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Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera

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  • this is one of the most exciting compact cameras for a long time which ticks so many of the important boxes, that I have bought one!
  • it is fast, responsive, fun, weatherproof with good build quality and excellent customisability while having image quality on par with any cropped sensor camera
  • the HLD-6 accessory grip is a fantastic option which radically transforms the ergonomics of this camera if you want to use large lenses.
  • make the most of it by pairing it with wide aperture prime lenses such as the Olympus m.ZD 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens and Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens
  • there is now very little reason to buy a bulky, Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR unless you find it too small for your big hands or you need continuous tracking AF
  • to get substantially better image quality, you need to go up in size, weight and cost and get a full frame dSLR such as a Canon 5D Mark III dSLR or Nikon D800 dSLR

  • continuous AF tracking is still not good enough for fast moving subjects - HOWEVER, the S-AF is incredibly fast and WILL set accurate AF on a reasonably fast moving subject, just full press shutter release when subject hits your AF point - this ability has surprised me!
  • whilst it does have infrared remote TTL flash capability built in, unlike Canon or Nikon, there is not yet a radio remote TTL flash system available for it
  • otherwise the other issues are really just minor niggles as the benefits of this camera, accessibility of affordable, excellent lenses far outweigh its foibles

the awesome E-M5


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  • the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is the first OM-D camera and is a game changing camera which finally brings to the Micro Four Thirds system a camera which includes all the essential enthusiast photographer features in one camera and substantially improves upon the already good image quality of these cameras by allowing much greater dynamic range and lower noise at higher ISO so that ISO 6400 is very usable (see above video).
  • this camera finally almost completes the Micro Four Thirds system already endowed with its extensive range of excellent but affordable (under $1000) and compact lenses that no other system can match and even more on the way later this year (although fast AF for Four Thirds lenses and for fast moving subjects is yet to be achieved).
  • even if Sony, Fuji, Samsung, Canon or Nikon come up with a new APS-C or DX mirrorless or dSLR with better image quality next week, given that the E-M5's image quality is good enough for 90% of enthusiasts wanting a compact camera, the E-M5 or its successors in the same Olympus series, will still be the camera of choice for many because the lenses are smaller, the AF is fast enough even in low light, and it has the built-in image stabiliser
  • it would nicely compliment the following camera options:
    • a much smaller “social” Micro Four Thirds kit such as the Olympus E-PM1 with 20mm f/1.7 pancake
    • an Olympus E3/E5/E30 dSLR with Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD lens +/- EC-20 2x teleconverter for 800mm IS field of view hand held.
    • a full frame dSLR kit such as a Canon 1D X sports dSLR or Canon 5D Mark III dSLR or even a Nikon D800 dSLR
  • it would suit the needs of the vast majority of photographers - beginners and enthusiasts alike, and there are now only a few reasons to own a cropped sensor dSLR instead of this camera (eg. AF for fast moving subjects and radio TTL flash).
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 with Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens for wide angle image quality, low light capabilities, hand holdable infrared/long exposure still water/night shots, or its compact size
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 with Olympus m.ZD 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens for portrait lens image quality and price, and AF speed, not to mention image stabiliser, 1/250th flash sync for daylight fill-in flash, ability to automatically select a particular eye to autofocus on wherever it is in the frame!
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 with Olympus 75-300mm lens to give sharp, easily hand holdable 600mm effective focal length images in such a compact, light package
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 with its new lenses for autofocus speed
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 ability to combine image stabiliser with prime lenses even in movie mode (firmware update v1.5 or later)
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 for compact and light size of the camera kit with lenses
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 for its ability to convert ANY Nikon lens into a tilt or shift lens via an adapter
    • NO Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR can match an E-M5 for its ability to use almost any lens ever made
    • NO dSLR can match it's beautiful quiet sounding shutter
  • the E-M5 with any lens up to ~50mm long will fit in most jacket pockets
    • eg. Olympus 14-42mm 3x kit lens, 12mm f/2.0, 19mm f/2.8, 45mm f/1.8 and the pancake lenses
    • the camera body with protruding eyepiece is ~47mm thick, thus the maximum “thickness” of a camera and lens that will easily fit a jacket pocket is under 100mm
  • the E-M5 with a pancake lens can be squeezed into a jeans pocket
  • it is still not a perfect camera for everyone, but it is one of the best available if you want a high image quality, compact and quiet camera kit that will do most of what you need.

