If I were in the market for a mirrorless, interchangeable lens compact digital and was not wedded to any particular manufacturer or system, the E-M5 would probably be it. Of all the other cameras in this class that I’ve already reviewed, I like this one the best. First and foremost, I love the viewfinder – now that reading glasses are a way of life, capturing images with a camera monitor is a pain the E-M5 lets me do without. The optional HLD-6 battery holder/grip pretty much negates the compact size advantage enjoyed by mirrorless interchangeables over the DSLR, but makes the E-M5 a much nicer handling camera.
Shutter response is quick and autofocus acquisition time is as well. One touch HD video capture, a wide variety of camera features and settings to please the most finicky shooter along with full auto settings for everybody else gives this camera the potential to attract a wide user audience. The 2x crop factor produced by the sensor size is a boon for folks who tend to shoot telephoto lenses while at the same time a hindrance for those who see in wide-angle. The camera is DSLR-like in its ability to allow the user to shift shooting settings in short order as circumstances warrant. High ISO noise performance is competitive with the best APS-C sensor cameras at present.
The price of admission is steep – a body-only will run you $1000 (assuming you can find one, which is a good trick at present). Drop $1300 for a kit like our review unit and add another $300 for the nifty grip and there’s any number of DSLRs that could be had as well. The E-M5 doesn’t start as quickly as a DSLR and doesn’t offer continuous autofocus at its high-speed continuous shooting rate, so while you probably won’t see anybody from Sports Illustrated shooting one on the sidelines, just about anybody else will probably find there is not much this newest little Olympus can’t do.
- Good image and video quality
- Good shutter lag and AF acquisition time
- DSLR-like feature set
- Sub DSLR-like size in basic configuration
- 2x crop factor favors telephoto lenses
- 2x crop factor does not favor wide angle users