Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Olympus PEN E-PL5 Review: Street Shooting in KL


Important Notes:
1. This is a user experience based review.
2. All images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG (High Quality) via Olympus Viewer 2, 
3. General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
4. No post-processing applied to the images, except the black and white images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This is a continuation from the Part 1 of my blog review for the new Olympus PEN E-PL5, if you have not read my Part 1 please kindly do so here (click). 

In the previous part of my review, I brought the PEN E-PL5 for a real life paid assignment shoot, which was an actual day wedding coverage for dear friends Nigel Sia and Kel Li at Hotel Maya, Kuala Lumpur. In that entry I have commented on how I was impressed by the little camera's performance for a more serious photography environment, producing excellent image quality (similar to the OM-D E-M5), having almost instantaneous autofocus and very good handling for a small camera, being used for a full day shoot (12 hours duration almost non-stop). That was actually out of the ordinary practice, where I usually would bring the camera for street shooting or more casual situation. I shall be using the beautiful E-PL5 for my own shutter therapy session, which will be the center of discussion for this Part 2 of my E-PL5 review. 



In this particular shooting session, I was accompanied by a long time loyal blog reader and friend, Wan Amirruddin (an E-PL1 user like myself) on a Sunday morning, and we attacked Petaling Street. The main lens of choice was of course my most favourite lenses of all from micro 4/3 lens line-up, the M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8. I also used the 12mm F2 lens for situations where wide angle is a necessity, to capture more into a single frame composition. I only worked with both lenses, and I set the camera to Aperture Priority at all times, shooting mostly at base ISO200 under bright sunny condition, and bumped up the ISO as necessary when I was inside buildings (temples, market) or shade. EXIF information is provided at the bottom of each photograph. 



Smaller Camera for Street Shooting

I have mentioned this a couple of times before in several occasions, and I will say it again, using the PEN (or any micro 4/3 camera small bodies) on the street just felt so right. While I cannot say this is the best suited camera size for professional use (I did have my share of complains and wish for better and beefier gripping for my wedding shoot in Part 1), but for casual shooting, having something smaller in footprint, causing less or no strain at all to any part of your body, yet being able to deliver images on par to even the best APS-C cameras out there (it is proven now by both DXOMark and DPreview, so if you disagree, go bring the argument elsewhere), surely this was something incredible. 

Remember what made Leica M-series so famous in its early days? It was because Leica was bold enough to come up with smaller styled body, without the compromise of image quality, allowing photo-journalists to bring the camera everywhere, hence birthing the new generation of photo-journalism, and next street photography. The solution was simple: providing mobility solution: the best camera is the camera that you have with you at that moment you need it, because a lot of photography opportunities happen when you least expect them to. Olympus Micro 4/3 system, much like the reasons that made Leica so infamous for their rangefinder system, is making a strong remark about having smaller and lighter system, something you would not hesitate to chuck into that hand bag or backpack as you go out from your house. 

Using a small size camera on the street will gather different set of reactions from the people you shoot. Generally photographers with smaller cameras are looking less threatening, hence that allowed you more comfort zone to work with, getting closer. I found that most people did not even take me seriously, and just ignored my presence, which worked great for my style of shooting (non-intrusive). 

For some unexplained reasons, there already is this ridiculous mindset that goes around locally here (and perhaps, to a certain extent, it is the same everywhere else, I would presume) that if you want good image quality, the camera must be huge. There is this completely wrong theory of the performance and image quality of the camera is directly proportional to its size and weight. How untrue !! Therefore there has always been this "DSLR" mentality, whenever someone carried something large and black, he means serious business. That "mentality" is working against the street shooting environment, and honestly, having something smaller and more inconspicuous will save you some broken noses. 

I think it all comes down to your own choice of style and preference. The OM-D E-M5 was shaped and designed to look more serious, and by all means, that is one serious looking camera. The E-PL5 somehow felt more relaxed, both in the hands of the photographer shooting with it, and also the reaction that the photographer gets from the crowd he is shooting. 

1/1000sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/1000sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/1250sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/4000sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/250sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/2000sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/320, F1.8, ISO200


Smaller Box Focusing

If you have been following my blog you would know that my main camera system is the DSLR E-5 and some wonderful zuiko lenses. Like most DSLRs, E-5 has very small, almost pin-sized focusing points, which gives that extra boost of confidence when you have a very specifically small area of target for focusing. One complaint that many voiced over the micro 4/3 system is the overly large focusing boxes, looking more like focusing area rather than focusing points. When one casual shooter decides to dabble deeper and more seriously into photography, attention is paid more to focusing accuracy. Generally I never had much issues with the focusing accuracy from PEN E-P3 or newer PEN bodies onward, but that gigantic green box area somehow did not seem convincing enough. 

