The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital Camera Review. Micro 4/3 finally matures…for real. By Steve Huff

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital Camera Review by Steve Huff

Micro 4/3 finally matures..for real.

Well here we are in May of 2012 and Olympus has now released a new line of Micro 4/3 cameras,  fittingly called the “OM-D”, which is actually a homage to the little “OM” of the film world.  The OM series has sort of a cult following and for good reason. Those little film cameras were so good, so small and so solid that even today many are still in use. The original OM series film cameras are highly recommended if you want to get into some low cost film shooting.

My original Olympus OM-1 that belonged to me for many years – was a GREAT camera and the 50 1.4 that I shot with it was also very good..and cheap! I think I paid $125 for the entire set.

But as for today in this digital world the 1st camera in this new OM-D line is called the E-M5, and the specs and details of this camera looked amazing when it was announced by Olympus. Everything that was missing from the already great E-P3 (my review here) was now included in the E-M5. A built in EVF, weather sealing, tillable LCD screen, better video quality without any jello effect, improved high ISO quality, a new button and control layout and even an optional grip that can not only be used as an additional handgrip with extra dials and buttons (which are nice and solid) but you can also add on an extra battery pack to the grip if you want more stamina. It all seemed so perfect… but I was wondering if the camera would live up to the hype, because they rarely do. I mean, this E-M5 has been hyped and marketed like mad so does it live up to all of  the hoopla?

The OM – DIGITAL – Same classic looks with that special old school charm

**NOTE:  for reference you can see my Olympus E-P2 and E-P3 reviews.**


I have been using the E-M5 for over 3 weeks now and have found the camera to be an absolute joy to use. Micro 4/3 has now really matured and Olympus has answered many of our concerns, needs, and wants and seriously, I am not sure how much better the Micro 4/3 format can get but keep in mind, this is still Micro 4/3 and will not give you the depth of field or richness of an APS-C or full frame sensor.

OM-D TIP! BEFORE YOU SHOOT THE OM-D E-M5 I recommend to TURN OFF the warm color setting in the picture IQ menu! Otherwise your images will all have funky warm colors! Many of the JPEGS in this review were shot with the warm color set to ON. I prefer it set to OFF..

This review will go over the usability, speed, ISO, image quality, lenses and just about everything that has to do with real world use of the E-M5. This is not going to be a tech head scientific review as anyone who knows me will know that I do not test cameras in that fashion. If I did, this would be a rather boring review.  I prefer to focus on the way we use the cameras – the way they handle, the controls, the joy of use. Does it inspire you to get out an take pictures? Will it put a big fat warm smile on your face? Will the image quality be really good and satisfy our needs?

THESE are the things I like to look for.

Also note, 75% of the images in this review, just like my E-P3 review, have been shot as JPEGS. So what you see here are mainly images that came right out of the camera. Olympus has usually been great with JPEGS and at the time I started writing this there was no real RAW support for the OM-D just yet. RAW support did become available after I was 3/4 of the way done with this so you will see some RAW shots here in this review as well. All images are marked either as JPEG or RAW.

So with all of that said..let’s get started!

Olympus E-M5 and the Olympus 12mm f/2  – A man and his wolf – OOC JPEG

Sexy thing that E-M5 …Weather and Splash proof. It can take rain and cold but do not dunk it in water 🙂

Is the E-M5 a Game Changer?

So right up front…is the Olympus OM-D E-M5  a game changer in the world of digital mirror less cameras? Well, not really. Sure it has a great body, great controls, and it has all of the stuff we wanted to see but at the end of the day there is nothing really revolutionary about it. It doesn’t have any magic fairy dust sprinkled inside nor does it have anything amazingly special. The image quality is pretty much on par with other Micro 4/3 cameras.

Basically, it is a souped up and hot rodded E-P3 that beats any Micro 4/3 to date in regards to usability and fun factor. There has been no Micro 4/3 to come before this that I liked better so while it might not be an overall game changer it is a game changer in the M4/3 world!

The PEN series has always been super fun to shoot. I loved and still love the E-P3 though it’s high ISO performance is lacking a bit. ISO 1600 was and is about the max you want to go to when shooting the E-P3. The E-M5 can shoot ISO 3200 and be fine and even 6400 can be used if you need it, even in low light (and yes, this guy can focus fast in almost any light). The ISO improvement in real world scenarios has been improved without any doubt. When you add in the other new features and the new 5-Axis IS then it is a no brainer to go for an E-M5 if you want a M4/3 camera today. It appears Olympus just lowered the price of the E-P3 to $799 which now makes it about $300 less than the E-M5 kit but the E-M5 is well worth the extra $300 just for all of the improvements (EVF, 5-Axis IS, swivel LCD, new sensor and better low light, better video, etc). I have spoken to some OM-D owners who said they would pay double for this camera just because it does so much right. That right there says quite a bit.

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In many ways, shooting this little camera has reminded me of the Nikon V1 (see my review of the V1 here). The speed, accuracy, and lack of any problems or quirks was refreshing. The way it should be when we plunk down our hard earned cash for a new camera. What I mean by that is that if I spend $2500 or more on a digital camera setup and it gives me hassles, issues, missed shots or can’t do what I need it to do then to me, it is worthless. If a camera can be responsive, do things it is designed to do without hassles and give me output that I can live with then all is good. The E-M5 is one of these cameras where ALL IS GOOD.

The OM-D E-M5 and Panasonic 25 1.4 – WHAT A COMBO!!

But it is Micro 4/3, the sensor is too small!

Many have this complaint about the M4/3 format and some shooters always will I guess. I hear it all the time. “The sensor is too small, it limits my depth of field”. Well, that used to be true but not today..well, sort of. With lenses like the newer 25 1.4, 45 1.8, and upcoming 75 1.8 even those who crave shallow DOF will have little to complain about. NO, you will not get the full frame super creamy DOF look but you can get nice results with the right lenses. Even with the new Voigtlander 25 0.95 and 17 0.95 it gets even better (if you are looking for a unique look, more on that below). This camera no longer has all of those limitations many associate with Micro 4/3.

Why? Well, because it has a fantastic sensor and when you add those amazing lenses it does just about anything you need it to do.

The Olympus 17 2.8 is a bit softer on the OM-D than the other lenses, but i is also the cheapest and offers a 35mm view

The 75 1.8 is sharp and with great color, fast AF and nice video performance – a little pricey at $899 but if this focal length is your thing..a steal.

The Voigtlander 17 0.95 up close – from RAW

The new 16MP sensor – It’s good 🙂

Have no fear! The new 16MP sensor in the E-M5 is a nice improvement over the E-P3 sensor, again, mainly in the area of ISO. The files are nice, the color has the typical Olympus quality and yes, the overall quality is there. The files are also bitingly sharp if need be. I have had no complaints with the new sensor and many suspect it is the same one that is in the Panasonic G3. This has not been confirmed though and there are those who say it is not. Me, I do not know the truth but I do know I really like this sensor and I have mainly been shooting in JEPG for the bulk of this review!

I do know that this new 16MP sensor (new to Olympus) is capable of very large prints and sharp output so in reality, this is as good as most people will need for their everyday photography, actually, even better. I have said it before but it’s all about the lenses and now you can have your choice between many quality lenses.

Check out the amazing detail at f/4 with the 17mm – from RAW – YOU MUST click image for larger view and full crop!

Check out the following images with 100% crops embedded  – click them for larger views and true crop – from RAW

This one was at f/4 – from RAW

With the 25 1.4 from Panasonic

The Specs of the OM-D E-M5 – What Olympus says and What I say. 

Here are the specs and features of the camera, or at least what Olympus has to say about it…followed by my thoughts

Intuitively Designed Electronic Viewfinder

What Olympus Says: The OLYMPUS E-M5 is the first Olympus interchangeable-lens camera to incorporate a 120fps refresh rate, high definition electronic viewfinder with an eye sensor to seamlessly switch the display between the tilting 3.0″ touch screen OLED and the electronic viewfinder for ease-of-use. It features a 100% field of view, maximum 1.15x magnification, and an eye point of 18mm for fatigue-free viewing. Camera setting information, such as shutter speed, is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder so photographers can concentrate on framing shots and take full advantage of an EVF’s ability to display the effects of various exposure adjustments and Art Filter effects – all without having to take the eye away from the viewfinder.

What I say: Well, the VF is great. No complaints. It seems to be crisp and clear and when you put your eye to the EVF it automatically switches on. Again, no complaints. In real use it works just fine. It is basically their newer VF-2 but since the camera is better in low light with less noise, the EVF has less noise than you would have found if using the VF-2 on the E-P3. No complaints. The EVF switches formats to whatever you switch to: 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, etc.

Superior Image Quality

What Olympus Says: The Olympus E-M5 uses a 16.1 megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor offering improved performance and exceptional clarity and speed in all aspects of image capture. Olympus’ TruePic VI image-processing engine dramatically improves image quality in low-light environments. The camera’s sensor allows for a maximum ISO of 25,600, and the dynamic range has been expanded for more faithful color reproduction

What I say: WOW, I was impressed by the high ISO performance of this camera. It is a big leap up from the E-P3 so BRAVO to Olympus. The camera will still not give you X-Pro 1 ISO performance but up to 3200 ISO it is VERY usable and actually very close to the X-Pro. I recommend to turn OFF Noise Reduction. Dynamic Range does indeed seem to be better as I have not had any issues with blown highlights. Overall, the image quality of this camera is damn good. Again, the best M 4/3 quality I have seen to date.

Panasonic 8mm Fisheye on the OM-D

Unprecedented 5-Axis Image Stabilization

What Olympus says: The Olympus E-M5 is distinguished by the world’s first 5-axis image-stabilization mechanism capable of reducing the effects of camera motion and image blur from five directions on stills and video, even including motion blur caused by the photographer walking or running. Previous IS mechanisms compensated for camera shake by addressing only two kinds of movement along the vertical and horizontal axis. However, camera shake can actually be caused by five different kinds of movement: horizontal shift, vertical shift, rotary motion, as well as the yaw and pitch. While some technology has attempted to correct for camera blur by building the Image Stabilization mechanism into the lens, the Olympus E-M5 IS mechanism is incorporated into the camera body itself so that all lenses mounted on the body can take advantage of this sophisticated technology, whether shooting stills or HD video.

What I say: I LOVE this 5-Axis IS. Simply put, I have never seen IS in a camera as good as this. Video almost seems “steady cam-ish”. For images it works just as good. Again, BRAVO to Olympus for this as it is another 1st that Olympus brought in. Remember when Olympus designed and created the dust shaker? Now almost everyone uses some form of automated dust remover.

Blazing Speed

What Olympus says: Focus and shoot faster with record-breaking autofocus speed and imaging processing. The Olympus E-M5 employs the FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF system, introduced in the PEN E-P3, but with even greater speed. The 16Mp Live MOS chip drives image data off the sensor at a blazing 240 frames-per-second, a 2x speed increase in Continuous Autofocus, with reduced image blackout enabling photographers to track fast action. Maximum frame rates in sequential shooting have also increased more than 2x with a max frame rate of 9fps in Single AF. A new 3D tracking AF system can follow the subject through the X-, Y- and Z-axes to dramatically improve focus on moving subjects.

What I say: The AF is faster than any mirror less camera I have shot with to date…in fact, faster than just about any camera I have shot with.

Creative Freedom

What Olympus says: The Olympus E-M5 features a 3.0″ tilting OLED touch-screen to enable photographers to get up high or down low for any shot. The touchscreen interface offers intuitive focus and release of the shutter and review and enlargement of images in playback with the touch of a finger. The Live Bulb feature updates the Live View image on the OLED screen at pre-set intervals during long exposures and enables the user to preview continually unfolding action such as fireworks or waterfalls and adjust the exposure time accordingly while capturing the image at the desired moment. An innovative new interface, EVF Creative Control, produces a tone curve overlay on the viewfinder screen to enable separate adjustment of highlight and shadow brightness, white balance, magnification and aspect ratio can also be manipulated via the EVF.

What I say: The tilting LCD is very useful. I often wished Olympus would put this onto the PEN series and now they did, but on this OM-D. I have used this much like I would shoot a hasselblad kit, at my waist and looking down at the LCD. Works great. The controls on the OM-D are good but I do have one complaint though. The buttons on the back are way small. For example the play button is so small, those with large fingers may have trouble. My fingers are small and I sometimes have problems with the smaller buttons on the back.

Powerful Portability and Rugged Durability

What Olympus says: The striking, iconic design of the Olympus E-M5 is more than just looks; its magnesium alloy body is rugged enough to stand up to severe environmental conditions like heavy rain and blowing sand. The Olympus E-M5 employs internal seals extensively and, when the optional M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50 mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens is attached, this combination delivers an integrated dustproof and splashproof camera system. The electronic viewfinder section of the body is also made of magnesium alloy to ensure durability, and the FL-LM2 Electronic Flash that ships with the camera features the same dustproof and splashproof construction

What I say: Again, BRAVO to Olympus! The fuji guys are not going to like me for  this one but I tell it like it is…the Olympus build quality is fantastic and with the weather sealing beats the Fuji build. When you add the 1st part of the external grip the camera feels really solid and comfortable. It feels like a camera well worth the $999 price. Then again, adding the grip will add $299 so you do have to add that to the cost if you want that solid comfy feel I speak of.

The OM-D E-M5 and 12mm at f/2

The OM-D and Voigtlander 17 0.95

Compatible with All Micro Four Thirds-Compliant Lenses

What Olympus says: The Olympus E-M5 is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds-compliant lenses, including two lenses that Olympus will introduce later this year: the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f/1.8 and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f/2.8 macro. The 75mm lens is a high-quality metal design with fast aperture settings for portraits and indoor sports shooting, while the dustproof and splashproof 60mm lens features 1:1 macro and a closest shooting distance of just 7.5 inches

What I say: YES! I am so looking forward to the 75 1.8 as I have heard it is going to be awesome. The metal build and quality construction will make it a popular lens. The 60 macro is also a welcome addition. Yes, Micro 4/3 has matured and it is finally an AWESOME choice if you are looking for a new system that is QUALITY. The 12mm, 25 from Panaosnic, the Voigtlanders, the 45 1.8 and upcoming 60 2.8 macro and 75 1.8 lenses really show that this format is here to stay. Even the cheap zooms such as the Panasonic 45-200 are fantastic, and CHEAP!

Cross Process Art Filter – Olympus 75 1.8 at f/4 – OOC JPEG. Click it for larger!

The Olympus OM-D and 17 0.95 at f/4

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and t he 45 1.8 at 1.8 – OOC JPEG at night.

My 1st impressions after Delivery of the camera. 

So after all of the hype..after all of the excitement and after all of the waiting for this camera to be released I finally had one come in thanks to Robert Jagitsch (e-mail him here) who managed to get me one the first week after the cameras were shipping, so THANKS Robert! When the package arrived it came along with the 12mm f/2, 45 1.8 and the grip. I am so glad I bought the grip though as it makes the camera feel SO much better as I feel it is a bit on the small side without it.

So with the grip attached and the battery charged I went out to snap a few quick snaps to see how the camera performed. I mean, I was excited to see if it lived up to the hype after all.

When I turned it on in my kitchen I heard a whirling purr..a sound that reminded me of a sea shell humming in my ear. What was this? I assumed it was for the new 5-Axis IS so I turned it off and it was still there! Hmmmm.

The only time it turns off is when you shoot video, and then the camera is silent. You can hear this sound in my 1st look video I posted to youtube…but keep in mind it sounds louder in the video due to it being right up to my microphone.

My 1st look video on the OM-D E-M5

So after I started shooting with the camera the sound disappeared. It is not noticeable when you are out shooting so it is not an issue. I have to say that after my 1st couple of days with the camera it felt like an E-P3 with an improved sensor, an EVF and nice handling. I liked it and after shooting it side by side with a Fuji X-Pro 1, I personally preferred using the OM-D to the Fuji. Why? Because quirky cameras frustrate the hell out of me, especially when you spend well over $2000 on them. So usability was high with the Olympus but I wondered if the IQ would hold up to the Fuji because this is where the Fuji struts it’s stuff’. (See my X-Pro 1 review HERE)

Overall, I was happy with the OM-D E-M5 though I felt it was on the small side without the grip. I also found the buttons on the back were a bit small, especially the playback button. Even my little thumb seemed to big for it.

All in all I was impressed with the OM-D E-M5 when it first arrived. It is pretty much what I expected and my 1st snaps looked really good though I knew that the IQ would not really match the X-Pro 1 I had shot for the few weeks prior. With that said, the IQ is really good and will satisfy most peoples needs very well. In fact, some who shoot this camera will rave about how amazing the image quality is. Now that I think about it again…in the right hands this camera could produce gorgeous results (I have seen it).

In regards to handling, this camera feels really good in the hand but without the grip feels a but too small. Almost like a mini camera. In my opinion, you need the grip for this one to feel good in your hand. With the grip it comes into its own. Also, button placement is really good. The dials on the top are solid and we have one for changing the aperture.shutter speed and one for EV. They are solid, and click into place nicely. The buttons on the back are a little small though, but not a deal breaker.

The OM-D with the fantastic Voigtlander 25 0.95 wide open. Again, this lens is sharp, contrasty and renders beautifully on the OM-D. I prefer it slightly to the new 17 f/0.95. When shooting at a distance the rendering is gorgeous .Up close it can get a bit creamy dreamy but the shot below shows what it can do. This is an OOC JPEG, click it for larger.

The 25 1.4 from Panasonic/Leica  – The best lens for this camera, period!

The Voigtlander 17mm  f/4 – OOC JPEG

The Panasonic 25 1.4 wide open

What Micro 4/3 has going for it..THE GLASS!

Well what is a camera system without GREAT glass? Not much, and even Sony has been getting a bunch of complaints about the lack of good lenses for their NEX system. People used to complain about M4/3 as well, until the last year or so when Panasonic came out with the SUPERB 25 1.4 and Olympus released the 12 ands 45, which I feel are two of the best M4/3 lenses available and they are beautiful to look at as well though I feel they should also be made in black for those of us who do not like black bodies and silver lenses.

Voigtlander Super Fast Nokton Lenses for Micro 4/3. The 17 and 25mm f/0.95

We also now have others in the M4/3 glass game – Sigma and even Voigtlander are now making lenses for this format and that is a good thing. I picked up the Voigtlander 17 and 25 f/0.95 super fast lenses to test with the OM-D and have sort of mixed feelings on them. They are beautifully made and have the Leica M glass kind of feel. Focusing is smooth, and the lenses are all metal and solid. The only issue is that they are large and heavy! If you got into this system to stay small and light then these lenses throw all of  that out of the window..then again, even with the 25 0.95 on this is still s much smaller setup than a DSLR with fat lens.

After shooting with them for a few days they started to feel really good on the body with the grip attached (I do not have the battery part of the grip on, only the grip) and it looked pretty bad ass..just big. I think I prefer the Panasonic 25 1.4 to the Voigtlander though. It is sharper and has a more “Leica-Like” rendering. The Voigtlanders are nice but render a bit flat, which is how I usually find Voigtlander glass.

Another thing is that these two lenses both have that signature “Voigtlander” look that I just spoke of so if you like that rendering then you will love these lenses. If you dislike this look, you will NOT like these lenses. Also note that these are not coded or chipped so when you shoot with them yo will NOT be able to see what lens you used or for aperture info in the EXIF. Kind of like shooting film so if you want to remember, you have to log it.

Shooting them in manual focus (they are NOT auto focus) is easy and quick and even without peaking I shot the images below without magnification or any help. You can easily manually focus just using the EVF. See some samples below from these two lenses. Yes, the EVF and LCD are good enough to nail focus without any assistance, at least they are for me.

One unique feature of the 17 is that you can configure it to have aperture clicks or set it to be clickless if you want to use it for cine or video. THIS is a nice feature and it is easy to switch using a dial above the aperture dial. VERY nice feature. Gives us a choice.

So bottom line on these lenses? If you don’t mind the size, they are really good for this format and better than plopping on a $6k Leica lens with a shoddy adapter as I feel Leica glass is best used on a Leica M body, period. They are full frame lenses and only when used on a full frame camera will you see the true beauty of the them. So to save some cash, if you want to buy a new fast lens for your M4/3 body, try out one of these Voigtlanders. They provide the build quality, silky feel and weight of Leica glass for a fraction of the cost and on a crop sensor, you really do not miss out on IQ.

