Olympus E-5 DSLR Pros and Cons

Olympus E-5

I've been shooting with the new Olympus E-5($1,699 street price) with the fantastic Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Digital ED SWD Lens($899 street price). Talk about a DSLR that inspires confidence when you hold it. The Olympus E-5 is a solid machine. My full review is posted on Macworld Magazine if you want to see more. In the meantime, here are my pros and cons for this flagship four/thirds DSLR from Olympus.


  • Very fast autofocusing
  • Great image quality at ISO 800 and below
  • Weather resistant body tops for the money
  • Articulated 900,000 pixel LCD
  • Dual card slots (CF and SDXC)
  • Wireless flash control built-in
  • Multiple Exposure capability (up to 4 frames)
  • Add Copyright Capability (2 fields)
  • Level guage
  • 2% Spot Meter
  • Cool Art Filters including Dramatic Tone can be used in PASM modes
  • Pop up flash
  • 100% Field of View Optical Viewfinder
  • In-camera Raw to Jpeg conversion
  • Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm (24-120mm) 1:2.8-4.0 SWD lens is a good one
  • CONS

  • 12 MP sensor (that is basically the same as in the PEN cameras)
  • AVI Motion JPEG format at 30fps seems outdated (no 24 fps), Limited video options
  • Lackluster High ISO performance compared to other flagship DSLRs
  • Only 5 fps burst mode
  • No Mode Dial
  • E-5 Specs Compared to Previous E-3

  • 12.3MP vs 10.1MP
  • HD Movie mode vs None
  • Upgraded image processor
  • Improved AE Bracketing (2, 3, 5, 7) vs 3 frames
  • 10 Art filters vs None
  • 3" Articulated LCD at 920,000 vs 2.5" at 230,000 pixels
  • SD for second slot replaces xD Picture Card
  • Same battery

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Thanks firth simple write-up. Likening, i can't understand why only 12 megapixels. It was needing to crop and still have print quality results that pushed me away from Olympus on the first Place. The Canon 60 D and it's high megapixel with articulating LCD and quick menu was the perfect place for me to "land". Thanks again

It's interesting about the 12 MPs. For some shooters, they could care less and don't see what all the fuss is about. For others, myself included, I like to be around 18 MPs or more, mainly for cropping and printing.

As a camera us to be used to take pictures, one should focus on the pictures and not the toys.

For me 12 vs 18 MPs is not really important. For me , the major Olympus problem is its vary bad high ISO performance compare to the competition (probably dur to its sensor size.
Also, I'm afraid about the autofocus. I owne an e620 and this camera has a lot of difficulties to focus in low light. It's getting worse (to not say unusable) while the battery is half charged.

Also, it does not track subject (no intelligence at all).

Hi croppers out there!

You need the megapixels huh?
Ready for a little math?
E5 / 4:3 = 4032 x 3024 = 12.2 Mp
D7000 / 3:2 = 4928 x 3264 = 16.1 Mp
So you think you have 32% more cropping power right?
You win only 8% in height pixels with the Nikon and a "whopping" 22% in width pixels. It's more like comparing a 4/3 Tv with a widescreen 16/9 set, horizontal lines are the same.
In other words, if you crop a 3/2 sensor to 4/3 to make a real comparison, you end up with 3264 x 4351 = 14.2 Mp, not such a big difference imho.
Personally I like 4/3 7/5 and square crops, so 4/3 12mp is great for me. 21mp + will really make a difference, but in that case I'm afraid I've made a bad picture...:-)
Happy cropping!

E-5 is way ahead in autofocus speed compared to E-620

All is fine with your review but Battery is not the same of E-3. Here battery is BLM-5 against BLM-3, also charger is different here is BCM-5 and not BCM-3

E-5 works very very good with 11/22 mm f/2.8
and 50 mm f/2

Agree with others; 12 Mpix a con? ... really? Then who would buy the Nikon D3s ($5200 at amazon) !? ... 12Mpix is just fine. Learn how to take pictures instead of cropping.

"Only 5 fps" is also not a con in my opinion. It's just "OK".

... another thing that's relevant as a "pro", is the capability to autofocus in extremely low light.

... but another "con" is the future of the fourthirds system.... will there be more?

Its not the same battery.I can shoot up to 1300 pictures with my E-5,i don,t think this is a con!

- splash-proof body and lens: this goes beyond the other systems' "weather sealing"
- Sensor cleaning that actually works (cf. Canon system)
- I'd put "no mode dial" as a pro, not a con. Looking at the ergonomics of the camera as a whole its much nicer than anything from Canon or Nikon (my subjective view) and is designed so that it doesn't need one.

On a FF 3:2 system I find I have much more need for cropping than on the Olympus. The main reason is that with 2 lenses: 12-60mm + 50-200mm I can cover a much wider range than lenses I'd choose for the FF system.

High ISO:
When you remember that you need to stop down FF by 2 stops to get the same depth of field, you find that the Oly system isn't as bad as it looks on paper. In practice when I'm at 4/3 ISO 100, I'll be anywhere from ISO 100-400 on FF. At 200 its 800, 400 its 1600 etc. So in practice its not really that bad. Where you notice an IQ difference is comparing ISO 100 to ISO 100 shots and want to push the images in any way.

If you need a system with more than 12MP or want ultra-shallow depth of field shots, then this obviously isn't the best choice.

Do 12MP razor-like aren't enough?
You don't have try it... I think! ;)
Never know the mine of the words "sharp" if you don't use the E-5 @ 125 ISO, without NR and set sharpness "+1".

Then do it, try set ISO 4000 with NR HIGH, and contrast "-2", saturation"-2" and sharpness "+2": it's valuable for 6"x8" print.

try to believe!

Anybody know if there'll ever be a successor to the E-520/E-620?

Olympus should start making full frame SLRs soon.
E-5's is not much better than E-620, almost same, though there are other good features available. Noise and lower dynamic range (when compared to full APC and full frames) will always a problem with 4/3. thats right MP does not matter much as long as its above 12. i will probably upgrade in 2-3 years. if there is no full frame Olympus by then, i will sell my whole gear and move to Nikon :)

I meant E-5's SENSOR is not much better than E-620.

No mode dial a Con?
Get real, this is a flagship. Is having a Canon 1D series camera a Con, which incidentally has no Mode dial.

"12 MP sensor (that is basically the same as in the PEN cameras)"
No it not the same IQ as the Pen's.

Is owning a Nikon D3s 12mp flagship a con?

The IQ is right up there with these Big Boys. And some of the most respected review sites in Germany, puts the IQ of the E-5 as #3 of all time, right behind the D3s and 1Dmk4, which both cost four to five times as much as the Olympus E-5 at $1699.00.

What a review... And some comments made about cropping are unwarranted.