Customer Reviews: Olympus E-PL5 16MP Mirrorless Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Body Only (White) (Old Model)
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Color: White|Style: Body Only|Configuration: Base|Change
Price:$373.86 - $1,269.91
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on March 31, 2013
I don't even know where to begin. I bought this camera to replace my Canon EOS 40D. Don't get me wrong, I loved that camera, but lugging it around got to be a pain in the neck. It was a heavy camera and with a Tamron 18-270mm attached to it, it was even heavier and clunkier. It was time to pare down. There were a lot of favorable on line reviews on the Olympus E-PL5, the Olympus OM-D E5, and the Sony NEX 6. And, all three are good cameras with excellent image quality. What won me over about the E-PL5 was its price and an excellent selection of lenses to choose from.

The first time I got my hands on it after unpacking it, it did feel small in my hands but it had a solid feel to it. I read a few reviews where people complained about how tiny the controls were but I was able to adapt to the layout and buttons just fine.

I don't know why Olympus put the power switch right next to the shutter. Until I got used to it, I did accidentally power off the camera a few times while taking a picture. What I like about the power button itself it that the top is illuminated when the camera is powered on.

There were a number of complaints from other reviewers about the menus. I didn't find them all that bad but they do take getting used to. The most useful piece of advice I came across was on another review of this camera that recommended enabling the Super Control Panel. For some reason Olympus doesn't use this as a default on either the E-PL5 or the OM-D E5. The Super Control Panel displays all your key settings such as ISO, white balance, auto focus, metering, etc. on the LCD screen. Since the LCD is touch-sensitive, you just tap the setting you want to change and then turn the dial to the desired settings.

Enabling the Super Control Panel requires the Custom Menu to be enabled, which Olympus doesn't do by default. To enable to Custom Menu: click the camera's Menu button and select Setup Menu (indicated by the wrench icon) > Menu Display > Custom menu display (indicated by the gears icon) > Yes. Now the custom menu is enabled. To enable the Super Control Panel, return to the camera's main menu and select Custom Menu > Utility > Control Settings > P/A/S/M > Live SCP.

OK, so what's it like to shoot with this? F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C! The image quality is stunning. It was on par with, if not better than my 40D. The image stabilization doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the one on the OM-D E5 does, but I have no complaints at all about it. It's perfectly fine.

The touch screen is wonderful. You have the option of shutting it off altogether, set it to-touch-to-focus only, or set it to-touch-to-focus + take the picture (no need to use the shutter). The latter option is great if you're trying to photograph pets or kids.

I bought the 14-42mm kit lens with it. It's an OK lens in that it gives me nice crisp images. But I miss the 18-270mm focal length that my old Tamron lens had. Olympus has a 14-150mm that I'm keeping an eye on and will probably purchase in the future. Along with the 14-42mm I also bought the Panasonic f/1.7.

I could care less about the video capability so I can't comment on that. I bought the camera to take still photos, not video.

The EPL-5 does not come with a pop-up flash. The flash is separate and you have to attach it to the camera if you absolutely need to use one. The flash comes bundled with the camera. There is no optical viewfinder on this camera, either. But, if you want to use one you can purchase one separately for about $160. It attaches to the same hotshoe that the flash attaches to. This can put you at a disadvantage if you want to use the flash at the same time.

The ability to swivel the LCD out so you can shoot from different angles is a super option! I'm shooting a lot from waist level and getting some nice results with it.

One word of caution: the camera is light. If you're shooting landscapes and it's windy, I suggest using a sturdy tripod with this camera to hold it steady. Because of how light it is, the wind will buffet it around considerably if you're shooting handheld.

The manual that came with the package is a basics only manual but you can get a PDF version of the full manual from the Olympus web site. I was able to download it to my iPhone so I can reference it any time.

