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Monday, 13 May 2013


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Uh-oh. I looked into my crystal ball and saw a bearded man from Wisconsin selling some of his photographic equipment and buying an Olympus E-P5...

If only they had included a built-in EVF in the upper left rear corner of the body... if only.

When the first picture of the body leaked, I thought it might have a built-in EVF, but nope, no dice. Try again.

Whatever the merits of the cameras, Olympus seems trapped by lack of sensor options into producing a range of cameras that competes largely with itself.

I'm sure the IQ is excellent, and the PEN version looks nice and is easier to handle, but it's pricey and bulky with that finder and on paper seems to offer very little over the OMD version. Just a different package.

Do you think you'll find similar lack of chemistry with the E-P5 that you found lacking with the OM-D?

Coming from a person with your background in the Darkroom, Image quality is something all of us should pay attention to, when you say you like it in the cameras. I feel the same, which is why in an earlier post I said I felt my cameras, lenses, and printer were "perfect" (for me.). The camera is a musical instrument; the camera is a tool. It's up to us how we use it and whether in the darkroom or digital post-processing, it is also up to us how we work to compose and present the Print.

All other considerations aside, I suspect that many will avoid it for the same reason they avoided the OM-D - that nasty look which preteds to be "retro" handsome but just comes off as cheap and ungainly.
Fuji does the "digital but looks retro" so much better.


I used the E-PL1 to complement my GH1 for non-stabilised lenses (available light photography). All intermediary models were more or less identical, so I waited for the E-PL5, which supplements my GH2. And now replaces it completely for travel photography (the GH2 with 14-140 is too heavy and the ”hump” makes the camera too big, for my travel bags - I emphasize the word ”MY").

The OM-D is not my cup of tea. I have cameras with "humps" and easier interface and handling. If anything, the NEX-6/7 are the max I’m prepared to accept for a ”complete” camera for my use.

Since the launch of the Olympus EP5 and E-PL6 models I have to decide, whether I will stay in u4/3 or go for Sony’s solution. The GH3 is far too big and heavy for my taste, and the lack of built in EVF into the new Olympus cameras makes me wonder, if now is not the time to switch to a Sony NEX-6 as a general "walkabout" and "travel camera".

I have the external, mountable "hump" (EVF) for my Olympus camera, but I keep loosing it, and I'm sure, that one day it will be lost for ever. A lot of kind people have helped me find the darned thing all over the world. Even at night in the jungle in Paraguay, but that was more luck, than anyone could expect. Someone stepped on it, but the earth was soft and moist, so no damage (if I had used my Panaasonic, the jungle climate would have killed the camera long before any images were taken ;-)

I will never loose the EVF or the external flash (only emergency use in my case), if I pack a NEX-6 or NEX-7 for my next travel.

I will probably keep my E-PL5 for use with my Olympus and Panasonic prime lenses (and as a backup camera with the 12-50 mm lens, when traveling). I also gain some video quality. I only record video in exceptional circumstances (Olympus is downright lousy on that front, in my opinion). My GH2 probably delivers the best video of all (with the old and heavy 14-140 mm lens), but… eh… it’s too delicate for real travel use (visiting jungles is too costly in repairs in the long run).

So… Olympus has really nice cameras, if you like the ”stinking diapers” method of focusing on a target. I prefer old-fashioned eye-contact, which is becoming available again, not only as an option, but even as a ”hump-less” standard feature ;-)

Seems like a lot of clams for a M4/3 body and tack-on EVF when the Fuji X-E1 does more for less.

That is a very cool camera but there is one very important thing about it that you neglect to mention: with it's introduction, the price of both new and used E-P3's should drop. With any luck that might give me a chance to be able to afford to step up from my E-PL1.

I've made my bed with the m4/3 format & Olympus in particular and I've not had any cause to regret it. I would like to be able to afford to do more within that system and the nice thing about the new product cycle is that it makes things a little better for those of us further down the food chain. If I can add a E-P3 body and a 17/2.8 lens this year, I'd be doing very well indeed.

Drat, no built-in view finder. No matter how fine an image it makes, I'll not go back to the detachable, bell-tower finder ever again. It is an expensive protrusion, too, adding $250 to the outfit.

Guess I'll keep the NEX 7 a while longer, despite the dearth of lenses.


Yes, please, with a pancake 20mm (40mm-e) 1.4. Thanks.

Looks lovely and has excellent specs.

But the E-PL5 might actually be a significantly better price/performance value.

Interestingly, "All You Need for Great Sound" and "The Olympus E-P5..." appeared almost at the same time on this web site. Although I am not into Micro Four Thirds, I wonder why our editor did not name this article "All You Need for Great Photographs".

