Olympus has another winner with the PEN E-PL5 by packing its flagship OM-D E-M5's 16MP Sensor and TruePic VI Processor in a PEN mirrorless.
|By Dan M. at H and B Digital|
With an eye towards offering the image quality of its flagship Olympus OM-D E-M5 in a smaller, more affordable setup, Olympus has just released the PEN E-PL5. The E-PL5 features the same 16MP sensor and TruePic VI image processor as the highly regarded OM-D in a PEN-sized mirrorless body, and is equipped with a 3 inch, 460,000 dot, touch sensitive rear LCD.
The results, not surprisingly, are truly fantastic.
While the controls of the E-PL5 take some getting used to—the touch screen is not really optimized and the menus are not entirely intuitive for those not used to an Olympus—the camera has incredible functionality. Image quality is absolutely superb even with the kit lens, and features such as 8 frames per second shooting, a high ISO sensitivity of 25,600, and the internal image stabilization system round out this exceptionally versatile camera. Early adopters of Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, such as prior versions of the Olympus PEN series, will definitely notice a jump in image quality and features with the E-PL5.
Out of the Box
For DSLR shooters unaccustomed to Micro Four Thirds/Mirrorless cameras, the E-PL5 is light—very light: 11.5 ounces with a battery versus the more than 20 ounces for, e.g., the relatively small Canon T4i. Smaller and thus lighter Micro Four Thirds lenses compound such difference. The E-PL5 kit comes with a retractable 14-42mm zoom lens (a 35mm equivalent of 28-84mm) which also minimizes the size of the setup. Of course the E-PL5 is not an SLR—it does not have a viewfinder—but the lighter weight and smaller form factor is both striking and enticing to a longtime SLR shooter.
The body of the E-PL5 is mostly metal, has a rubber thumb grip on the back of the camera, and comes with a screw-on grip for the front of the camera, which all make the E-PL5 both nimble and easy to handle (although slightly less so without the front grip attached). The E-PL5 kit also comes with a small hot-shoe mountable flash. As with other PEN cameras, the hot-shoe accepts an optional electronic viewfinder.
The E-PL5’s articulating display is great for composing horizontal shots at various heights, and even flips up over the top of the camera for setting up self-portraits. The screen only articulates up and down, however, so is not of much use for vertical shots, such as portraits. Fortunately the screen is bright and the small form factor makes vertical shooting quite easy.
Touch Sensitive Display
The display is also touch sensitive, but in effect is most useful for selecting focus points or using the screen to shoot, similar to using a smartphone—a very useful feature in a camera without a viewfinder. The touchscreen is otherwise not really optimized and only controls several options of relatively minimal significance, such as saturation and brightness. Virtually all of the important options, from shutter speed and aperture settings to ISO, white balance and shutter drive speed, are set using the small 4-way controller on the back of the camera.
Given the E-PL5's pedigree, i.e., the inclusion of the OM-D's sensor and processor, image quality is superb. Color representation is spot-on and contrast is excellent. Below are JPEG's taken straight out of the camera.
|Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/400 sec. at f/4.5, ISO 200.|
|Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/200 sec. at f/4.5, ISO 200.|
|Buildings on Avenue of the Americas, New York City. Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/125 sec. at f/6.3, ISO 200, cropped approximately 50%.|
|Grand Central Station during morning rush hour. Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 5.0 sec. at f/22, ISO 250.|
|Downtown Manhattan before power was fully restored in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/5 sec. at f/4.0, ISO 1600, EV -2.3, cropped approximately 30%.|
|Olympus PEN E-PL5 with 14-42mm M.Zuiko f/3.5-5.6 lens, 1/100 sec. at f/4.1, ISO 400.|