I'm happy with my purchase and having a lighter load to carry with me.
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on November 10, 2012
I am a professional photographer (weddings, family portraits, commercial, modeling, graduation, etc) who recently sold every piece of my Nikon gear for the OMD EM-5. Best decision I ever made! No more back focus issues and I have never seen a camera shoot sharper. Image quality of the EM-5 has blown away my expectations. Enter the EPL-5... So far this camera has proven to be a smaller version of the EM-5. The image quality is just as stunning and the autofocus is still beyond amazing! So everyone is aware and if you are wondering if these cameras can compete with the big boys, I have shot weddings in very very dark locations and I have shot portraits in every type of landscape and condition. Professional quality in a small package that will change the way you shoot and really make you think more artistically like we did when we used film. I am an olympus fan for life and I never thought I would say this but the micro 4 3 technology has changed the way I work!
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on November 11, 2012
Note: This is my first "serious" camera, I am upgrading from a 6 year old point and shoot camera that is worse than what smartphones are capable of now. I have been following the rumor mill and researching the bleeding edge of all compact cameras for the past 6 months, I had no desire to buy an older camera and would probably be considered an early adopter when it comes to all electronics.

Just got the E-PL5 yesterday, ordered it as soon as it was available on Amazon for the "normal" price not the marked up price it was at initially, along with the kit 14-42mm lens, the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens and the Olympus FL-300R External Flash. These are my early first impressions.

- Excellent shooting menu system once you enable the "Super Control Panel" from within the settings. It is mentioned how to use it in the manual but not how to enable it, with some help from Google I was able to enable it. Enabling the Super Control Panel allows you to overlay ALL of your shooting settings while in a shooting mode with the press of the "OK" button, you can then select and edit any of these settings.

- Customizable software. Can disable, enable and reassign almost every button and function.

- Very well built camera body, feels solid in the hand. The tilt screen and the hinges are very well constructed. I also like the feel of the shutter button and the fact that it is separate from the on/off button.

- Combination of this camera, the included hot shoe flash and the external FL-300R flash (sold separately) provides a very inexpensive multi flash solution that is extremely simple to use.

- Good selection of compatible lenses. The combination of this camera body and the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens was a major selling point for me. Shooting feels instant, pictures, even in low light, are very sharp.

- The touch screen is very responsive, touch to focus, touch to focus/shoot modes work great.

- The kit 14-42mm lens all-around performance is terrible when compared to the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 Lens (sold separately). I realize the 45mm is a lot of additional money, but I would not recommend buying this camera if all you plan to use is the kit lens.

- This one is obvious, no built in flash. The included hot shoe flash works fine, but the overall package would be a lot more streamlined if the flash was built into the camera.

- The touch screen is smaller than I was expecting. When shooting 4:3 the black space on the 16:9 screen is still used to display your shooting settings, but the overall size of the screen is still very small.

- Included charger and charge cable is very large. For a package that has a main selling point of portability the size of these included accessories makes no sense. A simple flip out plug wall charger without a cable required would be great.

Conclusion: Love this camera, exceeded my expectations in every aspect.

Update 2012-11-23: Bought this camera from Amazon on 2012-11-01 for $699, it is now already $599! That is very annoying... why such a sudden significant price drop!?
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on January 11, 2013
I must say that this camera is amazing. I have been using a Nikon D7000 before this but I decided to reduce weight and went with the E-PL5, and I am not missing the D7000 at all. I used to find myself ditching the big chunky D7000 in most situations and always carrying around a pocketable point and shoot, unless I was going somewhere with breathtaking scenery. So this camera will actually replace two previous cameras I own (D7000 and my small point and shoot).

From what I have seen, this camera shoots images with very comparable quality to mid range DSLRs such as the one I had. The size and features of this thing are right on. The touch screen auto focus is a great feature. The camera does a really great job in low light settings. You can shoot with ISOs up to 3200 and still come out with very decent looking photographs. One thing I must point out though, if you are going to shoot in JPEG, make sure to switch to the Large FINE Quality JPEG setting when you get the camera. I don't know why on earth Olympus did this, but the default setting is Large NORMAL Quality JPEG.

I have used the 14-42mm II and 40-150mm R lenses with this camera and they are very good and sharp lenses, but the camera really excels with the amazing prime line up of lenses that Olympus and Panasonic offers. The image quality with these prime lenses are just amazing coming out of such a small body. I also have the 15mm Body Cap lens which is fun to use and makes the camera completely pocketable (which I will use for backpacking trips where I need to shave down on weight). Although this lens is a little soft around the edges, the image quality that it produced was surprisingly much better then I expected (similar quality to mid-to-high range point and shoots). For the attention grabbers out there, I have also had several people that have seen me take off the 15mm Body Cap lens and put on the 40-150mm for close ups and were so impressed that I was able to do that with such a small camera.