So that was the big problem with the OM-D. It just needed to get out of the house!

Indeed Mike. A camera is not made to sit by the firesite. Especially a micro 4/3 is an outdoors machine. And the OM-D in my book is the ultimate micro 4/3 even if the E-P5 has some nice upgrades (I like/envy the more advanced AE bracketing for instance). The 8000th of a second can be nice for some, but in my book it is not that essential (I'm an F8 kind of guy).

Greets, Ed.

P.S. The OM-D could do with a less warm collored output but that can easily be corrected by manually adjusting the white point.

I had a look at Ed's website and particularly liked the Beaches Offseason pictures with their muted colours.

I also liked very much his comment, "It’s not the gear, it’s the idea."

That's a new spin on gear acquisition syndrome--the way to get the best photos is the buy the latest and greatest photographic toys...and then give them to someone else.

Mike, didn't your doctor tell you the same thing?

I will be saving my pennies for one!

I'm sure the IQ is superb and the little Pen body is great in the handling department. But I now have concluded I will buy no future digital camera that does not have a built-in viewfinder. Preferably optical, since I really dislike how the electronic models insult my vision. In this regard, I've pretty much returned to using only using SLRs.

I like that you keep in touch with your former cameras.

Looks nice. New temptations around every corner.

I too had a OMD and as beautiful as it was the buttons drove me nuts. I now have a little EPM2. It has the same sensor, processor and image quality as the OMD and this new EP5. $449 at Amazon. A true bargain IMO. The simple interface actually works in my favor because all I need quick access to is ISO, aperture, EV and magnify for manual focus lenses. It was easy to set the camera up to do this. Also this little gem has the nice rear screen and takes the VF2 finder. Metal clad, fast AF. What's not to like?

The downside of all these pens compared to The OMD is you can use the finder or you can use a flash. Can't use both.

Ha! Gotta admit- until I saw this angle, never occurred to me why it was called... Half Dome!

A few years back I sold my Pentax DSLR - a very nice weather-sealed K200D - and an assortment of nice lenses, mainly because I was tired of lugging all the combined weight of them all around on strolls, walks, hiking trips, or other peregrinations where I wanted to have a good camera/lens - but didn't want the bloody thing weighing me down after the first hour or three of walking. Incidentally I never used to complain about weight back in the days of analog yore when I frequently carried multiple Pentax MX bodies + assorted lenses around....but I was younger than. The K200D (which I still miss in a number of ways, one of the unheralded gems of Pentax's DSLR lineup IMNHO) was replaced by an Olympus E-PL2, in part because of my fondess for an ancient Pen half-frame I owned several lifetimes ago, in part because its compact size reminded me of what used to be another favorite film camera, a Rollei 35 I took everywhere with me) - but mainly because the combination of the small lightweight form factor - plus some excellent and equally small lightweight lenses (a Zuiko 17mm, the underappreciated f/2.8 pancake, and a truly excellent kit zoom) were so damn light that I could literally hike through the mountainous Cascades for hours and barely feel I had a camera or lenses weighing me down.

And, damn, but the PL-2 is cute little camera too. And the VF-2 viewfinder makes it even niftier in insanely bright sunight. And....I could go on and on but the essence for me was: small + light + excellent optical quality....was hard to resist.

I've played around a number of times with some friends OM-D's - which admittedly are fine (and finely crafted machines), and at times I've even lusted after a few things they do much more capably than my PL-2, including that gorgeous and relatively wide dynamic range, all of those nifty click-wheels which my PL2 doesn't have, and, bottom line, a certain je ne sais quoi to the nature of the images that OM-D's seem to produce. Not that my PL-2 doesn't produce gorgeous images as well, but....you are right, Mike, at times OM-D images are just..."lovely".

But the semi-bulkiness of the form factor (compared to my PL-2) just never felt right to me, either in my hands, or as an image-making tool. So it's been easy for me to resist the occasional temptations of expanding my Olympus collection with an OM-D...

But the E-P5 is certainly challenging my resolve. I may wind up giving in, biting the metaphoric bullet, and putting in a preorder. My only question for you - and/or for other Olympus Pen digital junkies (and admittedly it's a theoretical question since, to date, no one owns a P-5 or has had the opportunity to try one out extensively) --- I'm wondering (aloud) if there is an ideal E-P5 + low-light-capable lens combo .... that would make as much synergistic sense for this camera ..... as the Carl Zeiss lens that you recently tested seems to do for your NEX-6? Any thoughts on that? Incidentally I'm asking because my current lens collection doesn't have one perfect go-to lens for general low-light purposes. The two (obviously) that I've considered are the miniscule Panasconic 20mm pancake, and the Zuiko 45mm, both of which are intriguing and usable lengths. So....thoughts on the ideal E-P5 + lens combo?