The 1st three images are from the 25 f/0.95 Nokton – click for larger – OOC JPEG

Another OOC JPEG but shot with the “Toy Art Filter” which gave it that old school look

and one in square format..OOC JPEG

The next three are from the 17 f/0.95 -1st 2 are  OOC JPEGS, the dog was converted with Alien Skin 4

The fun little SLR Magic 11mm 1.4 Toy Lens

This little $169 lens is fun. I have not shot it since I did my review of it a while back but it is a blast when shooting in square format. It is not sharp, it vignettes and it has a very dreamy “holga-like” look but this is what makes the lens. I like it and am glad I pulled it back out to shoot on the OM-D E-M5. Again, no issues with focusing this manual focus lens and it could be fun to shoot if you want to do some creative styled portraits even.

All are OOC JPEGS shot in 1:1 mode with the SLR Magic lens

OMD TIP: Turn off face detection and just focus on what YOU want to focus on. Sometimes it will miss or focus on another part of the face. It can be set to focus on eyes specifically but I suggest turning it off and shooting without it. 

The Olympus 12mm f/2 and 45 1.8 – superb glass

These two lenses are sharp and have no real issues of distortion or vignetting. They give a more “perfect” rendering than the others but have less character as well. If you want a modern look with sharp images, great color and minimal distortions this is where to look. They are also really small and light compared to the Voigtlander beasts. To me, these lenses are some of the best of what the Micro 4/3 world has to offer. The 12mm is a bit on the pricy side but is made form metal and has the manual focus snap feature. It is a GREAT street lens.

The 12mm is great for interior and natural light as the f/2 aperture opens it up nicely – OOC JPEG – My mom making lunch

The 12mm will give you a wide 24mm equivalent – great for quick grab shots or group portraits – AWB did not nail this but got close!

Great bite and contrast even at f/2

The 45 1.8 at night – JPEG

The Olympus 17 1.8 Lens rocks as well! The Color!


The 5-Axis IS and the  HD video quality of the OM-D E-M5 

When Olympus started marketing the E-M5 they were touting this new revolutionary 5-Axis IS and how it will give you the best results yet for hand holding in low light. What I did not realize is how awesome it would be to use for video when shooting with movie compatible lenses like the 12mm and 45mm. WOW. When shooting with the 12mm it is almost like you have the camera attached to a steadicam!

Not only does the 5-Axis IS compensate for yaw and pitch, but also for horizontal shift, vertical shift and rolling motion. This does wonders for macro shooting.

The video quality is also so much better than it was with the E-P3 and  there is NO jello effect! Check out the video sample I made below to show the quality of the video this camera puts out. Amazing. I also enjoy my NEX-7 for video but it always overheats after 5-6 minutes which frustrates me on many occasions. The OM-D has not overheated on me at all yet. Hope it doesn’t.

Some will notice the OM-D E-M5 does NOT have an Audio Input for an external mic but the camera aid compatible with the Olympus SEMA-1 that attaches to the hotshoe of the camera. This allows you to plug in an external mic with a mini jack (not XLR of course).

The Olympus SEMA-1 external mic adapter is compatible with the OM-D E-M5

Shooting RAW – Better than JPEG? Yep!

As you can see almost every image in this review so far has been shot using standard JPEGS. I did so because RAW support was not available yet and honestly, many people love to see what these cameras can do with standard JPEGS. But after I was about 3/4 of the way done with this review, RAW support was released from Adobe so I suggest anyone shooting the E-M5 to shoot RAW as you will get better and richer file quality than JPEG. No question.

When shooting JPEG you will get nice results, but images may be a little flatter. Shooting RAW allowed you to enhance your image by changing your settings after you shoot. The works well to bring certain things out and make your image pop more.

All images below are converted from RAW with the E-M5

HIGH ISO Performance of the E-M5

I immediately noticed an improvement over the E-P3 when shooting low light and high ISO. NOW, FINALLY, this is usable in low light. The files stay sharp and what you see below are all samples from ISO 3200-12,800 processed from RAW with ALL NOISE REDUCTION TURNED OFF! So imagine how good these could look with a little NR.

OMD TIP: I suggest turning OFF Noise Reduction wether shooting JPEG or RAW. If RAW just dial it down using the sliders in your RAW processing software. You will get a little more noise but your file will retain the sharpness and detail as well. 

I prefer the NR off to keep sharpness and detail and ISO 3200 is still really good by M4/3 standards.

ISO 3200 – from RAW – No Noise Reduction at all – click image for larger view and full 100% crop

ISO 6400 – same thing as above

ISO 12,800 – same settings as the two above

Even ISO 12,800 seems usable if needed. The high ISO capability is superb and is no longer a weakness of this format.

Here are a couple of shots at ISO 3200-6400 in B&W – straight OOC JPEGS with NR turned off 100%! Shooting in this mode could yield impressive results when shooting street or when you want to add some mood to your images. I can’t believe how good ISO 3200 is now with M4/3!

ISO 6400? No problem

AF Speed

The AF speed is about the same as it is on the E-P3 in real world use, which is really fast. Olympus says it is a bit faster though and I can’t argue as I really have had no delays or hunts at all. What is really cool is using the touch screen to touch and shoot. One touch on the back and you not only get instant focus on what you touch but the camera will then fire and take the shot. I made a video showing a comparison in low light with the Fuji X-Pro 1. If you are a Fuji X-Pro 1 user and are happy with it, I suggest you do NOT watch the video. The bottom line FACT of the matter is that the Olympus focuses MUCH faster than the X-Pro 1, especially in low light where the Fuji does indeed struggle. On the flip side, the OM-D can’t compete with the Fuji in the IQ department.

So overall I have no complaints with the AF speed of the OM-D. I did NOT try shooting fast action or sports so can not really comment on the speed of the tracking. I would guess that it would snot compete with a upper end DSLR though. Still, for M4/3, this is about as fast as it gets and it blazes past the Fuji’s and Sony offerings.

The Art Filters –Great for fun JPEG shooting

One more thing the Olympus offers is the Art Filters that have been in every camera since the E-P1. Now we get quite a few filters but I still really only enjoy the Grainy B&W, Cross Process and sometimes the Dramatic Tone in B&W (the pic above was shot in this mode). You can access any art filter by pressing the OK button and quickly going to the picture style choices.

The Pinhole Art filter will vignette the image and richen the colors

Grainy B&W

The included filters include soft focus, pop art, key line, dramatic tone, grainy B&W, sepia, light tone, cross process, pale and light color and pinhole. There is not much to say on these as I have talked about them in the previous pen reviews and they are basically the same.

Compared To…

Being added May 16th-20th, come back and check!

Olympus E-M5 pros and cons


  • Small size but great feel and build
  • weather sealed and splash proof
  • Built in EVF
  • Swivel LCD
  • Much improved high ISO performance over previous PEN cameras
  • Super fast AF speed
  • Much improved HD video quality
  • 5-Axis IS works extremely well
  • Price is right at $999 for body only
  • Grip accessory makes the camera feel REALLY good
  • Has all of the same Olympus color, art filters and features
  • Touch screen LCD works amazingly well for shooting
  • There are some amazing TOP NOTCH lenses available for the system
  • Image quality is excellent as is dynamic range
  • Shoot in different aspects and EVF will show these aspects as well
  • Some buttons on the back are a bit too small
  • Slight hum when camera is on, but only heard when you are in a quiet room
  • camera can feel too small without grip
  • Grip is $299 – wish it was $199
  • Battery life is about 300 shots which is low compared to some other cameras

My Bottom Line Conclusion on the Olympus E-M5. 

So here we are at the end of this 6300 word review. The OM-D has impressed me and met all of my expectations. It seems Olympus has been getting better and better with each new release, so they have been listening to our wish lists. I have loved all of the PEN series cameras even though when I look back at the E-P1 it was seriously crippled in comparison to what we have to choose from today. The E-M5 is a serious camera with serious capabilities. When you shoot it with some of the quality glass you feel like you are shooting with a quality tool, and that is because you actually are.

I like to say that if a camera motivates you to shoot that is a huge step in the right direction. This camera motivates me to want to shoot with it, much like the little but extremely fun and useful Nikon V1 did when I reviewed it. I have not had this much FUN shooting and reviewing a camera since the E-P3 🙂 Yep, these camera are not only serious but fun as well! Do not confuse that with me calling it a toy as it is not, and anyone who says it is a toy is either a full frame fanatic or has never used the E-M5. Besides, cameras do not make the image, the Photographer does.

If you want something easy to shoot that can grow with you over time, the E-M5 is a great choice. It is amazingly versatile as well and it no longer has limitations of the 1st gen Micro 4/3 cameras as the sensor is now capable of great low light shots using higher ISO. The AF is blazing fast and accurate though I did have a few missed shots using the 45 1.8 where the camera focused BEHIND the subject. To be fair, the NEX-7 does this all the time with the Zeiss 24 and  the Fuji X100 and X-Pro 1 did it as well.

Even so, this camera rocks. No, it will not give you full frame quality. You will not get that Leica look nor will you have the capabilities of a Nikon D800. BUT if you want a small little well made powerhouse that does almost no wrong, the E-M5 is one of my TOP picks right now in the smaller camera/larger sensor market. In fact, I bought mine and am going to keep it to replace my E-P3 that I sold a little while ago. BTW, The handling without the grip is a bit on the small and cramped side, but with the grip it is fantastic.

If you want a small system that offers fast AF, great metering and offers just about everything you could ask for including super HD video, the best IS system of any mirror less camera to date and well, a camera that just plain works, then take a long hard look at the E-M5.

To all of those who feared M4/3 in the past, fear no more. The E-M5 is versatile, capable, fun, serious, well built and offers everything we can ask for in a take anywhere camera. BRAVO OLYMPUS! I highly recommend this one guys as I can not imagine anyone not liking it (as long as you have at least one good lens). Yes, Olympus  has paid tribute to the original OM series with the E-M5 and they did it well.

My recommended lenses for the OM-D E-M5

The Olympus 12mm f/2 – At $799 it is not cheap, but it is quality all the way. Superb lens for this camera system. This is a 24mm equivalent. (see more shots in my E-P3 review)

The Olympus 45 f/1.8 – Great for portraits and shallow depth of field. This will give you a 90mm equivalent. $399 (quick review here)

The Panasonic 14 f/2.5 – Want a less expensive wide angle prime? This one is just about as good as the 12 for MUCH less! (review here)

The Panasonic 25 f/1.4 – A Panasonic/Leica collaboration so it has to be good right? A 25 Summilux for your M4/3. $539 but worth it though the lens is larger and rattles the aperture when you are powered on. (quick review here)

The Panasonic 20 f/1.7 – The original and classic! This is a great lens and if you can find it, buy it! (review here)

The Panasonic 45-200  – (for those who want a good quality tele zoom on the cheap) (see it in use in my G2 review)

The Voigtlander 17 f/0.95 – This one is big, it is heavy, but it gives you the speed you sometimes need!

More samples

Below you can find more snaps I shot while I was reviewing the camera. They are a mix of JPEG and RAW and with various lenses. This camera was so much fun I found myself snapping shots of almost anything 🙂


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  1. Hi Steve – Thanks for the reviews. I have been reading some of your posts past few night since i am on the hunt for new lens for my OMD EM5 original.. Very interested with the prime lens Oly 17 1.8 but would like to clarify few things with you first before i purchase it.

    I love good dreamy bokeh pictures for portraits, but at the same time i need lens that would be able to help shoot landscape when i am traveling/hiking. Seems like this lens is good for street photography.. but do you think landscape pic would work as well? Think about Machu Picchu landscape.. or the Antelope Canyon. I am currently using the kit lens for almost 2 years and gotta say while it’s been good, I find myself craving for more, a better picture quality esp in low lights setting. My only concern was there’s no zoom capability of the lens.. and since i decided to explore more lens, right now i am really overwhelmed with the number of choices available for the lenses.I would really appreciate your advice! Thanks in advance and HAPPIEST NEW YEAR 2016! 🙂

    • Well, I find the 17 best for people/portraits or yes, street. For Landcape some have complained it is not tack sharp across the frame. I preffered the 12mm f/2 for landscape shots and sometimes, even people. It comes out to be 24mm in 35mm terms. The 17 is lovely though, just prbably not the best for LS. It will best your kit zoom, ANY Oly or Panasonic prime will beat that kit zoom. Another option would be the Panasonic 15, which is sharper, more contrasty and has a tad more punch than the Oly 17 and would work better for LS.

  2. hi steve, you do very good review. 🙂
    Ask : i’m a Nikon D3 & Canon EOS 7D user, and i really excite about the OMD E-M5. but, i’m worried about noise on mft because that small sensor. have you compared the e-m5 vs Nikon D3 or Eos 7D noise for high iso.
    i’m a wedding photographer, shoot indoor in a low light situation. can this Olympus E-M5 replacing my gear?
    thx 🙂

    • I know more pros who use E-M1’s than I do that shoot Canon or Nikon. I would not jump into Micro 4/3 for weddings though unless you have shot them for a while to learn the strengths and weaknesses. No M 4/3 will give you low light performance like a D3, A7s or other full frame camera.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for all your excellent reviews. I recently bought an OM-D EM-5 after hankering over one for some time. I also added the M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens as I really wanted a fast “normal” prime lens. I am absolutely delighted with my choice which was made, at least in part, by my desire to return to my “roots” with Olympus OM-1, OM-2, OM-4Ti camera bodies and Zuiko prime lenses.

    The first time I held the OM-D in my hands it felt very natural, solid, well-built and light and the 25mm lens is as sharp as any of the best lenses I’ve ever used. I’ve owned all sorts of cameras over the years including big, heavy Canon DSLRs but never really enjoyed the weight and size of these cameras compared to my OM film cameras of old and the EM-5 gives me the best of all worlds, feature-set, picture quality, style and good old fashioned 100% un-diluted “nostalgia”. 🙂

    My flickr page is here if anyone is interested :

    Thanks again for all your excellent reviews.

    Best wishes


  4. Hi Steve… my question to you is what size of print can you make from this format.. I am currently using D700 and usually print 34 x 30 with no issues at all, will I be able to push that far with M 4\3??

  5. Hi, Steve. Who were you named for? I’m 64, and was NOT named for Steve McQueen, but Steve Reeves!
    My question concerns auto-focusing with the 40-150mm, with the digital 2x extender turned on. I was shooting H-1 unlimited hydroplanes from a distance of about a quarter-mile away, and COULD NOT get the lens to stay focused on the boat. I tried “C-AF”, “S-AF” and “S-AF with tracking”, but the focus kept rocking in-and-out. After-the-fact, I realized that I had “face recognition” still turned on, so that may have caused the problem (no faces to find). I’m going to the Goodwood Revival in England this September, shooting race cars, and I’m wondering if you’ve figured out a solution for the 30fps video focus-tracking problem. Turn off face recognition? Go completely manual focus?
    -Steve Rounds (RetiredDP)

  6. Hi Steve, love the site, thanks!

    Regarding the Panasonic 25 1.4 — do you lose any capability using that lens that you’d get with an Olympus branded lens (autofocus, exposure, etc.)?

    Also if you don’t mind… I had a question about stabilization back at Q# 169 I’d love your thoughts on.

    I have the OMD on loan from a mutual friend and am loving it. Should have my own sometime soon. It’s a damn fine camera, mostly using the Olympus 45 1.8 lens now, but need that nifty fifty.


    • Hey Joseph! Good to hear from you. In regards to the Panasonic lens, you lose NOTHING and it is amazing on the OM-D. I’ll have to find the question you are referring to and get back to you on that one. But the 25 1.4 is the best M 4/3 lens out there, and will give you that fast 50 you crave 🙂

      • Thanks Steve, good to know, thanks. I can’t wait to try it out!

        The other question I was referring to starts “Regarding image stabilization” if you search for that above, or text search “Linaschke” on this page and you’ll see it.

        Thanks again!

        PS — please stop raving about the Sony RX-1. It’s tempting as hell but I don’t need to spend the money!! You’re not making it any easier to resist :p

  7. Hi Steve, just an info! New E-M5 firmware Ver.1.6 (Feb. 19, 2013)

    *The highlight and shadow control function was modified so the exposure settings are applied correctly at ISO 2000 or higher.
    *The issue that occasionally prevented operations during long exposures was resolved.

  8. Hi Steve,
    First time at your site and found it very informative, long time Olmypus owner with owning E 510,e-30-, e-5 , just purchased a OMD with the 12 to 50 and 40 to 150 kit lenses also, these do not compare with the 12-60 /50 to 200 SWD 4/3rds lenses I use on the E-5. The reason I got the OMD was basically was for the size, just powered it up today and it is a very feature filled camera for sure. I read your review on the 17 mm prime from Olympus and You seemed to give it pretty decent marks, I am looking for one more lens for this camera and I do not not want to use my 4/3rds lenses just to save size, even with the adapter, I have the the Zuiko 50mm macro I use for my larger bodies and would like to duplicate that quality.
    On the OMD do you have the IS on all time ? On my other bodies I would use it on the slower shutter speeds. With the higher ISO capabilities on the OMD I am not sure how IS should be used.
    Bob M

  9. Thanks Steve.
    I was actually thinking of the 20mm f1.7 from Panasonic, although its not as wide and bit more expensive.
    Before I bought the Omd I consider the two options you mentioned, but the Omd overall feel-good-factor just won me over.


  10. Hi steve, am using the Omd with the 24 f1.4. I love this combo.
    However, at times I wish it could be even smaller and lighter, especially as I carry it everywhere, everyday.
    Question: will the pancake lens make a difference and how good the IQ will be compare to the 25 f1.4?

    • The 25 1.4? Great lens. If you mean the 17 2.8 pancake, no it will not give you the same IQ as the Panasonic 25 1.4. If you want smaller than the OM-D…there are not many choices. Fuji X100 is thinner. NEX-6 is smaller but when you tack on the fat lenses it loses that size advantage. The OM-D is pretty tiny and a fraction of what a DSLR with lens weighs. The 17 2.8 is tiny and good, just not 25 1.4 good.

  11. Hello Steve,
    I am considering the purchase of the Em5 and just would like to understand whether using e.g. the Panasonic 25 f1.4 on the Em5 requires an adapter? It seems logical but in your review you use different make lenses on the Em5 without it becoming clear (to me) what adapters you possibly used for doing so.
    Thank you for your response,

  12. Great review Steve; thanks for taking the time to be so in-depth and glad you’re loving the camera!

    I’m an intermediate hobbyist and have a D300 currently. I love the camera but have been enticed into looking very closely at the m4/3 realm with all the advances that Olympus/Panasonic have been making as well as the various lens manufacturers for the m4/3 systems.

    I noticed in the review that you were using a lot of prime lenses and I typically shoot with a standard zoom (18-105). I was wondering if you have any experience in the m4/3 standard zoom lenses or could point me to a review someone else has done on the topic… much appreciated!

    As an aside, I was able to play with the Esilver -M5 at a local camera store this morning and I have to say I agree with everything you say in the review in terms of build quality, button placement, etc… it’s a beautiful camera!



  13. Great review. Am considering this purchase as a second camera while living in remote Guatemala for two months. Non-confrontational size appeals with ease of op and large pixel size. But the HUM? Did it ever go away?

  14. Hi Steve,

    Fantastic review always great reading your thoughts. I’ve decided to buy the omd with 12-50mm kit. I’ve been shooting with a Nikon d7000 and various lenses but been looking for something lighter and more compact the omd fits the bill.

    I’ve just bought the Omd with 12-50 kit lens. I’ve also bought the Panasonic 14mm, Sigma 19mm, Sigma 30mm and Olympus 45mm. Hopefully in time I’ll also get the Olympus 12mm, Panasonic 25mm and Olympus 75mm. I’m out of funds though until I sell all my Nikon gear.

    I’m currently considering getting a Fuji X100/X100s or maybe even a Fuji x10/x20 as a back up camera when my Nikon gear is sold or possibly the rx100. That’s going to be a tough one though as I love the colours of the Fuji but I know how much you like the rx100. Of course I could just buy an epl3 or epl5, tough decisions 🙂

    Keep up the great reviews on the site I really appreciate the time and effort you put into it all 🙂


  15. Steve, just purchased a silver OMD from B&H through your site. Your site has been very informational and helpful for me through the last few years so I thought I would give back. Very much looking forward to the new OM-D, the first camera I ever purchased was an Olympus OM2 25+ years ago so in some ways I guess its full circle. I have used many different cameras in the past thirty years and this will be the first one that I buy new, it was a tough decision but I hope it works out.
    Tim in Santa Cruz CA

  16. Steve,

    Really love this site. I’m purchasing the Olympus OMD and wanted to know if you had to only 1 lens for this camera to shoot with as a beginner photographer, which would it be Panasonic 25 1.4 or something else? Maybe the kit lens?