Some users have gone through a few work-arounds in the camera menu playing with the settings to get that smaller target AF area in the OM-D, and this work-around has become a hit through photography forums. 

Thankfully we all do not have to suffer that and this issue has been addressed in the E-PL5. How I wish Olympus would provide a firmware upgrade to have this inside the OM-D as well !! 




Again, that Blazing Fast Autofocus

Having that smaller target AF box for use in street shooting was quite a game changer. For extra control and accuracy, I felt more confident shooting with the smaller green boxes, especially when I really wanted to make sure the human eyes are in focus for my street portrait shooting. Yes we can trust that face detection AF, much like we can trust driving an Auto car, but when I want to get serious, I prefer to have more controls, much like manual car drivers. Working with Olympus AF system is one of the best things I can say about this micro 4/3 system. It is a blessing to have such instant focusing for street shooting. Both the 12mm and 45mm that I tested responded very positively with the E-PL5, The camera was so fast, that there are many times I managed to steal some shots of the people on the streets before they could react to my camera. 

I tell you, if such blazing AF was invented long ago, no one would even care about zone-focusing for street shooting anymore. 

1/500sec, F2, ISO400

1/80sec, F1.8, ISO800

1/80sec, F1.8, ISO800

1/125sec, F1.8, ISO800

1/1250sec, F1.8, ISO200


That Not So Great LCD Monitor Screen

I might have slipped out in my previous review on the OM-D, but I was not fully satisfied using the OM-D OLED screen for many reasons: 1) the resolution could be better (614k dot only) and 2) the color balance is completely off.  It is very difficult to check the colours from the screen, but general focusing accuracy review was fine. Knowing the screen uses OLED, color accuracy was not something to depend on. 

Now, on the E-PL5, they used a different screen, perhaps it is the same screen as the E-PL3 or E-PM1 (I have none to compare, so I cannot verify if it is the same). The resolution is lower than the E-M5, and that color balance somehow seemed even worse. I was reviewing photographs taken both on the street and the previous entry's wedding event, and the main problem I had was how the skin tone looked through the screen. I remembered a friend cough Jason Mumbles cough who stood beside me as I was shooting commented on how "horrible" the colors from the camera was... and I was having a very difficult time to convince him that the colors you see on that not so great LCD screen was completely different from the real output of the camera. Indeed to my eyes the colors on the screen looked overly saturated and unrealistic at all. Working with OM-D files and generally the signature Olympus colors have always stayed the same through the many years, hence looking at the screen I knew very well I cannot trust working with it at all. 

Yes, we know that the resolution of 460k dot is not so great, since many modern cameras now have 1000k dot and above in their 3 inch or larger monitor screen, and that the color balance could be improved somehow to reflect a more realistic outcome. I actually loved the resolution and color balance of my DSLR E-5's LCD screen, the feel and experience was very close to how I would judge from seeing a photograph from my own PC screen. Many who have used the E-5 DSLR would know how great the LCD screen is, why can't we have similar color balance and resolution on the E-M5 or PEN cameras?

Screen size comparison when shooting at original 4/3 aspect ratio. (E-PL5 left, E-PL1 right). Image taken with my HTC One V

Another small complain I have about the screen was how it was optimized for a 16:9 shooting. Perhaps the LCD screen was designed for movie shooters, since video recording was done at 16:9 aspect ratio. Nonetheless, to get the full 16MP resolution and the best image quality out of the E-PL5, we have to shoot at 4/3 aspect ratio, and in this case the display has been reduced in size. It seemed so small, in fact it seemed to be even smaller than the 2.5 inch display from the older E-PL1 !! If E-PL5's default aspect ratio was 16:9, I would have no issue with the elongated screen to fit into the full display, but if the original uncropped full size image was 4/3 in aspect ratio, I would expect the LCD screen to be optimized for that display. After all for most people who use micro 4/3 system, they use it primarily for still photographs. I also noticed that E-PL5 could possibly be using the same screen with the E-PL3, and this issue may be the same as the E-PL3, but I still think this is worth mentioning here. 



1/4000sec, F1.8, ISO200

1/1600sec, F1.8, ISO800

1/250sec, F5, ISO200

1/200sec, F1.8, ISO400

1/160sec, F1.8, ISO400


On the whole, the new Olympus PEN E-PL5 is indeed a very fun and capable camera to work with. Basically, E-PL5 is what an Olympus PEN has always been famous for: light-weight, small in size, full with features, such as the built in Image Stabilization, full manual controls and customization, and now, add the highly regarded image quality of OM-D to the E-PL5, considering the use of similar image sensor and processing engine.  Olympus E-PL5 offers an option for photographers who do not need all the extra functions and features that come along with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, yet maintains the few important characteristics that made OM-D E-M5 such a great camera: the blazing fast autofocus as well as reliability as a camera system, in terms of camera performance on the filed and final image quality delivery. 

