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2013.05.10

Olympus is proud to announce a new flagship for its PEN series of mirrorless digital cameras. Following the E-P3 launched in 2011, it joins the E-PL5 and E-PM2 with the latest 16 megapixels Four-Thirds CMOS sensor. As the top-of-the-line PEN, the new E-P5 offers a wealth of photographic controls and plenty of buttons, including dual control-dials, to access its advanced features.

The Olympus PEN E-P5 is redesigned to look even more retro than its predecessor while improving handling and elegance with a more streamlined all-metal body. Within it are key technologies borrowed from the OM-D E-M5, including the highly-acclaimed 16 MP TruePic VI LiveMOS sensor and processor plus unique 5-axis image-stabilization system which corrects horizontal shift, vertical shift, tilt, pitch and yaw for any mounted lens. Still, Olympus has enhanced the 5-axis stabilization system with automatic panning and tripod detection.

Olympus PEN E-P5 with optional VF-4 EVF

The PEN E-P5 includes an all-new mechanical shutter, capable of a maximum shutter-speed of 1/8000s and with a flash-sync speed of 1/320s when using the built-in flash. This is a first for Olympus and matches shutter-speeds available among the fastest DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with mechanical shutters. This shutter also lets it shoot continuously at 9 FPS  with focus and exposure locked on the first frame or 5 FPS otherwise.

Equipped with the Olympus accessory-port, the E-P5 supports an optional EVF, including the 2.36 MP VF-4 being launched simultaneously. This new EVF is huge and offers a class-leading 0.74X magnification with 100% coverage, making bigger than the largest optical viewfinders. The VF-4 has an improved LCD panel which an ultra-short display-lag. An Eye-Start sensor at the base of the VF-4 automatically switches between the EVF and LCD and is very pleasant to use. The  init tilts vertically for added flexibility.

Built-in WiFi makes its appearance on the Olympus PEN E-P5 with a clever Androis and iOS application which binds to the camera via a QR code. Once bound, the WiFi link supports: remote shooting, remote viewing, transfer of images and the embedding of GPS data supplied by a suitably-equipped smartphone.

This new mirrorless camera adds a number of convenience features, including Live-Bulb and Live-Time which first appeared on the OM-D E-M5. With these features, one can see a long exposure in-progress. The E-P5 adds a progressive histogram so that the saturation-point can be much more easily be detected. Also present on this camera, multiple-exposure blending, interval shooting and video time-lapse from up to 99 frames or 10 seconds.

Olympus PEN E-P5

The Olympus E-P5 features dual control-dials with two functions assigned per dial. A two position switch at the rear, toggles between pairs of dial functions. This innovative control lets the E-P5 directly access additional features without so many buttons. This saves space for the slimmest tilting LCD to date. This display measures 3″ diagonally and has 1.04 MP and touchscreen functionality.

The Olympus E-P5 is expected to ship this month for an estimated price of $999 USD for the body-only package. A premium kit will also be available as the E-P5 plus M.Zuiko 17mm F/1.8 lens and VF-4 EVF for $1449 USD. The camera itself will be available in 3 colors: black, silver or white.

Preproduction Hands-On

We have had the privilege of trying an almost final pre-production E-P5. The metal body makes the camera feel very dense and extremely solid and even the tilting hinge of the rear LCD is quite sturdy. The screen is bright and details and the MF-Assist view allows to zoom-in to the pixel level. The VF-4 is impressively large and shows virtually no motion lag which greatly helps with adjusting zoom, focus and following moving objects.

The new body looks good and less busy than the E-P3. The control-dials are very responsive with good click points and very comfortable to access. Using the thumb one can quickly switch between control-dial modes and what each dial does is extremely customizable. There is a customizable button at the top of the camera as well.

Even the preproduction unit was very responsive. Adjustments were reflected immediately on the LCD or EVF and following action is possible during continuous shooting. Manual adjustment of focus works very well and there is now a focus-peaking display mode that highlights the plane-of-focus.

The E-P5 is quite compact and slim for an advanced mirrorless camera. It feels heavy for its size  because of the all-metal body but is unlikely to be tiresome to hold. The VF-4 adds some bulk which makes it taller than the OM-D E-M5 which is also weather-sealed. Photographers who prefer to shoot at eye-level are likely to be torn between the E-P5 and E-M5.

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