Olympus E-5 Review

by Reads (12,308)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.75
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


  • Pros

    • Solid construction
    • Fast auto focus
    • Articulated LCD
  • Cons

    • Some highlight clipping
    • Weaker at high ISO
    • Lower resolution than competition

Quick Take

E-3 owners and Olympus fans will be glad to know that the E-5 is a highly capable and rugged imaging tool. Others may be put off by some of the limits of the comparitively smaller and lower-resolution sensor.

The Olympus E-5 is the newest top-of-the-line DSLR camera that uses a Four Thirds sensor developed by Olympus. This DSLR has all the impressive features of its predecessor, including a durable magnesium alloy body with weather sealed “splashproof” construction. What makes the E-5 unique is the addition of a higher resolution image sensor, new image processing, a larger LCD and the ability to capture HD video. Is the E-5 more than just a modest update to the E-3? Keep reading to find out.

Olympus E-5

When Olympus unveiled the E-3 in 2008, it was heralded as a revolutionary quantum leap forward compared to the first pro-body E-series camera, the E-1. The E-3 brought a new image sensor with twice the resolution as the E-1, a new sensor-shift image stabilization system, new autofocus, new fully articulated screen with live view, an improved viewfinder with 100% coverage and 1.15x magnification, and one of the most rugged bodies on any pro-level DSLR.

With that kind of history, it’s no wonder that the E-5 feels less revolutionary and more “evolutionary” when it comes to new camera technology. The E-5 features a 12.3 megapixel Four Thirds Live MOS sensor (up from 10.1 megapixels in the E-3), a new maximum ISO setting of 6400 (up from ISO 3200 in the E-3), a new HD video mode (no video capability in the E-3), TruPic V+ image processing (TruPic III used in the E-3), a new 3.0-inch LCD (2.5-inch screen on the E-3) and the E-5 now uses Compact Flash and SDHC/SDXC memory cards instead of Compact Flash and slower xD memory cards.

Olympus E-5

As a current E-3 user I’d be lying if I said that the new features in the E-5 aren’t welcome, but these feel like relatively modest improvements to a camera that is almost three years old. The 12.3 megapixel Live MOS sensor used in the E-5 appears to be the same one used in the Olympus E-30 that came out in early 2009. Sure, 12 megapixels is more than enough to produce massive, high quality prints and web images, but the latest generation of pro-body DSLRs with APS-C image sensors delivers 16 or 18 megapixels of resolution. Not only that, but cameras like the Canon EOS 7D deliver high ISO up to 12800 and the new Nikon D7000 takes things one step further by going all the way to ISO 25600. By contrast, a 12 megapixel camera shooting at ISO 6400 looks like it’s a few steps behind the competition.

Looks, however, can be very deceiving. The E-5 might not offer the highest resolution image sensor or the best low-light sensitivity on the market, but the things that made the E-3 so impressive still hold true for the E-5.

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