Olympus OM-D E-M5: First Impressions

For the past few weeks I have been receiving many questions from you beautiful readers, mostly asking about the rumored Olympus OM-D camera, which has been announced worldwide yesterday. To answer your questions, Olympus Malaysia has invited me for a short “preview” session with them, yes I have seen the camera, which was a pre-production unit and had a very brief encounter with it. Thus I shall share my first impressions with the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 here. No, I have not had the opportunity to do any review or tested the camera yet, because the camera was simply not ready for testing.

All images in this entry are provided by and used with permission from Olympus Malaysia.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Silver Version. What a sexy small beast !!

Firstly, lets talk about the actual size of the camera. The E-M5 is actually 121mm in length, 89.6mm in height and 41.9mm in width (in comparison to Olympus PEN E-P3: 122mm in length, 69.1mm in height and 34.3mm in width). Therefore, E-M5 is only slightly larger than E-P3, but obviously taller due to the built-In EVF. With a magnesium alloy body and full weather sealing, I do think that the size of the camera is relatively small and very reasonable. Any smaller would have made the camera rather uncomfortable or too small to hold, especially handling larger lenses. For some unexplained reasons, the leaked images of E-M5 made it looked a lot bigger than it actually is, probably due to the added on battery grip, which did look clunky and DSLR-like. Take the extra add-on battery grip away and you have really small camera body, far smaller than all DSLR out there, which is the main advantage of using micro 4/3 system: smaller footprint and lighter weight.

OM-D stands for OM Digital, which is an entirely new line of Olympus camera category, and sits on its own separate from the PEN line. However, the Olympus OM-D remains inside the micro 4/3 system family. The camera specification looks really promising. However, do keep in mind that this first OM-D camera is NOT a professional camera model, and should not be treated as such. It is targeted at advanced users and to bridge the gap between the current PEN E-P3 and the flagship DSLR E-5. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 provides the best of both worlds: better image quality, all the advantages of micro 4/3 with super fast autofocus, and the weather-sealing and ruggedness of the Olympus pro-body E-5. You may find the full specification on Olympus’ official website here (click). I shall highlight some of the specifications which I think are important as follows:

1) New 16MP Live MOS sensor:
2) Full Weather-Sealing
3) Built in Electronic Viewfinder
4) New Innovative 5-Axis, and improved 5-Step Built-In Body Image Stabilization
5) Improved Autofocus system (continuous focusing) with 3D tracking

Olympus OM-D EM-5 Rear View

NEW 16MP Live MOS Sensor

The first question which I asked Olympus Malaysia was about the sensor of the E-M5, but no information was officially released regarding the "new" sensor. Surrounding rumors have indicated that there is a possibility of the E-M5's sensor to be identical to the Panasonic GX1 or G3's 16MP sensor, which is still purely a speculation at this stage. If you scrutinize the specifications closely, the Olympus E-M5 has effective pixels of 16.1 MP and sensor photo detectors of 16.9MP, in comparison to Panasonic GX1 that has effective pixels of 16.0 and sensor photo detectors of 16.6MP. Based on this small specification comparison, I am fairly sure that this is a different sensor. Perhaps, more information would be made available in the future, and I believe sooner or later someone will find out who made the sensor.

Over the years, Olympus has made incremental, but significant improvements for their micro 4/3 iterations (especially the much enhanced faster AutoFocus system) but one particular factor which held them down from beating the competition was the sensor. Many may argue that the limitation was due to the sensor size itself (being much smaller than APS-C or full frame), but recent developments in technology have been breaking barriers. Take a look at Pentax K-5, it has a APS-C sized 16MP sensor, but the high ISO shooting and dynamic range actually are on par with full frame cameras, such as the much revered Canon 5Dmk2 (source: DXOmark website). Additionally, many photographers have found out that the notoriously small sized 2.7x cropped sensor for Nikon 1 system can produce very clean and usable high ISO images, not surpassing, but very comparable to micro 4/3 system. This certainly shows how much more potential the sensor used in Olympus camera bodies could have been better.

In this newly launched Olympus OM-D E-M5, Olympus has indeed emphasized strongly on the new 16MP sensor. It is interesting to see that Olympus has broken their limit of 12MP maximum pixel count for their micro 4/3 system, and moving forwards to cater for wider audience demand. More importantly, Olympus claims that the new 16MP sensor is optimized for high dynamic range, and obviously better capabilities when it comes to high ISO shooting. It has ISO range from 200 to 25,600. Olympus also claims that the E-M5 has one full stop of better high ISO handling in comparison to E-P3, and subsequently 1/3 step improvement when it comes to dynamic range. Many people would have scoffed at high ISO numbers on Olympus, but please do not jump into conclusions just yet. I have not personally tested the image output from the E-M5, and have not seen any sample images on computer screen, but lets just wait for more released samples and online reviews. I just cannot wait until I get my hands on the test E-M5 units and do some real world shooting to REALLY see what the camera can do. Exciting times ahead !!

