Very 1st look video at the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Review soon!

Very 1st look video at the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Review soon!

The OM-D E-M5 has arrived to me and after just a day of messing around with it around my house I have to say that this could very possibly be my favorite compact mirrorless camera released to date. The camera is beautiful, classic, solid, fast, accurate, responsive and paired with the amazing 12mm and 45mm fast prime lenses by Olympus you have a system that is clearly the most polished, most responsive and well designed Micro 4/3 camera to date. Is it perfect? No, I already have a couple of niggles with the camera but they are small compared to the pros this camera brings with it.

Every single thing I wished to see in the E-P3 is here. Swivel LCD, built-in EVF, optional handgrip with shutter release built-in, quality dials and manual controls, and an even better sensor with better low light performance. If you have been reading my blog for a while then you know I always have loved the Olympus PEN series. Well, this OM-D takes it up a notch all across the board with cooler design, better feel, better handling, better sensor, blazing AF, swivel LCD, EVF, and 5 Axis in body IS.

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Wow. All for $999 for a body only or $1099 for the kit with 14-42 (what I bought).

I also did a super quick and dirty test of the high ISO and ISO 3200, with NR turned off 100% in camera yields pretty damn clean JPEGS, especially for M4/3. I’m thinking this does better than the NEX-7 at high ISO but will test that later just for fun. The 3d shot was a quick one at ISO 640, again, no NR at all and a JPEG from the camera.

I will be reviewing this camera over the next couple of weeks and will post my thoughts, samples and full review SOON. The quick around the house shots I snapped today right after opening the box tells me the AWB is superb, the Olympus color signature is still here, and that the high ISO is greatly improved over the E-P3. MUCH more to come…soon.


  1. Can I ask a question to Steve and of anyone here kind enough to answer:

    What filter arrangements are you guys with m4/3 all using? I’m new to this format and am noticing all the lenses I got are different sizes. Are you guys buying different filters for each lens? Is it too clunky to use step up rings?

    I ask because I like my multi-coats, and it gets expensive fast..

  2. I was referred to your site by a friend who knows I am interested in the OM-D and watched your video review just before my local camera store called me to let me know they had the OM-D in stock. I went there to handle the camera. You are right: Adding the first piece of the grip improves the camera’s feel in the hand. Add $300 to the price of the body – ka ching! The buttons are small and I can foresee this will impede “shoot my feel” while keeping your eye in the viewfinder. Speaking of the viewfinder, I wonder why Olympus didn’t up the spec on it to be closer to the Sony NEX 7. Now rumors are the Panasonic GH-3 will have a higher-resolution EVF.

    In all I came away less sure that this camera is the way to go for me as I replace my gear this year. Maybe future iterations of the OM series will see some improvements.

    • The OM-D is great. Best M4/3 to date, no contest. Buttons are indeed a but small but the EVF is good (not exceptional or great, but not a deal breaker). I am enjoying it more and more and I have the NEX-7 and X-pro 1 here as well..but the only one that makes me want to grab it and go is the OM-D. True true!

  3. Hey Steve
    I read quite alot of articles comparing the olympus EM5 with the Fuji pro X1
    No doubt it is an impressive camera .
    All articles agree that the X1 has a better IQ, but they also agree that the AF is much better on the OLY.EM5 .They also say the knobs on the OLY are made of cheep plastic
    The Fuji is more expensive than the Olympus and it performs better on high ISO
    So all this leaves you uncertain which camera is a better one .
    You are the only 1 who emphezised the disturbing noise on a video , so i guess, you are the only 1 to ask weather or not you can live with it?

  4. Hi Steve

    What are your thoughts on the handling without the battery grips and the carbon fibre lookalike material they used on the camera? And maybe regarding the paint quality considering it has so many protruding corners which will inevitably get scuffed?

    My E-PL3 broke last night when it slipped out of my hands (but amazingly my Panasonic 14mm survived) and now I am panicking about ordering the black OM-D which some people have reported to be more slippery.

    • I only shoot it with the 1st part of the grip (not the battery pack part) and it feels perfect. Without the grip it is much like the E-P3. I have no concerns on the paint because if it scuffs, it wouldn’t bother me. The grip really makes the camera feel just about perfect in the hand. They should have included it.

  5. I got the Oly 2 days ago….and it is mighty mighty impressive. So easy to use. The 45mm is superb with it. I’m saving for the 12mm. What can I say….i truly love using this camera!!

  6. Hey. Steve, there is a strange looking guy (real strange and no hair, must be a nasty type) trying to break into your house. Good job you had the camera on,

  7. Hi Steve,

    What’s your comments on E-P3 over OMD5? Is the difference worth the price difference? In Singapore, the difference is about $700-800 for single kit lens! I want to buy either one real soon!

    • OM-D is superior, no question. So much better in low light, sharper, just as fast if not faster, and everything I loved about the E-P3 and then some. My perfect M4/3 camera. With the 12 and 45, and the 25..I have no desire for any other mirrorless. The IQ is stellar, the usability is a 9.5 out of 10, the build is great, the features are all here…Olympus did a GREAT job all the way around.

      • Man that 25 is hard to come by. I’ve clicked to be notified on bnh,or I could pay an extra $100 and have it now… Hmm

  8. i own the em5 and the sound is near inaduableihear is when i ut my ear up to the lcd

    is sound is reminiscent of water traveling thru a ;pipe from very far away

    its really a non issue ….just a curiosity

  9. awesome! looking forward to your next review. getting the oly omd em5 silver with black 12-50mm myself and really glad how clean it is at high ISO. have you figured out what is causing the noise inside the camera? =0)

  10. Great 1st look Steve and pointing out that “fan” noise.
    Hopefully Olympus will find a way to minimize or eliminate the noise via some sort of firmware upgrade.
    I’m just waiting for mine to come in. The Fuji X100 has been great for the exception of the poor auto focus and the buggy interface.

