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

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Olympus Pen E-PL5 review


Price as reviewed:


Our verdict

Like the Olympus Pen E-PM2, I was impressed with the Pen E-PL5. The camera is well built, straightforward to use and full of features for enthusiast photographers, particularly those who want a pocketable system camera for documentary or travel photography.

The image quality is very good, although there is still some room for improvement. I would recommend that anyone shooting with an E-PL5 use raw capture where possible to really get the maximum from their images, or at least adjust the JPEG parameters. However, for those more interested in getting a great shot than peeping at pixels, the colours, tone and contrast of images are superb.

As stated in my test of the E-PM2, it really feels like the Olympus Pen series cameras have come of age with this latest generation. Increasing the resolution has helped to place the E-PL5 on a par with its competitors, but with the advantage of having smaller lenses.

Olympus Pen E-PL5 – Key features

Mode dial
One of the big differences between the E-PM2 and the E-PL5 is the mode dial on the E-PL5’s top-plate.

Accessory port
The AP2 port allows the connection of the small FL-LM1 flash, an electronic viewfinder, MAL-1 Macro Arm Light or SEMA 1 microphone adapter.

Direct video record
The E-PL5 has a direct video capture button that is neatly positioned for easy access while shooting.

Control dial
This wheel rotates around the control buttons to allow menus and images to be scrolled through quickly.

The Olympus Pen E-PM2 and E-PL5 don’t have a built-in flash. Like the Sony NEX cameras, a small external flash unit, the FL-LM1, is included with the cameras. This small pop-up flash can also act
as a wireless controller for compatible Olympus flashguns.

Lens stabilisation
As well as in-camera, sensor-shift stabilisation, the E-PL5 can also take advantage of the Panasonic micro four thirds lenses that have built-in lens stabilisation. This feature can be switched on in the camera’s menu.

One useful feature tucked away in the custom menu is the ability to change the clipping points in the histogram display. By setting the highlight point of the histogram to 250 rather than 255, you can use the histogram to make sure that blown-out highlights are completely avoided.

Raw editing
It is possible to edit raw images in the E-PL5 and save them as JPEG images. However, it is now also possible to save two preset raw development settings and apply them when converting images to JPEGs in-camera.


Video:1080p 30fps MPEG-4 H.264
External mic:Yes (accessory port only)
White Balance:Auto, 7 presets, manual, 2 custom modes
Dioptre Adjustment:N/A
Built-in Flash:No, but FL-LM1 is included
Shutter Type:Focal-plane shutter
Memory Card:SD, SDHC, SDXC
Viewfinder Type:Optional EVF
Output Size:4608 x 3456 pixels
LCD:3in, 460,000-dot articulated screen
White Balance Bracket:Yes
AF Points:35-point system, touch focus, face and eye detection
Field of View:100% (live view)
Sensor:16.1-million-effective-pixel, Live MOS sensor
Max Flash Sync:1/250sec / 1/4000sec (Super FP mode)
Exposure Modes:PASM, iAuto, 25 scene modes, 12 art filters
Power:Rechargeable BLS-5 Li-Ion
Weight:325g (with battery and card)
File Format:JPEG, ORF (raw), and raw + JPEG
Shutter Speeds:60-1/4000sec, plus bulb
Drive Mode:8fps for 27 raw or 19 JPEG images
Exposure Comp:±3EV
Colour Space:Adobe RGB, sRGB
Lens Mount:Micro four thirds
RRP:£599.99 (with 14-42mm kit lens)
Focusing Modes:Single, continuous, manual, tracking
Dimensions:110.5 x 63.7 x 38.2mm
DoF Preview:No
Compression:3-stage JPEG
Connectivity / Interface:USB, Micro HDMI
Metering System:324-zone multi-pattern TTL digital ESP, spot, centreweighted, highlight, shadow
Tested as:Entry-level CSC
  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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