Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 review

We try out the new Olympus PEN E-PL5

TODO alt text


  • Tilting screen
  • OM-D sensor
  • Large lens range


  • Not an articulating screen

Olympus has refreshed its PEN lineup of compact system cameras, with two new introductions to sit in the middle and at the bottom of the lineup.

The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 uses the same 16.1 million pixel image sensor as the highly regarded Olympus OM-D, released back in January 2012.

This camera therefore marries the best technologies of the Olympus OM-D with the compact and stylish bodies of the PEN series. The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 remains slightly smaller than the Olympus PEN E-P3, which hasn't been upgraded (as yet). It's also larger than the camera sitting below it in the range, the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2.

Olympus PEN Lite E PL5 review

Like the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 that it replaces, the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 has a tilting screen, but this 3-inch device is now touch-sensitive.

Unlike the Olympus OM-D, this touch sensitivity doesn't extend to an on-screen menu in semi-automatic and manual modes, but it can be used to set the autofocus point or trigger the shutter release. When using the camera in fully automatic mode, the touchscreen can be used to access the Live Guide menu.

The main difference between the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 is the grip and the tilting screen, with the latter having a fixed touchscreen.

Olympus PEN Lite E PL5 review

Another of the key specifications of the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 include FAST AF autofocusing, something which is already seen on the Olympus OM-D, along with in-body stabilisation.

Throughout its Micro Four Thirds range, Olympus has become well known for its love of digital art filters. On the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5, there are 12 different effects, including Cross Process and Pop Colour.

There are also new effects that haven't been seen on the PEN series before, taken from the Olympus OM-D. These art filters can be used on both stills photographs and when shooting HD video.

Olympus PEN Lite E PL5 review

It's been a big year for compact system cameras, with many key releases from the majority of camera manufacturers.

Olympus, along with Panasonic in its CSCs such as the Panasonic G5 and Panasonic Lumix GF5, uses the Micro Four Thirds format. This uses sensors that are smaller than the APS-C devices currently found on the Canon EOS M, Sony NEX-5R, Samsung NX1000, Fuji X-E1 and other CSCs.

There are both downsides and upsides to using a smaller sensor. These cameras tend to be a bit smaller than their APS-C counterparts, but there is always a risk that image quality will suffer.

Olympus PEN Lite E PL5 review

Olympus is keen to push the sensor technology of its latest cameras as being class leading and able to take on those with larger devices. We're keen to discover whether that's true in our lab tests.

Other interesting specifications of the Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 include sensitivity capability up to ISO 25,600, Full HD video recording and 8fps shooting.

This is all available for a full price of £599.99/AU$749/US$699.95, including a kit lens, which is reasonable indeed.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Wireless LANYes
Effective Camera Resolution16.1 Megapixel
Product FamilyPEN
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital High Capacity (SDHC UHS-I), Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC UHS-I)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.8x, 3.8x (Lens 1) - 3.8x (Lens 2)
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameOlympus
FeaturesLive View, Face Detection, Self-timer, Noise Reduction, Orientation Sensor
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMPEG-4 AVC, MOV, Motion JPEG (AVI), AVCHD
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)279 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Image Sensor Size4/3" (18 mm x 13.50 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height63.7 mm
Width110.5 mm
Depth38.2 mm
Focal Length40 mm to 150 mm (Lens 1) - 14 mm to 42 mm (Lens 2)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW, MPO
External FlashOptional
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerOlympus Corporation
Product ModelE-PL5
Product NamePEN E-PL5 Digital SLR Camera
Product LinePEN
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Aperture priority AE
  • Shutter priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberV205042BE000
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.olympus.co.uk
Marketing Information

Best-in-class image quality

  • FAST AF + Touch operation
  • Tiltable LCD display
  • Superb image quality
Package Contents
  • PEN E-PL5 Digital SLR Camera
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm 1:4.0-5.6 R
  • Flash FL-LM1
  • BLS-5 Battery
  • BCS-5 Battery Charger
  • Micro Four Thirds body cap (BC-2)
  • Shoulder Strap
  • CB-USB6 USB Cable
  • CB-AVC3 Audio/Video cable
  • Operating Instructions
  • Warranty Card
Limited Warranty1 Year