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Olympus E5 dSLR


  • announced in 2010 as an upgrade to the semi-pro/pro Olympus E-3 dSLR, it is the 1st Olympus Four Thirds dSLR system dSLR to include HD video, albeit at only 720p 30fps, but it does have an external mic.
  • whilst in many respects it does not compare as well on specs with the likes of a Canon 7D (in terms of HD video capability and burst rate), it has built-in IS and a flip out LCD, and most importantly, the enormous benefit of access to a superb range of lenses specifically designed for the cropped sensor which are just not available in Nikon or Canon systems with comparable pricing, optical quality and hand holdability such as:
  • furthermore, it offers a lovely synergism with the extremely popular Micro Four Thirds system system, in particular, the ability to share remote TTL flash systems with the very compact Olympus PEN cameras or the very versatile Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera which can also use the Four Thirds lenses via an adapter.
  • the E5 provides the strength of its phase difference AF and telephoto reach capability for sports and nature photography whilst the compact size of the Micro Four Thirds system makes a great companion for social and travel photography as well as higher quality HD video work.
  • this camera has now been superceded by the mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M1
  • it is not clear if Olympus will make a new optical dSLR in the Four Thirds mount given the E-M1 will satisfy most Four Thirds users and provide a smaller camera with more versatility.


  • 12.3mp Four Thirds sensor
  • rugged, weatherproofed body
  • 11pt phase difference AF as well as Live View mode CD-AF
  • TruPic V+ processor for improved image quality
  • 3“ 921K dot swivel, rotate vari-angle LCD screen
  • “FAST AF” CD-AF technology including Face Detection AF in Live View mode
  • 10 Art filters (none on E3)
  • Scene modes (none on E3)
  • popup flash
  • ISO limit increased to 6400 plus customisable autoISO (but can only set upper limit ISO, no shutter speed limits)
  • more customisation options than the Olympus E-3 dSLR
  • new features including digital level gauge in the viewfinder, multi-exposure, i-Enhance, 7 frame AEB
  • xD memory card slot thankfully replaced by SD card slot at last, and includes SDXC support
  • still has CF card slot
  • new BLM-5 battery
  • 720p 30fps HD video, mono mic but with external stereo mic port
  • 150,000 shot rated shutter
  • can add copyright info to EXIF
  • optional IR remote as well as cabled remote
  • PC sync terminal
  • HDMI out but only for playback
  • 813 g (1.8 lb.)
  • 142 x 116 x 75 mm (5.6 x 4.6 x 2.9 in)


improvements over the Olympus E-3

  • new 12mp sensor with higher ISO to 6400 and improved image processing engine
  • improved shutter
  • LCD screen now 3” instead of 2.5“ and 920K instead of 230K
  • faster CDAF with Face detection in Live View
  • 10 Art Filters (none on E3)
  • Scene modes (none on E3)
  • SD card slot instead of xD card slot
  • 720p HD video with stereo mic input and HDMI playback
  • More customization options
  • improved menu
  • Level Gauge in the viewfinder
  • Multi-exposure
  • i-Enhance
  • 7 frame AEB
  • can set legacy lens focal length for IS
  • new BLM-5 battery (although compatibility is retained with the older PS-BLM1)

comparison with the Canon 7D

  • the 2 cameras have much in common:
    • weatherproofed rugged design
    • similar image quality and high ISO performance although perhaps the 7D just wins out on sensor quality
    • 100% FOV optical pentaprism viewfinder
    • iso 100-6400 (although the 7D has boost to 12,800)
    • 3” 921K dot LCD screen
    • 1/8000th sec fastest shutter
    • 1/250th flash sync
    • popup flash with remote TTL flash and superFP/HSS flash capability
    • 2 or 10/12sec self-timer
    • ±5 EV exposure compensation
    • CF memory card support
    • mid-sized dSLR weighing 800g (7D is a bit heavier at 860g)
  • advantages of the Olympus E5:
    • flip out, swivel and rotate vari-angle LCD screen
    • built-in 5EV IS
    • access to the best lenses designed for cropped sensor cameras
    • SD memory card slot as well as CF slot
    • 7 frame AEB instead of only 3 frames
    • 10 Art filters
    • Scene modes
    • 60 sec longest timed shutter instead of 30sec
    • faster CD-AF in Live View
    • better sensor dust removal mechanism
    • nicer out of camera jpeg images
    • synergy with the very compact Micro Four Thirds system
  • advantages of the 7D:
    • 18mp instead of 12mp
    • 8fps instead of 5fps burst rate
    • 19pt AF instead of 11pt
    • 1080i 30/25/24fps HD video instead of only 720p
    • optional GPS
    • access to the Canon L pro full frame lenses
    • access to radio TTL remote flash instead of only infrared TTL
    • synergy with the larger Canon full frame system

