Olympus E-5: Video and Image Quality

by Jerry Jackson Reads (564)
Editor's Rating
7.75

TG Ratings Breakdown

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

Video Quality
The E-5 produces fluid, sharp video in AVI Motion JPEG format at 30fps with monaural sound, though stereo is possible with an optional external microphone. You can select to record video in HD at 1280×720 resolution (16:9 aspect ratio) or SD at 640×480 resolution (4:3 aspect ratio).

Image Quality
The E-5 produces images with excellent contrast, natural color and spot-on auto white balance under sunlight. Default sharpness is a little on the soft side, but you can increase the sharpening via the in-camera menu or you can sharpen after the fact in Photoshop. The E-5 can shoot RAW images for those who prefer to post-process every element of their images and want the additional exposure latitude that RAW offers. You can direct the camera to shoot two versions of the same image, one JPEG and one RAW.

The untrained eye will have difficulty spotting the difference between images captured with the E-5, the E-3, the E-30, and even the E-PL1. To put it plainly, Olympus image quality is good regardless of the specific megapixel count. As someone who often crops images before making large prints I’m always happy to get extra resolution, so the extra 2 megapixels of detail from the E-5 is a nice bonus compared to the E-3. Just keep in mind the “practical” difference between 10 megapixels and 12 megapixels is pretty small.

I noticed some problems with limited dynamic range due to overexposure in the highlight areas of high contrast scenes. However, I would have to say the E-5 is no better or worse in that regard than the E-3. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that you need to shoot in RAW to preserve highlight details if you’re shooting a high contrast scene (like a bride in a white wedding dress standing next to a groom wearing a black tuxedo).

The camera has white balance settings for auto, “lamp” (3000K), fluorescent (4000K), daylight (5300K), flash (5500K), cloudy (6000K), shade (7500K), underwater and preset white balance. The E-5’s auto white balance shines under sunlight and fluorescent light but still skews to the warm side under tungsten lighting.

Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

Olympus E-5 Sample Image
I-Enhance
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Vivid
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Natural
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Muted
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Portrait

As shown below, the E-5 produces sharp images with low noise and good color through 800 ISO. Fine details get softer and noisier at 1600 ISO and by 6400 ISO the fine details are essentially absent from the image. The E-5’s high ISO image quality certainly isn’t as impressive as similarly priced DSLR’s, but users accustomed to the high ISO images from the E-3 will be more than happy with the high ISO performance of the E-5.

Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 100
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 200
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 400
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 800
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 3200
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 6400
Olympus E-5 Sample Image
ISO 6400, 100% crop

Additional Sample Images

Olympus E-5 Sample Image Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Olympus E-5 Sample Image Olympus E-5 Sample Image
Olympus E-5 Sample Image Olympus E-5 Sample Image


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