on 30 April 2012
I bought this camera after seeing it first hand at FOCUS in the NEC earlier in the year. I do a lot of travel photography and I can honestly say it is a brilliant camera for this purpose. I've previously had a DSLR and I often found it too bulky and too obtrusive... you can almost hide this camera in your hand! The image stabilisation is much better than previous incarnations and makes those impromtu shots much easier to get right. You can take 90% of shots hand-held without any support or tripod.
The build quality is excellent. I've got a (free) grip on order, but even without one the camera feels very comfortable in my hands....and no wrist strain from my previous heavy DSLR.
The waterproofing is very useful when you get caught in the rain. Battery life is very reasonable (600+ shots).
The buttons are a little 'soft', but not really an issue. The included flash is not really needed in most situations as the image stabilisation lets you take photos without flash in much darker situations than normally would be possible.
The video quality is great and does not suffer the 'jelly on a plate' like effect when panning as most (if not all) other DSLRs do.
The 12-50 lens is a good all-rounder, with macro capability and both standard and video type (power) zooming.
I went for the black and I'm glad I did. There were some negative comments on the net about the case being slippy, but I have not found this at all.
The menus/features are highly customisable...even more so than my previous 'flagship' DSLR.
Overall a great buy.
on 4 December 2014
I began my professional career with a an old Canon AE back in the 1970s, before discovering the original Olympus OM series. I have small hands, so the size of the OM1 suited me well. I added an OM2 soon after and then, later, an OM10 as a back-up. Meanwhile, I also used a Canon T90 – a real classic workhorse of a camera, which I loved and used for over 10 years. I then bought a Nikon F90X, which was OK, but a little underwhelming. In the 1990s, I moved across to digital, buying first Fuji S1 Pro, which was basically the F90 in digital format, allowing me to use my same lenses. Happy to go digital, I then bought a Nikon D2X, which I still have, and which sits next to my Nikon F5 film camera, both now gathering dust thanks to the new Olympus range in my life! It began with a camera-savvyfriend enthusing about his Olympus EP-3 compact, so I bought one to replace my Canon G9 compact. I soon discovered I was using the EP-3 more than anything, so acquired an EPL-1 as a cheap back-up (having had a camera fail on me 20 minutes before the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours while shooting in the pit lane, I always keep a back-up handy). When the new OMD range came out, I began considering another swap, but instead kept all my Nikons (can't bear to part with them) and EP-series Olympus bodies and lashed out on an EM-5. I love the compact and robust nature of it – it is exceptionally well made, ergonomically near perfect and the electronics incredible. It also represents exceptional value for money and has completely and utterly renewed my enthusiasm for carrying a camera around just for the sake of it. All I can say is, buy one and you will NOT regret it. Th photo is of my friend's (real) Porsche Speedster taken on the EM-5 with a Pana-Leica f1.4 lens. 8000ASA handheld at 40th
on 5 November 2012
The Olympus OM-D EM-5 is without a doubt the finest micro four thirds camera built to date. Complemented by a wide range of prime and zoom lenses, it is superbly built, focuses swiftly even in low light, and is backed up by excellent customer service from Olympus. For portraits and low light work ( landscapes at dawn/dusk for example) it is especially superb with the pana/leica summilux F1.4 25mm asph lens, giving excellent bokeh even in low light. The relatively inexpensive panasonic 100-300mm zoom lens, not much larger than a standard 18-55mm zoom lens on an amateur/semi-pro dslr ( like the APSC half-frame Nikon D3200 or D7000 ), will zoom to a 600mm equivalent thus enabling the user to shoot high quality distance shots; perfect for wildlife and birds in particular, without having to carry a house brick's worth of weight. The icing on the cake is that the 12-50mm zoom it comes with is optically superior to just about every other standard zoom lens available for less than four figures.
Read Steve Huff, an independent photographer/reviewer, and see his results fullscreen;
Go to the dpreview camera review site for more than 20 pages of detailed review with many more samples;
Or just take my word, and that of all but one of the other reviewers here, that this really is a Great Camera.
on 22 May 2013
In the past 10 years I used quite a few cameras, and image quality was always paramount to me. I had Olympus C8080 before I switched to Canon 450D, from which I moved to Olympus E-M5. I'm not a brand fanboy (never understood Nikon vs Canon holywar) and would always chose camera according to my needs/finance, not by brand. I also used some medium-class cameras such as Canon 40D and Canon 7D, with a bunch of zoom and prime lenses (most of them rented out).
