Olympus OM-D E-M5


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    Olympus OM-D E-M5

      Full Review

      Once again, Olympus has returned to past glory when designing its latest high-end camera. The new E-M5 is the first in what promises to be a series of cameras featuring the classic design of the OM system of film cameras, designed by team led by Yoshihisa Maitani, which started with the M-1 back in 1972.  The new OM-D series slots into the Olympus range between the PEN and E-series models, drawing features from both.

      Front view of the OM-D E-M5 in black with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ zoom lens attached. (Source: Olympus.)

      The camera body will be offered in black and silver and has the same Micro Four Thirds (M4/3) sensor and lens mount as the PEN models but features an integrated eye-level viewfinder and dust- and moisture-resistant magnesium-alloy  body, like the E-5. While sharing many features with the PEN E-P3, it betters the E-5 in some respects. The table below positions the camera in relationship to current models.

       

      PEN E-P3

      E-M5

      E-5

      Effective resolution

      12.3 megapixels

      16.1 megapixels

      12.3 megapixels

      Shutter speeds

      60 to 1/4000 seconds

      60 to 1/8000 seconds

      Exposure Compensation

      +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps

      +/- 5EV in 1/3, 1/2 or 1EV steps

      Exposure bracketing

      2, 3, 5 frames in 0.3, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable, 7 frames in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7EV steps selectable

      2, 3, 5 or 7 frames in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable

      Focus system

      35-point Imager Contrast Detection AF

      49-point TTL phase-difference detection (Contrast detection system in Live View)

      Focus modes

      Single, Continuous, S-AF + MF, C-AF + TR, Manual focusing

      Single, Continuous, Manual focusing

      Metering system

      324-area TTL Image Sensor metering

      49-point TTLopen-aperture metering

      Shooting modes

      iAuto; Program AE (with Program shift); Aperture priority AE; Shutter priority AE; Manual; Scene select AE and Art Filter

      P: Program AE (Program shift available), A: Aperture priority AE, S: Shutter priority AE and M: Manual

      Scene presets

      Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night, Night + Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Fisheye Effect, Wide-Angle, Macro, 3D

      n.a.

      Aspect ratios

      4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 6:6

      4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 and 3:4

      4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 6:6, 5:4, 7:6, 6:5, 7:5 and 3:4

      Image stabilisation

      Sensor-shift (Max. 3 EVcompensation)

      5-axis stabiliser (Max. 5 EV compensation)

      Sensor-shift (Max. 5 EV compensation)

      Video

      1920 x 1080, 60i at 20Mbps; HD: 1280 x 720 at 30fps

      1920 x 1080, 60i at 20Mbps; HD: 1280 x 720 at 60, 30fps, 640 x 480 at 30 fps

      1280 x 720, 640 x 480 at 30 fps

      ISO range

      Auto, ISO 200-12800

      Auto, ISO 200-25600

      Auto, ISO 200-6400

      Built-in flash

      GN10 (ISO 200/metres)

      GN 13 (ISO 100/metres)

      Sequence shooting

      Max. 3 frames/second for up to 10 ORF.RAW or approx. 12 high-resolution JPEGs

      Max. 9 frames/sec  for up to 15 RAW frames or 19 Large/Fine JPEGs

      Max. 5 frames/second; up to 16 Raw, ‘unlimited' JPEG

      Viewfinder

      Optional VF-2 EVF with 1,440,000 dot resolution

      Integrated EVF with 1.44 million dots

      Eye-level pentaprism with 100% FOV coverage

      Monitor

      3-inch OLED Touch Screen with 614,000 dots

      Tilting 3-inch OLED Touch Screen with 614,000dots

      3-inch HyperCrystal LCD with 920,000 dots

      Battery

      BLS-1 

      BLN-1

      BLM-5

      CIPA rating

      330 shots/charge

      330 shots/charge

      870 shots/charge

      Dimensions

      122.0 x 69.1 x 34.3 mm

      121 x 89.6 x 41.9 mm

      142.5 x 116.5 x 74.5 mm

      Body weight

      321 grams

      373 grams

      800 grams

      The review camera was supplied with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ zoom lens, which is included in the single-lens kit, along with the FL-LM2 external flash. Olympus Australia also provided the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 'pancake' lens, which we have already reviewed on a PEN body plus the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 zoom lens, which will be reviewed separately.

