Olympus E-5 review

Does this DSLR have enough to tempt Four Thirds photographers?

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  • Good picture quality at low sensitivity
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Customisable controls


  • Smaller than normal sensor
  • Still quite large considering small sensor
  • Autofocus lacks some high-end features
  • Steep price in comparison to competition

A 12.3 million pixel sensor borrowed from the E-PL1, a new TruePic V+ processing engine, 720p movie recording and an electronic level are all improvements that the Olympus E-5 has on the E-3, but is that enough to tempt Four Thirds photographers to buy an E-5?

It's unusual for a camera manufacturer to announce a camera and say that it may be the last in the line, but that's just what Olympus has done with its E-5 release, the replacement for the E-3.

With this Olympus E-5 news, the company isn't saying it will be the last top-end E-series camera, but it may be the last one with an optical viewfinder and reflex mirror.

Olympus is also keen to point out that removing the mirror from DSLR doesn't have to result in a smaller camera; it could be done to create space for new, previously unthought of features. After all, the company has a history of developing features such as full-colour live view and articulated LCD screens for Olympus cameras that initially some thought gimmicky, but have now found favour and have been adopted more widely.

So, having whetted our appetite for the future, Olympus gives us a relatively minor upgrade to the E-3, with a 12-million-pixel sensor instead of a 10-million-pixel device, a new processor, a larger LCD with a higher resolution, 720p movie recording capability, an electronic level and a switch to SD and CF slots instead of xD and CF ports.

Again rather unusually, but with refreshing honesty, Olympus UK's Mark Thackara tells us that the company isn't really expecting to persuade many photographers to switch brands: the Olympus E-5 is intended to keep existing E-series users happy. But is there enough to keep them faithful to the brand, we wonder?

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution12.3 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilyE
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedCompactFlash (CF) Card, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameOlympus
DurabilityDust Proof, Water Proof
FeaturesLive View, External Flash Shoe, Face Detection, Continuous Shooting Mode, Manual White Balance, Aperture Priority
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)800 g
Image Sensor Size4/3" (17.30 mm x 13 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4032 x 3024
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height116.5 mm
Width142.5 mm
Depth74.5 mm
Product SeriesE
Image FormatsRAW, JPEG
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelE-5
Product NameE-5 Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberN4279292
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Built on our revolutionary E-System technology, the new Olympus E-5 adds powerful new features that let you do more than ever before. Designed to maximize the award-winning performance of Zuiko Digital lenses, the E-5 achieves the highest image quality of any Olympus camera-with astonishing detail, blazing speed, and true-to-life color. New options like user control in Art Filters and 720p HD Video give you more freedom to explore creative effects. And with its weatherproof design, the rugged E-5 can go anywhere.

Package Contents
  • E-5 Digital SLR Camera
  • Body Cap
  • CB-USB4 (USB Cable)
  • CB-VC2 (Video Cable)
  • BLM-5 Battery
  • BCM-5 Charger
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Instruction Manual
  • Warranty Card
  • BC-1 (Body Cap)
  • EP-7 Eyecup
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty2 Year