Olympus Announces New Flagship PEN E-P5

Image by Olympus

Olympus has just announced their latest PEN, the E-P5.  It carries forward the traditional look of the PEN line while adding most of the capabilities of the highly acclaimed OM-D E-M5.

The E-P5 will have the OM-D’s 16 MP sensor and 5-axis IBIS for stabilization, plus a host of new features:

  • Shutter speed up to 1/8000th of a second. 
  • Built-in Wi-Fi. 
  • Two control dials … with a twist … a switch on the back of the camera allows you to change what the dials control. 
  • High resolution (approx. 1.04 million dots) tilt/touch LCD screen. 
  • A new optional VF-4 EVF with 2.36 million dot resolution, 1.48x magnification, and automatic switching between the monitor and the EVF. 
You can read the Olympus press release here:  Olympus Announces E-P5 and the DPReview.com hands-on preview here:  Olympus PEN E-P5 Hands-on Preview
This looks like a very capable and exciting new camera for Olympus and is supposed to start shipping in just a few weeks.  Interestingly, one of the kit options includes the new “black” 17mm f/1.8 lens and the VF-4 electronic viewfinder.  This kit is priced at USD $1,449.
Image by Olympus
Advertisements

Olympus OM-D E-M5 … Yes, I Like it!

I’m still amazed at all that this camera can do and how well it does it. Sure, I have a few little annoyances … okay, maybe a couple … but overall I just like it – a lot! Going forward, I won’t be attempting to do a professional review or any technical tests and comparisons. Almost everything here will be very subjective according to my personal tastes.

Today, I’m just going to post a few of the initial images and maybe a few comments about various features I’ve discovered, so far. Most of these images have had some light processing in Lightroom 4 since they were RAW files and needed a bit of contrast and saturation added.

Just for fun, this first photo was taken using the Key Line filter found in the Art Mode. One really cool thing the Art Mode can do is bracket all of the art filters available. Even if you’re using only RAW, once you’ve selected this and take the photo, the camera does in camera processing to give you a JPG of each art filter, plus you’ll still have the original unedited RAW file. It does take a few seconds to accomplish this so there will be a short “time-out” before you can take another shot.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200; Key Line Art Filter

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 200

 Here, the ISO starts to bump up, 2500, but still very clean at web sizes.

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 2500

This image was taken at ISO 25600 and at this size looks fairly good. When “pixel-peeping” the full sized image, there is a lot of noise and noticeable loss of detail and it is certainly unsuitable for any kind of commercial printing. However, it is still VERY usable and when that once in a lifetime chance comes for a moon light shot of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, this could make you famous! 🙂

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 25600

Olympus 14-42mm II R; ISO 6400

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4; ISO 200

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 1600

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 800

Olympus 45mm f/1.8; ISO 8000

Next, I’d like to address a couple of the complaints I’ve read here and there on the internet.

  • Noise: There have been lots of comments about the noise from the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). It’s mostly what I would call whisper quiet, a bit like a laptop fan on its lowest setting. Sure, you can hear it, but the only time I “notice” it, is when it stops – i.e. when I turn the camera off or it goes to sleep.
  • I’ve read a couple of complaints about how the right strap post is in the way and very uncomfortable. Maybe I just have the right sized hands, but I’ve never even noticed it.
  • Too Slow to Wake Up: One blogger complained that he missed shots because his E-M5 took too long to wake up. Frankly, I can’t even imagine that happening. From Sleep, it took about a second, maybe 1.5 seconds, for the camera to wake up, focus, and get the shot.
A couple of my favorite things:
  • IBIS – So far I’ve taken sharp photos with the Leica 25mm lens (50mm equiv.) at shutter speeds as low as 1/5 second. I think it is as good a stabilization as I’ve ever experienced and I’ve owned some pretty high end equipment.
  • Autofocus Speed – Olympus claims it is the world’s fastest autofocus (contrast detect I think) and I have no reason to doubt that claim. It is very fast and very accurate even in dim light on dark subjects. I’ve only seen it hunt one time and that was shooting a dark object in low light. Of course, a good Phase Detection AF system like you find on DSLR’s can out do it, but not by much. It’s a huge improvement over what I saw with the NEX-7 and Fuji X100.
Finally, I do have a complaint. I love the size and I’m still amazed at how much they have packed in to this small package. However, that small size does cause one problem for me. With the arrow keys set to move the focus point around, I find that my thumb pad is often inadvertently changing the focus point. Maybe there’s an elegant solution I just haven’t found yet – I hope so.
So, as you can tell, I LOVE this camera. It’s small and fast, looks fantastic, takes excellent images, and is fun! Now, it’s time to get back to taking pictures! 🙂

Full Review of Olympus OM-D E-M5 Posted at DPReview!

DPReview.com has finally posted its full review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

They have lots of good things to say including, “…the E_M5 is one of the best looking cameras we’ve encountered in some time.” (I agree.)

