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Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review

Denny gives his thoughts on the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 after using it for a month.

| Olympus OM-D E-M5 in Mirrorless Cameras
This is a user review of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 written by Denny (Straycat): A month with the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Panasonic 100-300mm Lens

I’ve had the camera and the 14-42mm kit lens for about a month now, and I’ve taken more photos in that than in the previous 4 years combined. I haven’t used the 14-42 much, but what I have done I liked, for example; shots of the grandchildren inside and out, and I really am impressed with the movies I’ve made of them.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

However, what I have enjoyed most is the combination of the camera with the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 lens that I got about a week after getting the camera. My hobby is really wildlife photography, not just photography, and every time I download a days shots to the PC I am more and more impressed with the quality I’m getting. The camera is so easy to use after a few days getting used to the menus, and when you consider the fact that it gives me the focal range of 200-600mm on the Micro 4/3 body, it’s a true bargain. The camera was $1000.00, and the lens was $500.00.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

With the ability to use high ISO settings and still get great IQ, it’s amazing. The auto-focus is very fast and you don’t notice any hunting in reasonable light. In very dim lighting, it is understandable that the lens struggles to auto-focus on small birds and the like using spot metering. I don’t use higher than ISO 800 for my shooting because in some cases I like to crop in very close on the subject when editing on the PC. A tiny bit of noise reduction works fine, and I’m sure I could use higher ISO and get pretty much the same results, but as I’m not shooting fast action, I haven’t needed it so far.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

At first I was reluctant to rely on in-camera stabilisation, based upon past experience with other systems, but I have recently been using the 5-axis IS system built into the camera, and I am gaining confidence in its superior qualities. I’m more than impressed, considering the vast majority of my shots are done at the equivalent of 600mm. Handholding at that focal length, and getting sharp images is a huge bonus, as in most cases if I try to set up the tripod, the subject is long gone. The left window in the car, in this case the driver’s side, can’t be selected down, something I have to get fixed, so any grab shots have had to be from the left seat through the right side window, handheld. You wouldn’t believe the high keeper rate I’ve been getting. All of my backyard shots are done with the camera on a solid tripod.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

I have made good quality videos of kayakers going over waterfalls, small wildlife going about their business, and the video is of a high quality shown on a 40 inch HD TV.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

I find I like the default settings of “0” on sharpness, contrast, etc., and in post processing all that’s required is a touch of contrast adjustment and the tiniest increase in sharpness.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review:

This is the best camera I’ve ever used, and the Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm lens is comparable to the Nikon VR 80-400mm optics, but with an almost instantaneous auto-focus lock on the subject in reasonable conditions.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 1-Month User Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Panasonic 100-300mm Lens

I am back at my hobby full-time with many photography trips planned for the summer, thanks to the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Denny.

Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 review for full sample photos and ratings.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Pros:

Relatively small
Very fast accurate auto-focus
Reasonably good low light capability
Nice bokeh

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Cons:

For the price, quality, and focal range achieved with this combination, none

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels16.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeLive MOS Sensor
Sensor SizeMicro / Four Thirds
Sensor Size (width)17.3mm
Sensor Size (height)13mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution610k dots
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Touch AF
  • Spot
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity200 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Shade
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder Resolution1.44million dots
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting9fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Wi-FiNo Data
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)330shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBody, Flash FL-LM2, Li-ion battery BLN-1, Li-ion battery charger BCN-1, USB/Video Multi cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2/ib CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card

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Photographs taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M5

Lion KingThe winner of the Terrier RaceYou've been framedBeastieWanders around the gardenYou put your left foot in ...Baroque balcony  carved stone supports in Modica in SicilyThe one that got away...Storm Eunice Porthcawl 2023Two FiguresCity Viewmirrored...shadowed tulips...Frank ReidCherry Blossom Time.

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walkerr Avatar
walkerr 21
12 Jul 2012 8:05AM
Nice review thanks. I also do a lot of wildlife shots, and have been contemplating the OM-D as a replacement for my ageing Canon 40D. I have some MFT lenses but would need to replace my Canon 100-400 with an MFT lens, probably the 100-300. Your review certainly makes me think this might be a viable route for me - 1 lens system, with my Lumix GF-1 and an OM-D body for different uses.
StrayCat Avatar
StrayCat 19 19.1k 3 Canada
12 Jul 2012 7:16PM
I had a Canon 40D, and although it's a great camera, I couldn't handle the weight of the camera with a long lens for a full day of walking about. Just for your info, I was out about 2 weeks ago in a wildlife sanctuary with the combination I talked about in the review, and I met a fellow with a Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm. We talked and compared notes, and you wouldn't believe the difference in size and weight of the 2 systems for the same specs. We were standing side by side and shooting swallows and ducks, and I have to say, my keeper rate, handheld, was much better than his. Comparing IQ on the monitors was not realistic.

pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 451
13 Jul 2012 2:51PM
Quite a good review with excellent pictures Denny.

I have come to view it for a second time and as I was scrolling down the page I noticed the Panasonic 100-300mm lens has O.I.S. off (since you had the camera on a tripod). The camera has image stabilisation on the body, wouldn't a non-O.I.S. lens suffice? I am not sure if while you shoot handheld you van have both systems (on-camera and in-lens) working simultaneously.
Have you tried it? Does it work? can you tell us please?

At 373 grams I think the camera translates in happiness its weight in gold! I wish you to enjoy it for many years to come.
StrayCat Avatar
StrayCat 19 19.1k 3 Canada
16 Jul 2012 7:45PM
Hi Pablo, I don't use the O.I.S. on the lens, I prefer the in-camera 5-axis IS, as it is much superior to the 4-axis IS in the lens. The in-camera IS works with any lens you use on the camera, even with legacy lenses used with adapters, or 4/3 lenses that are used with adapters, which still retain most of their features on the camera. Using both would not produce better results IMO.

I have had almost 2 months of experience with the camera and lens now, and with a minimum focus distance of 4.9 feet, the lens is also practicle used for close-ups such as flowers and insects.

offtheback Avatar
offtheback 11 2
18 Jul 2012 5:32AM
Great shots.Thanks for the insight.

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