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
Thanks for sharing beautiful pictures, and for a nice write-up. As always. So many great choices these days when shopping around for a camera.
Me? I am just starting out in photography, and I find it a GREAT hobby. I ended up with a Nikon V1 of all things, and I love it! Does everything I need, and it will not hold me back any time soon.
One thing I find it has going for it is speed: shutter speed of 1/16000 etc. So… are you referring to M4/3 when mentioning the 1/8000 shutter speed of the E-P5 (fastest in class)? Or is there something else I am missing? Would it not be considered the same “class” of camera?
Jan, fair point, I had forgotten the electronic shutter of the 1 series allows for insanely fast shutter speeds (it also has a traditional mechanical shutter limited to 1/4000). I should observe that the sensor size of the 1 series means you are unlikely to be shooting wide open for subject isolation in the same way as one might with a NEX, M43s or Fuji X (particularly with non-native lenses). So it is impressive as a technical achievement but limited in utility for that purpose. What it is useful for is to allow the 1 series to achieve its insanely fast burst rates.
Despite my weasel words, I got it wrong and I’ll correct the post! Thanks Jan.
Thanks for your reply. Yes, the V1 is no good for subject isolation by way of shallow dof. I still love it, though. It make me smile, and you can’t put a price on that.
And thanks again for sharing tips and tricks for new guys like myself. Much appreciated.
I agree – its a camera for “sharp spontaneity”. It’s no use having a technically amazing camera that doesn’t engage you. I went down that road myself with the NEX-7 and I ended up knowing I needed to do things differently (for me). Have fun with your V1 and be happy you have it easier getting everything in focus – that’s not a problem, sometimes its a positive benefit.