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on April 24, 2012
I've been invested in the m43 format since the launch of the E-P1 in summer 2009, successively moving up to the E-PL2, E-P3 and now the OM-D E-M5. Features have been added and the cameras tweaked with each generation, and it's safe to say that Olympus have produced their best m43 camera yet in the E-M5. But there is a lot of competition out there, and the robust E-M5 with built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) may not be the best option for everyone. Let me walk you through my experience using the camera having upgraded from past models. (Note I'm based in Japan, which is why I have the camera early).

[Size and Weight]

My initial reason for choosing the mirrorless m43 (micro four thirds) format was a desire to have a high quality imaging sensor inside a compact camera body. I did not want to carry around the bulk and weight of a DSLR camera, but was tired of the poor performance from point and shoot cameras, especially in low light. The Olympus PEN series met my needs perfectly in this respect, and have retained their small form factor throughout the range, despite consistently improving and adding features.

The E-M5 is no exception - it is the same width as the E-P3, with a little extra height because of the EVF on top of the camera and 50g heavier, weighing in at 425g with battery. In pictures online, it can look rather large, but after holding the camera in my hands, it became clear just how small it really is. The E-M5 is certainly not a pocket camera (although it will fit into large coat pockets), but the form-factor and equally small, lightweight m43 lenses mean it is an excellent choice for hiking and travelling, especially if you value its robust body and weather sealing.

[Build Quality]

The E-M5 boasts a tough magnesium alloy shell and weather sealing. Videos posted online showing the camera having water poured on it and shooting out in the rain are testament to its high quality construction, although do note that `splash-proof' is not `water-proof'. You probably shouldn't submerge the camera in water, and note too, that you'll need weather-sealed lenses to fully utilise the benefits (as of today, only the 12-50mm kit lens is weather-sealed, with a 60mm weather-sealed macro lens on the way).

The camera has a lovely heft to it when held in the hand and suitably good grip - certainly heavier than most point and shoot cameras, but lighter than most DSLR cameras. In contrast to the PEN cameras, the E-M5 has a slightly protruding thumb `hook' on the back that really aids stability, as well as a nice grip (with the option of an external grip and additional battery holder available separately to help when using larger lenses).


The biggest departure from the previous PEN models is undoubtedly the bult-in EVF and two dials on top of the camera. The EVF is similar to the VF-2 that Olympus sold separately to complement the PEN cameras and provides a bright and useful display. For users who like viewfinders, this is a long-awaited addition and most people will not be disappointed. The 100% field-of-view 1.15x EVF is, as current technology goes, one of the best (although the magnification is not as good as the GH-2 EVF with 1.42x, providing a larger image).

The two dials on top of the camera allow access to various functions, but most people will use them to change the aperture, shutter and exposure compensation. You can also assign functions such as manual mode or focus zoom to one of 3 function buttons on the camera. The rear control pad is also customisable, meaning it is finally possible to access all of the main settings without having to dive into the detailed menu system.

One of the most pleasing things for me was finally being able to use the camera while wearing gloves (something I could not do easily with the previous PEN cameras). Although it can still be difficult to use the rear control pad while wearing gloves, the main settings assigned to the dials and function buttons are easily useable. Another little tweak that I love is the offset tripod mount (to accommodate for the additional grip the E-M5 is able to use). This means that I can now change the battery while the camera is mounted to a tripod plate. Thumbs up!

The 9fps shooting speed mentioned is without AF and IBIS turned on, but it's certainly a welcome addition over previous PEN models. I've used it for bracketing shots when creating HDR photos. You can shoot a maximum of 7 photos in bracketing mode to capture the dynamic range of the scene and then combine them later in software. Using the 9fps speed, this is done in an instant, and it may even make handheld HDR bracketing possible. It's also worth noting that the E-M5 is compatible with 3rd party intervalometers such as the JJC TM-J that support the Olympus RM-UC1 remote to do timelapse shooting.

[Autofocus Speed]

The m43 cameras have made incredible progress in improving autofocus speed since their initial launch and are far better than the sluggish focus of the original E-P1. Previous Panasonic cameras like the GH-2 held the crown, but in the latest generation of PEN cameras and with the new OM-D line, autofocus speed matches the Panasonic models and even surpasses it in some tests. The bottom line is that the E-M5 can hold its own against consumer DSLRs in autofocus speeds, with perhaps two caveats: 1) that AF slows down in low light and 2) that AF tracking when shooting sports is still not quite as good as DSLR rivals. That said, the E-M5 has some big improvements in this area, and can quite reasonably track moving objects while shooting at a respectable 4fps.

