7.17.2013

Kirk Tuck Writes a Short and Happy Review of the Olympus EP-5.

A good, straightforward picture taking machine. The Olympus Pen EP-5.

I have mixed feelings about writing this review. On one hand, this is the camera that I wish Olympus had introduced last year instead of the OMD EM-5, it's a nicer handling camera, on the other hand I no longer use the Pens for my work and the chance to review this camera reminded me of how much I liked the Pens. Which may lead to a new bout of new camera desire... So, let me get my distilled opinion out up front: The Olympus EP-5 (when used with the mandatory VF-4) is the best handling and best shooting micro four thirds camera I have played with yet. Had I gone ahead and bought the OMD EM cameras last year I would want to sell them this year and move to the EP-5. It's the camera I wanted from that system all along. I'm also reticent to review Olympus cameras these days because the hard core fans can get downright nasty when they disagree with reviewers. But that's a risk I guess we'll have to take. (Thank God we're moderating comments now).

Before I dive into the camera itself I feel like I have to talk about the electronic viewfinder. I struggle with the idea of using any camera just by interfacing with the screen on the back. It's a struggle for everyone when out in bright sunlight and it's a nuisance all the time for people who need to wear reading glasses to see the screen and its content correctly. I've been using EVFs in nearly all of my cameras since switching to Sony Alpha cameras and Sony's Nex 6's and Nex 7's. The finder on the Sony Alpha a99 is my basis for comparison with everything else out there. It's a great EVF and works for me in all kinds of lights and shooting conditions. It's not perfect but it's sharp and detailed. I can also adjust the brightness and color balance of the finder screen, easily.

The new VF-4 EVF is bigger than its predecessor but it doubles the resolution and also offers a better viewing set up.
I love the massive and accessible diopter adjustment on the side. Hey Fuji! Did you really launch the Pro-1X without a diopter feature???? Really???

Olympus fixes another common problem that plagued previous finders. This one locks on so it's harder to accidentally lose. That's a big plus for our clumsier or less mindful colleagues...

While Olympus made a good finder available (the VF-2) when they launched the Pen EP-2 people had a few reservations. The 1.44 megapixel resolution bothered some users and almost universally people found the finder slipped off their cameras too easily. The rear eyepiece and magnification also presented problems. People wanted a bigger exit pupil that would work better while wearing glasses.

With the VF-4 Olympus have upgraded their offering a couple big notches. The VF-4, while bigger, nearly doubles the resolution and the way the finder is set up it's much easier to work with for people who wear glasses. My comparisons between the Sony a99 EVF and the VF-4 point to a tie for viewing experience. And basically that means they both share the title, "Best in Class."  I cannot fathom anyone not buying the VF-4 along with the Pen EP-5. The camera is a high performance imaging instrument and the finder adds so much capability for composing AND reviewing images in harsh light, strong light, mixed light and color contaminated light. That alone makes its inclusion mandatory in my book.

The VF-4 is much more eyeglass friendly but it retains the quick switch button to get you from the menu on the rear screen to the proper shooting configuration (usually through the finder) at the touch of a button.


The add-on EVF is a small price if it keeps you from looking all "hipsterish" holding your wonderful picture taking machine way out in front of you in defiance of the laws of physics and good camera craft.

To use a camera of this caliber with the stinky baby diaper hold (camera held straight out in front of you....) is just negligence, laziness or ignorance. If I were a store clerk in a camera shop I would refuse to sell this camera without the EVF. It would be like sending a new car buyer out of a dealership without tires. Just riding along on the rims.... 

There will, of course, be two complaints. One will be that the combination of the finder and EP-5 body raises the price of the package to the point where it exceeds the purchase price of the OMD (which has an EVF built in). Yes. That's true. But the camera is a better product. It has all the imaging capability of the older product but offers better handling and a much, much better finder experience (when used with the VF-4). The second complaint will be about the additional bulk the finder adds to the camera. I don't mind it aesthetically and it reminds me of using the bright line finders on my Leica M's with the 21mm lenses we shot with. The total package is still less than half the size (volume) of a Nikon D800 and it's still lightweight and agile to use.  Get the finder.