what to buy at a minimum

first though, a camera is not much without lenses

features of the E-M5

general features

  • weatherproof rugged metal body which looks great (similar to their innovative and very popular Olympus OM film cameras of the 1970's)
  • compact size
    • 121 mm (W) x 89.6mm (H) x 41.9mm (D) ie. 4.8 inch (W) x 3.5 inch (H) x 1.7 inch (D)
    • 425g or 15 ounces including memory card and battery
  • world's best image stabilisation system in camera (5 axis 5 EV)
    • not only works for all lenses and in movie mode but also can be activated for real time viewing in the EVF to assist magnified view manual focus with telephoto lenses.
    • this camera finally shows that in-camera IS has far more advantages than optical IS in the lenses because:
      • the viewfinder being electronic and not optical is able to be stabilised while focusing your subject, even in magnified view
      • for the 1st time, we have in-camera IS working during movie mode and being near silent, and very effective
      • it allows ALL your lenses to be image stabilised, even tilt-shift and prime lenses
      • there is no need for image degrading optical IS elements to get in the way of your images (particularly important for astrophotography where optical IS lenses are not recommended due to issues with star artefacts)
      • there is no need to buy all new lenses to get the latest IS technology - just upgrade the camera - makes FAR better economic sense
      • it seems in-camera IS technology can be progressed technologically faster than the old optical IS technology
      • allows hand held sharp images at half second exposures when using wide angle lenses which can create new photo opportunities or allow one to take flowing water or moving people shots without a tripod
      • at 420mm effective focal length in 35mm terms at f/2.8 (Olympus ZD 150mm f/2.0 lens with 1.4x TC), he was able to reliably get sharp images at shutter speeds of only 1/30th sec hand held, and he had more than 50% success at 1/15th sec - that is just not possible on a Canon or Nikon full frame dSLR, even if you could hand hold their 400mm f/2.8L lens!
      • the next Olympus Four Thirds dSLR system pro dSLR is looking like it may be an amazing relatively compact super telephoto sports/nature camera with 2EV more dynamic range and this new IS system!
  • new 16mp Live-MOS sensor with much improved high ISO performance (ISO range 200-25,600 but best used up to ISO 3200 - note that stated ISO appears to be 2/3rds EV above actual so that ISO 200 is really ISO 120), dynamic range (appears to be 2EV better and has been measured at 11EV up to ISO 1600, 10EV at ISO 3200, 9EV at ISO 12,800 and 8EV at ISO 2,600) and faster data read out
    • the older 12mp sensor of the PEN and Four Thirds series was getting a bit dated
    • 12bit RAW files are 4608 x 3456 pixels and 17Mb
  • shutter speed 60sec - 1/4000th sec
  • built-in 1.44M EVF
    • instead of optional plug-in EVF as with the PEN series (although you can even plug one of these in for vertical EVF if desired)
    • same specs as the excellent VF-2 viewfinder
    • auto on/off via eye detection and diopter adjustments
  • 3“ 610K dot tilt touch screen OLED
    • can touch screen to select subject to immediately autofocus on and optionally immediately take the photo
    • upward tilting angle : up to 80 degrees; downward tilting angle : up to 50 degrees
    • touch functionality:
      • Touch simultaneous trigger of near-instant AF on region touched then shutter release
      • Touch enlargement
      • Touch Live Guide
      • AF area selection
      • AF area enlargement
      • Frame advance/backward
      • Enlargement playback
      • Touch Super Control Panel
  • ergonomic customisable controls
    • 2 large dials on top to control functions such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation
    • “The four-way buttons on the rear are used directly to move the AF point around the frame - a notably quicker solution than on other mirrorless cameras with EVFs such as the Sony NEX-7 or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3”1)

