Friday, February 04, 2011

Olympus E-5 Review on DPreview

Finally, the much anticipated "official, professional, independent and trusted" review of Olympus E-5 was out on DPreview.com today.

I jumped right to the final conclusion page, skimmed through the points in pros and cons, and their summary write up. Then I scrolled down to the ratings segment, with Olympus E-5 being given an excruciatingly eye sore inducing mediocre score of 75 percent only.

I felt my heart shattered to a million pieces, just like many who had higher hopes for Olympus E-5.

After downing a glass of Coca Cola (abundantly available during the Chinese New Year festivities), I suddenly felt the urge to write something about this.

The main issue with DPreview is not so much of their unshining write-up, or whether E-5 is really that good or bad in reality. The painful frustration many have shared was due to the inconsiderate, biased and purposefully delayed timing of the E-5 review. Who would have thought E-5 would be reviewed so late after Christmas? It was ok if E-5 was reviewed not too far after Pentax K-5, Canon 60D and Nikon D7000, but having a long, dreadful pause after the afore-mentioned three cameras have only proven that E-5 has been deliberately shoved aside. It is very true that Olympus users may not be the majority, but have they checked their own forums? The forumers on Olympus DSLR thread alone in DPreview are sufficient to annihilate a small island country.

During the long delay of the release of E-5 reviews, many have turned to other reviews, and having high hopes on E-5. Many review sites have praised E-5, and regarded it as one of the best cameras of today (one website ranked it third best cameras of all time, just behind 1Dmk4 and D3s), many have agreed that the ISO performance and dynamic range are on par, if not better than direct competitions Canon 7D and Nikon D300s. Lets face it, when such reviews were being claimed by other professional review sites, everyone started to believe in miracles. There were so many original full size files, both JPEG and RAW available for downloads and pixel peeping, and even the common users have done their share of pixel peeping and comparisons long before the camera was made available for purchase. When the E-5 was on sale, surprisingly quite many have bought it, and again, consistently testified to many of the earlier claims.

Like many of you, I have clicked on DPreview day after day, in hopes of seeing Olympus E-5 review up. Weeks after weeks... and it has become months now, that I have decided the review may no longer matter since it is not the decision breaking point anymore. Then out of nowhere, they finally released the review.

And it was not very encouraging.

Timing is VERY important.

When E-5 was first announced, no one was expecting miracles. In fact, looking at the unimpressive specification sheet of the E-5, no one expected E-5 to shine. If DPreview said what they had to say right from the beginning, without delaying this much, I strongly believe many would have agreed "yeah, we did not expect so much in the first place anyway".  Of course we cannot avoid the constant grumbling and moaning of many loyal Olympus fans, regardless of when the review was released. Nonetheless, it is a fact that the delay has added much agonized dramas and traumas which could have been done without. Setting Olympus aside, putting it last after all other reviews were done, and making such a dramatic delay were not really telling people that DPreview is "unbiased and honest, regardless of camera brands/manufacturers". Now, how do you expect people to trust and believe your review? All hell will break loose, and who is it to blame?

I, for one, am very happy with Olympus E-5. It will be my companion in my photography journey for quite a while. The truth is, Olympus E-5 is NO LESS capable than any other cameras out there (I still find it ridisulous how people judge cameras by high ISO performance and technical specifications solely), and even if you own the supposingly BEST camera, it will not make you a better photographer. Therefore, having a better camera does not guarantee you better results.

We speak, not with our cameras, but with our photography work.



28 comments:

  1. I agree with you about the bad timing. But there are other interesting cameras, as far as I know, that Dpreview have not reviewed yet (Pentax K-R).

    In my eye highlight retention is still a problem with Olympus cameras. I hope they improve on this matter in the future. Everything else is very, very good. Unortunaltely Dynamic Range is one of the most imortant aspects of photography - especially with digital photography.

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  2. Hello Bartosz,
    Thanks for agreeing !!
    It is very true that better dynamic range is really appreciated, especially dealing with extremes of highlight and shadow region. The noise performance of high ISO shooting has improved a lot in the E-5, but the dynamic range could have been a lot better.

