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By incorporating the Live MOS sensor from its award winning OM-D camera in the new PEN Lite, or E-PL5, Olympus has once again raised the bar when it comes to the performance expected of a compact system camera. As if this wasn't enough, the new 16.1 megapixel sensor has been paired with another new OM-D component in the TruePic VI image processor. This ensures that the E-PL5 can claim to deliver a lightning fast auto focus comparable to that of Olympus' more expensive flagship model.
Featuring a stunning compact design with an all-metal finish and interchangeable removable grip, the true beauty with the PEN Lite E-PL5 however is that it remains as easy to use as in its previous iterations. There's a tilting touch sensitive back screen for one, allowing for intuitive operation, with key functions literally falling at your fingertips.
Another big advantage over competing compact system cameras remains the PEN Lite's built-in image stabilisation, which means that whatever lens is attached, you're protected from the possible blurring effects of camera shake.
Further streamlining the image sharing process is a direct wireless link to social media and smartphone connectivity, whilst no fewer than 12 digital effects in the shape of Olympus' innovative Art Filters ensure that there are fewer barriers than ever to creating stunning imagery in-camera.
Inspired by the head turning original PEN series designed by Yoshihisa Maitani, which sold over 17 million units worldwide, and aimed at fans of fuss free photography, the diminutive E-PL5 furthers the PEN ethos of offering super image quality and unlimited creative freedom with no associated hassle.
While the cool design of the E-PL5 delivers the eye-catching finish that camera connoisseurs expect, it is all systems go in terms of speed and delivery of images.
The PEN Lite E-PL5 comes equipped with FAST AF, powered by the latest generation TruePic VI image processor as found in the lightning quick OM-D E-M5, thereby boosting auto focus performance to the level of that expected of a semi professional camera. This has also prompted a boost in resolution to 16.1 megapixels in order to guarantee exceptional stills, as well as Full HD movies, with great results even in low light, as light sensitivity now reaches all the way to ISO25600.
What's more, 3D tracking has allowed for improved moving object tracking, while a Live Bulb/Live Time feature can update the Live View image on the rear panel monitor at pre-set intervals during long exposures.
Speaking of rear panel monitors, the E-PL5's 3-inch, high 460,000 dot resolution LCD screen can not only be tilted to easier allow for otherwise awkward low or high angle shooting when it comes to both stills and video, it can also be flipped around to face the photographer to allow for easier self portraiture. This is a greater degree of creative flexibility than has been provided on a PEN camera to date.
Ever wanted to link your camera with your smartphone? Now you can. Another major plus on the latest generation PEN Lite is FlashAir™ compatibility, and the free app that allows users to upload pictures to their favourite social network via the familiar interface on their smartphone. There are free iOS and Android software downloads for editing and sharing images via social networks with the aid of your smartphone and/or computer.
In order to achieve results like the professionals, and with the minimum of effort, the E-PL5 like the E-PL3, E-PL2 and E-PL1 before it once again features the handholding benefits of Olympus' trademark Live Guide. This allows photographers to watch in real time the results of changing functions and settings, such as exposure time and aperture, before even taking a shot.
By simply moving an onscreen slider up or down and viewing the transformation to the image in real time, PEN Lite users are quickly able to master those little settings that make all the difference in terms of more professional looking shots – such as motion and background blur, colour intensity, lighting mood and brightness.
Live Guide can be accessed in Full HD movie, still and P/A/S/M modes. For those who prefer to take control, 'My set' settings are also assignable to any symbol on the mode dial on the PEN Lite E-PL5.
The amount of Art Filters provided by the PEN Lite has been increased when compared to its predecessor. Eye catching effects can be applied to movies as well as stills, and these can be tested in real time on the LCD before being applied at the point the shot is captured. A further innovation this time around is the ability in HD Movie Mode to blend from one Art Filter effect to another, using the Art Fade function.
The 12 new Art Filters in HD movie and stills modes include the new Watercolour, which can be combined with the likes of the new Monochrome setting. Art Filter Bracketing is also offered, to enable different multiple effects to be applied to the same subject with one squeeze of the shutter release button. HDR Bracketing meanwhile allows for capturing one subject with five different exposures, so you'll never be stuck for creative choice.
The PEN Lite E-PL5 features 1080 Full HD stereo movie recording in the MOV format, with the options of watching footage back either on Full HD TV or your PC's monitor. Either way, the results will look great as, whether shooting video or 16.1 megapixel photos, the PEN Lite is designed to deliver a consistently high performance. Naturally the E-PL5 features HDMI output, so it can be hooked up directly to that HDTV.
The latest generation of PEN Lite benefits from the incorporation of the latest generation image processor, the TruePic VI engine. Needless to say this addition makes the camera all-round faster and more responsive, providing a faster recovery time and excellent picture quality. A case in point: up to eight frames per second (8fps) high speed sequential shooting is offered to users of the E-PL5.
As with its acclaimed predecessor, the E-PL5 comes with the sculpted and near silent M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R lens, providing a versatile equivalent of 28-84mm in 35mm film terms. This lens, one of 26 directly compatible Micro Four Thirds lenses available to E-PL5 users, has the advantage of not only providing faster focusing, but also preventing the audible whirr of the lens' mechanics that can otherwise ruin the audio track of your home movies. In addition, 27 Four Thirds lenses and more than 500 other lenses can be used with the E-PL5 with the aid of an adapter.
Additionally, with up to ISO25600 light sensitivity (up from the E-PL3's ISO12800) shooting in lower light conditions without flash in order to achieve more naturalistic results is eminently possible.
Another advantage of the Olympus Micro Four Thirds PEN system is that its lenses are lighter than rivals', as they don't require built in 'IS' of their own. What's more the supplied lens also features a swappable decorative ring, so you can match the lens to the body colour of the PEN camera you've chosen.
The carry and shoot anywhere E-PL5 further takes the worry out of photography and offers almost unlimited memory expansion possibilities by providing compatibility with the new SDXC removable media card format.
This affords high storage capacities of up to a gargantuan 2TB to ensure photographers don't run out of space for those many thousands of photos and videos at an inopportune moment – thereby making the E-PL5 as 'future proof' as possible. Wireless transfer is also possible due to compatibility with (optional) Eye-Fi media cards.
The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is available in black, white or silver.
Optional extras include a super slim 15mm 1:8.0 Body Cap lens. When your regular lens is detached the Body Cap allows photographers to shoot spontaneously and benefit from a built-in barrier against dust. If it's waterproofing you need for diving and snorkelling, the PEN Lite is uniquely compatible with the optional PT-EP10 housing that's watertight down to fully 45 metres. The housing will be available from the end of November 2012.
The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is available in the following configurations:
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