Splash and Dust proof: Weather Sealing on Olympus E-M5

Full Weather Sealing

The one feature that sets this E-M5 apart from other available mirror-less camera system in the market up to date, is weather-proofing. Olympus has been well-known for their capable weather sealing especially on their flagship DSLR E-3 and E-5. Therefore, it was not a surprise that such weather sealing is now available for the micro 4/3 system, enabling the E-M5 to be used even in some harshest shooting conditions like under the rain, or dusty conditions. It is protected against dust and splash, which opens up a lot more shooting possibilities. The body of E-M5 is made of magnesium alloy, and certainly added to the robustness of the camera. As I held the E-M5 in my hands, the overall feel of the body was rather solid and very assuring. I will not as far as to say that the built is similar as the tank-like old film OM metal bodies, but in comparison to any Olympus’ own previous micro 4/3 PEN bodies (such as E-P3), this E-M5 surpasses them all in terms of body built quality.

Electronic Viewfinder, Built-In

After listening to countless complains from everyone, everywhere, about not having a built in viewfinder in their PEN cameras, finally, they squeezed in an electronic viewfinder in the E-M5, with the expense of slight bulk due to the hump on the camera, obviously to house the electronic viewfinder. There is nothing new about the viewfinder, in fact specifications wise it is similar to the 1.44 million dots VF-2, with some improvements and tweaks of course.

Those who have used the VF-2 before would have known how practical the viewfinder was, and how greatly it has improved their overall shooting experience. The viewfinder has 1.15x magnification which was important to increase the viewing size, and at the same time it provides 100% full coverage view for better assuring composition. In comparison to the original separate electronic viewfinder VF-2 which offers only 60Hz refresh rate, this newly tweaked built in viewfinder in the E-M5 goes all the way up to 120Hz, which should produce smoother transitions and more natural movements while shooting through it. Furthermore, the eye point of the viewfinder is 18mm, which is respectable and optimized for comfort of shooting through the viewfinder. (Eyepoint, usually specified in millimeters, is how close you need to get to see the whole viewfinder frame. "High eyepoint," a term coined and popularized by Nikon, means you can hold your eye fairly far away from the eyepiece and still see the viewfinder. It's useful for people who wear eyeglasses, since eyeglasses create a physical barrier between your eye and the eyepiece that keeps them a certain distance apart. Source: www.luminouslandscape.com).

I for one, treasure a fully functional viewfinder. I have always stressed the flexibility and advantages of using an optical viewfinder, especially for my macro shooting needs. Having tried the electronic viewfinder in the E-M5, I must say that it added a lot of possibilities to the camera, than just having to use the monitor screen to compose all the time. On the other hand, the most important advantage that I can think of having a built in viewfinder, is to have the hot-shoe mount on the camera FREE. That means, you can use both the Electronic Viewfinder, as well as the external flash together, something which cannot be done in previous PEN camera bodies, since each VF-2 and external flash units would require the use of the hot-shoe mount on the camera.

If you have tried shooting with high frames per second burst continuous modes on higher level DSLR models such as Canon 7D (8FPS), you will know the limitation on the optical viewfinder, because the mirror flips up and down so fast that it blocks the view through the optical viewfinder, and you cannot see what you are shooting while you are bursting the 8 frames per second all the way. However, the E-M5 does NOT have a mirror, hence you can fully see what’s happening while you are shooting at high speed, even at the 9 frames per second continuous drive mode. Surely, this will be advantageous in many situations where you need to be fully aware of what you are shooting and not doing guess works based on the composition of the first frame. Yes, I have tried the full 9 frames per second shooting on the pre-production E-M5 unit, and I can fully see what I am shooting at all times, while the shutter was machine-gunning away. Now, Olympus, let us have some really great micro 4/3 tele-zoom lenses so we can do sports photography too!!

The NEW 5-Axis Image Stabilization system

The main reason why many people opted for Olympus (DSLR, and the PEN micro 4/3 series) would be due to the built-in body Image Stabilization feature. Having in-body IS means, you get image stabilization with whatever lens you mount on your camera body, and is generally more cost-effective, because lenses do not need to have IS, which would have been more costly to produce. The argument of lens based IS versus in-body IS is never-ending, but one clear advantage of lens based IS is that you can see the effect of the stabilizing effect through the viewfinder, while with the usual in-body IS, you cannot. Interestingly, Olympus has found a way to work around this limitation, and now, for the first time in history, the effect of the in body image stabilization can be fully seen through the electronic viewfinder !!

All the previous Olympus PEN micro 4/3 bodies (E-P3, E-PL3, etc) used in body IS that has only 3 steps shutter speed improvements. However, on this E-M5, it is rated an additional 2 steps improvement, making it an effectively bold 5 steps shutter speed improvement, similar to the flagship DSLR E-5.

