Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review

Paul Morgan shares his thoughts on the Olympus OM-D.

| Olympus OM-D E-M5 in Digital Cameras
ePHOTOzine member Paul Morgan got hooked on photography shortly after getting his first camera 30 odd years ago and soon after that he realised the camera could be a powerful artistic tool of creative expression.

He recently purchased and Olympus OM-D EM-5 which he uses for shooting portraits (among other subjects).

"I get a real buzz from interacting with people on the street, sometimes I might just ask for a quick picture other times I might get people interacting together a bit like actors and the street becomes the stage. Some may see this approach as cheating but there are no rules on the street and I find that conformity cripples creativity," explains Paul.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5

After having chance to put the Olympus OM-D EM-5 to the test on the street, ePHOTOzine wanted to find out how impressed Paul is with the camera. Here's his thoughts:

My Thoughts On The OM-D EM-5

I already own and use a Panasonic G2, but it had always left me feeling just a little short changed. Coming from the Olympus E-3 I was really missing the inbody IS and wireless flash control of the Olympus system so the OM-D EM-5 became the natural choice.

There is no such thing as the perfect camera but Olympus really have hit the mark with the OM-D EM-5 and I believe that it does come very close, with just the right balance between image quality and features, and there’s one heck of an amount of the good stuff packed under its hood.

The OM-D EM-5 has been similarly liked to the old OM series bodies, but it's not just the new OM-D EM-5 body, it's the whole lot including the flash units, battery grip and superb lenses. The OM-D EM-5 is part of an almost complete compact system similar to that of the legendary OM system.

The OM-D EM-5's build quality is fantastic and feels nice and solid in the hand, but without it being too heavy. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to reading manuals and prefer to just dive in. The menu system at first seemed just a little chaotic but I soon got the hang of it, and I soon discovered that it's actually quite well laid out.

I also find the camera pretty user friendly, just about any button can be customised along with the fn buttons, if you have the HLD-6 grip and the 12-50mm lens, you have a total of five separate fn buttons alone, including the fn button on the lens.

My only gripe, and it's a very small gripe, is that the OM-D EM-5 feels a little small in my hand, adding the HLD-6 Battery Grip vastly transforms the feeling and the handling. The grip also adds a much more comfortably placed shutter release, two extra dials and a couple of extra programmable fn buttons.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 HLD-6G 6P Grip
The first part of the grip is really quite small and makes the camera a little more comfortable to hold in landscape orientation, adding the second part of the grip improves the handling in portrait orientation and adds the facility for a second battery.

The HLD-6 battery grip really is the number one accessory to get, Olympus put a lot of thought into this and it shows.

Then there's the OM-D EM-5's weather sealing, along with the HLD-6 battery grip, the 12-50mm lens and the supplied FL-LM2 Flash, everything here is all dust and splash proof.

The new in-body 5-axis IS system is just brilliant, for the first time I can program the EVF to stabilise the image in the viewfinder, even with legacy lenses or lensbabys.

The built-in EVF is just superb, what you see is what you get. You're seeing the same information that is being sent to the sensor, it's light years better than any optical viewfinder.

Then there's the articulating OLED touch screen that is just lovely and I can’t leave out the 9fps continues shooting mode, this comes in very handy.

The OM-D E-M5 is a great tool for the strobist, the OM-D can easily control RC-capable flash units off camera, pushing the OM-D E-M5 user's creativity even further.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: OM-D part of a system

I carry my kit in a Thinktank Retrospective 10, this holds both my OM-D + grip, my G2, an assortment of m4/3 lenses including a couple of lensbabys, an adapter for my lensbabys and a comprehensive flash system that I use for my strobist stuff, without the flash system the Retrospective 5 or 7 would have been big enough.

Am I enjoying using the OM-D? Yes I am, probably a whole lot more than any other digital camera ever!

Good Features

The live bulb feature, although I’ve not yet had a proper play with this, if I had I don’t think I could write enough to do this feature any justice. Live bulb has the potential to revolutionise the way we take pictures and this feature really needs an article all of its own.

Also the programmable M mode, no I’m not mad, you can have full auto ISO in full manual control, as with A, S and P modes. I’ve never used any form of auto ISO in the past but I have found this really useful in M mode if I need full control of shutter speed and aperture and the ISO setting is not as important.

The built in Intervalometer, it might not be shown on any spec sheet but it is there, be it just a little bit basic. The camera can be set to do time lapse photography by programming the anti shock feature, simply attach a cable release and away you go.

Portraits Taken With The Olympus OM-D EM-5

Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Musicians
Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Portrait
Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Portrait
Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Street Portrait

Thoughts On The Touch Screen

I think it's very handy, at the very moment somebody realises you're about to take their picture they go into the defensive strike a pose and smile routine. The touch screen enables you to grab two or three well placed and timed shots before they have had the chance to pose and smile.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 2-Month User Review: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Rear Screen

Thoughts On The Camera's Size

I can’t say I’ve noticed that much of a difference when shooting portraits with this camera, but others may find a smaller camera gives them more confidence on the street. I don’t find the size of the camera matters, I don’t do much of the sneaking around type stuff a camera in the face is a camera in the face no matter how big or how small it is.

It's not what you use, it's how you use it and more importantly how you go about making that connection with a person on the street. Stop somebody in the street and build a quick relationship, then ask them for a picture. It's not difficult, thirty seconds, that’s all it takes. Your efforts will be much more rewarding, just make sure you have a pen and pad handy.

Final Thoughts

The OM-D EM-5 does what it says on the tin and I find it good for portraits and anything on the street. It's also really good for off-camera Strobist type flash work. The OM-D EM-5 and M4/3 system saves on weight and bulk, it then saves on back or shoulder pain, so it can’t be bad. It also delivers great results and you can fit a fair bit of kit in a smallish bag.

Visit Paul Morgan's Portfolio to see more of his work.

You can read ePHOTOzine's full review of the Olympus OM-D EM-5 here.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Pros:

Good image quality even at high ISOs
Fast autofocus with most lenses
Part of a superb and still expanding system

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Cons:

Focus tracking not the best
Small controls, some can be quite fiddly
No correction of CA in camera

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

Wanders 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******From a Window 5

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ian431 Avatar
ian431 10
22 Jul 2013 8:38PM
Hi Paul Morgan

I have only had the olympus omd a few weeks now and i have to say this system isn't as heavy as the dslr's i have had in the past, this is a big bonus as i am able to carry it around all day without any shoulder pain.

The down side to this camera is the buttons are on the little side but this does not effect the performance.

Overall this is my best camera to date.

Heres what i thought of the olympus OMD
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
14 Aug 2013 5:50AM

Quote:The down side to this camera is the buttons are on the little side but this does not effect the performance

Yes and its all too easy to nudge the exposer compensation and not notice until it too late, all pretty minor quirks really Smile
Andy_Curtis Avatar
Andy_Curtis 9 811 United Kingdom
24 Jun 2014 1:52PM
Wish I would have spotted this before I asked several questions of you Paul, and others in the forums!

Great review though. I was worried about the button sizes before purchase as many have said the same as you. But I find them alright, not the best location, I find they do not protrude enough and I find myself having to adjust my grip slightly if I want to play back an image. only a small downside however.

So far, as you know already, I love this camera and using it is an absolute charm.
Paul Morgan Avatar
Paul Morgan 22 19.9k 6 England
20 Sep 2014 7:08PM
Hi Andy, yes the buttons are a little small but they are perfectly usable.

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