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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview

We go hands on with the brand new Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M5 - the digital version of the classic Olympus OM film camera.

| Olympus OM-D E-M5 in Mirrorless Cameras

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: 1/Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus has an interesting and somewhat sad story to tell about the Olympus OM-D - the digital version of the classic Olympus OM camera: The designer of the original Olympus PEN film cameras, Yoshihisa Maitani, was alive to see the digital version of the camera, the Olympus PEN E-P1. He was also the designer of the original Olympus OM film cameras, but unfortunately he didn't live to see the new digital version come into existence. But from the first look at the Olympus OM-D it does look as though the same design and style is carried over.

The camera is called the OM-D E-M5, with the OM-D being the Digital version of the OM series, but we wonder why it's called the E-M5, and instead why it's not called something like the OM-D1, with it being the first model in the range? Perhaps the E-M5 is in homage to the Olympus E-5 Digital SLR, with this being a "Mini" version of it? Or perhaps this is the 5th Olympus PEN, coming after the Olympus PEN E-P3, as Olympus and many other Japanese companies avoid using the number 4 in product names.

Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 Review here.



Olympus OM-D E-M5 Features

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5

This is the first Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus with a built in viewfinder, previously if you wanted a viewfinder, you would either need to buy an optional electronic viewfinder from Olympus, or look at the Panasonic Lumix G series of cameras. The viewfinder features 1.44 million pixels, eye-detection, and dioptre correction.





Key Features



  • 16.1mp Live MOS CMOS sensor
  • EVF 1.44million with eye-detection  dioptre adjustment, vignetting correction
  • 3inch OLED tilting capacitive touch-screen 610k dots (equivalent to VGA)
  • World’s fastest*2 FAST AF auto-focusing system plus 3D tracking
  • World’s first*1 5-axis Image Stabilisation
  • 9fps shooting, 4.2fps continuous shooting with AF
  • ISO25600
  • Full HD Video, MPEG4
  • Flash Hot Shoe
  • AP2 - Accessory Port
  • 2 Function buttons
  • Front and Rear Dials
  • Dedicated video button
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Focus assist lamp
  • AV/HDMI Out
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card
  • Lithium Ion Rechargeable battery
  • New “Key Line” filter


Olympus OM-D E-M5 Handling

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Handling - The mode dial is on the left and the camera has front and rear dials on the top, plus top function and video buttons. It feels more compact than the Olympus PEN E-P3, but is larger than the E-PL3. There is a large rear thumb grip and a textured leather effect front grip, as well as side access to the SD memory card - this is weather sealed.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Menus - The menu system is said to be the same as the Olympus PEN E-P3 with some tweaks. When we get our hands on a full production model we will be able to give a complete overview.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5 - Weather sealed battery compartment.

Battery Life - The camera's battery life is expected to be similar to that of the Olympus PEN E-P3 at around 330 shots which is similar to other mirrorless cameras, for example the GX1 has battery life rated at 310 shots, while the Sony NEX-5N has battery life rated at 400 shots. Battery life can be extended to 650 shots with the optional battery grip.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Speed - We were not able to test the cameras speed, however Olympus has said that the focusing and shutter response is quicker than the Olympus PEN E-P3, which was very quick, so we expect to see good results when we do test the cameras speed.




Olympus OM-D E-M5 Performance

When we have a chance to take sample photos with the camera we will post them, until then we can assume that the camera will be using the same (or similar) sensor to the Panasonic Lumix G3 and GX1, so image quality should in theory be as good as these cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Preview: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Photos of Equipment





Value For Money

The OM-D is available from April 2012 as a kit with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 for £1149.99. This puts it into the premium mirrorless camera market, although this is the only model to feature a weather resistant body making it somewhat unique. Alternatives include the 24 megapixel Sony NEX-7 and 16 megapixel Fujifilm FinePix X-Pro1.





Olympus OM-D E-M5 Verdict

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 takes the mirrorless market into a new area, with a weather sealed body the camera brings another new feature to the market, making it more useful for outdoors photographers and those looking for a professional level camera that's (much) smaller than the typical weather sealed Digital SLR. With the new camera, Olympus has also introduced two new lenses, a 75mm portrait lens and a weather sealed 60mm macro lens, further expanding the appeal of the Micro Four Thirds market. This brings the total number of lenses available for the Micro Four Thirds mount to nearly 30 lenses and this is just from Olympus and Panasonic with a number of other lenses from other third party manufacturers.

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

View Full Product Details



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Photographs taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M5

BeastieWanders 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.DOWN THE CANEL******

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kodachrome Avatar
kodachrome 11 789
8 Feb 2012 4:05PM
Beautiful looking camera very much a retro styled OM from the 35-mm days. Not sure if it will be better or equal to the Panasonic GH2/G3 as I think both share the same 16mp sensor.

