Olympus E-5 digital SLR camera (preview)

Olympus E-5 hands-on review: We get our hands on Olympus' latest digital SLR camera

Olympus E-5
  • Olympus E-5
  • Olympus E-5
  • Olympus E-5
  • Expert Rating

    Not yet rated

Pros

  • Weaker AA filter should mean more fine image detail, inclusions from consumer-oriented PEN cameras like movie mode and art filters

Cons

  • No revolutionary changes from the E-3

Bottom Line

Olympus' E-5 digital SLR may not seem like a large leap forward from the E-3 of 2008, but some of the changes should help it compete with the current class-leading semi-professional digital SLRs from Canon and Nikon.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

We've had a chance spend some time with the new Olympus E-5 digital SLR camera. While we can't make any definitive judgements just yet — that'll have to wait until we do some in-depth testing — here are our initial thoughts on a few important aspects of Olympus' new camera. We've used the Canon 7D as a point of comparison.

Ergonomics

As you'd expect, the ergonomics of the Olympus E-5 are near-identical to the earlier E-3. All the buttons are in the same place, and the viewfinder is the same size and has the same field of view. The main difference is the new 3in tilting and swivelling screen, which has a resolution of 920k dots — a large jump from the 2.5in, 230k dot display of the E-3. It's clear and convenient, and the information layout is logical and easy to comprehend.

We found the Olympus E-5 to be easy to hold and well proportioned. It's very slightly thinner but slightly taller than the Canon 7D, and weighs almost the same — it's 142.5x116.5x74.5mm and 800g without a battery versus the 7D's 148x111x74mm and 820g.

Sensor and image quality

The Olympus E-5 uses a 2.0x crop factor 17.3x13mm sensor, which is significantly smaller in terms of overall surface area than the Canon 7D's 1.6x, 22x14.9mm unit. It also cedes to the Canon on overall resolution with 12.3 megapixels against the 7D's 18 megapixels, resulting in an outputted image size of 4032x3042 pixels vs. the 7D's 5184x3456. ISO versatility is equal, with both the E-5 and 7D sporting 100-6400 ISO ranges. However, the Canon 7D supports an extra stop of sensitivity (to ISO 12800) through software.

Image quality is an area we'd have to do significant testing in to give a final opinion, but despite the lower pixel count and sensor size we're cautiously optimistic of Olympus's approach. The much weaker anti-aliasing filter (also called a low-pass filter) in the E-5 compared to the E-3 allows more moire and aliasing to get through to the sensor, but it also allows more image detail to be captured. This moire and jaggedness is dealt with by the Olympus E-5's new TruePic V+ processor — in theory allowing more fine image detail to be captured and to survive the subsequent in-camera processing.

Art filters and movie mode

These two features are new since the E-3, and are inclusions that have filtered up Olympus' model line from the consumer-oriented PEN models like the PEN E-P2 and PEN E-PL1. We think they're worthwhile including even if just for the novelty; since the Olympus E-5 isn't an all-out professional model it makes sense to include features that amateurs and seasoned users should enjoy.

Applying art filters to movies is an interesting point of difference with competitors. This does have the definite downside of lowering the capture and playback frame rate of the movie, though — all the extra in-camera processing required for each movie frame takes its toll.

Other inclusions

Dual card slots — for CompactFlash Type 1 and SD, since Olympus has stopped supporting the aging xD standard — are a useful inclusion if you're upgrading from either an older Olympus digital SLR or a PEN/compact camera. We were disappointed to hear that you can't save to both slots simultaneously or sequentially, though. Thankfully SDXC is supported, so you can use a single high-capacity card if you're so inclined.

The E-5 retains the E-3's high quality 11-point autofocus system (which uses 11 pairs of sensors slightly offset from each other, so it's technically superior to a 'standard' 11-point setup) and the E-3's in-body image stabilisation system. Small things like increased options for automatic exposure bracketing (with 2- and 7-frame options), a horizon level gauge, HDMI output and a stereo microphone jack for audio recording should make the Olympus E-5 easier to live with day-to-day.

Conclusion

The increase in picture quality is a key difference between Olympus E-3 and the new E-5, and it may well be enough to convince users of older Olympus cameras to upgrade. We're looking forward to comparing the E-5 directly with Canon and Nikon's semi-professional offerings.

Become a fan of GoodGearGuide on Facebook

Follow GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide

Stay up to date with the latest reviews. Sign up to GoodGearGuide’s Gear Daily newsletters

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: photography, digital cameras, Olympus, digital SLR cameras
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?