Olympus PEN E-PL5 Preview

We know well enough how capable and powerful the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is, which was released earlier this year, claiming the spot of the best micro 4/3 camera body (at the time of writing) and coming very close to some of the best APS-C DSLRs. It was no surprise that the OM-D E-M5 has become a huge hit, and I am sure Olympus is very proud of what they have accomplished so far. However, as wonderful as the OM-D E-M5 may be, it could be a little overwhelming, being over-ambitious with heavy functions and features, some that casual shooters or average hobbyists may not need. I acknowledge it is great to have a weather sealing on micro 4/3 cameras, but honestly how many people actually are willing to battle the force of nature and get themselves drenched just to get the shots in heavy downpour? Yes, having magnesium alloy body is good to provide that extra protection for the camera in rough handling situations, but you should have seen some of my friends. They treat their cameras like porcelain vases, handling with so much care that even after a year of use, you won't be able to find a tiny scratch on the camera. My point is, OM-D E-M5 is not necessarily built for everyone, especially when it comes with so much functions and features that many may find not relevant in their photography needs. 

Take away the weather-sealing, take away the magnesium alloy body, take away the built in Electronic Viewfinder (you can still have an option to attach an external electronic viewfinder), take away the incredible new 5-Axis Image Stabilization (I did say how amazing this IS is right?), you get a much toned down, humble presentation of the new PEN E-PL5. The beautiful thing about the E-PL5 is that it uses the exact same 16MP image sensor as the OM-D which has been proven by many reviewers (DXOMark, DPreview, etc) to be delivering very high image quality. Instead of the new 5-Axis IS, the PEN E-PL5 uses the old, yet trustworthy Image Stabilization system on all their PEN bodies, which is still very acceptable. Basically, my summary of the E-PL5 is a combination of everything that made the original Olympus Micro 4/3 PEN system work (small footprint, lightweight, feature packed, full customization), and add to that the image quality of OM-D. 

The back LCD monitor can be tilted upward and downward for difficult angle composition. Very useful for waist level shooting. 

The camera seems very familiar to the old E-PL3 design, sporting the tilt-able LCD back monitor, and the arrangement of buttons. Unfortunately there is only one control dial on the body. Dual dial would have made the controls much more efficient for control-freak photographers like myself. 

Take note of the thumb rest with a small hook, small things like these add on to positive handling and shooting experience. 

Unlike the OM-D and E-PL3, actually the new E-PL5's screen can move all the way up, something called "self-portrait mode", allowing you to point the camera toward yourself. 

FINALLY, the focus green boxes can be changed to a much smaller size. 

You can still have the original gigantic boxes size if you want to. 

This position is very, very useful for high angle shooting, composing over the head shots. 

Yes, the first thing I did with the camera was to take a photograph of myself. Cam-whore alert !!

Olympus PEN E-PL5 Main Features and Highlight 
- Touch AF Shutter (much like the OM-D or E-P3)
- OM-D Image Quality, using the same 16MegaPixels image sensor and image processing engine, Truepic VI
-  16:9 aspect ratio back LCD monitor screen with 3inch 460k dot resolution
- 2 Axis (similar to E-P3 and older PEN cameras) Image Stabilization in Body
- ISO200 to 25,600
- Continuous shooting rated at 8 Frames per second

For full specifications go to official Olympus page here (click).

Once again, many thanks to Olympus Malaysia for their generosity to allow me a loaned unit for testing and blog review purposes. I shall bring this beautiful Olympus PEN E-PL5 for shooting this weekend, and I shall push out my blog reviews as soon as I can. I shall do something slightly differently this time. 

Can't wait for the weekend for my shutter therapy sessions with the E-PL5 !!


  1. I am most eager to see the results of your E-PL5 shooting, especially since I have one on order (along with a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens). The OM-D was my first Olympus acquisition and, consequently, my Nikons are being neglected. A friend has one of the original PENs and the quality of its images are what convinced me to try this path. My Nikons will continue service for my "real" work but the Oly is more fun.

    1. Thanks David !!
      The E-PL5 will surely have the exact same image quality as what you could expect from your OM-D. They use the same image sensor and processing. Indeed, carrying around smaller and lighter camera system is more fun for personal use !!

  2. Hey Robin, base on the same sensor and processor image quality should on par with the OMD. Did you have chance to try the EPL5 with the 15mm f8? I think this is the most portable day light street shooting machine.