  17. Hi Steve,

    Love your site! I used to own a Canon 500D. It could not handle the odd knock or sprinkle of rain and I am finding myself looking for a new camera. I am an ecologist and love macro, bird and natural landscape photography. I can’t decide if i should purchase something like the Canon 7d or 5d or the Olympus OMD EM5? I really want something slightly rugged and as small as possible without losing out on quality photos and shooting in low light. Any ideas anyone?



  18. Hi Steve,

    I love your blog and pictures!
    I love your inspiring enthusiasm as well. My wallet will complain after reading the Olympus OM E M5 (what a name) review…..hmmmm…..decisions decisions…to buy or not to buy.

    My belated comment is that the noise from the camera may be from the image stabilisers working. I wonder if there would be a noise if you switched off the OIS.

    Thanks and

    Happy New Year!

  19. Regarding image stabilization: on regular dSLRs, it’s conventional wisdom that enabling IS when shooting at higher shutter speeds (over 1/125th or so, IIRC) will actually introduce blur into the image. Enabling/disabling IS on the E-M5 requires a deep menu dive, so if you choose to leave it on all the time, is the camera smart enough to disable or turn IS off when at higher shutter speeds?


  20. Great review! Keep up the good work.
    I have a question though, can the E-M5 couple it’s spot-metering with the selected (off-center) af-point? Thanks!

  21. HI Steve, Just wanted you to know that I gave you some link love at the end of my blog post of the Olympus OMD EM5. Thank you ao much for being an early adopter and for such a great review. It helped me to make a great decision an purchase the Oly5.

  22. Steve: You inspire. I sold FM3A + D700/primes a couple months ago. Tortured over what lightweight gear to buy for my (purely enthusiast) photography, mostly my 4yo kid + urban photography in San Francisco. I just picked up a black OM-D EM-5 + Lumix 25 f/1.4 at my local dealer. I still have my Sony RX1 on pre-order. Can you validate that this OM-D isn’t overkill as a “flexible companion” for my upcoming RX1? This is getting expensive! – JP

  23. just wanna commend you on this post — great post! very detailed and informative. and love your extra bit about e recommended lenses. thanks 😉

  24. Hi Steve,

    Just wonder about the Olympus OM-D E-M5, if one can sort of manually focus when shooting at night ? Is it possible to do that with the EVF ? Is it difficult to determine if an object is in focus through the EVF ? (I’ve never used a EVF) I’m currently a canon DSLR owner, but seriously am thinking about moving to that OMD, as it’s smaller and lighter as a DSLR and therefore more situated for travel. Don’t want to carry on too much bulk for airline travel and hikes. Thank you very much for your very good hands-on report of that camera, Steve. Outstanding work.

  25. if you already own Oly m ed 9-18mm, would you upgrade the pen body to OMD and why? assuming you will use the 9mm 80 to 90% of your shoot.

    thank you.

  26. D TIP! BEFORE YOU SHOOT THE OM-D E-M5 I recommend to TURN OFF the warm color setting in the picture IQ menu! Otherwise your images will all have funky warm colors! Many of the JPEGS in this review were shot with the warm color set to ON. I prefer it set to OFF..

    How do you do this??? are you talking about the wb auto setting keep warm color to off?

    • Well I have not tried the V2 yet…IQ from the OM-D is “smoother” – V1 may be a tad quicker and smaller but nod goes to the OM-D if you go with the better lenses for it. If just kit zoom, Id go V1 but again, with lenses like the 12mm, 25 1.4, 45 1.8 and 75 1.8 the OM-D is stellar.

      • Steve thanks for the info. I have now been looking at the Sony nex 7. I want the best travel camera that is light. We want great video to. Is the video better on the Nikon v1, Sony nex 7, or omd? I’m looking for fast, smooth autofocus. Probably want a good kit lens with one other lens.

          • hello,thank you for the reviews…
            one question..
            i just bought a e-pm1 with panasonic 20 1.7..
            i am thinking of selling the body to buy a pm2 or epl5…
            then i see your nikon v1 review that is on big sale noa and with the nikkor 35 mm 1.8 lens i am confused…
            what do you recommend ? this will be my only camera and i dont want to spend too much for start?is the differences big?

  27. Love the post. I just picked this camera up a few weeks ago along with the 20mm lumix /1.7 and the 45mm oly lens.

    Great lenses and the camera performs very well at low light with that in body IS. It does take some getting used to, but I can say that it is great for travel. I wouldnt replace my 5d M2 with it though for studio work… but thats just me. For travel, this camera is great 🙂

    -David Pino

  28. steve — i am an amateur who is looking into getting a better camera and taking photography more seriously. you mention in your review: “anyone who says it is a toy is either a full frame fanatic or has never used the E-M5. Besides, cameras do not make the image, the Photographer does.” what do you mean by full frame fanatic? compared to what? before i bought my canon rebel xti a number of years ago i had a cheap olympus that did not shoot what i saw in the frame. is this what you mean and if yes — how much do you lose from what you see in the VF compared to the image you get? if this is not what you mean, would you please explain. thanks and sincerely, tg

    • The OM-D does not have a full frame sensor and many feel this makes it inferior. True, it is not as good at high ISO as a modern day full frame camera and it does not give you the same shallow depth of field effects as a full frame camera but in every other area this OM-D competes with full frame. You also lose weight, size, bulk and expense. What you see in the VF of the OM-D is exactly what you see in the image. I was referring to sensor size.

  29. Hi Steve, great review of the EM-5. I’ve narrowed my choice down to this camera and the Lumix G5. I’m curious which one you would recommend. When you add in the handgrip, do you think the cost differential between the two is worth going with Olympus for a hobbyist? There are nice features that come with the G5, but I don’t want to sacrifice on picture quality.

    As well, can you comment on IBIS vs. OIS?


  30. Hi Steve, I love your website. Great pictures and really useful reviews. Good stuff! I have my OM-D since a couple of weeks now and I am really stoked about it! What a great camera. I had doubts about the EVF at first (I am used to a Nikon F3HP and other film SLRs), but I agree with you : its really good once you know what it does. I don’t agree with a lot of comments on the web that some buttons are too small. My hands are not so small and I find the controls just right. The only disappointment is the limited battery life. I think the kit zoom lens is not bad at all, but I soon got the 45mm lens after seeing your review of it : I can’t believe the OOF it gave when I shot some flowers wide open with it! This is really a killer camera! Love it. Thanks and keep the good work going! Benny

  31. Thanks, Steve. 25mm 1.4f sure will be on my top shopping list. If I had extra cash to burn, what would you recommend next to add, 12mm/7-14mm/9-18mm or 75mm?

    Thank you

  32. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the great post and fantastic photos. I have just gotten my OM-D E-M5 with the stock lens 12-50mm and 45mm f1.8. What would you recommend for the next lens to build a all around tool box, 12mm or 25mm 1.4f? Any good Macro lens out there to suit this great camera?


  33. Hi steve,
    I’ve just read DxOMark’s review of the OM-D E-M5 and it makes for interesting reading. Most people, including myself, thought that Olympus has defied the laws of physics with the OM-D. Unfortunately, its ISO 3200 is actually ISO 1489 and its ISO 1600 is actually ISO 782 (for RAW files). In my opinion this is very deceitful and I would be interested to hear of your thoughts on this. To be fair, Olympus is not the only manufacturer with fudged ISOs – Fuji X100 ISO at 3200 is actually ISO 1012.
    Thank you

  34. Hi Steve,

    Firstly, great review! Have to admit I am very envious of both your job and your camera collection 😉

    I’m after a little advice and feel you may be able to help as you view cameras from a real world use perspective rather than getting bogged down in the technicalities.

    I currently shoot with a Canon G9 and my iPhone 4. Street/Candid/reportage is my main discipline/love but I also shoot action for my friends Thai boxing club (badly lit gyms, fast moving people).

    I am currently saving for a ‘proper’ camera – considering FF for its low light performance and a camera that i can invest in and grow into as a photographer.

    Do you think something like the OMD would serve my needs? I do not yet sell my work but it is my dream long term – so IQ is quite important to me along with low light performance.

    I’m essentially looking for a solid ‘all-rounder’

    I was considering saving more long term and investing in something like the Canon 5D MkIII but wondered if you thought something like the OMD would serve me well? (I appreciate it would not match the 5D).

    Have to admit the retro look really draws me as I have always loved/inspired by the old schooll/life magazine ‘reportage’ type photography.

    If you have the time I would really appreciate any advice you might have before I commit to a system…

    Here are examples of the kind of stuff I shoot:

    Iphone 4:

    Canon G9 (street):

    Canon G9 (action/low light):

    Many thanks in advance if you do get chance to look/reply.

    Stu – dreaming of one day making my hobby my career/lifestyle.

      • Hi Steve,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. Yep I was thinking along those lines as this will be a big investment for me. I’m not in a position to keep jumping ship so need/want to make the correct decision first time around.

        Will cross my fingers for now and hope that something out of photokina makes my decision a little easier…

        Thanks again.

  35. I do not like the looks of this camera. It looks (a little, not so nice ) like a the old Olympus OM-1, a classic! But it is the opposite, no mirror, no FullFrame. It is shoddy. And I really do not like the size of the sensor, although that has a historical background for Oly, but not on the OM-1 .

  36. Hi Steve!!Thank you for your best review !.I love my OM D very much but i wish it had a bigger sensor like Sony NEX 7.So i’m going to give NEX 7 a try.
    So Can you give me some comment on IQ between Olympus OM D + PL 25mm 1.4 and Sony NEX 7 + CarlZeiss 24mm f 1.8 at the same situation.Thanks again and sorry for my bad English!

  37. Hi Steve, Firstly i want to thank you for the fascinating site! so much passion to photography in every review.
    i have been reading your reviews on and on and decided to focus on the OM-D (good in every aspect).
    My question is which lens to take. I could REALLY use your help / suggestion:
    I want to buy 1 lense intially and then develop it… and am considering either the 45 f1.8 or the 25mm f1.4 (leica pana).
    As you pointed out the 45 has a great shallow DOF and its very sharp but the 25mm seems to be better all rounder (allthough it comes in black only (?) and i prefer silver).
    which one should i choose?

  38. Steve, after reading your review on OMD Em5 I felt confident enough to purchase the camera. I will let you know more once I receive it. Thx!

  39. Steve,

    In your earlier reviews I see you exclusively using the extra grip with the OM-D. But in more recent review I see you using the OM-D without the extra grip.

    Have you had a change of heart about the extra grip?

    I have the OM-D and I love its grip as is. I much prefer it to grips of SLRs I’ve handled. I just see the optional extra grip as adding bulk to a camera that is aimed at being small.

    But I want to hear your opinion about the extra grip and the inherent increase in size and weight since you like small cameras over SLRs.

    • No the grip is fantastic. I used it on my black OM-D and when I sold the black one when my silver one was on the way I gave the guy a package deal with the grip. I figured I would buy another later but I have yet to find it in stock. The grip is awesome with the OM-D. Love it. It does add bulk and make it DSLR like though so some may not like it at all. I have to say though, using it without the grip is also fine once you get used to the small size.

  40. Hi Steve!

    Does the lumix 25mm f1.4 focus well in this camera? What other camera does this lens can auto focus as well?

  41. Steve,
    I don’t know about your comment – “the Fuji Xpro-1- beats the OMD in image quality”.
    In looking closely at this site, using the COMPAROMETER – I see the OMD ( EASILY )
    BEATING the XPRO-1- in resolution, and in color depth… I was surprised.
    Look in the lower right at the circular wheels.


  42. Steve – did you have a chance to try the external MIC for the OM-D? I have browsed a lot but did not find any video samples (or comparisons) with one. I would be in particular interested how does it handle wind.

  43. Thanks for the review. I picked up the EM5 a couple weeks ago as I absolutely loved the feel of the body and the balance with the M43 lenses. After dragging around my D300 for the past few years, I was ready to downsize all my gear (I guess my MacBook Air has made me lazy when it comes to carrying big hardware). I tried an Olympus 4/3 system before (E-620) , but found it to have a very cheap unsatisfying feel to it, though the pictures were serviceable (but not exciting).

    The EM5 changes everything, it makes things fun again. I got the 14-50 kit lens and the 9-18. Also ordered the grip. I then found the E-PL1 kit with the 14-150 for much less than the cost of the lens itself. So now I have a pretty nice backup body and a complement of lenses that replace my Nikon 12-24 and 18-200 perfectly and fit in a very small bag. Even the included flash performs much better than I expected. Now just to build the toolbox with the 14, 25, and 45 primes and a more capable flash and not look back.

  44. Hi Steve, I’m torn between getting either the Sony NEX7 or Olympus EM5. It seems like both are really good investments. I’ve been reading reviews for both cameras but still impressed with both, equally. I plan on doing some street photography and have photo journals to keep as part of my daily life. I want to shoot random subjects along the streets as part of my life journal. I’m wondering if which of these two would you actually suggest me to get? Which would help get more artistic shots and good shots at night/dark indoor? I also plan to do some short video as part of my journal however I saw in your review that it overheats or this problem has been addressed in the latest stocks released by the company? I’m sorry to flush so many questions, but it would really be a great help to hear your opinion about which I can get best. Thank you for such fantastic reviews. All the best!

  45. Hello Steve and thank for the awesome reviews you do.We do not care about the specifications.We want to know how does it feel to the real world.Thank you.Now my question, i am between NEX7 and the OMD
    please help me to choose i cannot decide…
    Did i say thank you?
    Thanks again…

    • Well, everyone will be different as to what camera speaks to them but I like both. The OM-D is quicker and does no wrong with the right lenses. The NEX-7 is sleeker and feels good in my hand AND puts out a richer file but the lenses are lacking. Tough call! I’d say the Oly due to the glass available.

  46. Is anyone reading this far down the comments list?
    Brilliant review Steve, and your video demos really show what the camera(s) can and can’t do. And the fish demo clearly shows why so many cameras promise a lot but don’t measure up in practice. Sorry Fuji!
    Have been telling everyone for the last five years how I was sticking with my film M camera because I was not impressed with digital. And this camera the OMD EM5 has changed all that. It has a good finder, it focuses without fuss ( Hooray! ) has an effective image stabilization system, Good color,’s never that the camera can do one or two things well but as you say in the review it has to perform across the board…well, I broke down and bought one.
    This must be the best handling camera I’ve ever used and was obviously designed by photographers. The menus certainly take a bit of time to get used to and are frustrating as hell at first, but designing something as versatile as this can’t be easy either ( for all those who are complaining about the controls not being perfectly placed ) but once you get past that, this is one amazing machine!!! To be honest I can’t remember the last time I was so happy with a camera. And at last…a decent viewfinder!!!!

    Two things I’d like to say…we have all got used to kit lenses with so so or poor performance. The 12 – 50 kit lens for this camera is not one of those. In fact it’s really good ( though obviously not on the level of the 12, 45 or 75 as it’s a zoom ) It is plenty sharp with a good range and when I see the results at the macro setting, it is seriously hard to believe they are not taken with a dedicated macro lens.( and compared with a full frame sensor at that! ) Weatherproofing and video compatibility are icing on the cake. This is easily the best kit lens I’ve ever used. I’d say most people would be surprised at the quality. So I wouldn’t be so quick to ignore this one.
    It is certainly worth using Leica glass on micro two thirds if you already own it. For the price of a converter you have the ability to double the focal length of your lens with Leica quality and the tele focal lengths work well optically. M camera and OMD system are a nice pairing.
    Minus points? With a camera that needs power for everything Olympus need to make a more powerful battery which can cope with all day shooting. I hope the EM5 , EM7 whatever, will have that. The extra battery in the grip isn’t a complete solution to that. Some of us use our cameras far from home and it’s difficult to find an AC outlet in a tent in the Sahara. Just an example but you get the idea. And it’s a bit cheap of Olympus not to provide lens hoods and expensive for the customer to have to buy them when we already have to buy the expensive extra batteries.
    Except for that, I’m all smiles with this camera.Great start to the OM-D system Olympus!

    • Sorry, I meant to say EM-7, EM-9 ( Tricky all this numbering stuff! ) or whatever name they come up with for the next model!

  47. First time caller, long time listener. First of all Steve, thanks for all the time and hard work you put into your reviews and this website. Always entertaining and informative. In regards to the EM-5, would you yourself feel confident using it in a professional setting? i.e (weddings, corporate events, portraiture)


  48. Hi Steve,
    Great review here. I stumbled upon your site when looking for camera reviews. Stepping up from PNS to something more sophisticated and something that I can start taking some serious pics with – family photos, action (kids playing sports), expandable and versatile and grow into the hobby. I pretty much know nothing and have been learning a lot as I read all the reviews. I definitely like how candid you are about what you are reviewing, it takes the spin out of the review.
    I am considering the following cameras and would love to get your opinion:
    Olympus OMD-EM5
    Olympus E-PM1
    Nikon V1

    I know they are very different, the V1 and EPM1 being closest to each other.
    I can get an EPM1 with the 14-42mm and an additional 45mm lens for $800, Nikon V1 10mm and 10-30mm for $900, and the EM5 with the standard 12-50mm for $1200.
    Thank you,

  49. great review steve!
    I stumbled upon your site when I started looking for reviews and I am very impressed that you have maintained your unbiased and honest opinion when reviewing cameras. I am looking to step up from the standard point and shoot cameras to something much more robust and versatile, and for the art. I don’t mind investing in a nice piece of hardware one bit, would much rather buy quality product. Being new, like a virgin, to the more sophisticated side of photography I have narrowed the field down to the following and was wondering if you could help me out, especially since there is quite a jump in price between the cameras:
    Oly OMD EM5
    Nikon V1
    Oly EPL-3

    Thank you,

  50. Hi Steve,

    I am looking for a new camera to take photos for my 10 months old kid.i am on a budget of $1400-$1500(AUD).I decided on two Olympus EP3 with 12mm glass ($1500) or OMD EM5 with 12-50mm glass ($1400). Please help me to choose one.Or would you suggest me to go to Nikon D7000 ($1500) with the kit 18-105mm lens.I am stepping up from Point&Shoot. I want the best picture quality straight out of the box.Please help me to choose one or make a best recommendation if you think anything else.


    • Sonny,

      Steve will most likely respond, but I recently bought the OM-D to shoot pictures of kids, so I will throw in my two cents. The picture quality of the D7000 (and even the new D3200) is a little better than than the OM-D, but the OM-D makes up for it in three ways: The OM-D is lighter, takes a little better video, and seems to focus on the eyes a little bit better.

      So even though it may not be helpful, I would suggest you add the Nikon D3200 to the mix.

      The video quality of the D3200 seemed (to me, at least) to be better than the D7000, and maybe as good as the OM-D, so they are all pretty close. The D3200 is thicker than the OM-D, but they are about the same weight. (The D7000 is quite a bit heavier than the D3200.)

      The autofocus speed and accuracy also depends a lot on the photographer. If you get the opportunity to play with them in the store, then do so. I like the autofocus on the OM-D better, but other people might just as easily prefer the D7000.

      I like the viewfinder and tilting screen on the OM-D, but if these are not big issues for you, then the EP3 takes pretty similar pictures, and is even smaller.

      If you like the shallow depth of field (most people do), you will need a pretty fast lens on the smaller cameras. These can push you over your price limit. A great combination of speed and price for mft is the Panasonic 25mm, which sells for about $650. A roughly equivalent lens on the Nikon is the 35mm, which is only $199. (Even though the Nikon is only F1.8, compared to F1.4 on the Panny, the two will function about the same, and look about the same, due to the larger sensor in the Nikon.

      If I were starting over, with no lens issues and steady hands, I would get the Nikon D3200. For me, though, the OM-D is worth the extra money.