The most interesting feature of this new in-body IS is the stabilization working in 5-axis. All previous Olympus cameras only applies stabilization for 2 axis, but the E-M5 now counters the movement in five possible directions: 1) Vertical translational motions 2) Horizontal translational motions 3) Yaw 4) Pitch 5) Rolling . To better describe this new 5-Axis IS system, please refer to the diagram below:

Olympus E-M5's new 5-Axis IS system
Image source: DPreview.com

Surely, this IS would benefit the photographer in many situations. The first thing that popped in mind would be how much the more effective it can be for my macro shooting needs, especially dealing with 1 to 1 full image magnification factor in real life, going close up to reveal the details of the insect’s eye. Hand-shake is one of the main concern, and I cannot wait to test how this new IS system can help me to steady my hands even better.

Articulated screen: Tilt up 80 degrees and down 50 degrees

Improved AutoFocus with 3D tracking

I think by now we can all establish that Olympus has clearly improved their AutoFocus, as seen in their Olympus PEN E-P3, and many photographers have been impressed by the speed of the new AF system. The user feedback so far has pointed out that the continuous focusing on the E-P3 still needs a lot of work, and there is no fast tracking feature. These two shortcomings have been addressed in the E-M5, and the improvements were specifically tweaked at the continuous shooting with 3D tracking. For Single-AF option, the reason for the super fast focusing was due to the 120 frames per second image feedback to the AF engine to determine the contrast-detect focus, which produced almost instantaneous focusing. In E-M5, if the Continuous-AF is used, the feedback to the AF engine is DOUBLED up to 240 frames per second, which boosted the speed of continuous tracking and focusing of the subject. I have not tried this feature out, because to be honest, I had the camera in a conventional conference room in the evening, with no fast moving objects to attack. On paper, this improvement seems interesting, but we all know better that nothing can truly tell the capabilities of the camera when it comes to focusing speed and accuracy, if you do not being it out shooting in real world conditions.

Do take note that the high speed burst mode of 9 frames per second only applies to shooting with Single-AF. If continuous AF is enabled, the average shooting speed would be cut down to 4.2 frames per second.

E-M5 with battery grip for comfort, better handling and added function-ability.

Besides the 5 main highlights which I have discussed as above, there are also a few other points about this E-M5 that are worth mentioning:

1) The OLED display with 610k dot resolution and touch capability is the same with the E-P3’s, but it has the same articulated screen mechanism that flips and tilts the screen up and down just like the E-PL3’s.

2) At the top panel of the E-M5, it has dual dials, enabling quick controls of important camera parameters. On top of that, many shortcuts can be performed with these two dials and other quick buttons, such as the control for adjusting the “tone” of shadow and highlight independently, with the live preview effect being seen on the electronic viewfinder.

3) The shutter sound is NEW, and not heard of before. It is audibly softer than E-P3, and sounded more “rounded”, more like “thud” rather than “clank” in the E-P3 or other PEN bodies.

4) New battery, BLN-1 designed specifically for E-M5, with higher capacity in comparison to E-P3. The battery is slightly bulkier than the BLS-1/5, and has capacity of 1220 mA, in comparison to 1150 mA on BLS-1. This I read directly from the battery label itself (please take note that it was in pre-production stage)

Initial impressions with this E-M5, though it was very brief, have been very good. The camera looks very promising. It all comes down to a few things at the end of the day: How the camera performs in the field, will it deliver as it has promised on paper especially in terms of the new 5-Axis IS system and improved Continuous focusing system? And the final image output: are the high ISO performance and high dynamic range improvement made significant?

If all things are going well, I might get a unit for testing, but I was told that will not happen very soon (we are talking about almost a month from now, the soonest). Until then, lets keep our hopes high on what this Olympus E-M5 can bring.

Special thanks to Olympus Malaysia for the small preview session.


  1. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your invaluable insight regarding new OMD camera. The design and specs are great. Looking forward to your personal user experience soon. Thanks!!!

    Eric from Edmonton Alberta

  2. thanks eric!!
    Hope to get the camera for testing soon too.

  3. Excellent comments as usual Robin.
    Form my observations in the internet Olympus is being very very tardy in getting good shots and images from this camera seen around the world. 43rumours did a great job prior to release but since then Olympus has let the party down and seem to me to be facing a PR disaster. We want street scenes, lovely sunsets, cows in fields, fun fairs, interiors, closeups, professionally shot movies and what ever. We do not want the local office boy snaps of his girlfriend (pretty as she may be) we don’t want bread rolls.
    Can you get them offf their rear ends? Please.

