The OM-D E-M5 is Olympus’s most highly specified four thirds camera to date, and its most attractive, but is its performance good enough to provide a lasting legacy?
I consider the styling and build quality of the OM-D E-M5 as being equal to the best compact system cameras around, especially with the grip and battery pack attached. Also, by using the micro four thirds to OM mount adapter, old OM lenses can find a new lease of life on this body. Among other things, the high-class feel of the camera and higher pixel count make the E-M5 the best Olympus model yet.
Some will be put off by the price, especially once accessories such as the grip are added. The camera does include an EVF, though, which would be an extra cost of approximately £230 for users of the Pen system.
At its price point, many people are likely to be disappointed that Olympus chose to keep the four thirds sensor, instead of opting for a new larger unit that would have improved image quality. After all, this is a new line of cameras that could have had a fresh start. However, image detail is crisp and large prints can be produced from fine-quality image files. Furthermore, the E-M5 is part of a large system with numerous optics already available, and the format allows the camera and lenses to be compact in size.
For the utmost in image quality, there are better cameras out there, but for this type of system the E-M5 is, right now, about as good as it gets.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 key highlights
The hotshoe port is the standard Olympus mount, compatible with external flash units such as the FL-36R, FL-50R, FL-300R and FL600-R
As with other current Olympus Pen models, the LCD touchscreen tilts upwards 80° and downwards 50° for high and low angles
Unfortunately, there is no built-in flash, although the FL-LM2 external flash unit is supplied with the camera. This is compact, with a guide number of 10m @ ISO 100. There are extensive in-camera controls for the flash, including manual control for power between full and 1/64, fill-in and three slow-sync flash modes.
Useful information that can be displayed through the viewfinder and the LCD screen include electronic level, histogram and grids divided into 4, 9, 25 or 100. Furthermore, focus magnification at up to 10x aids critical focusing.
Handily, a choice of the entire colour modes collection, totalling 18 in all, can be captured in one press of the shutter, through colour bracketing. In fact, the options available for bracketing, including exposure and white balance, are among the most numerous we have seen in any camera.
Basic image adjustments can be made in-camera, without needing a computer. Edits include an image overlay to merge up to three frames, shadow adjustment, crop, aspect ratio, black & white and sepia adjustments, saturation and the e-Portrait function for images with a face that has been detected.
The OK button in the middle of the D-pad is used to access the quick menu for exposure controls such as white balance and ISO
This sensor detects when you hold the viewfinder to your eye and switches the viewfinder on and the screen off, and vice versa