Olympus E-5 Review Summary
Olympus Evolt E-5 Assessment
The Olympus E-5 is an incremental update to the E-3
Olympus E-3. Externally, little has changed except for the new rotating 3" LCD which adds convenience at the expense of some durability due to a weak hinge. Internally though, much has been improved. The new 12 megapixels sensor with an apparently weaker anti-alias sensor and improved image processing noticeably improves image quality, showing good results and low image noise until ISO 1600. Metering and white-balance are top-notch, while colors can be rendered fairly naturally. An aggressive noise-reduction system can be turned off or at least lowered to reveal the E-5's respectable sharpness and retention of details.
An 11-point double-cross focusing system provides the most impressive performance of the E-5. While Olympus' claim of the fastest autofocus system cannot be verified it is believable. The AF system is quick, very sensitive and quite accurate, even down to relatively low light-levels. The same cannot be said of the contrast-detection system used in live-view which can take over 4 seconds to lock focus and makes quite a racket will doing so. The remainder of the camera's performance is generally fast except for the delay to review images which stands around 1½ seconds. Shot-to-shot speeds are below average for a high-end DSLR.
Ergonomically the Olympus E-5 is designed with some thought, putting all important controls on external buttons to avoid going through what must be one of the most twisted menu system among modern cameras. With gloves on, certain buttons, particularly EC, are a bit too flush and close together for comfort. In general though, after prolonged familiarity, using this DSLR should become fairly smooth. Our detailed review mentions other user-interface niggles but the only seriously problematic aspect is related to video shooting which borders on the unusable.
The Olympus E-5 is so feature rich that its only direct competitors are the Pentax K-5
Pentax K-5 and its older sibling the K-7
Pentax K-7. Those cameras are physically smaller and lighter while being more durable and even resistant to freezing temperatures. They also have the unique ability to prevent tilted photographs by rotating their sensors to compensate. Excluding image stabilization, the Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D300S
Nikon D300S can be added to the list of competitors. These cameras, like the K-5, have faster continuous drives with top speeds of 7 or 8 FPS. The Nikon D300S is particularly notable for its 51-point autofocus system which can precisely tracking moving subjects.
|Great image sharpness||Image review delay|
|Good control over image noise||Continuous drive speed drop at high ISO|
|Excellent metering accuracy||Pitch not visible in viewfinder|
|Superb automatic white-balance||Status screen does not turn off automatically|
|Sensitive focusing system||Live-view not always exposure-priority|
|Ultra-quick autofocus||EC button too recessed|
|Generally quite responsive||Difficult to use while wearing gloves|
|Very effective stabilization for all lenses||Noisy and very slow contrast-detect autofocus|
|Adjustable LCD color temperature||Overly complicated menu system|
|Plenty of external controls||Impossible to set up video framing|
|Highly customizable||Unusable capture during video recording|
|Generally excellent build quality||LCD hinge feels weak|
|Built-in viewfinder shutter|
Olympus E-5 Facts
|12 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-6400|
Sensor-Size: 17 x 13mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|2-Axis Built-in Stabilization||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|2 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Stereo audio input|
|5 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Secure Digital Extended Capacity|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels||Compact Flash|
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