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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The Olympus Pen E-PL5 carries the same 16.1-million-pixel, Live MOS, four thirds- sized sensor as the company’s own OM-D E-M5 and the more recent Pen E-PM2. All three cameras use the Olympus TruePic VI processing system and have an identical ISO range of 200-25,600. Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable to expect the E-PL5 to produce images equal in quality to those from the E-M5 and E-PM2.

Image: Image quality is very good, but JPEG images can look a little over processed 

In terms of shooting features, the E-PL5 offers all those you would get with an enthusiast-level DSLR. Shots can be saved in raw or as JPEGs, and it is possible to shoot both simultaneously. There is a full complement of manual and automatic exposure modes, with shutter speeds ranging from 60-1/4000sec, along with a bulb mode that allows exposures of up to 30mins.

Impressively, the powerful processing in the E-PL5 enables shooting at 8fps, while Olympus claims that the camera can capture up to 27 raw images, or 19 raw and JPEG Normal images in a burst, with a Toshiba SDHC UHS-I Class 10 8GB SD card. However, I was able to shoot 14 raw images, and 14 raw and JPEG Normal images, when using a Sony SDHC UHS-I Class 10 16GB SD card, so it is worth bearing this in mind for anyone planning to use the camera for long bursts.

Like the E-M5 and the E-PM2, the E-PL5 has a new live bulb mode. With this selected, the rear 3in LCD screen displays an image updated every second with the current exposure. Think of it as like having a print in a developing tray: the image will appear before your eyes, showing exactly when to stop development.

In contrast to many recent releases, the E-PL5 doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, although it can operate wirelessly with the use of an Eye-Fi-compatible SD card or a new Toshiba Flash Air SD card. What it does have is a touchscreen, which allows for touch focusing and firing of the shutter. This screen will be discussed in more depth later.

Overall, then, the E-PL5 has a comprehensive feature set with more than enough settings to keep enthusiast photographers happy, as well as automated settings to reassure entry-level users.

Image: The pinhole camera mode is one of the more useful art filter effects. It creates a dark vignette around the edge of the image 

  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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