What I liked about E-PL5?
1) Excellent image quality, similar to Olympus OM-D E-M5, superb high ISO performance and good dynamic range. 
2) Small sized, light, and comfortable to handle (with current set of smaller sized M.Zuiko lenses, like the 12mm F2 lens and 45mm F1.8 lens). But I do prefer the handling with the OM-D, PLUS the additional hand-grip. 
3) Blazing Fast Autofocus
4) Smaller Target AF area box for pin point accurate focusing. 
5) Very reliable, even in a very demanding shooting condition (wedding coverage) and the camera worked without a slightest hiccup. 
6) That GREAT Olympus signature colors. True to life and pleasing skin tones. 

What I wish could have been better?
1) Better Battery life. Currently I took about 300 shots under heavy usage, and ideally 500-600 shots per single battery charge would be great. 
2) Better LCD screen. We need higher resolution (at least 900k dot and above) with improved color balance. 
3) Having a built in viewfinder, for practical shooting reasons. If I attach the external viewfinder on the hot-shoe, how then can I use the external flash? I need BOTH the EVF and the flash, hence having built in EVF will allow me to use the flash at the same time. 

Do take note that Olympus has released the OM-D E-M5 prior to E-PL5, which catered for more serious shooters that demanded more from a camera: better handling with add-on hand grips, built in EVF, weather sealing, having more shortcut/customizable buttons, dual control dials, etc. If you need all those extras, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is surely more fitted for you, especially if you are faced with more challenging and demanding photography environment. 

Nevertheless, there are many other casual shooters that only use the camera for casual shooting, thus nullifying the need for weather sealing (not everyone wants to shoot in rain), prioritizing simplicity (hence needing less buttons and dials), treasuring the smaller size and lighter weight (so that the camera is easier to carry around everywhere) and yet, without having to compromise on the image quality. Fitting into this category of users, E-PL5 is a very attractive option. 


1/40sec, F3.5, ISO500

1/40sec, F3/5, ISO500

1/20sec, F3.5, ISO320

Wan Amiruddin, a proud E-PL1 owner, much like myself. 

It is very interesting to witness how Micro 4/3 is expanding in choices of cameras and lenses, and surely advancing in terms of technology. In terms of image quality Olympus micro 4/3 is fully capable to deliver very competitively, and add to that the good selection of high quality Zuiko branded glasses to match. The year 2012 has been very interesting for Olympus, having OM-D, E-PL5 as very capable camera bodies released for the micro 4/3 system, and the great longer prime lenses such as the 75mm F1.8 and the 60mm F2.8 macro. Adding to the family are also very respectable camera bodies from Panasonic, such as their G5 and new GH3, with their contribution of fully capable lenses such as the 12-35mm F2.8 and 35-100mm F2.8 lenses. 

Soon, we will see how micro 4/3 system make splashes all around the world (if the splashes have not already begun). 




143 comments:

  1. Hi Robin,

    Great review mate. Hoping Panasonic would also let you review their photographic products as well especially the 12-35mm f2.8 and the new 35-100mm f2.8 lens. Take care and Keep up the good work!

    Eric V
    Edmonton Alberta Canada

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eric !!
      I doubt Panasonic would find me, or know of my existence haha !

      Delete
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  2. Hopefully, Olympus will add in the small box focusing in the next firmware update for OMD, I need that too. Very detail review again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed Kelvin ! The smaller target focus is very important to me.

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      I'm not sure if I'm on the right channel or not, the small box focusing is present in the latest OMD firmware 1.5. It's just that getting it is not so straight forward. Here are the steps:

      1. Use the Live View instead of the View Finder;
      2. Make sure the "Tap to focus" instead of "Tap to focus and shoot" option is selected;
      3. Tap anywhere on the screen;
      4. A slider with a scale showing, 5, 7, 10 & 14x will appear on the right of the scree;
      5. To change the focus box size, just move the slider up and down; and
      6. Then you can move the focus point around as usual.

      There you have it! And when you switch to the VF mode, the small box focus is there too!.

      Don't know why Olympus makes it so difficult for their top of the range M4/3 camera.

      Note:
      a. Clicking the "Ok" button or turning the camera on/off will reset the focus point to the normal size.
      b. But to reactivate it, you just have to tap on the screen again. The last saved focus box size should be there.

      Delete
  3. And here I thought I was the only one switching to a half manual focus assist mode in order to get that pinpoint focusing in my E-M5. Please olympus, bring it in a firmware update. My G3 has it, it makes no sense that my E-M5 shouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Robin, a great and detail review of the epl5. I think with a integrated evf it will be a perfect camera for me. Right now I will still keep my ep2 for awhile. Keepbup your good work.

    Francis from Toronto

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Francis. I also agree with you that having a built in viewfinder will be a huge difference !!

