 30 fps. It does, however, have a microphone port with 3.5mm jack for recording stereo audio.

Because it comes with a price tag of $1,700, the E-5 is a prosumer camera, competing directly with rigs like Canon's EOS 7D. Most of the specs measure up, including the 5 fps burst rate, 150,000 exposure shutter life and 11-point Twin cross type AF, and wireless flash control. But, the E-5 is way behind ont the video front, which means they will really have to deliver on the image quality promises to justify the price.

The body is compatible with the 20 or so Olympus Four Thirds lenses that are currently available, but the press release claims the E-5 offers the "fastest AF speed in the world when coupled with the Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 (24-120mm equivalent) Supersonic Wave Drive Lens.

We're eager to give the E-5 a full test and we'll share the results as soon as they're available. Look for retail units to start hitting shelves in October.