  4. Hello JimD,
    Thanks for your kind words.
    I too, have been following around the development since the worldwide release, and like you have mentioned, the initial reviews and sample pictures have been rather unsatisfying.
    Nonetheless, I was told my Olympus Malaysia that the E-M5 at the moment is not ready for any testing work yet, since the firmware is still under testing stage. How those other reviewers had the permission to publish those images, I have no idea.
    I was also told that the soonest I can get the camera for testing would have been some time end of this month. The wait is killing me already !!

  5. Hi Robin,

    thx for the preview, i hope that Oly Malaysia hurries to provide a cam for you. Can't wait to see some nice pics and read about a real photographers experience :)
    Please tell Oly Malaysia that next time they should ask you to take some pics with preproduction firmware and publish them instead of waiting for someone else to publish ugly pics of watches and dried bread rolls.

    I like your insight regarding the sensor, if the specs are correct, this is not one of the known Panasonic sensors. who knows, maybe it is not even a Pana Sensor.

    There is one feature i read about in the leaked specs on 43rumors that nobody mentioned anymore later on: SCP accessible via touchscreen. Did you have a chance to try this?

    Regards from Munich,

  6. hello Sabine,
    Thanks for the kind words. I strongly agree with you that real life shooting use of the camera is still more important. I myself cannot wait to see how well the camera fares, but that will have to wait. Even Olympus Malaysia will have to wait for Olympus Japan to release their latest firmware update on the E-M5 before it can be used for any official review or testing.
    I am sorry I was not aware of the touch accessibility of the SCP, hence I did not have the chance to try it. Rest assured that will be tested if I had my hands on the camera again anytime soon.
    Thanks for your continuing support and kind encouragements, that is deeply appreciated.

  7. Robin..
    When you get the test cam, beside using the kit 12-50 please ask Olympus to provide you with their pretty 45mm f/1.8

    that's the setup I'm aiming for...for zoom I keep finger crossed for Pana 35-100 f/2.8.. 8-)

    Thx, pa' Cik..

  8. Hello Konikonaku,
    I will surely ask for the 45mm F1.8 for review with this E-M5, rest assured.

    Hello Sabine,
    I have contacted my sources in olympus malaysia, your suspicions were right, in the super control menu, the settings can be assessed directly by touch screen.

  9. Thanks for the well written preliminary review. Hope that Olympus will come up with some micro 4/3 zoom lenses from wide to telephoto that is at least F2.8 or better. It seems that this is hard to do, while keeping the size resonably compact. Otherwise, enable its micro 4/3 cameras' to shoot its fast Zuiko zoom lenses without substantial compromise in autofocusing speed. If this technical barrier can be overcomed, its SLR customers will be euphoric, and the transition from its SLR audience using their existing lenses to micro4/3 camera bodies will not be lost.

  10. Hello Robin

    Thanks again for you early thoughts.

    And even more so for your early teaser pix!
    Though low res they are offering a very first glimpse to what the new camera is capable of in terms of dynamic range and color rendering. I'm happy that - as it seems - the colors are still to what I love most on Olympus brand.

    Im looking forward to your full res pictures, hardly can await it


  11. Thank you very much, the cam looks very sexy, but I'm waiting to see some serious tests about the image quality and how good the new stabilizer works before I will place an order. I hope, we will not have to wait a month... And I ask myself if it's better to buy a kit with the 12-50 or only body and the 14-54 II, so I also hope that the performance of the FT-lenses will be tested.

  12. Hi Robin,
    Really looking forward to more about this camera. I think the weatherproofing and faster EVF alone will make it worthwhile for me: faster AF, better IS and better HD will be bonuses.
    I am sure that it will be a significant step better in IQ than the EP3, and that will be fine. Not looking for a revolution, as they always come at a cost!
    In particular, I am really glad I have not been tempted to upgrade my E-PL1 before this camera. Worth the wait!
    Cheers, Tom

  13. otch
    just realised that theses were E-5 pix following the E-M5 intro - silly me!

    Nevertheless, I'm even more interested in your real world pix to come !


  14. Robin: Thank you for your insights and thoughts about the E-M5. Your opinion means a lot to me, as I'm sure it does to your many fans around the world. When you do get to field-test the camera, please remember to get 4/3-m4/3 adapter and try out some of your 4/3 lenses, answer our questions and hopes about AF support.

    All the best,

    Tom in North Carolina, USA

  15. Robin, thank you so much for the honest insight into the camera. I am a big Oly fanboy, but admit there are two major shortcomings of the E-PM1: 1) the IBIS doesn't work, and 2) the autofocus algorithm always locks onto the strongest edge in scene even if it is not in the focus box. Both shortcomings have ruined lots of my pics. The E-M5 appears to address these two issues. The 5-axis IBIS should be the holy grail in picture taking if it lives up to the hype, and the 3D contrast focus is supposed to better track moving objects against a fixed background.