      Delete
  5. Love the photos, as always, especially of the young Hindu couple - - their happy faces will break your heart. Also, we missed your captions (you supplied the exposure info) and so we don't know what the shirtless character with the newspaper tied around his waist is saying as he gives you the thumbs down!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Reverend,
      Thanks for the kind words. Sorry for not including captions, but I thought the EXIF info is more important for a review entry. No worries for my own personal shutter therapy sessions I will surely add some thoughts or short captions.

      Delete
  6. hi again Robin, thanks for spending time shooting with me, it is really nice meeting you and sharing lot of thing about cameras and some other stuff, hope to meet you again someday...TQ...=)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries Amiruddin !! Hope you enjoyed yourself.

      Delete
  7. Hi Robin, I am using Olympus E-PL1 come with standard 14-42mm kit lens and an Olympus 45mm f1.8 for casual photography but I find that the image I shot were not as sharp as yours. How do you normally focus on your subject? Using Manual or Auto focusing mode? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mervyn,
      As I have mentioned, I shot all images with auto focus.

      Delete
  8. From the Netherlands: very interesting review! Beautiful photos with nice colorsettings. Now i'm using my e-pl3 over my e-3, but i still want have the om-d5! But reading your review the e-pl5 is also a great winner! We have to wait a little longer before the e-pl5 camera comes...:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Klass,
      E-PL5 should be available very soon I hope, by the end of this year so the wait is not that long.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Hi Klaad Pater,
      I'm also looking forward to this camera. Here in Germany they say it will be available mid or end of october. Guess then it should be available in Netherland as well.

      @Robin
      Thank you for this nice reviews and the time you spend into it.

      Delete
    4. Hey Leif,
      glad to know that the camera is coming very soon!

      Delete
    5. Hey Leif,
      glad to know that the camera is coming very soon!

      Delete
  9. Tq to shared your very niced photos.. Can i know how you controled the EC..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sarah,
      Thanks for the kind compliments. but what is EC? I do not understand.

      Delete
    2. Sorrry exposure compensation.. If u don't mind please eleborate your style for each metering

      Delete
    3. Hello Sarah,
      For all photographs in this entry, I did not touch the exposure compensation at all. I set the metering to center-weighted, and I shot at aperture priority for all shots.
      I changed ISO and aperture settings only.
      I hope that clears up some confusion.

      Delete
  10. Fantastic pictures! Oh, help! I feel a serious GAS attack coming. As you may recall I gravitate towards a Sigma DP2 Merill as travel-light camera, but that's for landscape (static) use only. A good camera, but with slow AF, quirky and only suitable for slow and deliberate photography. It has a stunning Leica-quality lens, superb sensor (even Reichmann rates it as near or equal to medium-format) but, again, it's slow.

    These pictures really are tempting me big time. This camera, with a couple of those lovely, fast and supersharp Zuikos is extremely hard to resist for the type of street shooting and general photography you do. But your macro and wedding work is also exquisite. And you are right, the colors and acuity are nothing short of fantastic. Do you think the OOC Jpeg's are as good or nearly as good too?

    I think I will start to save some money. And maybe I'll pick up a E-PL1 from Amazon or so as a backup.

    Keep up the good work, Robin! Stunning work, as usual!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andre !!
      But don't get E-PL1, go straight to E-PL5 !! You won't regret it, trust me. The image quality and AF performance have been improved dramamtically, it is worth paying for.
      All images you see in this entry except B&W ones are all SOOC. No additional processing applied, but perhaps a little cropping.

      Delete
  11. Based on your list of cons, you should check out the E-M5, it's got pretty much everything you feel is lacking on the E-PL5.

    As a historical note, the Leica M was considered to be rather large when it was released. These were the days before SLR's were common and the M3 (the original M) was significantly larger than the earlier Leica bodies, or the competition from Contax, Nikon and Canon (the latter two at the time pretty much just cloned Contax and Leica respectively in terms of body design).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the note but I already did mention a couple of times, E-PL5 is what E-M5 is, without the extra functions and features. I list them as cons, because they were valid cons.

      I thought Leica is the camera that people can use because of its smaller size body and much more "invisible" qualities.

      Delete
  12. Mauricio from Brazil
    Hello Robin , fantastic pictures! and about the video? could you make a sample? hehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maurico,
      Thanks for the compliments. I am no video expert, that you shall have to find from other reviewers.

      Delete
  13. Hi Robin,
    very nice review and one of the rare (but honest) comments about the LCDs Olympus is currently using in their latest PENs and OM-D.
    I actually was a little shocked and thought my OM-D was defective after I reviewed the first images on the LCD. They all have a fairly strong green tint (from any viewing angle). My old E-PL1's LCD is far better here. Now I know that this is a (or THE) weak point of the latest Olympus cameras. Even the EVF seems to be more accurate, colorwise. But hey, I can live with that because everything else is so right. Sad to read though that the E-PL5 is still weak in this respect.

