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Field Review: Olympus E-5 (Day 1)

by Chris Gampat on 01/10/2011

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve spent this long with an Olympus product: around two years! My first DSLR was the Olympus E-510 and I loved it to death, but had to move to Canon for the features they provided me. With that said, the Olympus E-5 is a camera that I had hands-on time with and knew that I just had to test it out. Enough about me though: let’s get this thing started!

Before I go on, it is worth it to note that I am testing the Olympus E-5with the Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Digital ED SWDlens.

Ergonomics

I’ve passed this camera around between co-workers in the office. They agree: if someone tried to mug you, and you had this camera on you, you’d be able to beat them over the head with it and have no trouble.

Unfortunately, beating someone over the head has not been included in the reviewing assessment for The Phoblographer.

In all seriousness though the E-5 feels really good in my hands. The grip is very easy to get your hand and fingers around. Coupled with the textured body, this is a camera that conforms well to the hand and won’t slip out if your palms become sweaty after working for a long period of time or in the summer.

The viewfinder is big, bright, and beautiful. My only complaint is that I wish there was a way to overlay a rule of thirds grid in the viewfinder, though it may indeed be possible to do this. For photographers with bad vision, this is surely a plus. Additionally, this is great for when one needs to shoot in low-light situations as it will help them focus much better if they are manually focusing.

There are a couple of minor quirks I have with the camera:

- Weird placement of the playback button

- Very interesting placement of the movie record button, I’m not totally sure if I’m happy with it. This is located on the top right corner of the back of the camera.

- Interesting placement of the back dial: I find it harder to work with at times (perhaps because I’m coming from Canon.)

- The LCD gets dirty easily.

All this said though, I’m very happy to report that it is very easy to change essentially any setting without having your eye leave the viewfinder.

Autofocus

If you remember the posting I wrote about the E-3 having the world’s fastest autofocus, then they haven’t seen the Olympus E-5. I understand that I’m using one of the fastest focusing lenses in the company’s lineup, but holy smokes is this quick.

Additionally, manual focus point selection can be done by using the left, right, up and down buttons on the back panel.

My only peave is that the autofocus confirmation beep was perhaps designed for the hearing impaired photographer. It’s loud: so loud that I needed to disable it.

The E-5 has a very quiet shutter, and having such a loud chirp coming from the camera only negates the silent shutter.

Menus

The Olympus E-5 has some long and complicated menus. No really, they’re very long. Additionally, there are some symbols which are not very readily apparent and will require you to actually dig through the manual a bit to figure certain things out.

For most shooters, you won’t have to deal with this problem: only if you’re a customization hound like I am.

LCD Screen

Olympus has a real winner with this one. They are a company that was known for having some of the worst quality LCDs ever. The E-5 takes that concept and flips it over onto its head. It’s gorgeous and very detailed.

My hat goes off to the company for this one.

Image Quality

Though I haven’t fully tested this yet, the image quality is very nice. The blues, reds and greens seem to be very deep. Yellows: not so much.

A tactic that I end up using often is overexposing a stop because of how much better the image look (especially when editing and bringing them back down in post.)

More to come from this review soon!

What do you want to see in the E-5 review? Let us know in the comments below.

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