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

Overall rating:

Olympus Pen E-PL5

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LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Olympus Pen E-PL5 review


Price as reviewed:


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 1920×1080-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.

  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
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