    I always enjoy reading your blog entries and reviews. Please keep on the excellent work! ;-)

    Martin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Martin !!
      Now that Olympus is partnering with Sony, hopefully Sony can provide them with better color accuracy for the EVF and LCD monitors. Thank goodness I can trust Olympus' colors so far, or else I would have a hard time tweaking the white balance on site.

      Delete
  14. Hi Robin:
    I really like the colour accuracy on the older EPL1 LCD (more or less colours what you get later on computer). Sony relationship may help with the EVF and LCD as I hear their EVF is very good new tech design. So on the wish list, an internal pop up flash would be good so EVF can be put on hotshoe along with popup flash, maybe we will see it if Olympus decides to release a EP5. Nikon puts 900,000 RGB LCD screens on their compact cameras which look great even on small pocket cameras at $300 and up prices, like the smaller S8100/9100 compact series and P7000 advanced compact series, (my wife has S8100) and as an advanced enthusiast or pro, hopefully Olympus will come to realize we like to see a preview of accurate colour in our LCD as a definite plus in enjoying taking photos. If Nikon can do it and keep price down on even small cameras, hopefully Olympus will adopt the more accurate colour LCD maybe in a later version model. However, dispite all this, Olympus should be congratulated on producing cameras in the class of OMD and EPL5 and I imagine they will be very successful regardless due to the final image quality, final colours and fast AF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Adrian,
      So true, I also find the color balance on my E-PL1 to be very usable when I need to judge the white balance of a given situation.
      Yes, lets hope Sony, who should be an expert for LCD technologies can help Olympus in this part !

      Delete
  15. Awesome pictures. I really love the images that this camera produces. Makes me think about getting one, but I have just purchased NEX 7.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Henrys.
      The future of Sony and Olympus should be interesting, they have involvement with each other now, so we shall see what innovations will happen soon.

      Delete
  16. Robin nice and "live" review, thanks. you said about leica. at that time, which i dont know much, there sure were a lot of competitors. why do you think leica make it thru being both legendary and market-share winner till digital period?

    oly's jpeg engine surely produce punchy colors out of camera wrt canon and nikon. you know in a camera shop when the sales rep test shots with oly and nikon strong possibility is that customer select oly. can you please comment this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I shall not comment further on Leica, but to mention that they were very bold to make smaller cameras which are easier to bring around everywhere, hence causing the revolution of photo-journalism and early street photography.

      Olympus has always had very good JPEG in camera color rendition. Olympus signature color is something that I really like, and have been working with for years. One of the strong reasons I stay with Olympus is the colors.

      Delete
  17. Ulfric M Douglas10/04/2012 10:36:00 PM

    The LCD screens on my e-P1, e-P2 and e-pL1 (yes!) are easier for me to use and read than the new 16:9 screen on my e-pM1, and the e-pL5 it seems.
    I only use mine for settings, but still ... there's no need for Olympus to purpusefully cripple the screen in terms of 4:3 view area.
    Roll-on the e-P5 ... will it have everything?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, lets hope the E-P5 next year will have everything!

      Delete
  18. Hi Robin, is it worth it if I upgrade from E-pl2?
    -Idamshah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It depends on what you are looking for in your upgrade Asmadi. Also depends on what you will be using the camera for. I cannot just give "yes" or "no" answer without knowing you or what you shoot, and your individual preferences.

      Delete
  19. love the colors straight from RAW.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Olympus colors are great out of camera

      Delete
  20. Robin, I agree with you on the discrete nature of u43 cameras. At my kids' school and sports functions, I routinely take hundreds of pics with no complaints, while the parents with large DSLR's with huge zoom lenses and monster flashes are told "no professional pictures allowed". The only shortcomings I have found are some shutterslap and some lens flair at f1.8 as I don't use a lens hood to keep small and discrete.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Four by Six,
      glad to see that you are enjoying the micro 4/3 system and it has been serving you well. Lens flare problem is not something specific to Olympus, any lenses would suffer some degree of lens flare, but having lens hood would cut down the flare significantly.

      Delete
  21. Hiya Robin,

    Great images and good review, thank you. I also love the pic of the Hindu couple!
    Do you know if anyone is testing this body for video locally? I know you're not really into that! The reason I am interested is because this camera is the first Olly body to feature a full HD tele-converter (4x). This allows one to use a prime out to 4x the focal length without losing video resolution, as well as maintaing aperture. Yep, can use a 45/1.8 as a 180/1.8 for concerts etc! The GH2 has a similar feature, Luminous Landscape covered it really well:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/panasonic_gh2_11_mode_revealed.shtml

    Cheers, Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tom,
      Thanks again for the kind remarks. However I am not sure if anyone is testing the video features here locally. Will let you know if I found out something.

