Olympus OM-D E-M5
Outstanding image quality; highly customisable feature set; weather resistant body; fast autofocus and burst mode
Menu system can be daunting; no built-in mic adapter
$1199 (body only); $1299 (with 14-42mm lens); $1499 (with 14-42mm & 40-150mm lenses)
Olympus reached back to its design roots when crafting the new OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera. The original OM line of film SLRs was known for its rich feature set and stylish, compact design, and this new generation is destined to achieve even greater glory.
The E-M5 body – available in black and silver – measures 12cm x 9cm x 4cm and weighs just 425g. While designed to look like a DSLR, it is closer to the size of a compact system camera.
The top panel features an exposure mode dial on the left side and a main dial on the right. There’s also a sub-dial around the shutter release. A programmable button positioned next to the shutter release can be assigned more than a dozen operations such as white balance, ISO and auto-exposure lock. Next to it is the red video record button.
In the centre is the familiar DSLR ‘hump’ housing the electronic viewfinder (EVF), accessory port and hot-shoe. One of those accessories is a microphone adapter; the E-M5 does not offer an external mic jack in the body itself.
The camera back houses a beautiful 3in, 610,000-dot tilting LCD. In shooting mode, the E-M5 displays the image on the LCD until you put the camera up to your eyes. Then it automatically switches to the EVF.
he camera’s body fits well in small hands but isn’t as comfortable for larger mitts. Fortunately, Olympus is offering the accessory HLD-6 grip and battery holder.
In operation, the E-M5 powers up quickly and focuses even faster. With a maximum burst mode of 9 frames per second (fps), it’s great for sporting events. The new 16-megapixel image sensor provides a maximum resolution of 4608 x 3456 pixels.
Five-axis image stabilization is built into the body, so any lens you mount on the camera is stabilised. You can even stabilise the camera’s preview.
With the LCD, you can take advantage of face detection, which works well as long as the person is squarely facing the camera.
For movie recording, Olympus now provides the option of recording in H.264 as well as AVCHD and Motion JPEG. This is great news for Mac users.
The E-M5 also offers plenty of imaging goodies, such as multiple exposure capability, a wide array of scene modes including 3D capture, and a set of art filters that let you preview effects.
In terms of image quality, the E-M5 tops the charts. Exposure, colour, sharpness and distortion categories all rank superior in our tests. JPEGs look terrific with the default settings. RAW files display excellent dynamic range.
All in all, the E-M5 has very few flaws, but the small physical buttons might be difficult for large fingers to press. Mind you, after a few days of shooting and getting used to them, the only button that still posed a challenge for us was the tiny playback button. And when shooting in RAW mode, you may experience a delay of a few seconds before you can review the image on the LCD screen.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
Olympus is a leader in the compact system camera revolution and the OM-D E-M5 solidifies that. It’s a good-looking, well-designed, highly capable camera.