The E-5's operational speed is very good in most respects. The camera starts up almost instantly (with a minor delay for the Supersonic Wave Filter of the Dust Reduction System to "shake" dust off the image sensor) and shot-to-shot speed is very quick. My only complaint with the overall speed of the E-5 is that there is no "quick delete" function to delete an image before it is completely written to the memory card. You have to wait for the image/images to be stored on the card before you can delete them.
Olympus claims the E-5 has the fastest phase detection AF system (with the Zuiko ED 12-60mm f2.8/f4.0 SWD ESP zoom) of any DSLR in the world. The quality of a camera's auto focus is a complex mix of speed, accuracy and sensitivity in various lighting environments. While I don't feel comfortable making the blanket statement that the E-5 has the fastest AF of any DSLR in the world, I can say that our lab tests show it currently has the fastest AF of any camera we've tested. The E-5 was able to obtain AF acquisition faster than the Nikon D300s, Canon EOS 7D or even the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV.
Our performance tables compare the E-5 with several potential competitors. As the tables indicate, the E-5 is tied for first with the Nikon D3S when it comes to shutter lag with pre-focus, at 0.01 seconds. Unfortunately, if there is a single weak point in the E-5's armor it has to be continuous shooting. The maximum frame rate of 5fps is pretty weak compared to the Nikon D300S, Nikon D3S or Sony Alpha SLT-A55V. Granted, the E-5's image buffer lets you capture 120 high quality JPEGs at that setting, but there isn't a sports shooter alive who wouldn't appreciate faster continuous shooting.
Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Canon Rebel T2i||0.02|
|Sony Alpha SLT-A55V||0.04|
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)
|Sony Alpha SLT-A55V||0.16|
|Canon Rebel T2i||0.18|
|Sony Alpha SLT-A55V||17||10.8 fps
|Nikon D3S||63||9.0 fps
|Olympus E-5||120||5.0 fps
|Canon Rebel T2i||170||3.7 fps
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
The E-5's BLM-5 lithium-ion rechargeable battery is rated by Olympus to last for 870 shots assuming you use the optical viewfinder to frame your shots and not the LCD. I captured approximately 400 images with the E-5 during the test period and never needed to recharge the battery once during the time I had the camera. Battery life is, of course, affected by the brightness level of the LCD monitor, how much you access the menus, how often you use the built-in flash, and how many minutes of video you shoot.
Olympus provided the Zuiko ED 12-60mm f2.8/f4.0 SWD ESP zoom lens that is widely acknowledged as being one of the best lenses in its class. I also used the Zuiko ED 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD from my own collection. Both lenses are optically excellent and benefit from the in-camera image stabilization of the E-5. Both lenses captured excellent pictures with edge-to-edge sharpness, minimal vignetting, no obvious chromatic aberration (fringing) and good contrast.
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