focus support features

  • world's fastest auto focus
    • can even just touch a subject on the screen and immediately it will AF and take the photo - see video demo above
    • built-in AF illuminator although you don't really need this, even in low light as long as subject has sufficient contrast
    • it seems C-AF and S-AF is even faster and C-AF more reliable if you select Vivid picture mode instead of natural, and worse if you select the low contrast Muted mode - presumably, the AF system is using live processed images rather than raw data. Just shoot in RAW+jpeg and you can have the best of both worlds.
  • unique eye detect AF
    • not only can it do face recognition AF but user can optionally AF on left, right or closest eye - now that is VERY handy!
    • no more cumbersome moving around a AF point manually
    • should be fantastic when using shallow depth of field lenses such as the 45mm f/1.8 or the 75mm f/1.8
  • manual focus assistance
    • automatic magnified view when rotate a system lens manual focus ring in MF mode
    • magnified view zoom x5/x7/x10/x14
    • image stabiliser can be turned on during magnified zoom via half-press shutter
  • continuous AF
    • limited to relatively slow to moderately fast moving subjects at up to 4fps burst rates
    • optimise by slecting high EVF frame rate, Vivid picture mode, IS=IS1 or IS2, start shooting at 1st AF confirm and try to keep AF region on your subject
    • “3D” subject tracking is possible but not as good as current dSLRs although with practice you can get great results, see:

fast burst rate

  • 9fps burst mode with AF only on 1st frame and IS off, up to 11 RAW or 17 jpeg using a SDHC UHS-I card
  • 4.2fps burst mode with continuous AF up to 17 RAW or unlimited jpeg using a SDHC UHS-I card, AND can maintain a live feed to the EVF or screen to minimise blackout!
  • 3.5fps burst mode with continuous AF and IS on.

SD cards vary dramatically the burst performance

  • tests show that it can do 10fps in manual focus with IS on and shooting RAW + jpeg simultaneously for up to 11-12 frames if using a SDHC UHS-1 card, then depending upon the card, the screen freezes for 6-7 secs while the buffer empties and the buffer is fully emptied by 20-34secs, again depending upon the card used. Lexar Pro 600X card gave the best performance of those tested.
  • time taken from pressing shutter to when SD write icon disappears for the 12 RAW+jpeg burst at 9fps:2)
    • Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s card not tested but is regarded as one of the fastest
    • Transcend Class 10 SDHC UHS-I TS16GSDHC10U1 16GB = 19secs
    • Kingston UltimateX 100X Gen 2 Class 10 SD10G2 32GB = 28secs
    • Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Class 6 8GB (WiFi turned off) = 29secs
    • Sandisk Ultra 30MB/s Class 6 SDHC UHS-I 32GB Class 6 = 39secs
    • Kingston Class 4 SD SD4 8GB = 44secs
    • Lexar Class 10 MicroSDHC LSDMI32GBSBNAR 32GB = 48secs

HD video capabilities

  • high quality movies
    • 20/17mbps .MOV MPEG-4AVC/H.264 1080i 60fps (sensor output 30p) which should be adequate for most of us, and much easier to edit than AVCHD
    • 13/10mbps .MOV MPEG-4AVC/H.264 720i 60fps
    • AVI Motion JPEG 720p or VGA at 30fps
    • can use ART filters, Y/G/O/R B&W filters, new ECHO visual effects, manual exposure (shutter speeds 1/30 sec or shorter), and most importantly can now use the built-in image stabiliser during movies (but not with legacy lenses).
    • up to 29min duration per movie up to 4Gb (MOV) or 2Gb (AVI).
  • audio aspects:
    • has a great Olympus technology audio compression and records in stereo from the inbuilt mics
    • external mic requires you buy the optional Accessort Port SEM-A mic port which unfortunately takes up the hotshoe so if you have a big hot shoe mic, you may need to fit it onto a hotshoe bracket
    • audio levels only provide 3 levels to choose from
    • if you are really serious about movies, do what the pros do and buy a separate Zoom H4N audio recorder - it is amazing!
  • image stabilisation aspects