    Cant wait to see and read your full review.

  11. +1 for the request comparing the Panasonic 25mm with the Fuji 35.

    Question for everyone, how does the viewfinder on the OM-D compare to the NEX?

  12. Hi Steve, I have the Oly om-d-e-m5, black body with battery grip on order with Amazon. Was going to go with the silver till i saw your video review. Looks bad @ss in black. What is your opinion on the, Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens? Many have stated in their reviews that they find it sharper than the Zuiko equivalent. I’ll wait a bit for the 12 mm and the 45 mm wich looks sweet too. Really like your video “unboxing,” and am looking forward to your full review. Happiness to you.

  13. Steve

    Thanks a lot for your quick review – always enjoy them. 2 comments from me:
    1. Don’t use the NEX7 for video reviews. Its slow-focusing is quite annoying.
    2. I like your style of review. I like that you’re talking from a usability point of view, and I’m referring here to your opinion about the Xpro1. I totally agree with your comments. What’s the point of a great sensor if the usability is crippled by a slow AF? The chattering blades?…I don’t know if it’s more of an issue than the OMD’s constant hum. What do you think? I guess the big question is: are these things (AF speed and blades chatter) fixable in firmware?

    Looking froward to your full review of the OMD.


    • It’s almost like a larger V1 with better lenses, larger sensor. Same speed, same accuracy, same great video quality. I still love the V1, great camera.

  14. Steve
    I was wondering why you didnt get the 12-50? Any thoughts on it?
    The weather proofing and macro seems nice. But its quite big

    • Well my original order did include the 12-50 but I found a 14/42 kit 1st. Besides, I would have never used the 12-50 as I never use zooms really. Owning the 12 and 45 would have has the zoom just sit in my bag.

  15. On a side note – I thought I wanted the silver finish, but the black looks so good, even with silver lens – I gots to have it.

  16. Thanks Steve for this 1st view. One thing I do not understand and I am very curious about it, how it happens to you to love so much oly with such a small sensor as micro 4/3 ? I obviously understand your love for Leica and even for the aps sensor of nex7, but you take such nice pics with bokeh that is not so easy to get with a small sensor, so I think that just for the size of sensor this oly lost against nex7…. am I wrong and if yes why ? Thanks again 😉

    • Hi, Luca.

      “Bokeh” is simply a product of the lens and the distance it is focused on. The closer it is focused and the wider the aperture and longer the focal length, the more it becomes noticeable. However, whilst bokeh can be induced in any lens, it can be of different quality. Leitz lenses are justly famed for the quality of their out of focus imaging. So, if a Leitz lens could be mounted on the Oly as it can on a Nex it should, in theory, still give you the same effect. However, this is not to say that other factors won’t then play a part. Will different sensors affect how this bokeh is captured and appears to the naked eye, or not? (Sorry, Steve, but another test for you?)

      The problem you have read about concerning bokeh and smaller sensors is that for a given field of view, they use shorter focal length lenses and this invariably means greater depth of field, which runs counter to what you want to generate decent bokeh. To give you an example, to equate to the same field of view as a 50mm lens on an M9, a 4/3rds sensor needs a lens of 25mm focal length with its inherent greater depth of field. So, for any given aperture etc, it will always have greater depth of field, so minimising the possibility of decent bokeh.

      With a crop factor of 1.5, the NEX has a slight advantage over the Oly, but not a lot. And never forget that the quality of bokeh is dependant on the lens.

      I trust this helps.

      • And that’s what the 45mm f.1.8 Olympus prime “is for”. Yes, the perspective’s different compared to an M9’s 50mm lens at FF, but it’s a pretty nifty compromise in comparison, and not a huge one — if you can just back up far enough to get your shot. The quality of the bokeh obtained has been rated pretty favorably here.

  17. I know you wanted to get this video posted asap so you probably didn’t have much set up time, but I enjoy it when you are in front of the came as well. Gives it more personality.

  18. Hey, guys! I’d like to ask you some a bit off-topic question, but it’s quite important for me)
    Do you think optical vf-1 for 17mm 2.8 worth salling 14-42 zoom (which is not bad, but i do not use it often)?
    yep, it’s the hard one to answer, but please…:)

    • A monster load of spam, according to Steve just a few posts ago. A little excess verbosity by typical standards here increases your chances of getting held up, it seems — I should know.

  19. Still seeing artifacting in high ISO shots, and even with ISO 640, there’s still more noise in shadows (shot of dog on carpet) than one would want to see, which IMO is more important than shooting in good light. It’s an interesting trade off though I suppose, depending upon what type of subjects you’re shooting. If out in the streets, trading off a bit of high ISO noise in favor of super focusing speeds might just be alright.

    Doug B

    • Well, keep this in mind: Although I haven’t seen these photos enlarged yet (due to a weak & wobbly mobile Wi-Fi connection), from what I saw at Robin Wong’s blogsite, and previously, the Olympus has relatively “nice” looking noise — cleaner, more even, and more “artistically useful” than what I remember from Steve’s earlier 100% crops from the NEX-7. Both Steve and others have attested to some degree of “plus” to just a bit of noise in the right circumstances; if you gotta have some there, sometimes.

  20. I think that there is little doubt that the sound is from a micro-fan (which are around 15mm big) to cool the sensor. The need for such a fan becomes obvious when looking at all of the problems that the Sony NEX cameras have with overheating issues and the seeming defect that those cameras have which causes them to shut down after several minutes of video which users have been frustrated with — I was about to buy a NEX7 before I was made aware of the problem, and will now instead probably buy one of these.

    Out of curiousity, did you shoot this video on the NEX 7 in one segment? Was your NEX able to do this without shutting down?

