Olympus E-5 review

December 18, 2010

Overall Rating:


Olympus E-5

  • Features:
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  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
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  • Autofocus:
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  • Metering:



Price as Reviewed:


We review the Olympus E-5 DSLR, from build and handling to the viewfinder, and give our final verdict on this enthusiast's play toy.


Build and handling

The E-5 is certainly built like a professional camera, as it features an aluminium and magnesium-alloy frame and is weather-sealed well enough to claim to be splash-proof.

This means you could pour a bottle of water over the camera (although we don’t recommend that you do so!) or remain shooting in heavy rain with no detriment to the E-5.

As is the case with Olympus’s other top E-series models, the E-5 is a solid and chunky piece of kit. It has a standard body height without a vertical grip.

The right-hand grip is large enough to get a solid hold of the camera and you can place all your fingers around it. The E-5’s weight is comparable with cameras of a similar class and price, and with the 12-60mm kit lens it feels nicely balanced in the hand.

The detailing on the camera appears well thought out, even down to the tripod bush being replaceable and rubber pads around it to avoid the camera slipping on the plate. The buttons, however, are a little small and not always easy to navigate. One saving grace is that the camera can be customised and set up to your own specification. You can vary everything, from the direction of the focus ring to the button functions of the four-way directional controls.

On the top of the camera sits a sizeable LCD screen to display shooting information, along with a series of quick-access buttons for ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and a light for the display.

These are quite a distance from the shutter button, so a change of grip is needed to access them – especially the exposure compensation, which is inset to stop it being accidentally pressed with the ISO button and thus causing a camera reset.

The function buttons to the left of the top panel are all dual-format, controlling different functions depending on whether the front or rear control dials are turned. This information is displayed on the rear LCD when pressed to aid operation. Some buttons seem to have been made purposefully difficult to press by accident, such as the Live View display.

The shooting information that appears on the rear screen also acts as a quick menu, and the displayed functions can be scrolled through and changed by pressing the central OK button in the four-way control. With all these routes to shooting functions on offer, the main menu is fairly sparse and only really needs accessing for customisation.

However, it is often quicker to access the art filters and file format via the main menu, so perhaps both functions should have had dedicated buttons even though the file format can be selected as a custom function.

Navigation takes some getting used to if you’re not familiar with the Olympus menu layout and at times finding certain functions was not obvious. Those used to handling the E-3, however, should feel at home with the layout.

The 12-60mm standard kit lens offers an f/2.8-4 aperture and Supersonic Wave Drive (SWD) focusing for quiet and speedy travel across the focal range. It’s a solid lens, and with an equivalent focal length of 24-120mm it makes a great all-purpose optic.

  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3.0 to +1 dioptre
  • Video: 720p HD, 30fps, AVI
  • White Balance: Auto, 7 presets with fine-tuning, 4 custom settings, temp
  • External mic: Yes
  • Built-in Flash: Yes (GN 13m @ ISO 100)
  • Shutter Type: Computerised focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: Dual-slot CF and SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism finder
  • Output Size: 4032x3024
  • Field of View: 100%
  • LCD: 3in, 921,000-dot LCD
  • Sensor: 12.3-million-effective-pixel Live MOS
  • White Balance Bracket: 3 frames
  • AF Points: 11-point system (all cross-type and fully biaxial)
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/250sec or 1/8000sec (high speed)
  • Focal Length Mag: 2x
  • Exposure Modes: Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual
  • File Format: JPEG, ORF (raw), AVI
  • Power: Rechargeable BLM-5 Li-Ion, DC input
  • Weight: 800g (body only)
  • Drive Mode: 5fps
  • Shutter Speeds: 60-1/8000sec in 1/3, 1/2EV or 1EV steps
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Dimensions: 142.5x116.5x74.5mm
  • Metering System: TTL open aperture 49-segment
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, video out, remote, PC-sync
  • Compression: 4-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV
  • Lens Mount: Four Thirds
  • ISO: 100-6400
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, manual
  • DoF Preview: Yes

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