electronic flash capabilities

  • hot shoe and bundled tiny flash
  • manual flash output levels 1:1 down to 1/64th - very handy
  • remote TTL flash via the tiny bundled flash - 4 channels, 4 groups (on camera flash + 3 external flash groups)
  • SuperFP HSS flash
  • +/- 3EV flash exposure compensation
  • flash sync 1/250th sec with new flashes
    • flash sync defaults to 1/200th sec for FL-36R (or 1/160th sec when using this in RC mode)
    • you can use higher shutter speeds without resorting to SuperFP modes if you use a hotshoe adapter without TTL pins, but in this case your flash cannot use TTL metering, and it cannot determine ISO, aperture, focal length for zooming, but still this may be very useful as fill-in flash in bright sunlight up to 1/400th sec flash as long as your subject is only within the bottom 2/3rds of the frame (the flash does not expose the top of the frame as the shutter speed increases beyond 1/250th sec)


  • although there is no built-in easy to use intervalometer, this is still possible via either:
    • 3rd party wired intervalometer remotes
    • set sequential shooting on and set Antishock to the interval between shots (to maximum of 30sec intervals), then just keep shutter pressed, or better still use the wired cable release (RM-UC1) to keep shutter activated

new long exposure features

  • new Timed and LIVE BULB shutter features
    • can specify how many minutes for BULB exposures up to 8 minutes (1/2/4/8/15/20/25/30 min. selectable)
    • LIVE BULB displays regular updates of the captured image on screen allowing user to terminate exposure by pressing shutter release when adequate exposure is achieved.

astrophotography aides

  • excellent dynamic range
  • high ISO usable to ISO 3200
  • timed shutter exposures to 60sec not just 30sec as with most dSLRs
  • Live Time and Live BULB modes may be useful
  • unfortunately does not have Live Composite mode as with later OM-D cameras as this is great for meteor showers, simulated star trails and lightning as it just keeps adding new transient bright subjects to the image without burning out persistent bright areas
  • automatic long exposure NR for dark frame subtraction (can be turned off)
  • reasonable long exposure thermal noise characteristics to 60secs ISO 1600 (much better than the E-M1)
  • Live View Live Boost mode
    • allows you to visualise stars to magnitude 3 in the EVF when using an f/2 lens
    • allows you to visualise stars to magnitude 4 in the EVF when using an f/1.4 lens
  • magnified view manual focus for accurate focus of stars
  • relatively light for mounting on telescopes
  • weatherproof in case it rains
  • ability to use additional battery or AC power for long sessions
  • wired remote timelapse control via TriggerTrap
  • image stabiliser allows reasonable hand held constellation shots to magnitude 6 or so using ISO 3200, 25mm f/1.4 lens at around 1/4 sec

HDR / AE bracketing

  • dynamic range in RAW files is maximum at base ISO of 200 giving about 12.3EV (more than 2EV over the E-P3), and then steadily falls as ISO is increased, hitting 10EV at ISO 3200 and 8.3EV at ISO 12,800

hand holdable high quality infrared photography

  • matched with the Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens and a 46mm Hoya R72 infrared photography filter, you can do great wide angle infrared photography hand held at base ISO with no obvious central hotspot which is a problem with many lenses
    • bright sunlit exposure: ISO 200, f/2.0, 10 secs which has sufficient dynamic range to show detail in shadow areas lit by the blue sky
    • the 5EV image stabiliser, ability to increase ISO to 1600 with still very good image quality and the bright f/2.0 aperture allows for significant latitude in your photography:
      • you could increase aperture for even more depth of field and either reduce shutter even as low as 1/2 sec for moving water imagery, or increase ISO if you need shorter shutter lengths
    • consider setting Picture Mode to Monotone with filter = red, contrast = +2 for a typical B&W infrared jpeg.