  21. Steve,

    Wow that NEX7 video focusing on a wide aperature is sooooo annoying. Made it painful to watch your initial reaction. I almost had to stop watching. Also, your mic setup seems to really exaggerate the humm of the IBIS system. It’s hardly noticeable except in a dead quite environment. That being said, I like the hum. Reminds of a beautiful exhaust note of a finely built Ferrari 😉

    Other then that, i agree with your initial reaction as that is how we all pretty much felt at the Olympus demo that I attended. No one had a single bad thing to say about it. The build quality was amazing, like my EP2. The images people are posting now are really quite awesome. It’s a big gap now to the EP3 and it is gonna be a hard act to follow for the next PEN generation.

  22. Hi Steve
    Thanks a lot for quick review of the NEW KING OF MFT WORLD. I am waiting this camera to arrive . Now Steve thanks a lot for sharing my passion for Olympus 45mm 1.8 , I love this lens and I think it offers u the best value for money in MFT native prime section . Can u test Panasonic Leica 25 mm 1.4 lens? I think this lens is overrated .I used it and sold it soon .One more request Steve , Can u join U have huge fan base there .

  23. Hi Steve
    Thanks a lot for quick review of the NEW KING OF MFT WORLD. I am waiting this camera to arrive . Now Steve thanks a lot for sharing my passion for Olympus 45mm 1.8 , I love this lens and I think it offers u the best value for money in MFT native prime section . Can u test Panasonic Leica 25 mm 1.4 lens? I think this lens is overrated .I used it and sold it soon .One more request Steve , Can u join U have huge fan base there .

  24. Weather Sealed Lens…. Does anybody know what primes are (or will be) weather sealed? To me, this is the OMD’s most signifigant value proposition.

    Is there a weather sealed 43/m43 adapter?.. Say for the Zuiko Lens ED 50mm f2.0 Macro.

    • Adapter: Yes! The new MMF-3 is weatherproofed — you can get that as your “free” rebate/bonus item with a new OM-D until May 31st. The Olympus “High Grade” and, I think, “Super High Grade” 4/3’s lenses are weatherproofed; I’m not really sure if ALL of them are. See ’em at the Olympus/America website. I have a very useful weatherproofed “High Grade” 4/3 ‘zoom’ — the 14mm-54mm f.2.8/3.5, Mk II version (actually, I have two of these at the moment by happenstance). For this one, getting the Mk II iteration is important for much more compatible contrast detection auto-focusing, near-macro close focusing, and a rounder aperture profile for improved bokeh: See a very well spoken user review on these points at the Olympus website first, if this sounds like one for you. I myself like the idea of having a single foul-weather option with the OM-D [prospectively] which covers an all-you-may-really-need 35mm-equivalent range of 28mm-108mm with no small aperture restrictions. That new 12-50mm lens can’t begin to match that, although it does give you access to an equivalent 24mm focal length.

    • Olympus is also releasing a weather sealed 75mm f1.8 and I believe a macro 60mm f2.8 lens…with both being sealed.

  25. Well, it is a nice looking camera. But i just can’t get it: it is m4/3, wich looks like dslr. In my opinion it’s kind of pointless thing. Especially with the grip… I love the Pen’s idea, but om-d is kinda strange for me…

    Nice review, Mr,Huff, really informative video

    • Why pointless?

      With respect, if they want to put an EVF on a camera, there are really only two practical locations: in the top center, like a dslr, or the top left, like a rangefinder.

      Personally, I would have preferred the top left position, to separate the viewfinder from my right hand a little more, but it really doesn’t matter.

      And the grip is a great idea. Folks with large hands (like me) have always found small m4/3 cameras a little hard to hold on to for long periods, like holding a bar of soap.

    • Personally, I wish they’d backed off a bit on “recalling” the OM SLR’s. The viewfinder had to be accommodated, but Olympus made that faux prism “tower” a little taller than it had to be by stacking the EVF bits vertically with the electronic connection assembly. Would a sleeker integration have been possible? Looking at the NEX-7, I think maybe.

        • Oly needn’t have copied others designs if they went down this route. They, themselves, had a good selection of 35mm rangefinder cameras, such as the 35SP, and similar, that they could have based it on and would, IMHO, have given it more of a retro chic than basing it on an slr. But Fuji beat them to it in the X100.

      • I think the electronics for the image stabilization are in the tower.

        I just received my OMD, and I’m liking it a lot, but if Olympus had called me about the design I would have suggested mimicking the Konica AF. Basically a rangefinder layout with the EVF on the top right, and a significant grip-bulge on the right side (like the Panasonic G1/G2).

        The OMD really needs the add-on grip for comfort, and the bulge would provide a place for the electronic bits, and maybe a bigger battery.

        And I can take or leave the “retro” design cues; they don’t offend me, as apparently they do some folks, but I don’t love them either.

  26. Hey Steve, I got mine. Black with Black power zoom. Love the camera and with the 12 and 45 it is even better than the EP3 as you say. A few days have past and the noise is really not an issue. Strange, but the camera is so good you just accept it as a quirk. Nothing is perfect, but when you put the grip on this baby it is the best I have seen to date. This is a real winner and since I have a F-803 full of lenses, it makes perfect sense to have the EM-5.

    I also got the X PRO 1. The IQ with the 35 f/1.4 is astounding. I can’t believe how good my outdoor shots in the garden came straight out of the camera. I think that the focus hunting makes this an ideal landscape camera, but for the street, or kids, etc., you miss the shots as you pointed out. Given the price of the Fuji it makes sense to sell and shoot the D800 which is a sweet upgrade to the D700. So cool to have all these choices but so expensive and I am already selling stuff so I don’t become a warehouse of current photography equipment that I don’t use.

  27. The camera looks great but I would have ordered black lenses rather that those champaign coloured lenses. They look odd on the black body.

    • If you are talking about the 12mm and the 45mm he is showcasing, those are silver lenses and they don’t make then in black.

  28. Steve,

    What is the strap that you use on your cameras? I must say that it gives the camera a whole new look. Can you let us know where I can get one of those please?


