Olympus E-M5

The new Olympus E-M5 is an interesting camera for street photographers. It’s smaller than an normal DSLR but larger than a candy-bar style micro four thirds such as the GX1. So it might be the best of both worlds for you, or the worst of both worlds.

E-M5 splash resistant

The E-M5 is splash resistant which is excellent news for London street photographers

The E-M5 is launching against tough competition from the GH2, GX1 and even the E-P3 because the sensor size is the same as these other cameras. This means that the fundamental physics behind shallow depth of field, low light performance and image quality are all the same across the competition. To address this Olympus have tweaked the sensor, but don’t expect images that are of a fundamentally different charachter than the other micro four thirds.

EM5 Olympus

The OM-D range from Olympus is built around a new viewfinder

Based on a couple of photo leaks at Four Thirds Rumors I mocked up the front of the Olympus OM-D series E-M5. The camera’s design is apparently based on the OM-4 so it should be a nice solid camera. There has been a lot of speculation on the sensor, viewfinder and video features. I’m interested in the camera as a street photographer so my focus is on speed, toughness and RAW image quality.

The OM-D is a special camera for a lot of people

My dad bought his first Olympus OM series camera in 1979, the year I was born. Even as a child growing up you could tell that camera was special. The OM series of cameras were the mini SLRs of their day. Much like the micro four thirds of today they weren’t universally loved by the photography community, many of whom thought they were toys. But the build quality, affordable lenses and optical quality was superb. They were loved by all who owned them

Olympus EM5 OMD

The Olympus E-M5 design is based on the classic OM-4

So it’s with much excitement that I’m looking fowards to the new digital OM-D series from Olympus. The first camera will be the E-M5. Continuing off from where the OM-4 left off in 1987. The camera will uses lenses like the excellent Olympus 12mm and Olympus 45mm. But it’s the viewfinder that everyone is looking forwards to.

E-M5 viewfinder

I’ve been happy with my GF2 sans viewfinder, because for street shooting, it’s nice to spray and pray. But I’m mellowing a little and might be ready to spend more time composing an image. For the thoughtful street photographer the new Olympus E-M5 is going to be a great camera.

E-M5 sample images

The image quality for the E-M5 is great from RAW, as are the other high end micro four thirds cameras. The sample image JPGs show some of the characteristics of the camera.

Olympus OMD Camera

The new Olympus EM-5 is based on the design of the OM-4

Once you get to higher ISO settings the in-camera JPG engine kicks in to blur out noise. I’ve chosen the highest ISO setting as a sample for when you really need the extra juice. It’s no Canon 5D Mark II but to get a difficult night shot you might just be able to live with this JPG engine.

EM5 Sample Shot ISO 200

At ISO 200 the E-M5 is in the best of class for Micro Four Thirds

I’ve signed up to the Olympus UK list to test the camera and I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve had a chance to try it out on the street.

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5 thoughts on “Olympus E-M5

  1. I had an OM in the 80s and loved it. Can’t wait for the new version. Will be interesting to see how they do with the lenses from the old OMs on them.

  2. If you are going to do that review of the new Olympus’s cámera, try to do it better than the last one (E-P3 review). Someone realized that you had not tested the camera very well and he told you.

    You can give your own opinion about it, but never a bad review. It just makes people doubt. Sorry for my poor English.

    Best regards.

    • There are plenty of sites that review cameras from an impartial stand point, focussing on sensor specifications and pixel peeping. But I started this blog because when I was looking for a camera there weren’t enough reviews of how the micro four thirds cameras performed on the street and in real life. My review of the E-M5 will be just as biased, opinionated and real as my review of the E-P3.

    • I find the reviews on this sight very useful and insightful for us street photographers.
      If you want a general review highlighting the technical specs read the dpreview!

      Keep up the good work Peter.

  3. I am fortunate to have the new OMD E-M5 and after selling some of my other gear bought the OLY 12mm and 45mm – These lenses are breathtaking.

    I really enjoyed looking at your site and am going to try out the market walks on the street map.

    Best regards to you.
    Simonjx

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