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  3. Better DR should be the main concern today. I don't think we need better ISO. What we need is superb highlights capabilities at base ISO. That's why I love my little pocket camera - Fujfilm F200 Exr can capture +5,5 EV of higlight information at ISO200. That is in JPEG. I can overexposure pictures by 1 full stop. Can you do that with Nikon D7000 in JPEG. Nikon and Canon - such lazy companies... to this day they have shameful JPEG performance. I would without a second thought choose E-5 if I had a need for DSRL. Olympus produces better JPEGs in my opinion. Screw RAW.

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  4. hey bartosz,
    It is true, not many other camera manufacturers pay that much attention to their JPEG output. Olympus has always been doing their best in JPEG, and the straight out of camera JPEG of E-5, as I have been using for all my reviews, and my recent few entries really shine. I did not even do any cropping or adjustments, just resize, watermark and upload.

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  5. I shoot with XZ-1 more now... Coz dpreview loves it so much!!

    :p

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  6. I was also waiting for that dpreview review, just to see what they'll say. I already have my E-5 and I'm more that happy with the results. Much much better than all my previous Olys.
    I read (not just conclusions) most of DSLR reviews on dpreview (and other sites). Not so much to determine which camera is "better", but more to see how features improved with years and what is new.
    I have noticed that dpreview reviewers use different criteria. Something that is great for one camera is bad for another. (For example: E-5 has bad DR and 60D has good DR)

    Now I'm waiting for wikileaks to release some documents about Canon "sponsoring" dpreview :)

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  7. Sure, Olympus did'nt sponsor enough money into DPrewiev. That explains the delay and the bad result. I have owned the E-5 for two months now, and are very happy. It is much better, especially in the colour rendition than the Canon 7D that I had before itm but sold quickly again.
    Olympus lenses are far superior to anything else.

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  8. Hey Thru-The-Zuiko,
    Glad that you love the XZ-1.

    Hey Anonymous,
    I must agree with you that the E-5 is in fact much much better than any previous Olympus DSLR. Oh well, we can question the validity of the reviews, but we know it wont change our minds and hearts on the E-5. Lets just focus on making photographs happen instead.

    Hey Anonymous,
    Very true indeed, Olympus has better colours, and of course, much better lenses. Glad that you are happy with your E-5 over the 7D !! Not many people would dare to make the bold move.

    To all anonymous commentors, I appreciate you to at least leave a name, (and an email preferably), so I can address you appropriately when I respond to your comments.

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  9. The two reasons I chose Oly over other brands were 1) a photographer friend used Oly, therefore I could have help when I needed it and 2) because everyone said Zuiko was the best glass on the market. I have an E-620 and have produced photos that I'm happy with; I've enjoyed my camera. I've become much more artistic because I now have a tendency to see things through my lenses, even when I don't have my camera. I appreciate photography because I appreciate my camera. The tutorials offered from Oly and amateurs are priceless. I feel like there are real people behind the Oly brand, not just super-edited photos of basketball players and tree frogs.

    I have nothing but an old Canon (film) to compare with, not like so many "reviewers"...but at this point, I am growing and learning with my Oly. I see no reason to listen to paid, disingenuous banter.

    Cheers, Robin! Keep up the good work.

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  10. Thanks Yerttle !!
    Many people have underestimated, and often gave a painfully underrated conclusion for Olympus cameras. What you have mentioned is very true, Olympus system as a whole (with awesome lenses) encourage the users to see things differently and creatively, and most importantly pushes us to go out and take more photographs.
    Thanks for your feedback. We only have to trust our hearts and eyes, not some questionable reviews.

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  11. Robin,
    I've been folowing your blog for some time now, before you even got the e-5. I must say while the E-5 is a much better tool you can really create art with anything! I started digital with an E-10 because I studied with an incredible artist who used one. I've been an Olympus user ever since. I shoot professionally and bought the E-5 right when it came out. It is indeed an incredible tool. I won't change my mind because of a review. Many reviewers aren't real world artists anyway so what do they know. Keep bloggin' buddy, I love it.

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  12. "...even if you own the supposingly BEST camera, it will not make you a better photographer. Therefore, having a better camera does not guarantee you better results."

    *Like*

    Calm down, mate. Reviews only helped a certain extend. The rest is based on the buyers' decision / judgement. As long as you love the camera, that's all that matters.