    • Good question – both seem to be part of the ‘normal’ operating routines of these cameras.

      Initially, I thought posts were talking about the noise in images. This concerns me far more than operating noise – excessive artifacts in high ISO/Low light means 4/3rd, or m4/3rd, quality is still a no-go zone for me as anything other than a snap-shot camera.

      Current sensor technology still seems to favour APS or larger – no matter what m4/3rd supporters claim.

    • Ha…that was funny 🙂 I’m just amazed again about the imperfection of these quite expensive cameras.

      • Yea, imperfections … in the same way that mirror noises or AF motors were ‘imperfections’ on expensive film SLR’s …. or their motordrives ….

        Both the Fuji chatter, and OMD IS noise, are new features of mirrorless technology – expect more – next time it might be ‘your’ camera brand that falls foul of the endless critics …

        If you read carefully, I was actually more concerned about the digital noise in images than low-level mechanical noise. Given a choice, I’d trade a little camera noise if I get perfect IQ.

    • Someone here (in a recent posting regarding the OM-D) reported that the faint rushing noise from the Olympus is much overshadowed in the negative sense by the “rattlesnake” noise from the Fuji system. But also keep in mind that this is a perception issue, not really a “dB”s issue — I might expect that one’s brain would accommodate to the steadier, more random character of the OM-D, and thus effectively “suppress” it, far more readily than it could the chatter of the Fuji’s aperture: Note that we already have two reports (I think) that this phenomenon is quite noticeably better controlled in the OM-D than previously.

      • But I guess the fuji chatter can be addressed via firmware, whereas the OMD you are stuck with the noise. Just comes down to how intrusive it is. Though, for cameras of that cost, you would expect them to not have such issues.

        • Really? Where did you read that? I can’t recall something like that being said (with credible thoroughness) here: the early adopters of the X-Pro seemed to imply that they were stuck with the issue for some indefinite span of time… maybe a reeeeaaal long one. I’m not disputing, just asking. BTW, you shouldn’t blame the Olympus too much for having a relatively minor issue on that point — no other camera on the face of the earth has this feature at this level of sophistication… so how can some barely audible [inaudible to some!], “whitish” noise mean Olympus is delivering too little for the money? I wouldn’t give ’em a demerit for that — not until somebody else can show Olympus up!

          As to “intrusiveness”, I might suggest that this probably has more to do with a person’s belief system than with the inherent qualities of the faint sound — please note the strong psychological factors involved in people’s perception of the apparent intrusiveness and tolerability of their tinnitus. You could probably talk yourself into feeling either way about it in the end.

  29. Comparing the IQ and noise peformance of the OM-D and the NEX7 should prove interesting because whilst the Sony has a larger sensor, roughly 365 sq. mm, compared to the 226 sq. mm of the Olympus, Sony has crammed 50% more pixels in it. Equating pixel pitch, matters are, however, more evenly matched. Each megapixel occupies roughly 14 sq. mm on the Olympus and 15.2 sq. mm on the Sony, hardly worth getting steamed up about.

    However, comparing cameras on their pixel count alone could get interesting if, say, a comparison was made with the 5N and which, resolution aside, most seem to accept that its IQ is better than the 7. Now, if the Olympus matches, or betters, the Sony, that will be interesting and should give a fillip to supporters of the 4/3rds format. Perhaps 4/3rds will have come of age?

    I have to say from postings on Steve’s blog, the Oly lenses do appear to deliver high optical performance.

    As I have the 5N, deliberately chosen over the 7, I have only a passing interest in the outcome of an Oly-v-7 comparison; I won’t be swayed one way or the other. I have my GAS under control. lol.

    • Terry – I think you need to get your calculator, or abacus, or whatever, fixed.

      The Sony’s 365.04sq/mm divided by 16.1 million = 0.0000226 – i.e. individual photosites (pixel pitch)

      The Olympus’ 224.9sq/mm divided by 16.1 million = 0.0000139 – this does not include the sensors TOTAL 16.9 million photosite capacity (due to aspect ratio variants)

      Adjusted, this 16.9mp equates to 0.0000133 …. but what’s 0.0000006 of a pixel between friends? So …..

      Sony: 0.0000226
      Olympus: 0.0000139/0.0000133

      Sony has not ‘crammed’ anything on to it’s much LARGER sensor – it’s individual photosites are nearly double the size of the Oly’s ….

      Not quite sure the ratio of virtually 2:1 in favour of the Sony is ” … hardly worth getting steamed up about ….” as the Sony clearly has double the size advantage.

      • Setting math aside because results matter more than spec sheets, 5N samples clearly look better all around vs it’s big brother. IMO the only reason to get the 7 is for its handling and control system.

        Doug B

      • Photozopia,

        Thanks for taking the trouble to check on my calculator or abacus. It is appreciated. But when I was at school, in the days we used log tables and slide rules, no calculator yet alone abacus, I was always told answer the question, not what you think it should be.

        If you re-read carefully what I posted in para. 1, I compared the areas of the NEX7 sensor, approx. 365 sq. mm, to the 4/3rds sensor of the Oly, at 226 sq. mm. and divided each by their respective megapixels. This effectively gives each megapixel the area they occupy. Thus 365 divided by 24 gives us roughly 15.2 sq. mm for the Nex7, and 14.1 sq. mm for the Oly. So, on this basis, there is negligible difference in pixel pitch. Each megapixel occupies roughly the same area. This is why I commented the difference was hardly that to get steamed up about.

        What you have neatly done is base your observations on something I never postulated: on the NEX5 pixel count. And you are correct, on this comparison, the pixels on the NEX sensor are significantly larger.

        My calculator may need a new battery, but thankfully, it doesn’t need fixing! lol.

        • Sorry Terry, thought you were making the point your choice of the Nex 5 was better than Nex 7. My apologies for that error!