      Delete
  22. I was very much looking forward to having the E-PM2 as a second body. The E-M5 sensor in a tiny package wold be so awesome for the street. I was ready to live with less external controls and dials as well as the tilting screen. So the tiny screen was the only last hurdle... Looking at your review I am afraid I will have to pass on these Pens. It is rather inexcusable for a camera with no VF to not have a decent screen both in terms of colour or size or resolution. I was so close to making the E-PM2 my "pocket rocket" ! I will try one out when they are in the shops to confirm but Mr Olympus you were soon close!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you need EVF, then I suggest you go for OMD. Please leave a name when you comment.

      Delete
    2. Hi Robin,

      Apologies the name field doesn't work on my iPad. Anyways, what I was trying to say was that I am ready to do without the EVF in return for a compact size (second body is all about compromise right?). It is just a shame that the screen is not quite up to the job. Put differently, I would buy the E-PM2 on day 1 if the screen is decent. Now I am very torn :-(

      Delete
    3. What's wrong with the VF-2? Works very well. You can use it at both eye and chest level in bright daylight. Ground level also , if you go down.

      Delete
  23. just when can we buy it in Malaysia ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea, sention, but my guess is soon. Will you be at KLPF this weekend? Do ask the Olympus guys there, maybe they can give you an answer.

      Delete
    2. i wont be there. cause i am.from the east malaysia.
      comparing wit the omd which one. are faster interm of af and.responding?

      Delete
    3. Sention,
      As I have mentioned in my blog review, it uses the same AF system as the OMD, hence it should be the same. The AF is already so fast, even if it was faster, you would not notice it at all.

      Delete
  24. Hi Robin,
    As always your images are superb. I'm interested to know how you shot the epl5 on the street. Did you use the articulated screen to shoot close to the chest like a Rolleiflex, put an EVF in the shoe, or hold it out like a wet diaper (as Kirk Tuck would say)?
    Keep up the lovely work! I'm a big fan!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Robin,

    Great review, as usual.

    I'd just like to comment on the situation with the LCD screen and the lack of colour accuracy. I had the same problem with my E-P3 when I first bought it. The E-P3's screen has two modes - "natural" and "vivid". The factory default setting is "vivid" (presumably because it makes everything look bright and colourful when people are trying out the camera in-shop).

    The problem is that the "vivid" setting is inaccurate and shows awful skin tones.

    After I had owned the E-P3 for several months (!) I learned that it was possible to change the screen to "natural" mode, like this:

    1) Go into the full menu and choose the option that looks like a wrench.
    2) Click on the third option ("Adjust the brightness and colour temperature of the LCD monitor").
    3) You will see "Vivid" at the bottom of the screen. Press the Info button to change it to Natural.

    Robin, I suspect you can do the same thing with the E-PL5.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Newzild,
      Thanks for pointing the setting, but I remembered doing it to both E-P3 and OM-D and did not see much improvement over the inaccurate colors. It merely creates a less contrasty display (toned down contrast). However the image colors still looked completely off from what I would expect to see on any computer screen.

      Delete
    2. That's interesting, Robin. I thought there was quite a big improvement when I changed the setting but on the other hand I tend towards architecture/landscape shooting and you tend to shoot more street/people. The thing that really annoyed me about the "Vivid" setting was that sometimes I would take a photo of some wild, colourful scene that looked great on the LCD and then when I got home and loaded it onto my computer the photo was really "meh" and the colour was washed out. But your complaint is slightly different - you're talking about the skin tones. Also, I don't have a colour-corrected screen.

      Delete
  26. Hi Robin,

    It's a very nice review.
    How about the performance of IBIS, as compared to the 5-axis one in OM-D?

    Cheers,
    Alexander from Sweden

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alexander.
      For the IS I already commented lengthily in Part 1 of my review. Please do read Part 1.

      Delete
  27. Great review, and excellent pictures.

    Could you elaborate on Video capabilities of the camera? With EM5, the stabilization in video mode is superb. How is the PL5 in that regard?

    thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind compliments. I already discussed about the Image Stabilization in Part 1 of my review. Please read my comments there.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Robin, you didn't actually touch upon IS with regards to video on Part 1 other than to give it a general thumbs up compared to the E-M5. With the previous PENs, video IS is digital and doesn't use the IBIS like the E-M5 does. Digital IS is often inferior and introduces video quality issues jitter and wobble effects, artifacts, and generally degrades the overall image quality. What did you see with the -PL5? Could you tell if it was using IBIS or is it still using the same digital IS of the previous PENs?

      Delete
    4. I agree with Jak ;-)
      Could you please confirm if the camera uses IBIS for video? It's becoming confusing, since atleast one reviewer has said it does use IBIS in video, and Olympus seems to be saying it doesn't.
      Foe many users this will be the SINGLE most import issue between this camera and E-M5.