[Sensor and Noise Performance]

One of the bigger criticisms of the E-P3 and other PEN cameras was the ageing 12MP sensor inside the camera. While it was still perfectly good for shooting at lower ISOs, its performance suffered when moving up, especially beyond ISO1600. The Panasonic GH-2 arguably had the best noise performance of a m43 camera up until now, but the E-M5 can be said to claim this crown. A new 16MP sensor inside the camera offers about 1 - 1.5 'stops' of improvement in noise performance. Basically this means that if you thought ISO1600 on the previous PEN cameras was acceptable, you will likely be happy with ISO3200 on the E-M5.

As usual, Olympus offer lovely Jpegs with gorgeous colours straight out of the camera for users who do not like to post-process their images in software. But for users who do, the Raw files offer more flexibility and noticeably increased dynamic range over previous PEN cameras (also about 1 - 1.5 'stops' improvement), allowing highlights and shadows to be pulled back. Practically speaking this means less white skies and richer colours! Noise is also very well controlled and easily reduced in software afterwards.

[In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS)]

The image stabilisation built into the camera body is, in my opinion, one of the strongest reasons for considering the PEN line or OM-D line over other mirrorless cameras like the Sony NEX series or Panasonic cameras. The previous IBIS system built into the PEN cameras was already good, but Olympus have found a way to improve it even further. Marketing tells us it's a 5-axis IBIS system that constantly stabilises the sensor, and indeed it does. You can see it kick in as the sensor moves into position when you power on the camera.

The biggest area this offers improvement in is the video mode (although naturally, still shots also benefit). The E-P3 was notorious for its rolling shutter and jellylike wobble when it received even the slightest bump. The E-M5 and its new IBIS system completely removes this wobble and significantly reduces the rolling shutter effect. What this means is that you can take very smooth videos handheld, so much so that you might even have been mistaken for using a steadicam in some cases. It isn't a substitute for a steadicam however, and walking with the camera will still introduce a minor amount of image `shifting' as the sensor compensates for the movement. But handheld panning and careful walking with the camera is as smooth as could be.


One of the most interesting and pleasing features of my E-P3 was the capacitive touchscreen. Perfectly implemented with just 3 `modes' - off, on to focus, or on to focus and take picture. Some might view this feature as a gimmick, but I found it exceptionally useful. Rather than focus and recompose the shot like in traditional cameras, you can simply compose your shot and lightly touch the screen to focus on your desired area and take the shot. I found it very useful for macro work, as well as general shooting when out with friends. The E-M5 continues this feature, and the beautiful OLED screen works like a charm.

[Lens Selection]

Another reason I chose the m43 format (supported by Olympus and Panasonic, as well as other 3rd party makers) over competing cameras such as the Sony NEX series is the large selection of lenses available. This still continues to be the case. Using a bright prime lens such as the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 and coupled with the improved high ISO noise performance, I find the E-M5 to be formidable in low light. (If you are on a budget, consider the equally-excellent Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens or Olympus 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens).

It obviously will not match a full frame sensor's performance, but the difference between the E-M5 sensor and the larger APS-C sized sensors like the one in the Sony NEX series is very small. A larger sensor means better noise performance (cleaner pictures), but a smaller sensor means smaller and lighter-weight lenses can be made for the camera. All things considered, I find the m43 system to provide the best balance between all these factors, with the E-M5 and GH-2 providing the best sensor performance among m43 cameras.


I do not have any serious criticisms of the camera, but rather a few niggling complaints that I will list below.

- The camera makes a low fan-like/humming noise when switched on that is audible in quiet environments. This is normal and a result of the always-on new IBIS system. Most users will not be able to hear it in regular shooting. Also note that the noise is lowered and essentially gone when in video mode, meaning it does not affect video. However, it is worth noting as many will be surprised when first turning the camera on and it may prove annoying for some people who shoot often in quiet environments.

- The position of the viewfinder and small size of the camera mean that for left-eyed shooters, you may find your nose slightly squashed against your thumb when holding the camera. If concerned about this, it would be best to check at a store first. I found using my right eye avoided this problem.

- No built-in flash. Although an extra mini flash unit is provided in the box, users who value having a flash built into the camera body may be disappointed. I used to value this feature until I realised I rarely use the built-in flash at all (and quite often it isn't powerful enough to improve pictures). For those occasions where I need a flash however, I can take the little flash unit with me.

- New battery. The battery used is not the same as previous PEN cameras, meaning you'll need to buy replacement batteries (I take 2 spares on a heavy day's shoot). Olympus are usually good with this though, and I think we can expect the new battery will be used across the OM-D line in future models.

- High cost and lots of customisability. This isn't really a negative so much as a realistic assessment. For many point and shoot upgraders, the E-M5 may be more than you need. Indeed, the camera is larger than other PEN models and offers lots of flexibility to customise controls (meaning the menus are suitably packed with features). Although you can just use the camera in P or iAuto mode, you can find much cheaper PEN cameras that will still offer great image quality in a smaller package. For those who want the best possible image quality and value the EVF and extra controls, the E-M5 will not disappoint.