lens comparisons

lens type Olympus E5 Canon 7D
fisheye ZD 8mm fisheye $799 3rd party only?
24mm wide aperture ZD 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 $799 EF 14mm f/2.8L II but no IS $2199
14-28mm pro ZD 7-14mm f/4 $1799 EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 $1179 but only 16-35mm FOV and not as sharp, no IS and not weatherproof
40mm wide aperture ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 $2299 EF 24mm f/1.4L II but no IS $1749
50mm wide aperture Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 $799 EF 28mm f/1.8 $469 or EF 35mm f/1.4L $1479 but no IS
50mm pancake ZD 25mm f/2.8 $249 none
100mm portrait ZD 50mm f/2.0 macro $499 EF 50mm f/1.2L $1599 or f/1.4 $379 or f/1.8 $120 but no IS and only 80mm
135mm tele zoom only EF 85mm f/1.2L $2199 or f/1.8 $398
28-70mm pro ZD 14-35mm f/2.0 EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS but not as sharp, not weatherproof
28-105mm mid ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5II $599 with CD-AF cheap kit lenses only
24-120mm pro ZD 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 $999 none
70-200mm pro ZD 35-100mm f/2.0 $2499 EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II but gives 112-320mm FOV thus not optimal for weddings, etc $2499
100-400mm pro ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD $1199 EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II but much heavier, more expensive and only gives 112-320mm FOV and doesn't focus as close $2499
70mm macro ZD 35mm f/2.8 1:1 $230 none
100mm macro ZD 50mm f/2.0 but not 1:1 $499 EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro but no IS and not as good optically $429
150mm macro ZD 50mm with EC14 EF 100mm f/2.8L hybrid IS macro $969
1.6-8x macro legacy options EF 1-5x macro lens
200mm tele ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD $1199 EF 135mm f/2.0L but no IS $1089
300mm tele ZD 150mm f/2.0 $2499 EF 200mm f/2.8L II but no IS $778 or EF 200mm f/2.0L IS $5600
400mm tele ZD 150mm f/2.0 + EC14 EF 200mm f/2.8L II with 1.4xTC but no IS
500mm tele ZD 90-250mm f/2.8 $5999 EF 300mm f/4.0L IS $1349 or f/2.8L IS II $7299
600mm tele ZD 300mm f/2.8 $6999 EF 400mm f/4L IS or f/2.8L IS $11,499 but very big and heavy
800mm tele ZD 90-250mm f/2.8 + EC20 EF 500mm f/4L IS II $10,499
1000mm tele ZD 90-250mm f/2.8 + EC20 EF 600mm f/4L IS $9199
1200mm tele ZD 300mm f/2.8 + EC20 EF 400mm f/4 + 2.0x TC or EF 800mm f/5.6 $13,999 but very big and heavy
180-500mm zoom ZD 90-250mm f/2.8 $5999 none
tilt shift legacy options but 2x crop Canon TSE lenses but 1.6x crop

The Olympus E5 with Olympus ZD 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 II zoom lens and Olympus ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 lens could be supplemented with a Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and the following lenses:

The Canon 7D with EF-S 10-22mm and EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS could be supplemented with a Canon 5D Mark III dSLR or Canon 1D X sports dSLR and the following lenses:

  • Canon 14mm f/2.8L for a nice wide aperture 14mm kit but no IS and not optimised for movie
  • Canon 24mm f/1.4L II for a nice wide aperture 24mm kit but no IS and not optimised for movie
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L for a nice wide aperture 50mm kit but no IS and not optimised for movie
  • Canon 85mm f/1.2L for a nice wide aperture 85mm kit with the most shallow depth of field (DOF) you can get on 35mm but slow AF, expensive, no IS and not optimised for movie
  • Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II but no IS and not optimised for movie
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
  • Canon 135mm f/2.0L for a nice wide aperture 135mm kit but no IS and not optimised for movie
  • TSE and macro lenses

The Canon supplimentary kit will be much bigger, heavier and far more expensive and you will need much larger tripods, tripod heads, filters, backpacks, etc and these will create issues for travel, in particular, flights with their 7.5kg limit for cabin baggage.

If you are a Canon full frame user, you may find the Micro Four Thirds system compact kits are a better fit than a cropped sensor dSLR such as a bulkier Canon 7D with its poorly matched, or in the case of EF-S, sub-standard lenses.

The situation for Nikon users is similar to the issues confronting the Canon user above.

photo/olympuse5.txt · Last modified: 2014/05/25 22:01 by gary1

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