One thing I noted that it was more and more often I would leave my Canon at home. Either because of the bulk or fear that I would look too intrusive having a big black camera with a massive lens with me. The best camera is the one that is with you, so I started looking around for smaller alternatives.
I was watching Micro Four Thirds system development closely for about a year, and it would tick all the boxes - compact size without compromise on features, wide choice of high quality glass, beautiful Olympus colour, out-of-camera JPEG and in-body stabilizer - except the image sensor that was a couple of years behind the competition, so that low-light images would suffer from excessive noise.
The game changed when Olympus presented E-M5 with brand new Sony sensor (later also adopted by Panasonic GH3), and I bought it via pre-order.
Having had the E-M5 for about a year now, I don't understand why people still buy entry-level DLSRs! Image quality with good lenses is absolutely smashing!
Seriously, every time I compare my images shot by Canon 450D and this tiny little beast, I have a feeling that I was using a beer bottle as a lens before, so crystal clear and razor sharp images from Olympus are!
The good things (not complete but the most important for me):
* Image sensor has high sensitivity and dynamic range, on par (or better!) than most of entry/mid level DSLRs
* In-body stabilizer is a miracle - in 99% of cases I don't use tripod, and having sharp handheld images with 1/2 sec speed (!!!) is a norm
* Metering and auto white balance is very good, I only correct them in maybe 10% of my pictures
* Autofocus speed is lighting fast (except some older lenses)
* Features and customization is on par with top DSLRs
* Out-of-camera JPEG are very good
The bad things:
* second battery is a must - stabilizer and bright screen eat a lot of energy
* kit lens (12-50) is mediocre for stills, I only use it for video
* bundled RAW processing software is rather slow
on 27 June 2012
Have to say I am tremendously impressed by this camera. I am a long time Nikon DSLR user and have been somewhat sceptical of the m4/3s format but the release of this camera gave me 2nd thoughts. The camera is a joy to use and the EVF is excellent, but ultimately the most important thing with any camera is the quality of the pictures. I think I have pretty high standards when it comes to image quality and so far the Om-d and the selection of lenses that I use have met that standard. Without really quite detailed examination the images are indistinguishable in quality from shots taken on my Nikon D90 with Nikon lenses. The OM-D images are fantastic up to ISO 800 while 1600 and 3200 are fine for almost all uses although maybe not to A3+ size. Although if you dial back the in camera noise reduction and spend time in lightroom/aperture etc even this would be fine unless you were incredibly picky. The camera in body image stabilisation system is great and can be set to work in live view as well as when shooting (a first for the Olympus m4/3rd cameras I think) and this makes hand holding lenses like the 75-300mm at its long end much easier. The degree of customisation that is available with the camera is also extremely impressive. One interesting result of using this camera is that due to the hugely impressive Olympus JPEG engine I have actually, for the first time, switched from shooting raw to JPEG. I found I was having to spend a lot of time in post processing working on raw images just to get them to look as good as 95% of the camera JPEGs. Obviously there are times when JPEG will let you down but a lot of those are predictable (tricky white balance etc) and then you can switch to raw but IMHO shooting raw all the time with this camera will result in the user wasting a lot of time on unnecessary pp work.
There is also a huge "less is more" factor with this camera. I can carry the camera and lenses to cover 24mm-600mm (35mm equiv.) in a small rucksack all day without a thought, something I wouldn't even contemplate doing with my Nikons, the end result of which is that you take it with you more often and take more pictures and have more fun.
Overall I heartily recommend this camera. To me the OM-D marks the "coming of age" of the m4/3s format and I can see the APS-C DSLR's being increasingly squeezed between the m4/3s on the one side and the full frame DSLR's on the other......
on 12 August 2014
Although advertised as 'New', the box containing the camera, and it's accessories, was unsealed.
A phone call to Amazon resulted in an immediate apology, and a satisfactory resolution to the situation.