      • good morning
        the last two months reading all your reviews
        before for Fuji x pro
        thanks to you om-d
        congratulations for your sincerity
        25mm pana winner

  51. good evening
    impossible to find panasonic 25mm f/1.4
    find the same price
    Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95
    what to do?
    with any pre opinions

    • Panasonic is $549 and really a better lens if you want sharpness and pop. The Voigtlander is more “cinematic”, much heavier, a bit softer and more muted colors and twice the cost at $1100

  52. Finally got to hold one in my hands yesterday in person (yes I live in outer Mongolia) at our local store.It is a teeny weeny metal tank. I guess I have large hands for a girl. I will be renting one with the grip to see what all the fuss is about. 🙂
    This may become my go everywhere sidekick.

  53. Hello Steve,

    I’ve already read a lot of reviews about this camera and they all disappoint me and this the only review which is really really good. Me and my dad love the OM Series and I would really want to buy this one although I have a few concerns with the external mic since i’m having cinematography with my dad. I hope you can tell me a lot of stuff about it though. Thanks!

    • The OM-D can only use the Oly external mic kit as it does not have a mic input. So you would have to buy the SEMA kit and use that. But even still, I wouldn’t say the OM-D is meant for serious audio work.

  54. Hello Steve! My name is Marco, and I life in Latin America. Let me first congratulate you. I read your blog very often and I find it great.

    I am an “Olympus guy.” I working with an E-5 and various professional lenses. I sold an E-620 and I bought a Fujifilm X10 which I really like and invites me to take pictures with it. However not gives me the performance I need in high ISO and not allows me better management of DOF (in fact I really miss a good bokeh). I also love pictures using the viewfinder and the X10 does not provide me virtually no information. Most of my pictures are reportage, journalist, portrait and macros of flowers and large insects. I usually also do landscape shots (please visit I wanted to ask, based on your tests you have done, if you think is better for my style a Fujifilm X100 (I love the retro concept and superb optical quality!) or the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 … I am looking for a light and comfortable to wear camera . What I like is that the camera “invite me” to take photos with it. I have that feeling with the X10 but I need some higher level (I do not have enough money for a Leica …) I understand it is very subjective. However, as my photographic needs are much like yours, I thought I could help.

    Have great success! Thanks and best regards.

  55. Hi Steve,
    I am planning to get smaller body beside my D700. I am currently looking at OMD or NEX 7? What do you prefer? and why?

  56. Congratulations Steve!
    You simply have the best and most reliable photography blog in the world

    I know they’re very different cameras but… just one question: EM-5 or M9?

  57. Thanks Steve,
    This is the most useful of all the reviews on the OMD that I have read. I have already ordered one and await delivery next week. Bought it as I did not relish the thought of lugging my Canon 5D Mk11 and it’s support gear around Asia and the UK in a couple of months. Thank you

  58. Steve,
    I have to replace my DSLR and am wondering how you would compare the OMD with the Nikon D7000?

    • Id take the OM-D over a D7000 any day. But I am not a fan of big DSLR’s. My fave DSLR has been the Pentax K5 but it’s small. Still, I find the OM-D t be damn remarkable when used with good lenses (12, 25, or 45). It’s fast, great low light, AF never fails, superb video, IS is amazing…tilt LCD, weather proof and the grip is a must own. But yea, OM-D. My new fave camera.

      • Thanks Steve! I got my hands on an OMD and did some test shots on jewelry. I am very pleased with the results and the tilt view is very helpful for shooting down at 90 degrees in my table top setup. I really liked the power zoom for shooting video. Agreed on the grip; it’s a little small for my hands. Thanks now to find one.

  59. Hi steve, thanks for the great review on omd, and this is one of the reason i bought 1 ;p

    I have a question about this camera. I am a canon user and buy this for traveling. 1 different thing that bother me is the omd sharpness, the image seems to be very sharp or a little over sharp in my taste. Is this because of the jpegs in camera engine that over sharp the image or because the thinner AA filter of olympus cam? Or is it because i used to canon camera (5d mk2) which has heavy AA filter?

    In your opinion is it better to use raw to lower the sharpness or use in camera jpegs and set the sharpness to -1 or -2? What setting usually you use in this cam?

    Sorry for this newbe question and thanks for your answer

  60. Wow! Great review thanks so much!

    I was wondering if you could please advise, do I go for the Olympus OM-D EM-5 with the 4/3 lens, 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 or Canon 550d with 70-200mm f4 lens for sports photography?
    Thanks so much!


  61. When I look thru the EVF as well as using the lcd to focus there is a yellowish tint. Is there some adjustment I am missing to have this more true to life?

  62. Great review. But, now I am so confused about what to buy!

    Difficult times forced me to sell my 2 Nikon bodies and 7 lenses. I’ll live. Now though, after using a Fuji X100 for 2 weeks, I fell in love with it. Then I read the review of the X-Pro 1 and that camera with the 35 f/1.4 and high ISO’s floored me. So, I figured I’d get the X-Pro 1 with the 35 and 1 more Fuji lens. All set now right?

    Wrong. This Olympus gets big points from me for the faster AF. I managed to get by with this in the X100 but, did manage to miss a few shots I otherwise would have nailed. Seems the Oly is not quite up to par with the X-Pro 1 as far as high ISO’s but, then again, tere’s no f/1.4 lens on it either.

    Maybe you Steve, or others could help me in this decision. I’ve budgeted about $3000-$3400 for a new camera lens combo.

    1) Do I go with the X-Pro 1 and the Fuji 35mm and 18mm lenses?

    2) Or do I get a Fuji X100 along with this Olympus M5 and the 12mm and 45mm Olympus lenses?

    I admit that the main reason I like the X-Pro 1 is that gorgeous 35mm lens. Low light capabilities are killer. Would I be giving up much in the way of photo quality by going with choice #2? Would I eventually have more lens options with the M5 or the X-Pro 1? I suppose it’s a good thing to have so many choices but, it does create a dilemma sometimes.

    Love your reviews. Again, any help/direction appreciated.

  63. Hey, thank you for the review… I always love yours….
    Any thoughts n when the em5 vs nex7 comparison will be up…. Been waiting for it..
    How easy is manual focus on the em5 vx nex? (lack of focus peaking)

    • Will try to get to it ASAP. Thanks! MF is simple on either camera. I do not use magnification on the E-M5 using MF and never have an issue. Simple.

  64. I have been using the Om-d em-5 for a few days now, and honestly I am very impressed with the results. The package is an overall improvements to all the m4/3 line up I have ever seen. The unfortunate part is that it offers no focus peaking for us who loves to focus manually or use manual focus lenses, sure you can zoom in but its a bit tedious in doing so, and I dont think a quick focus lock is achieveable without zooming in, especially if you’re shooting wide open on an f0.95.

    I hope that this focus peaking can be added by firmware updates and I hope Olympus will address it.

    • I do not even use zoom in for MF and never have an OOF shot on the OM-D. MUCH easier to MF using the OM-D than the Nikon…try it without Zoom and you may be pleasantly surprised. Even at 0.95.

  65. My OM-D finally came in through Amazon last week. I have it coupled with the 45, f1.8. I was ready to skewer Olympus and cancel the order -I’m glad I didn’t. This is far and away my favorite “grab and go” camera, and I own the X100, Canon S95, EP2, Pan LX3, Bessa R4A and numerous vintage cameras. I particularly like the feel and construction of the camera. I tossed the neck strap and went with a Gordy’s wrist strap. Plenty of people are bitchin’ about the ergonomics, but it feel great to me. I HATE the exposure compensation wheel on the X100, and taped over the scrolly thumb wheel thing on the Oly EP2. The OM-5 places a comfortable thumb grip right where it should be.

    Image quality is fantastic and I played around with the funky filters. I kinda like the Key Line art filter. The manual focus function works sublime with a Leitz 35mm f3.5 Summaron and adaptor.

    Minor quibbles. Yes, the play button is tiny. The battery door appears to be a bit flimsy. I hate little plastic inserts and covers on the EVF -toss that crap right in the garbage. How do you turn the beep off?

    Overall, a huge success in my book.

  66. Had a chance to handle the E-5 in a shop. No matter how good this camera may be otherwise but I found the ergonomics plain terrible. I was trying to hit the info button without activating the top of the 4 way controller and the menu button until my fingers started to cramp up. At the same time the strap lug was chafing away the skin between my index and middle fingers. I was just glad to get that thing out of my hands again. There are other good small cameras around but the E-5 I won’t touch again and I would certainly not cough up an additional $299 for a pokey grip just to hold that thing properly. The shop assistant shared my ‘experience’ with sympathy and a bit of head scratching. I am back on my D300s and shoot all day long without even looking at buttons and menus.

  67. With the E-M5 not available ANYWHERE. If you had to choose. Wait for an E-M5 or buy an NEX-7? What would you suggest? I’m tired of waiting. 🙂

    • Two totally different cameras. Do you want an PAS-C sensor or a Micro 4/3 sensor? Do you want more shallow DOF and richer files? The Sony would win. Do you want great usability, small size, great lenses and still great IQ but with more DOF? Oly! 🙂

      • That didn’t help Steve lol But I did end up finding a refurbished E-P3 pretty cheap and bought the 45 1.8 with it. At some point I really do want the E-M5 but can live without it for now. I am coming from an E-5 and E-30 before that and E-500 before that. Switching from Olympus will never be easy, I just love the images I get out of their camera’s. Once the E-M5 is in stock everywhere and the price drops, I’ll look to get one. Thanks for the response.

      • Steve,
        Could you explain the difference in plain english for amateur such as myself? LOL. Also, for fast action photos, which one is better NEX-7 or E-M5.
        Thank you.

  68. Great review! Thanks very much, very helpful. I have been trying to decide which mirrorless camera to get and this one sounds great! I think I’ll still hang out to see what Canon comes up with before taking the plunge though…

  69. Steve, I own a panasonic gh2 – can make it do what I want, within it’s limitations but video is the challenge – steady video – is it worth it to “upgrade” with a gh3 on the horizon?

    I have Panasonic lenses. I have manual focus, and old Lecias, 🙂 etc. So that ruins the Sony appeal – and over heating…

    Also – might be better for IQ/DR and low light – I haven’t used video as much because of stability issues… But I agree whole heartedl the glass is at least 50%+ the battle – can’t get sharper than X ….

    Thanks for the review.

  70. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for this incredible review! It really makes me want to buy the OM-D 🙂 I am mainly interested in street and travel photography and I am currently looking for a less obtrusive camera as an addon for my Nikon D90. At the moment I am stuck between the Fuji X100 and the Olympus OM-D. Which one would you prefer and recommend for this kind of use case?!

    • X100 = better and richer image quality but slower operation – but a beautiful camera IMO
      E-M5 – fast, blazing, much better video, was of use, no quirks but IQ not as rich or nice as the X100, still very good though

  71. Hi Steve,
    Great review and awesome site!
    I would really appreciate it if you could give a demo of the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) on the E-M5 in the context of HDRs. It’s the main reason I am considering the E-M5 over the NEX-7. I’d like to know – (1) How easy it is to access it from the menu (I have read elsewhere that AEB cannot be assigned to a custom button!), (2) Can it be triggered externally? (3) Does AEB turn off after every shot (like my E-500), or stay on until you turn it off in settings? (4) Is it RAW compatible?
    Finally (and this is a big ask), could you review the AEB on the E-M5 against the NEX-7?
    Many thanks in advance. Keep up the good work.

  72. Hi Steve

    Great review!
    I just wanted to ask, which would you personally prefer, the X-Pro 1 or the OM-D?

    I ask as a film shooter who has yet to get a digital camera (besides a compact).

    I shoot medium format, fuji 3.5″x4.5″ polaroids, and some 35mm.

    I am considering on going digital because I do not process colour film at home and it is getting mighty expensive… also some autofocus would be nice.

    Is Fuji’s autofocus really that slow in low light? I mainly shoot street, portraiture’s, and my nephew and niece.

    The autofocus is the main issue. I love the files but if af is really that slow, I don’t think I will be comfortable forking out over $2k.

    Also, are the files from Fuji that much better than those from Olympus? My main concern is the clipping that occurs in highlights.

    Sorry for the long post, but I would really love to hear what you would choose, if you only had to choose one camera to use.


    • Me? I prefer the OM-D by far but many would say I am crazy as the X-Pro 1 has better (but different) IQ. X-Pro 1 may get better with firmware updates like the X100 did but right now, OM-D takes it for me. It is a pleasure to shoot with.

    • “..My main concern is the clipping that occurs in highlights..”

      Well, that all depends on how you do your metering. If you use spot metering, and choose your spot well – looking at what’s brightest and what’s darkest – you should always be able to avoid ‘clipping’. And the OM-D (..or E-M5, or XZOM5, or whatever it’s called..) has that handy “Curves” button on the top: press that and turn a dial to reduce the highlights a little (..and also reduce, or increase, shadows too, if you want) ..that works on jpegs, not on the RAW files.

      Clipping in highlights can happen with any camera: it just depends on where you point it when you take your reading. Some people suggest purposely letting highlights go “too” bright (exposing “to the right” when looking at a histogram of dark and bright response) as apparently-over-exposed highlights can usually be recovered in whatever software you use for post-processing, or “developing”, your shots, whereas shadows may never reveal all their detail without some noise, too.

      The OM-D/E-M5 certainly keeps plenty of detail in what may look like “over-exposed” highlights; easily retrievable with iPhoto, Lightroom, Aperture, Viveza 2, Olympus Viewer 2, or whatever software you may use.

  73. It’s nice to have a place to see, feel and read about camera’s on a level of knowledge.
    I can learn from that.
    I am a happy owner of a fuji x100 and was hoping to find in the EM5 the faster AF X100..
    I need that for my concert photography part.But i am not convinced.
    Does anybody have some (or one) suggestions?

    Greetings from Wijnand

    • The E-M5 is MUCH faster with AF than the X100, in fact, I have yet to use any camera with faster AF than the E-M5. Make sure you use a decent lens though. It is also faster in every other aspect.

  74. Hi, first off this is the best review I have read so far for this camera, thanks. I have very limited knowledge and experience with photography and cameras so I was wondering if you could give me some advice. I am looking for a camera to use mainly for getting high quality footage of white water kayaking. The EM5 stands out to me for two reasons, its compact size compared with DSLR’s and the fact it is splash proof. My only concern is will the Video quality be good enough. I will also be using a Go Pro head cam so really it just needs to be a similar quality to that. I will also be wanting to use splash proof lenses and would prob want a wide angle and mid range lens, are these available in the splash proof design. Any advice would be appreciated. Cheers Andy

    • I have a GoPro and the Olympus blows away the quality of the GoPro IMO. No contest..make sure you use a good lens though, that is the trick. Use a MSC lens (movie still compatible)

  75. Great job, very impressive review! I need to go and buy the E- M5 to replace my E-P2 after reading your review. 🙂

  76. I purchased the Oly in silver via the BH link yesterday. About how long can I expect before I get to the top of the list and my camera is shipped.

    I was leaning toward the NEX7 until I saw the reviews of this. I also ordered the 14, 25, and 45 primes as well as the Oly 14 – 150.

  77. Good review but I miss the section where you typically do “compared to all the others”. It would be nice to hear your thoughts against the NEX-7. It seems like you really loved both.

      • Great! I look forward to the side by side. FYI, I may be in the minority but I do enjoy when you include the comparisons near the end of a review. Unlike most others, I won’t buy several cameras a year so I can’t do my own comparisons. That’s why it’s useful to me to hear from others who have owned several cameras at once and can compare them. I’ve toyed with the idea of switching from DSLR to something smaller since the GF1 first hit the market but haven’t pulled the trigger just yet.

  78. Thanks Steve Huff, I enjoy reading your review on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and learn much on the ability of the camera. I fell in love with it during the pre-launch roadshow in Febuary and it remind me of the old film days when I use the Olympus OM2n and OM4 (I still have them).
    Since I owned the Panasonic GF1 and own the Panny 14-45mm, Panny 20mm and the Olympus 45mm and I like the OM-D I bought it last week when it was launched.

    During my photo shoot with the OM-D with the Panny 20mm, I did encounter the camera hang after leaving it ON and going into sleep mode. It can only be reset after I take out the battery, even switching it OFF and ON did not work. So I return it to Olympus for a complete check up and Olympus confirmed that it might be the Panny 20mm firmware need to be updated. So for those who owned Panny lenses, do take note that the problem of camera hang might occur if you use Panny lenses.

    • Hi Alex, I’ve noticed the same issue when the Panny 20mm is on the camera it doesn’t come out of sleep mode unless you remove the battery. Did you ever find a solution?

  79. Hi Steve,

    nice review. I actually bought the camera before reading your review and will be trying a bunch of Leica lenses with it soon as well.

    The only flaw I found so far is if you try to snap a picture of a person in very dark conditions (restaurant at night for example) and then it would use the flash at a high frequency and open the aperture for more than 2 seconds ,… this happens if you let the “intelligent auto” on, instead of portrait in scene mode for example. Quite annoying, I don’t know why it does that… I would love to figure how to overcome this problem, since it can make the “casual” photographer, like the waiter taking a photos of a group, fail entirely to take a decent photo.
    Never had that with another camera.
    Any suggestions except for manual mode or scene mode? Have you encountered the same problem?

    I’m hoping for a firmware update.

    Thanks for your review,


    • Flip the “Mode” dial to “P” (..for ‘Program’..) before handing it to a waiter.

      The camera will set the appropriate aperture, shutter speed and just the right amount of flash.

      Think of “P” mode as “Another Person” mode..

      • well, I will try that. Thanks 🙂
        I just wonder why the automatic mode wouldn’t deal with the situation the right way, even if it recognized the faces.

      • If it had been set on “Scene”, and the Scene setting was “Night Portrait”, then it would do exactly as you describe: it would – like many other cameras – fire the flash to light the foreground, but then leave the shutter open, to gather “ambient” light so that the background wasn’t lit just by the flash, but by whatever other “atmospheric” light was there in the restaurant.

        If you’re using that combination (flash plus ambient light), just rest the camera – or ask the waiter to rest the camera – on something firm (..I rest it on top of a wineglass..) so that the camera doesn’t move while the shutter’s open.

        Or set it to “P”.

        • David, thanks for your input.

          I tried P and it works just fine for what I needed.

          Still, this is the first camera that would act a little strange on that matter – but otherwise I’m very pleased with it 🙂

          Thanks again for your help 😉

  80. So…. Steve…. I have a Pentax K20D that is weighing me down, and want to switch out.
    Should I go for the NEX-7, NEX-5N, or this OM-D?

    Most of my stuff is outdoor shots, travelling around the world (hence my wanting to get off std dSLR-sized gear) but I am NOT a pro, and do not make a living off photography. I just enjoy it as one of my hobbies. That, and I like to visually document my travels to share with family and friends.

    Which would you lean towards? Or need more info from me?

    • I am in the exact same position, considering the same cameras! (I’m giving the K-01 some thought, too).

      Are you my secret twin?

      • For me, the K-01 isn’t in the running, because it’s still bigger than I want. All the reviews show it’s not really much smaller than a standard (ie, not Pro) dSLR.
        For me, first I looked at the Olympus Pens (P3 or PL2 – cameta has a $549 deal on the PL2 in a two lens kit), but then moved up to looking at the NEX-5N/NEX-7, OM-D, or even that PL2 deal from Cameta. The Nikon and Fuji mirrorless are out of my budget, and the NEX-7, well, I’d have to stretch a bit, but I could swing the $1349 for it if it was the best choice among them…

        Dunno… Still haven’t made up my mind, and Sony has 12mos no interest on the $1349 NEX-7 kit, but then, BH/Adorama, via BillMeLater, have 6mos no interest for, say, the OM-D.

    • Hi Tony,

      I know I’m not Steve – but I happened to make the same exact decision just a few weeks ago. NEX 7/5 or this beauty.

      I actually did make the decision within an hour at the photo store, playing around with the cameras.

      The NEX 5 is cheap in comparison and quite decent, no doubts. But I actually wanted to invest into something more longterm. So I skipped to the NEX 7.

      My concerns here were the EVF of the NEX 7 vs the OM-D and especially the ultra-fast autofocus and, nonetheless, the build-quality. The OM-D screams quality and especially has that vintage-style to it, to make it less obvious taking photos in my opinion.

      Since I got the OM-D I did never leave the camera at home – it’s lightweight, and splashproof (which the NEX’ are both not) and I never feel like carrying heavy. I love this camera!

      Just my two cents – I would highly suggest you play around with all cameras.

