Fri, 30 Nov 2012 Olympus E-PL5 review
Including this CSC, Olympus has had four generations to refine its act. Looks and handles great if you ignore teeny, fiddly backplate buttons
- Manufacturer: Olympus
- Pros: Starter option with sophisticated design, tilting touchscreen LCD screen aids visibility and makes for intuitive use, dedicated video record button falls readily under the thumb, image stabilisation built into camera body rather than lens
- Cons: Small backplate buttons, but criticism otherwise similar to that of its E-PL3 predecessor, namely we miss the integral flash and handgrip of the E-PL2, and bemoan the plastic-y clip-on flash, plastic-y clip on grip and plastic-y kit lens provided in lieu
- Min specs: 16.3 megapixel effective resolution, up to ISO25600 light sensitivity, 3-inch tilting LCD, Full HD movie capability, six digital effects filters, integral Live Guide, dimensions of 110.5x63.7x38.2mm, weighs 325g with battery and card
- Price: £599 with 14-42mm II R zoom lens on test
- Star rating:
Successor to the E-PL3 we reviewed this time last year, the E-PL5 has skipped a number to become the fourth generation interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds system compact from Olympus (the same technology the Panasonic G5 uses). Also known as the ‘Pen Lite’, this model sits in between the cheaper E-PM2, or ‘Pen Mini’, and the range topping OM-D E-M5 costing a grand, while featuring technology trickled down from that flagship retro-styled camera. Indeed Olympus says that the ‘guts’ of the camera are the same, with the only major internal difference being a dual axis stabilisation system on the E-PL5 to avoid the blurring effects of hand wobble, rather than a five axis one on the OM-D. It’s identically priced to the Panasonic G5, but the styling here’s more compact.
Whilst outwardly the E-PL5 differs in omitting a built-in viewfinder and not looking quite as gorgeously ‘classic’ as the OM-D, it does come with a compositional screen at the back that can be tilted down and angled upwards to face the subject if you do want to squeeze into a group shot or set up a self portrait. You realise how useful this is when the next camera you try doesn’t have one. Resolution has been boosted over its E-PL3 predecessor too, up from 12 to 16 megapixels, and there’s the ability to capture eight frames per second for action shots. Plus for the first time in the range the E-PL5 comes bundled with an 8GB Toshiba FlashAir Wi-Fi card, as the body doesn’t have built-in wireless. Our review sample also included a 14-42mm manually operated zoom, providing a 28-84mm equivalent focal range. Light sensitivity has been cranked up compared to the E-PL3, up to ISO25600 from 12800 previously, thus bringing it into line with rivals.
This ‘Pen’ looks great from the front and top down, and feels surprisingly solid even without lens attached. There’s no built-in flash however – just a small slide-on accessory flash included in the box – and we feel the hard controls at the back let it down somewhat. These are too small, plastic-y looking and generally more akin to what you’d find on a £100 pocket snapshot. Luckily then the LCD is also an intuitive touch screen, as alternative optical viewfinder or EVF are omitted due to space.