The camera's firmware was Version 1.2 dating from July 2012.
Having downloaded the Olympus Digital Camera Updater, updating the firmware to the current version 2.0 was easy and straight forward.
Then the battle began.
The camera is correctly described as being highly configurable.
The downside is that the menu system is the most lengthy, convoluted, and user unfriendly I have experienced in all my years of using digital cameras.
Why, for heavens sake, is the SCP (Super Control Panel), which makes life so much easier to alter parameters, switched off by default?
One has to steadily work one's way through so many menus, and sub-menus, that setting up the camera is not for the easily daunted.
In fact, having missed a couple of settings, I was convinced that I had a faulty camera since certain features were inoperative.
Several resets, and attempts later, the camera was set up to my satisfaction.
After such a steep learning curve, it would have been a severe disappointment if results from the camera had been anything less than stellar.
Suffice to say that, in conjunction with my Panasonic Lumix 14-45mm lens, the OM-D EM5 produces JPEG images that are very impressive even in low light situations.
The camera with it's 5-way image stabilisation, and high ISO capability, make hand holding a slow lens in low light no bar to producing excellent image quality.
Apart from the poorly placed on/off switch, I have found the various buttons and dials easy to operate, and the overall handling of the camera, even with my large hands, is fine.
Handling should be even better with the HLD-6 Grip which is available free with the Olympus promotion which runs until the 31/08/2014.
The Grip has a retail price of approximately £200, which makes the package with the OM-D EM-5 an extremely attractive one.
To anyone contemplating buying an OM-D EM-5, I would say don't let a less than user friendly set-up procedure deter you from acquiring a tough, weather sealed, well built camera that is ultimately configurable to produce excellent results to your personal satisfaction.
on 12 January 2013
I bought my E-M5 with 12-50mm kit lens in July 2012 through Amazon UK for £1000, imported from Hong Kong. I upgrade from my Panasonic GF1, because I wanted a view finder for composing pictures on bright sunny days and when using a zoom. I bought into Micro Four Thirds (MFT) a few years ago because of the trade-off between image quality and camera size.
I'm a sucker for a beautiful camera, so I bought the silver version. The black version is less eye-catching, but some of my favourite lenses are silver, and they stood out like a sore thumb on my black GF1.
Here are the things I like about the camera:
i) When fitted with certain prime lenses and a wrist-strap, this camera is almost the perfect size. It's small enough to go almost everywhere with me, stuffed in a jacket pocket, messenger bag or rucksack. (I don't think I would wand the body to be much smaller).
ii) It's very discrete (even in silver) and people don't tend to mind or notice when I take photographs. The touch to shoot LCD screen is really good fun for taking sneaky shots without anyone noticing.
iii) The image quality is a big improvement on the GF1. The difference between indoor shots with an identical is just incredible.
iv) I really like the fast prime lenses in the MFT system. I already owned the Olympus 12mm f2, the Olympus 45mm F1.8 and Panasonic 20mm F1.7 before I bought the camera.
v) It is fast at focusing for a compact system camera, unless you use a slow focusing lens like the Panasonic 20mm F1.7.
vi) The top control dials (PASM, Exposure and Aperture/Shutter) are a joy to use. I mention this because a lot of mirror-less cameras only have 2 of the 3 control dials.
vii) The in-body image stabilization is amazing. Nearly all the MFT prime lenses are un-stabilized, so it is really handy.
viii) The Electronic View Finder (EVF) is heaven after owning a GF1, and much better than the EVFs on early mirror-less cameras. You can check if the sensor is clipping, spirit level, etc. I don't mind that it is not optical, because camera size is far more important to me.
ix) It looks and feels good (for the most part).
x) It makes fairly good videos, especially with the image stabilization.
xi) The software is nice and simple. Firmware update software is hassle free, and picture viewer software is quick and simple to retouch photos (white balance, exposure, noise reduction, etc.)