Hi Mike,

While not committed to E-P5 ownership myself (preferring the EVF be built-in, not slipped on) I do like what Oly has done here in significantly extending the Pen system. Three things items stand out: the 1/8000 shutter, focus-peaking display and evidently, IBIS programmability.

Because all this and the VF4 will migrate to the next OM-D, we E-M5 snappers are in for some pleasant surprises when its replacement appears. Pretty good for a company on the verge of collapse, not long ago.

Terrific photo taken with your ex cam. You're right, it just had to get out.

Still using the Bronica SQ-Ai that Mike recommended. My Jobo processor has seen more action than my OM-D. Won't be needing this, thanks.

I see people are still "surprised" by what they call the lack of a viewfinder. This camera, and all modern cameras, do come with a viewfinder; it's that large screen on the back, nearly as big as a 4x5's ground glass.

While everybody is fully entitled to their own opinions, I do think at some point it's necessary to take cognizance of the fact that your opinion is a minority opinion; most people are happy to buy small cameras without an eye-level viewfinder, and some, like Kirk Tuck who blogs about his professional life at the Visual Science Lab, is now of the opinion that he'll never own another camera without an EVF.

The time for surprise about this issue has passed.

I have a real Pen-F. The new E-P5 with the EVF looks like it grew a cancerous Quasimodo's hump. Where's the technology of the Porro-prism today? Why does everything have to have a hump on it?

Some progress.

I'm sure there were any number of people who didn't buy TLRs like the Rolleiflex because they too lacked built-in eye-level finders. But many of us loved them, just as I love the waist-level view that these little Olympus cameras give with their flip-down screens. And for the 10% or so of shots where I want an EVF, the clip-on unit works just fine.

I have to say that I am completely smitten with my E-M5 and the relatively cheap Panasonic 14-45mm lens. The combo produces sharp images in this insanely small package with tremendous dynamic range and color. The Sigma 19mm that I picked up for $99 is also surprisingly great for the money (if only it was just a bit wider).

The handling does have a few quirks, many of which are the result of such a small camera, but nothing I haven't learned to live with and forget.

Bottom line, I feel like I haven't given up anything in comparison to the Nikon D7000 I carried around for two years and gained a lot more. I told myself that I'd stick with this for the foreseeable future, but a refined E-M6 with a better viewfinder will be very tempting.

Thanks to all who commented here / wrote me privately about either the Half Dome panorama or the work on my site. The nice people who make up the TOP community make it a very special place. It meant a lot to me that people took time from their day to respond personally to my art.

For those who enjoyed "Beaches Offseason", it's been in development for a couple of years now. I have a real passion for the project and enjoy all my time with it. My goal for the project is gallery exhibition and I've just begun the process of promoting the work. This is my first foray into the established art world. The response so far has been very favorable. It's all new to me and really exciting!

I'm also building shot inventory for "Fading American Bookstore". If you have a recently closed bookstore that's retained its signage near you, please write me at the email address below. Two of my favorite words are "road trip".

The OMD really made the Half Dome panorama easy. Believe it or not, the shots were taken with the oft-scorned 12-50 kit lens. So much for MFT charts. Given the majesty of the scene, you could take a great shot there with any camera except a broken one!

>> I like that you keep in touch with your former cameras.

(laughing) I think the OMD may have to write Mike every now and again. As much as it's enjoying life on Cape Cod, there will always be a warm spot in its sensor for Wisconsin.

Oof, the Sierra really are snow-poor this year. Oh yeah, nice image too :^)

I wish I had some gear to sell off to buy an ep5, says a bearded man in Wisconsin.


"something vaguely bothering me about the product photo of the E-P5"

One thing that contributes to an odd appearance is the interaction of the top deck and the new lettering "Olympus PEN".

This text provides a strong line (against the sloping top deck line) that makes the text look like it has been applied cattywampus (or skew-whiff in the UK and Commonwealth).

Odd choice. Why not continue using "Olympus" over the lens and PEN further to the edge? Sort of where the built-in EVF would be?

But the pricing really seems nuts (and the $100 mail in rebate on introduction seem to confirm that Olympus now think that too).

I agree with Kenneth Tanaka and MJFerron the E-PL5 and E-PM2 are significantly better price/performance value than this camera. The whole mirroless market feels rather price inflated at the moment (compare it to DSLRs ... this camera should be at a $600 price point).

"..they are claiming faster AF..."