The range of lenses made for the Olympus m4:3 cameras is large and growing all the time. The nice thing is that, with the exception of the kit lenses all of the primes and most of the zooms are really very, very good.

I wrote recently about the "money maker" lenses and my article concluded that for most commercial and portrait photographers the standard, high speed, 70 to 200mm lenses from the majors were the lenses that did most of the heavy lifting in photography businesses. So it's fun to see that Panasonic got with the program and made the equivalent for this format. It works perfectly with the EP-5, which is a benefit of system standard. I've just shot it in the studio but it's sharp and very well behaved. Coupled with their 12-35mm f2.8 normal zoom the combo gives a working photographer 95% of the focal lengths he or she would need for nearly any assignment. And together they weigh far less than either range zoom in the full frame camp. A couple bodies, the two Panasonic zooms and a flash would all fit in my smaller Domke bag and wouldn't make much of a dent on my shoulder...

I saved the best for last. The shutter is a metaphor for the rest of the camera. It's sound is solid, low key and confidence inspiring. You've heard all the clich├ęs: Like the door of our Bentley studio car closing. Like a Swiss watch, etc. etc. It just sounds good. It's very similar in sound to the OMD EM-5 shutter so grab one of those and click it a few times and you're there. But keep in mind that the EP-5 shutter sounds at least as good AND gives you one stop faster shutter speed. Progress.







In the hand:  I worked with the Pen EP-2 and the Pen EP-3 for nearly two years and came to grips with them in a short time frame. While I think the bodies would be more comfortable to hold if they were just a bit taller (or extended further down...) they feel good in my hand once I retrain the two bottom fingers to curl under and support the baseplate of the body. If you are something like 6+ feet tall and have big hands these might not be the cameras for you no matter how much you may want to like them. Not enough space to put all that mass of fingers comfortably. 

I like to work in manual exposure with this camera and with most EVF cameras since you can see directly exactly how your exposure settings effect the final image. It's easy to turn the aperture or shutter speed dial and watch the amount and direction of change. It's such an intuitive way to work. I generally set the AF to single AF, center sensor, bring the camera to my eye, lock focus, add any exposure correction I might need and then fire away.

So, everything I said in the past about the handling of the older Pens holds true for this one as well and in that regard the only changes I had to get used to were the placement of the new dials and the relocation of a button or two.

But as long as we're talking about not changing too much let's talk about the ultimate downside of the Olympus camera experience......the menus. I'm not too stupid but it took me a long time to really feel comfortable with the EP2 menu. A long time. In fact, there are parts I'm still not sure about. Well, the EP-5 continues the tradition of being the king among highly user configurable cameras. And that means the menu is long, tediuous, opaque and confusing. Confusing because there's no uniformity in how manufacturers label certain features or settings. If you want a camera you can just pick up and shoot with a minimum of leafing (virtually) through an owner's manual you probably aren't a candidate for this one. Maybe a Samsung is more your speed. Their menus are short, clear and concise. But....if you are a real camera aficionado (read: gear nerd) and you quickly reconfigure all the buttons on your camera to do five different things with four different options then you and the Oly menu might just have been separated at birth. While I can fire the camera up and use it I'd much rather have fewer choices in configuration and a more direct path to efficient usage. A menu with five settings: Color balance, File Type, Focus Mode, Shooting mode, Drive Speed. That would make shooting direct and simple and the camera maker would not even need to provide a user manual.



So, what's my final word on this camera? Well I don't have one final word I have a bunch of them. I'll start here: If this camera had been introduced in time and before the OMD EM-5 (which I liked in theory, and appreciated the IQ, but never warmed up to the feel) I would have stuck with the Olympus system and never stuck my toes (and then my whole self) into the Sony system. The camera and the EVF are really well matched. The sensor is great, as all the OMD owners already know. The EP-5 is fast enough for the kind of work I do, shooting portraits and food and corporate lifestyle. The lenses have been fleshed out into a full fledged, professional line and any gaps are amply made up by the folks from Panasonic. 

It is, without any doubt, the finest digital camera Olympus has ever produced. While I like the feel of the original E1 a bit better the EP-5 runs circles around it in terms of overall imaging performance and the EVF makes it such an intuitive camera that it's almost invisibly fluid in practice. It's truly the flagship of the brand. 