      Other supplied accessories included the HLD-6 Power Battery Holder (plus spare battery) and MAL-1 Macro Arm Light as well as the SEMA-1 Microphone Set. All will be covered in this review.

      Build and Ergonomics
       The classic OM styling is immediately evident as shown in the illustrations below. But, although superficially its body design suggests a reflex camera with a pentaprism viewfinder, neither feature is present. 

      Comparison shots showing the similarity between the OM-D E-M5 (left) and the last model in the Olympus OM film camera series, the OM-4Ti.

      Interestingly, the E-M5 is noticeably smaller and lighter than the OM-4Ti, the last film SLR to be released, which measured 136 x 84 x 50 mm and weighed 510 grams. It's also smaller and lighter than the current 'professional' E-5 model.

      The E-M5's controls are in proportion to the small camera body and users with large hands may find them a little cramped. Some controls are quite close to the viewfinder, which can present problems for users who wear glasses. However, most users will find the grip is comfortable and the camera body sits solidly in the hands.

      The front panel is dominated by the lens mount and has a textured cladding covering most of the remaining area. A moulded grip is provided for the right hand, while an AF-Assist/self-timer LED is tucked into the top right hand corner. Large plastic-lined strap eyelets poke out from the sides of the camera, just below the junction of the main body and top plate.

      Front view of the OM-D E-M5 in silver with the supplied . (Source: Olympus.)

      A large mode dial is located on the left hand side of the top panel, between the viewfinder housing/hot-shoe assembly and the side panel. It carries eight settings: iAuto, P, A, S, M, an icon for the Movie mode, SCN (indicating scene pre-sets) and ART (for the Art Filters).

      The top panel of the E-M5 with no lens fitted. (Source: Olympus.)

      On the other side of the viewfinder housing is a large main dial, which extends slightly outwards beyond the rear panel. This dial works in conjunction with a smaller sub-dial around the shutter release for adjusting aperture and shutter speed settings, depending on the selected mode.

      Between these dials and the right hand edge of the camera is a dedicated button for recording video clips. In front of it is the programmable Fn2 button, one of two such controls, which are complemented by additional functions that can be assigned to buttons on the battery holder and/or some lenses.

      The hot-shoe on top of the viewfinder housing has a slide-in plastic cover, that is removed when you want to attach an external flash gun. Also requiring removal is the soft rubber cover over the accessory port, which is directly below the hot-shoe. This isn't easy as the cover fits flush with the housing.

      The 3-inch OLED Touch Screen covers two thirds of the rear panel. With a resolution of 614,000 dots, it provides similar viewing to the screen on the PEN E-P3. However, for Live View shooting it pulls out and tilts upwards through 80 degrees allowing the camera to be held at waist level and turns roughly 50 degrees down so the camera can be held above the photographer's head. But it can't be reversed against the camera body.

      The rear panel of the E-M5. (Source: Olympus.)

      The housing for the electronic viewfinder (EVF) eyepiece protrudes about 5 mm over the monitor. The eyepiece itself has a soft rubber surround and an eye point of approximately 18 mm. An eye sensor that automatically switches to the EVF when the camera is raised to your eye, is tucked inside the eyepiece housing.

      The resolution of the EVF is 1,440,000 dots, which is higher than the monitor resolution but, like the monitor, the display shows 100% of the sensor's field of view. Dioptre adjustment is via a partially inset dial on the left side of the housing, while a button for switching to Live View is located on the right.

      To the right of the monitor is a standard arrow pad with central OK button. Menu and Info buttons are located above it, with an Erase and On/Off switch below. There's a nice, moulded thumb rest with rubber coating just above the Info button andPlayback and Fn1 buttons just above it, where the camera body steps inwards a millimetre or two.

      The memory card slot is located on the right hand side panel and has a hard plastic cover than snaps securely into place. The battery slots into its own compartment in the base of the camera, which is secured by a lever lock. The cover isn't spring-loaded so you're forced to pry it open with a fingernail or flip the camera upside-down so it drops open.