I was thinking between this and the Flagship OM-D. I am glad I decided to go with the E-PL5. I cannot justify the increased size/weight, and the price difference for getting a slightly better image stabilization system, weather-proofness, and a built in view finder. I actually like the option of being able to stick an external view finder on a very bright sunny day, and not having the carry it around when in low light. Just recently there have been direct comparisons of image quality, noise, and dynamic range between the E-PL5 and OM-D and the results so far, to everyones surprise, show that the E-PL5 actually excels slightly in all three categories (which is making the OM-D owners very angry). The explanation for this seems to be that the E-PL5 does not have a low-pass Filter (AA filter). So all in all, you would be paying double the price of the E-PL5 to get the OM-D for some features that do not make the image quality better which in my opinion is not worth it.

If you are thinking of getting a mid-range DSLR and/or high range point and shoot, then you should seriously consider this camera. Most importantly for me, my neck/shoulder does not hurt anymore without the expense of image quality after carrying this camera around all day.
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on December 10, 2014
Bought this in September. I did a lot of research (engineer by training) and this camera had the best combination of image quality, very good lens selection, and features for the money. I knew the tradeoffs going in. I would definitely like another top dial for EV adjustment. Using the dial wheel on back is not efficient. If I paid double for the body I could have gone for the OMD-M10. So if you have the money go that route. I don't miss the EVF since coming from iPhone use and like using the screen and touch to focus/shoot feature. But if I had the OMD I would maybe say that the EVF is a must have. You have to live with your choices.
What I like about E-PL5:
- Very compact with 45mm lens even more so with 14mm prime. Fits in coat pocket, perfect for street photography.
- Super fast focus, when I show people they are amazed, especially DSLR owners
- great bokeh
- high ISO I have taken street shots at night at 25,600 ISO and they are very usable.
- very solid build, shutter mechanism just feels right, clean look in silver.
- attached flash is secure and low profile so I leave it on all the time, good for fill light
- Get the hand strap like in my picture, believe me that way is quicker to shoot, easy to walk about without camera swinging into things
and comfortable. Ditch the neck strap. You can tighten the rubber/foam loop around your wrist and camera can't fall off. Maybe a Full Frame DSLR would be too heavy for this method, but the E-PL5 is light.
- face detection works great
- can show hilight/blacks over/under exposure colored areas in LCD before shot
- lots of bracketing modes and 1/3 EV steps
- has a specialized HDR-bracketing function of 7 frames at +- 2EV which is astounding. A 12EV range!!
- RAW files have info embedded, bring into LightRoom and already corrected almost like the jpeg. So why shoot jpeg at all. I don't.
- Very good dynamic range of RAW files.
- Full manual mode and manual focusing lens for studio work.
- 45mm has very high resolve power. Sharping in post can't add details that aren't captured in first place.
- Obviously I am a advocate for prime lens. Also one less thing to fiddle with. A zoom makes you lazy and you give up aperture and sharpness.

My goal was to get into the micro four thirds system cheaply and put the savings into prime lens.

Mission accomplished.
See a model portrait I took with this setup. I think this is a DSLR killer.
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on January 16, 2013
NOTE - This review is only relevant if video use is an important consideration for you.

Update: With any Olympus lens, video taken by this camera under handheld conditions will be severely compromised by a quivering "jelly" or "jello" effect when using the camera's In-Body digital Image Stabilization (IBIS). (see a link to a video example in the comments following this review)

However, two factors have together prompted me to increase my rating from 3 stars to 4, because this effect can be negated by using certain Panasonic lenses instead of Olympus lenses. Several Panasonic lenses have switchable lens OIS, meaning you can turn off the camera's IBIS and use the lens Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). In addition, I have discovered that in both the E-PM2 and E-PL5, Olympus has now added a menu item to allow IBIS to be turned off and lens OIS to be turned on (for lenses that have OIS) even if they lack an external OIS on/off switch. (All previous Olympus PEN M43 cameras do not have a method of turning lens OIS on unless the lens has an external swtich.)

