Olympus OM-D E-M5 review

17 Oct 2012

Olympus raises the bar for compact system cameras, but this capable all-rounder fails to shine in the company of upmarket DSLRs

Price when reviewed: 
1,000(£1,000 inc VAT)
Buy it now for 
4

Olympus has a knack for fusing retro form with modern function, but it has set a high watermark with the OM-D E-M5. It recalls Olympus’ OM film cameras of the 1970s and 1980s, and uses the same Micro Four Thirds system as Olympus’ PEN and Panasonic’s 
G Series cameras, giving it access to a wide range of lenses.

Optical stabilisation is sensor-based, and it compensates for movement on five axes – rotational movement in three dimensions, plus horizontal and vertical shift.

Our tests at a 1/10s shutter speed and an 80mm (35mm equivalent) focal length produced a success rate of 83%, outstripping by some distance the scores of 50% to 63% achieved by other recent cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

The stabilisation also worked well during video capture, and the OM-D E-M5 generally excelled in video tests. Unlike DSLR lenses, many Micro Four Thirds lenses are designed for video, focusing smoothly and silently during capture. The picture was also extremely sharp, although moiré interference was visible in repeating patterns. Noise in dimly lit scenes was impressively low, but the ISO speed for videos peaks at only 3200.

This camera isn’t an ideal choice for serious videographers. The frame rate is fixed at 30fps, and although priority and manual exposure modes are available, the settings can’t be adjusted during capture. It isn’t even possible to move the autofocus point while recording – something that should be easy via the touchscreen. A microphone input is an optional extra, and there’s no manual volume control. Plus, the HDMI port is only active during playback, so it can’t be used to help frame shots using a camera-mounted portable monitor.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

It’s certainly a handsome compact system camera (CSC), and as such it’s significantly smaller than any DSLR. It isn’t the ergonomic triumph we’d hoped for at this price, though. The buttons are small and have a squishy feel. Battery life is a concern as well, providing enough juice for only 330 shots. There’s no integrated flash, despite the substantial viewfinder hump, and the detachable flash unit made it awkward to use the viewfinder.

Details

Price ex VAT £833
Price inc VAT £1,000
Overall rating 4
Performance 4
Features & Design 3
Image quality 4
Value for Money 3

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 16.1mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera maximum resolution 4608 x 3456

Weight and dimensions

Weight 425g
Dimensions 121 x 42 x 90mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 330 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? no
Aperture range f3.5 - fUnknown
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/4,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 1 mins
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 3EV
ISO range 200 - 25600
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 9.0fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type SDXC
Viewfinder coverage 100%
LCD resolution 610k
Secondary LCD display? no
Body construction Magnesium Alloy
Tripod mounting thread? yes

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? yes

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