Olympus OM-D E-M5 and 12-50mm lens review

The Olympus OM-D EM-5 has been on the market a while now and with the current Olympus offer of a free HLD-6 battery grip we thought it was a good time to take a look at this premium Micro Four Thirds camera body.

The OM-D EM-5 is a camera designed to take photographs quickly and without fuss.

The AF system is extremely quick to lock on to your subject and can be customised in many different ways to get the result you require.

Using the superb 3” OLED touchscreen, you can set the camera so it focuses wherever you touch on the screen or set it so it focuses and fires wherever you touch.

The built in art filters provide some great creative effects – with the Dramatic Tone black and white option a particular favourite of mine!

Art mode bracketing allows you to set the camera up to produce individual jpeg files any or all of the art mode filters with a single press of the shutter release.

The 1.4m pixel electronic viewfinder provides a great view of the subject and spectacle wearers will have no problems seeing the whole image – built in dioptre adjustment is also included.

The 5-axis in body image stabilisation (IBIS) is truly remarkable and if the option to also steady the viewfinder is enabled provides a rock steady viewfinder image in almost any situation. This is great when using longer lenses and allows Olympus to make lenses lighter and more compact by not including in lens stabilisation.

Picture quality is excellent in good to normal light and very good in low light situations. Certainly results up to ISO 1600 are really good and above this you may need to use some noise reduction either in camera or in post production as noise does start to intrude. Of course, the 5-axis stabilisation and lovely fast lenses available for the E-M5 help a huge amount with low light work.

The AF system is really stunningly fast to lock on to your subject in single AF mode. Indeed, it is so fast that you can even use it on a moving subject - and in some ways you are well advised to do this as the tracking AF system leaves something to be desired. Tracking AF can work well but be prepared for quite a high proportion of failures. For the vast majority of subjects the single AF will produce superb results and I would argue in this respect it is superior to a DSLR- the DSLR has the edge when it comes to AF tracking though.

It will be interesting to see how well the OM-D E-M1 focus tracking performs with native Micro 4/3rds lenses as the E-M1 has phase detection on the sensor so should be a lot better.

Of course any camera is only as good as the lenses available for it.

In this respect, the OM-D E-M5 has a huge and ever growing range available from Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Samyang, with more to follow.

Olympus offer stunningly good prime lenses - 12mm f/2, 17mm f/1.8, 25mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and 75mm f/1.8 - all of which are highly recommended, focus extremely quickly and are nice and compact for their specification. Panasonic offer an 8mm fisheye, 14mm f/2.5 (Pancake), 20mm f/1.7 (Pancake) and three lenses developed with Leica - a 45mm f/2.8 Macro lens, 25mm f/1.4 and the recently announced 42.5mm f/1.2 - again all are excellent.

If you are looking at zooms then both Olympus and Panasonic offer great choices with Olympus offering 9-18mm, 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens, 12-50 (see below), 14-42 (pancake) 14-150, 40-150 and 75-300 ranges. Panasonic offer the superb 7-14mm, 12-35 and 35-100 f/2.8 pro lenses, 14-42, 14-140, 45-200, 100-300 etc.

Both Olympus and Panasonic have more lenses in the pipeline with Olympus due to launch a 7-14mm f/2.8 and 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens - mouth watering!

You can also adapt just about any lens – old or new – to work on a Micro Four Thirds body though the 2x crop factor will apply.

The camera is available as a kit with the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5/6.3 power zoom lens. This is a great companion to the E-M5 as it is like the body weatherproof. It is not the most compact Micro Four Thirds lens but makes up for this with its versatility.

The range of 12-50 equates to 24-100 in 35mm terms so a great range for general use. Focussing is very fast and the special in-built macro facility lets you get incredibly close for great macro shots without needing a specialist macro lens.

The lens has a 52mm filter size and also includes Manual or power zooming and does not change in length when zooming or focussing.

Performance is generally very good and it is something of a unique lens design and a pleasure to use.

So to conclude, the OM-D E-M5 makes a lot of sense to buy at the moment with the great Olympus free lens and grip offer and comes highly recommended.

Buy the 12-50 zoom kit and with the offer 45mm f/1.8 lens you will have a nice two lens combination and a lot of flexibility. Maybe add the Olympus 40-150mm for some telephoto reach and a pancake prime lens for compactness and you have a superb all round kit.

Click this link to go to the OM-D EM-5 Page on the Parkcameras.com website.

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Toy Camera filter effect

Dramatic Tone Black and white filter

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