      Beside the battery compartment is a lift-off rubber panel that protects the contacts for the HLD-6 battery holder. That, too, needs to be pried up with a fingernail, which isn't easy. Further on a metal-lined tripod socket that is slightly off the optical axis of the lens.

      Olympus provides a neat little pouch for storing all the bits you have to remove when fitting accessories (covers for the hot shoe, accessory port and battery grip holder). Given their tiny size, they could be easily lost if not carefully stored.

      Features and Controls
       The much-touted new features in the E-M5 are essentially improvements to existing equivalents in PEN cameras. For example, the AF system in the new camera is the same 35-point Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology (FAST) system as in the PEN E-P3.

      Similarly, the E-M5's EVF is built into the camera, whereas the PEN E-P3's is an optional add-on. Both cameras come with a tiny FL-LM2 flash gun, which plugs into the accessory port above the viewfinder housing. 

      The E-M5 also features the PEN E-P3's touch screen monitor, adding a tilting mounting as a point of difference. As in the E-P3, the touch screen isn't as well implemented as it is in Panasonic's cameras (which also provide a more intuitive menu system).

      Both touch focus and touch shutter are available – and work quickly and effectively – it's too easy to fire the shutter inadvertently if a fingertip strays onto the screen. You can de-activate the touch shutter via an icon on left hand side of the touch screen. But that, too, is easily switched on again with a straying fingertip which, given the small size of the camera, is quite likely. The touch screen can be turned off via the sixth setting in the K-Utility sub-menu in the Custom pages of the camera's menu system.

      The improvements to the image stabilisation system appear to be genuinely new. In addition to the standard two-axis camera pitch/yaw movement detection and compensation, the system in the E-M5 is also capable of detecting vertical and horizontal translational movement, and roll along the lens axis, as shown in the diagram below.

      The five-axis image stabilisation system in the E-M5. (Source: Olympus.)

      This system claims to be able to provide the equivalent of up to 5 EV of compensation, which is useful for hand-held shooting in low light levels and with long telephoto lenses. The effects of the stabilisation can be seen live through the electronic viewfinder when shooting still pictures and recording video clips.

      Also imported from recent PEN cameras is the Live Guide, which enables users to view the effects of certain adjustments on the monitor or in the EVF. Available functions are shown as icons in a toolbar on the left side of the monitor screen

      Art Filter digital effects, Picture Modes and Scene pre-sets are the same as in the PEN E-P3. Because they're applied to JPEG images as part of normal processing, they can extend processing times, sometimes by a couple of seconds.

      Despite its small body, most of the control buttons on the E-M5 should be easily accessed by users with average-sized (and smaller) hands. However, anyone with large fingers and/or limited dexterity could find them cramped and difficult to press. Fortunately, there's a decent tactile response to help you know when buttons are pressed.

      Unfortunately, the design of the two main control dials makes it difficult to turn both at the same time, which makes shooting in manual mode less easy than it should be. Another problem lies with the complexity of the E-M5's control system.

      Olympus has crammed a heck of a lot into this little camera; in our opinion, a bit more than most photographers (including enthusiasts) are likely to use. As well as having two programmable Fn (function) buttons, the E-M5 provides 87 settings in its 11-page Custom settingssub-menu.

      Customising camera controls can involve a number of operations, as shown in the diagram above. (Source: Olympus.)

      As if that wasn't enough, if you attach the battery holder, there are two additional function buttons to program, and some lenses also carry a programmable function button. It can take you several hours to configure the camera, if that's what you want to do. We suspect few users will bother; most will stick with a small number of adjustments – or none at all.

      Pressing the OK button on the arrow pad calls up a quick list of key camera settings, presented as icons lined up along the vertical edges of the screen. You can access most of the functions you want by toggling through the icons (which aren't touch sensitive) using the arrow pad buttons.

      The E-M5 also supports multiple exposures, enabling users to overlay several images, either adjusting brightness levels with each shot captured or adding images to a captured ORF.RAW file. Bracketing is available for exposure, white balance, focal length, ISO and Art Filters.

