Olympus PEN E-PL5 Review

Review posted 12/12/2012

Quick Take
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Built-In image stabilization works with all lenses available for the camera
  • Great image quality
  • Wireless capablilities are fun and useful
  • 3.0-inch Touch tilting LCD screen is easy to use, even in tough shooting situations
  • Excellent shooting performance
  • Great Battery Life
  • Competitively priced
  • Optional External Mic Adapter for better sound
  • HDMI Output
  • Advertised ISO 25600 is not useable in any capacity
  • Detachable flash is small and easy to forget
  • Tilting LCD screen does not swivel side to side
Bottom Line
Olympus has gotten just about everything right with the new E-PL5 ILC camera. Its 16-Megapixel Live MOS sensor and TruePic VI provide excellent image quality and performance. Adding the best lens collection for an ILC and an accessory for just about everything, you will be happy with camera. Read more in our Full Conclusion.
During the fall of 2012, Olympus announced two new Micro Four Thirds PEN series cameras, the "Mini" E-PM2 and the "Lite" E-PL5. Spec-wise, both cameras are virtually identical -- both are advanced Micro Four Thirds camera systems that offer DSLR-quality imagery and video in the bodies of point-and-shoots. Heck, they even feature the same 16.1-megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor and new TruePic VI image processor as Olympus' flagship Micro Four Thirds system camera, the OM-D E-M5. There's also a great Touch AF shutter function where, by tapping the screen, the camera will instant focus on where your finger touched and take a photo (welcome to the future, folks!). 8 frames-per-second high speed shooting will come in handy during sporting events or during nature photography.

1080i HD Video recording is nice, but a little suspect at this price-point (we want to see 1080p). 11 in-camera Art Filters allow users to make their high resolution digital photos look like byproducts of a analog era. Olympus is also pretty excited about FlashAir capability, which boils down to this: Toshiba makes WiFi-capable storage cards and when you combine that with the Olympus Image Share app (for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets), your PEN-series camera can now load images onto phones and social networking sites. Fun.

But why two different models, and how do we tell them apart?

Glad you asked. The PEN "Lite" E-PL5 actually costs about a $100 more than the E-PM2 (which happens to be the smallest and lightest PEN series camera available) because its 3.0-inch LCD touch screen display swivels 170° up and 65° down (great for self-portraits or you-plus-BFF portraits) and it features all-metal body construction. The E-PL5 also boasts a DSLR-esc Mode Dial, making the camera more customizable than its smaller sibling, as well as Movie Teleconverter function for extra zoom range when shooting video (however, IMHO, Digital Zoom should be avoided at all cost, no matter what the marketing department calls it). Lastly, the E-PL5 comes with a detachable grip.

But that's pretty much it.

Olympus PEN "Lite" E-PL5 Features
  • Micro Four Thirds System
  • 16.1 megapixel High-Speed Live MOS
  • 3.0-inch Swiveling Touch Screen LCD
  • 1080i HD Video Recording
    • Movie Teleconverter function
    • Access Art Filters WHILE recording (see below)
  • TruePic VI Image Processor
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • AF Illuminator
  • Olympus Dust Reduction System
  • Touch AF Shutter
  • FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF
  • 8 frames-per-second high-speed shooting (in Single AF mode)
  • Mode Dial
  • 11 in-camera Art Filters
    • Diorama
    • Pop Art
    • Soft Focus
    • Pale & Light Color
    • Light Tone
    • Grainy Film
    • Pin Hole
    • Cross Process
    • Gentle Sepia
    • Key Line
    • Dramatic Tone
  • Variations
  • Monochrome Effect
  • In-camera RAW data editing
  • Self Timer
  • Toshiba FlashAir Compatible
    • Use Olympus Image Share smartphone app to
      • upload images onto a smartphone
      • add Art Filters to images on the smartphone
      • share images on your favorite social networking site
  • Detachable Grip (MCG-4)
The Olympus PEN "Lite" E-PL5 is availablein silver, black or white. Pricing options include a $649.99 (MRSP) body-only version as well as a $699.99 body plus MSC M.ZUIKO® DIGITAL ED m14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 Zoom Lens. Click on our Lowest Price button at the top right of this page to see the most current online pricing.

What's in the box?:
  • E-PL5 Body
  • Flash FL-LM1
  • Li-ion battery BLS-5
  • Li-ion battery charger BCS-5
  • USB and AV cables
  • Shoulder strap
  • OLYMPUS Viewer 2 (CD-ROM)
  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty card
  • MCG-4 (Standard Removable Grip)

Additional Product Views
You can check out the price of this camera on Adorama by clicking here.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.