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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.
147 helpful votes
148 helpful votes
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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.
review imagereview image
11 helpful votes
12 helpful votes
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on June 23, 2015
I had this camera on my watch list for a long time.
Once it came down to under $400, I grabbed it.
Now, it's under $350
So there's no excuse!
I love it!
It's my first non-Canon camera.
I have been with Canon since film, and thought I would try the new micro 4/3 cameras.
I love it!
We use this now when we go to park, beach, outings, it is perfect!
I will save up for better lens, spend the money on the lenses!

Got the white one
Makes me look different than everyone else shooting in the garden/parks.

Great photos
easy focus, almost instant
love the touch screen, can focus, shoot, adjust from that
I know, fancy dancy stuffs, who needs them?
I didn't think I would like it, but I do!

I will do side-by-side tests/comparisons with my good Canon one day, and will post, or update, this review.
I like that it's so small.
So light

Gregg Hutchings
Model Cars Magazine
Slot Cars Magazine
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on October 22, 2013
Bought this E-PL5 kit as a travel system for when I don't want the weight and size of a large DSLR and lenses. I used it over the past 3 weeks on vacation and am very happy with the results. Spent some time first going through every menu setting and I'm pleased with the level of configuration (though wish there was a way to save all my settings to the card so they could be reloaded following a reset). I don't think the menu system is any less intuitive or more complex than any DSLR I've owned--it just takes some time to learn. You can take it out of the box and shoot in iAuto mode but you're buying a very configurable camera body so you might as well learn how to set it up for your needs.

I like the ability to reconfigure rear buttons and create MySets and the Super Control Panel makes it fairly quick to change settings while shooting. I shoot mainly in A mode and it's easy to press the up/Exposure button to adjust the aperture and exposure compensation. I find the overall size of the body just about right. It feels rugged enough, I didn't baby it and it still looks and works like new after bouncing around in a day pack and on the floor of a rental car.

The kit 14-42mm lens is decent enough for general use. I also bought the Oly 40-150mm and VF-4 viewfinder with the idea of getting some wildlife photos on my trip (i.e. birds). I didn't expect the image quality and response of my Nikon D300 w/200-400mm f4, but for much less weight and size I managed to get some acceptable longer distance shots. Fast moving subjects are difficult though as focus tracking isn't DSLR-fast. I also bought the Oly 17mm f2.8 and used it when I wanted to carry the camera in my jacket pocket.

Overall I have an interchangeable lens system that gives me maybe 80% of what I can get out of my DSLR system (60% for long distance fast-moving subjects) at much less cost, size and weight. Everything is a trade-off and realizing that I'm very happy this purchase.
6 helpful votes
7 helpful votes
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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.
4 helpful votes
5 helpful votes
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on November 1, 2013
A great camera that shines with great primes like the Lumix G 20/1.7 or m.Zuiko 45/1.8
The flip-out screen is exceptionally useful (shooting from the hips), and it's perfectly useable in bright days adding to its' usefulness as a take anywhere camera
It has the same sensor as the OM-D E-M5 but doesn't have the EVF bulge making the E-PL5 pocketable especially with pancakes primes like the Lumix 14/2.5 or the 20/1.7

The shallow grip, coupled with the LCD screen taking a large portion of the back, makes handling the camera a bit difficult especially with larger hands and longer lenses like the m.Zuiko 60/2.8 Macro
I would definitely recommend buying the Olympus MCG-2 Large Grip to improve the camera's handling, especially if you're coming from older PENs like the E-PL2 which had great handling ergonomics

Definitely a great choice as a second m4/3 body or as a relatively affordable entry into mirrorless cameras that gives you the same image quality as the higher end models
5 helpful votes
6 helpful votes
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on April 13, 2015
Olympus uses Sony sensors, which are superior to Panasonic sensors. Although I dont like the user interface as much as the competing Panasonic models, the image quality from the Olympus is better, because of the superior sensors. This camera simply takes beautiful images, especially timed exposures at night. I ended up buying an assortment of lenses, the VF-4 viewfinder, and a second body. It took me a long time to get used to the interface, but it was worth the effort. Make sure you download the latest firmware update, it really does affect performance. It works well with all Panasonic micro four thirds lenses I have used. The Panasonic 100-300 is a superb birding lens with this camera, and very lightweight compared to alternatives. See the attached moon photo.
review image
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on August 29, 2013
I am just a regular person who loves taking pictures, and because I lost an older Pen camera I was in search of a new one. I love Olympus Cameras.
I looked around for several days and decided to buy this camera. I received it the other day charged it and went out to try it out .
It is fantastic. Quick quick shots, clear and sharp I am overwhelmed by the camera. There is a learning curve to it, but if you are just going to keep it in Auto mode it did an excellent job. I just love the back screen the way it tilts for you to be able to see what you are taking in the sun. It was a very sunny day out and you could see NOTHING. This helped out big time. like I said I am not a pro at all, but do understand certain basic things that I want to do. I also bought the Extreme 32 SanDisk which is probably helping out as well.
I did shoot a little in movie mode also, of a boat leaving the pier and again I just couldn't believe what I had taken, sharp clear and the noises from the birds over head was right on. It is expensive, but when you get a new camera and can take quality pictures right away is totally amazing. I think
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on December 4, 2013
This appears to be a significant update from previous generations of E-PL cameras. The sensor provides excellent resolution with reasonable noise, and is easy to use. Olympus' Pen system is a viable solution for those who are happy with their Olympus and Panadonic micro four thirds lenses but wish to periodically upgrade their camera bodies to take advantage of technology upgrades.

The E-PL5 offers in-body IS, but can be set to either use the IS in the lens or the body.

Even though the E-PL5 is menu driven in general, something like switching to manual focus can be done with the fn button.

While not APS-C in size, the sensor offers compact size with reasonable performance. Since the form factor is so small and the quality is far beyond point and shoot, I've been able to have this camera with me most of the time.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on June 8, 2013
I am a semi-professional photographer, and I recently used this camera in combination with the Olympus 14-150 on a private trip to New York. One of the intentions on this trip was to travel light, so rather than lugging around my Canon 5D MK III or 7D, all I took was the Olympus E-PL5, the 14-150 lens, and an external flash(which I didn't use). I really put this camera through it's paces testing all types of lighting situations, and the results are very impressive. I have printed some of the images at 20 x 16, and they look really sharp, and I have people wanting to purchase some of the printed images.

All of the images on this trip were shot hand held using a number of different ISO settings, with little noise.

In future, I will only take the Olympus E-PL5 on my personal trips, as I am fully confident the resulting images will be just as good as those from the NY trip.

I will also purchase the new Olympus E-P5 when it comes out at the end of the month.
5 helpful votes
6 helpful votes
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