This being the case, it is possible to use a wide variety of Panasonic lenses with this body and, using OIS, achieve top notch video results. Unfortunately, this means you must spend extra money to purchase OIS lenses, and it leaves some very fine Olympus lenses relegated to stills photography only, which is a shame.

Nonetheless, given that excellent video can be had with the proper lenses, I am increasing my rating to 4 stars from the original 3, as this is truly otherwise a camera that produces exceptional still images and video, with the right lens. If the camera's IBIS gave good video results with Olympus lenses, I would absolutely give this camera a 5-star rating.

Original 3-star review:
I have been scouring the web for reviews and evaluations of the video mode in the new E-PM2 and E-PL5 models, trying to ascertain if the new sensor that these cameras share with the OM-D has solved the wobbly "jelly" or "jello" effect that the E-PM1 and E-P3 exhibited, or whether Olympus has adjusted the digital image stabilization in videos to reduce or eliminate this effect.

I have not yet seen this issue addressed in any review of either of these cameras on Amazon, and so far all the reviews I've found on the web have been focused on the still photography functionality of these cameras.

Finally today I found this video comparing the Image Stabilization of the OM-D vs the E-PL5. (Note that the sensor and IS system of the E-PM2 is the same at the E-PL5, and the results shown here are the same if taken by the E-PM2.)
As you can see, Olympus has not solved the problem.

I hope this information is useful to those of you who, like me, are evaluating either of these cameras for video use.

Amazon doesn't allow links in their reviews, but you can find this video at web dot photodex dot com/view/ma2bw28
I will also post a link in the Comments of this review.
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on December 31, 2013
I have owned this camera for 6 months now, and I learn something new about its capabilities every week. Part of that discovery process is that I have never owned an interchangeable lens camera before (and had not gone much past the full auto mode on my point-and-shoot, either), but it is also due to the brilliance of the Olympus PEN series. Every effort to learn a new facet of photography has been richly rewarded by the results obtained from this camera, and has only encouraged me to take another step toward mastery. The full auto setting is great for well-lit applications and even some outdoor, low-light applications, but you will soon get familiar with the manual modes controlling aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. This is where you make the leap from pulling out a smart phone for extreme convenience (but never printing its images) to being intentional about capturing scenes that will be both aesthetically and personally pleasing. These controls make up the exposure triangle and are the photographer's medium for creativity and the tools for turning the eye's perception into the lasting image. In fact, the more you discover in photography, the more amazed you will be at the adaptability and complexity of your eyes and the processing power of the brain. What requires no effort for your brain to account for and perfect, the camera does require skill and speed to accomplish.

You can read the specs to find out a lot more, but my review is for people making the transition into higher quality cameras and the questions therein: I can print beautiful 16x20 images (probably larger, but haven't tried). With a pancake lens I can fit the camera into a cargo pocket for convenience, though it should not be considered a pocketable camera, as you will want to use your larger lenses often and have them close at hand for everything ranging from street scenes to landscape photography. The moveable screen is very helpful for taking self shots, low-to-the-ground shots, and high-in-the-air shots (I believe that the cheaper PEN cameras don't have this feature). The controls and menus are easily navigable, especially if your brain has not been wired to another brand already. You will NOT reach this camera's limit in the first year of owning it, and I am not sure you will reach it at all as long as cameras are still in use. Digital Photography School is my source for learning about photography, and I have yet to come across any lessons that require a larger (which is not usually better) or more expensive (which is never better) camera.

If the shots you hope to take are worth carrying a slightly heavier load, and if you would like to own a camera that you will not grow out of (though you will certainly want to add to it with various lenses and accessories over time), I can tell you that this camera has been well worth the price of admission. As far as I am concerned, it has DSLR quality with compact size and a compact price, and an excellent series of avialable lenses to boot.
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on November 23, 2012
Overall, this camera is pretty good package. I have EPL5 with Zuiko 12mm f2.0 for everyday shooting and Zuiko 45mm f 1.8 sometimes (amazingly sharp lens, best pictures it takes on ELP5).