[Final Thoughts]

I've never owned a m43 Panasonic camera myself, so it would be unfair of me to compare the E-M5 to the GH-2 (its nearest competitor), but for the image quality I've seen online, the two cameras are close, with the edge for the E-M5. You may also find the Panasonic G-3 a cheaper alternative that offers competitive image quality. Similarly, the Sony NEX cameras such as the NEX-5N and the Fuji XPro1 will give you better image quality than m43 cameras, but at the expense of a wide-ranging and small lens selection and at the expense of functionality.

There isn't a great deal I'm left wanting from the E-M5. Perhaps faster AF tracking for sports and full speed AF support for older 43 lenses when used with an adapter (there does not seem to have been much improvement here between the E-P3 and E-M5). Also, 1/8000 second max shutter speed and ISO 100 (the range begins at ISO200, like previous PEN models) would be welcome. A mic-out port for monitoring video using external headphones and 24p mode would also be nice.

It will be exciting to see what Olympus can innovate next to improve upon the camera. But for the time being, I feel happy awarding it 5 stars when compared to other cameras within the same class. If you feel the niggling faults are serious however, feel free to subtract one.
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Heavy and small it's a serious camera but for long term shooting I prefer Canon dslrs. It's just too small and heavy for me to hand hold all day. This camera is better for food shooting with a tripod or ANYTHING on a tripod. I bought it for the ability to use legacy lenses (manual only) with the in camera image stabilization. I threw on a Rikenon 55 mm f1.4 which worked well on my Canon with no stabilization and got slightly blurry images. As fast as that lens is I couldn't understand the blur. Then I tried an f4 80-200 zoom. Way bad no matter how I propped myself. I checked the image stabilization setting and found the lens focal length setting hidden "behind" it. It was set to a 50mm focal length. oops. I then ran my zoom out to 200mm set the camera for 200mm and got good solid images. Which means you really can't use legacy zoom lens only primes. Fine with me I have a 200, 85 105 and 135 prime so all those bases are covered. I then set the camera to the 55mm focal length and the Rikenon delivered the images I expected. I have a Hexanon 57mm f1.4 but there is no option for that focal length so on the Canon it stays. Very good image quality and the image stabilization delivers.
EDIT: Added a photo of a news chopper shot handheld with a 400mm Spiratone Sharpshooter... Just pointed straight up and pulled the trigger... The image stabilization worked beautifully...
review image
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I wanted to give the OMD-EM5 a five star rating because of its quality construction, high image quality and the significant number of custom adjustments that pros will love. I have deducted 1 stars because I like the camera but don't love it for many reasons. Why did I buy this camera? I am not a PRO but I do appreciate the feature set found on better cameras. This model has so many features and settings that it is a huge mountain to climb for the nonprofessional photographer. The more I use it the more I appreciate the great functionality. The camera has come down in price with the introduction of the M1 and M10 and it now is a great value for what it offers. I bought the Panasonic 14-140 M4/3 Lens which works perfectly and a great match with the M5.

What's great about this camera?

1. Very good image quality with the 12-50 mm kit lens. Perfect range 24-100 eq 35mm eq also weather proofed.
2. Quality construction that is weather resistant and dust resistant
3. Almost unlimited set of adjustments and custom settings
4. Good quality EVF with display of lots of information. Works great indoors and outdoors.
5. Custom image 5 axis stabilization with 3 settings work with any lens
6. Two custom adjustment wheels on top. Terrific feature and works very well.
7. Function buttons capable of many different settings
8. Easy to hold and light weight compared to similar dSLR, some feel it needs added grip. It works for me as is.
9. Very good image quality at higher ISO settings and lower noise that you might expect
10. Easy to access reset control to reset to factory settings. Most used feature in the beginning
11. Touch screen quick setting panel on OLED. This work superbly.
12. Very Easy setting the focus point with the arrow keypad
13. Ia setting works well and unlike other cameras has wide range of adjustments. More than some cameras with the P setting.
14. Remote flash control possible with separate flash unit.
15 Many other great features that you need to see to believe.

What's not so great with the OMD EM5

1. Extremely complex camera to learn to use with a long and steep learning curve at least for me..
2. ISO starts at 200 and will not calibrate with actual ISO, will not match real ISO. New V2 update starts at 100
3. Higher start ISO at 200 makes some bright outdoor images require a ND filter
4. Video missing avchd and limited video choices. It's just OK but does work well.
5. Button feeling and placement not great. Small buttons have squishy feel. They work OK
6. Battery life is limited and a typical day shoot requires a second battery. 300 plus images.
7. No internal flash built-in, need to use small accessory flash supplied with camera. Inconvenient....M10 includes flash
8. OLED is only slightly adjustable and difficult to see in daylight. Need to use the EVF outside.
9. Limited OLED use when trying to view images taken through the EVF. Image appears in EVF Awkward setting.
10. OLED cannot be turned around and covered.
11. The complexity and wide range of information showed can interfere with viewing the image captured
12. Some settings and adjustments seem counter intuitive
13. Some settings which should come standard are buried deep in the menus.