hand holdable sunlit moving water shots with a 10-stop filter

  • combined with the Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens and 46mm 10-stop 1000x ND filter allows those lovely smooth water shots
  • this combination allows EVF viewing, magnified MF and AF of shadow area down to just after sunset with the filter on
  • bright sunlit exposures: ISO 200, f/2.0 at 1/6th sec, and with care, it could be pushed to 1/3 sec with resultant increased depth of field (DOF) by reducing aperture size to f/2.8 which should be adequate for most waterfalls and flowing streams
  • this makes it possible for reasonable depth of field (DOF), wide angle, smooth water shots hand held which is not possible on Canon or Nikon dSLRs
  • alternatively, mount on a tripod and close down aperture for much longer exposures

other features

  • SDHC/SDXC memory cards in a weatherproof slot. UHS-I compatible, Eye-Fi Card compatible.
  • 2 frames multiple exposure mode
  • electronic level display
  • improved Live histogram green part shows histogram for the AF subject area - very handy in determining exposures such as for a face
  • MPO 3D still stereo image mode
  • 2sec and 12sec self-timer
  • scene modes for ease of use
  • CB-USB6 USB Cable
  • Micro HDMI (Type-D)
  • BLN-1 Li-ion battery
  • BCS-1 battery charger
  • bundled FL-LM2 flash with GN 10m at ISO 200

optional accessories

  • dedicated multi-connector accessory port:
    • available for accessories (but cannot use a flash at the same time) such as:
      • VF-2/VF-3 viewfinders
      • PP-1 PenPal Bluetooth file transfer to some smart phones (but NOT compatible with an iPhone) with automatic resize to web-ready formats
        • emporium.olympus.com_img_thumbnails_260546_emp.jpg
      • MAL-1 macro lite for macrophotography
      • SEMA-1 external stereo microphone adapter set includes stereo mic cable, port, and a stereo mic
  • RM-UC1 remote cable release allows 3rd party intervalometers and remote triggers but no infrared remote
  • Power Battery Holder (HLD-6) incorporates 2 separate grip options for $299:
    • grip with full controls to allow easier handling of larger lenses
    • vertical grip with full controls for portrait mode shooting and 2nd battery
    • optional AC power adapter (AC-3) only used for the E-M5 via the HLD-6 - note this is different to the AC-1 power adapter which only works for E1,E3, E5, E300, E30 dSLRs
  • underwater gear:
    • Olympus PT-E08 underwater housing
    • Nauticam E-M5 housing
  • MMF-3 weatherproof Four Thirds lens adapter
  • a variety of external flashes including the new FL600R with LED video light as well and the macro flashes for Four Thirds
  • various flash brackets including a twin flash bracket
  • hot shoe cable for cabled off-camera TTL flash (can also use the Canon version)
  • GS-4 wrist strap