There is one thing that bothers me, but less so than before.  Once you stick the EVF into the hot shoe you lose the use of the hot shoe for anything else. In the past it pissed me off because we shot most of our portraits in the studio and on location with radio slaved flashes. And I needed a place for that radio trigger. It really was an issue. I still wish they had a PC port on the left end of the camera just like the old Pen film cameras. Then I could have my cake and my champagne and eat it and drink it too. 
But now we shoot almost everything with some sort of continuous light and the triggers have become less important to me. It's almost like the moment at which Apple Computer decided to do away with the floppy drive. And recently when they've started to do away with CD/DVD drives entirely. The market changes. If I were a studio flash guy who wanted to use a camera correctly (at eye level) I'd sure think twice about getting into this system. But for everything else it's sweet.

Will I give up my Sony Nexes and Alphas to stumble back into the Olympus system at this point? Probably not....but that pretty much has more to do with my needs for video production tools and audio inputs, etc than actual considerations about still photography.

If I were starting with a clean slate? I'd give real consideration to a couple of the EP-5's in black, the two Panasonic lenses, a couple of the juicy fast primes and a pocket full of batteries. It would be a close decision. But if I did it I'd probably save my shoulder and lower back for at least five more years of service....

A word about this "review."  I'm not trying to compete with DPreview or DXO here. We don't have massive testing rigs and we don't have big graphs or pages and pages of comparison photos. If you want some idea of how this camera will work in a coal bin at night at 6400 ISO you can head over to DPreview.com and scroll through the OMD EM-5 review to your heart's content. And I'm sure they'll have a technical review of the EP-5 up in no time.  I'm also not interested in infinite file detail.  A finished photograph is generally more than the sum of its tiny, tiny (pixel) parts. My intention is to discuss the camera as it is relevant to me.

I shoot most of my cameras at ISO 100, 200, 400, and 800. Most are really good at those ISOs (except the Sony a850 at 800 ISO...) and I know how to add some photons to a scene if it's darker than that.

Even the most expensive fast lenses are sharper in the center than on the edges, wide open, and I'm okay with that.  The only time I need a lens that's sharp wide open from corner to corner is when I'm shooting flat objects and I stopped doing that because it wasn't very interesting. 

I am as interested in how the cameras feel in my hand and how welcoming the menus are as I am interested in a camera's ultimate image quality. With that in mind I've stopped including "samples" from digital cameras under review because they would be smaller than the camera is capable of, compressed for the web and meaningless unless I was shooting test targets. And life is far too short to shoot test targets. 

If you have a beef with the way I write about cameras then you need to get your own blog and fire up your word processor...then you can write whatever you believe, or want to believe, about anything in the universe.

Thanks for reading all the way through. I give the EP-5 a 92%. It's an "A" with room for improvement (built-in radio trigger? PC terminal? Nicer menus? Faster Continuous AF?). But it's a solid "A" because the images that flow out of the camera and the right lenses are as good as they need to be to make good art.

in other news: Belinda and I finished working on, The Lisbon Portfolio. The photo/action novel I started back in 2002. I humbly think it is the perfect Summer vacation read. And the perfect, "oh crap, I have to fly across the country" read. It's in a Kindle version right now at Amazon. The Lisbon Portfolio. Action. Adventure. Photography.  See how our hero, Henry White, blows up a Range Rover with a Leica rangefinder.....


Remember, you can download the free Kindle Reader app for just about any table or OS out there....

Studio Portrait Lighting



















49 comments:

Craig said...

Thanks, Kirk. Glad to see your thoughts on this new Olympus. And may I say that I find your style of real-world, real-photographer reviews to be far more helpful than the number-fetishist techy writeups from DPReview.