      A Digital Tele-converter provides roughly 2x extension of the focal length of the lens. It works by cropping the centre of the frame and enlarges the view on the monitor/EVF accordingly. Image quality remains relatively high, due to the inherent high resolution of the sensor.

      Sensor and Image Processing
       The E-M5 High-Speed ​​Live MOS sensor has an effective resolution of 16.1 megapixels. Since Olympus doesn't manufacture sensors, it could be the same chip as used in Panasonic's G3 and GX-1models. Sadly, the dedicated Olympus website (http://olympusomd.com/global/) doesn't provide much information on the imager chip, although it offers a little more about the new TruePic VI dual-core processor that underpins many of the E-M5's capabilities.

      Like the PEN cameras, the E-M5 supports both JPEG and ORF.RAW file capture, but it offers five aspect ratio settings (instead of four) and

      Raw files are always recorded with maximum resolution at the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is native to the sensor.However, users can choose from 15 JPEG sizes and aspects.The table below shows typical file sizes for the available aspect ratios.

      Image size

      Compressed file size

      Name

      Aspect ratio

      Pixels

      F

      N

      Raw

      4:3

      4608 x 3456

      32.26MB

      Large [L]

      4:3

      4608 x 3456

      10.75MB

      4.93MB

      3:2

      4608 x 3072

      9.47MB

      4.31MB

      16:9

      4608 x 2592

      8.06MB

      3.70MB

      1:1

      3456 x 3456

      8.06MB

      3.70MB

      3:4

      2592 x 3456

      6.15MB

      2.77MB

      Middle [M]

      4:3

      2560 x1920

      n.a.

      1.58MB

      3:2

      2544 x 1696

      1.39MB

      16:9

      2560 x 1440

      1.19MB

      1:1

      1920 x 1920

      1.19MB

      3:4

      1440 x 1920

      0.91MB

      Small [S]

      4:3

      1280 x 960

      n.a.

      0.45MB

      3:2

      1296 x 864

      0.41MB

      16:9

      1280 x 720

      0.34MB

      1:1

      960 x 960

      0.34MB

      3:4

      720 x 960

      0.26MB

      Any JPEG file can be combined with an ORF.RAW file and, because the aspect ratio setting is recorded as EXIF metadata, JPEG images can also be produced in-camera from raw files with the selected aspect ratio.

      Video
       Olympus has forsaken the AVCHD format used in its PEN cameras in favour of MPEG-4AVC/H.264, which is easier to edit and compatible with a wider range of editing software and playback devices. It also offers AVI/Motion JPEG format as an alternative, to provide backwards compatibility with older applications and equipment. The table below shows the recording options provided.

      File format

      Record mode

      Pixels

      Frame rate

       

      MPEG-4AVC/H.264

      Full HD Fine

      1920 x 1080

      59.94i (sensor output is ~ 30 fps)

       

      Full HD Normal

       

      HD Fine

      1280 x 720

      59.94p (sensor output is ~ 30 fps)

       

      HD Normal

       

      AVI/Motion JPEG

      HD

      approx. 30 fps

       

      SD

      640 x 480

       

      Users can select any of the P/A/S/M shooting modes to allow camera settings to be adjusted for recording video clips. Shutter speeds are adjustable from 1/30 to 1/4000 second and sensitivity can be set anywhere between ISO 200and ISO 3200. Exposure compensation is not supported and there are restrictions on using some Art Filters, although most can be used as they are for shooting stills.

      The camera's AF system works normally in movie mode and all focusing modes are available. However, as it takes time to re-focus on moving subjects, both the continuous and tracking AF modes introduce some blurring as the focus changes. The tracking AF mode often 'lost' the subject, causing hunting to occur as it was found again.

      Some digital stabilisation is included when movies are recorded, enlarging the image slightly. Frames are also cropped to match the recording mode setting. Olympus provides a wind-reduction filter in the Movie pages of the Customsettings menu, along with the ability to adjust audio recording volumes across three levels: low, standard and high.

      Playback and Software
       Olympus has made few changes from the E-P3, the main one being the substitution of Olympus Viewer 2 application (Windows and Mac) for the Olympus [ib] application.  Otherwise, the playback functions are much the same as the E-P3's.