what doesn't it have

  • AF tracking is not really usable - get the EM-1 if you need this
  • smartphone tethering and remote control (the newer Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera and Olympus OM-D E-M1 have this)
  • optional GPS - although this may happen via accessory port one day
  • oversized sensor for native uncropped 16:9 still images as with the Panasonic GH-1 and GH-2
  • highest quality videos as with the Panasonic GH series - hopefully a firmware upgrade will give a better codec and 24/25p
  • flip out, swivel and rotate screen such as the Panasonic GH and G series.
  • live HDMI of video for uncompressed movies such as the Nikon D800/D600 and Sony SLT A99
  • phase contrast autofocus as with dSLRs but given the speed of this camera's autofocus, most will not be missing it. Olympus may introduce a phase contrast AF Four Thirds to MFT adapter similar to the Sony NEX adapter, but given the ongoing speed improvements of contrast detect AF this may not be needed.
    • currently one still needs an Olympus E3/5/30 if one wants fast AF with a ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens which is a rather unique lens not matched in the Canon/Nikon camps.
  • optical viewfinder
  • flash sync at 1/250th for older flashes (these sync at 1/180th sec)
  • flash exposure lock (but then I never use this function on my Canon 1D Mark III digital SLR)
  • built-in automatic HDR and for that matter the exposure bracketing is only +/- 2EV which is somewhat limiting forcing HDR users to use manual bracketing and post-processing, but at 9fps you can get 7 frame +/- 2EV done in under a second!
  • built-in panoramic stitching although there is a Panorama Scene mode to assist and the supplied Olympus software will do the rest with your help
  • USB 3.0 (still only USB 2.0 as with most other cameras)
  • global electronic shutter but then no large sensor camera has this and implements it well yet
  • infrared wireless remote control (must use cabled remote)
  • radio wireless TTL flash support from third parties such as Pocket Wizards - I suspect this will be coming soon now that they have addressed Nikon and Canon, and the Micro Four Thirds mount cameras are now number one in Japanese sales and rising everywhere else while Canon will now eat into its market following the introduction of a Canon radio remote TTL flash solution.
  • standard mic input jack - must use SEMA-1 external stereo microphone adapter set or use an external audio recorder like the pros do such as a Zoom H4D
  • peaking manual focus assist such as in the Sony NEX
  • 1/8000th sec shutter speed as with pro dSLRs - one will need ND or polariser filters to use wide apertures in bright sunlight at ISO 200, but at least with firmware upgrade in 2014 you can now drop down to ISO 100.
  • professional level life span of shutter mechanism - rated at 100,000 actuations, it should outlast most of our needs.
  • custom settings on the PASM dial - you can allocate Fn1 button and HLD-6 buttons to a My Setting though
  • lens options are still limited compared to a full frame pro system:
    • widest tilt-shift is using the Canon 17mm giving 34mm tilt shift or using a tilt or shift adapter on a Nikon 14mm lens to give 28mm tilt or shift.
    • weatherproofed AF lenses - there are only a couple for MFT but you can access the much larger, heavier and more expensive but slower AF Four Thirds lenses
    • wide aperture fast AF telephoto lenses - the 75mm f/1.8 is the longest MFT wide aperture prime and hopefully the Olympus patent for a 150mm f/2.8 macro will come soon
    • you will never get the same shallow DOF as one can get with a full frame dSLR when used with a 24mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.2, or even a 70-200mm f/2.8, but then this will always be the main compromise with a cropped sensor camera and you do still have the option of a few image stabilised f/0.95 lenses which you cannot do on full frame.

compared to the Panasonic GH-2 or G-3

advantages of the E-M5

  • weatherproof, rugged metal body
  • built-in image stabilisation
  • faster AF
  • eye detect AF
  • 9fps burst rate
  • better jpeg colours
  • remote TTL flash
  • TTL flash works with legacy lenses
  • better manual flash output levels
  • flash sync 1/250th sec instead of 1/160th sec (and you can still use non-TTL flash at higher sync without SuperFP mode whereas the Panasonic just won't let you)
  • tilt OLED touch screen
  • multiple exposure mode
  • ART filters
  • Scene modes
  • B&W filter modes
  • MPO 3D stereo mode
  • Timed BULB and Live BULB modes
  • .MOV HD video instead of more difficult to use AVCHD video
  • optional Bluetooth file transfer accessory
  • possibly better high ISO
  • optional underwater housing