One thing feels a little strange, though. I know in the past you've mocked the "dirty diaper hold" and in-camera HDR (and let me say up front that I agreed with you on these), but recently you had seemed to be moving away from those views. I recall that you experimented with in-camera HDR on one of the Sony cameras and got some good results from it, and in discussing the Samsung NX300 I remember being surprised that you found the lack of an EVF less of an issue than you had expected. Yet here you are once again mocking them as you used to. What's the story with that? I would have been interested to read a bit about how your find Oly's in-camera HDR to compare with Sony's.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Craig, I've learned to tolerate and work around the lack of an EVF on the Samsung NX300 because it was a free camera and the files are really nice and the focus is really fast. And, like doing sit ups or weight training I try to challenge myself to do new things. That doesn't for a moment mean that I don't think the NX300 wouldn't be a much, much better shooting camera for me with a big, fat, fast EVF on top or in the top left hand corner. Like the difference between an air conditioned car in Texas or one without air conditioning: Both will get you there but one will do it comfortably. By using sheer will power I've gotten okay at using the NX300 without but just between you and me and 24,000 other blog readers I'l readily and truthfully admit that I still grab a Hoodman Loupe and put it around my neck to use with the Samsung when I head out on a bright day. I don't care how good one's eyes are, they can't see a screen properly with the sun in hot competition.

Yes. I tried the HDR on the Sony and yes, used judiciously you can increase the dynamic range of certain images with it. But you'll note that the experiment was a very limited and not often repeated occurrence. I still find most HDR offensive and even the good HDR stuff seems to lack the snap and contrast that makes images satisfying for me. It's a silly gimmick and in the not to distant future people will look back on this kind of stuff and laugh.

As to a comparison I would imagine that since both are using a Sony chip set and probably share some of the less important firmware that both cameras would do an equally good or bad job messing up the colors and remapping the tonal range into something less convincing.

You should take this pithy attitude I'm writing here with a grain of salt. I change my mind from time to time and tomorrow, goaded by your challenge I might want to head back out and give the old HDR another try. But this time I'll try it with the two frame HDR in the Samsung.... Have a good one!

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Good article Kirk, tho you tend to call the 75mm a 70mm lens (I think the old Pen lens was a 70mm, wasn't it?). Anyway. Frank gave you a nice kit for this, and you've found the right words for it.

I'm still using studio strobes, so for me it would be the E-M5 with a radio trigger in its hot shoe. OTOH I would miss that VF I can tilt up on it, so a combination of these two would be great. Maybe the E-M5 if I could only afford one (you can still tilt up the rear display, which my wife does a lot with her E-PL5). You can guess from my words that I'd love to have a classic Rolleiflex or Hassy 501, even if their viewfinders showed it all the wrong way... ;-)

Bruce Rubenstein said...

I've had the OM-D for over a year now and still like it...a lot. There are a couple of things I don't care for, such as not being able change the default AF sensor size. (I know the AF sensor size can be made smaller, but there are things that change when that's done.) I also don't like the way information is sprinkled around VF/LCD like a P&S camera. The E-M5 finder can be configured so that primary information is along the bottom of the VF and does not overlay the image, like a DSLR. The drawback is that the image becomes too small. Maybe the larger VF-4 works better for that, it the EP-5 can be configured that way.

Two things that have ruled out my getting one is: AF sensor position cna't be directly changed using 4-way buttons. It looks like it's the same old, tap one side of the rear dial, then change location BOO!. The other thing is that a number of control buttons hare in completley different place than the E-M5. I secon shot a wedding with the E-M5 and E-PL5, both of which I used for a minimum of 6 months, and had reall issues with the different controls, but you know about this sort of thing. Otherwise the E-P5 looks like a dandy camera.

Onle last thing: the long Olympus lens is a 75/1.8. It's a good lens, correctly identify it.

Anonymous said...

"A menu with five settings: Color balance, File Type, Focus Mode, Shooting mode, Drive Speed."

Isn't that the Super Control Panel?

You did turn it on didn't you? It is controlled by the hidden "Cog Menu"

A main reason to use Olympus cameras with all the features gathered in one place. And now it's touch sensitive too.



Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kirk, for an excellent and informative review.

I think many will be happy to pay for the E-P5 + VF-4 to get the best. BUT, this E-P5 still needs an EVF (or provide use of the hot shoe AND an EVF) for it to be a great camera. That's is a serious limitation.

Wait till the next high end E-M6 before switching ;-) Then it will have everything, the VF-4 and hot shoe, the 1/8000 sec, weatherproofing, and a new sensor.