No camera is perfect, and there are some things about the E-M5 that spoil the experience :
i) The position of the ON/OFF switch is not well located and I find myself fumbling for it when I want to quickly take a shot.
ii) The EVF eye sensor often detects my hand when I use the rear LCD screen's touch to shoot function, turning off the LCD screen and causing me to miss the shot.
iii) There are some fiddly clip on bits, and I have already replaced a lost the eyecup (£20) and the hot-shoe cover. The eyecup is particularly prone to coming unclipped.
iv) The ISO only goes down to 200 not 100 (max shutter speed of 4000), so it can be difficult to shoot at low aperture settings outside.
v) I find there are not enough buttons on the back of the camera (the LCD screen takes up all the space), so it is a bit fiddly to change certain setting.
vi) I really don't like the way Olympus implemented the custom settings (myset). They are not quickly accessible via the PASM mode dial and you cannot program a button to toggle through myset 1 to 5.
vii) Some controls and functions are quirky; you can only program certain functions to certain buttons. Bracketing is buried in the menus rather than grouped with the single/burst/timer, the format memory card is the first option in the menu (which seems like a dangerous place to put it), and I could go on........ I am waiting for David Busch's book "Olympus Om-D E-M5 Guide to Digital Photography" to better understand the logic behind these peculiarities.
viii)Lots of Olympus lenses are only available in silver, never supplied with a lens hood, never supplied with a lens case, never fit in a 3rd party lens case. Keep up the good work Panasonic, perhaps Olympus may one day learn !
I cannot comment on the 12-50mm kit lens, as I have hardly used it (perhaps that sums it up). It is too big and slow (aperture) for my taste, and I keep accidentally switching to E-zoom. I would have preferred to pay only £800 for the body, than £1000 for the body + kit lens.
Here are some things you might read in magazines and on the internet :
i) Sound of the image stabilization....Gone with firmware update 1.5.
ii) ~330 shot battery life and £60 pounds for a genuine spare.....I bought a third party battery + charger for £20 on amazon.
iii) No built in flash...Never needed it with a fast prime lenses, ISO=<1600 using RAW.
iv) Excellent customizable...I actually prefer the buttons on the GF1.
v) Olympus lenses work best on Olympus bodies and Panasonic lenses work best on Panasonic bodies....Don't agree. The Panasonic 14 - 45mm and 45 - 200mm work like a charm on the E-M5, as do the Olympus 12mm F2 and 45mm F1.8 on the GF1. The Panasonic 20mm F1.7 is slow to focus on all bodies. The only differences are, Panasonic bodies don't have image stabilization and automatically correct for CA.
vi) No manual focus peaking....If you are desperate for this function, you can use art filter 11ii (see youtube clip from Amin Sabet).
I would definitely recommend this camera to anyone who has already bought into the MFT format. Despite some quirks, for me it is the best MFT camera with built in view finder. If you are not already a MFT user, then you should ask yourself whether size really matters. You are paying a premium for picture quality in such a small package, and you lose some ergonomics compared to a DSLR.
I also recommend checking out the different lenses before you buy, as the best are not offered in a kit. I probably wouldn't rate this camera, if I didn't already own the 12mm and 45mm prime lenses. I was going to give this a camera four stars (-1 star for price and ergonomics), but I have just been looking at my Christmas photos and they are soooo nice. In fact, they make me want to spend even more money on a new lens (50mmF1.4) !
Finally, what sort of photos do I take; 5% street, 10% travel photo, 30% social gatherings (parties, etc.), 50% family, 5% other. Nearly all my photos have people in them, which is one of the reasons why a value a small(ish) camera. This camera is almost perfect for me (the way some of the controls & functions are implemented is not exactly to my taste).