      Delete
  28. I have an E-PL3 and have used it for nearly a year. I agree that the screen isn't great. I use the VF-2 electronic viewfinder in most situations. I also don't care for the battery life and carry 2 spares with me at all times. To improve the grip, I used some Sugru to add a wedge-shaped grip to the front of the camera. It works very well. (Sugru is a wonderful material and is something that every photographer should experiment with.) Other than these relatively minor complaints, I really like my E-PL3. It will suit me just fine until the next model in the OM-D line comes out. When that happens, it'll make a nice backup.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, E-PL3 itself is a great camera, very good image quality and super fast AF.
      But yeah I am wondering what Olympus will do in their next OM-D line up. Could there be any more surprises?

      Delete
  29. Hi Robin:

    I cannot tell if the E-PL5 has the same built-in flash as the E-PL3, but if so just curious if you used it for the street shots, or whether the center weighted metering accomplished these photos without flash.

    Also, for street shooting do you prefer the built-in viewfinder of the EM-5 or were you fine with the LCD of the E-PL5?

    Thanks, Fred

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Fred,
      The E-PL5 has no built in flash, it takes add on clip flash much like the E-PL3. For all the shots in this blog entry on the streets, I did not use flash at all, they were all taken with available light.
      I have no preference when I shoot on the street, either with the viewfinder or LCD screen. In this session, all were shot with the LCD screen. Though I must say, I am a DSLR shooter, I will say the best is still to work with an optical viewfinder, but thats just my personal opinion.

      Delete
  30. Hi Robin,
    with activated image stabilization, videos out of the E-PL3 have a horrible wobbly effect towards the edge of the picture (see here: http://vimeo.com/30925426).
    Is this still the case with videos out of the E-PL5?

    ReplyDelete
  31. The product sheet for the camera says the screen is by default set to a Vivid setting - could this be source of the complaint about the screen colour? The other setting is 'natural'. Both settings have 14 gradations of 'colour balance'. Does none of that result in a good colour balance?
    Monitor
    Monitor type Tiltable LCD - Touch Panel
    Monitor size 7.6cm / 3.0'' (16:9)
    Resolution 460000 dots
    Brightness adjustment +/- 2 levels
    Colour balance +/- 7 levels Vivid (default) /
    Natural

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I didn't see this point had already been made.

      Delete
  32. great review and wonderful pictures

    now lets hope that the olympus team will come with firmware update to the new omd em5, so the size of the focus boxes can be changed, as it is on the epl5.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Ahhh i am so confused getting this with better lens or OMD with 'kit' lens...

    btw, your review is great Robin, i enjoyed it really. Salam dari Indonesia :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey Robin, thanks for the great and thorough reviews. It's nice to see someone try and pushthis beyond its designated market's capabilities and running it through it's paces. I'm just about ready to jump ship from an APS-C DSLR system and it looks to me like the E-PL5 might be the model to go with. I mostly do object photography in a studio along with some 'travel-style' or street photo now and then, so I don't really need it to be a sports camera by any means. The tilting screen will definitely come in handy, I'm sure, maybe letting me shoot it like I would a TLR.

    I'm kind of stuck at one part of the choice, though, and now that you've used it yourself, maybe you could share some insight? It's about the color. I frankly quite like the look of the champagne body, but did you find or do you think a black body would be more suitable for street shooting? From my understanding, body language makes a world of difference, but do you think you would've been noticed less or been less conspicuous if you had been using a black version of the camera? I'm just stuck in this choice (champagne which I like vs black with is(?) more subtle). What would you say about this?

    Greetings from Mexico!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nice to read a great review from a fellow Malaysian, keep up the good work Robin!

    Any news on the model to replace the standard Oly EP3?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you for providing such excellent review with very in-depth information. Real-life situations like these you show always say more about a camera than studio performance setups. I had the EPL-1 many years ago but went back to Nikon DSLR. Time has certainly moved on though and the EPL-5 seems like dream camera compared! Only backside is the screen resolution when taking stills - very strange not to use full screen capabilities and something that immediately felt like a block-stopper for me as my eyesight is not 100%.

    Very tempting camera though and thanks also for the review you did on the Oly xz-2. Now to meditate on which one to choose - both different but I can only have 1.. time will tell :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for the review.

    The metering accuracy seems to be really accurate.
    I have a NEX-5n where I have to compensate the exposure very often. :(

    Does the E-PL5 have this kind of "curve-histogram" like the OMD?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for the review.