Robert Wertz said...

Kirk,

Thanks for your review. What do you think of the video quality on the EP-5. I shoot a lot of video and use the Nikon V1, which I like quite a bit. How does the EP-5 video compare to the V1 or the Nex cameras?

Jim Tardio said...

I'm getting to the point where I'm afraid to buy anything. So much great stuff seems to come out every week.

It finally hit me that I don't really need anything. All of my photography is travel based stock and the m4/3s system is acceptable for that. With that notion, I sold all of my Sony stuff, my OMD and assorted lenses...and I kept only my Panasonic 14/2.5, 20/1.7 & 45/1.8.

For those 3 lenses, I bought a Panasonic G5 with the 14-42 kit lens for the fire-sale price of $349.00. I'm going to lay low for the rest of the year.

The E-P5 is tempting.

Unknown said...

Probably not the right place for this comment, but what the hell ... As intriguing as this camera is, what grabbed my attention were the glimpses of the strap. Like a lot of us, I already have too many cameras capable of recreating the images I want. What frustrates me more than anything embedded in the hardware is trying to carry a camera in a fashion that allows it to be ready at a moments notice and yet out of mind when I don't need it. Lots of discussion in the blogosphere about bags these days. I usually travel either very heavy or very light so most of that doesn't interest me, but either way we/I need a convenient way of having the camera at hand. I suppose I could just start working my way through all the available straps until something clicks but that brute force approach seems wasteful. Being unsatisfied with what I've tried to date, I currently just carry the camera in my hand but too often I need both hands. I'm not soliciting advice from other readers (no offense) and don't want to highjack this thread, but would appreciate the writer's insights on what's working for smaller cameras (4/3 and NEX, for example) for walkabouts. Maybe a separate discussion later. Please.

Andrea Costa said...

Nice article. I own an OM-D, only thing I would like from the EP5 would be the 1/ 8000 shutter, but oh well... BTW it is funny, but I AM 6ft 2in, and I simply love how the OM-D fits under my fingers... probabily because I shooted for many years with diminutive 35mm cameras (just got a lovely OM1)...

pcurious.com said...

Hi Kirk, great writeup! It sounds like the newest Pen steps up the already very solid performance of the E-M5, which surely whets the OM-D aficionados' appetite.

I myself stood at a crossroad with Nikon APS-C, a small OM-D system and a Sony RX-100, but now the future is clear for me: m4/3 all the way. Thanks for all your insights re. EVF, etc. http://www.pcurious.com/2013/06/07/three-camera-systems-one-too-many/

I too was initially put off by the plethora of OM-D settings, but after spending enough time with it, I've now found a way of configuring it (extensively) once and then changing all important shooting functions from a single screen.

I've written a short description of this setup here: http://www.pcurious.com/om-d/em5-highlights/

May I ask you two things re. the E-P5?

1. Can you review the images in the EVF? With the E-M5 you sadly CANNOT.
2. Can you separate the AF activation from the shutter release and assign it some other button on the back of the camera? Ever since I discovered that feature on my Canon 30D, I've never looked back. Lucky for me, this is easily possible with the E-M5 (also described in the above link)

And maybe a suggestion for the people with large hands: get a grip :-) I have the one from really right stuff, and it makes the E-M5 really great to hold, and I am sure that they will make one for the E-P5 too.

pcurious.com said...

Hi Bruce, yes you can move the AF sensor directly by just pushing the arrow button on the back. No need to push another button before that or a button after pressing the arrow key to confirm, works like a charm. As far as I know this is the default setting, but it gets disabled if you assign other functions to any of the arrow keys.

Anonymous said...

Where the pro Strobes? These systems will never replace a pro's standard kit without pro level flash/strobe guns...

Craig said...

Thanks for the clarification. I certainly don't expect or demand complete consistency from anyone, and your habit of suddenly getting enthused about something new is one of your most charming qualities. It shows your real passion for photography, and it feels honest, too -- you aren't moderating your opinions due to any worry about whether people will accuse you of "flip-flopping". (Apparently learning from experience and modifying your previous views is one of the worst sins in the modern age. You're supposed to keep saying the same things for the rest of your life no matter what.)