      All the standard functions are offered, including single-frame and index (4, 9 or 25 frames) display, Calendar display, and  slideshow with/without background music (four options pre-loaded) and 3 transition effects. Picture rotation is available (both manual and auto). You can use the Fn1 or Info button to zoom in on an image with 2x or14x magnification and the Fn2 button to tag it for protection.

      You can view thumbnails with a histogram (brightness or RGB) and shooting data. In-camera editing functions cover Raw to JPEG conversion plus the following adjustments for JPEG files: shadow adjust, red-eye fix, crop, saturation; aspect ratio, B&W and sepia conversion plus resizing and e-Portrait processing. Voice annotation (up to 30 seconds) and image overlay (up to 3 images) are also available.

      Accessories
       The HLD-6 Power Battery Holder (AUD$299) comes in two parts. One (the HLD-6G) simply extends the existing grip to make the camera more comfortable to operate (particularly for users with large hands) in landscape orientation. The other (the HLD-6P) is a vertical grip that holds an extra lithium-ion battery (not included). Both grips come with shutter buttons but the powered grip adds two programmable function buttons and a DC-in jack for use with the AC-3 Power Adapter.

      The two components in the HLD-6 Power Battery Holder package. (Source: Olympus.)

      Both components are built to the same dust- and splash-proof  standards as the E-M5 body. When the power grip is used, photographers can choose which battery to use first; the camera will swap automatically to the other battery to ensure uninterrupted shooting.

      The primary target for this accessory is event photographers, who will welcome both the higher shooting capacity provided by the extra battery and the convenience of the additional controls for taking vertical shots.

      Each grip attaches to the camera via the tripod socket and the electronic contact pad in the base of the camera. They are secured with a knurled attachment wheel that is partially inset into the grip.

      You can attach both grips together, which leaves you with two small, flat rubber and two larger, deeper white plastic contact covers to find homes for. Alternatively, each grip can be used independently. The HLD-6G adds 102.5 grams to the overall weight of the camera+lens; the HLD-6P weighs 126.2 grams without a battery, which adds 52 grams to its overall weight.

      The MAL-1 Macro Arm Light (AUD$99) was released with the PEN E-PL2. Designed for close-up and macro photography, it plugs into the hot-shoe and accessory port and has two articulated arms that extend forwards and end in LED lights. It's powered by the camera's battery.

      Two slider switches are located on the top of the unit, allowing each light to be switched on independently. And they stay on while the camera is powered-up. Together they can provide almost shadowless lighting and it's easy to avoid the shading and vignetting that could be produced by a normal flash.

      The MAL-1 Macro Arm Light. (Source: Olympus.)

      The flexible arms allow the lights to be positioned pretty much where you want them. Unfortunately, there was a bit of 'give' in the arms on the unit we had, which meant they often moved slightly away from where we'd put them. Precise positioning of the lights was less important with the 12-50mm lens we used for our tests than it would have been for a true macro lens but the slackness in the arms made the MAL-1 a little frustrating to use.

      Its main advantages are threefold:

      1. You can see the effect of changes to the lighting in the camera's EVF or on the monitor.

      2. The small size and light weight of the unit enable it to be used with the camera hand-held.

      3. The camera's auto white balance system can produce cast-free colour rendition.

      By its nature, the MAL-1 is designed to illuminate small areas so it's no substitute for a flash gun for general photography. But if you take a lot of close-ups, it's certainly worth a look.

      The SEMA-1 Microphone Set (AUD$149) also fits onto the hot-shoe and accessory port and is powered by the camera battery. It's called a 'set' because it consists of three parts: an adapter with a 3.5 mm jack, a 'hammerhead' stereo microphone (the left and right microphones point in opposite directions) and a cable with a clip-on lavalier microphone. Both microphones plug into the jack.

      The components in the SEMA-1 Microphone Set. (Source: Olympus.)

      Designed for use when recording video clips, the system provides three options. You can plug the hammerhead mic into the adapter jack, which positions it just above the lens. (It's not totally immune to picking up camera operational sounds in this position.)

      Alternatively, you can plug the end of the lavalier mic into the adapter and clip the mic onto a narrator (which can be you as you film or a subject you're interviewing. The cable is a bit more than a metre long, so the subject would need to be quite close.