But Olympus always claims that. Problem is there are all sorts of caveats to it which in the end eliminates anything moving, anything in less than ideal light, and about anything else somewhat challenging. Then, under perfect conditions, it turns out to be somewhat like a good phase detect dSLR. Oly will never, ever, fool me with that again. Even if someday it turns out to be somewhat true, I will refuse to believe it on principle. Their marketing dept seems to be staffed with Caymen Island scandal veterans.

I am somewhat interested, it does have a nice tiltable EVF--I was afraid they'd eliminate that in favor of the frozen-in-place-and-time EVF rigidly stuck in the body. Granted, it looks like a huge boil on a beauty's bottom, but it very useful. And this time, some sharp fellow decided it might be a good idea to allow photographers to lock it in place, too. And even the LCD is movable. Amazing.

I suspect that when the early sucker----oops adopter---price drops, I may be picking one up. Or I may snatch up one of the early used ones on the market sold by someone who believed the fast focus line. I prefer that way as I can avoid giving money directly to Olympus.

The main thing I am interested in is the improved sensor and image quality. The E-P3 sensor seemed outdated when it was released. Well, actually it was since it was the 2008 sensor with no real improvements. Now we can get a 2012 sensor in a 2013 camera instead of a 2008 sensor in a 2011 camera. Yes, it's faux retro, but that doesn't bother me as much as the OM-clone does.

And the camera is simply called an E-P5. I don't need notes to remember its name.

It seems Scott Kirkpatrick is the only that makes sense to me. This camera is the best digital Pen ever, period, and is well worth the money. What Olympus asks for it is bargain — it's an excellent value.
That it doesn't have an VF, well, why should have it? Once upon a time, we all had to use the darn VF thing and stare through a tunnel, because that was the only way to see what film cameras will capture.
And I bet, photographers in film days have missed a gazillion far more interesting shots because they were staring through the tunnel, rather than keeping a camera at a distance (like painters) and actually absorbing the world around them and noticing more interesting things just outside the VF frame.
Thus today, we curse VF-less cameras because of the old technological impediment?

I've been asking myself, what I am wanting from a digital camera, be the lens fixed or interchangeable, reflex or non-reflex, whatever. I've been with a few DSLRs and compacts, but there's always been something missing and I don't know what it is. So "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" until the Fujifilm X-100, and ah, it's the shutter speed dial ... and so it goes without saying, today I'm wearing it day in, day out.

Today I'm drooling all over the place for the XE-1 but if Oly would put on a shutter speed dial I would jump onto m4/3 in a heartbeat!

... and please do not remind me of the Leica S2 (!)

@ Migueltejadaflores.wordpress.com
Miguel, I use the both the PL 25mm f1.4 and Oly 45mm f1.8 for low light. The 25mm field of view is much more versatile for my use. The 45mm is a little tight by comparison.

@Ken Tanaka -- Yes, the E-PL5 body is just over half the announced price of the bare E-P5, and its image quality also deserve Mike's encomia. I've been using one for the past half year, as a platform for medium telephotos. (Can't see struggling for wide angle support on a 2X camera when the M9 is available.) But the heel of my hand keeps hitting the "menu" button on the lower back corner of the tiny E-PL5, blacking out the viewfinder and forcing me to lower the camera while I set it back into shooting mode. I noticed on the E-P5 that Olympus has put a little protective ring around each button to make them harder to press by accident. And the two control wheels are a huge improvement of the controls on the E-PL5, where essential things like aperture and exposure offset setting require using a flimsy four-way button. One final attraction is the strong suspicion that the VF4 will also work someday on a Leica M (typ240).


What strikes me most about this post is how all the comments feel exactly like the one from this article four years ago


I wonder why people feel the need to air the same complaints over and over again.

Anyway. This new body looks OK to me. I have an E-PL5 and actually really like it. I'd only get something else because I can't get RRS tripod plates for the E-PL5 (I like the L-shaped ones, which only exist for the OMD and GX-1 and other Panasonics).

So there you go.

Very happy with the IQ of the OM-D, with the significant exception of CA with the PL 25mm f/1.4 wide open. You can remove it LR, but there's so much of it the results look odd. Stop it down to f/2.8 and it goes away; but it defeats the point of an f/1.4 lens. But, on a Pen E-P1, no CA wide open. Whatever the explanation it's an irritant. With the same sensor the E-P5 will surely have the same issue.

I agree with other posters regarding the NEX 6. Following Mike's recent review I bought one with the Sony/Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 lens (and the also very good Sony 50mm f/1.8) and find it to be a splendid camera capable of producing very high quality images. I paid £500 for the body which, of course, has an excellent EVF built in; I think that makes it around half the price of the E-P5 plus EVF.

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