      Keep in mind one thing: Steve loves the camera too, and the lenses are fairly cheap even though they’re incredibly good! (and the kit lens is splash-proof too, including the snap-on flash that’s included, making it an awesome tool for every situation on your world-trips! 😉 )



  81. You were at OSU! That’s awesome, I go to school here. Noticed the buildings in the biker picture.

  82. Steve I’m planning to buy this camera, with a pancake lens combo. I’m a newbie in photography though, but i can tell you i have the heart for it. Would there be any camera you would suggest for me to use first before this camera, as a newbie for that matter. By the way your reviews rocks!.. Its hard to find independent and unbiased reviews now a days. So keep it up! cheers!! 😀

    • Thanks Von!

      The OM-D E-M5 would be great to start with and will allow you to grow with it. It is a camera that you can keep for many many years, until it dies. 🙂 You can get an E-P2 much cheaper if you don’t want the EVF, swivel screen, weatherproofing, or faster AF.

    • And what – if anything – DO you like about it? ..And do you “try before you buy”..?

  83. Dude – same camera as my dad gave me 10 yrs ago – great review thank you. Looking forward to retrofitting the old glass for fun times… inc a great 35mm lens (gonna be a 70 on this cam) and a brilliant 28 (56mm on this cam – could be good for some interesting close up portaits with maybe some foreground barelling…)
    So excited…

    • Many of the original manual-focus OM lenses – like the 24mm f2.8 – focus down to a foot or less, and are marvellous on this (OM-D) camera. The 24mm becomes a 48mm f2.8, with a 90 degree twist from 1 ft (0.25 of a metre) to infinity: very fast to use, very small and compact, very sharp wide open, shallow depth-of-field when shot close up and wide open, altogether an great match for the OM-D if you’re thinking of (now astonishingly cheap) manual lenses.

      The OM-D – or do we call it the E-M5, or the WMD-WTF1 – doesn’t have “focus peaking” but has a useful “Magnify” facility to help get sharp manual focus.

      28mm OM lenses:

  84. Great review although it felt like you focused more on the LENSES rather than the camera. But even though, throughout this review I was able to see what this beast is capable of. Thank you!

  85. I wish to shoot children, sports, indoor events, and occasional videos. Do you recommend the NEX-7 or the OM-D? I have some OM Zuiko lenses -50mm 1.4, 75-150mm f4, and 2 Tamron OM mounts -28-70, 28-80mm. Please advise. Thanks

  86. Hi Steve,
    I see a few comments on the small buttons, and much improved handling when adding the grip. Doesn’t that lean towards the size of a dslr anyway?

    To me the image quality seems best with the voitlander lenses, giving more of the 3d feel at max aperture, however they are manual focus lenses, and I suppose more difficult to shoot wide open and nail the focus, given the small in-focus zone at f0.95?

    I also noticed that many of the lenses are not really that cheap compared to traditional canon or Nikon glass, especially the so-named Leica lenses, and the DOF able to be seen with those AF lenses is more difficult as they are not super large apertures as I understand..

    I do see what people are saying about the nice Olympus rendering of the images and jpeg engine etc, i always wonder if hypothetically, they were to use the same sensor technology in a full frame sensor size, would that be the ultimate and kill the main stream aps-c dslrs for IQ, dynamic range etc? I suppose the te readout speed from the sensor would be need to be improved to cater for the additional mpix, but is an interesting concept to me.

    Lastly, is all the talk about phase and contrast detect AF pretty much finished now, except for continuous tracking AF?


  87. Does the camera have one of those multi-format sensors? What is its resolution in 3:2? I really don’t like 4:3! I think Panasonic cameras can keep their MP even while changing resolutions.

    • Willi,

      I don’t have a micro 4/3rds camera, but I wonder if you may be thinking of the Panasonic LX3 and LX5, which do retain the same effective focal length whichever format they are set to? Their sensors are slightly larger than normally found in high end compacts, at around 1/1.67 or so, but this is nowhere near the same as 4/3rds. I suspect changing format on a 4/3rds sensor is achieved via a crop, and therefore, lower pixel count.

        • Willi,

          The Panasonic GH1 is very interesting. Checking out its full spec on dpreview reveals it did achieve the trick of maintaining the same effective focal length when changing format. One learns something new every day.

          You can check out the full spec of the OM-D on dpreview where you will see all the options, and it does appear that anything less than 4/3rds will be a crop.

  88. Great review Steve.

    I’ve my new e-m5 with some lenses. I own those lenses: oly 12 mm, oly 17 mm and pana 45-200 mm. I would like to buy a new prime, and I’m doubting between panasonics 20 mm or 25 mm. Excuse me, but could you advice me, which of those lenses is better for you?


  89. Interesting to hear so many pondering the K5/OMD/X-Pro/NEX 7 choice, as I made the same one recently and chose the NEX 7, very happily. The K5 seems great, and it is very small for an SLR, but it is still a very HEAVY clunky thing hanging around your neck compared to a NEX 7, as is the X-Pro. I think Sony put a lot of work into making the NEX lie flat against your body while hanging from a strap, even with a pretty heavy lens (like my Jupiter 9!!). In the end what makes me choose a certain camera to take with me and walk around with is how comfortable it is, if it is fast enough, and if the IQ satisfies. I’m a big bokeh fan, so the APS-C seemed like the best option. There’s been a lot of negative press about the 24MP sensor choice Sony made and the resulting loss of hi-ISO performance, but I’ve been happy to make several really sharp small crops from large pictures that the higher resolution allows. For me this is more useful than shooting in the dark. These are all obviously great cameras. Now I think it’s time to stop reading camera reviews and take some pictures!

  90. Nice review Steve. And it seems Olympus has got it right once again with the OMD. So, besides the limitations of the M4/3 sensors (DOF, mostly, and IQ compared to bigger sensors), do you think there is still a room for improvement for this format/market? Thanks again, E.

  91. Great review Steve! WOW your statement that this camera has the fastest AF in any camera you have used is good to here as is the low light performance. It may not be a game changer but could help with your game. : )



  92. Here is the response I received from Olympus tech support on the source of the constand “fan” noise coming from the E-M5…

    Thank you for contacting Olympus Technical Support.

    You are hearing the new 5 axis Image Stabilization system. It uses a type of Magnetic field to keep the sensor assembly suspended so you will even hear it if the IS system is disabled.

    If you require additional assistance please reply to this email or feel free to call us.

    We have a toll free technical support line with technicians available to assist you Monday-Friday 9:00AM-9:00PM Eastern Time.
    Toll Free Technical Support Hotline 1-888 -553-4448

    Best Regards,
    Olympus Technical Support
    Olympus Imaging America Inc.
    Toll Free Technical Support Hotline 1-888 -553-4448

  93. Great job yet again on the review. I don’t know how you find the time…!
    Your title – “Micro 4/3 finally matures” – leaves me with a question. In terms of handling, AF, lens selection (at least for Pany/Oly) MFT is clearly getting to the point where it is a credible alternative to DSLRs. And for screen/web use or prints up to say A4 size, I’m assuming that for all practical purposes nobody is going to be able to distinguish between the output from a good prime MFT lens and that from a DSLR. However, do you have any thoughts on MFT IQ for the (maybe rare) occasions when you might want to print larger than that? Are we yet at the point where a pro would be happy to use an OMD or similar for a shot which might be printed as a double page magazine spread, or used in an A3 poster? For most people maybe that’s not relevant but I think we are getting to the point now where in some situations the size/weight advantage of MFT might persuade even a pro to leave the DSLR at home. Is he or she going to be kicking themselves when they get their best shot of the year and the publisher says “sorry, can’t use it. Now if only you’d shot on your CanNik…” Has MFT ‘matured’ to that level yet in your opinion?

    • As someone who earns 100% of their living from photography, and also an owner of several m4/3 cameras the best answer I can give to this question is “it depends”

      I have used m4/3 cameras on assignments before and they worked fine. One such application was covering a marathon and using the GH2 with 7-14mm wide angle. I mounted it on my monopod, raised it over my head, flipped out the screen so I could compose the image and had the 10 second timer set. Worked really well for a unique vantage point and far easier than trying to hold a 5lb Nikon D3 with 14-24mm over my head. Couldn’t compose with that and wouldn’t want to risk dropping $7000 worth of camera rig

      At the same time though, I’m certainly not going to leave my DSLR’s at home when I’m covering a sporting event like the AFC championship game. I may supplement with a mirrorless camera, but its just not the place to worry about saving size/weight

      Same goes for a wedding. Does wearing 2 pro sized bodies, flashes etc all day get tiring ? Of course, but the bride and groom are paying several thousands dollars to get the best possible shots and frankly could care less about my comfort level.

      I haven’t taken a DSLR on a personal outing in years, thats where I do enjoy saving weight, when I’m hiking its about having fun, not work. Work is work though and you use the tools to get the job done well. Images are the only thing the client cares about in the end.

      • Jeff, I totally understand that for a wedding (where you need the best quality and probably have somewhere close by to stash gear) and sports (where you need great AF and probably also are not moving around that much) the DSLR route is a no-brainer. My question was not really about potential limitations of the cameras themselves – whether DSLR or MFT – from a usability perspective but about the image quality.

        So here’s a hypothetical situation. You’re going on a trip to a remote location where weight and size is a factor. You can take either a couple of DSLR bodies and a handful of lenses or the equivalent in MFT. The latter would be probably less than half the weight/size. From an in-the-field performance perspective, no difference between the two systems. Then you get back and the NGO or travel magazine you’ve been shooting for wants to use an image as a double page spread, magazine front cover or poster image. Is MFT now able to deliver that (assuming you’ve used good primes etc) or will you be kicking yourself that you wimped out and didn’t lug the DLSRs around because the MFT just doesn’t cut it for that magazine or poster. I think we all agree that for daily use around the kids etc. MFT is more than good enough. Question is, from an IQ perspective, is it ready to take on the DSLR in pro use?

  94. Thank you Steve for the great review! I myself just got the E-M5 and really like what I am seeing. A quick question:
    You mentioned that there was no RAW support for E-M5 when you started the review. In fact Olympus Viewer that comes with the camera supports that. Is there a particular reason that you ignore that and prefer Adobe’s products? How would you compare working with Olympus Viewer and LightRoom for example?


  95. Steve-Very informative & very helpful for me decision-wise. Thank you. Have E-3 & 3 Zuiko 43 lenses. What adapters are needed to use those lenses on the OMD? Is there adaptor for Leica m lenses e.g 28/2.8 & 90 mm? Again thanks-enjoys your business holiday @ Leica Germany.
    Regards, Ralph

    • Olympus make the mmf3 water resistant for the e-m5. the mmf2 is the same non waterproof, and there are the usual one and a half million on ebay. Panasonic also makes them.

  96. Steve, the noise that you here is actually a mini-vaporizer intended to induce an instinctive and muliebral response from your sympathetic nervous system allowing you to be more relaxed when taking pictures. It has however been known to cause an unexplained desire for Robitussin DM, a snuggly blanket and your Mommie.

  97. Cool…However I just picked up a Pentax K200d with a 18-55mm WR kit lens and it produces same images. Pentax probably has more gorgeous colors vs Olympus. I had the EP3 and shooting with my $200 k200D has been way more fun for some reason. I already sold my x10 to purchase some limited primes and k-5 soon.

  98. Hey Steve – I’ve used an Oly 14-150 lens with an EPL2, am thinking of upgrading to the OM.
    Any thoughts about the Oly 14-150 on this great sounding new camera?

    • The Panny 14-140mm lens could have been made for this camera (..oh, no; my mistake: it was made for the Panny GF1 and GF2, but you know what I mean!..)

      Turn OFF the stabilisation on the lens itself, and use the stabilisation in the OM-D. Perfect!

  99. Thank you for the practical review. As someone looking to make their first jump into the interchangeable lens world, the OMD looks ideal for my needs. However, I haven’t been able to find answers to my biggest questions, other than “m4/3’s aren’t as good as APS-C in low light.” Could you provide any details concerning how the camera will perform and/or provide examples of the following?
    a.) shooting star trails
    b.) shooting moving water/waterfalls using ND filters
    c.) shooting lightning
    Again, this is for someone looking to make their first leap into more advanced photography as a hobby, and not for a professional. Thanks in advance.

  100. Steve: Thanks for a great review, very comprehensive and balanced in the ways that matter to most of us. I particularly appreciate your candid comparisons with the XPro-1, which of these to buy was a big concern to me, and you have re-inforced my decision to stay with the Oly, especially since I already have the X-100.

    A request: Could you PLEASE tell Olympus to sell us the 2 parts of the grip separately. I would love to have the landscape grip, but it bugs me to have to buy the other part that I will never use. I’ll bet Oly could sell a ton of landscape grips for $100-150, and come out ahead over just offering the 2 parts together for $300.

  101. Just to be fair to the Fuji in your video AF shoot out – can I ask if you read the manual, in terms of being able to alter the size of the focus area?

    Fuji shooters are reporting that the AF is better at locking on if you change the size of the focus area. In the case of your video, shooting close-in at the lens cap, it seems that the AF would work much better if you reduced the size of the AF area.

    Did you do this or did you just shoot straight out of the box on the default setting? Would be interesting to see if this makes a difference.

  102. Thanks for a very interesting review. I have a question regarding taking videos on the EM5 using Panasonic lens. I’ve been taking videos using the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 lens and the Panasonic-Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. The LCD is tilted at a horizontal angle while filming. After about 10 minutes (maybe less), the LCD would black out for about 30 seconds, during which time I could not activate it by touching it or by pressing the shutter. Then it would wake up by itself. Then after another short while it would black out again. This behavior happens to both of those Panasonic lens. It doesn’t seem to happen to Olympus lens though (e.g. the Olympus 12mm prime).
    Do you experience anything like this with your EM5? Thanks!

        • I had this happen when I got my fingers too close to the eye sensor of the EVF, it scared me until I figured out what was going on!

          • Yup: any shadow falls on the eye sensors, and the camera thinks your face is approaching the EVF and so it turns off the monitor screen.

            Simple answer; before you start shooting, HOLD IN the little button on the right of the EVF and choose “EVF Auto Switch” OFF.

            That way, you can switch between rear-screen monitor and EVF with a short push on that same button, but the monitor screen will NOT blank out when a shadow hits the EVF sensor. Mmm – I learned that the hard way (it happened to me) I thought about it for a while, and then realised what to do.

          • Thank you Jeffrey S and David Babsky. I realized my fingers blocking the eye sensor caused the problem. It’s not the camera at all. Whew. The advice on switching EVF Auto off is really useful. Thanks again.

  103. At the top you mention that the sensor is the same as Panny G3. I have looked at the feature set of that camera and the photos people have gotten. It looks to be 80% of the performance of the OM-D for about 50% of the price. I wonder if you agree? Will the Panasonic G4 (not yet announced yet, but certainly forthcoming) be closer to 90%+ of the OM-D and still be at 60% of the price?

    • I said it is rumored to be the G3 sensor, I do not think anyone has confirmed this. I have no idea how a G4 will be, only can use what is out now. It’s always a back and forth game but I find there are those who prefer Olympus and those who prefer Panasonic.

  104. I pre-ordered one on the first day, and also bought a Sony NEX-7 to compare them. Both are awesome. I kept the Sony. I did not like the handling of the Olympus, or the green tinge on the LCD screen (if you look at it form any angle other than straight on), or the viewfinder (Sony has spoiled me), or, most significantly, the video. IBIS is awesome, but the video quality just doesnt match the Sony, and since I have to shoot video from time to time, I can rent a Sony NEX camcorder and use the NEX-7 as a second camera. Works brilliantly, footage matches, and lenses can be shared. If only the NEX-7 came with that great Olympus kit lens and weather-sealing…..

    • I agree the Sony nailed the EVF but I prefer the video of the Olympus, especially with the 12 and 45. My NEX-7 overheats after 5-6 minutes of video use EVERY time, and it has turned me off for video.

  105. Recently found your site amongst the sea of other out here.

    Awesome reviews. I was looking forward to your OM-D one and it did not dissapoint.

    Real world reviews from a human being and not a machine. Great.

    Thanks Steve, all the best!

  106. Pentax K5 has better IQ than EM5 with the right lenses.

    K5 is probably the best APSC camera for IQ. OMD gets closer than any other m4/3 in my opinion, but it doesn’t quite get there.

    Many people won’t notice the difference however.

    • Actually, the new K-01 has even better IQ than the K-5, but no viewfinder. All other options, however, are the same as the K-5, and – believe me – it’s a great camera. Just one you need to get used to.

    • Except that the K-5 is a DSLR. The whole point of buying a M4/3 system is for its smaller size and comparable IQ. The K 01? Ew. Just saying.

      • Smaller size? K-01: width 121mm, height 79mm, depth 59mm. OM-D: width 121mm, height 89.6mm, depth 41.9mm. This means only in depth the K-01 is larger, which is due to being able to use all Pentax lenses that have been available since 1975. With all other mirrorless systems… Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, one has to buy their new lenses. As IQ is concerned… the K-01 really is better than the OM-D. It’s APS-C compared to Micro4/3. Like I wrote before, the only weakness of the K-01 is not having a viewfinder. Other than that, it’s a really great camera.

        • I can also use all Pentax lenses on E-M5 with adapter, as well as any nikon, canon, minolta, etc.

          • I am a long-time user of the K-5 (since day 1) and absolutely adore it. I just purchased (but have not received) the OM-D with the 12-50 specifically so that I would have a small, very capable, carry-around camera that can generate prints that are useful.

            There will be no plan to replace the K-5, but there are times when I just want to sling something over my shoulder and go without any thought about which lens or any worries about getting that great shot but having such low quality that I can’t do much with it. The OM-D would appear to fit that role perfectly.

            Great review, Steve. I really appreciate your non-technical, shooters point of view!


  107. So, Steve, do you think the OM-D good enough to eventually replace the Nikon V1 in your camera bag?

    • Well, I have so many cameras through here all of the time, hard to say. BUT I still really enjoy the V1, not only for its size and speed but it also has its own look and signature which I really enjoy. Very sharp, a little grain…real. Hoping Nikon releases some faster glass soon though.

  108. Very few have mentioned that Oly decided that looking retro was more important than function – having an EVF means you can put the eyepiece on the left side of the back of the camera instead of smack dab in the middle where your nose gets in the way and you can’t see the subject with your left eye at the same time as your right eye is seeing the EVF. Bravo Sony for putting it in the right place.

      • buy another camera, just not a sony, leica, fuji… there must be a reason so many have done it this way.

        • the reason is to have enough room for the right hand to access the buttons, shutter and so on without sticking your fingers to your nose 🙂 I prefer to have VF as far away from the right side as possible

        • Brad, when Leica brought out their M3 the v/f was virtually life size with a 1:1 view. Placing the v/f on the left enables one to view with the right eye, and keeping the left one open. This leaves the bright line frame finder “floating” in a very expansive field of view. This is how I view with mine and the effect is almost natural. And as most people are right handed, it made sense to place the v/f on the left. Just a thought.

  109. Thanks again Steve!! I’m still waiting for mine:( your son is getting super tall!! Looks likes he’s 6’2

  110. great article to read,

    you’ve said that the E-P1 was the first with art filters but it isn’t, thats the 43s big boy the E-30 wich came with it first, the E-30 is also the first with the well known 12MP sensor

    • I wouldn’t say that the lens is not sharp looks as if the lens and camera have focused on the left ear (on the right-hand side of the photo) of your little man, and therefore, with the shallow depth of field this close, and with such wide apertures, the eyes and mouth aren’t in sharp focus.

      Here’s a suggestion – try it with real people and see what happens!

      • I tried it with real people severely times, I always focus on the eyes. With the Panasonic Leica, the eye is as sharp as possible at f1,4 with the 45 mm at f1,8 I got never sharp eyes. That is why I test this with the LEGO man just to prevent a movement of the person 🙂

        • It seems to have focused just in front of the eyes, on the nose and hair.

          Have you turned ON “Face priority AutoFocus/pupil detection AutoFocus”? (See page 46 of the [English] instruction manual, but it’s probably the same page in the German manual, too: the manual is on the CD which came with the camera, and is also downloadable from the Olympus website.)

          The manual says “Display the Super Control Panel, or Live Control, and select the ‘Face Priority’ item”. (You can also get to it by pressing Menu, and then go down to the “cogwheels” [Custom Menu], and choose the first item “AF/MF”, then scroll all the way down that list to “Face Priority”, and then choose from focus on “Face”, or “Face/Eyes”, or “Face and Right eye” or Face and Right eye”. I suggest “Face/Eyes”, which will select whichever eye is nearer to the camera. Press “OK”, then press “Menu” twice to step back out of the menus.)

