Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro 4 Thirds digital camera evaluation

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

Stepping throughout the good DSLR divide into the land of mirrorless cameras all the time requires some compromise. Focusing velocity, picture high quality, lens compatibility and battery life are frequent casualties, however for everybody besides skilled shooters, the dimensions and price advantages of swapping a full-grown beast for a compact ILC certainly assist soften the blow. The newest Micro 4 Thirds mannequin from Olympus, the OM-D E-M5, provides performance that increase that listing of betterments even additional, permitting extra versatility than bigger DSLRs have to supply. These perks embrace a water resistant design, for starters, together with a nifty lens that gives macro capturing and each guide- and powered-zoom in a single compact package deal.

One space the place the sixteen-megapixel E-M5 does match the footprint of its full-measurement brethren is in worth: you will drop a cool grand for the physique alone, whereas the 12-50mm f/three.5-6.three lens package will bump that tag up one other $300. Make no mistake, the E-M5 is a unbelievable digital camera, however $1,300 is mighty steep for any mirrorless mannequin, particularly one with a Micro 4 Thirds sensor. This, nevertheless, is not any abnormal MFT digital camera. As the primary mannequin in Olympus’s OM-D line — taking design cues from the corporate’s common line of OM movie cameras — the E-M5 is in a category of its personal, at the very least so far as Olympus’s portfolio is worried. Apart from bodily look, maybe, probably the most notable promoting level is its focus velocity: press the shutter launch, and your topic comes into readability with speedy-hearth precision, whether or not you are capturing in vibrant daylight or a darkish restaurant. However although the E-M5 has already acquired accolades for its highly effective focusing, you may be questioning how the entire package deal performs. Meet us previous the break to seek out out.

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Olympus OM-D E-M5 assessment

eighty one

Olympus OM-D E-M5


  • Extremely quick autofocus
  • 5-axis picture stabilization
  • Guide/auto-zoom package lens


  • Costly
  • Battery meter points at launch
  • Poor focus accuracy in low-distinction scenes


Olympus’s OM-D E-M5 is the corporate’s greatest digital camera but, however battery meter and focusing points could also be a dealbreaker for some.


Merely put, it is lovely. When you’ve ever wistfully eyed a mid-twentieth century 35mm SLR, hoping that producers would as soon as once more undertake the elegant designs of yesteryear, you possibly can cease dreaming. The E-M5 invokes a crafted really feel distinctive to that mannequin, that is harking back to choose über-expensive rangefinders. We’re notably keen on the silver-and-black taste, although we sadly needed to accept all-black, or danger delaying this evaluation. In fact, the black model performs equally and is a wonderfully high-quality selection, however if in case you have a chance to select up the 2-tone model, likelihood is you will not remorse it.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

Merely put, it is lovely.

Critical photographers care extra about design and sturdiness than the unrelated matter of colour scheme, and each the black and silver fashions alike supply strong specs in these key areas. First up is the digital camera’s “splash-proof” construct. What precisely does it imply for a digital camera to be resistant to splash-associated injury? For starters, you’ll be able to shoot with the E-M5 within the rain with out having to concern your self with an umbrella or fussy hood. Seals all through the physique additionally maintain out sand and mud, and there is a Supersonic Wave Filter on board to help within the uncommon occasion that a speck or two manages to make it previous the digital camera’s measures. You will in fact be topic to droplet accumulation on the entrance component of the lens, which you will have to wipe off repeatedly relying on the circumstances, however you need not fret about damaging the digital camera or package lens when water pours down from the sky. “Splash-proof” doesn’t suggest waterproof, nevertheless, so do not you dare take this thousand-greenback physique into the ocean.

With the physique out of the best way, let’s circle again to these seize specs. There is a sixteen-megapixel Stay MOS Micro 4 Thirds (four/three) sensor on board, however with a twist — 5-axis sensor-shift picture stabilization. What this implies is that the digital camera can compensate for shaky palms on each the vertical and horizontal axis (identical to lots of its rivals) in addition to on the rotational axis. What can we are saying? It actually does make a distinction. You will nonetheless be topic to movement blur in case your topics transfer and also you’re capturing with a low shutter velocity, in fact, however Olympus’s new stabilization method does assist to attenuate the impact with nonetheless topics. It is going to additionally come in useful whereas recording video, holding the image regular whilst you stroll down the road, change place or keep an extended focal size. Motion is just not eradicated utterly, however chances are you’ll even contemplate leaving that tripod behind in your subsequent video shoot.

One other function that we’re seeing extra ceaselessly within the mirrorless class is a constructed-in 1.forty four-megapixel digital viewfinder, offering a one hundred pc subject of view and an x/y-axis degree gauge, together with direct suggestions for all key settings. Just like the Sony NEX-7, we have observed that the proximity sensor is usually a bit too delicate, triggering the EVF whenever you maintain the digital camera too near your physique, for instance. We might wish to see an choice to tweak this, however within the meantime you might need to flip off the auto-change mode and go for the devoted button to the best of the EVF as an alternative.