So who would most enjoy owning and using this camera?

1 Former owners of Olympus film cameras or digital cameras.
2 Professionals who love the ability to make custom settings and ultimately lots of setting adjustments.
3 Photographers who mostly want images and a few videos. Pros who are tired of carrying their very heavy pro dSLR gear for light shoots or travel.
4 Anyone who has a large collection of older prime lens and wants to use them again. The image stabilization works will all lenses but require manual focus and manual aperture setting. They do work with proper adaptors.

Who should avoid buying this camera.

1. Non-experts and anyone who mostly uses P or ia settings on their current camera. The sheer complexity of this camera may interfere with your joy of Photography.
2. Anyone who doesn't need M10 is a better choice for you.

I've owned many cameras and have taken thousands of images for many years and it wasn't until I bought this camera that I discovered just how little I knew about the complex issues involving the capture of truly great images. This camera allows a huge range of adjustments that are not available in the typical consumer rebel like camera. That is why this camera would appeal to the pro and advanced amateur. This camera is a world class camera for a pro and advanced amateur but a mistake for most of us who want an easy to use but customizable camera. I do like the camera and I am warming up to it each time I use it but it will take a long time before I love it.
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My background.... I am a part time professional photographer and I own a range of canon cameras and lenses. I still use the canon for my work photography most of the time, but I am starting to use this olympus more and more.

Let me start by saying that I absolutely love this little camera. I clicked the "buy it now" button the moment it first appeared on amazon. I waited several months for the backorders to clear and I've now owned it close to a year. I have absolutely no regrets. As odd as this may sound, this camera makes me happy. Whenever I use it I imagine I have a dopey grin on my face.

Initially I fought with this olympus to get sharp shots. If, like me, you are coming from a DSLR camera, you might have some difficulty adjusting to the balance of the camera. It is very light (which is one of the great things about it) but that means that it is a bit more prone to camera shake if you don't have it on a tripod and if, like me, you don't have rock steady hands. I stuck with the camera through my initial frustration and I'm so glad I did. I learned my own best way of holding it in order to keep it steady.

If you are thinking of buying this camera I think its important to hear some thoughts on what it can and cannot do. There are already so many good solid reviews here on amazon that I am only going to hit the high and low points as I see them. These might not be the same highs and lows that everyone else has so just keep in mind that these points are my OPINIONS.


- WEIGHT/SIZE Light as a feather and beautifully constructed. I can carry this camera in a small bag with 2 or 3 or 4 lenses all day and not feel any strain. I used to carry a camera with one lens with me EVERYWHERE, but after several years the dslr around my neck or on my shoulder started to take a heavy physical toll. Now I can go back to having a camera with me at all times.

- IMAGE QUALITY can be outstanding. I have taken some stunning photos with this thing. Punchy colors, Creamy bokehs. Good photos taken with this thing rival good photos taken with any DSLR. The olympus 45mm f1.8 lens is a relatively inexpensive thing of beauty.

- MENU SYSTEM. The super control panel is, hands down, one of the best and most intuitive menu systems I've ever used on a camera. Changing settings is effortless and takes only seconds to accomplish. You might not think this is all that important, but when you need to get your shot, you will be endlessly grateful for this brilliant super control panel. I've gotten shots with this camera that I wouldn't have gotten with my higher end DSLRs because I would have been fidgiting with the settings and the moment would have passed.

- FOCUSING Super quick focusing and enough focus points to keep anyone happy. With the grid system they use in this camera it is absolutely effortless to switch focus points. The touch screen is amazing. Touch any place on the LCD and the camera can instantly focus on that spot and take the shot before you can blink. I know the iphone can do this but it is my first experience with that touch focus. Focusing is accurate. Gone are the days of shutter lag. Reviewers more scientific than I am can tell you relative to other cameras whether the focusing is faster or slower, but for my purposes it is fast enough and tremendously accurate.

- UNOBTRUSIVE This might not be an issue for some people but for me it is. When I pull out a DSLR to take a shot it can draw a lot of unwanted attention particularly if I have a large lens attached. If I am photographing an outdoor event with a long white canon L lens, inevitably several people will come up to me to discuss just how big my lens is. So, this camera really doesn't attract attention to itself. I can get the photos I need to get without making folks self conscious and without ending up in long discussions about the length of my equipment. Seriously, unobtrusive is a good thing.

- this is a matter of personal taste, but I find this camera to be a thing of beauty

- this little camera just puts the fun back into photography. I can't say that enough. Fun Fun Fun. I love taking pictures.


