Preview: Olympus Pen E-P5

Launch SRP ▼

Introduction

Introduction

There's a pattern to technology updates. If you introduce a groundbreaking high-end product like the Olympus OM-D E-M5, you'll usually follow up a few months later with a cheaper, lower-powered model. But not so with Olympus, which seems to be breaking all the rules.

First, they put the same, high quality 16MP sensor from the E-M5 into the entry-level Pen E-PL5. Now, they're taking the best from the flagship E-M5 and putting that into the new Olympus Pen E-P5. Not everything to be sure, it doesn't have the E-M5's weather-sealing, or a built-in electronic viewfinder. But it does have the same 16MP image sensor, 5-axis image stabilization, and in some ways is even better than Olympus' mirrorless flagship, throwing new features like Wi-Fi, focus peaking into the mix.

As a bonus, the E-P5 is also drop-dead gorgeous. Seriously, if you can't appreciate how great the E-P5 looks, you're probably dead inside.

The E-P5 is a Significant Reboot

The E-P5 represents a significant upgrade to 2011's E-P3 (yup, they skipped unlucky number 4), so much so that it's easier to think of it as a reboot than an update. There are now two control dials instead of one, and when you flip a back Function lever the two dials change functions - in effect, you get double the controls via a switch of the lever. Very clever.

The E-P5 can also shoot up to 1/8000th of a second, and ISO can be expanded to ISO 100, which helps when you want to shoot wide open with fast glass in bright light. The built-in Wi-Fi pairs the E-P5 with an iOS or Android smartphone via the Olympus OI.Share app; you can shoot using your smartphone as a remote, transmit photos over, as well as tag them with GPS co-ordinates using the phone. 

The E-M5's auto-focus is supposed to be even faster in the E-P5, and manual focusing will be even easier now thanks to the additional of focus peaking. The 3" touch-screen tilting LCD isn't OLED like the E-M5, but it's actually higher resolution with 1.04 million dots compared to 610k dots. Flash synchronization speed is higher at 1/320th of a second to the E-M5's 1/250th, even battery life is higher; the E-P5 can shoot up to 400 shots per charge compared to the E-M5's 360 shots.

Not Without Some Cost

All those goodies don't come without some costs. The E-P5 is nearly S$100 more expensive than the E-P3 at its launch, and that's just the E-P5's body alone price with no lens. During our meeting with Olympus, they said that enthusiasts aren't usually enthused with kit lenses, with which we have to agree. That's why they're selling the E-P5 at either body alone, or with the delicious 17mm f/1.8 prime lens and new VF4 electronic viewfinder...which actually costs S$100 more than the E-M5's pricier kit.

The E-P5 also gains a bit of weight, at 420g it's heavier than the E-P3 and just 5g shy of the E-M5. Check out more impressions of the E-P5's redesign and handling on the next page.

Olympus E-P5 Compared
 

Pen E-P3

Pen E-P5

OM-D E-M5

Megapixels 12.3MP 16MP 16MP
Image Engine TruePic VI TruePic VI TruePic VI
Image Stabilization Built-in 5-axis 5-axis
Electronic Viewfinder Optional Optional Approx. 1.44m dots
Monitor 3" OLED with touch control, approx. 614k dots 3" tilt with touch control, approx. 1037k dots 3" tilt OLED with touch control, approx. 610k dots
Shutter Speeds 1/4000-60 sec., Bulb (up to 30 min.) 1/8000-60 sec., Bulb (1-30 min. selectable) 1/4000-60 sec., Bulb (1-30 min. selectable)
Flash Built-in, 1/180 sync speed Built-in, 1/320 sec. sync speed, 1/250 sec. (external flash) External flash (bundled), 1/250 sec. sync speed (depending on flash models)
Fastest Shooting Speed 3fps 9fps 9fps
Highest Movie Resolutions 1920 x 1080/60i, 20Mbps (Fine) 1920 x 1080/30p, 20Mbps (Fine) 1920 x 1080/30p, 20Mbps (Fine)
Wi-Fi N.A. Built-in N.A.
Battery Life Approx. 330 shots Approx. 400 shots Approx. 360 shots
Dimensions 122.0 x 69.1 x 34.3mm 122.3 x 68.9 x 37.2mm 121 x 89.6 x 41.9mm
Weight (with Battery & Memory Card) Approx. 369g Approx. 420g Approx. 425g
Retail Prices
  • S$1,298 (with 14-42mm kit lens)
  • S$1,548 (with 14-42mm & 40-150mm kit lenses)
  • S$1,388 (body only)
  • S$1,988 (with 17mm f/1.8 lens & VF4 viewfinder)
  • S$1,488 (body only)
  • S$1,888 (with 12-50mm kit lens)

 

9.0
Performance
9
Design
9
Features
9
User-Friendliness
8
Value
8.5
The Good
Beautiful design
Twin control dials instead of one
Easy to switch AF points
Leading-class 5-axis IS
Impeccable image quality
The Bad
Strap lugs get in way of fingers
UI not intuitive in some places
Menu doesn't respond to touch
White balance leans towards yellow