I'm still shooting an E-P2 (when I shoot digitally) these days. I was tempted by the OM-D, but the E-P5 looks like a better upgrade path.

Kirk Tuck said...

Interesting. My writing style was just described as "scathing." First time I've read that. It all seems to revolve around my (outspoken) reference to the hated "stinky baby diaper hold" and my awareness of the crushing effect on the spirit of western civilization by the over use of HDR. What good is writing if you don't have opinions?

Brad Burnham said...

Really? Some one used the word "scathing." If I could only use one work to describe this post it would likely be "genuine". I like the honest, down to earth sincerity of what you write.

Writing without opinions makes for boring reading. Keep the opinions coming and thanks for the review. I wish I had friends who lent me cool gear to play with. As it is, I start talking about cameras/photography and my friends' eyes get this distant, uninterested look.

Brad Burnham said...

Really? Some one used the word "scathing." If I could only use one work to describe this post it would likely be "genuine". I like the honest, down to earth sincerity of what you write.

Writing without opinions makes for boring reading. Keep the opinions coming and thanks for the review. I wish I had friends who lent me cool gear to play with. As it is, I start talking about cameras/photography and my friends' eyes get this distant, uninterested look.

Dogman said...

Like pcurious.com's #2 question, I also would like to know if the AF start can be assigned to an easily accessible rear button. Maybe you indicated that in the review but I tend to scan rather than read every word so I could have missed it. The ability to separate shutter release and AF is an absolute in my opinion, at least for me and how I shoot.

I really am not in the market for another E-Pen camera. I won't be in the market for one again until they put an optical viewfinder on the upper left corner of the body. I think the ability to use a built-in OVF with a limited range of focal lengths and the option of using an accessory EVF for zooms and other focal lengths would be the "best of all possible worlds" for the E-Pens. I've made my opinion of EVFs pretty clear in the past (don't like 'em) but I begrudgingly admit to using the VF2 with my E-P2 when using zooms and adapted lenses outside the range of the accessory OVFs I use with some single focal length lenses.

I'm in full agreement on the diaper hold for cameras. Never could get used to it. Maybe that's why I've returned to the good old SLR design for most of my shooting.



Jason Hindle said...

Well that was a happy read. I particularly liked this quote:

"While the focal length is a little long for the legion of wide angle shooters who can't seem to decide what they want to include in a frame (so they depend on their lenses to include everything)"

For no other reason than I've recently come to the conclusion I'm getting bored with wide and UWA photography. Ahh well, maybe a cheap 45mm f1.8 and some serious walking.

Mark Davidson said...

>>When you add in the extra depth of field at the same apertures it comes in very handy as a street shooting lens or a wonderful low light lens at events held inside.<<

This is a huge advantage for me at weddings and events. I get paid for images that are sharp. The current fashion/obsession of super shallow DOF is dominating discussions of gear and completely misses the point of people (pro and non-pro) that want results that can get two or more people sharp in the same frame.

Anonymous said...

Anybody doesn't like what you write shouldn't be reading smart blogs. They might wanna head over to YouTube and just watch the unboxings.

stephen said...

"While the focal length is a little long for the legion of wide angle shooters who can't seem to decide what they want to include in a frame (so they depend on their lenses to include everything)"

... and of course a 28mm is a little too wide for the legion of narrow angle shooters who can't seem to figure out how to place more than one subject within the frame (so they depend on their lenses to exclude everything but their primary target and put anything that they can't exclude, safely out of focus.

Ash Crill said...

I don't understand why the SCP is not enabled by default on Olympus cameras. This feature makes it super easy to change settings on the fly and is one of the things I enjoy most about my camera.

Gregg Mack said...

This article describes how to get the "back button focus" on the OM-D

http://robknightphotography.com/back-button-focus-on-the-olympus-om-d-e-m5/

Since the E-P5 menus are probably a close cousin to the OM-D's, maybe this is how to do it on this new model, too.

atmtx said...

Kirk and here is my opinion.

Most people just don't know how to do HDRs correctly.
And, I would add, just use the force. No need for targeting computers. ;-)

Bill Beebe said...