          If “Eyes” isn’t selected, then the camera will focus on the face as a whole, and with a wide aperture lens – e.g; f1.8 – that may leave the eyes out of focus.

          You’re probably familiar with the old computer saying ..”RTFM”. Reading the instructions usually helps.

          If that doesn’t fix it, I’d experiment till you find what DOES fix it.

          It works OK for me, with -v-e-r-y- sharp results with the Oly 45mm f1.8.

          I hope that helps..

          • Sorry: I mistyped in that previous reply (I don’t know if it’s shown up yet: it’s “Awaiting Moderation”.

            I wrote “..or “Face and Right eye” or Face and Right eye”..” but what I MEANT was “or “Face and LEFT eye” or Face and Right eye”!

            Sorry for any confusion!

    • As a NEX user I’m envious of the lens selection and REALLY envious of the in-camera IS! Still, seeing them at price parity I think I’d still take the NEX-7 over the OM-D, even if it’s only for the focus peaking. I really prefer the rangefinder style over that SLR look.

      • NEX lenses aren’t too bad these days honestly. When I got my NEX5 it was very weak selection with just the 16mm, 18-55 kit and the 18-200

        Now days though there is a pretty good wealth of choices with the addition of the 24mm Zeiss, 30mm macro, 50mm 1.8 OSS and the 55-210. The 24 and 50 are both amazing fast primes and the 50 is a steal at just $300. $100 less than the Olympus 45mm 1.8 and its got built in OSS even.

        Add in some third party support with the amazing (for $200) Sigma 19 and 30mm f2.8’s and the Tamron 18-200 as well

        You’ve got a pretty good selection of everything except an ultra wide zoom which m4/3 has 2 of, and the high quality 24mm as the Sony 16mm isn’t amazing, nor a rival of the Olympus 12mm, but its not horrible either

        I’m pretty happy with the Zeiss 24 and the Sony 50 for a two lens 35/75mm walk around kit. Add the 55-210 for those times when you want a long zoom for compressed landscapes etc, and the only thing missing for me is a good ultra wide zoom or wide prime.

        21mm/35/75mm was my ideal 3 lens kit with my Leica m9 and i’m 2/3’rd the way to getting it now with the NEX7

      • Have a look at the Sigma 19mm and 30mm for the NEX. In a recent test the USD 200 NEX 30mm out resolved everything, including the USD 4000 Leica Summilux asp 50mm.

  111. I was waiting for someone else to ask but I can’t stand it anymore!! You own both the V1 and the OM-D. It seems they fill the same role in your gear bag. Which one gets the nod? If you could only have one. . . 🙂

    Thanks for the GREAT site and fantastic review!!

    • OM-D gets the nod due to lenses but the V1 is sticking around. It’s a solid little body and puts out great quality with the lenses it has now. Once they release better faster glass it will get even better, plus it works well for those times you want massive DOF.

  112. Though I like the review, none of the sample images are impressive enough IMO. They all look like taken with mediocre camera. As I fully understand how fun it is shooting with this camera, but the IQ is still somewhere close to the other m4/3 cameras.

    • The IQ is the same as all Micro 4/3 cameras. The only improvements is in higher ISO, so for those happy with M4/3 in general, this is the best of the lot so far IMO, but you will never get different IQ due to the sensor size.

  113. Good review of the EM5. I especially like the fact that you express your enthusiasm for the camera and the m4/3 system. It is another element of photography and photographic gear that some more technical reviews tend to overlook. Thanks.

  114. If you were starting from scratch could only afford one normal”-ish lens — would you chose the beautifully small 20/1.7 or the larger 25/1.4. How much more cumbersome does the 25 make the camera?

  115. Hi Steve,

    Great review, I’d like to ask your expert opinion how to choose between Pentax K-5 and this OM-D for travel and everyday use. Although Pentax K-5 is an SLR, but the camera itself is quite small, and like the OM-D, it has been built like a tank and offers environmental sealing. Like M43, Pentax has a range of small prime lenses with exceptional construction and very good optical quality, these two systems are even so similar that they both offers in body stabilization. One thing for sure is K-5 is a bit heavier (I’m OK with its weight though), but it has a very nice APS-C sensor. I’m really torn between these two choices, and hope you can shine some light on my camera choice, thanks.

    • Chris- I too was torn between these two cameras. I held off on buying the K5 for months waiting for the Olympus to arrive. I picked up the OM-D this weekend. Its is a beautiful camera and offers so much. That being said I’m not sure that I will be keeping the camera. It would probably be everything that I need in a camera however I have the K5 on hold and will check it out in person tomorrow. I originally wanted a camera with an APS-C sensor. Would love to know which camera you ultimately go with.

      • Hi thanks for the input, I picked up a K-5 recently to try out for now. I like it’s design and the way it can be customized to users need. Coming from full frame camera, I find the camera surprisingly small when paired with FA43, though the viewfinder is a bit smaller than I used to have. Sizewise, K-5 is similar in dimension to GH2 when you look from the the front, and paired with FA 43, it has roughly the same depth as GH2 + 25mm. One of my favourite feature on the K-5 is the shutter, it’s as silent as a whisper, my GH2 is quite loud compared t that, in fact, I think the shutter sound of K-5 is quieter than my friend’s Leica M7. One thing I found K-5 could improve on is its autofocus, I think it’s rather slow compared to GH2, especially in low light. I’m waiting for more reviews of OM-D to judge its IQ, especially DR based on RAW file, I’ll choose K-5 if there is no substantial improvement compared to G3/GX1

      • One thing I love about the E-M5 is the fairly quiet shutter. It is about the same as my Pentax K-01, possibly a bit more muted even (a world of difference from the GH2, GX1 or E-P3).

        I have both the E-M5 and the K-01 with a handful of Ltd prime lenses. I was going back and forth whether I could focus on the Pentax as my main kit, but at the end of the day, the E-M5 kit is much smaller, lighter and, I think, more flexible. Sure the PL25 is on the big size, but that is really the big-boned family member.

        I think these are really different cameras and systems. If I had to only choose one, it would be the E-M5 and my 12/20/45 lenses.

  116. I am not really feeling the IQ from the OMD, I gotta say it.

    Images look a bit like a point and shoot to me. They just don’t have any of the “pop” that normally Steve Huff seems to love so much. They look flat to me.

    I’m kinda surprised Steve likes the camera so much. It is light years away from the kind of images I have seen him shoot with the Leica, even the NEX7 . Not even close.

    I can only guess it may be because of the DOF of the 4/3 sensor maybe, i don’t know.

    But I have not seen ONE image from the OMD yet that makes me want to rush out and buy one.

    • Rufus,

      I rather agree with you. It is inevitable when we look at camera reviews, the image quality as demonstrated by images within the review is there to help give us an idea of how the camera actually performs. It is unfortunate for any reviewer that it is here that their artistic merit, or lack of it, can influence us in our assessment of the camera under review. In this instance, Steve’s images are just ordinary, IMO, and not up to the standard that readers know he is capable of. Holiday snaps, or perhaps, he was just tired. Strange, because he really likes the camera.

      • I’m glad it’s not just me then.

        Busy bokeh, flat and digital looking somehow, every OMD shot I have seen looks like a snap. Hard to figure it out, but they don’t pop. They don’t jump off the screen at you.

        They are sharp, nicely exposed, nice colors, etc. But they look the same as snaps from my Canon G12. Perfectly fine but nothing special. Even with the expensive prime lenses, the best there is to offer.

        I am surprised more people don’t see it.

        • It is surely a lot better than the G12. No comparison at all in my opinion.
          But as always even a great camera can produce mediocre images if the light is not good.

        • Rufus, are you looking at the Olympus 12mm (not exactly known for bokeh or shallow DoF) images?

          Probably more 3D snap, crackle and pop for you with the PL25 at f1.4 (wide open with sharp center, some vignette, pleasant bokeh) or Oly 45.

          Plenty of great E-M5 images on 500px already, but, of course some of the photographers there do good stuff with the puny Pentax Q.

          • Well the 12mm out of focus areas are pretty ugly. Love to see the Pany Leica 25.

            Of course I know the Oly is much better than a G12, but to me the Oly images still look pretty ordinary.

            I really, really want to love the Oly. I dislike large cameras and yearn for the IQ i want in a smaller size . And I keep trawling the web hoping to see some work from the EM5 that really like, but nothing yet..

          • I hear ya on the 12mm, but it is an ultra wide angle. Most of the time, nothing will be out of focus when you are using this in the field.

          • you will never get the same DoF from various sensor sizes. I’d probably choose m43 for landscape work because of huge DoF. You can get nice and shallow DoF using ‘longer’ lenses on m43 (45mm) but it also means to stand further away from the subject. simply 12mm lens will always produce 12mm DoF no matter what you do. It’s easy to calculate it as follows (please not that this is only approximate not exact):

            50mm f/2.8

            APS-C (1.5x crop):
            35mm f/2

            m43 (2x crop):
            25mm f/1.4

            so in other words 25mm f/1.4 would give at the same distance and angle of view DoF equivalent to 50mm f/2.8 lens on FF. So if you shoot a landscape with 12mm lens at f/4 on m43, this will be similar to shot taken on FF camera with 24mm lens at f/8

  117. Thanks for long awaited review, Steve! Totally agree with you on the “Cons” part as well as with “Pros”. My dream wish for Olympus micro system is (and you’ve mentioned it too) to have all these wonderful Oly lenses in black and to introduce an equivalent to Pana 20 mm, improoved, small, fast and weather sealed, the best lens for every day use. And i wouldn’t mind OM-D to be a little bigger, just like latest Fuji body, it fits so perfect in my hands. But let’s admit they did enough to forget about this little things for a while! 🙂 S

  118. Hi Steve,
    a great review, and a great idea to compare Olympus statements with your impressions.
    I have read your reviews a lot lately, since I was planning a replacement of my Pen EP-1 with greater image quality (street photography + landscape). Your review of the x-pro 1 gave me lots of doubt about this choice, but after weeks of hesitation, I chose it over the OM-D last week, as I thought I would find a way to deal with its defaults. I made some landscape tests. And tried it this weekend, during the French election day (street photography). ISO 800, speed over 1/80″ (with 18mm lens), and Pen EP-1 (with 12mm lens) at ISO 400, speed between 1/15 and 1/40″.
    It was a disaster. The battery of the Fuji went dead after 200 shots (the Pen’s after 3 years of use still gets me over the 450 limit). And out of these 200 shots, not one (!) is sharp, with complete misfocus on most pictures. Metering is very random too, even on landscape shots with high contrast, the same shot took twice ranged from over exposed to under exposed (I did start to manually set speed, as I know that between the metering could change speed from 1/60 to 1/400, without any logic – I did not move the camera). Even if the image quality on the over exposed pictures (colors, noise) is great, it’s a completely useless camera as far as instinctive street photography in crowded areas go. By the time it’s willing to focus and take the picture, the scene is gone, and instead you get blurred images. Any point and shoot I owned did a better job with exposure and AF. The EP-1 did great, within it’s limits (noise in dark areas) : about 60% of the pictures have correct focus (focused on the right zone), and very few are blurred. Plus other problems of the xpro, such as too loose exposure compensation buttons and aperture ring made it a frustration, as I had to check these each time I took the camera into my hand.
    So I hope your review will make the choice easier for people shooting street scenes : unless you shoot still life, and have 20 seconds to compose each picture and make up for the Fuji’s “moods” (focus, exposure, dials, freezing EVF,…) forget about it. It’s a disappointment far beyond my fears. And I also think the Olympus 12mm has a better quality than the 18mm, or at least the Olympus correction of deformation is doing a much better job, even on the first generation of m3/4.

  119. Waiting for your OMD EM5 review gave me several sleepless nights,Steve.
    Very nice review,dealing with all the major advancements that it has to offer.
    No doubt it will be a terrific,tough,travel camera.
    I have been using my Panasonic GF1 with the 14/45 kit and 20mm f1.7 for every situation ,jungle, parties, travel,etc. for the last 2 and a half years and it rarely misses a shot !
    Will send you some shots taken with this rig on my recent Greece visit.
    Although my old Canon D60 DSLR (6Mp,) has a larger sensor, I rarely use it now, as I find it more fun to shoot with my GF1 .

  120. I thought it was a bit funny that you wrote: “So right up front…is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 a game changer in the world of digital mirror less cameras? Well, not really.”

    Right after mentioning the weather sealing. It’s the first mirror-less that’s even relevant for me! Living in Norway, where it rains 2/3rds of the times, and spending my time when it is somewhat nice rock climbing – that kind of sturdyness is essential, and not something previously offered in the mirror-less world.

    • Nod.. the weather sealing is what I’ve been waiting for as well. Fortunately here in Tassie, our rain falls as liquid – but we do get a lot of it.

      Olympus weather sealing means not having to worry about the camera. For me, it’s as much a part of the brand as the superb optics and the tendency to stretch the boundaries too far on some occasions.

  121. Steve,
    Thank you for the review!
    Could you please compare the shutter sound level to lets say Fuji X1 Pro , Leica M9.
    Also, how is the fill flash with the littel flash? Looking for a new camera for my documentray work.
    Thanks a lot

    • The shutter sound is more dull than the X-pro 1 but volume wise it may be a tad lower. The M9 also has its own unique sound and to be honest, it is the one I prefer for shutter sound but all three are perfectly acceptable. The Fuji has the sharpest click/snick.

  122. Hi Steve, correct me if I’m wrong as I’m not trying to diminish the OM-D but rather am seeking enlightenment. Looking at above pictures I feel they are rather flat and lacking oomph compared to the x100, nex cameras and the gxr m-mount. I gladly hear your thoughts on the IQ compared to the apsc cameras.


    • I said the IQ will not match the X-Pro 1 (which essentially matches the X100). I find the NEX-7 renders flatter than the M4/3 cameras somehow as well. But yes, the larger sensor camera will give you a more 3D/rich experience due to the sensor size and DOF. Always been the case. With that said, the OM-D is the best of the M4/3 lot at this time and is a fantastic camera because it does everything right. No, it may not have the best IQ as many APS-C’s will beat it in that area but I do not have to fight it to get there 🙂

      • Thanks Steve
        I was hoping the OM-D would be able to replace my V1, GXR and D700. I love all of them for what they are and can do but each of them have their restrictions. Anyways, good to see that the M4/3 is maturing and the vast lens collection readily available. If I had to buy into only 1 system, I think I would favor the M4/3 as it is now.

  123. Great review Steve. Thanks for the effort.

    I guess at the end of the day comparing the OM-D and the X-Pro1 for those finer details is a little pointless. If someone is really really worried about the IQ, why would they even look at APS-C to full-frame. Why would they abandon film? And why would they come down to 35mm from large format or medium format? We all know that the next generation cameras are going to cream all these existing cameras, including the M9. If you worry too much about the IQ, you may have to wait to eternity. I think the OM-D is a hoot to shoot. Never fails. It kinda grows up on you gradually. I got mine a couple of weeks ago. I thought the buttons were small and the camera was always slipping from my hands (I have been shooting the GH1 with its rubberized body for almost a year). Now it all right and wonderful. My big complaint is that the LCD faces outward. Can get scratched easily. I am going to get a protector and forget about it.

    Thanks for the review.

    • Have to agree with the above point. This pixel counting obsession and IQ fanaticism across the mirrorless camera landscape is ridiculous quite honestly. If you’re out making a living as a photographer or planning on exhibiting your work in the near future you’re probably not seriouly considering any of these system’s anyway (although i’d suggest the om-d might hold some appeal to photo-journalists). Point being, the appeal of these cameras (Fuji, Oly, Nex, etc.) are their portability, practicality and perfectly acceptable, going on excellent image quality. If IQ is the alpha and omega for you, you’d do better perusing the Pentax, Hasselblad and Mamiya forums.

  124. Hi Steve,
    Many thanks for a great review.
    I wanted to ask you two questions about Video mode.

    1 –
    The specs on the Olympus at 1080 is 60i, or 30p (progressive segmented frame) rather than native 30p and it does not mention 25 PAL version nor 24p. — Do you why there is no 24/25p or even 30p native and does it “hurt” its video capabilities?

    2 –
    Dpreview spoke about their frustration of not be able to change exposure settings while shooting.

    “In Movie mode, you gain P,A,S and M control, a choice over focus mode and retention of AEL if you’ve got it assigned to a button. Frustratingly, while nominally offering a very good level of control over video, the camera doesn’t allow you to change any exposure settings when you’re shooting. The P,A and S modes will adjust to match the camera’s metered value, with whatever exposure compensation you’ve applied before recording. You can apply AEL during recording to over-ride these exposure shifts, but you can’t manually decide to adjust aperture or exposure compensation, mid-take.”

    What has been your experience. Apologies if I missed in your review.

  125. enjoyed your review Steve and also the camera! Got mine on Friday and have spent the weekend (despite the rainy weather here in Belgium) enjoying it. I completely agree about the grip as without it, it feels too small for my hand and the playback button is difficult to push. But overall it’s a joy to use which for me is the basic requirement for a camera.

  126. Great review Steve, pretty much agree with everything and am glad I took the risk and sold my NEX-5n early to get in on a E-M5 from Japan. Just reviewed it myself as a travel cam and am more than happy with it.

    Will be interesting to see how Olympus improves on it. I really don’t think they will for a while yet. I suspect a cheaper version to be released first (non-weather-sealed, maybe non-5 axis IS or tilt screen). My only complaint is the small fn1 and playback buttons. I wish they were separate, playback being below the mode dial and a lot bigger.

    Definitely need that grip though.

    • On the same boat as you. Had the NEX5n (which I enjoyed but didn’t love)……bought the OM-D…..and sold the Sony the next day hehe.

      I just think, as Steve said ”it simply works” and is a joy to hold, use and pair with one of those small and fantastic lenses!

      Happy snapping mate!

  127. Re : shallow DOF

    Zuiko silver nose 50/1.4 on my Ep1, Nex5, Kodak Slrc (full frame)
    Taking photo standing at the same spot

    Ep1 gave to me :
    shallower dof than 1.5x
    similar dof as FF
    because Ep1 got closer to the subject (100mm equiv).

    Standing at the same spot :
    Id have to use faster than 65mm F2 on Nex5 (a large lens) & faster than 100mm f2.8 on Slrc (mos def a large lens)
    to see the affect of larger sensor on dof

    id have to stand closer to the subject (to mimic equivalent 100mm).

  128. Thanks for the great review! Any initial impressions on likes and dislikes as compared to the NEX-7?

  129. Hope this neat little camera will allow the user to change the menu font size, otherwise senior photographers will need to carry their reading glasses with them to view the menu. Something young photographers never seem to think about until age creeps up on them and their eye sight changes. I like small cameras too, only with large menu fonts. I would think the E-M5 allows the user to perform a font size increase, does it… Steve?

  130. After having been a Panasonic user in the m4/3 world, this is the first Olympus I really want. Can you say a few words about the shutter sound? Is it as loud as on the GX1 or is it about the same as the X-Pro 1?

    • I can only compare to the GF-1, but the OMD is quieter. I used the X-pro briefly but I think they are pretty close for shutter volume.

    • Jaques,

      You are correct, and if one wished to take it further one could criticise the use of “blazing” when, to be grammatically correct, it should be “blazingly”.

      As one born and bred in the UK, and learned English grammar as taught in the UK, I do find it amusing from time to time at how those not blessed with being born English use the language. From time to time I note that our cousins across the pond come up with some very inventive words at times when “le mot juste” escapes them.

      But, it is important to remember that English is a very vibrant language and is constantly being re-invented. Ye gads, even Shakespeare used words that he, himself, made up! And I’ve demonstrated that with “le mot juste” the English language will happily absorb foreign words where none already exist.

      • I’m not sure “richen” is a word that I would welcome into the English lexicon.

        “Embiggen,” on the other hand, for “enlarge,” is a favorite. 🙂

        • Parisi,

          That’s a nice one. Did you make it up, or have you actually come across it in print?

          • “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man”
            – Jebediah Springfield

            Edna Krabappel: “Embiggens”? I never heard that word before I came to Springfield.

            Miss Hoover: I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

          • James,

            We do get The Simpsons in the UK. A word created for a whole society of misfits. This says it all! I do enjoy them, though.

  131. The E-M5 is perfect. I’d like also for portability to see a PL3 equivalent. No EVF built it…I can use my external when needed.