          You are, however, making the fatal error of dividing by 24 and 16 million. These are not the mega-pixels, they are the number of megapixels on the sensor. Your results indicate that each megapixel is a huge 15.5sq mm and 14.1sq mm respectively.

          The divisor required is not 24, or 16.1 – it is 24,000,000 or 16,100,000 – so:

          Sony Nex7: 0.0000152
          Olympus: 0.0000139 (or 0.0000133 actually)

          It was the vast difference inferred by an error of six decimal places in your calculations that really worried me – you were actually calculating the difference between 16 and 24 individual photo-sites …. not millions!

          • Photozopia,

            You’re right about my view of the sensor in the 5N compared to the NEX7. IMHO, that in the 5N does give superior IQ. I didn’t bring into the full argument the 5N because that wasn’t, according to Steve, going to figure in his comparisons. This is a pity, as by all accounts, camera usability aside, the 5N sensor actually is superior to that in the 7. Ah, well.

            I think we are getting there and we actually agree, but we’ve approached it differently. Rather than work on a per pixel basis, too many zeros after the point for my aged brain to comprehend what the result actually means, lol, so I grossed up and compared 1 megapixels to the actual area they occupied, ie pixel density, although I haven’t been too scientific by keeping to a common factor, say 1 sq, cm.

            On this basis, it isn’t necessary to know the actual pixel pitch, or even work out how many pixels fit into, say a 1cm square, but I think you will agree that pixel density based on area is a valid comparator. If 1,000,000 Sony pixels occupy the same area as 1,000,000 Oly pixels, then they must, by definition, be of equal pixel pitch.

            Your calculations work at individual pixel level, but all I’ve done is use a multiplier of 1meg. This does not equate to each pixel being equal to 14.1 or 15.2, but to the area that’s occupied by 1,000,000 of them, ie 1 megapixel. You will note that I used 1 megapixel throughout.

            Using my equation, then the slight difference from 14 to 15 sq. mm is negligible for testing purposes, but it still does indicate that 1,000,000 Sony NEX7 pixels are fractionally, but not by a lot, larger, as they occupy a greater area. Also it does show that the headline grabbing 24megapixels of the NEX7 is nothing magical, when you can see that area for area, the Oly is there or thereabouts. This is what should make for an interesting follow up from Steve with his full tests.

            By the way, it is pleasurable to have a nice friendly discussion. This is as it should be. Thanks.

          • I totally agree with your views on pixel ‘saturation’ – my choice would be the Nex-5n too, which (to my eyes) produces better results than the 7.

            It’s been said so often that greater pixel density is not the answer – just better pixels! In APS terms, the sweet spot always seems somewhere between 12-16mp – anything more is just overkill (until better technology comes along).

            I still use my ‘old’ 10mp Sony R1 (in good light) as it’s Carl Zeiss lens and sensor combo is to die for – no matter what number of pixels lie within …. if lost or stolen, I’d buy another in a heartbeat, as the images are difficult to rival – even today!

            I’ve even dragged out my old 3.2mp camera phone for recording macro detail on technical work I’m doing. It gives superb, high def shots from a few millimetres above subject – far better than macro equipment costing hundreds, literally microscopic-like detail – even on large 30″+ widescreen monitors.

            It’s more recent ‘successor’ – a modern 8mp touch screen marvel – can focus no closer than 12″ or so and it’s results are almost sheer mush, due entirely to pixel density. Attempts to view it’s output at large sizes is painful – it is now reserved for making calls only!

            Thank you too for the friendly interchange of views – a rare occurence nowadays!

          • Hi, Photozopia. Seems we have run out of radio buttons so I’ll insert here.

            I HAVE AN R1, TOO!! APS-C sensor and that simply outstanding Zeiss lens. “Only” 10 megapixels and limited high ISO performance, but under the right conditions, what images it produces! Simply gorgeous, almost palpable. Killed off by the influx of cheaper dslrs with inferior kit optics. And what would Sony have achieved with an R2, I wonder?

        • Lee, agreed, no, I wouldn’t want it larger, but actually the body is not that large taken in isolation, but the Zeiss lens permanently attached to it is! This is what makes the combination large. Maybe lighter? The R1 is already in excess of 1Kg. Still not a real heavyweight, but no lightweight either.

          It would be the thought of this lens attached to an updated sensor etc that would make me salivate. Aha, I’ve just had a thought: release the lens with a Sony E-mount and attach it to a 5N. I can but dream.


  30. Hello Steve
    Congratulations for your site and your work.
    Beautiful strap mounted in the picture. What kind of strap is and where can I buy it?

    • It’s from a company called Artisan & Artist… It’s classy but also not cheap. If I’m not mistaken it’s north of $150. Very cool retro strap to go along with a retro OM-D!!!!

  31. Hello Steve! You made me buy the E-P3, so I suppose you’ll make me buy the E-M5 also. Can’t wait for the full review! I’d like to ask you to check if it is possible to access the settings (ISO, aspect ratio, IS, AF mode, …) via the touch screen in Super Control Panel. This is a feature a greatly miss in E-P3 and that would compensate the lack of direct access buttons in these cameras. Thanks, Jarda from Prague

  32. Im really looking forward to the full review as i think this will be my next cam. I was thinking about the x-pro 1 but its prob a bit quirky and the price is a bit steap. For a little bit more than the xpro and 35mm 1.4 i can get the em5 with the 14-42, 45mm 1.8, pano 25mm 1.4, the new flash and hand grip.

  33. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the great first look.

    In your review proess could you make a comment about what the manual focus experience is like compared to a nex-7?

    Would appreciate it a lot because I’m hoping to use some old manual lenses and am wondering which would be better.

    • Yep, I concur. And please do all you can, Steve, to explore possible issues with the wider angle MF ‘film’ lenses, especially, which seems to be where most of the unpredictable incompatibility problems with the output rendering has turned up.

