1) The loaned Olympus E-5 unit is an initial production unit. The final production unit, which is expected to be available in November 2010 may differ slightly from the initial production unit.
2) This is NOT a technical review, but more of a user-experience oriented review.
3) All photographs taken with Olympus E-5 with 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD lens.
4) General settings: Aperture Priority, ISO200-1000 (varies depending on lighting condition), noise filter OFF or LOW, picture mode: Portrait or DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter, Contrast = 0, Sharpness = 0, Saturation = 0.
Earlier this week, Olympus Malaysia approached me and asked if I would be interested to do a review on the new upcoming flagship professional DSLR body, Olympus E-5. Of course I jumped in and said YES !! I have just received the loaned unit last night from Magdelyn and Tang, whom I must thank for taking the trouble to come down all the way from Mont Kiara to Mid Valley to pass the E-5 to me. I have the E-5 with me now, and guess what I am doing with it?
Yes, lots, and lots and lots of shutter therapy sessions. (To view an image of my E-5 initial production unit, click here)
Backlanes. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied.
I shall not be doing too much technical elaborations. If you want real technical reviews, wait for professional review sites such as DPreview or DXOmark, where information and data are tested at pixel levels. I will also not make any comparisons with any previous Olympus models, such as E-3 or E-30 since I do not own them, and I do not use them extensively. More importantly, you will not find me comparing between Olympus E-5 against its competing rivals from other manufacturers, because I believe you can find all those previous mentioned information everywhere on the internet, knowing that we have too many pixel peepers, technical freaks and brand worshipers around.
I am making myself clear here, if you have not known me well enough, or if this is your first visit here, my purpose and priority in photography is very simple actually: to make photographs happen. Therefore, instead of concentrating on finding out what the camera is capable of in every aspect, I am focusing more on what I can do with the camera. I will tell you what I think and how the camera performs in my brief photography walk with it. Yes you can call this a user-experience review.
All that one man has. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied.
Waiting for customers.
An Umbrella with Sadness. Shot from ground level, using the 3inch swivel screen on live view.
Zig-Zagging Staircase. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filer applied. Flare intended.
I have only got the unit last night, and initially there were no plans to go shooting earlier today. Nonetheless the itchiness to try out this new camera has gotten the best of me. I brought the Olympus E-5 and stormed out the house at an early 7.45am to Pudu, one of my usual street hunting places.
In this entry, I am merely touching the surface of what the E-5 can offer. The street photography walk was rather a brief one, ended a little pass noon. I want to share with you guys the initial impression and findings of the Olympus E-5 through such a short session with it. Of course I will have more shutter therapy sessions after this one, which I have planned out to test and review several important aspects of the camera.
For this entry, what I really love from the E-5 are as follows:
1) Extremely fast and reliable Autofocus
2) Drastically improved image quality
3) Impressive 3-inch VGA HyperCrystal LCD Monitor with dual-axis swiveling system, which is also weatherproof (Phheewwwpphh… what a mouthful !!!)
4) Awesome straight out of the camera JPEG
5) New Art Filter-Dramatic Tone
A curious child.
Lost a Front Leg. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filer applied.
The first smile E-5 captured.
Overlooking the back-alley.
1) Extremely fast and reliable Auto-Focus
This Olympus E-5 continues to claim from its predecessor, E-3 that it has the world’s fastest AF system, in combination with the high grade lens, Olympus 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD. I have loaned the 12-60mm lens alongside the Olympus E-5 for review purposes. I must testify to the fact that the AutoFocus system (it consists of 11 twin-cross points, if you must know) was extremely reliable. There were so many spontaneous moments on the streets that requires lightning quick responses both from the photographer and the camera. As I saw the action moving, I pointed the lens to the subject and snapped on the focus without any hesitation.
I have come home with so many usable candid, and very unpredictable shots which happened so suddenly only by luck my hands were quick enough to capture them. This time, the limitation was not on the camera, since the super fast AF never failed to locked on target, and locked on it incredibly accurately. Do note I was shooting both outdoors, and some under extreme shade conditions which can be considered as low light. Such reliability seriously boosted my confidence to search for more challenging subjects and nail them down. Because I know I only have to worry about how fast my hands and fingers can work, rather than having issues of the camera catching up on me. I walked away with almost nearly all spot on focus photographs, with a few misses which was not the camera’s fault anyway.
How old are they? DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied.
Rust and Decay.
No place to fall asleep.
Road-Side food seller.
2) Drastically Improved Image Quality.
I have not have much chance of testing specifically the aspects of image quality, which I intend to do so in the coming sessions. Nonetheless, from such initial short attempt on the streets, it was evident that there was a huge improvement in terms of image output. High ISO handling has been enhanced, by what margin I have yet to find out, since I was shooting under day time, the most I pushed was up to ISO1000. So far all images come out rather smooth and with very, very minimal noise, since I set the noise-filter to either low, or OFF completely.
