A Gorgeous Reboot of the PEN Series
Olympus PEN E-P5
The E-P5 represents such a significant upgrade over the two-year old E-P3 that it’s better to think of it as a reboot rather than an update. The E-P5 is a Pen with the internals of Olympus’ previous flagship camera, the OM-D E-M5; it carries the same high-quality 16MP sensor and the leading-class 5-axis built-in image stabilization. It increases shooting speed up to 9fps, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 sec to use with fast lenses in good light and tilting rear touch-screen.
The E-P5 may not have the E-M5’s weather-sealing or builtin electronic viewfinder (EVF), but it adds features of its own; including built-in Wi-Fi and focus peaking. While the rear LCD isn’t OLED like the E-M5, it has a higher resolution of 1.04 million dots compared to 610k dots. Flash sync speed is higher at 1/320 sec compared to the E-M5’s 1/250, and even battery life is rated higher, the E-P5 can shoot up to 400 shots per charge compared to the E-M5’s 360 shots.
All these powerful new specs aren’t without cost. The E-P5 is nearly $100 more expensive than the E-P3 at launch, and that’s just the body price alone without lens.
Design & Handling
The E-P5 is easily one of the most charismatic mirrorless system cameras on the market today, and one of the most beautiful digital cameras in recent memory. Like its namesake the Pen F, the Pen E-P5 feels like something you want to keep for a long, long time.
The camera feels solid and dense, it’s actually about 50g heavier than the E-P3 was, but the back and front grip give you a good grip on the body so it doesn’t feel unwieldy. The E-P5 is more functional than the E-P3. It has twin control dials at the front and back, making it as easy to dictate manual controls as with the best DSLR cameras.
There’s a clever switch on the back which enables what Olympus calls the 2 x 2 control dial interface. On ‘1’ the twin control dials manage one set of controls, and turning it to ‘2’ make the dials control other things. There are only 4 preset modes however, so you can’t customize the two sets too much. But we found it a quick way to enable ISO and white balance control without having to go into the quick menu and it’s a smart way to make the twin dials do double-duty.
One reason why the E-P5 is heavier is probably due to the inclusion of Olympus’ leadingclass 5-axis in-body optical image stabilization, which was introduced in the OM-D E-M5. The technology is solid; you can spot when the OIS actually kicks in on the preview screen and see the image stabilize.
Built-in Wi-Fi finally comes to Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds cameras, which is about time. Pairing with a smart device is easy, thanks to Olympus’ rather ingenious method. The E-P5 will display a QR code, which you scan using the Olympus app, and then - viola - your smart device is paired.
Unlike the Panasonic GX7 or the Sony NEX-6, the E-P5 doesn’t come with a built-in live viewfinder. But there’s a 17mm lens kit which comes with the VF4 LVF attachment. The VF4 adds quite a bit of extra height to the E-P5, but it’s probably the best LVF in the market today. The screen is big and luxurious with