  34. It Oly can make the humming noise go away in video mode why can’t the same be done in still mode? The sensor doesn’t need to be centered in video mode?

  35. Those high ISO shots are really impressive, first word to describe is “WOW”. Can’t wait for the full review and the raw files turn out.

  36. The hum is the EVF stabilisation. It turns off in movie mode so it doesn’t interfere.

    In a quiet room it is noticeable, but I can’t hear it when I hold the camera at arms length. Outside it isn’t noticeable at all.

    Had my E-M5 2 weeks now and am loving it! It’s the most fun camera I’ve ever owned. The 12-50mm movie kit lens is not as bad as some people make out. I’ve also ordered the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 as it suits my needs better. Although I do fancy the 12mm f2.0 it’s a bit out of budget at the moment.

  37. Thank you, Steve, first time in 2012 that I’m suffering from a serious GAS attack! I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait for Leica’s May 10 announcement.

  38. From Olympus FAQs:

    What is the sound being produced by the camera when it is powered on?

    The sound is being produced by our new 5-Axis IS System. The mechanism remains active even with the IS function turned off, to insure the sensor remains in the center of the image circle.

  39. Great, down-to-earth review. As always, your efforts are appreciated. I’m surprised you didn’t list the Panasonic-Leica 25/1.4 as THE lens to get for M4/3 newbies. The two you mention are not exactly the best for day-to-day shooting and the zoom, while more versatile, is not likely as sharp as the 25 prime.


    • I think you’d be pretty foolish most times not to be carrying the tiny 45mm f.1.8 lens (if you own it) with this system, even if you have a “pancake” lens on the camera for quick stowing and retrieving from a cargo pocket. I’m assuming the person in this case is some sort of photography “enthusiast”.

    • That was a generic/collectively directed “you”, BTW… just in case I wasn’t clear enough on that little, generalized point.

  40. Thanks for the review. Might jump. I could hear the noise all the way through the review. That sucks. That means something (gyro) could eventually break. Hmmmm! Cool looking camera and the pictures are great. $2,200 +/- with the reviewed lenses. Not bad.


    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. I’ve never heard of this technology, where the sensor is being suspended soley by magnets, and in my head questioned the reliability and durability of such a thing. The idea of it makes me nervous, to think that if one uses the camera as a photojournalist, and takes it in to rough terrain and is “man handling” it, how well would it hold up? After all, if this is a new and not yet proven technology, then we essentially, are the guinne pigs!

      Unless of course I’m wrong and such a thing has been done before? Either way, it IS pretty cool in terms of innovation.

      Doug B

      • Well, I wonder about the long term performance aspect, too; but any way you slice it, there are going to be mechanical fixing points somewhere involved in the support of the sensor: it’s kind of hard to “break” (as in “snap!”) a magnetic field!

  41. I don’t have mine yet so can’t coment on how loud. I knew about this issue prior to ordering, but order this cameral anyway

    When the camera is off, sensor is no longer centered

    from Olympus frequently asked questions:

    “The sound is being produced by our new 5-Axis IS System. The mechanism remains active even with the IS function turned off, to insure the sensor remains in the center of the image circle.”

  42. Thanks Again Steve!!! If I’m not mistaken you said you preordered from Amazon in one of your earlier articles… So the big question is… Is this the one you Preordered? If so does that mean Amazon will be shipping soon? Thanks again!

  43. Steve , would you like to make a comparison ISO & DR between E-M5 – NEX 7 – and X-Pro 1.?

    I really appreciate if do that.

  44. Steve, do you still have the Panasonic 25mm 1.4? That would seem to make the prime collection complete. Do you think it’s not in the same class as the 12mm and 45mm?

    • +1

      I join in the question, plus have a request.

      Steve, please make PL 25\1.4 and fuji 35\1.4 comparison for rendering, (shooting PL25 at wide open and closing one stop on the fuji 1.4@F2, so to compensate for DOF)

      That rendering comparison would truly show the 3d feel, and well, rendering diffrences of the 2 hottest combination today,
      that would be awesome!!!

      • Great idea, same focal length and aperture should make for an interesting comparison. DOF would be very different, but still would be awesome to see.

        • Hi,
          Thats why i suggested that the fuji 35\1.4 would be closed one stop to F2, so we eliminate the DOF variable,
          if we equalize the DOF, focal lentgh, exposure – we will see the true “rendering” difference between the formats,

          Does the X-PRO 1 turns out a more deep 3d feel? better rendering?
          i cant tell from ISO charts that dosnt tell me how the image actually LOOKS.

          Steve, please consider, it would be awesome to see the TRUE difference of IQ, and easier to decide which camera to get


          • Only a “true rendering” if you’re a bokeh freak, maybe, depending on the subject perspective chosen and what gets considered in the evaluation. For sure, some people will then be slamming the OM-D/Panasonic for not being as sharp as the stopped-down Fuji combo, AND be slamming it for the inherent crop factor / DOF difference, pretty much simultaneously, somewhere in the same responses thread.

          • for the third time (why everyone who replies insists on not reading the original message?) i do not care for sharpness, ISO, or for the sake of the argument, BOKEH.

            I just want to see how the IQ compared when if one to equalize the conditions, that is, shoot fuji at one stop slower (to equalize DOF)
            shot and good light (where ISO dosnt matter, and it (good light) is when good picuters are made anyway…)

            you will get the basic truth, how truly the image “LOOKS” and not how it mesures up at studio charts

          • Oh, no objection to your request at all. That wasn’t my point. It’s the kind of things that stir up a hornet’s nest here, which are either amusing or aggravating depending on your perspective and mood of the moment. As “Captain Penny”, late A.M. fixture on WEWS Channel 5, Cleveland, used to say to us Eisenhower era kids in the tenderest days of my youth: “You can’t please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time… but you can always please Mom.”

