Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 16-Megapixel LiveMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Wide, Tilting Touch LCD Screen
  • 14-42mm kit lens (28-84mm 35mm equivalent)
  • Micro Four Thirds Mount
  • TruePic VI processor
  • Built-In sensor shift Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Attachable Flash Unit
  • Removable Front Grip
  • 12 Art Filters
  • Huge selection of available lenses
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot - Eye-Fi and Flash Air memory card compatible
  • 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
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.5 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 = 0.62 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.26 seconds
  • Sequential High burst = 8.33fps slowing after approx. 20 images
  • Sequential Low burst = 3.33fps
  • Sequential flash burst = just under 1fps
  • All tests were taken using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 (95MB/s) 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
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.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a mid-range and compact ILC with excellent performance and quality. You will also find a fantastic selection of accessories and available lenses.
Continuing the Olympus Digital PEN series, the E-PL5 is another great addition to this ever growing line of compact, interchangeable lens cameras. As a mid-range model, the E-PL5 packs in a 16-Megapixel Live MOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI processor, Sensor Shift image stabilization, incredibly fast AF system and a load of creative features and filters to keep this camera well rounded. Its combination of manual controls, creative modes and its iAuto mode allow anyone to shoot in almost any situation with excellent results and as much creativity as you can come up with. Olympus has included a small flash that attaches to the camera in place of a built-in unit. This is a little inconvenient, as you always have to remember to bring it, and it doesn't have any more power than a built-in unit would.

Olympus has also added some great wireless features to the E-PL5, if you use a FlashAir memory card. With this card and the Olympus Image Share App, the camera can connect to smartphones and tablets to share you images or upload them to social media sites. This is a little different than we have seen on other cameras lately that do not have to have a special card in order to use its wireless features. Until 12/31/12, Olympus is giving a Free Flash Air card with the purchase of the E-PL5.

Still featuring the popular Micro Four Thirds mount system that is shared between Olympus and Panasonic, the collection of lenses has grown tremendously over the past few years and offers a much bigger selection of lenses than you will find for any other interchangeable, non-dSLR, camera. This mount makes it possible to eliminate the lens from inside the camera while still providing all of the options and versatility of a dSLR. Without the mirror the camera can be much smaller, giving you portability and the ease of use of a compact digicam.

Handling the E-PL5 is very easy, whether you are a beginner or experienced veteran. It fits comfortably into your hands, allowing you to easily operate the camera and its controls. The thumb grip of the back and the optional screw-on front grip have a good feel and give you a grip that you will be confident with. The top and back of the camera feature easy to identify and well spaced button for controlling the camera. A command dial around the 4-way controller makes it easy to navigate the menus, but a second dial would have been very helpful for manual shooting modes.

Olympus' wide 3.0-inch Touch LCD screen has a resolution of 460,000 dots, providing a great deal of detail for composing and viewing your images. Touching the screen is easy and responsive, allowing you to capture images, bring up the camera guide and control several other functions with ease. This screen also tilts up and down, allowing you to easily shoot over or under objects without having to climb around. This is also a great way to capture self portraits since you will be able to compose your image, not guess. With the included flash attachment, the screen will not tilt up near as far, but except for a self portrait, you shouldn't have any trouble framing around obstacles. Making sure you can see the LCD at all times, the PL5 has 7 levels of brightness adjustment, perfect for any lighting conditions.

Starting quickly, the E-PL5 is able to capture its first image in 1.5 seconds. Autofocus is also lightning fast, taking between 1/10 and 3/10 of a second, with no noticeable shutter lag. In single shot mode, the camera can capture images as fast as 1.61fps without the flash or 0.79fps with it operational. The camera's continuous and burst shooting modes are also very powerful, providing frame rates of 8.33fps on high but slowing after approx. 20 images and 3.33fps on low. With the flash, burst shooting slows to just under 1fps. With the camera in RAW+large fine JPEG mode, its bursts modes were still able to perform almost as well, just lacking in the number of images captured, but not in the speed in which they were taken. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 (95MB/s) 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults.