- HIGHER ISOs - I have several friends who are very good or excellent photographers who also own this camera and we debate this point heavily. I have not found this camera to be reliably noise free at ISO 800 or higher. My feeling is that you need to shoot wide open in darker settings and if your lens doesn't open up wider than f4, I think you will struggle with noisy shadow detail. That said, I have gotten some beautifully low noise images at ISO 800 or even 1600 when I use f2 and even with f8. I should say for the record that I do like some noise in my images at times particularly if I am going to convert them to black and white. But not all noise is created equal and I just don't like some of the noise visible in the backgrounds or shadow detail with this camera at higher ISO. Many of my friends disagree with me completely so this is up for grabs

TRACKING OF MOVING OBJECTS - I photograph active dogs a great deal and so far I have not been successful in using the focus tracking of this camera to get good shots. In fact, I am terrible with it. But I have seen shots from other photographers which are very good at this. I don't know what their secret is. I am guessing the majority of people will have problems with this the way I do and there are probably a handful of folks who can nail the focus tracking. So many reviews site it as a weak point of the camera so if sports is your thing and tracking moving subjects is your thing, this is not the camera for you. But lets put it in perspective... if you want to capture your baby's first steps or your childrens' antics, this camera would be quite capable.


Did I mention this camera put the fun back in photography for me? I can't stress that enough. If you are an experienced photographer coming from a dslr you may be frustrated at first and you may not relinquish all of your photo chores to this puppy. I still do not trust it quite enough to bring it as my only camera for very important photo shoots. Or maybe the camera is trustworthy but I don't trust myself quite enough to coax the best out of it every time. If you are coming from a point and shoot you will be in camera heaven. Make sure you get yourself a couple of really good lenses to cover a range of situations. I can't stress enough how gorgeous that 45 mm f1.8 is. The 12-50 kit lens isn't half bad either. I also own the panasonic 45-200 lens. For the money, you can't beat it and I use it often, but there are better longer range lenses out there.

So why not 5 stars? I was tempted to give it 5 stars but I try to save those 5 star reviews for near perfect items. The grainier high ISO shots and the so so focus tracking keep me from pushing in that fifth star.

I get asked about this camera all the time and I lend it out often to prospective buyers. I am thinking of putting up an OMD-EM5 gallery on my website so people can see shots at different ISOs taken with different lenses. If it turns out that there is enough interest, I'll probably put the gallery up and I will edit this review if I do.

If you do get this camera, ENJOY and HAVE FUN!
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on August 5, 2016
This is my workhorse camera. I use for professional and personal work. It is small enough to fit in a backpack or messenger bag with a lens. The images I've been able to get is truly incredible. Low light is good to alright. Image stabilization is like magic. I've been able to pull some really good hand held shots that I would have never tried before. The build quality has held up over the last couple of years. I've dropped this camera more time than I would like to admit. My only issue with camera is sometimes it has a hard time focusing. I've had it happen with plenty of light, low light or in movie mode. If you are planning of taking a ton of video I would pass on this camera. The video mode is almost like an afterthought. There really aren't any manual controls you can do and you have to buy an add on to record with a 3.5mm line in mic.

Overall I really like this camera. If you are looking to get into you first micro four thirds camera this could be a good starter.
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on June 10, 2012
First, my self-deprecating axiom: "I'm not a real photographer, but I play one in my mind".


I've had the OM-D E-M5 for a week now, and I definitely dig it. I've been running through a few non-scientific but real world tests (for my kind of shooting) to compare against my two PEN Olympus cameras (E-P1 and E-PM1) and the Nikon D7000:

- Image Quality: I can't really see a discernible difference between the E-M5 and the D7000, which is to say excellent IQ on both most I can see a difference in white balance, but as that's easily managed in Lightroom for me, it's not an issue either way.

- High ISO/Low Noise: The high ISO noise between the E-M5 and the D7000 is very comparable...more of a slight difference in grain pattern/illumination of noise which again is manageable through Lightroom (huge improvement over the PEN cameras). I tend to shoot in ISO1600 with the E-M5 for most indoors/low-light situations, which is something I would never do with the PENs due to the amount of noise they would produce at that setting, and I still get very clean sharp images (again, very comparable to my D7000 to my eyes).

- Dynamic Range: There's a lot of information stored in the RAW files of the E-M5, and using Lightroom 4.1 I'm able to pull out all kinds of detail in shadows and highlights (plus the E-M5 has a built in shadow/highlight manual adjustment that displays on the screen if you want to tweak it in camera in real time)

- Image Stabilization: This is kicker right here; I'm able to take very clear and sharp images handheld at down to 2/10ths of a second (virtually impossible on the D7000 even with image stabilized lenses like my Tamron 70-300mm). The 5-axis IBIS system allows sharp shooting in lower light/lower ISO than would normally be feasible with my PEN or Nikon cameras (the camera has definitely lived up to the "hype" of the new IBIS in my opinion).