    Most of my photos are of my kids indoor sports, which I admit is a very challenging situation. I currently use a tripod with IBIS off and manually tweak the focus after the camera makes its best guess. Hopefully the E-M5 will fill this role nicely.

  16. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. Thanks also for acknowledging your sources (eg: Luminous Landscapes) - I think it makes your blog more professional.

    I agree with Four by Six regarding IBIS. I've tested the IBIS extensively on my E-P3 and it is almost useless. I never use it anymore. If you do get a chance to shoot with the M5, I'd be grateful if you could put the new IBIS system through its paces.

    Have fun with the new camera - I'm a little bit jealous. Still, I love the E-P3.


  17. Hello Peter,
    Thanks for your kind compliments. And yes, I fully agree with you, having fast zoom lenses (both standard and tele) would really make the transition from SLR to mirrorless a lot easier. Of course, I am sure Olympus must be working on something, just a matter of time before they make it happen.

    Hello Mige0,
    Thanks for your kind remarks. Low resolution images? I did not show any images in this entry, all those photos were mostly computer graphics generated and provided by Olympus Malaysia, not my own.

    Hello Matthais,
    The E-M5 is one sexy looking beast, even the folks in DPreview loves the design and praises it glowingly in their hand on preview.
    I also hope that I wont have to wait that long until I can get my hands on the camera to review it. Lets all hope that Olympus can make that happen sooner rather than later. It is out of my hands.

  18. Hello Dontom,
    in terms of feature this E-M5 is really packed with almost everything, and I understand and agree that both weathersealing and improved EVF would have helped a lot when it comes to usability and shooting experience. I think to me the major concern is still the image quality. Though we do not expect a revolution like you have mentioned, but I really would want significant improvement in terms of high ISO handling and dynamic range. Lets hope that the claims made by Olympus are true !!

    Hello Tom.
    Thanks so much for your kind comments, it matters to me. And yes, I shall get the new MMF-3 adapter to try some DSLR 4/3 lenses on the E-M5. That is one of the items I wanted to try on. No worries.

    Hello Four by Six,
    Thanks for the compliments. And yes, be sure that the IBIS has stepped up and improved further, I can even feel it when I was just casually snapping away, it is by far the most effective, and I hope to verify this in my coming review works.
    In terms of AF, we still need to try it out in real world shooting before any conclusions can be drawn. Lets hope that the continuous with 3D tracking AF can save lives !!

    Hello Newzild,
    It was my pleasure to write and share with everyone here, and I acknowledge the importance of giving the proper credit (link back to the source) when it is necessary.
    About the IBIS, do not worry, one of the things I will test on would be macro shooting. It will be one of the stringiest test, either on the longest tele-photo lens or full magnification (! to 1) on the macro lens. Whether the IS makes any difference, this will not lie.
    I dont have the camera yet, nothing to be jealous for now !!

  19. Robin,

    nice to see you have been in contact.

    Also I seem to have become acquainted with Uncle James through the internet and he mentioned you!!

    Hopefully if I get a chance to visit Malaysia I can meet up with you.

    Kind regards

    p.s. sold my E5 eventually, for enough money to buy the EM-5!! With the 12-50mm lens!! Is the lens worth it?

  20. Hello Mark,
    Wow, you know uncle james? Interesting !! And yes, if you do come visit Malaysia, please let me know. Would love to meet up and perhaps have some shutter therapy sessions too.
    12-50mm lens may not be stellar in any areas, but it is an all rounder. The fact that it is the only weather sealed native micro 4/3 lens makes it a compelling choice to be bundled with the E-M5. You can't go wrong with it.

  21. Hi Robin,

    Nice article. Please keep us up to date on pricing/availability. It's a damn shame Olympus Malaysia doesn't bring in body-only units. Not a big fan of the kit lens and the 12-50.

  22. M5, so ugly it is Beautiful!

  23. ooh i can't wait, i preordered. finally, this will be my last camera. it gives me everything i want. i ordered the black, then the silver, then the black and back to the silver. they are both so beautiful, i want one in each color. love the specs on the camera as well. this is it.

  24. hello richard, i think its the most beautiful camera ever!

    Hello valerie,
    lets hope the actual perfomance of the camera mathes the looks. And what??? You have both black and silver? No fair! Give me one.

  25. Hello hello (again). I'm looking forward to seeing this machine in action. My old E-520 is getting a bit long in the tooth, though still working well after four or five years. I believe I have gotten my money's worth out of it.

    Is this the camera I'll upgrade to?


  26. Robin,

    Terrific overview - thank you.

    I have an OM-2, and and OM-3, and so I can't wait to have this camera.

    (It is interesting how the battery pack basically mirrors what the old motor drive looks like.)

    One thing I will ask you if I may please: did you get a seence of how long the "bust" shooting at 9fps could go for? One second? Two seconds, ie 18 shots?