      Finally, you can plug any third-party microphone with a 3.5 mm jack into the adapter. However, because the adaptor is mounted on the hot-shoe, you'll need some way to support the mic.

      As you would expect, the hammerhead mic provides better stereo separation than the in-camera microphones so, if you plan to use the E-M5 for making movies, it's probably worth the investment. We weren't able to detect any battery drain from either the MAL-1 or the SEMA-1 so potential buyers need have no concern in that respect.

      Other accessories (not reviewed) include three flashguns, the RF-11 ring flash, the FC-1 Macro Flash Controller, the TF-22 Twin Flash, Fisheye, Wide and Macro converter lenses, adapters for using 4/3 system and OM lenses on the E-M5, the RM-UC1 Remote Cable Release, PP-1PenPal Bluetooth sharing device and PT-EP08 underwater housing. A fill list is available at http://olympusomd.com/en-AU/omd/e-m5/accessory/#&panel1-18.

      Performance
       Despite its convoluted user interface, it's difficult not to be impressed by the E-M5. Performance-wise, this camera has a lot going for it. Image files straight from the camera appeared sharp with a wide dynamic range in JPEGs and plenty of detail accessible in raw files.

      Exposure metering was spot-on in most of the situations we experimented with (except for very low light levels) and for all metering modes. Autofocusing was fast and accurate with all three lenses provided for our review.

      Contrast and saturation appeared to be relatively modest and Imatest showed colour accuracy to be generally good, as in the PEN E-P3, a light warming of skin hues and enhanced saturation in reds was revealed. Shifts in other hues were small enough to be negligible.

      We've used the results from our Imatest testing with the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ zoom lens, which was supplied with the camera as the basis of the test results supplied in this review. This lens is reviewed separately, along with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 zoom lens, which was also provided. We've already reviewed the M.Zuiko Digital 12mm f/2 lens and found it to be 'a good though not stellar, performer'.

      The latest version of Adobe Camera Raw (V. 6.7) supports raw files from the E-M5, so we used it to covert files for Imatest analysis in order to maintain as much consistency s possible with other reviews. Imatest showed JPEG files came very close to meeting expectations for a 16-megapixel camera, while raw files were able to exceed expectations across much of the camera's sensitivity range. The graph below shows the results of our tests.

       

      The review camera's low-light performance was generally good with long exposures using ISO settings up to 3200, where image noise started to become apparent. From there to ISO 12800, noise became progressively more obvious, with colour changes appearing at ISO 12800. Shots taken at ISO 25600 were soft, blotchy and visibly noise-affected.

      Flash shots fared somewhat better, although they were slightly under-exposed up to ISO 1600, confirming the GN 10 rating is rather optimistic. Little noise was evident in flash shots right up to ISO 6400, while shots taken at the two highest sensitivity settings were slightly softened but not otherwise noise-affected. The influence of the room lights could be seen in both of these shots.

      White balance performance was slightly better than the E-P3's. Only a slight warm cast remained in shots taken under incandescent lighting with the auto setting, while the fluorescent setting produced very close to neutral colours. Both pre-sets over-corrected slightly but the camera provides plenty of adjustments to overcome biases and the manual measurement tools delivered cast-free shots.

      Video quality has been improved since the PEN E-P3, even though both cameras support Full HD recording. Clips shot at top resolution with both the zoom lenses were sharp and smooth with good audio presence. The  wind cut filter reduced, but didn’t totally eliminate, wind noise.

      As in the E-P3, the AF system was unable to keep up with changes in focal length and pans, even if they were relatively slow. However, it was less affected by objects moving across the foregrounds in shots. We didn't try the 3D shooting mode, having no suitable way to view stereo pairs. However, going by the performance of the camera with the normal stills settings, it is likely to produce usable pictures.

      Our timing tests were carried out with a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC U1 memory card, one of the fastest commonly available. The review camera took just over a second to power-up for the first shot. Shot-to-shot times were consistently 0.5 seconds without flash and capture lag was virtually non-existent, provided the Art Filters were not used.

      Image processing was considerably faster than the E-P3's, with JPEG files taking less than a second, ORF.RAW files just over a second and RAW+JPEG pairs very little more.  