    Francis from Toronto

    1. Hey Francis
      I will review the 15mm F8 separately, not with the E-PL5.

  3. No doubt another great camera, Oly is really cranking out winner after winner these days. Excellent. I'm curious to hear about your thoughts with regard to build quality on this one.

    1. Andre,
      Gotta work today, so will only look into it this weekend. Stay tuned !

  4. Also looking forward to buy it. With the release of the OM-D I was already sure that the time where I sell my old DSLR was coming soon and not it's time for it. Since I like the tiltable EVF more than an integrated (except that I can't use the hotshoe once it's on) and I don't need the weather sealing this will be my next camera. Saves me enough money for the 1.8/45 compared to the om-d price, although the OM-D is also a fantastic choice. Just hoped the release would be a bit sooner.

    1. Hey Leif,
      I am sure the OM-D or E-PL5 both will be good choices, just depending on whether you need the extra items the OM-D carries.

  5. great, looking forward to your experience. I'm very interested in this camera, OM-D is a bit too much expensive for me ...

    1. Hey Enrico,
      Considering all the "extras" OM-D has, I think the price is reasonable, cheaper than expected. Nevertheless, not all of us need all those "extra" functions.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Hi Robin.

    Love your self portrait! This could be the camera to get my nieces away from the Sony Nex.

    I think this will be a really good camera for those geting into the format, and even more so if it comes with the 15/8 for free, more or less. Then (as Leif mentioned), you just need to add the 45/1.8 to have a really useful combo.

    Still, for me, it's not enough to get me to upgrade my E-Pl1. I would be curious if it will be enough for you? I know you have your beloved E-5 of course, which I don't.

    Also, when you test the 15/8, could you please do a shot or two on your E-PL1? I would love to see how this lens performs on the streets of Pudu or Chow Kit, especially shooting into that low morning sun.

    1. Hey Tom,
      At this moment I will be maximizing whatever I can with the E-5, that is the most economical way to go because I have spent a lot of money on the beautiful 4/3 lenses. No upgrades at the time being.
      I actually plan to use the 15mm F8 on the E-PL1 only !! haha, I think we are thinking alike here.

  8. Also here in Italy we are eagerly waiting to read your review!!!
    Please consider these 2 points:
    - IBIS (OM-like? E-P3-like? E-PM1 and E-PL3-like?(hope not...))
    - LCD (marketing claims low resolution but seems high resolution...)

    1. Hey Antonio,
      Thanks! The IBIS is E-P3/E-PL3 like.

  9. Any chance you will review E-PM2? I'm looking forward for smaller body..
    Btw, did Olympus gave any indication when this 2 new model will arrive in Malaysia?

    1. Hello Joshua, I have no idea about the epm2 yet, perhaps it shal come in a bit later. now it seems that the focus is more placed on the epl5 and also their new flagship compact camera stylus xz-2

    2. Ok.. Olympus just replied me that epl5 will arrive in this month.. cool!


  10. Is the E-PL5 with the panasonic 20 mm 1,7 a good combination, do panasonic lenses work seemingless together with Olympus?
    I'm curious since Olympus doesn't have such a pancae lense yet.

    1. Panasonic and Olympus belong to the micro 4/3 system. Their bodies and lenses are fully compatible with each other.

  11. Hi Robin,

    I much enjoy reading your blog and watching the great images you shoot. My travel kit is a Fuji X100 and Panasonic LX3. I'm thinking of replacing my LX3 with either Olympus XZ-2 or Olympus E-PL5 with kit lens. Main use is shooting during the day with good light so at low iso. The reason for upgrade is high noise (at least for me) at base iso of the LX3. Which camera/lens combo will give the best results you think? I also like sharp results so lens quality is important to me. Thanks a lot!

  12. Hi Robin,

    Could you do a review on the 2 kit lens that comes with it, perhaps could convince me not to get poison with additional lens.


  13. hi Robin,

    which do you prefer, Ep3 or Epl5?

    E-P3 WITH 14-42MM LENS + 40-150MM LENS KIT + 17mm - SGD$1,188.00

    E-PL5 WITH 14-42MM LENS + 40-150MM LENS KIT - SGD$1,288.00

    17mm is package with ep3, both have 1 X 8GB SD CARD + 1 X CARRY CASE + 1 X ADDITIONAL BATTERY + 1 X 32GB SD CARD + 1 X TRIPOD + 1 X CLEANING KIT



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