Olympus E-P5 full review
The chassis of the E-P5 is closely modelled on the Pen F which gave rise to the famous Olympus Trip. Yet a tilting touch screen and Wi-Fi adds modernity
With the latest Olympus E-P5 modelled on the original Pen F camera from the 1960s and its most expensive £1400 kit option providing a wooden handgrip, Olympus appears to be going even more ‘old school’ in competing with the likes of Pentax and Fuji, who have encroached on its retro camera turf (the latter more than the former). That said the camera’s innards are anything but, as it incorporates the same 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor and five-axis anti shake system as found in Olympus’ flagship camera, the OM-D E-M5. The numerically similar E-P5 is also the manufacturer’s first camera to offer built-in Wi-Fi connectivity; previously it only provided compatibility via removable Eye-Fi media cards.
All of this doesn’t come cheap however and the E-P5 on launch is priced not far short of what you can now pick up an OM-D for: £999.99. As with the Panasonic GX7, best value is to go for the kit that includes a retractably compact 14-42mm zoom lens, which, thanks to the properties of the Four Thirds format sensor at the mirrorless camera’s heart, provides an extended 28-84mm reach in 35mm terms. Surprisingly that hefty price tag doesn’t include a built-in viewfinder, like the OM-D has; instead a vacant hotshoe allows the fitting of one as an optional extra. Interestingly enough the original Pen F was priced equivalent to a month’s wages back in the 1960s, so not so much has changed. Read more Camera reviews
Thankfully we do get a tilting LCD screen here that is also a touch screen, with resolution having been hiked to a whopping 1,307,000 dots. In practice then we could either use the levers and dials to operate the camera or select the on-screen icons instead. As with its Canon and Panasonic competitors with touch screens, Olympus has opted for the best of both worlds approach. And once up and running the E-P5 is impressively swift in operation too, with shots either fired by squeezing the physical shutter release button or simply tapping a subject on screen. Its auto focus is quick as lightning, locking onto target nigh instantly. Full HD video looks as stunning also, pans being reassuringly smooth, and with the benefit of stereo sound and silent zoom/AF operation.
Like others here on the E-P5 there are a plethora of digital effects filters to choose from for both photos and motion images, which provide added pep in dull conditions. Otherwise if conditions aren’t perfect, some shots straight from the camera appeared to us little better than those achievable by a snapshot camera, falling short of the punch provided by the Samsung, Sony, Fuji and Canon models with an APS-C chip, whilst in brighter conditions we found it hard to avoid blown highights. Though much to admire here, we can’t quite love the E-P5; arguably the older OM-D now provides better value and more creative scope.