      In the high-speed sequential shooting mode, we recorded separate bursts of 10 Large/Super Fine JPEGs, ORF.RAW files and also RAW+JPEG pairs in one second, which matches the camera's specifications.  It took just under 4.5 seconds to process the burst of 10 Large/Super Fine JPEGs, 6.8 seconds for the raw files and 11.2 seconds for the RAW+JPEG pairs. The buffer memory has plenty of capacity as we found no slowing down during a burst of 15 RAW+JPEG pairs.

      In the low-speed sequential mode, we recorded 10 frames in 2.3 seconds in separate bursts of 10 Large/Super Fine JPEGs, ORF.RAW files and RAW+JPEG pairs. It took 3.8 seconds to process  the JPEG burst, six seconds for the raw files and 8.2 seconds for the RAW+JPEG pairs.

      In Summary

      Buy this camera if:
       - You want a compact and well-built, SLR-like digital camera with interchangeable lenses, raw file capture plus in-camera image stabilisation and effective dust reduction technology.
       - You'd like Full HD video recording with stereophonic sound.
       - You'd appreciate fast autofocusing.
       - You want a camera that can be customised to suit your shooting preferences.
       - You can take advantage of the many lenses and other accessories available for this camera.
      Don't buy this camera if:
       - You have large hands and/or limited dexterity .
       - You're not comfortable with Olympus's relatively convoluted user interface.
       - You require a build-in flash.

      SPECS

      Image sensor: 17.3 x 13.0 mm LiveMOS sensor with 16.9 million photosites (16.1 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: TruePic VI
       A/D processing: 12-bit lossless compression
      Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
      Focal length crop factor: 2x
       Image formats: Stills – ORF.RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG, MPO (3D still); Movies – MOV (MPEG-4AVC/H.264), AVI (Motion JPEG)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4608 x 3456, 2560 x1920, 1280 x 960; 3:2 aspect: 4608 x 3072, 2544 x 1696, 1296 x 864;16:9 aspect: 4608 x 2592, 2560 x 1440, 1280 x 720; 1:1 aspect: 3456 x 3456, 1920 x 1920, 960 x 960; 3:4 aspect: 2592 x 3456, 1440 x 1920, 3216 x 2144, 2400 x 2400, 1824 x 2432, 2560 x 1440, 2544 x 1696, 1920 x 1920, 1440 x 1920, 720 x 960; Movies: 1920 x 1080, 60i at 20Mbps; HD: 1280 x 720 at 60p, 30fps, 640 x 480 at 30 fps
      Image Stabilisation: Sensor-shift type (5-axis, 4 modes)
      Dust removal: Supersonic Wave Filter
      Shutter speed range: 60 to 1/4000 seconds (selectable in  1/3, 1/2, or 1EV steps); flash synch at 1/250 sec or less
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3. 1/2 or 1EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 2, 3 or 5 frames in 0.3/0.7/1.0EV steps selectable, 7 frames in 0.3/0.7EV steps selectable
      Self-timer: 2 or 12 seconds delay
      Focus system: Imager Contrast Detection AF system with 35 AF zones and 3D AF tracking; Built-in AF illuminator
      Focusmodes: Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF) / Manual Focus (MF) / S-AF + MF / AF tracking (C-AF + TR) modes
      Exposure metering: TTL Image Sensor metering system with Digital ESP metering (324-area multi pattern metering),  Centre weighted average metering and Spot metering (approx. 1% of the viewfinder screen. Highlight / shadow bias spot metering are available)
      Shooting modes: iAuto, Program AE (Program shift available), Aperture priority AE, Shutter priority AE, Manual, Scene select AE (Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night, Night + Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Fisheye Effect, Wide-Angle, Macro, 3D), Art Filter
      Art Filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Gentle Sepia, Cross Process, Dramatic Tone, Key Line
      Picture modes: i-Enhance, Vivid, Muted, Portrait,Monotone, Custom
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Custom functions: 11 pages of adjustable functions (87 settings total)
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
      White balance: Sensor based Auto plus 6 settings (3000K - 7500K): Lamp (3000K), Fluorescent (4000K), Daylight (5300K), Flash (5500K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7500K). Manual measurement and WB bracketing supported
      Flash: Separate TTL flash, GN10 (ISO 200)
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3EV in 1/3. 1/2 or 1EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Max. 9 frames/sec for up to 15 RAW frames or 19 Large/Fine JPEGs
      Storage Media: SD Memory Card, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible
      Viewfinder: Integrated EVF with 1.44 million dots, 100% FOV coverage, approx. 0.92X magnification, 18 mm eyepoint, -4 to +2 dpt adjustment. 2-axis level gauge
      LCD monitor: 3-inch OLED Touch Screen with 614,000 dots
      Live View modes: Live Guide assisted shooting available
      Data LCD: No
      Playback functions: Single-frame, Index (4 or 9 frames), Enlarge (7.2x  to 14x), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available), Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Shooting information
      Interface terminals: Multi-connector for USO 2.0/Video (PAL/NTSC)/ optional RM-UC1 remote cable; HDMI (Type D Mini); hot-shoe with accessory port
      Power supply: BLN-1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 330 shots/charge 
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 121 x 89.6 x 41.9 mm (body only)
      Weight: 373 grams (body only); 425 grams with BLN-1 battery and memory card

