The Olympus PEN E-P5 updates the Olympus PEN E-P3
which is two years old, and the camera now features all of the best technology from the Olympus OM-D E-M5
such as 5-axis IS, 9fps continuous shooting, 16.1 megapixel sensor, as well as several other improvements that would make it appealing even to people who already own an E-M5, including Low ISO100, 1/8000s shutter speed, high resolution 3inch screen, built in Wi-Fi, a pop-up flash, and other improvements.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Features
Features of the EP-5 mirror that of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, but without the weather sealing or built in electronic viewfinder. With the same 16.1 megapixel sensor and Venus engine as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the E-P5 also features extended ISO, from ISO100 to ISO25600, 5-axis image stabilisation and 9fps continuous shooting, with built in Wi-Fi for image sharing and remote shooting. On the back is a 3inch high resolution 1037k dot touch screen that tilts up and down. The E-P5 also features a built in pop-up flash.
The E-P5 is also the first mirrorless camera to feature a 1/8000s mechanical shutter speed, with other cameras using an electronic shutter to reach this speed.
16.1 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor
5-axis image stabilisation (up to 5EV compensation)
2-axis electronic level
3inch 1037k tilting touch screen
ISO100 - ISO25600
1/8000s mechanical shutter
9fps continuous shooting, 5fps with C-AF
Full HD video with 30fps, with IS, Stereo mic
Built in pop-up flash, guide: 10 (ISO200)
Wireless flash control, 4 channels
Wi-Fi built in, GPS data from smartphone
400 shot battery life
122.3 x 68.9 x 37.2mm
378g (body only)
Available in black, two tone silver and black, and white
Olympus PEN E-P5 Handling
The E-P5, like the E-P3 before it, has a premium build quality, with a solid metal construction, and a weighty feel to the body. The front grip can’t be changed, unlike the Olympus PEN E-P3 (and E-PL5), which is a shame, as we quite liked the idea of being able to change to a large grip if required, or simply take the grip off altogether for a slightly slimmer profile. However it gives a good grip for your fingers
and on the rear is a large rubber thumb grip to provide a sturdy hold on the camera.
A new feature is the introduction of front and rear command wheels, to allow the quick setting of aperture and shutter speeds, or exposure compensation when in P/A/S and other modes. There is a lever on the back that lets you switch between this mode of operation, or alternatively using the front and rear dials to set ISO/WB directly (this can be customised). In the middle of this switch is the video record button, and on the back of the camera you can find the usual Olympus controls. The top function button can be customised, and when used in conjunction with the rear zoom dial can be used for one touch HDR / AE bracketing. Other buttons on the camera can be customised including the magnify, video, left and down buttons.
The Olympus menus aren’t the most intuitive to navigate, and this is one area where we (and no doubt many others) wish Olympus would improve. The Super Control Panel helps change settings quickly, and can be easier to browse and use than using the overlay or menu system, however you need to activate it before you can use it, and even this can be difficult at times. An overview of the menus as well as a quick demo of focus peaking can be seen in the video below:
The rear features a 3inch tilting 1037k dot resolution touch screen that is able to tilt as much as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, it has a thinner profile than the OM-D, and looks great. The manual pop-up flash is activated using the flash button on the back, and you simply press the flash back into the camera to close. The camera also features improved magnified view for manual focus, as well as a focus peaking feature.
- Using the Olympus Image Share app for iOS and Android, lets you remotely control the camera, transfer photos, edit photos, as well as Geotag images with GPS information from your smartphone. You can also use a QR code on the LCD to quickly setup the connection to the smartphone. The remote control section lets you set the self-timer, or use the smartphone to set the focus point or take a photo using the touchscreen. Additional options would be nice, as it seems a little limited at the moment.
VF-4 Electronic Viewfinder - Introduced with the E-P5 is a new electronic viewfinder with an EPSON LCD with 2.36million dots, combined with Olympus optical elements (designed to give good performance even in the corners) and give a large 0.74x view - which is larger than the full frame optical viewfinder in the Nikon D800, and just slightly smaller than the 0.76x view in the Canon EOS 1D-X. The viewfinder does not show any banding or colour aberrations when panning, and appears to be very good quality when in use. It can also be tilted straight up. The VF-4 has built in eye-detection sensors to automatically switch it on, and the rear screen off when raised to the eye, however the eye-detection feature does not work when the VF is used on older cameras, and instead you will need to use the manual switch to switch to the EVF. The new VF-4 when used with the E-P5 has quicker eye-sensor switch-over time of 0.4 seconds to switch from the rear screen to the EVF, and a fast response time of 0.032sec.
– Battery life is rated at 400 shots, and it uses the same battery as the Olympus OM-D E-M5, although Olympus say that the camera is able to show the effects of the 5-axis image stabilisation on screen thanks to battery and energy efficiency improvements. The EP-5 battery and memory compartment is underneath the camera.