Yes, I would have thought that Kirk would have mastered the Force choke by now.

Critic: Don't try to frighten us with your lighting ways, Lord LED. Your sad devotion to that ancient photography trickery has not helped stop the stinky-baby-diaper camera hold, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the hipster's Instagram base...

Kirk: [pinching motion] I find your lack of faith disturbing...

Michael Ferron said...

I have the EPL5. Had it long enough to know I love it. Oly finally got a good sensor. I am those jelous of those control wheels front and back!

Michael Ferron said...

I have the EPL5 and have had it long enough now to say I love it. Oly finally got their hands on a good sensor. One thing I am jealous of though is those 2 control wheels front and back on the EP-5. Next purchase for me is the 45 1.8

Kirk Tuck said...

Stephen, your version may be correct but the two psychiatrists I discussed the wide versus issue agree: Wide angle users are afraid to commit while telephoto users are a bit obsessive... :-)

Anonymous said...

You've joined the ranks of other august reviewers like Ming Thein, Kirk. In fact, there's not a lot of air between your review and Ming's.

I've been impressed with what the EM5 was able to pull off, but couldn't deal with its munchkin ergonomics and high accessorization cost to get a decent grip, for heaven's sake.

The EM5 crowd continues to scratch its head over the EP5, particularly its price point. But what that supposedly ugly VF4 wart delivers is something that the EM5 can't - nose clearance for lefties AND a true FF-sized viewfinder, as well as a more user-friendly button layout.

I'm still bothered by the fixed grip on the EP5 - it's not removeable because it houses the wifi antenna. This relegates its use to primes and midrange zooms. Not much of a loss, because that's as far as most folks will go anyway, and the Oly range is at its best when one uses primes, not their meh zooms.

This September there apparently will be an EM5-pro with the salient features of the EP5. I still think that Oly is a bit hamstrung by its devotion to retro film body design; the Fuji and NEX products have the better idea here - move the viewfinder over to the left to give everyone breathing room (literally). But that ain't gonna happen in an OM-D product. Too bad it didn't happen in the EP5, where the body design could have easily supported it.

Still, Oly is doing a lot right. If they manage decent PDAF on-sensor this next go around, they may yet survive.

Brad Calkins said...

The inability to use a trigger or hotshoe accessory with the viewfinder seems like a non-starter for me. But I'd probably be singing a different tune if I didn't already own the OM-D :) In any case, more options are nice to have!

atmtx said...

LOL, Bill. Most excellent.

atmtx said...

Kirk, I have the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 and it is my favorite lens. I rarely use the kit lens but it worked quite well in these shots. BTW, they are done with glorious HDR, the right way. Shot with the E-PM2 so the image quality should be identical to the E-P5.

Battery Crosby and the Golden Gate Bridge

Andrea said...

What do you mean? I had no probs to use Elinchrome monolights for studio shots even with a lovly E-PL1, the absence of TTL metering is a no brainer as it is preferable to work in manual having all the factors under direct control... and that is what a pro usually do...

Andrea said...

What do you mean? I had no probs to use Elinchrome monolights for studio shots even with a lovly E-PL1, the absence of TTL metering is a no brainer as it is preferable to work in manual having all the factors under direct control... and that is what a pro usually do...

pcurious.com said...

I know how to set it up on the E-M5, but looking at the back of the E-P5 I don't see a button suitable for being used as the AF activation button.

alan green said...

I suppose being an ancient photographer, well into my eighties, I hesitate on commenting about technical subjects about which to quote a comic, ' you think I know damn nothing, I prove to you I know damn all' Yet I do have an opinion. Why when I vaguely think of buying a camera, like cars, do I have to pay for hundreds of features I do not want? if I wanted video, I would buy a video camera. If i wanted art filters then I would deal with it in processing. Basically why cannot I buy a camera exactly like my OM1 that shoots digital instead of film. First I do want a depth of focus scale in my viewfinder when shooting manual particularly. Then again I do want a decent split image focussing screen. in short I want a camera not a technical masterpiece. I would also like a shutter release on the front of the camera, bottom right. Yes thats right I was raised on a Rollei sixty odd years ago.