Few thoughts and why i'm keeping this camera.
1) small camera, i can put it in my jacket's pocket.
2) excellent low light camera. I take a lot of indoor pictures of my family and with 12mm and 45mm, there is no need to flash most of the times + images are great.
3) Image stabilization is good. not excellent like OMD-E5 but still better than nothing (my D300). it actually takes very few blurry pictures in low light conditions, mainly due to person in motion rather than your hand shaking.
4) Amazing pictures with 45mm f 1.8,. The image quality just sold me. I never got this good sharper and detailed image quality with nikon D300 with 50mm f1.8. I'm not a pro, I wanted good image quality so opted for DSLR, but this gives you DSLR quality images or better than my D300 in my opinion.
5) Very wide and fast focusing with 12mm for videos. i like to take videos too and this camera takes good 1080p video. I do see a bit of pixelization in high motion mov. AVI is just 720p and is much smoother quality but larger file. Overall, I'm not blown away by video but not disappointed either. I was disappointed with OMD-E5's focusing so i returned it for EPL5. I'm not sure why focusing is slower OMD-E5 otherwise OMD beats EPL5 hands down.
6) Has one dial for changing shooting modes. I prefer atleast two to change aperature or shutter speed faster. You can still do it but it's a 2 step process in EPL5.
7) tough screen to take a snap is useful at times. you can pick the point where you want to focus and take a picture. I found it useful than replying on camera at times.
8) battery is great. I took 387 pictures and dozen of movie. Camera still has plenty of battery. Battery charger is old school chord & it sucks but not a big deal.
9) Flash attachment is ok, not great. It's not too powerful and you cannot bounce. With f2.0 and f 1.8 i haven't taken too many pics with flash, since room light is enough. i might buy external flash later on.
10) Tilt able screen is good if you wan to bring the camera down to a kid's level and bring the screen at 90 degree to take a shots. I use it a lot.
11) There are bunch of built in effect. I like some of them but these are personal choice.
12) I'm just taking Jpegs since RAW shows as not supported in Aperature.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with this camera and considering selling my D300.
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on February 11, 2014
- at least for this pleasure-photographer and family snap taker...

The price/feature/quality/size compromise on this camera is in a sweet spot. I've played with the OMDs but they're just too big and too expensive. I'd love the Pen, but it's too expensive, and larger.

The kit zoom is little more than a token; it kills a lot of this camera has over a point-and-shoot. More satisfying is a selection of primes (I love the Pana 20mm pancake and Oly 45mm). Then the image stabilization is crucial -- something most of the Panasonic µ4/3 don't have.

The flip screen is also a killer feature for taking unobtrusive photos from a good angle. I don't miss a viewfinder, and find it easier to frame an image on the screen.

I love the Oly colors, since I would rather not have to mess with RAW (why I never loved my previous Panasonic µ4/3s). The dynamic range and rich, velvety output is very satisfying. I've been into photography, film and digital, for decades and this camera, with prime lenses, is the most rewarding and fun camera I've had.

Lost star: The wheel control on mine jumps around, making it very hard to control. Allegedly a firmware update might improve this, though I'm skeptical since it seems electrical, but I can't load it because I don't have a Windows or OS X computer. It also has declared two SD cards write protected when they aren't, and refused to use them until I reformatted them on my computer (which could read them fine).

Also, the interface is unnecessarily confusing, until you find your way into the menus to turn on the SCP (Super Control Panel). Then it's very good and should be on by default. I'd love a decent control wheel rather than the one around the four way controller. It's ok though, just not ideal. They have to justify the hundreds more the PEN and OMDs cost.
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on June 6, 2013
Great camera for photography. Good build quality. Flip screen is handy. Would prefer more physical controls but manufacturers tend to reserve those for their more expensive models.

As for video, the codec is mediocre (no 60p or 24p, meager 20Mbps bit-rate). It's passable, but will pose a real pain if you try to get into movie making. Don't think you will? I didn't either. But film is such a powerful medium today and the tools are becoming so inexpensive, that you too may soon find yourself wanting to try your hand at it (just like you found yourself one day going for an interchangeable lens camera). Then you'll wonder why Olympus hampers such powerful hardware with such comparably weak video options.

Amazingly, it's not just the E-PL5 that offers lackluster video options, the same goes for the rest of the Olympus line including the OM-D (and even the up-coming E-P5!) Don't hold your breath for a firmware update either. Olympus customer care told me they have no plans to improve video performance via firmware.

Superb *photo* camera. I just wish Olympus would unleash the video performance of their hardware instead of crippling it with such wimpy codecs.
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