You will have to shift over to the primary three-inch 610,000-dot OLED tilting show to assessment photographs and tweak settings. Along with adjusting downward as much as 50 levels and upward to eighty, the show additionally consists of contact help, letting you choose the AF space, launch the shutter and advance throughout playback by tapping the display. Identical to on the Sony NEX-5N, contact is there for those who want it, nevertheless it will not get in the best way in case you do not. Naturally, the hardware controls duplicate this performance, although toying with the 5-place buttons is usually much less environment friendly than utilizing than the contact-to-focus function.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

Finishing the tour, on the highest of the digital camera there is a full-measurement scorching shoe (a tiny exterior flash ships within the field) with a proprietary accent connector under. Lifting the OLED show reveals a recessed notch, which helps you open a aspect panel with HDMI and USB/AV connectors. The SD slot sits on the fitting edge, whereas the 1,220mAh battery lives in a slot on the underside. Adjoining to that compartment, you will discover one other proprietary connector hidden under a rubber door. This port is used to speak with an elective accent, which supplies an prolonged digital camera grip with a second management dial and shutter launch in a single part and a battery compartment with vertical controls that may be added on under. We most popular capturing with simply the grip portion, which allows the E-M5 to retain a slim profile whereas nonetheless permitting for some extra snug handheld capturing.

Consumer Interface

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

What good is having lovely hardware if it isn’t straightforward to make use of? Luckily, usability ought to be of little concern right here. As all the time, you will have to spend a couple of minutes flipping by means of the menu earlier than you are capable of declare that the digital camera is configured to your liking, however discovering these key gadgets is not a lot of a chore. The primary menu is split into 5 tabs: playback, setup, customized settings and two capturing menus. That customized menu is by far probably the most complicated, with sub-tabs for settings like autofocus and dial course.

Talking of these dials — you will discover two up prime, with one controlling aperture and the second adjusting shutter velocity in guide mode, for instance, just like what you are able to do on the Sony’s NEX-7 competing “Tri-Navi” interface. Within the middle of the ahead dial is a shutter launch button, with an adjustable management to the fitting (we set ours to vary the ISO) and a video document button slightly below it, which is not in probably the most handy location, to be completely trustworthy. We might choose to see the perform and video document buttons reversed, however it’s kind of too late for that at this level. There is a second perform button, together with a playback management proper under the rear dial. To the appropriate of the OLED show, there are devoted controls for launching the menu, information panel and a delete key, together with a 4-place panel with an OK selector within the middle. On the backside of the rear management panel, you will discover an On/Off toggle, taking the guess work out of the digital camera’s present energy standing.

Efficiency and battery life

When the digital camera works, it is peerless, however you will not have to attend lengthy earlier than stumbling on a scene it could possibly’t grasp.

We will not speak about efficiency with out revisiting the digital camera’s focusing system. The ILC is so succesful on this regard that bringing a topic into focus virtually turns into an afterthought — more often than not, anyway. At its greatest, the E-M5 can modify in a fraction of a second, and when it really works, it does so with epic velocity. It isn’t with out flaws, nevertheless, and we have up to now run into points with a number of Olympus lenses. Whereas the digital camera does a prime-notch job with large framing in good circumstances, it has vital problem focusing in scenes with little distinction.

Take it to the ski slopes, for instance, and the E-M5 will clam up, solely sometimes capturing a pointy body. We skilled the identical throughout a wet day seashore shoot with that 12-50mm package optic zoomed all the best way in. When the digital camera works, it is peerless, however you will not have to attend lengthy earlier than stumbling on a scene it may’t grasp. The identical is true of video seize: you will need to avoid steady autofocus whereas capturing in snow, rain or any darkish or flat scene, lest you find yourself with a blurry mess. (You’ll be able to keep away from the continual focus searching through the use of single- or guide-focus modes.) Because of this, we’re not assured within the digital camera’s talents as a video shooter — a minimum of not till this focusing problem is addressed.

One space the place the E-M5 gives constant velocity and accuracy is in excessive-velocity consecutive capturing mode. Opting in nets you a cool 9 frames per second, for 15 photographs. After the buffer takes a number of seconds to unload (relying on the velocity of your SD card, in fact), you possibly can hearth off one other burst. A decrease-velocity sequential mode provides you the choice of capturing at three fps for almost two dozen consecutive frames. The digital camera can energy on, focus and shoot its first picture in as little as 1.2 seconds, whereas re-framing, adjusting focus and capturing a special scene takes simply zero.three seconds. As soon as a topic is already in focus, there’s nearly zero lag between photographs.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

The E-M5’s battery life is phenomenal for a mirrorless ILC; we have been capable of snap greater than 600 stills and 22 minutes of 720p video on a day-lengthy shoot round New York Metropolis. The digital camera’s constructed-in energy meter is critically flawed, nevertheless, solely offering an correct studying when utterly charged or absolutely depleted. For roughly ninety % of a cycle, the digital camera shows a full energy indicator, dropping to 2 out of three bars for the ultimate 50 or so photographs, then flashing absolutely depleted for the subsequent 50. Energy biking early through the depleted state will end in a full battery indicator for the subsequent few photographs, although as we approached the top of the battery’s life, the cam persistently displayed empty. Olympus reps have been unaware of the difficulty, however stated that the corporate will examine, and could possibly right the meter with a firmware replace.