- We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Olympus PEN E-P5
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
0.9 / 1.1 with VF-4 attached
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
9fps (24 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash
Continuous Shooting - RAW
9fps (16 shots)
Focus speeds are excellent, even with the standard 14-42mm II kit lens, with a very good switch on time. Continuous shooting is very good shooting at 9fps with an impressive 24 shots before slowdown when shooting JPEG images.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database
, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Sample Photos
- Face detection works really well, and the camera can be set to give priority to focusing on faces, on the nearest eye, the right eye or the left eye depending on what your preference is. A focus assist lamp helps to focus in low light. The camera delivers bright colourful photos with excellent JPEG results straight from the camera.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Lens test images
- Dynamic range is good and the lens is quite resistant to flare. Exposure is good with bright saturated colours. The 14-42mm kit lens is capable of taking a decent macro photo at the telephoto end of the lens and performs well for a kit lens producing sharp photos into the corners whether using the lens at the wide-angle end or the telephoto end. Some purple fringing and chromatic aberration is visible on edges where there is a high level of contrast, although it's not excessive.
Olympus PEN E-P5 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance
- The ISO range is expanded with a new Low ISO100 option - ISO100 shows extremely low noise, although with slightly less dynamic range, and some over-exposure / highlight clipping. Noise is low at ISO200, with good levels of detail, and the same can be said about ISO400. Low noise, and good detail continues, until ISO1600 where there is a slight drop in levels of detail, although noise is low at this setting, and at ISO3200. At ISO6400 noise increases, although results are still quite impressive. At ISO12800 and above, noise becomes more noticeable as it reduces levels of detail and colour is lost.
The camera has a number of noise reduction options: Off, On, Auto, with the noise filter
options of: Off, Low, Standard, High. Low gives a nice grain with improved levels of detail and is our recommended setting. Standard (Default) does a very good job of removing most of the noise if you're not a fan of noise, while High was a little too strong in our view.
Olympus PEN E-P5 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance
- Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten and fluorescent lighting, often producing better results than using the respective presets. The camera has an option to "Keep warm colour" when using auto white balance, which can be useful for capturing the mood of a scene - examples can be seen above.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Outdoor images
Olympus PEN E-P5 Digital filters
Digital Filters -
There are a large amount of art filters, with each having a number of options and additional effects that can be applied such as a vignette frame. A new feature is the story mode - there is the choice of 1:1, or 4:3 aspect with 4 different styles of story boards, as well as frame options, and layout options. There are also three different styles of "Fun Frames", as shown above. There is an excellent range of black and white filter
options, although unfortunately there are no automatic HDR or panoramic creation modes. The camera also saves all the original raw files.
- There are P/A/S/M video modes, as well as Art Filters, Wind Noise Reduction (Off, Low, Standard, High), Recording volume (Low, Standard, High), as well as silent (audio off). ISO can be set from 200 to 3200. The 5-axis IS works superbly to keep video steady.
Value For Money
The Olympus PEN E-P5 is available for around £850 body only, which makes it reasonable value for money, although you could also be tempted by the weather sealed Olympus OM-D E-M5
. Alternatives to consider include the following:
, with Wi-Fi, 1/6000s shutter speed, £599
, with Wi-Fi, EVF, £595
, with EVF, £599 body only
Olympus OM-D E-M5
, with EVF, £780 body only
You'll also need to buy a memory card
and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags
Olympus PEN E-P5 Verdict
The Olympus PEN E-P5 sits at the top of the Olympus PEN range and is the desirable premium mirrorless camera, while lacking weather sealing of the OM-D, the additional features and high IQ from the OM-D should make the E-P5 top of the list for a mirrorless camera. The VF-4 EVF (electronic viewfinder) with a high resolution, large view, and rapid refresh is an excellent bit of kit and well worth adding to the E-P5, making it a real pleasure to shoot with. The Olympus PEN E-P5 has a number of impressive features that would put it at the top of the list of desirable cameras for advanced photographers as well, including mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second, focus peaking, ISO100, plus an excellent 3 inch tilting touch screen with ultra-fast focus speeds and improved battery life.
With Olympus delivering excellent noise performance (which started with the E-M5, and then the EPM2, and EPL5); Panasonic producing cameras and lenses, and with others due to join the Micro Four Thirds (M43) system, it’s never been a better time to buy a M43 camera. The only problem with reviewing the Olympus PEN E-P5 is the potential to run out of superlatives when describing how amazing this camera is. Although we, along with many others, do think the Olympus menu system is due a refresh, and to get the best out of this camera we'd recommend investing in one of the excellent Olympus or Panasonic prime lenses available. The price of the Olympus PEN E-P5 puts it at a very similar price to the E-M5, however, for those that want a more compact body, and the latest features, the E-P5 is the one to go for.
Olympus PEN E-P5 Pros
Excellent image quality
Excellent colour reproduction
2 year warranty
High shutter speed
Excellent 5-axis IS
Dual axis electronic level
IS works with enlarged manual focus view
Built in flash
Gorgeous tilting screen
Stunning VF-4 viewfinder
Olympus PEN E-P5 Cons
Lacks built in HDR / Panoramic creation
Menu systems could do with a redesign
VALUE FOR MONEY
Olympus PEN E-P5 Specifications
|Sensor Type||Live MOS Sensor|
|Sensor Size||Micro / Four Thirds|
|Sensor Size (width)||17.3mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||13mm|
|Screen resolution||1037k dots|
- Face Detection
- AF Tracking
- Touch AF
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/8000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
- Scene modes
- Centre-weighted - Average
- Multi Pattern
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 25600|
|Viewfinder Resolution||No Data|
- 1920x1080 FullHD
- 1280x720 HD 720p
- 640x480 VGA
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion|
|Box Contents||Body, 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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