Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
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  • 16-Megapixel 4/3 Live MOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, Tilting Touch LCD Screen
  • TruePic VI image processor
  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization System
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Micro Four-Thirds Mount System
  • "Art" Filters
  • Pop-up Flash Unit
  • Accessory Port
  • HDMI Output
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Overall outstanding image quality in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Full 1080p HD video is excellent quality
  • Great image quality 
  • 5-axis Image Stabilization is great for both still images and video
  • 3.0-inch tilting touch screen is easy to see and operate
  • Excellent selection of Micro Four-Thirds Lenses
  • Total control possible by on-body controls
  • Amazing shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • HDMI output for viewing images and movies on any HDTV
Cons
  • Classic rangefinder styling is not the most comfortable
  • Pop-up flash is not near as powerful as external units
  • One of the higher priced ILCs
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 0.9 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.68 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 0.98 seconds
  • Low Speed Burst = 5.26fps
  • High Speed Burst = 9.52fps
  • High Speed Burst w/ Flash = 1.09fps
  • All tests were taken using an SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Olympus E-P5 is an outstanding ILC combining Rangefinder styling, top of the line components, outstanding image quality and amazing performance into a compact package. It also features the largest collection of available lenses for an ILC.
Pick This Up If...
You are in the market for the highest quality ILC available with classic styling and outstanding quality and performance.
Olympus's newest leader in the Digital "PEN" series is the E-P5, a rangefinder style model that features many of the same, powerful components and features of their flagship OM-D E-M1. Sporting a 16-Megapixel Live MOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor, 5-Axis Image Stabilization, 3.0-inch Touch Screen LCD and built-in WiFi, you will not be disappointed or lack any feature that is available today. Using the Micro Four-Thirds mounting system, the camera is capable of using any Micro Four-Thirds lens, no matter what brand. This gives you access to one of the largest lens collections for an ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera). With an available adapter, it is also capable of using any Four-Thirds lens as well. Designed for a true enthusiast, its rangefinder body is loaded with controls, giving you access to every setting you will need in the field. Olympus has released the camera is three colors; Silver, Black and White, so you will be able to pick a style that suits you. 

Olympus's 5-axis sensor shift image stabilization system is built right into the camera, allowing it to work with any lens that is put on the camera, micro 4/3 lenses or any others. The I.S. system works to stabilize the camera from vertical, horizontal, rotational movements as well as tilting and turning. While holding the camera, it is able to provide you with up to 4-stops of correction. This is a huge feature for low-light photography, making it much easier to shoot and capture sharp images in marginal lighting. This also works great for video capture, allowing you move around with the camera while keeping your movies steady, even while walking. Having the I.S. built into the camera body also allows Olympus to keep the prices down on any new lenses that release in the future. 

Two great features that you will not find on most dSLR's, which really make this ILC stand out, are the accessory port and built-in WiFi. With no built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder), the E-P5's hot shoe also includes an accessory port. This port supplies power and information to external accessories, such as an EVF that can be added on (and is included with the camera kit). Other features include more powerful external flash units and even external microphone inputs for increased sound quality when recording video. Olympus's built-n WiFi capabilities allow you to connect to a smartphone or tablet to not only share images but also control the camera. This allows you to view, transfer and even upload images to email or social media sites if your connected device has an internet connection or you are in range of a wireless internet connection.  

The E-P5's rangefinder design gives it a solid, heavy feel that provides confidence that the camera is going to last. Without the grip on the right side, it is not as comfortable as new body style of the E-M1, but it is just as easy to use. Small front and back grips give you a firm grip. The weight and size of the camera will require two-handed operation when it comes to changing the camera's settings, but shooting is possible with just one. Olympus has included just enough control on the body of the camera to control everything you need while shooting, but without overwhelming you. It also includes the settings switch that we saw on the E-M1, which changes the settings that the command dial will control with just one flip. 

Framing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 3.0-inch, 1,037k dot high resolution, touch and tilting LCD screen. With a sharp and realistic representation of the image, the LCD is a pleasure to shoot with. It shows approx. 100% of the coverage area and as much detail as you will find on any camera's LCD. The screen also provides you with touch autofocus and image capture capabilities. If you prefer to shoot through a viewfinder, there are several models available, including the VF-4 which is available in some of the E-P5 kits. This viewfinder is the same that is built-into the E-M1, and will soon be your new favorite way to shoot, once you see how sharp and clear it is. Having all of the information from the LCD screen in the EVF is also a great feature.