Our outdoor sample images show bright, vivid colors, excellent exposures. When using the camera's iAuto (intelligent Auto) we noticed a slightly higher dynamic range and bolder colors due to the camera selecting the best scene modes for your shooting situation. Assisting you with framing your images is the included 14-42mm lens with a 35mm equivalent of 28-84mm. This gives you an excellent wide end with a zoom that is good for everyday shooting. It will not get you incredibly close to a distant object, but thanks to Olympus's dedication to the Micro Four Thirds mount system, there is a wide variety of lenses available to handle any and all of your needs.

The great image quality that we saw in our outdoor images is easy to see in our indoor images as well. Our samples show an incredible amount of detail, realistic colors and are very sharp. Between ISO 200 and ISO 1600 we were very pleased with quality and very low amounts of noise for each setting. After 1600, the noise really started to show through. Settings up to ISO 6400 are still acceptable and could be used for smaller prints, but anything above that should be left alone. Assisting with your low-light and indoor images is the attachable pop-up flash unit. This small TTL flash unit sits on the hot show and also plugs into the back of the camera. It is not any more powerful than a built-in pop-up flash, but the ability to take it off the camera keeps the size of the camera down. When it is attached, it can cause a little interference with the adjustment (tilting) of the LCD screen if raised as high as possible.

Shooting portraits with the PL5 is fun and easy. The camera has the ability to detect up to 8 faces within the cameras frame at one time. Once a face is detected, the camera follows it with ease, keeping your subject in focus. This also means that the exposure settings are always based on the detected faces and not the scene around them, giving you the best possible exposure on what really matters. Our sample shows an excellent exposure for the face, giving it a natural tone and showing a great deal of detail. While using the included flash, we do not see any redness in or around the eyes, thanks to the redeye preflash. The camera's excellent image quality at ISO 800 also helped to keep this image looking sharp and full of detail, quality that you will not find in most compact digicams.

The PL5 is loaded with fun and creative filter effects that allow you to really get creative with your shooting. With these you will find new ways to capture images or you will be able to capture images in styles that you would normally have to create on a computer afterwards. Our samples show the wide variety of the filters available on the camera, just remember that not all of the filters will work in all situations. A bracketing mode was included for just that reason, allowing you to capture several filters with just one touch of the shutter.

Not just for stills, the E-PL5 is great for full 1080p HD video as well. Its dedicated video recording button allows you to record at any time, in any shooting mode with just one touch of the button. Since all of the interchangeable lenses are manual zoom lenses, the full zoom range is available to you no matter what lens you have attached, but how smoothly is up to you. The lack of a mirror inside the camera gives it an advantage over most dSLR cameras, it has the ability to keep continuous AF while recording so your videos are always in focus. Our sample video plays back smoothly on the camera, computer or HDTV, giving you pleasant viewing experience. The built-in stereo microphone is sensitive and picks up whatever is near the camera. To improve audio quality, there is an adapter and microphone available from Olympus that will get the mic off the camera and closer to the action.

Powering the E-PL5 is a 7.2V, 1150mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery that Olympus claims can capture up to 360 shots on a single charge. During our tests, we were able to capture approx. 200 images and videos on a single charge with plenty of power to spare. This fits well with Olympus's claims and is a respectable battery life. With the included quick charger, your battery and a spare can be kept charged and ready at all times, which is a great idea if you plan long days or trips for shooting.

Bottom Line - The Olympus E-PL5 is a compact and powerful interchangeable lens camera (ILC). You will not be disappointed with its 16-Megapixel Live MOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI processor, built-in Image Stabilization, and Micro Four Thirds mount that provides you with a wonderful selection of lenses. Excellent image quality and greatly improved performance from the last E-PL model, this is an excellent choice for a mid-range ILC with a MSRP of US $699.99.

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

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