  45. Quoting from review:
    “Here is the official explanation from Olympus:

    The sound being produced by the camera is caused by the 5-Axis Image Stabilization which is active even when IS is turned off to insure that the sensor stays in the center of the image circle.”

    Most reviewers and users mentioned that the noise is so low that you wouldn’t notice it unless in a very quiet setting and unless you bring your face close to the EVF. I hope that is correct. In Steve’s video, it sounded a little more prominent to me. I will find out soon enough when I get my Silver body. Wish I had ordered the Kit version. I would have had the camera by now then. I pre-ordered at 10PM EST in US from Olympus Store. Called the Olympus Store today for an ETA but they couldn’t tell me when my body only shipment will arrive. Sigh!!

    • The noise is not so bad. When I did that video I was in my office, which was very quiet. I heard it clearly and the mic picked it up pretty clear as well, but it is NOT that loud. When out shooting you will not hear it, and when video is enabled it goes away.

      • The noise isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it IS a little weird that it goes away in video mode.

        If it’s quiet for video, you would think it could be quiet for still shooting.

    • Er, given that explanation, why would the noise go away when you’re shooting video? Do little sumo homunculi inside the camera hold up the sensor to give the magnets a break when the operation (video) is less critically demanding?

    • Yes – very high priced, niche marketed products like the planned X2, usually wipe out relatively low priced consumer goods in the wider market place – demonstrated by the high sales of the X1 for example, compared to the PEN or Panasonic m4/3rd ranges, or even the X100.

      History, who needs it …. huh!

  46. It looks lovely although the sensor is a bit small.

    I am enjoying my Fuji X Pro 1 at the moment but as this one is so cheap I might get one of these too, depending on what the tests say.

    I will be very interested to see it compared to the XP1 I must say.

    • In my opinion, stay with one camera. I have five and always shoot with my GH1. So mush wasted money on the others. It is a strange addiction, I can promise you that. 🙂

    • I was thinking about the Xpro1 but the sensor is a bit small, not enough dynamic range and the DoF gets ruined by the APSc.

  47. Looks like a nice camera with great potential.
    Didnt like the silver lenses on a black body-ugly in my opinion
    I read quite alot of articles about this camera ,never mentioned this odd and disturbing noise
    that will n o doubt prevent me from buying this camera no matter how good it is

  48. Steve,

    What is the strap you have on it in your overleaf?

    Also, going to be very interested in your take of the OMD vs. the NEX-7. Given that the NEX is going to be slower to autofocus, but better in other areas – which are you more drawn to when you can’t take the Leica?

  49. Hi Steve, I’m debating between buying the oly e-m5 and the sony nex-7. Since you are the owner of both cameras, can you give me your opinions about the two? Which one is better, or make a comparison of its use in real life?


  50. The video taken by nex7 is really sharp, but of course the nex 7 af speed prblem with really wide apertures.. I hope sony can obtain OMD AF speed, or olympus have nex7 sensor.

      • I agree that there are situations that they won’t be significantly different, but for the dynamic range and shallower DOF, a bigger sensor would be better.

        To add, the size of the OMD is no longer significantly different to the aps-c size mirrorless systems.

        • “To add, the size of the OMD is no longer significantly different to the aps-c size mirrorless systems.” …. until you start adding in lenses sized for an apsc sensor.

        • Agreed. I still can’t believe the Dynamic Range the 7 pumps out. The OM-D looks great though and will suit many very well.

  51. This E-M5 looks like a superb camera from Olympus – a pity that the 12mm and 45mm lenses tested are not available in a black finish.

    The noise the camera makes is very strange, and I have not heard about this from reading reviews. No doubt you will get the answer in due course, Steve.

    Many thanks for your early impressions – I am sorely tempted.

  52. Steve

    I’m very surprised you didn’t know about the OM-D humm

    All owner have it and it only quits down when you shoot video

    Word out is that it’s from the gyroscope sensors inside for the 5-axis stabalizer

    Nothing broken in yours

    But wow you’re probably the first to actually record it online and it is load!

    • I’ve got the Canon 24-105L which is image stabilized and you can hear the gyros after you half press to focus. Seems like it’s always going in the OM-D. Weird.

      • Yeah the OM-D is one noisy camera

        So far no one is reporting to have had a more noisy camera before

        But hey the noise is gone in video mode so no issue there and as long as it delivers in IQ and all then who cares

    • The gyros will not be making a sound. Its not spinning metal disks. Prolly MEMS. Its not the gyros. Forget about the gyros.

      • I read somewhere that the noise is the image stabilization, also…and that, yes…it still makes the noise when the IS is turned off???? That does make no sense. I don’t shoot the noise is not an issue for me…. I am starting to get tempted to pick up one of these…in spite of the noise. I will wait for your full review.

      • If you turn on/off the camera without a lens you will see that the sensor will move up/down even if the IS is disabled. Odd but it seems that the magnets of the gyroscope are always active when the camera is on. Too bad that humming noises drive me crazy because it is a beautiful camera. Now, I must confess that I am overly sensitive to noise… to put things in perspective I had to assemble my own PC without any moving parts so it doesn’t make any noise at all.

      • Not to jump in but yes it stays on even if IS is turned off

        And word out about this is that it’s for the image stabalized EVF

      • Steve, I picked up the camera in Japan on launch day. It is the IS, and it does stay on all the time. The system is completely different and it uses magnets to hold the sensor in place and those must be active even if the it’s not used to compensate for motion. You can kind of see this in action by turning the camera on without a lens on. The sensor will rise up slightly to it’s normal position by the magnets.

      • I got the camera at launch in Japan myself, and I can confirm that the hum noise stays on all the time. The only exceptions are when the camera is set to video mode (the noise is then greatly reduced to almost inaudible unless you put your ear against the camera), when the camera is in sleep mode or when the camera is switched off.