Performance from the E-P5 is excellent. The camera is able to capture its first image in 9/10 of a second when first being turned on, so you will never miss a candid moment as long as the camera is in hand. The camera's shutter lag is almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused. When allowing the autofocus to work, it falls between 1/10 and 3/10 of a second. Its shot-to-shot delay is also impressive, coming up just under 7/10 of a second or 0.98 second if you are using the flash. The E-P5 also features High and Low burst modes that provide 9.52fps and 5.26fps respectively. Even shooting with the flash in high burst mode gave us just over 1fps. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, flash off, ISO auto and all other settings at the factory defaults. 

With the E-P5 being so similar to the E-M1, we were not surprised when the E-P5 provided us with excellent image quality. Our outdoor images show great exposure and color, and are sharp and full of detail. The rich colors provide a pleasing and accurate reproduction of the image. Within these outdoor images, we did not see any noticeable instances of noise or aberrations anywhere. We did however; notice a difference in the color of our images between our Program and iAuto images. iAuto produced brighter and more vivid images that make them stand out a little more. 

Looking at our indoor images, we see very similar results to those of the E-M1. Our images show very high amounts of detail and incredibly low levels of noise at the lower and mid ISO ranges. It is not until ISO 1600 that image noise even starts to become noticeable. After ISO 6400 the noise really starts to show through and you will want to be careful using any higher settings. These excellent ISO noise results, combined with our included f1.8 lens and amazing image stabilization give you outstanding low-light performance.

Assisting with your low-light shooting is a small pop-up flash unit. It has a GN14 (ISO200), and an increased flash sync speed of up to 1/320 of a second, allowing for more range and increased ability to shoot in brighter situations. 

Our sample portrait images came out fantastic, shooting both with and without the built-in flash unit. Thanks to the camera's face detection software, our images were perfectly in focus and exposed for the detected faces. The high amounts of detail within the face and especially the eyes really draw you into the images. You can also see all of the detail in the skin and clothes of the subject. Optional red-eye reduction flash settings are available and kept all redness out of the eyes of our subject in our sample. 

Assisting with your creative shooting is a slew of "Art" filters and Olympus's "Story" shooting mode. The art shooting modes consist of 12 pre-set shooting modes that are designed to simulate custom and creative photographic techniques. These images start with a normal, high quality image and then apply these settings, so you know you will be getting the highest quality image possible after the effects are supplied. Olympus's story mode allows for you to capture several images that the camera puts into a single framed image for you. They provide you with several templates, all with several options and variations for each so you can customize one for any situation. Just touching a box on the LCD screen allows you to select where you want to capture your next image. 

Video capture is a fantastic feature on the E-P5. With its ability to capture full 1080p HD video at the touch of a button, combined with the amazing 5-axis Image Stabilization system, this is one of the most versatile still image cameras available for video. The video captured by the E-P5 is crisp and clear thanks to the continuous autofocus feature and high quality image sensor. When you add the ability to walk and move the camera in other ways without special equipment, due to the I.S. system, your creativity and shooting abilities go through the roof. This is definitely one of the best cameras for shooting video on the move. 

Powering the E-P5 is a 7.6V, 1220mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery is powerful enough to capture up to 330 images on a single charge, and was more than enough for us to complete our tests while capturing approx. 200 images and several videos. In fact we had plenty of power to spare afterwards. Using one of the optional EVFs is another way to help increase the life of the battery, since the camera will not have to power the large, bright LCD screen all the time. Other options like the I.S. and built-in WiFi are awesome features, but both use up the battery much faster, so turning them off when not in use is a good idea. For long days or several day shooting trips, you will want to have a spare battery or two; depending on where and how much you will shoot. We recommend picking up a spare battery or two. The included quick charging unit makes it easy to keep several batteries charged and ready to go if you plan ahead.

Bottom Line - The Olympus E-P5 is a compact and powerful rangefinder model ILC. Sporting the Micro Four-Thirds mount provides it with possibly the best collection of available lenses on the market, thanks to the ability to use any brand Micro Four-Thirds lens. Image quality from the 16-Megapixel imaging sensor and TruePic VI processor is amazing, as is the camera's overall performance. With a MSRP of US $999.99, this is a very powerful ILC. There are only a few features out there that cannot be found on the camera, and if you need every available feature, you may want to look at the Olympus OM-D E-M1.


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