Olympus E-P5 First Impressions

Olympus have recently unveiled their new flagship PEN model, the E-P5. Sitting at the top of their iconic series of rangefinder styled compact system cameras, the new model adopts many of the features that have proven so popular in its bigger brother, the OM-D EM-5.

Classic Rangefinder Style
The camera will be immediately familiar to existing PEN owners, as it shares the same basic design as the E-P3. It also has some echoes from the PEN F 35mm half-frame camera from the 1960’s, notably the Olympus PEN logo on the front. It’s a high quality construction, with the body shell crafted from aluminium alloy, whilst plastic is used for the compartment covers and handgrip.

Sensor and Processor inherited from the OM-D EM-5
At the heart of the camera are a sensor and processor lifted straight from the award winning Olympus OM-D EM-5. The 16.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor offers a welcome boost over the 12.3m pixel sensor of the E-P3, and if the quality of the OM-D is anything to go by, should provide impressive results. The TruePic VI sensor is also the same as that used by the OM-D but now offers improved sensitivity at either end of the range, with an ISO range of 100-25,600, up from the 200-12,800 of the E-P3.

Complete Control
Olympus haven’t just made improvements to the camera’s innards though. The controls and touch-points have been significantly enhanced too. Most notably the camera now features dual thumbwheels on the front and rear of the camera that allow precise control of shooting parameters.

These form part of what Olympus calls a “2x2” dial interface; a small lever on the back of the camera switches these dials from controlling exposure to changing ISO and white balance.

Tilting Touchscreen
The E-P5 uses a 3“ 1,04m dot LCD. The screen is a capacitive touchscreen (the same as modern smartphones) and tilts upwards 80 degrees and downwards by 50. It’s responsive and easy to use, but thankfully you’re not forced to use the touchscreen to operate the camera; almost all of the shooting parameters can be set using the regular buttons.

In addition, customers can also purchase the optional VF-4 electronic viewfinder. This high resolution tool uses a 2.36m dot LCD panel and offers an impressive magnification of 0.74x and 100% coverage.

 It features dioptre correction, a locking switch to prevent it sliding off and an eye sensor to auto-switch with the rear screen. It also tilts 90 degrees upwards.

If you already own one of Olympus’s viewfinders, the VF-2 and VF-3 can both be used with the E-P5.

In common with most Olympus models, the camera offers extensive customisation options. Any of the positions on the mode dial can be customised, which means that if you have a specific shooting setup for fast action, taking advantage of the camera’s 9fps shooting, for example, and you never use the Art mode, then you can assign your settings to that position for easy recall.

Focus Peaking
A recent trend on mirrorless cameras is the inclusion of a peaking display mode. This manual focusing tool highlights high contrast edges to indicate the areas of the scene that are in sharp focus. You can choose either black or white edges and it really does help you to ensure sharp focus in your images, and can be used in combination with the magnified live view. Bizarrely though this isn’t available in movie mode, which in my opinion would be the shooting mode that owners would most want to use it, something I hope Olympus will address in future.

Like many other cameras announced recently, the E-P5 comes with built-in Wi-Fi that allows connection to your smartphone or tablet, either for remote shooting or to transfer images. Whilst Wi-Fi setup normally involves inputting a convoluted series of numbers and digits, the Olympus system is refreshingly simple.

To connect to your phone, the menu screen on the camera will display a QR code, together with the regular SSID and password. You can simply launch Olympus’ OI Share app on your smartphone or tablet and use it’s inbuilt code reader to scan the QR code and complete the setup. Impressive.

Whilst the E-P5 doesn’t include GPS, it can utilise the GPS capability of your smartphone to append GPS data to your shots, again via the OI Share app.

Whilst we await the chance to get our hands on the new E-P5, it looks like a superb camera. The powerful sensor and processor from the OM-D, together with the classic rangefinder styling with control dials and customisation, make it a very appealing proposition, that we’re sure will be a popular choice for many.

The camera will be on sale in white, black and silver, we’re expecting stock at the end of June and we can’t wait. We’re going to have the camera here for the day on the 25th May, click here for further details.

Why not keep an eye on parkcameras.com to find out when the first units are due to arrive so you can pop into our showroom to try it for yourself.

Pre-order customers can also receive a free customised neck-strap from Olympus, with a personalised message, just visit www.olympus.co.uk/buy-pen to find out more.

Park Verdict
The PEN E-P5 combines stunning looks with cutting edge technology in superb, high performance package.

We Love

©       Classic rangefinder style design
©       Tilting LCD touchscreen display gives you fingertip control
©       Dials and buttons provide flexible customisation

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