- Low Light: Again, this is a huge improvement over the PEN cameras. I've tested very low light shots comparably between both the D7000 (with 35 f1.8 lens) and E-M5 (with 20 f1.7 lens) and I haven't found any situation yet where the E-M5 does not function at least as well of the D7000 in terms of noise produced when bumping up the ISO (both tested using ISO1600) and detail retention in the shadowed areas (the E-M5 was actually sharper due to the 5-Axis IBIS keeping the camera steadier than the D7000 as I conducted the tests hand-held). The PEN cameras at ISO1600, while not terrible per se, produce more noise than I like which is why I would always use the D7000 in low-light situations previously.

- Weather Sealed: Something that the D7000 or PENs do not have the capability of doing is shooting in a full rain storm without worrying about damage to the camera. I took the E-M5 out in a rain storm as a test, and using the 12-50mm kit lens (which is also weather sealed), I was able to take very nice shots (again, pretty much a typical kit f/3.5 lens) with the camera completely soaked and had no worries or issues.

- Touch Screen focus/shooting: The tiltable touch-screen will focus (virtually instantly almost every time) and take a shot using the focus point of where you've touched (this can be turned off right from the screen as well if you don't want or need the function). The tiltable screen works great for taking waist-level shots to get awesome candids (I took several of my niece the other day this way since she usually goes all shy if she discerns you're taking a picture of her).

I haven't found anything I dislike about the camera at this point, and as far as I can tell, the E-M5 is just as functional as the D7000 but much smaller and lighter. Manually focusing with my adapted Nikon lenses (this was how I performed several tests between the PEN, the E-M5, and the D7000) works very nicely due to the built-in EVF and selectable magnification to get precise focus. The 9-frames per second burst rate is damn impressive (would work very well for creating animated GIFs with all the frames). The "Live Bulb" is pretty amazing where you can take a long exposure shot and view it "developing" in real time so you can stop the exposure when you see it reach the point you want.

I've yet to test the AF-C mode, and from what I've read it's still not quite as good as a DSLR can produce, but it's still supposed to be the best M43 camera (and one of the best mirror-less cameras) for this functionality...but I rarely, if ever, use this functionality on my Nikon (always use AF-S mode/center focus point), so personally this isn't an issue.

I've only minimally tested the 1080p/30 video capabilities of the E-M5 as video is something I don't use very often, but comparing video I have shot with the E-M5 and my Nikon D7000, they both appear to be very comparable. The IBIS of the E-M5 seems to do a very nice job of stabilizing the video, and there is a considerable improvement over the PENs on the "jell-o" effect of video when moving the camera rapidly side-to-side.

Bottom line: camera rocks, works as advertised, and definitely vies to be my all-time/always with/all situations camera (my Nikon D7000/Tamron 70-30mm still currently edges out the E-M5 for auto-focused long range telephoto since I only have the 14-42mm and 12-50mm lenses as native M43 telephoto options).
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on May 8, 2013
Years ago I bought Canon the FD system three bodies and a lot of prime lenses. Then Canon came out with the EF system which had no way of using any of the FD prime lenses even in manual. I and many other photographers were totally pissed and swore never to buy Canon again. Wanting to move into digital photography I looked around for a suitable system but until micro four thirds came along nothing was any different to the old days. My first micro 4/3 camera was a Lumix it was good so I bought lumix and olympus lenses and an adapter for my old Canon primes. It wasn't until I bought the OM-D E-M5 that I rediscovered the joy of using my old Canon lenses. The fact that the OMD has an image stabilizer built into the body is great, I can now use my 500mm cat lens hand held and get blur free pictures. because of the multiplication ratio that's like holding a thousand mm on a 35mm camera.

It's really wonderful I'm using lenses from six different quality makers. This camera has many nice features, it's fast has a good iso range. Using it in manual mode is easy also using manual lenses is easier than the lumix range. It's done everything I asked of it so far though I am still learning I like this camera.
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on May 20, 2013
I'll break this camera down by some of the more flashy features it lists, and what I got out of them.

IBIS:Absolutely phenomenal. With my previous camera body (GF1), I'd often have to trash pictures taken in dim lighting due to camera shake. Every now and then, I'd have a keeper. With the OM-D, it's reversed. I rarely have to worry about camera shake being what prevents a shot from being a keeper. Often times, I can pass the camera to someone who doesn't know how to properly stabilize a camera for low-light conditions with their hands, and the shot will come out camera-shake free. It's a terrific tool for stills, but where it also shines just a brilliantly is for videography. I'm a very, very passionate videographer, and the IBIS allows for steadicam-like image stabilization and goes miles towards making your footage look professional.