  132. Have owned the X Pro for about 6 weeks, X100 for more than a year. Owned many 4/3 & M43 products throughout the years, the EP3 being the most recent. Bought the OMD a few days ago. Body too small, fidgety buttons, very plasticky look, relative to the Fuji products. The accessory grip makes it infinitely more comfortable to hold, especially with my largish hands. Noise is much improved on this latest M/43 product. AF is fast, nothing new there. I’m feel that the 5 axis IS helps in many situations, but somehow I don’t miss it while shooting the Fuji products from the waist. The flip out touchscreen is nifty, touch shoot, touch shoot. I thought it would be a bit more stealth during street shooting, but I find that it is quite obvious. Still a neat feature. I really want to love this spendy little Oly, not that they are giving away the X Pro, but I am, as of now, a bit underwhelemed. The AF is really fast, nothing new there. But the AF is not terrible on the Fuji products. The ONLY time I get pissy with it is in low contrast situations in low light, and scenes where there is lots of fast movement. The Fujis just don’t work as well in these situations. A quick focus lock on something that is equidistant makes it possible however. To be fair, the OMD has a tough time in really low light without the focus assist light on; the way 99% of candid photogs should be shooting, candids at least (more polite). The OMD does perform much better than the Fujis in action scences and with moving subjects. No doubt. The Oly JPEG engine is good, so is the Fuji, both well above average.

    I know you love the OMD,Steve, as your video testing macro AF in low-light shows; yeah, we all shoot macro in low light all the time, :-). The Fujis are truly slow focusing while using macro, that is well known. A better, more realistic, test would have been low light, non-macro shooting. There the cameras are much more evenly matched, in my limited experience.

    The place where the OMD has really let me down, at least till now, is image quality. I don’t see the “pop” that others here have spoke of in your, or my, OMD shots. I find that it lacks the 3D quality that the Fuji X series of cameras produces for me. While this is truly a subjective perception, I feel that the Fuji is preferrable to the OMD in IQ. Most reviews/reviewers feel the same. IQ is only one aspect of photography, but to me the most important.

    Pricey as the OMD and X Pro are, they make an interesting case for what a fantastic value the old X100 really is. That’s my pick. Either the X Pro or OMD is going on the auction block. Maybe both.

    That’s for the uber long review Steve. I know it took a lot of work.

    • BTW, wasn’t shooting macro in the video test. I hardly call arms length macro, and wasn’t using macro lenses obviously. I tried the fuji in macro mode and without it as its very fidgety about this. As for build, in reality the OM-D is built a but better than the X-Pro. Feels more solid and comfortable as well. Again, my opinions. I also stated that the OM-D will not give you the rich 3D quality of the X-Pro or most APS-C cameras. That is just how it is but I enjoy not having to fight the camera to give me results. It just works, every time.

      I also agree with you on the X100…Id take that over the X-Pro. I feel it is a better camera personally. It has charm, soul, great files, and is the perfect size for take anywhere. Simplicity is not over rated.

      • Thanks for the review. I am really on the fence on this decision. Almost everything I shoot is little kids. I like the fast AF, but I really need the 3D look (coupled with bokeh). It sounds like you are saying this may not be a good fit for me.

        • Well, if you want that 3D pop and look, the X-Pro 1 gives you that but you lose the fast AF for kids 🙂 – You can get some 3D effect with this camera but not like you get with a larger sensor and fast glass.

      • BTW, what is that familiar little yellow flower on the screen? And what is that you said at 1:00 into the video, “I have the camera in macro mode, so I can get closer…”?

        I really enjoy the volley, but you gotta get some sleep brother. You’re suffering from Olypumylitis.

        Not sure why you would reticent to allow this comment on your site.

        • It is called MACRO mode. Why? Because the Fuji will not focus at all when it is not activated and you are even semi close. Just looked back and didn’t even put the segment in where I tried it in normal mode as it wouldn’t focus at all. Macro mode was needed to focus, period. Because the lens cap was close in. One more thing on the Fuji that irked me. Up close, not even macro, but closer in, you have to activate macro mode. Why is it the only digital camera that needs to have this done? Shoot closer in, say 2-3 feet? oh! It is not focusing because macro is not enabled! Macro on the Fuji is not for real macro, it is for closer in shooting so the camera will focus. I was shooting at about 2 feet. When i tried without macro enabled it wouldn’t even focus.

          Also, why do you keep posting comments but under different names (same IP address) stating this same subject? Comments go into moderation if you have not commented before or had an approved comment before so just saw all three of your ramblings.

          If I ever get a hold of the X-Pro 1 again I will redo the test without that mode on but don’t expect anything to be quicker. I hear if you use C mode it will be quicker but I was using S mode. (single shot, not continuous).

    • Can i use OM-D compare with canon 7D ? as their price range are almost same. which one I should take ?
      Thanks for your valued comment.

  133. Steve, thanks for your great real life reviews.

    I would like to know about the focus accuracy when taking pictures of moving subjects such kids playing around. Olympus claims a 3D tracking algorithm; ‘Dpreview’ says it’s bad!

  134. Great write-up Steve, a lot of work went into it, many thanks. Oh man you got some lenses!

    What I’m still unsure about — despite the fast glass Micro Four Thirds offers by now: a true creamy bokeh maker is still not here.

    Also the blurry backgrounds in this post vary a lot — still waiting for the real cream maker.

    Prolly just underestimating the Oly 45, the Voigtländer…

    • Dan, your on the wrong post cream whisks and razors are on ebay (the Finedof and Sharpdof brands are on special) so make the most of it.

  135. I know that you say that this little camera ‘isn’t really’ a game changer but I am lifting my jaw up off the floor looking at the quality this 4/3 system is capable of capturing. I’m already part of the 4/3 clan but I am seriously considering swapping my Lumix GH1 (which I love…) for an E-M5. Simply put, your images just pop off the screen in a way I’ve only seen before with mega-expensive gear. And the colours, OMG THE COLOURS. To my taste – perfect…
    Thanks again for your labours Steve.

  136. Thanks for a great review. However, one of the main shortcomings of the EP3 sensor was limited DR and visible noise (shadow) already at base iso. How have the two improved with the new sensor/processing engine and how does the OMD compare to e.g. the X100 or NEX 5N?

  137. “What I mean by that is that if I spend $2500 or more on a digital camera setup and it gives me hassles, issues, missed shots or can’t do what I need it to do then to me, it is worthless”

    I’m sorry but be serious already! You say you love your M9… I can understand that spending that much money makes you oblivious to quirks but come on…

    Nice review though!

    • You’re asking too much. When one spends $8K on a camera, one pays for the quirks.

      Seriously 🙂

  138. Steve,

    Most enjoyable review as always. What is your view on the OM-D with the M.Zuiko 14-150 len? I have been thinking of replacing my Canon 60D with 18-200 because it will be much lighter to carry around as an All-in-One purpose travel camera. Don’t want to pick up any superzoom bridge or compact. Will it serve better than the 60D? How about the IQ? Will be mainly for outdoor shooting instead of indoor. Much oblige for your opinion.

  139. Steve, love your blog, the Olympus looks great, but in that AF testing video, why oh why are you testing the X-Pro1 IN MACRO MODE? This was true for the X100, and true for the X-Pro1, focusing is slower in macro mode. I just re-tested that a second ago.

    • I tested it in both Macro and without Macro. Why? To be fair. I knew if I shot it in normal and not macro some would moan about me not using Macro as the Fuji is fidgety and if you get even semi close, you need that mode on. So I tested in that mode and without macro mode on. I did not just use Macro mode. The Fuji is VERY fidgety, especially when you get a little bit close so I covered the bases and used both modes.

  140. Awesome review Steve. I got my E-M5 a little over a week ago and couldn’t be happier. Such a huge step forward from the GF-1 I was using. The sensors handling of high ISO is awesome. Now I just need to get that Oly 12.

  141. Thanks for the review Steve!

    Perhaps I missed it, but do you have any offerings with the panny 20/1.7?


  142. Thanks for the review. Particularly like the new “TIPS” sections as it will be really helpful when I get my silver OMD.

  143. Good in depth, and well grounded review on the EM-5. Paints a very realistic picture of what one can expect from the camera (and also what the camera isn’t going to do)

    The “real world” aspect of the latest reviews such as the Xpro and EM-5 really is coming across great and the reader can gain a nice understanding of what its like to actually shoot with these cameras, short of handling one themselves.

    Keep up the good work

  144. Oh boy… It seems that I may jump ship yet again. I think I am getting camera fatigue. When I first got into digital photography, I bought the Leica X1. I wanted simple functionality coupled with beautiful image quality. I probably would still have the X1 but I sold it because it did not have a built-in viewfinder. Moving up the ladder, I bought the Fuji X100. The X100 was everything I’ve always wanted except that I had to learn a whole new and more complicated menu system (the X1 functions like a toaster in comparison to the X100). Recently, I was hired to shoot an indoor wedding. Yet again, my little X100 was not up to the task so I rented the Nikon D800: Bigger, bulkier, uglier, and more like flying the Space Shuttle than taking photos, and yet (one more, “yet”) the image quality makes my jaw drop. Do I really have to learn a third camera system? I guess I did if I wanted to photograph a wedding. This is why I am getting camera fatigue. Steve, I don’t know how you do it. You get used to one camera and then you move on to a completely different system (Besides your M9, is there a camera you own that you feel one with?). The Nikon D800 was my third camera system and I just don’t want to start from scratch again. As persuasive as the Olympus OM-D is, I think I will pass. I think I am going to jump ship from all of these beautiful rangefinder-ish cameras (No Leica. No Fuji. No Olympus.) and into the Nikon camp and get a D800E. Several years from now, when Nikon comes out with their new revolutionary camera, at least I will already be familiar with their software and menus. So though the Nikon D800E is no minimalist system, at least my brain will be able to settle into a known and quantifiable syestem that will allow me to build my knowledge base over time without having to learn the newest and greatest from all of these other manufacturers. My learning curve will be steep but this is far simpler than having to buy and sell the newest and greatest from everyone else… (with one eye on the Leica M10). ; )

  145. Steve- I love the enthusiasm you convey in your reviews (or lack of same when you’re just not feeling it). I’ve been shooting with this like crazy for almost a month now, and I agree with everything you’ve said except for one bit. At the top you say the E-M5 doesn’t do anything that is particularly game changing or special (besides putting so much into a tiny package), but I would say the 5 axis IBIS may be the one truly revolutionary piece of technology that isn’t getting enough press. Go out and shoot long night time hand-held exposures, 1/4 or maybe 1/2 second, and check how sharp the shots are. Screw on a long telephoto lens and point it at something very far away hand-held and watch how the IBIS settles down everything you see in the viewfinder as you manually focus. It is amazing to me, and I’ve used some nice in-lens stabilized systems before.

    My 5D’s are collecting some dust at the moment. They may be going in a bag for a long time!

  146. Thanks for the review, Steve.

    I’m a little confused about your comment regarding turning off Noise Reduction. Are you talking about the “long exposure” noise reduction, the “high ISO” noise reduction, or both of them?


    • i think that ep1/2 is a little better, and epl1 is much better. The main thing i like about panny is the af speed

      • How would you think the E-P1 or 2 is better? I have owned ALL of the Oly cameras and this is the best to date. My son shot with his E-Pl1 side by side with the OM-D for a week and no, it is not better. It is slower, has much smaller LCD, no swivel, no EVF, no 5-Axis IS, less art filters, much slower AF, slower to operate and the ISO is worse. With that said, the older PENS can take great quality images, any recent digital can but as for them being better than this one, no.

        • What camera are you speaking about, Mr.Huff? As I understood from your comment, you thought, that i am saying that ep1/2 is better than OM-D.(or maybe i mistake) We are talking about GF1 vs older PENs.
          It’s a fact, that Pens are the same or even better performers comparing to GF1/2. And i went to pen mailnly because the Lumix one looks a bit like TV remote 🙂

    • I just made a comparison today ,.I brought 3 cameras,.GF1,GX1 and OM-D,..and I agree that until now OM-D is the best micro 43 yet,.

      OM-D win in almost in every area,;.IBIS 5 AXIS,.WB, ISO,.DR,.Silent Shutter sound,Burst Shooting 9fps,JPEG output,.Sharper image and clarity,..also double dial for faster manual handling,..

      as for the GX1 it self is just more cleaner ISO from 640-3200 against GF1,.but not against OM-D ,.also bigger grip than GF1 & OM-D /[without HLD-6]

      GF1- I believe GF1 is still the best panasonic JPEG output ; even against GX1 up to ISO500,.better Clarity,Crisp ,.Color,.also WB .,..battery life is better than GX1 or OM-D,..

      I want to underline again why OM-D is better,, even far more better than GF/X 1 Panny :

      ISO, DR ,{really awesome],.IS , WB, Great Color,also SUPERB AF,..

  147. For everyday use: sure. It’s a fun camera, as Steve writes. Fun as in: toy. Think Holga. Three years from now, people will be laughing at this camera. Believe me. Steve has seen gorgeous results from the camera. I wonder where they are because I haven’t as of yet and I’ve searched the internet a lot and used the OM-D for ten hours continuously together with a well respected photographer. He was also baffled at the so-so results. Very digital looking files. Nothing honest/real/film like. Resolution: 4608 x 3456. That’s it. Less than the X-PRO1 (4896 x 3264), far less than the Pentax K-01 (oh… isn’t it ugly, people?… or as Steve said in his video review: “what the hell (shouting) is this?”): 4936 x 3272 pixels. So weather sealed and an EVF (like looking at your t.v.) is IT now, it seems. Because other than that, and having to buy pretty expensive lenses if you want good (but not great) quality for a Micro 4/3 system is of course crazy. Let’s be honest about that. $ 800 for the 12mm lens, $ 400 for the 45mm, and $ 539 for the Panasonic/Leica 25mm added up to the $ 1299 camera body plus $ 299 for the battery holder gives a total of $ 3337 and that doesn’t even include all accessories. Yep, more than $ 3000 for a Micro 4/3 system. Come on, be sensible and invest in a camera and lenses with better quality for that price. I respect Steve and like reading his thoughts on photographic equipment, but it really doesn’t make any sense paying this much for a Micro 4/3 sensor. Just because it’s weather resistant, has an EVF (yawn), touch screen (wow!…?) and 5-Axis IS, doesn’t mean it’s worth the investment.

    • It also has great build, feel, control, swivel LCD, super fast AF, great exposure, easy to control everything…and again, you do not have to fight it to get it to work. I missed so many shots shooting street with the X-Pro. Was pretty upset about it actually. The X-Pro may be a GREAT Studio camera or a fine portrait camera but for anything moving or spur of the moment forget it.

      A camera is worthless if it has issues, shuts down, freezes up, etc. The OM-D is fantastic and no, it will not provide you with M9 quality or even APS-C quality in regards to DOF but I state that clearly. It is for people who want a take anywhere camera that they do not have to worry about or have issues with. It also takes GORGEOUS video unlike the Fuji, and the NEX_7 heats up after 5-6 minutes and shuts down.

      There is also no need to buy the 12mm – you can buy the much cheaper and just about as good 14mm for MUCH less. The 14mm, 20mm and 45mm would be under $1000 and you would have an awesome set of lenses for the camera.

      If you enjoy this format, this is the best camera to date for it. Again, it’s always the haters who hate when they never touched the camera. Thanks for reading and commenting though. As always, what you read here are my opinions after using the camera.

      • I did use the camera, Steve. For ten hours continuously. As with every camera, it can only truly excel with great glass, which is why I’m wondering if a Micro 4/3 system is worth more than $ 3000. I do agree the AF is superb and in operation the camera has no issues whatsoever. I guess it’s just not a camera for me. That’s all. I don’t know if you’re already in Germany for the Leica presentation, but if not… have a good and safe flight and… enjoy!

        • As Jim said, care to share your thoughts on a camera worth investing in? You seem very keen to share your criticism and not much else.

          When I was in Trinidad in Cuba in 2010, i had my 5dmkii with me with a good set of lenses. Beautiful image quality, and I’d be able to show you some image samples now, if only I had carried the 5kg of gear out in the 40 degree celcius heat.

    • “Resolution: 4608 x 3456. That’s it. Less than the X-PRO1 (4896 x 3264)”

      Actually, basically the same. If you wan’t more than 16MP, then there’s other choices, but for most/average user, 16MP is enough.

      “and an EVF (like looking at your t.v.) is IT now, it seems”

      EVF is the only way to do a TTL finder on a mirrorless, just in case you didn’t know.

      “having to buy pretty expensive lenses if you want good (but not great) quality for a Micro 4/3”

      Noone is forcing to buy “expensive” lenses. The Olympus and Panasonic kit lenses, like the Oly 14-42II, are among the sharpest kit lens on any system, mirrorless or DSLR. And unlike all 18-55 DSLR lenses, the Oly 14-42II and Pany 14-42 are internally and silently focusing with non-rotating front element so you can easily use polarized filters. Of course, to get the most of any iLC, one may want to get better lenses and what good lens isn’t “expensive”? Also, if you want noticeably better IQ than an E-M5, which is already on par w/ APS-C cameras (like the more expensive NEX-7), prepare to spend way more on a X-Pro1 or FF system.

      “Let’s be honest about that. $ 800 for the 12mm lens”

      Name a FF/APS-C lens that has the same maximum aperture and equivalent to 24mm. Besides, the Pany 14/2.5 is another WA option; though not as wide, it is much cheaper at less than $300 and still have good IQ. The NEX 16/2.8 on the other hand, sucks optically.

      “$400 for the 45mm”

      Similarly priced as a FF 85/1.8, but this one is really sharp even wide open. It is also cheaper and faster than the Nikon/Canon 60/2.8 if you want a similar field of view on APS-C.

      “and $ 539 for the Panasonic/Leica”

      It’s cheaper than the Fuji 35/1.4 ($600) and less than half the price of a Nikon/Canon 35/1.4. The Pany 20/1.7 (40mm equiv., $350) is cheaper still; yet, it is sharper than the Zeiss 24/1.8 (35mm equiv., $1100) for the NEX.

      The E-M5 body is only $1k. With the 25/1.4, it is $1.5k, much cheaper than the X-Pro1 + 35/1.4 ($2.2k) and nowhere near a 5DmkIII + 50/1.4 ($3.9k)

      The E-M5+20/1.7 is $1.3k, much cheaper than the NEX-7+24/1.8 ($2.3k).

      “Just because it’s weather resistant, has an EVF (yawn), touch screen (wow!…?) and 5-Axis IS, doesn’t mean it’s worth the investment”

      The E-M5 is the weather sealed iLC with the lowest MSRP to date. Cheaper than the K-5, D7000, 7D, etc. when they came out.
      Touchscreen is great; much faster to use to selecting an AF point than a camera w/o a touchscreen. The 5-axis IS is a big deal. More effective than most IS/OS/VR implementation. And the best part is, it’s in the camera! You don’t need to get lenses w/ stabilization; stabilized lenses are typically bigger and more expensive and complicated (more parts to fail) than the same lens w/o IS. Anyway, the E-M5 is cheaper than the NEX-7, which doesn’t have weather sealing, touchscreen and IS.

      “it really doesn’t make any sense paying this much for a Micro 4/3 sensor”

      Honestly, do you look at only the price and sensor size? Do you buy a car with the biggest engine displacement for the price? Pretty much all the reviews out there rave about the E-M5, regardless of its sensor size.

      • Well put ronnbot,..+100

        @RON,..just learn the fact in your mind and try to make a comparison from all the Glass from m4/3 system and compare it with the lenses both APS-c & FF ,.as I did so ,.. my Leica D Summilux 25 1.4 is even more sharper at wide open than My Zeiss on my nikon,..

        Great Review steve,.thx

    • You’d probably laugh at me if you saw me, I’m still using a Sony f828

      I use it regularly and that camera alone brings in a steady £5000 – 6000 annually for a variety of work.

      People who judge others on the equipment they use are the bottomfeeders of the photography world.

      • I remember the F828. Sony was really ahead of its time with that one. About the same size sensor as the Nikon V1, an F2.0 lens, fast digicam-style autofocus, and a four-color sensor that produced amazing color ranges without looking fake.

        Ron thinks people will be giving away their MFT cameras in three years, but not everyone jumps to every new technology. If a camera takes good pictures, there will still be a good market for many years.

        Case in point: Sony made a funny-looking little camera ten years ago that still sells for over $250.