They go on to give the camera an 80% rating and their prestigious Gold Award: “The E-M5 is without question, the most accomplished Micro Four Thirds camera we’ve yet seen, and given how well established the system has become, it vies for the title of most capable mirrorless option yet.” Here, I think they are talking about it as a “system” and the established large number of lenses and other accessories that are available.

As usual, DPReview presents a great, unbiased, and thorough look at every nuance of the E-M5, pointing out its many strengths, a few weaknesses, and an in depth look at the possibilities.

So, go take a look. If you’re already committed, then you’ll feel even better about your decision. If you’re still on the fence, it just might knock you off – in favor of the E-M5. And if you’re not interested … well, then it still makes for good comparative reading.

Now, the BIG question ……… is Amazon going to come through with tomorrow’s delivery (to me), or continue to keep me frustrated? I’ll let you know.

UPDATE – Olympus E-M5 or Sony NEX-7 ?

I’ve been out of town for a few days and a lot has been happening with regard to the E-M5.


The biggest development has been the release of “Studio Scene” images on DPReview.com. There, we can finally compare the E-M5 head-to-head with all of the other cameras that DPReview has tested.
I compared it to the NEX-7, Fujifilm X100, and Sony NEX-5N … three cameras that I have also used personally. What surprised, and pleased, me was the fact that (to my eye) the E-M5 beat the NEX-7 and compared very favorably to the other two. So, go look for yourself, compare it to your favorite cameras, and let me know how you see it.
On another note, I’ve added a page to my blog where I am trying to put together an up-to-date list of links to other websites with good information and reviews about the Olympus OM-D E-M5. You can see that here at Thru Mikes Viewfinder.
——————— Original Post Below ———————
*Images from manufacturers websites are not to scale
So, what do you think – the Sony NEX-7 or the Olympus E-M5.
One problem is the lack of images from a production E-M5 camera, making it hard to directly compare image quality, especially at higher ISOs. That means, most of my information will be based on specs and available reviews of the E-M5 and my hands on experience with the NEX-7.
COST [+ E-M5]
For the camera bodies, the price is similar with the NEX-7 being slightly higher at $1200 compared to $1000 for the E-M5.
SIZE [same]
They are almost identical in size except, of course, for the “viewfinder hump” on the E-M5.
LENS AVAILABILITY [E-M5]
As close as I can tell, the Olympus has 13 “native” lenses available while Sony only has 9, so far. Of course, they both can use a much wider range with the use of various adapters. Still, any adapter adds a bit of bulk so I’m going with the E-M5, here.
RESOLUTION [NEX-7]
The NEX-7 wins this one, hands down, with 24 Mp compared to only 16 Mp for the E-M5. A true test of image quality should wait until the production E-M5 is out and there are more images for us to view. However, that being said, I’m expecting the Sony to be slightly better – we’ll see.
FRAME RATE [same]
This is so close as to not be a factor with Olympus claiming 9 fps versus Sony’s 10 fps. One review I read, actually clocked the E-M5 at 10 fps, so they are very close.
IMAGE STABILIZATION [E-M5]
For me, this is important. As I’ve aged, I’ve found I have a slight tremor in my “shooting” hand, so I will take all the help I can get. Sony does have some IS lenses for the NEX-7, but with the E-M5, every lens is stabilized.
MENU OPTIONS AND CUSTOMIZABILITY [E-M5]
It appears to me that the Olympus has significantly more options to customize various settings. Of course, by necessity, this probably means their menu system may be a bit more complicated but I like being able to decide how I want certain things to work.

WEATHER SEALING [E-M5]
NEX-7 doesn’t have it … E-M5 does.
VIEWFINDER [? E-M5 ?]
While I’ve found the NEX-7 viewfinder to be excellent, there is one thing that bothers me about it … high noise levels in very low light levels, like shooting stars, for instance. There is almost too much noise to even bother looking through the EVF. What makes me think the E-M5 EVF could be better is its lower resolution. The reason I think this, is that has been my experience using the Fujifilm X100.
COMPLAINTS [E-M5 – maybe]
The Tri-Navi control system on the NEX-7 is wonderful … except … the top knobs are just too easy to turn accidentally, especially the right one. I find I am often shooting with some “unintended” exposure compensation. The “click stops” just need to be a little bit stiffer.
My other BIG complaint is with the position of the Video button on the NEX-7. I probably average at least one unintentional movie a day, sometimes more. I try to turn the camera off when I’m not getting ready to take a shot, but that is not an optimal solution. These complaints have been loud and numerous around the internet and should be easily fixable with a firmware update, but so far … Sony has not responded.
There may be some serious design flaws in the E-M5, but I haven’t read about them, yet.


CONCLUSION
In this completely biased and unscientific examination, the Olympus E-M5 is the clear winner, even if the unknowns happen to fall to Sony, later.
There are, of course, many other areas of comparison, but these are the ones that caught my interest. I’m sure you all have different needs and wants in a camera, so please feel free to chime in … I suspect I’ll learn something if you do. 🙂