Olympus OM-D E-M5 review
Olympus raises the bar for compact system cameras, but this capable all-rounder fails to shine in the company of upmarket DSLRs
Review Date: 17 Oct 2012
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
Price when reviewed: £833 (£1,000 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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.
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