      RRP: As reviewed, AUD$1299, US$ 1099.99 for single-lens kit; Double Zoom kit with M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm IIR & 40-150mm R AUD$1499; Weatherproof kit with M.Zuiko Digital 12-50mm AUD$1499
      Distributor: Olympus Imaging Australia; 1300 659 678, www.olympus.com.au

      TESTS

      JPEG image files

       

       

      Raw image files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.

       

       
       SAMPLES

       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
       
       

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
       

       
      12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens at 12mm; 1/250 second at f/7.2; ISO 200.
       

       
      12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens at 50mm; 1/200 second at f/9; ISO 200.
       

       
      Digital Tele-converter with 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens at 50mm; 1/250 second at f/9; ISO 200.
       

      60-second exposure at ISO 200; 12mm focal length, f/3.5.
       

       
      15-second exposure at ISO 1600; 12mm focal length, f/5.6.
       

        6-second exposure at ISO 6400; 12mm focal length, f/8.
       

       
      6-second exposure at ISO 12800; 12mm focal length, f/11.
       

       
      3.2-second exposure at ISO 25600; 12mm focal length, f/16.
       

       
      Flash exposure with 50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/6.3.
       

      Flash exposure with 50mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/100 second at f/6.3.
       

      Flash exposure with 50mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/100 second at f/6.3.
       

      Flash exposure with 50mm focal length, ISO 12800, 1/100 second at f/6.3.
       

      Flash exposure with 50mm focal length, ISO 25600, 1/100 second at f/6.3.
       

       
      Available-light exposure in artificial lighting; 50mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/8 second at f/8.
       

       
      Available-light exposure in natural, overcast lighting; 109mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.2.
       

      Available-light exposure in natural, overcast lighting; 50mm focal length, ISO 1250, 1/125 second at f/8.
       

      Available-light exposure with 300mm focal length, ISO 1600, 1/50 second at f/6.7.
       

      Available-light exposure with 246mm focal length, ISO 3200, 1/125 second at f/6.4.
       

      Macro shot taken with the 12-50mm lens at 50mm and the MAL-1 Macro Arm Light; 1/13 second at f/6.3.
       

      Close-up copy of a graphic using the 12-50mm lens and MAL-1 Macro Arm Light;45mm focal length, ISO 1250, 1/100 second at f/6.3.

      Still frame from MPEG-4 video clip recorded with Full HD resolution (H setting).

       
       Still frame from MPEG-4 video clip recorded with HD resolution (H setting).
       

       Still frame from AVI video clip recorded with HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels).
       

       Still frame from AVI video clip recorded with VGA resolution.

      Rating

      RRP: US$1099.99 for single-lens kit; AUD$1499 for Weatherproof kit with M.Zuiko Digital 12-50mm (as reviewed); AUD$1199 body only; AUD$1499 for Double Zoom kit with M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm IIR & 40-150mm R.

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.2
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Still image quality JPEG: 8.8
      • Still image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 9.0

      BUY