    Oh yah... Happy Chinese New Year!

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  13. Hello Carl,
    Whoah, you have been using Olympus since E-10 !! That was really long time ago, and to find assurance from a professional user is really appreciated. Thank you so much for that, and also being here supporting this blog all this time.

    Hey Chong,
    Happy Chinese New Year to you too !! Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. Yes, a review does not make how good or bad a camera is, but the user. Like you have mentioned, as long as you loved the camera, thats all that matters !! *like*

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  14. The review was very disappointing indeed. The review to took long to be done considering the camera was given to their office in October. They blamed the delay as being short staffed and they just moved to their new office in Seattle but yet they managed to review the Canon, Nikon, and even the Pentax products without delay. The review itself is not even thorough and the strengths of the camera was even acknowledge properly. Yes the E5 is expensive but that's the price of quality and the benefit of using their excellent zuiko lenses. It should have scored at least 80% at par with the Nikon7000 or better. The Pentax K5 is a wonderful camera but does not have the glass to back it up. Sorry for my ranting but I know like me and the other Olympus hardcore fans out there you a can relate to what we are feeling right now. Utter disappointment for a review not fitting for such an excellent camera that is the Olympus E5.

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  15. Hello Eric,
    I strongly agree with you on your comments brought forward. It is a little discouraging looking at the 75% score point, it should have been higher. The fact that a lot of Olympus' strengths being set aside from the review was not a wise thing to do. They mentioned that no improvement was made in terms of AF from E-3, but everyone who has owned and used the E-5 knows there is indeed significant, noticeable improvement, faster and more accurate in focusing, both under low light and good light. I share your frustration too, and I believe DPreview should have done a better job, and put more sincere effort in the E-5 reviews.
    Nonetheless, we shall not let ourselves be troubled too much by the reviews, and focus more on the core of photography. We can only prove to them why we love Olympus by showing them what we can do with Olympus.

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  16. When the news of Olympus branding its E5 as the last flagship of its DSLR line, it seems that the faqs has cloud DP review entirely.

    Anyway, I though I have posted a comment somewhere, it turns out I forgot to click on the publish button.lol.

    Sorry if I'm a lil bit late to wish you Happy Chinese New Year!

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  17. Hey Snowfire,
    thanks for the well wishes !!
    Yeah the DPreview forums have too many discussions going on revolving the E-5, it seems that everything else does not matter anymore.

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  18. I belong to several professional associations(PPA, etc) and really no one ever discusses their cameras much. Most shoot with Canon and others with Nikon. I think I am the only one shooting Olympus that I know of. We focus our attention on our art. Lenses, lighting, etc. are talked about in regards to what we do with them. I have won awards with my images yet no one asked me with which camera. I could live with my E-5 for the rest of my carreer as long as I could still have my ZD lenses!

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  19. Hello again Carl !!
    Really glad to see a real life professional photographer using Olympus in their photography work, such as yourself. Testimony from you really strengthen my choice and beliefs in Olympus, especially when it comes to a system of choice when I go out on paid assignments. I am not a professionals, but as a photography-enthusiast, I strongly believe Olympus performs well and suits my shooting style.
    Oh and those ZD lenses !! They can cut through anything !!

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  20. Robin, you might find Kirk Tuck's visualsciencelab blog interesting in light of DPreview. His latest post he went and bought 2 5year old canons to shoot with and explains why we freak out over reviews of the latest and greatest too much. Also the post before he laments doing a walk around with a gear head. Both are good reminders, me thinks.

    ps I am loving my e5

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  21. hey brian,
    Thanks for the links to kirk tucks blog, indeed we can all relate to his thoughts and sharings. Dpreview may havd their own cldaims but what truly mattera in the end is how and what the real users experience in real life shooting.

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  22. Actually I thought the final rating on dpreview of 75% was actually pretty good considering that the Canon 5D markII only got 79% - only 5% difference, not really comparable cameras but still.

    They did say how impressed they were with the image processing I recall them saying how it was showing very high levels of detail. That's what really matters I think.

    The E-5 is also a much tougher camera, you could take it out in the rain more easily and hence be out and about more taking photos.

    E-520 user looking to move up to E-5 soon.