on 24 May 2015
The Olympus OMD-EM5 is built like a swiss watch and as every function a enthusiast could wish for , ive been into photography for 30 years and have had a multitude of SLR's and DSLR's at the moment I own a Nikon D7000 / 16-85mm combo and find it utterly superb for everything I ask of it , in typical Nikon tradition its built like a tank and very business like , but that in itself creates a problem ! that problem is the fact that its tank like construction comes with heavyweight bulk . Having a lighter camera for day to day use seemed a great way to go , but being picky over image quality going backwards on the 7000's image quality never appealed so I ended up going a lot of places without a camera and missing opportunities , the micro four thirds camera's have a great reputation for image quality so I decided to give the OMD a whirl with a good prime lens attached , the EM5 is going for a bargain price now the newer EM10 (and EM5 II) have arrived , that made it a dead cert in my book , the rave reviews its had are thoroughly justified and its an astounding camera for this price , ive fitted it with a sigma art series 19mm and it really is a revelation to use and gives sublime results , I will never give up my D7000 as im a die hard old timer but this camera beats it on most accounts and the image quality is even better ! all I can say is if you've got any reservations about buying a OMD, don't have as the are a match for the DSLR's out there in everything and their smaller size brings the fun back into picture taking , infact id go as far as to say ill be sticking to the OMD range from now on . the EM5 its built as good as any Nikon and is a very very serious bit of kit ! And also the sigma primes are a perfect match if your after mouth watering image quality in a ultra portable package . I say well done mr Olympus for taking on the big boys and coming out on top !! I may never even buy another DSLR again once the 7000,s given up the ghost , but then again both these camera will probably still be going strong after ive given up the ghost there that well made lol .
on 30 December 2013
I've now been using my Olympus E-M5 for a full year. It's a truly excellent camera and even now, one year on, I haven't seen any other camera that would tempt me away from using the E-M5. For me it's just an ideal combination of image quality, size, lens options, build quality and cost.
Image quality is stunning, particularly when using a prime lens such as the Olympus 45mm f1.8 or the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. Images don't look quite so sharp with the 12-50mm kit lens that comes with the camera, but on the plus side the lens is very versatile: zoomed out it's ideal for taking wide shots such as interiors, it's got a handy macro mode and it also has the same stunning build quality of the E-M5 itself.
As compared to my old Canon DSLR, battery life is significantly shorter on the Olympus, but this is to be expected on the basis that the Olympus has an electronic (as opposed to optical) viewfinder, it has a lovely high-res screen on the back, and it's running an image stabilization system while the camera is in use. In practice the shorter battery life is of no real consequence to me; during heavier use I might take around 100 photos a day, but the battery will still last 3 days or more at this rate. I also keep a third-party battery with me as a backup, but so far I haven't actually needed this.
One aspect that did surprise me was the fact that focus regions are squares, as opposed to on my old Canon digital SLR camera where each focus region was a dot. I assume this is to do with the Olympus' contrast detection autofocus system, where unlike the Canon which could focus on a single point, the Olympus needs to gather a larger area of the image to do the contrast detection on. This felt strange at first, as with the Canon I'd grown used to the precision feel of a single focus point. For example I'd often train the focus point right on the corner of a subject's eye. This isn't practical with the Olympus because even the smallest possible focus area is too large to do that accurately with. However, the Olympus does have a face detection mode which seems to work well in this use case, and I can't recall any other scenarios where the lack of a tiny focus point has caused problems.
Build quality is truly exceptional, and after one year the camera still looks like new. It's taken a few knocks without problems, and its weather sealing has been tested in snow and rain, again with no problems.
It is an expensive camera and I did consider some of the cheaper alternatives before buying. There are Panasonic models available, for example, that whilst not having all of the advanced features of the Olympus, were broadly of the same spec for significantly less money. Ultimately though I'm glad I paid the extra for the Olympus. The way everything comes together with the Olympus is spectacular and it really does have a premium feel that seems to put it in a different league to anything else I considered.
on 31 December 2014
I'm going to keep this brief: from Canon 1D MKIII to Nikon D3's and lots in between (D3200, 5D & 7D etc) - I became increasingly aware that my enjoyment of taking photos was being impacted about the sheer amount of kit I was trawling around. Enter the OMD E5 and with some trepidation I invested in one... never looked back!
Quality is superb (including low light conditions), the kit is minimal and the speed you can take easy shots without continuously fumbling about for the "right lense" is phenomenal. In the end I sold off the the Nikon D3 with its wonderful plethora of lenses because while brilliant it just wasn't fun any more.
If you want to retain your enjoyment of photography if the amount of kit is getting you down then I really can't stress enough how good the OMD EM5 is. It really is that good. I can take any photo I need with the Leica Summix 25mm 1.4, 9-18mm Oly and the Oly 40-150... three lenses - thats it.
Ok so it wasn't that brief..