One problem, its very expensive at just under £1000 body only [I can now get a GH2 body for just over £500] . I feel Olympus have aimed this camera at a smaller semi pro/enthusiasts market.
Perhaps a lower spec version [take note Olympus] would have helped sell this camera to a wider audience.
It has a very comprehensive high end spec but then so do other cameras in this catigory and for less money.
I'm sure the price will drop over time like all cameras do.
steve51158 Avatar
8 Feb 2012 8:38PM
I was rather hoping for a 4/3rds camera utilising the excellent OM lenses,it does seem that the 4/3rds format has been abandand.
User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 19 17.9k 8 Norway
8 Feb 2012 8:41PM
Why so 'clunky-looking'?

Is this a concept 'mock-up'? Why are those rear buttons so prominent?

I love the overall 'look' - it fits so well with my memories of my OM 4 but....

Something is not 'right' here IMO... Sad
rodread Avatar
rodread 16 2 United Kingdom
8 Feb 2012 8:46PM
After getting this ephotozine email and reading this article... the very next email in my inbox was from [email protected].... extolling the virtues of this very camera.

In the advertising for this camera is this image

It displays a surf photo, taken from under the lip of a wave coming at the camera from behind.
I assume this new OM-D camera has a waterproof housing as an accessory.
If not then this was a very misleading photo
photophil68 Avatar
8 Feb 2012 8:46PM
OMG!!!! What have they done?????? Sad
User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 19 17.9k 8 Norway
8 Feb 2012 9:11PM
Sad indeed...
Ade_Osman Avatar
Ade_Osman 20 4.5k 36 England
8 Feb 2012 9:21PM
I wouldn't say no to one, I'm getting hacked off carrying around all the weight of my Canon Kit, and if the quality is anything as good as their Pen camera's which I was lucky enough to win one of in the last EPZ Xmas draw, I'd be more than happy to have one in my bag. Especially with a macro lens.......Yes please indeed!!!!

norton Avatar
norton 19 2 6 Jersey
8 Feb 2012 9:42PM
I agree with Ade about the quality of their pen cameras, I'am more then pleased with the results i get from my E-PM1. One of these for me too please..........

pablophotographer Avatar
pablophotographer 12 2.2k 450
9 Feb 2012 1:43AM
A bravo to the troubled Olympus!

Weather-proof, with tilting screen, and retro-styled! As Fujifilm and Leica have proved, there is a market for smaller yet very able cameras.

Errr.... do I get older? There is this a saying as my belly gets bigger the camera gets smaller!
Techniscope Avatar
9 Feb 2012 10:38AM
If the build quality equals the original OM's it will be a much prized bit of kit,but like all all cameras today the 'plasticisation' will probably be present. Its a long time in fact 40 years since I purchased my original OM1 and still have it. In those days Olympus hadn't arrived in this country and it was David Williams of Glasshouse Yard London who distributed them. Happy Days.
DCL Avatar
DCL 13 5 Australia
9 Feb 2012 11:51AM
Quote:I was rather hoping for a 4/3rds camera utilising the excellent OM lenses,it does seem that the 4/3rds format has been abandand.

Fear not, there is an adapter, the MMF3 which is weather sealed and will allow you to plug your 4/3 lenses straight onto it! I too have a battery of 4/3 lenses and am very pleased that I will be able to use them on this camera. I think in this case the ergonomics would benefit from the use of the optional portrait grip + battery grip combo.
ianrobinson Avatar
ianrobinson 13 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
9 Feb 2012 1:28PM
I have the pen EP-3 and if this camera takes as good a shot as the pen then i want one for a couple of reasons, 1 integrated view finder, 2 more user friendly by the look of it, i mean it looks like you can actually hold this camera without fear of dropping it, unlike the pen series where it seems at times a little awkward to hold but still takes superb images.
I will be very interested to see this new oly shape up with there claims that it will out focus dslrs if this is the case then we got a serious contender to the likes of the big boys Canon and Nikon.

I shall watch with Interest on this one.Smile
monstersnowman Avatar
monstersnowman 18 1.7k 1 England
9 Feb 2012 9:49PM
That is one ugly lookin mother imo!! I love the Fuji X100 retro looks but this just looks awful. Clunky, cheap, not stylish in any way ... thumbs down ... it needs to be a great performer.
User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 19 17.9k 8 Norway
9 Feb 2012 10:56PM
I agree.
rodread Avatar
rodread 16 2 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2012 10:25AM
Got a reply from Olympus
The E-M5 camera body and some accessories are dust- and splash- proof. Also a compatible PT-EP08 underwater case will be available.
Mayfly Avatar
Mayfly 18 485 2 United Kingdom
10 Feb 2012 12:17PM
They should have gone full frame a kept to the original OM mount.... Now that I would get excited about..
JeremyTrickett Avatar
11 Feb 2012 11:56PM
This looks like a fantastic little camera

link removed - please see site T&Cs
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
15 Feb 2012 9:48PM
Comparing to the Sony nex 7 + Kit lens does this new Olympus really look that expensive ?
Neopolis Avatar
15 Feb 2012 11:59PM
Well, lets read the review firts. The design is outstanding but we don't know its perfomance.

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