advantages of the Panasonic GH-2 or G3

  • oversized sensor for native uncropped 16:9 aspect ratio (not available on the G3)
  • highest quality HD video but in AVCHD format (not as high quality on the G3 compared to GH-2)
  • live video out during video for an external screen
  • flip out and swivel LCD touch screen which can be rotated to protect surface or used for self-portraits
  • compatible with Panasonic 3D lens for stereo videos
  • in-camera correction of optical distortions of various Panasonic lenses
  • body is not quite as tall
  • in-built flip up flash
  • Film modes
  • limited Scene modes
  • intelligent ISO - uses subject movement speed information to help decide the best ISO
  • more intuitive menu system

compared to other Olympus PEN cameras

advantages of the E-M5

  • weatherproof, rugged metal body
  • much better sensor 16mp instead of 12mp and with better high ISO performance (1EV better noise, 1/3 better dynamic range that E-P3 according to Pekka Potka's tests dynamic range appears to be an amazing 2EV better!3))
  • much improved built-in image stabilisation 5 axis, 5EV instead of 2 axis and 4EV, and it works during movie mode now
  • even faster AF (30% faster than E-P3 - the previous fastest AF in the world! BUT same AF speed as the E-P3 when using Four Thirds lenses)
  • 9fps burst rate
  • flash sync 1/250th sec instead of 1/160th sec (and presumably you can still use flash at higher sync without FP mode whereas the Panasonic just won't let you)
  • tilt OLED touch screen (E-P3 has fixed OLED, E-PL3 has tilt LCD, E-PM1 has fixed LCD)
  • multiple exposure mode
  • a couple more ART filters
  • Timed BULB and Live BULB modes
  • .MOV HD video mode significantly improved

advantages of the PEN models

  • smaller and more pocketable
  • cheaper

compared to Olympus E-5 dSLR

advantages of the E-M5

  • much smaller
  • able to use the lovely compact a brief catalogue of Micro Four Thirds lenses as well as the Four Thirds lenses, and use old rangefinder lenses (eg. Leica) as well as Canon EOS lenses.
    • in particular, the 12mm f/2.0, 20mm f/1.7 pancake, 75mm f/1.8, and the tilt/shift adapters for Nikon lenses
  • much better sensor 16mp instead of 12mp and with better high ISO performance
  • much improved built-in image stabilisation 5 axis, 5EV instead of 2 axis and 4EV, and it works during movie mode now
  • faster AF for slow moving subjects
  • 9fps burst rate
  • flash sync 1/250th sec instead of 1/160th sec
  • tilt OLED touch screen (E-5 has swivel LCD but no touch)
  • a couple more ART filters
  • Timed BULB and Live BULB modes
  • .MOV HD video mode significantly improved
  • optional Bluetooth file transfer
  • no mirror, so quieter and no need for mirror lock up to reduce camera shake in high magnification situations

advantages of the E-5 dSLR

  • phase contrast AF for fast AF on moving subjects
  • fast AF with Four Thirds lenses
  • optical viewfinder for the best viewing experience and minimal blackout during burst mode
  • swivel LCD