I note people have difficulty commenting. Strangely I cannot on my computer, only from my wife's. I do enjoy your site which I turn to each morning. The daily news is always so depressing, mainly about people killing one another.

Anonymous said...

If you end up with an EP5, I would be curious to see what you might do with the 15mm body cap lens. It is an interesting shooting experience.

As for the remote trigger, I think there is an iPhone app that will control the camera va wifi. It looks like it would be very cool, but I am probably more of a gadget geek than a photographer.

Michael Matthews said...

Another excellent review featuring just the kind of qualitative, subjective information I find to be of great value.

Your take on the VF-4 pushed me over the edge -- upgrading the firmware in my E-PL1 and ordering the VF-4 to use with it now because the E-P5 is out of my reach.

The 12 mp sensor should produce a viewfinder image of usable quality, in which case I can wait for the camera. Who knows, by time I can afford it, the E-P5 or its successor may have phase-detect autofocus and focus peaking with highlight colors that make sense.

Or maybe it will be a Sonympus.

oms said...

Kirk,

Great commentary as usual. I wonder, do you think Olympus is doubling down on the rangefinder-lookalike lineup, or do you suppose they'll revamp the retro-SLR style (with all its accompanying ergonomic issues) to keep it as their flagship product, just because it looks so cool?

P.S.: When they get around to releasing the Sony NEXperia Z interchangeable-lens smartphone, I'm sure you'll change your views on cellphone-bad-ography. ;)

Andre said...

The Force is strong with this one. Excellent and informative, honest review. Thank you Kirk.

stephen said...

Thank you Kirk. Now I understand why lenses between wide and long are considered normal.

David Bedard said...

This is the first review of the E-P5 that makes sense to me. Every other review bollocks the PEN for being the same price as the E-M5, but not having weather sealing and a built-in EVF. They all ignore the 1/8000th shutter speed. Folks this feature is huge, and it's a first for a mirrorless camera, much less for MFT. Fast primes can mitigate much of the "disadvantages" of MFT in terms of depth of field, but this proves difficult when 1/4000th is the typical stop down. Fitting ND filters marginally degrades optical quality and negatively affects AF performance. In my mind, the E-P5 represents the first truly professional-grade MFT camera in terms of shooting speed. That being said, I look forward to the next OM-D with great anticipation.

David Fong said...

The awful kludge is to have the 'magnify' button as the AEL/AFL button, and the Fn button as the whatever else (usually magnify)!! Really, we should be allowed to set the buttons on the four-way dial to anything we like, not just the right/down button to a limited choice. Personally, I am unlikely to use the flash adjustment settings, currently set to right-button.

Michael Matthews said...

A followup: the VF-4 viewfinder used on my upgraded Olympus E-PL1 was a dud.

The viewfinder produced a thin, slightly blue image lacking in contrast. No amount of adjustment with the camera's brightness and color balance controls for the EVF would fix it. None of the colors or other characteristics seen in the viewfinder came close to the same colors seen on the LCD screen, making on-the-fly adjustments impossible.

This experience applies only to the VF-4 used on my E-PL1. I had no access to later models for comparison. Selah.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are occasionally writing new reviews. I find them to be well written and, well, just useful.

Yesterday,I found myself at a camera store and discovered they had new EP3s in stock. Just out of curiosity, I asked the price.....$324.00. It prevented me from giving the EP5 any more consideration. They had a new EP2 available for $240.00.

Ultimately, I figure it at follows:

EP5 with 17/1.8 for $1,500.00
EP3 with 14-42 (kit) + 17/1.8 + 45/1.8 + vf3 for $1,500.00

I ask: in deference to your extensive experience, and your practical view, does the image quality and/or handling improvement represented by the EP5 make the first option more attractive than the second.

Anonymous said...

pcurious..as I say to most shooters, please read your camera manual, thoroughly..twice.
Use the camera for a month, then read it again. That's when it will really make sense!
You can review your images in the VF quite easily???
Hit the play button and then just hit the button on the VF...and there they are???.....scroll and view til your hearts content.

Photology said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Please disable these horrid 'gray' windows with dark gray text! It's like looking through a Canon OVF after a pint of Scotch...I have a headache now.