Built-in EVF: This one is great. I don't use it terribly often as I like the flexibility that screen composing offers, but for bright, sunny days it's an absolute shot-saver. It's wonderfully sharp, and every now and then I'll use it instead of the touch-screen for composing just because it's a fun way to compose your shots. I've definitely got a gripe about it though: the EVF auto-detect switch is far too sensitive to make it practical. I'll be tapping on the screen, and the overly-sensitive EVF detector will make it switch to the EVF when it's not when I intended. Therefore, I heavily recommend you manually switch between EVF and touchscreen composing.

ISO performance: This in combination with the IBIS has made many a keeper out of an otherwise trash-worthy shot. I can push it up to ISO 6400 and really not worry too much, especially if I'm just posting photos to facebook. You CAN go further than that, but at that point, the shots really do become too noisy for my taste. However, if I convert the files to black and white, they look like a classy, grainy black and white shot. Overall, terrific job on Olympus' end. Gives you 80-90% of the image quality of a full-frame sensor, but with a camera body infinitely smaller, lighter, more discrete and more portable.

Body / handling: The camera feels absolutely terrific in one's hand. It feels solid and sturdy. I've dropped it more times than I'd care to admit, and it works just as fine as the day I got it. The buttons ARE awkwardly small and cheap-feeling, though. When you press any of the buttons on the back of the camera, it feels soft and has no satisfying click. I know it's a necessary part fo the weather-sealing of the body, but it's still something that doesn't quite mesh with the high-quality feel of the other aspects of this great camera.

Weather sealing: This was a huge reason for my purchase of the camera. I often go out fishing and to the beach, and I wanted a camera that could keep up with the action and the elements. Well, suffice to say, it can, with one large caveat: You MUST have the 12-50 kit lens attached. Otherwise, the camera may as well not be sealed at all. That being said, if you do have the camera outfitted with a weather-sealed lens, it can take some serious abuse. When boating, we were caught in a thunderstorm so bad, the sky was literally black with storm clouds. Water was EVERYWHERE. I took about a hundred shots during the storm no problem. This camera can take most anything up to being actually dropped in water. I would still be careful with it around sand dunes, as no amount of weather sealing can really defend a device against sand. Sand is on a league of its own in terms of messing with equipment.

Video: As I mentioned in the IBIS section, video looks fantastic on this camera. Here's an example of the kind of quality it can pump out The camera has for all intents and purposes replaced my Canon Vixia HF10, and that's saying something.

Autofocus: It depends on which lens you have equipped. If you're like me and you hung on to your terrific panasonic 20mm f/1.7 from the early days of M43, you're going to want to step up to a lens with faster AF. Otherwise, the AF rarely is a problem provided you're in S-AF mode. In terms of tracking moving targets, the OM-D isn't all that terrific. I have found that using C-AF to track flowers on a windy day works quite well, although using it to track a person's movements rarely works. The camera gets distracted way to easily and is a step down from just using a single AF point.

Burst mode: Really quite impressive. I used this feature quite often when I first got the camera, but the editing consequences of taking so many similar photos has lead me to use the feature much more sparingly. It's still very, very impressive however. Good for catching animals in motion.

Lens selection: This really is the biggest, most important part of the review IMHO. A good camera body is nothing without some nice glass to accompany it. And in this respect, the M43 system shines like no other. Apart from the kit zoom lens, I prefer primes, and between my 12, 17, and 45 M.Zuiko lenses, there is narry a situation I'm not able to take a great picture at. A major gripe about this is that so few of the lenses are truly weather-sealed. It basically means that if I want a weather-sealed camera, I need to compromise image quality and use the kit lens (although to the kit lense's credit, it does a great job of being a kit lens. The macro mode on it is a terrific touch and I've used it for many shots). Otherwise, feel safe if this is your first foray in to the wold of M43. The lens selection makes for a camera system that you won't soon replace.

Finishing thoughts: I love this camera. If it weren't for the annoying EVF detection issues and the lack of good weather-sealed prime lenses, this would be a 5-star review. But to be fair, there's no such thin as a perfect camera, so 4-stars is not bad. I attack it to my black rapid camera sling and take it with me to almost every place I go, because as the old addage goes: the best camera is the one you have available. The OM-D is light yet sturdy, it's Image quality is professional-grade without being too intimidating to your subjects. And to me, that's the entire draw of the M43 system. It makes good photography more accessible to more people, and although some snobby professional photographers might take issue with that out of fear of becoming obsolete, I believe that it helps to empower the public by allowing non-professionals and professionals alike to tell their stories more strongly.
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on April 30, 2013
I don't have time to write a review that adequately describes the awesomeness of this camera. So I will be brief. I upgraded from a Nikon D5100. The image quality of the stills taken by the OM-D blows away anything I had ever taken with the Nikon, and I loved that camera.