compared to Canon 7D dSLR

advantages of the E-M5

  • much smaller
  • lenses are much smaller and generally better value for money with better optical quality
  • hand held night photography (12mm f/2.0 lens with the IS is brilliant!)
  • hand held long exposure water movement scenes when you forgor your tripod (any wide angle lens with the IS will give down to about 1/2 sec exposures)
  • hand held infrared photography at low ISO
  • tripod mounted long exposure photography thanks to unique Live BULB feature
  • much easier to use with manual focus lenses
  • availability of lovely sharp, wide aperture, compact lenses such as the Olympus m.ZD 12mm f/2.0 lens, indeed you CANNOT buy an autofocus wide angle prime lens at all for a Canon or Nikon cropped sensor dSLR under $1500 which will cover wide angle wider than 30mm focal length (in 35mm terms), let alone have it wide aperture and image stabilised!!!
  • able to use the lovely compact a brief catalogue of Micro Four Thirds lenses as well as the Four Thirds lenses
  • can use old rangefinder lenses (eg. Leica) as well as Canon EF lenses albeit with limitations such as manual focus only (but new Birger adapter will probably allow AF and aperture change on Canon EF lenses).
  • availability of the f/0.95 and f/1.1 Cosina Voigtlander Nokton lenses
  • when using the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L lens or 135mm f/2.0L lens, accurate manual focus is easier and it becomes image stabilised, as well as giving 170mm / 270mm FOV respectively - what an awesome low light indoor concert combination if size is allowed, otherwise use the Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 (just can't AF or change aperture on the EF lenses until the Birger adapter is released)
  • accurate manual focus of tilt-shift lenses such as the Canon 90mm TSE is much easier
  • ability to convert almost any Nikon lens (or some other lenses) to a tilt or shift lens via an adapter
  • built-in image stabilisation 5 axis, 5EV works with ALL lenses and even in movie mode as well as during magnified manual focus
  • MUCH easier Live View mode, makes manual focus and video much easier
  • just touch subject on screen to immediately AF and take photo
  • eye detect AF
  • faster AF for slow moving subjects
  • 35 point AF not just 19 points, and far easier to select an AF point using touch screen than navigation buttons
  • 9fps burst rate instead of 8fps
  • 5 frame exposure bracketing option not just 3 frames
  • ISO to 25,600 instead of 12,800
  • tilt OLED touch screen (7D has swivel LCD but no touch)
  • ART filters
  • multiple exposure mode
  • Timed BULB and Live BULB modes - timed shutter to 8 min not just 30sec
  • high quality 20mbps .MOV HD video mode
  • optional Bluetooth file transfer to phones
  • no need for microcalibration of AF with each lens as AF is much more accurate
  • nicer jpeg colours
  • Olympus flash system is far simpler to use than Canon or Nikon
  • MPO 3D stereo mode
  • no mirror, so quieter and no need for mirror lock up to reduce camera shake in high magnification situations

advantages of the Canon 7D dSLR

  • phase contrast AF for fast AF on moving subjects and fast AF with Canon EF lenses
  • optical viewfinder for the best viewing experience and minimal blackout during burst mode
  • will AF and allow aperture change on Canon EF lenses
  • marginally better dynamic range and narrower depth of field for given aperture lenses of same field of view.
  • 24fps HD video option in addition to 30p output
  • 1/8000th sec shutter not just 1/4000th sec
  • compatible with Pocket Wizard radio remote TTL system (although I expect Olympus compatibility in the next year or so)
  • remote Live View via computer
  • built-in flash instead of bundled flash

and the Canon 5D Mark III full frame dSLR

  • advantages and disadvantages are generally as above for the 7D but in addition:
    • full frame sensor of the 5D allows even better image quality, especially at ISO above 800, and shallower depth of field (DOF), as well as ability to fully utilise the image circle of the Canon Pro lenses so unlike the 7D you CAN use a 24mm f/1.4 lens and get 24mm true wide angle
    • BUT these advantages come at a financial cost with it being 4 times the price of an E-M5, not to mention the cost and size issues regarding the Canon pro lenses which means taking such a kit on a plane for travel becomes problematic.


underwater photography usage reviews

comparison photos


This shows that the EM-5 RAW files without noise reduction processed in Silkypix RAW converter are far better than the current Olympus PEN E-PM1, and to my eyes slightly better than the Panasonic GX-1 and the Sony NEX 7 but not quite as good as the Fuji X-Pro 1, none of which is surprising given the great perfomance that the E-M5 has displayed in reviews thus far.


Comparison of various lens combinations with various mirrorless cameras to show resolution at approximately 50mm focal length in 35mm film terms and at f/5.6.

photo/olympusomdem5.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/27 11:25 by gary1