Picture high quality

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

The E-M5 delivers wonderful picture high quality for a digital camera of its measurement, however at $1,300 with a package lens, you would be proper to anticipate perfection.

The E-M5 delivers wonderful picture high quality for a digital camera of its measurement, however at $1,300 with a package lens, you would be proper to anticipate perfection. There is no fifty one,200+ excessive-ISO magic at play right here, however we weren’t dissatisfied with picture high quality — each time the digital camera was capable of focus, a minimum of. One aspect impact of that low-distinction focus searching is a slew of blurry pictures, assuming you comply with via with a seize after an un-sharp preview. The digital camera can focus in snow and sand, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly hit and miss, particularly at longer focal lengths (the place flatter particulars fill the body). Professionals who give attention to sea and snow sports activities will certainly need to avoid crowning the E-M5 their star shooter, however it’s a winner if complementing a dear excessive-finish DSLR. Amateurs spending a lot of their time on the slopes or the seashore can also share that sentiment, which is a slight letdown contemplating that “splash-proof” construct.

With a local ISO vary of 200-25,600, there’s fairly a little bit of flexibility within the sensitivity division, which will definitely come in useful for lengthy-zoom captures with the f/three.5-6.three package lens. Photographs shot all through that spectrum are usable at any measurement. ISO 25,600 seems fairly unbelievable, as you will see within the 1:1 pixel views under. As with most mirrorless cameras with a MFT or bigger sensor, you might fairly comfortably depart the E-M5 set to ISO 3200 for informal capturing with none vital high quality loss, however we might even be prepared to push that restrict to 6400 or greater if capturing in low mild. sixteen megapixels will not immediate any sticker shock, however it’s completely enough for many photographers, and properly well worth the tradeoff with a purpose to obtain low-noise photographs at excessive ISOs.

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Olympus OM-D E-M5 pattern photographs

The competitors

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

Pricing a mirrorless ILC above $1,000 does not come with out deliberation — that determine is just too excessive to make a big dent in market share, however not low sufficient to cannibalize the Olympus PEN fashions, which is clearly a priority right here. The digital camera’s extremely quick focusing, excessive-ISO high quality, 5-axis picture stabilization and constructed-in EVF make an apparent decide for potential PEN E-P3 house owners with a bit more money to spare, however for those who’re in want of a sub-$seven hundred Olympus package, it would be robust to argue towards the E-PL3.

When you’re trying to keep on with the Micro 4 Thirds format, Panasonic’s Lumix GX1 is a strong decide, with a $seven hundred road worth for the 14-42mm package. Extra according to the E-M5’s $1,300 package tag can be Sony’s NEX-7, which may be had for a cool $1,350 with an included 18-55mm lens. Many photographers have gripes with Sony’s lens choice, nevertheless, arguing that the package optic merely does not supply efficiency to match the digital camera’s 24.three-megapixel sensor. In case you can spend money on larger-finish lenses, just like the $1,300 24mm Carl Zeiss Sonnar T f/1.eight, and have to seize bigger photographs, you should still contemplate Sony’s NEX flagship, however when you’re merely evaluating each kits, the E-M5 looks like the winner right here as nicely. You might also be contemplating Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 (pictured with the E-M5 above), however that mirrorless ILC’s $1,seven hundred physique-solely price ticket, measurement and extremely slender lens choice restrict its attraction.


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera review

Merely put, we love the E-M5. It is a strong shooter — actually, because of its “splash-proof physique” — with wonderful picture high quality all through the ISO vary and a slick, versatile lens. That 5-axis stabilization is revolutionary as nicely, as is the extremely quick focusing system. Whereas highly effective, that focusing system is not good, typically slipping with low-distinction sand and snow scenes. Nonetheless, that challenge is arguably minor, contemplating that this digital camera is not designed for sports activities-capturing execs, and, just like the battery meter, it might be corrected with a firmware replace. The $1,300 package worth shall be a tad an excessive amount of to swallow for some, however with a strong physique and a various assortment of lenses, there hasn’t been a greater time to hop aboard Micro 4 Thirds.

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  • Key specs
  • <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/olympus/om-d/e-m5/” title=”Olympus OM-D E-M5 evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques eleven </a>
  • Costs
  • Discussions
  • Sort Mirrorless interchangeable lens
  • Lens mount Micro 4 Thirds
  • Decision (efficient) sixteen.1&#one hundred sixty;megapixels
  • Sensor measurement Micro 4 thirds
  • Picture stabilization Digital
  • Dimensions three.5 x four.eight x 1.7 in
  • Weight 15 oz
  • Launched 2012-04

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eight.9common consumer score
  • Picture high quality 9.6
  • Video high quality eight.6
  • Battery life eight
  • Design and type issue 9.1
  • Sturdiness 9.three
  • Velocity (begin-up time, lag) 9.three
  • Ease of use eight.2

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