        You’ll be pleased to know however that, once you get over the initial shock, you will quite likely quickly get used to it. Plus, the noise is only audible in quiet environments. I’ve yet to hear it ever while shooting outside with the camera.

      • Got my E-M5 on launch day here in Japan, too.

        There are actually two separate noises, one that sounds like a fan (as you easily noticed), and another faint electrical sound. According to Olympus’ responses (on Japanese forums), the fan-like sound is a separate IS system running for the EVF — not for the sensor. The EVF IS turns off during movie mode. Olympus has unofficially said they will investigate whether the noise is problematic, but haven’t said anything otherwise.

        The second noise is actually for priming the magnets that hold the sensor in position while the camera is on. Take the lens off, and turn the body off/on and you will see the sensor pop into place. This noise is persistent no matter the mode, but is really quite faint that it won’t affect videos.

        These two together would explain why disabling sensor IS has no effect on the humming/fan noise, since the EVF IS is still running in all shooting modes, and the sensor must be held in place.

        I’ve used my E-M5 for the better part of 3 weeks now, and despite the odd fan sound (which you only notice in a very quiet room), I’ve had no problems whatsoever.

        • Physically impossible to have separate IS for EVF!
          4/3 DSLRs lacked stabilization in viewfinder which was showing direct optical image from lens instead of image from stabilized sensor but that doesn’t apply to m4/3: It’s same image from same single sensor both in EVF and rear display and both are either stabilized or not.

          “Digital” image shift stabilization (reason for jelly/wobbling effect in video of PENs) would also affect to image in both EVF and rear display but can’t itself make noise because of lacking physical action/movement of parts.
          But switching mode power regulation circuitries are known to be capable to making various noises in “right” conditions.

      • Steve,
        The noise is a known fact about EM5. Other owners have also observed it. There is an extensive discussion about this “fiasco” in DPR. It seems to be a non-issue for most owners since the noise is audible only when the environment is super silent and you do not hear it under normal circumstances. As you may have observed, the noise disappears when you switch to movie mode. So I don’t know why this would be a “deal breaker” for some here?There is also a theory that it looks fixable in a firmware update. So although the firmware 1.1 for EM5 is already released, I will not be surprised it there is another firmware update to fix this.

      • Just tried it out in a relatively quiet shop, couldn’t hear the noise. By the way to hold it is to love it. Looking forward to what Steve makes of it after putting it through it’s paces.

    • The whispery noise should hardly be a deal breaker unless you have very hyper sensitive hearing. It is constant, but is so quiet that normal ambient noise in most environments drowns it out. Right now I can’t hear it over the soft fan of my iMac, and those are very quiet for desktop computers. I’ve been shooting with my E-M5 for a week, and to be honest I find the noise kind of soothing. It is very similar to the sound you hear when you put a seashell up to your ear.

        • Those settings may already be there- the menu system is extensive & I haven’t had time to explore it all yet.

          • lol 🙂

            frankly i think its an accaptable comprimise, especially if you consider how good it is, almost as good as steadycam, for video shooting.

            I do wonder, if they can add extra feature to make it function always i quite (video) mode

    • If you look at videos on YouTube of the E-M5 being powered up with the lens off, you’ll see the sensor rise up to center itself behind the lens…the sensor in use is suspended electromagnetically in mid-air. THAT’s why it can do 5-axis image stabilization…it’s floating. The sound is caused by the suspension system. Robin Wong reported that he couldn’t hear it in normal use. I wouldn’t worry about it…you can always record some room presence to cover the hum if you’re someplace dead quiet (for video). More important to me is how quiet the shutter sound is…it makes a softer, less noticeable click than anything else (except for a small leaf-shutter film camera). Sony cameras sound like you’re banging trash can lids together by comparison.

    • This issue has been seen in many forums and has been well discussed and regarded as a non issue. Its sudden resurrection seems to be the same bods trying to be alarmist. The noise has been likened to the OIS in some high level tele lenses by people who have both. I have read nothing yet regarding the noise that will stop me getting one.

  53. I am not sure but is there any meaning of comparing 2 cameras only because they are mirrorless ? I think it is very important the different size of the sensor 4/3 and APS-C (NEX 7).

    • I don’t think with two cameras simply being mirrorless alone makes them go head to head, as a XPro vs GF3 wouldn’t make much sense, but the OM-D and XPro are both the so called flagship models of their lines and have a lot of features that appeal to enthusiast.

      Certainly m4/3 can also serve as more of a snapshot type camera for the Best Buy crowd with its auto modes, face detect etc, but given the body only is $1000, its probably not the m4/3 camera of choice for the average Joe Snapshot.

      XPro is also targeted to a very specific audience and is certainly less user friendly for the layman, and it seems like they almost purposely built the camera like that at times. Its pricier as well, but I do think there is a lot of possible overlap in the markets.

      I’ve got an OM-D on order and also own a Fuji X100. I was very interested in the Xpro as well but for me, I actually wanted something that was a bit easier to use camera to hand off to family members etc while still serving as a creative tool for me.

    • Like it or hate it a lot are cross shopping these products and some will choose OM-D over the others

      It’s not the size that counts it’s what you do with it

    • Crop sensor is a tiny bit bigger, so far test results are showing this sensor to be very comparable to the Nex7. Infraction comparable with the nex5n that has a better sensor.

    • Perhaps being mirrorless itself not enough but I’m currently in the market for a compact interchangable lens system. the NEX-7 and the OMD are two cameras I’m thinking about buying so I’m definitely interested in a comparison.

  54. Hey Steve,

    What is that material on the body, the stuff that looks like carbon fiber? Is it a grippy leather/rubber feel, or is it similar to, well, carbon fiber or some hard plastic with a grain?

  55. Dammit Steve…my wife is gonna be so angry at me soon, lol.

    This is great, I am waiting for your review eagerly, although it does not look bad in black with silver lenses, I think I will order a silver one so it matches my EP-3.

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