Olympus E-PL5 - Assessment and Conclusion


I like the E-PL5. But then regular readers won't be surprised by that. However, I will try to remain as objective as I can in trying to come to some conclusion as to its particular merits (or otherwise)

It is a nice update to the E-PL3 and E-P3. Olympus seem to be consolidating the two lines together, which is probably a good thing, since they were very similar. Its main virtue is obviously the upgraded sensor, which everybody assumes is the same as the OM-D. This does seem to be confirmed by the remarkably similar results. So you are getting the best sensor m4/3 currently has to offer in a PEN sized camera.

There are a few minor upgrades and while its not quite a cheaper and smaller OM-D, under most shooting situations it will give virtually identical results. The in body image stabilisation is not quite as complex or effective, and it doesn't have the particular filter that gives a simulated focus peaking, so thats not possible, but it does pack an awful lot into a pretty small package.

The add-on viewfinder is what it is and some people may like it some may not, or as in my case I'll put up with it because there isn't any alternative. Personally I'd prefer the EVF to be part of the camera, but I guess thats the way that Olympus are going with this product line and will continue to do so. 

The slightly grippier, less metallic body surface is actually quite nice, though I'm less impressed by the screw-on grip attachment which strikes me as close to useless. As in the picture above, I don't use it, preferring a half leather case instead. But it comes with the camera if you want to use it.

As I said in my comparison with the NEX-6, I think the Sony handles better, and feels a more complete camera in my hand, as does the OM-D. But being a PEN it is what it is, and I think we are all aware of what that line entails. The styling and design is part of the "brand" if you like, and since I like the aesthetic, I have no wish to see it changed much. 

I would mention again just how good I think the video is. Full manual control is possible (with a bit of work) and the footage looks superb. Not a lot of options certainly, but what there are are very well implemented. Its not as good for hand holding as the OM-D, but it does work well enough if you are careful.

Bottom line is - if you like the PEN range, the look and the feel of it, then I'm sure you will like this. I certainly do, but then I am a sucker for these cameras anyway. It is somewhat cheaper than other PENs have been when they have been released so thats another advantage. Personally, considering the price difference between this and the E-PM2, I think this camera is the better deal. Its just a litte more classy, a little more versatile. 

Its other main virtue apart from the sensor however, must be acess to the best CSC / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L lens range currently available. The sensor will benefit from the best of them and equally they will let you get the best from the sensor. Some of the current m4/3 lenses, like the 75mm f/1.8 pictured above are very good indeed and with the improved performance from the E-PL5, there is now little benefit in terms of I.Q. from an APS-C CSC. 

Its a beautiful camera, takes great pictures and I can't see how it is anything other than a really nice addition to the m4/3 range. Its not the kind of camera that means hordes of photographers will suddenly go WOW and switch from their current systems, but it is a very worthwhile upgrade from an EP1, 2 and 3, and from the the previous E-PL models. You will get a significantly improved sensor both at low and high ISO settings and ultimately that is the main reason I would rate it as highly recommended. 

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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