    In the old days, you were really limited by 36 shots on the film roll.

    I wonder how long you can "burst" for with this camera? Were you are able to tell?

    Thank you!!


  27. Thanks Dana,
    Lets wait for more official reviews, at the moment we are all still lacking real life image samples.

    Hello Nic,
    Thanks for the kind comments. Wow, you had those old OM cameras, I am sure you understand and can relate to the practicality of the OM-D design.
    I did not burst the camera for too long, and obviously did not push it until it slows down or stopped at the limit. I shall do this when I have my hands on the camera again.

  28. Ahh cool!
    I was at the launch.. but didn't get to test the camera.
    Anyhow, luv your article. Good fr my research as I'm posting mine soon. Just some coverage of the launch.

  29. I'm more than a little puzzled by your comment about the old OM's being built like tanks. Far, far from it. While the OM 3 and 4 variations ad fabulous metering, and some outstanding glass, the OM failed miserably as a PJ camera precisely because it fell apart when not treated gently. The E3 and E5 are another matter, but here we get into the noisy high iso problem. Olympus has a long, long way to go if it ever hopes to get back into the pro game.

  30. Hello again Zyran,
    I was told by Olympus Malaysia that they do carry body only units in Malaysia. Do check back their websites for more updates.

    Hello Rebecca,
    Thanks for the kind compliments. Can't wait to read your insights and the coverage of the launch.

    Hello B.D. Colen,
    I personally have known quite a few professional photographers who use 4/3 system for their work in Malaysia, and are connected to many more professional photographers all across the world. Olympus 4/3 and micro 4/3 system are serving them well, and have been most reliable so far.
    There are shortcomings, no doubt, but which camera is perfect?

    by the way, I have written, and stressed that this OM-D E-M5 is NOT a professional camera. It was not meant to be as such.

  31. HI Robin
    Thank for another great write-up on this OM-D E-M5. WOW what a mouth full of alphabet soup for a cmaera name.

    The spec is impressive, the designed is cool. But need to hold one in the hand to see how good it feel. I think holding a camera and try it, is more important than spec and look.

    But I already had 4 OM cameras for the last 30+years. None have fail and still work perfectly today. Also none had ever send back to Olympus for repair. Only the OM-2n had a slight de-leminating of the prism now. I think my OM-2n was from 1978 ah can't remeber too well. I agreed they are not build like a tank because they are tougher than a Tank. hahaha!

    I wish Olympus well put the same spec of E-M5 into a Pen body. I am done with OM camera. I discovered the freedom of composition with a Pen style camera and I am done with EVF and OVF as well. I wear multi-focus classes and had no problem manual focusing with my OM lens on the E-P1 LCD under the afternoon sun. I think the 5-Axis IBIS and IBIS on live view will make manual focusing much easier.

  32. Hello Cha,
    Thanks for your kind words. And it was my pleasure to write and share my thoughts with everyone.
    I agree with you, we need to have the camera in hand and try it out, to get better understanding of its true capabilities. Need to see how the camera performs in the field, and need to scrutinize its image output. I am sure more reviews and sample images will be available soon.
    Wow, you have a long history with OM camera and lenses, that is amazing. Thanks for clarifying, I do not understand why the pervious reader commented that OM is not well built, I have heard so many praises on the "tank-like" built quality of OM cameras. Though I never shot with the film OM before, but I have had many chances to hold it in my hands. It felt like I can crush someone's skull with it.

  33. Continious shooting is just 4.2 fps.


    size, construsction and features - maybe good, but IQ is a level a bit higher than Nikon 1.

    kit lens is very slow.

  34. Pan900,

    Nikon 1 system is NOT even in the same league as micro 4/3. No comparison here.

    Continuous shooting is up to 9FPS on single AF. I have tested it, and I can VERIFY it.

    Kit lens has the FASTEST AF, comparable even to the highest grade of professional DSLR. I do not even know which part of slow you are referring to.

    Where you got your information certainly has misled you. If those were your own conclusions, don't you think it is too early to jump into anything, since official reviews and image samples have NOT even been released?

  35. pay attention at photos (full sized) and noise level/details in review (see my link)...
    I don't want such IQ.

    M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 - funny...Why so slow at the long end?
    f6.3 is already diffraction limit for 16 MP crop 2x sensor.
    I don't catch the logic - it's only weather sealed lens for m4/3 - right?
    But why it's so slow?

    DOF equivalent at 35 mm - 100/F13...:)

  36. Hi Robin, thanks for your reactions to the E-M5. Like a lot of people, I've been waiting for an M4/3 body and lenses with weatherproof sealing.
    This camera seems to be even more polarising of opinion than the original PEN e-P1! Its so odd to seem people criticising OM-D's AF system by comparing it to an EOS 1 or Nikon D3 - they must feel very threatened, especially when this is not even a "pro" body! Maybe the humiliation of the OM film cameras success still haunts the memories of many Canon & Nikon users ... they ended up being following Olympus as they were forced to make compact SLRs to compete. They really are an innovative and on-the-edge company for camera design.
    Cant wait to see and hold one myself as this is what I really wanted in my E-P3!

