Built around the same 16.1-million-pixel sensor as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the diminutive Pen E-PL5 should offer excellent image quality. Richard Sibley tests this latest system camera. Read the Olympus Pen E-PL5 review...

Product Overview

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Olympus Pen E-PL5

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Olympus Pen E-PL5 review


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One compromise of early compact system cameras was the speed of their contrast-detection autofocus. Since then, processing power and sensor readout speeds have increased and improved the speed of this type of AF, and it is no coincidence that Olympus calls its latest AF system ‘FAST AF’.

I found the 35-point autofocus system to be fairly snappy, and much better than that on first-generation CSCs. However, it doesn’t react quite as quickly as a phase-detection system. It is still fast enough, however, for most types of situations for which an enthusiast photographer will use the E-PL5.

Although not really designed for fast-moving subjects, the AF tracking feature works very well, locking onto a target and keeping it in focus. This will be useful for some wildlife photographers, for whom the 2x crop factor of the small micro four thirds lenses is particularly appealing. Similarly, it is useful for quick focus and recomposing techniques when shooting documentary images.

For really precise focusing there is a manual option. As is now standard, a twist of the lens barrel prompts the rear screen to show a magnified view of the area being focused, with more than 800 different precise areas available.

The main new focusing feature of the E-PL5 is the fact that the touchscreen can be used to select the AF point. While I am not a fan of touchscreens for selecting onscreen menu items, it is very useful to be able to simply touch a subject on screen and have the camera focus on it.

The E-PL5 can also be set to focus and take an image, although this doesn’t feel entirely natural and is likely to introduce camera shake due to having to slightly press the camera at the time an image is taken. As both hands aren’t supporting the camera, using the touchscreen to take an image simply doesn’t offer the stability of shooting with the camera in both hands.

  1. 1. Olympus Pen E-PL5 at a glance:
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Graduation function
  4. 4. Build and handling
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Dynamic range
  8. 8. Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  9. 9. White balance and colour
  10. 10. Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video
  11. 11. The competition
  12. 12. Our verdict
Page 6 of 12 - Show Full List
  • simon Parry Jones

    Pleasantly surprised by the quality and resolution of this camera. I had been very disappointed by my previous camera a Canon EOS450D, I found it hard to get any punch or vibrancy into the images. But the NX does it bucket loads and with ease.
    The features and controls take a little getting used to after the Canon, but I am finding my way around nicely and its fairy intuitive anyway.
    The wifi functionality can be a bit hit or miss, especially with the Samsung Galaxy S4, they don’t like each other for some reason, which when you consider these are from the same manufacturer that does seem a bit daft!
    I find the handling is generally pretty good for such a small object, I do however keep starting the video recorder via the dedicated (red) button adjacent to the thumb rest, the position of this button has been moved on the NX300 which is an improvement.
    The display I find works well in bright light and is as comprehensive as you could desire, really impressed with it.
    Reviewing images is slightly different with the NX compared to the 450D, but once you are tuned in it seems fine and I like the daisy wheel on the multi selector, I found it works well for reviewing images.
    The flash generally sits on my NX all the time and I have found that coverage is not too bad, but there is fall off at the 20mm setting and wider, which is to be expected really. With a guide number of 8, you’re not going to fry any eggs but it is more than the competitors pop up varieties.
    Being a bit of a traditionalist, I found the iFn button on the lens a little superfluous, I didn’t instinctively use it, but I guess that will change as I get used to the camera.
    At long last a kit lens you don’t feel like binning the moment the camera arrives. After the Canon 18-55mm offering I was pleasantly surprised by Samsungs 20-50mm. Whilst this lens doesn’t have OIS I found that I can live without it, the slightly smaller range was nothing to worry about either. The performance of this lens is pretty impressive too, pictures I have taken thus far are way better than I was able to get from the Canon. Lumping a big DSLR around is surely something consigned to the past.
    All the buttons have a quality feel, as does the body, even though its largely plastic in construction, it never feels that way and so what is wrong with polymers anyway?
    To summarise, this is a great camera for someone who is new to interchangeable lens photography or someone looking to switch from DSLRs or someone who would like a portable, small, easy to use point and shoot camera which produces stunning images. It has its weaknesses ie action or sports photography would highlight these due to the AF system, but I would wholeheartedly recommend this camera for travel or everyday photography, you will not be disappointed.

  • Leona Simpson

    This would be a great site for information for us amature photographers if ur adverts did not cover great pieces of text.