The famous Olympus colours was well maintained in this camera, but I find the colours to pop out even more. There was the pleasing and natural quality in the overall colour rendition from E-5. I particularly notice the difference in balancing between strong red and blue subjects, and the outcome was really lively, vibrant and yet very true-to-life colours. This is something that a lot of photographers dream of: great colours from the camera even without tweaking in the processing process, saving you massive amount of workflow and time.
Preying on sympathetic souls.
Barefeet. Extreme low angle shot taken with live-view on the 3-inch dual-axis swivel LCD screen.
Sharpness and resolution captured by the 12MP E-5 was nothing short of stunning. I shall not emphasize on this too much, since I plan to do a specific test on the resolution/sharpness improvement in a macro shooting session, which is more suited for the task. Nevertheless, on the whole the photographs were RAZOR SHARP !! This is mainly due to two things, as I was told by Tang yesterday: 1) thinner Anti-Alias filter placed in front of the image sensor and 2) Fine Detail Process technology which was newly implemented in this new Olympus E-5. I just cannot stop myself to pixel-peep (yes I know, shame on me, because I am quite against pixel-peepers, but I just cannot help it) and go wow over and over again looking at the amount of details captured, even from the street subjects which were not really best subjects to test resolution and sharpness.
3) Impressive 3-inch VGA HyperCrystal LCD Monitor with dual-axis swiveling system, which is also weatherproof
I know this feature is not new to E-3, E-30 and E-620 users. However, the improvement made in Olympus E-5 was MASSIVE. First, the resolution has been increased to 920k, making sharpness and focus checking a breeze. The screen, used under bright sunlight, exposed directly outdoor was no problem at all, I could still view it comfortably. The flexibility of the dual-axis swivel was a welcome. You can evidently see some of my shots, which I have taken from extreme low angle thanks to the availability of the swivel screen.
A Workshop. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied.
4) Awesome Straight out of the camera JPEG
Olympus is known to have the best JPEG engine, ever. I am delighted to see that they have improved that even more. Do take note that all the photographs on this entry were taken in JPEG, and almost straight out of the camera with very, very minimal processing. I cannot avoid doing some minor processing, due to some slight exposure errors (my own mistake, not the camera) as well as little cropping for better overall presentation. I shot those photographs in the morning today, and I have found time to blog about it and present to you beautiful readers out there in late afternoon. If that does not prove minimal processing I do not know what does.
Even if I did not do any processing at all, the images were already great by themselves. Auto-White balance was amazingly accurate, and the JPEG engine managed to SQUEEZE out every single detail out from the image sensor’s capability. This was quite a huge welcome, for lazy people like me who hates to do much post-processing.
Another street cobbler.
Guess whats in the pot?
5) New Art Filter-Dramatic Tone
Olympus started Art-Filters, which was scoffed at in the beginning, but oddly being copied shamelessly by even Canon itself in their latest Canon 60D. It is interesting to see Olympus fitting in a new art filter: the Dramatic Tone.
Dramatic Tone is basically a built in pseudo-HDR processing ability, to convert a single exposed image into a HDR like looking image. This should not be mistaken with a real HDR image which requires at least 3 images taken at three different exposures to be merged later. This Dramatic Tone is considered an Art filter, and to be able to do in-camera pseudo HDR processing is really stunning. I found myself addicted to this Art Filter !! I have been applying the Art filter to so many of my shots on the streets. The outcome by using this filter was similar to HDR output: preserved details in highlight and shadow regions, and added the overall painterly surreal quality to the photographs. I am deeply in love with this filter !! Do check out my photographs taken with this filter, as I mentioned the use in the captions beneath the photographs.
Another separate note for existing PEN users, now the E-5 can apply the Art-Filters directly with any other camera shooting modes, such as Programme Exposure, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. The processing speed for ALL the filters have been improved dramatically, and there was almost no lag at all shooting with Art-Filters. This is one improvement making the photographers’ life much easier, and enjoyable I must say.
Patterns on an old shop. DRAMATIC TONE Arrt-Filter applied.
A cat by the gate.
An Abandoned Shop. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filter applied.
Mickey Mouse. DRAMATIC TONE Art-Filer applied.
Alright alright, I know I have spilled too much for one entry already. I do have soooo many things to tell you guys regarding this Olympus E-5, and yes, I do want to tell desperately. However, allow me time to shoot with E-5 more thoroughly and go through the camera aspects one by one in greater detail before coming back to you guys for better insightful reviews. There will be at least two more shooting sessions I have planned, and I will do my best to upload this blog as soon as I can.
As for now, if you have any questions relating to Olympus E-5, please do not hesitate to email me, or place your inquiries in the comment directly below this entry. Do allow me some time to get back to you, since I am only given three days to review this Olympus E-5, and all I can concentrate now is making more and more images happen !!
I shall head off now, to save the world with the Olympus E-5. Up, up and away !!