Olympus Pen E-PL5 review

Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video

For those who require a viewfinder, the E-PL5 has an accessory socket on its rear to allow the Olympus VF-2 or VF-3 electronic viewfinder to be attached. The key difference between the two EVFs is resolution: the VF-2 LCD has 1.44 million dots, while the VF-3 has 920,000 dots. As a result, the lower-resolution VF-3 costs around £160, while the VF-2 is priced at around £200. I would recommend using one of these EVFs because it does change the experience of using the E-PL5, making it much more like a conventional rangefinder-style camera.

Of course, most people will use the rear 3in, 460,000-dot screen. That the rear screen is articulated is a big bonus, and as it fits quite neatly on the rear of the camera, it doesn't add much to the E-PL5's depth. Also useful is the screen's ability to be rotated to a position above the camera's top-plate, facing the subject, which should prove useful for the odd self-portrait.

The screen's 460,000-dot resolution is good, although not as detailed as the 920,000-dot displays we are more used to seeing. The screen has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, whereas the images produced by the E-PL5 are 4:3. The live view is therefore shown in the centre of the screen, with shooting settings displayed to either side. While this keeps the live view image relatively clutter-free, it means that the image is smaller than it would be on a non-widescreen display. Overall, it is a reasonable compromise between size and making the best use of the screen-space available.

It is when shooting video that the 16:9 screen comes into its own, with the entire display taken over by the video capture. The E-PL5's video offering is quite impressive, with full HD 1920x1080-pixel capture at 30fps with a 20Mbps data transfer speed. Sound is recorded in stereo using small built-in microphones either side of the hotshoe, but an external microphone is available and can be fitted to the accessory socket.