  148. is there going to be a revision or addendum to this? because it is a pretty WEAK effort at a review

    no mentions about handling. build qualities. operating the interface. button placements. useful features. etc.

    you know — the qualitative counterparts to dpreview’s technical content

    you have been keeping people on their toes for this…

      • thats up to your interpretation, isnt it?

        it is no way up to standards — in terms of comprehensiveness — of his reviews on the NEX7, X100, etc

        basically said: turn NR off. its focuses pretty well for AF. ISO is pretty good for m4/3. i played with some of the filters. i like it (because its new…).

        a little blurb here or there without any real effort or weight behind it.

        • Your criticism of the review is really very WEAK. Yes, I can capitalise too!

          You list a whole lot of things you accuse him of not mentioning, yet they are all mentioned. Your facts are incorrect. No interpretation there as you presented them as facts and they were wrong, for example, you wrote that there was no mention of build quality, yet in the review we find:

          “the Olympus build quality is fantastic”

          Thus your criticism is flawed and no-one should bother taking it seriously.


        • Oh I said MUCH more than that! I talked about the handling, even in the video. I talked about everything there is to talk about – buttons, grip, lenses, IQ, AF speed, filters, etc. It’s no less comprehensive than my E-P3 or E-P2 or E-P1 review. More so actually. Plus, I ALWAYS add to my reviews during the weeks following it. I will add to this one with shots from Berlin (where I am headed tomorrow) and the Leica event. Taking along the OM-D and Voigtlander glass only (Oh, and some Leica stuff of course).

          But Id say 6700 words is a bit more than a blurb. Again, anyone who reads my reviews know I do not do DP review style reviews, even though they have changed their style a bit over the last year or so.

          Be sure to read Robin Wongs review as he has some fantastic shots. Me, I used it on vacation like many would so my review consists of snapshots and thoughts. Also be sure to read Colin’s article here on this site where he showed some gorgeous results with the camera.

          It is highly capable and really has almost no flaws. If you know what you are getting into with Micro 4/3 and the sensor size, you will be thrilled.

          • I find your reviews very easy to read and perfect length for comprehensiveness. I would have given up and skimmed a dp type review. I have a gh2 and feel the omd em 5 would be an improvement worth purchasing, if I ever get the damn thing! After using the gh2 I find the only way to get sports action shots ( my son playing soccer), you need a good dslr d7000 or d800 if I could afford it. The omd seems worth trying.

      • When one has nothing to complain about, it is more difficult to make up commentary. Other products may have raised points that Steve thought needed explanation, and the explanation was forthcoming. Steve evidently is satisfied that his account explains his ‘feel’ for the product in a manner that readers will understand.
        However there are always exceptions. Often its me, this time its you.

    • no mentions [sic] about handling.

      “In many ways, shooting this little camera has reminded me of the Nikon V1 (see my review of the V1 here). The speed, accuracy, and lack of any problems or quirks was refreshing.”

      ” I am so glad I bought the grip though as it makes the camera feel SO much better as I feel it is a bit on the small side without it.”

      “Overall, I was happy with the OM-D E-M5 though I felt it was on the small side without the grip. I also found the buttons on the back were a bit small, especially the playback button. Even my little thumb seemed to big for it.”

      “All in all I was impressed with the OM-D E-M5 when it first arrived. It is pretty much what I expected and my 1st snaps looked really good though I knew that the IQ would not really match the X-Pro 1 I had shot for the few weeks prior. With that said, the IQ is really good and will satisfy most peoples needs very well. In fact, some who shoot this camera will rave about how amazing the image quality is. Now that I think about it again…in the right hands this camera could produce gorgeous results (I have seen it).”

      “The AF speed is about the same as it is on the E-P3 in real world use, which is really fast.”

      “The E-M5 is a serious camera with serious capabilities. When you shoot it with some of the quality glass you feel like you are shooting with a quality tool, and that is because you actually are.”

      build qualities [sic]

      “Again, BRAVO to Olympus! The fuji guys are not going to like me for this one but I tell it like it is…the Olympus build quality is fantastic and with the weather sealing beats the Fuji build. When you add the 1st part of the external grip the camera feels really solid and comfortable. It feels like a camera well worth the $999 price. Then again, adding the grip will add $299 so you do have to add that to the cost if you want that solid comfy feel I speak of.”

      button placements [sic]

      “The controls on the OM-D are good but I do have one complaint though. The buttons on the back are way small. For example the play button is so small, those with large fingers may have trouble. My fingers are small and I sometimes have problems with the smaller buttons on the back.”

      useful features. etc. [sic]

      “Weather and Splash proof”

      “A built in EVF, weather sealing, tillable LCD screen, better video quality without any jello effect, improved high ISO quality, a new button and control layout and even an optional grip that can not only be used as an additional handgrip with extra dials and buttons but you can also add on an extra battery pack to the grip if you want more stamina.”

      “Unprecedented 5-Axis Image Stabilization”

      “One more thing the Olympus offers is the Art Filters that have been in every camera since the E-P1. Now we get quite a few filters but I still really only enjoy the Grainy B&W, Cross Process and sometimes the Dramatic Tone in B&W (the pic above was shot in this mode). You can access any art filter by pressing the OK button and quickly going to the picture style choices.”

      Seriously, did you even read the review?

      • Hahaha… Thank you for that lengthy rebuttal — saved me the time. Goes to show, you can’t please everyone, although, I am quite happy with the review. I have an OM-D and have been happily clicking away for four days. Love it! And Steve is spot-on with his comments about the little power-house. I assigned my f2 button as a toggle for manual focus back to spot-auto. That saves me time when using the 45mm lens. I find the only time it really has a problem focusing with auto-focus is when I am snapping a photo of a ‘stem’ of a flower. Then I focus via manual and I am as happy as a clam, what ever that means! 🙂

  149. Great review, Steve. I haven’t liked the 4/3rds range for a while but I’m reconsidering because of this camera. I’m living in Korea right now as an expat and bought a D5100 because of the great IQ but it is kind of large. I was originally hoping to buy a small camera with great IQ but I didn’t feel the 4/3rds models were there yet. You lose quality going to a smaller sensor and with the older technology size made a much bigger difference. It looks like sensor technology is really advancing, though, and after the OM-D E-M5 my next camera just might be a 4/3rds.


  150. Nice writeup Steve. Glad to see you enjoying your E-M5 as well. Always cool to read the field tests of other users :). It will be very interesting to see how Olympus can improve on this camera. Indeed, it meets pretty much all of my needs perfectly. The only real area left in need of a sizeable improvement is tracking and continuous autofocus using native m43 lenses and AF speed with older 43 lenses using an adapter. Perhaps that’s what Olympus has in store for their premium OM-D model yet to come.

  151. Great images and Promising review! Picked up my E M5 this weekend! IQ, speed, and weather sealing were important to me. Originally I planned on going with a Dslr such as the K5 (after reading your review awhile back ) but decided to take a chance on the Olympus. Hoping it meets or exceeds my expectations!!!
    Plan on purchasing the Olympus 45 f/1.8 this week via your site.
    Always look forward to your honest and to the point reviews!! Great work!

  152. Thanks Steve nice cover and comments.
    In the text you mention the Voightlander look. Is there any chance of a test using this camera and the small Voightlander rangefinder lenses, the 15mm 4.5, 21mm f4, 25mm f4. Their size seems to be right for the E-M5 size and I do not need to shave with razor DOF.

  153. First of all, thanks a lot for the interview Steve. Very nice job.

    Just one niggling complaint from a newbie and that is that the review does not even mention or talk about any of the kit lenses. I know you guys don’t really like kit lenses and stick to your primes, but as interesting as the M 4/3 is to the DSLR crowd, many of us are coming to this format from point and shoots. For me personally, I can not at this stage justify spending much over $1200 on what might turn out to be a short-term hobby, so all those fancy lenses are out of the question. It’s good to know that they exist, and should I find photography more interesting, I can upgrade to them. But for many people, this will be their first M 4/3, heck this will be their first camera with an interchangable lense, so they will most probably go with one of the kit lenses. It would have been really nice to at least cover them a bit as well and spell out what kind of experience one could expect from them.

  154. Steve, great review. I bought mine thru your site and have been enjoying it for the last week or so. My first trip to m4/3 and have no complaints. I have a question on the Voigtlander 17.5 f/.95, does it render more similarly to the Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 or the Voigtlander 35 f/1.2? I am looking for a fast and sharp 35mm equiv and am hoping this lens is it. I find the CV 35 f/1.2 lens to be one of the best values out

  155. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for the review!
    How would you compare it to the Fuji X100? Same prince range but different use, different speed, etc.

    Thanks again,

    Have a great day!

    • Well the X100 is $100 more than the kit OM-D. The X100 IQ is gorgeous and I prefer it to the IQ of the OM-D but in use, the OM-D kills the X100 – it is no contest. The IQ of the OM-D is also superb though as is the versatility. I like both really.

    • seb… i have both. prefer the x100 for ease of use – that is, the external Av and Tv marked dials; no looking at the EVF or LCD. the on/off switch makes sense (where your index finger would be. on omd its impossible to actuate with 1 hand). ND filter. the reductive operations — the same back to basics UI qualities steve huff lauds about leica bodies — is the same as here. no fussing with dials and menus and buttons.

      i have very very very infrequent problems with AF. just understand parallax is there. OR use EVF. and to get better macros, simply toggle to MF and use AEF lock.

      more and more comments… but this is not space for my review

  156. I recently bought an Olympus e-p2, the evf, and the Sigma 30 2.8 on Amazon through your links. I find the autofocus with that combination very good but what surprised me was the blackout after the photo was taken. It is my first digital camera. I called the Olympus tech line and a very pleasant person went through the possible causes and decided it was normal. Then she tried the e-p3 and the om-d and she said they operated the same way. I noticed that same blackout in the om-d in your autofocus comparison to the Fuji. I haven’t seen that slow of a blackout with any slr and without any mirror I am wondering why there is any blackout. The CSR said it was similar to a mirror blackout but involved the sensor. I also haven’t read about the blackout in any review on any of the websites. Can you explain what’s going on? I’m wondering what the advantage is if there is a blackout with no mirror. Thanks, I read your reviews and enjoy them very much.

    • There is an option that lets you remove the aftershot preview from the evf. Often its the picture review in the EVF that makes it seem like something is wrong. You can make that very short (1sec) or turn it off completely and chimp the old fashion way.

      Or simply press the shutter half way when the review shows up.

      Not sure if thats whats going on, but it makes the camera feel way faster. BTW, face detection can also slow things down. Turn it off if you don’t need it. (This is based on an EP3)

      • Thanks very much, Neonart. I had done those two steps, turn off preview and face detection, before I talked to the Olympus rep and the screen blackout remained the same. I was just surprised that there was any blackout without a mirror but I did see the same blackout in Steve’s video comparison of autofocus between the OM-D and XPRO-1 so I think it is probably just the way the sensor works. Perhaps everyone is just used to it from digital cameras and I hadn’t seen it before and didn’t anticipate it. I appreciate your help.

    • At the time the shutter is in operation the sensor output is going to the photo, not to the screen or EVF. this causes loss of view. The same happens on a SLR when the mirror is up at the time of the shot. Any viewfinder looking through the lens will give a blackout. On continuous shooting the SLR will show a viewer image between shots, where a mirrorless probably will not, depending on frames per second and how the manufacturer set it up. Also if you have the review set on it will replace the image.

  157. I got lucky and spotted the black 14-42 kits in stock at B&H for a few hours this past Monday and have been working my way through getting familiar with the camera since Wednesday night; a task made more challenging by the lack of a usable manual. What comes in the box is a basic manual and it’s very basic indeed, not much help getting through the large complex menu system (there’s also a CD manual that I confess I’ve not looked at). I have also experienced some focus niggles with the 45/1.8 lens in a very specific situation, but it was also able to single shot AF a running (albeit not flat out, and albeit @ f/5.6) rabbit with it also.

    Yes, it’s small and the buttons pretty tiny, but it’s also very solid, reasonably laid out, IQ’s been very good, the shutter is quiet, the screen is brilliant, the EVF very good, and generally my own experience mirrors Steve’s, except I’ve not presented it with any serious low light challenges yet. I’ve a long way to go to reach any such conclusion, but I’m certainly testing the hypothesis that with the 14/2.5, 20/1.7, 45/1.8. and 45-200/4-5.6 this camera could be everything I need for the kind of shooting I normally do and that it may actually require a full frame sensor to achieve substantial improvement.

  158. Thanks so much for this review — very helpful. Most (all?) of the others I’ve seen didn’t bother to try anything but that damn kit zoom.

  159. Thanks for the video of the AF comparison Steve.

    And nice review.

    And yeh when will the bloody cam come out… waiting for mine too.

        • Doesn’t use interchangeable lenses, so the optical finder is pretty much useless for longer focal lengths.

        • But you do know that the X100 has a fixed focal length?

          And you also know the limitations of the OVF of the X1pro when using certain focal lengths?
          Without a mirror, such compromises are unavoidable with OVFs.

    • For this type of cam I much prefer an EVF to an optical. They are actually more useful and are plenty good enough to compose, frame and preview. Not all will agree though but if you want a mirrored camera with an optical finder then it would be a DSLR.

  160. When will this camera be released???!!! I have it on pre-order. I’d like to take advantage of the rebates. We only have until the end of this month. It doesn’t seem fair!

    • Keith, if you got your pre-order in by the end of May, Olympus said that they’ll honor the rebate. Just make sure you have both the camera and the rebate item on the same order/receipt.

  161. Steve thanks so much for the review. It seems like the OMD has everything you could possibly need in a camera, but with the exception of the macro flower B/W shot the image quality (DOF not noise control) doesn’t seem to even hold a candle to an M8. The more that I look at digital cameras the more I am convinced that the only two things that REALLY matter other then what lens is mounted, is sensor size and no AA filter. From what I see no amount of technology can make up for basic physics which I guess is good since it is what makes the world go round.

    Either way I love reading these reviews and my day is better when one comes across the screen so thank you again for that!

    • Physics is physics, and while certain lens do have different drawing styles and transitions in the area of focus, a M8 with its 1.33x crop sensor isn’t going to produce a marked difference in its overall DoF than a 1.5x crop DSLR than a FF sensor, be it on a DSLR or a M9 etc

      I’ve owed several m4/3 camera’s and several FF camera’s, including both a m8.2 and m9 and the difference in DoF really isn’t that drastic. Naturally one can get a little thinner Dof with a larger sensor but m4/3, especially with some of the newer lenses like the 45 1.8 can get plenty shallow DoF as well.

      In fact, it can get pretty close in real world terms, because, for example, I could easily afford the 25mm 1.4 Panny lens, but I couldn’t afford a 35mm f1.4 Lux when I had my M8.2. So what I used was a Zeiss Biogon C f2.8. Tried lenses like the Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 but they were rather poor wide open

      So, your looking at a $600 lens thats sharp wide open at f1.4 on a smaller sensor vs a slower lens on a 1.33x crop m8.2 giving a pretty similar overall DoF.

      Now I did have the 35mm f1.2 VC which was fantastic, but simply too big and heavy to carry around typically, just like some of the f0.95 lenses are on m4/3. Cool, but not practical

      I hate to burst anyones M-magic bubble, but in real world shooting with most “affordable” lenses, your just not going to see a huge difference from what a good m4/3 camera and some of the faster, yet compact and affordble primes can offer.

      Totally different shooting experience of course, but its not going to magically change your images into something speical, any more than that they won’t be different if you use a FF DSLR

      Again, different shooting experience, and different rendering but a Canon 35mm f1.4L or 50mm f1.2L is going to produce amazing shots in the hands of a skilled photographer, just as a 50 Lux is going to do on a M9

      Physics IS physics

      • This of course is just my opinion I do not state it as end all be all fact. I agree the difference between a 1.3 crop and FF is not so much an issue but the difference between m4/3 and APS is much bigger…in my opinion. My points on the subject are indifferent to lens speed. Of course you can shoot 1.4 on any interchangeable lens system and get separation from the subject and the background.

        I’m talking about shooting at 5.6 and getting that separation..that 3D pop Leicaphiles brag about. I love my Leica’s but I’m not one to disparage other cameras in spite of them.

        I love the images coming out of the X Pro, I don’t know that i’ll buy one but I think that is the type of camera along with Leica that really tries to keep their IQ analog. Is it just me or do a lot of the images coming from the OM-5 look especially “digital”? Steve is a great photographer regardless but I much preferred the images coming out of his XPro review.

        • Guess it really is different strokes for different folks.
          I spent the review thinking how ‘un-digital’ the files looked. Take the very final picture (the cornfield & horizon out the car window), if you had been told this was Kodachrome would you really have questioned it?

          • Yeah definitely, trust me I’m not trying to convince anyone they shouldn’t get one. I know it’s a capable camera I just prefer larger sensors because of my experience with both kinds. As far as the last image; it’s a great photograph but that was actually the one I thought was the most “digital like” and if you told me it was Kodachrome I would politely tell you that it wasn’t. I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to using filters but I think as with everything the key is moderation.

        • Hi John,
          I have to tell you, having compared 50mm 1.4 equivalents on all 3 formats, you’ve got it wrong there, m43 and APS were almost impossible to tell apart in terms of bokeh and subject isolation, but the difference between both and full frame was very noticeable

    • John, I think you are right, and many people don’t understand what creates a “look”. While you can get similar dof from a 25/0.95 and a 50/2 lens, they give you different renderings of backgrounds.
      The thing of interest is background-blur, not dof alone.
      Because background-blur is also a function of the absolute focal length, whereas dof is a function of the physical lens opening (where aperture can compensate for focal length).
      So, for example (and I think this is a very common case) a shot with 50mm at 5.6 and 3 metres will have a different background than with 25mm at 2.8 at the same distance.
      And the argument that I can use longer lenses on m43 is moot, because I don’t want to change (narrow) my field of view in order to get the same background-blur. Besides, tele-shots that have only slight background-blur like a normal view on full-frame look just wrong to me.
      I still think that fullframe (35mm diameter) is the sweetspot incorporating background blur, size, weight, bulk, convenience, … street-ability so to say.

      • Taking what you have written here, the interchangeable lens is a waste of time. The writing implies that only one single lens will give what you want. That changing to another. destroys the ‘look’. So Canon with the g1x and fuji with the x100 have been the only manufacturers to get it right with fixed lens.
        Also for a 35mm camera lens of 50mm the FOV is 39.6degrees.(landscape) A 25mm M43 lens FOV is 40degrees (well to all intents and purposes). This would give them both the same background, when used from the same spot on their correct cameras. How each lens handles the blur is a characteristic of the lens and the fact that COC on a FF is double that of a M43. So the viewing distance for each shot could be different, however the sharpness of the lens and the method used to display the shot (screen, small print, large print) also have an effect and can reduce or magnify the COC to change the ‘feel’ of depth. This is in addition to DOF supplied by the lens.
        35mm is the size of the 35mm film measured edge to edge over the sprockets.

  162. Bravo Steve, Bravo Olympus !

    Some great shots you have here, Steve – specially the grave-shadow, laundromat ext and the last landscape through the car window. Appreciate the trouble and informative review – you make this camera really appealing to.

    Thank you

  163. Steve: I have been checking your site daily for the past week for this review. Thanks. My OM-D is coming tomorrow. I paid an extra $200 on ebay just to get it. Several questions:
    1. I don’t see the Voigtlander 25mm on your recommended list. If you had to choose between the 25mm and 17.5mm for video purposes, which would you pick?
    2. Were you able to use IBIS for manual lenses for stills? or videos?
    Again, thanks for the review.

      • It should be noted though- that with MF legacy lenses- the IBIS WON’T work, sadly they only work on AF native lenses (which are great!), and are optimized for the MSC lenses (the fast AF lenses). Older native lenses like the 20mm f1.7 will struggle a little in the AF with video.

        For still- the IBIS is AWESOME.

      • Thanks for the review Steve , you have done a great job .
        Someone has comented that the IBIS works with stills and video with legacy lenses.
        I have tried everything but can only get IBIS to work with stills and not Video .

      • My understanding is that the IBIS does NOT work for manual lenses in video mode, unfortunately.

      • So does the IS work with adapted legacy lenses or not? Seems the comments here are contradicting, so if anyone knows something definitive … On my NEX I use almost exclusively adapted lenses, so if the Olympus was to offer stabilisation for theses lenses, I’d seriously consider my investment in the NEX system.

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