It’s about time I got around to writing this, I’ve had the E-P5 for a couple of months now. I ended up with one primarily because I wanted the Olympus 17mm lens in black, which wasn’t available at the time in the UK, unless it was part of a kit.
Let’s tackle the biggest issue head on. Price. The E-P5 is too expensive for what it is. I’m not quite sure what possessed Olympus when they set the price. I certainly wasn’t willing to pay the UK price. I solved this by getting mine from DigitalRev in Hong Kong. I’m not going to buy everything from HK or Asia going forwards, I like having camera retailers in the UK – they do add value and it isn’t their fault the manufacturers set crazy prices, but nonetheless nearly £1300 was a bridge too far for me.
Let’s tackle the second biggest issue. The viewfinder. Should it have been integrated in the body? Yes. No question. It is criminal for an expensive CSC not to include an integrated viewfinder in this day and age. That said, the VF4 is actually very good. It’s sharp, high resolution with the right amount of contrast and almost no lag.
So, the E-P5 has a lot of work to do. The popular perception seems to be negative. What’s to like, if anything?
The build quality is immaculate. I don’t think I’ve seen a CSC this well finished. It feels solid, despite its small size. I was actually surprised to learn it wasn’t weather sealed.
The shutter, the shutter speed is everything… So this was the first camera in its class to have a 1/8000 mechanical shutter. It’s just great. Tops. Over the moon, etc. being able to forget about carrying ND filters for shooting wide open in sunlight is one of the best features in years. 9 frames per second continuous shooting speed is up there with professional DSLRs too. It’s better than my D800E!
The wifi is well implemented too. Credit should go to the team that designed Olympus’ app, which isn’t flashy but just works. If I think I want to get instant results for social media the E-P5 is my camera of choice at the minute. On Friday I was posting pictures to Facebook from the concert I was in.
The controls seem based on those of the E-M5, but better quality. No more squishy buttons and I prefer the dial layout. From a controls and ergonomics perspective the E-P3 was an easier camera to like than the E-m5 (for me) and the E-P5 is no different.
So, to image quality. In RAW I struggle to see the difference from the E-M5 and E-PL5, which is no surprise. The Jpegs have better colour transitions and better detail retention at higher ISOs. I’m happy enough to shoot jpeg for social media, the results are that good. As was also the case with the E-M5 and E-PL5, the high ISO image quality can’t match up to the Fuji X cameras. Note that an Olympus m43s with 5-axis stabilisation will often give better results at slower shutter speeds (1/20 etc) hand held than a similar Fuji body. Nevertheless, theFuji RAW files do give better image quality and post processing capability. That said, an E-p5 with faster AF and faster shutter speeds gets you all sorts of shots a fuji cannot, so choose your poison!
All in all then, the E-P5 is a very good camera. I’m very happy with it and, truth be told, it makes more sense to me than the GH3. For me, M43s lives and dies as a small system with small primes. The GH3 isn’t in that bracket, and you can get smaller DSLRs these days. That said, it’s the only sensible solution to video and all day shooting right now. It will be interesting to see how the E-M1 measures up to the GH3.
Leaving all of that to one side, would I recommend the E-P5? Yes, it retains a lot of what made the E-P3 great and adds some magic from the E-M5. Just try and get a kit or a discount…
Taken with my Olympus E-P5 and Olympus 12, 17 and 75mm lenses plus Panasonic 7-14mm lens.
The Olympus E-P5 is available here