PROS: 1.) unbelievable low light ISO performance. I can shoot at ISO 6400 jpg with little to no noticeable noise. ISO 6400 is about equal to ISO 1600 on the D5100 in my opinion based on shooting thousands of shots with each camera at various ISOs; 2.) unbelievable image stabilization. The sensor-based IS works with ANY lens, so you can even stabilize the Panasonic 20mm pancake lens or older Nikon lenses attached with an adapter. You can shoot as slow as about 1/2 second handheld super sharp with no blur at 20mm or so. I could only shoot to about 1/15 second on my Nikon with a VR lens and get acceptable results. I don't carry a tripod anymore; this camera can handle any dark scene you can throw at it handheld. Even the darkest scene can be captured at 1/4 second exposure at ISO 5000 or ISO 6400, and it looks perfect. The sensor literally feels like it is floating in space, which you can see in the viewfinder or on the screen once you press the shutter halfway. This IS works amazing in video as well, it feels like you are walking with a steadicam; 3.) jpg processing is outstanding. I had to post process all of my Nikon jpg shots b/c they always came out of camera soft. With the Olympus, I do not need to add any sharpening in post; all jpgs come out of camera razor sharp. 4.) This camera has 2 wheels and many customizable buttons, along with touch screen, so you can have the best of both worlds whether you are a button person or a menu person; 5.) the focus is extremely fast and accurate, 6.) the stock 14-42 lens is so tiny, yet amazingly sharp. It is like 1/4 the size of the Nikon stock lens. Other lenses like the panasonic 14mm or 20mm pancake lens make this camera fit in your pocket.

CONS: 1.) the buttons and camera in general are too small for my hands; I liked the ergonomics of my old Nikon better. It felt bigger in my hand. But that is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the reduced size and weight around my neck or in my bag; 2.) you pretty much have to have noise reduction set to on in order to take long exposure shots (even at ISO 200), which then requires the same amount of time to process. Otherwise you will get a lot of noise and some "hot pixels." So a 20 second exposure will take an extra 20 seconds to process before you can shoot again. This is a problem when shooting fireworks if you want to take another pic immediately. I didn't have to have long exposure noise reduction turned on my Nikon to get perfectly clean shots at low ISOs.

I post all of my good pictures on flickr. I can honestly say that landscape pics on flickr taken with the OM-D and a good lens are sharper and as detailed as pics taken with the Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D600 or D800, and the low light capability of the OM-D is as good or better than these full frame beasts, especially when shot with the Panny 20mm F1.7 or Panleica 25mm F1.4. Plus the camera is so much smaller and lighter than the full frames, which makes it so much more fun to use. If you shoot general or landscape photography, I think the OM-D is a better choice than any of the full frame Nikons or Canons. The wider depth of field is an advantage shooting landscape, b/c you can shoot at F1.7 and get most of the frame in focus. But if you shoot a lot of portrait shots, you can get narrower depth of field using a full frame than you can with a micro 4/3 camera. However, there are some that say portraits taken with the Olympus 45 F1.8 are amazing, but I don't yet own that lens. Overall, I can't say enough great things about this amazing little camera.
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on March 7, 2014
I bought this camera because I was tired of carrying 12 pounds of Canon gear on long, gruelling hikes into the mountains to do nature and landscape photography. I also chose the E-M5 over the newer E-M1 because I didn't really need the extra features or the increased weight and bulk of its newer brother, and here on Amazon, the E-M5 can be had for nearly half the price of the E-M1. It has performed perfectly.

The dynamic range has proved excellent, when shooting in RAW (as always recommended). Detail is spectacular, and I'd say the images I get out of this camera without sharpening (paired with Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens) are sharper than the images from my Canon with sharpening.

ISO performance is good, though obviously not in the same league as full-frame. They say it's about comparable to the Nikon D7000, which is pretty good. You can safely shoot to about ISO 6400 in most conditions, but I keep mine at base ISO (100) almost all the time.

If you haven't shot M43 before, you'll need to get used to shooting closer to wide open to avoid diffraction, which leads to shorter shutter speeds (with improved hand-holdability) and lower ISOs (also great). This also means you can shoot at f/5.6 with nearly everything in focus. This makes M43 great for landscape photography, where low ISO, short shutter speeds, and deep DOF are all advantages! Those traits paired with the world-class in-body image stabilization of this camera allow you to shoot handheld in situations where a full-frame Canon or Nikon would need a heavy tripod to get a sharp image. I've handheld exposures over a second long with sharp results, which blew my mind a bit.

Overall, after shooting with this camera and my full-frame Canon side-by-side for a couple of months, I find my Canon collecting dust in the bag while sitting back in my closet on most trips, and I can't wait to expand my M43 lens collection. It's a lot of fun to shoot with, and really makes you enjoy your photography experience even more. Highly recommended.
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