    The metering accuracy seems to be really accurate.
    I have a NEX-5n where I have to compensate the exposure very often. :(

    Does the E-PL5 have this kind of "curve-histogram" like the OMD?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi,
    Where you bought the epl5? I wish to get a white one.
    Ive asked few shops, which all of them are out of stock.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi,
    Where you bought the epl5? I wish to get a white one.
    Ive asked few shops, which all of them are out of stock.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hello Robin,
    Your pictures are exquisite - I love them! I am so inspired I have just purchased the PEN PL5 myself!
    Thank you so much for sharing and your advice.
    Stella (LONDON)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hi Robin !

    I enjoyed your EPL5 review in the street shooting aspect as well !
    As I was looking through the images captured with the EPL5 ,The images of your Petaling Street shoot out[with the Alpha350+50mm f/1.8]in sept 2012 came to my mind and I could not help feeling that the EPL5 [and the EM-5 ] renders the skin tones better and richer [or is just my bias...?]
    kindly correct me if I am wrong ...
    Actually it should not be so since both are sony sensors....
    So has your handling of files been different ...or what ?

    ReplyDelete
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  44. I was on my way with my wallet wide open to buy the new Leica D Lux6 (not Lumix LX7, im a snob :))to compliment my Nikon D700 but this review has ground me to a halt.

    Fantastic IQ, lovely color rendering seem to be on par or better then many of the DSLRS that i have owned and tried and the photos look almost three dimensional in some cases...very compelling.

    Have you tried the "14-42 kit" lens that Amazon is selling with it because Im always hesitant to buy the kit lenses. It would be nice to have some form of budget zoom ability to accommodate the great 45mm 1.8 Zuiko but not if the IQ is sub par like i experienced with my Lumix G3.

    Also how is your 45mm fairing? I have read that its construction is not quite what the price might indicate and that i scratches quite easily?

    ReplyDelete
  45. Image quality is superb! Im loving this camera.
    I second the notion of the 'Big Camera Means Good Pictures' mentality.
    Awesome, thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi Robin

    Those are awesome images taken with the E-PL5! I need to get myself a good compact for street photography and travel and was going to go for one of the more traditional cameras like the Canon G1X or Nikon P7700 but I feel I want to embrace some of the newer technology and of course the superb IQ of the E-PL5. Could I please ask is the menu system very easy to navigate as it is the only thing holding me back from buying this?

    Thanks

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    ReplyDelete
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  62. Hi Robin,


    I am a still learning casual camera user..got my XZ-1 over a year ago & am pretty satisfied with it. I just came across yr blog & was reading the EPL-5 review ( am considering maybe to get this camera later when I upgrade). Found it to be informative & useful for a layperson like me
    Yr photos are great..I wish I can take these kind of shots eventually.
    I am curious about yr camera settings and would like to understand why you took certain of the street shots in those settings. For eg. the person sleeping under the umbrella..such a high shutter speed vs the man holding the candles in the temple( slower shutter speed).
    Also under good lighting conditions during the day, why the need to bump up the ISO eg the shot with the man with the newspaper wrapped around his belly ( and subsequent 2 other photos)

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  65. Hi Robin,

    I just ordered the epl5 online along with the 45mm 1.8, was really considering getting the omd em5 but figured since I'm still a hobbyist I don't really need all the bells and whistle just yet.

    Anyways, when I was doing my research on which camera to get your blog reviews on the epl5 review pretty much lead me to purchasing the epl5. So I look forward to using it.

    You're a real inspiration and I love Malaysia and visit KL often. Would love to join one of your shutter therapy someday.

    Take care and keep up this great blog!

    Cheers!
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  67. Nice camera, nice review but speaking of DxOMark as proof that IQ is as good as the best APS-C is misleading:

    DxOMark overall sensor rating scores:

    D5200 84
    D7100 83

    E-PL5 72
    E-M5 71

    Nobody ever said the PENs don't have great IQ. But DPR got it wrong about m43 being equivalent to the best of APS-C. But thanks for the review.

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    Is there a way to turn off "warm" in iauto mode? Also, I had the EPL1, & just loved the "exposure". Pictures taken at dusk or in a dark room looked just like how the scene looked. However, pics from my EPL5 in low light look like they could've been from high noon! Is this just a trademark of a higher dynamic sensor? I am still sorta new to this. I have tried setting my exposure at -.3 or -.7, but it's not as predictable, & my pics end up usually darker than the actual scene. I miss my EPL1. Even my friends with full frames commented on how "right" the EPL1 pics looked. Thanks for any help.

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    Actually i was looking to upgrade from a point and shoot and contemplating between an entry level DSLR (something like Nikon D3300) or explore into the Mirrorless world (Olympus micro 4/3 system being the most attractive choice or Fujifilm's XA-1) .
    However i do not find much review on Pen - E- PL 6
    If you have some comment on that camera, i would love to hear your thoughts and reccomendation. My budget would be around $600+
    Really appreciate and looking forward to hear from you. Thanks.

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