  37. Hello Pan900,
    Pay MORE attention to the finer details: the firmware is NOT final. I was not given the camera for testing and review, because the firmware has not been optimized for image output. It will only be ready by end of this month. No one is allowed to post full size images, yet it was being published without Olympus' prior consent. And you draw conclusions from that? To me those images are irrelevant and should be neglected.

    It is a KIT LENS for goodness sake, I do not understand how people can expect so much from just a mere kit lens. for a bundled kit lens, that offers so much more, including close up function, power zoom, weather sealing and a versatile range of 12mm widest, I do think that it is value for money.

    Seriously, it is too early to make any conclusions. Just wait, there will be better samples and more trustworthy sources (eg DPreview and many other professional sites).

  38. Hello Wolfie,
    Thanks for contributing your thoughts and opinion. Indeed the OM marked a strong success by Olympus, posing threats to even Canon and Nikon. It would be great to see such history repeating itself.

  39. ISO200 is very weak.

    Have a look at 9 fps serie - it seems to me - no any foto in focus...e.t.c.

  40. My experience says that final firmware can improve IQ slightly

  41. Pan900,
    You can make your own conclusions. I cannot stop you.
    I shall wait patiently until I get my own hands on the camera, and use it with my own hands, and pixel peep the images with my own eyes.

  42. Pan900,
    There is a huge difference between pre-production model and final production firmware. Experience tells that some buttons on the pre-production model is not even functioning, and sometimes the camera would hang, and encounter many issues/bugs, which would have been fixed in the final firmware for production.
    Same goes to image. What makes you think that those images are final? Olympus specifically mentioned that "No full resolution images" should be uploaded. Obviously they knew those images were NOT READY. Yet you refuse to acknowledge this and become so quick to mark the camera down.
    I guess patience is a rare quality these days.

  43. Hi Robin,
    Thanks for a great overview of the camera. I did want to thank you very much for one thing in particular.....a comment on shutter noise!
    I see almost no comments on shutter noise which is enormously important to me in my wedding and event work. I had hoped that the mirror-less cameras would give us very quiet cameras but I heard no comment at all on the subject.
    Several friends have Sony and Oly PENs so I did get to hear them and was surprised they were as noisy as they are. Your observation is good news.

    Thanks again.

  44. Hi Robin,
    Thanks so musch for commenting on the noise of the shutter. This is very important to me in my wedding and theater work. I have seen almost no mention of this in any other review yet in earlier years (70's) every article would comment on the sound of the shutter/mirror.

  45. hello Mark,
    It was my pleasure to share !!
    I did not pay much attention to the shutter sound, until we tested the 9FPS burst. It was difficult not to notice how different the shutter was. I was told that the shutter unit was new, also the weather sealing and magnesium alloy construction added to the muffled sound.

  46. Robin,

    Here and elsewhere I see that reviews of the E-M5 stress that it's not intended to be a professional camera. The E-5 is intended to be a professional camera. Obvious differences aside (optical vs electronic viewfinder, etc), the E-M5 appears to equal or outstrip the E-5 in every way, down to the weather sealing. So what prevents the E-M5 from taking the flagship spot, and what keeps the E-5's $600 someodd price premium?


  47. hello soren,
    when we describe a professional camera we look at it as an entire system. E-5 is designed to work optimally with some of the best lenses olympus has ever produced, possibly the best lenses in the world. They cover everything, from long telephoto zoom lenses to one of the most technically perfect macro lenses out there.
    The e-m5 may outclass e-5 when it comes to specifications and technology, but looking as a system on the whole, you can do almost everything with the e-5 with the right lenses and accesories. Olympus does not even have a professional grade bright standard zoom lens such as the 14-35mm f2 for micro 4/3 just yet.

  48. Robin,

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. Indeed, Olympus lenses are fantastic! But should I understand from your comment in saying that the E-5 is optimally designed for these lenses that we might anticipate an E-M5 with an extension/converter to perform less optimally with the same regular 4/3 lenses? I don't know well the precise differences between regular and micro 4/3 to know if there's known, expected differences in this regard? I apologize if my question unknowingly asks you to speculate since the E-M5 clearly isn't yet released.

  49. hello soren,
    the main difference is that all dslr 4/3 lenses work optimally with phase detect autofocus system. All dslr including e5 works optimally with phase detect autofocus.
    However, micro 4/3 uses contrast detect, a different autofocus system. Therefore if you mount any dslr lens on current micro 4/3 models, you will suffer in terms of autofocus speed, which can be rather slow and sometimes unusable when situation worsens such as fast moving object and low light conditions.
    Lets hope future micro 4/3 cameras will have better compatibiliy to work better with the dslr 4/3 lenses.