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  23. Hey richard,
    I guess many of us have had high expectations. They did have good comments on E-5, but it was overshadowed by many other cameras from other manufacturers released at the same time.
    I do think it is a huge step up from E-520. I am sure you will love it.

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  24. The whole big point with the Olympus system is that you can get some really excellent glass that is half the size and weight of the Canikon bunch! And I wager that none of the other rigs can take the mud, water and abuse that the Oly can as well!I own an extensive Nikon system along with an older 5D (it mostly wears Nik glass). Now days I mostly shoot with my PEN's and I am planning to get an E-5...I am soon to sell my Nikon 300 f2.8 (to big and Heavy) and step up to the Oly 150 f2 or maybe the 50-200 2.8/3.5 (did I get that zoom f stop right?)...When one gets older and travels a lot one really appreciates companies like Olympus for making REALLY RIGHT STUFF! By the way the Fuji S3 pro (I still use 2 of them) is still capable of the best Dynamic range of all...And its got great skin tone as well! But its old,heavy and slow and not the best for all around travel and work.
    Cheers
    George

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  25. Check out another famous photographer, John Issac...He is a confirmed Olympus user!
    http://www.johnisaac.com/

    http://www.blogger.com/profile/07017824748669778187

    Cheers
    George

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  26. if you did not highly regard dpreviews reviews that much. then why wait agonizingly so long (i.e months) for thier review when you already read so many sites claiming it is good. and now when thier scores doesnt go your way, you go and claim its more the photographer rather than the gear.

    the whole point of review websites is that we get the best value for our money. regardless what camera brand you buy for what intended purpose and regardless of your skill level at the current time.

    the matter of the fact is the E-5 in relative to its peers is not as good. its a great camera but certainly not the best in its class. and that is not good enough from a small camera manufacturer. olympus will have trouble at 2 levels. 4 thirds and micro 4 thirds.

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  27. im a proud owner of olympus e620 and love the picture quality of the straight out of the camera jpegs apart from many other things oly has to offer. i currently own both kit lenses 14-42mm, 40-150mm, 70-300mm,14-54mm and 7-14mm ZD lenses and the recently acquired fl36r flash. im loving my photography but what really concerns me is the sad news that oly wont be producing the starting and mid level cameras. that being said let me share a small story with you. i once bought an android phone xperia x10 which was only supposed to be updated to a specific firmware i.e os2.1. but hardware wise it was a much much more capable devicw. so the xpwria users formed a petition requesting the sony company to release the 2.2 veraion for it, which sony eventually obliged and not only provided the 2.2 but also the 2.3. the crux of the story is olympus has the capabillity to release a great mid range dslr like the e-50 same as e-5 minus the weather shielding and maybe high grade magnesium alloy body and give us what we really want... a true four thirds dslr. what so u say?im a proud owner of olympus e620 and love the picture quality of the straight out of the camera jpegs apart from many other things oly has to offer. i currently own both kit lenses 14-42mm, 40-150mm, 70-300mm,14-54mm and 7-14mm ZD lenses and the recently acquired fl36r flash. im loving my photography but what really concerns me is the sad news that oly wont be producing the starting and mid level cameras. that being said let me share a small story with you. i once bought an android phone xperia x10 which was only supposed to be updated to a specific firmware i.e os2.1. but hardware wise it was a much much more capable devicw. so the xpwria users formed a petition requesting the sony company to release the 2.2 veraion for it, which sony eventually obliged and not only provided the 2.2 but also the 2.3. the crux of the story is olympus has the capabillity to release a great mid range dslr like the e-50 same as e-5 minus the weather shielding and maybe high grade magnesium alloy body and give us what we really want... a true four thirds dslr. what so u say?

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  28. Hey Robin,

    Much appreciated to see you put up some JPEG sample images, but from reading the rest of your blog it seems like you've finally gone RAW ?

    Any chance I could get a sample RAW file from you?

    I'm a current E-620 user, love the camera, love the system....and seriously considering dropping $10k on an E-5 and some seriously good glass so I can expand on what I've been doing :-)

    I'm just wanting to take a look at how my editing software handles the E-5's RAW (Bibble5 btw, quite good as an alternative for Photoshop, particularly for Linux users :-)

    Thanks, and great blog, your passion is inspirational!

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