    About the pricing of e-m5 it is not announced in malaysia yet. But it is about USD999 body only and USD1299 with the 12-50mm lens as announced worldwide last week.

  50. You have an excellent blog. Found it by chance today while looking for review on the Olympus OM-D EM-5. Thank you for such an excellent write-up. Keep up the wonderful work!

  51. Good Day Robin,

    This is my first time to join to your blogs/coment about digital cameras particularly those that are recently announced. I thought Olympus E-M5 will be overshadowed by the one day ahead announcement of Nikon D8oo but it looks like its the other way around as it may seems. Thanks...

  52. nice post about Olympus OM-D review
    i will recomended this blog to our blog reader, and i hope they will find o lot more about Olympus OMD camera series.

  53. [quote]Hello Mige0,
    Thanks for your kind remarks. Low resolution images? I did not show any images in this entry, all those photos were mostly computer graphics generated and provided by Olympus Malaysia, not my own.

    Well, sadly I was wrong in this.
    Guess its been because those E-5 pix I were referred to - first time I looked at your page - were just below your review, sorry.

    I say "sadly" because it would have corrected for the pix from the OM-d E-M5 I've seen so far (think its been each and every that popped up in the web)
    All those pix tend way too much to a "SONY look" for my taste (color, gradation, noise control ...).

    So, I'm eagerly awaiting your review with full resolution pix taken with the final firmware.

    Your pix to me always have been very revealing with respect to color rendering.

  54. Hi Robin,

    Love your olympus reviews.

    Keep up the good work!

  55. OlympusOMD,
    Thanks for the recommendation to your readers.

    Hello Mige0,
    No worries, I sure hope I will get the camera soon. So far no words from Olympus Malaysia yet.

    Hello Chad,
    It is my pleasure to do those reviews.

  56. hi from Montreal Canada.
    I currently own a D7000 with an 18-200mm nikon lens. i am also looking to change my everyday g11 for this camera.. but i dont know much about the lenses... oly does have a 18-180, but i'm wondering if i should get 2 lenses.. say the 12-50 and 40-150. if 4/3 lenses are like their big brothers, the wider the range, the worse the quality. i just didnt want to lug 2 big lenses with me on my vacations (where i do my serious shooting). but with the mirrorless, 2 lenses could would not take up much room.
    however since i also shoot in low light (street photography late in the day).. maybe i should spring for those fast 12-60 and 50-200 lenses.. but at $2000+ !!!!!.. if so, i imagine this camera would not be my everyday camera.. but my 'used to have a d7000' camera. (i hate to carry even the d7000/18-200).
    a big bonus for me is the em-5's exposure bracketin for HDR work (i'm an hdr addict).. way beyond the +-.7 exposure difference the other cameras have.
    the only concern is if the burst speed is fast enuf.. the new canon g1x states that you need a tripod for bracketing. that's a no-no for my me.. hand held only.
    hey alot to chew on eh ? but the lens question is first in my mind...
    looking forward to read more of your camera usage.

    1. hello Stephen,

      I do not recommend anyone using 4/3 DSLR lenses on micro 4/3 cameras such as the E-M5. The reason is simple, the Autofocus is not optimized. The 4/3 lenses such as the 18-180mm, 12-60mm and 50-200mm will struggle in focusing when you use them on micro 4/3 cameras. For optimum AF speed and reliability, I strongly suggest you use the dedicated micro 4/3 lenses, such as the 12mm F2, 25mm F1.4 and 45mm F1.8.

  57. Hi Robin, met you during the launch of the EP3, when I have already bought the camera in Singapore.I am interested in the OMD , if you said it is positioned between EP3 and E-5.
    Incidentally, I used the 4/3 12mm-60mm on the EP3; while the autofocus is not so good, the image quality is so much such Sharper than the standard EP 3 lens.
    I will be delighted to attend the launch of the new OMD.

  58. Robin, based on your experiences, can you tell me about the differences between the black and the silver version? (grip, finsih, etc)

  59. Hi Robin,

    I am curious about your comment that says the EM-5 is not a professional camera. What is the definition of a professional camera? I am planning to buy these new type mirrorless cameras due to its smaller size compared to the previous DSLRs. However, I do not want to lose out on producing 'professional' quality shots.

    I am a beginner and just learning how to take manual shots. Do you think I can still get professional results with EM-5? What are the lenses that can be used with EM-5 for now? I also read that the standard 12-50mm lens that comes with the camera is a little bulky. Should I get just the camera body and buy other lenses? Maybe 14-42 and 45mm?

  60. Hi Robin

    Just wanna highlight to you that your pictures here are unviewable. Seems like something wrong with the links.

    Hope you can fix them soon.

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