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First Impressions: Olympus E-PL5

by Erik Fuller on 11/17/2012

Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5

I’m currently in the middle of reviewing both the E-PL5 and its little brother, the XZ-2. Whereas the XZ-2 is a fixed lens compact, the E-PL5 chooses to go down a route similar to that of the Sony NEX-7. It is a small, interchangeable lens camera that promises to give you excellent image quality that you can fit in your pocket. Lets take a brief look at what the E-PL5 has to offer.

 

Tech Specs

(from B&H and personal experience)

  • 16 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds Sensor (same as in the popular Olympus OM-D E-M5)
  • Interchangeable lens (ships with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6)
  • 3″ Tilting LCD touchscreen
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • RAW capture
  • ISO 200-25600
  • 1080i @ 30fps video
  • Bundled external flash

Ergonomics

Okay, I have to be honest here. When I first took the camera out of the box I was a bit worried how cheap the kit lens felt. It had no weight to it and seemed a little flimsy. This is not something I would expect from a $700 camera. The body itself though feels solid, albeit a little chunky due to the large flippable LCD screen.

14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens

Being a control freak, I immediately went into manual mode and hunted down the exposure settings.

Look, it even has a hotshoe.

Hmmm, what’s the right aperture for shooting a keyboard…

Of course there are also Scene and Auto modes for those who don’t want to have to deal with exposure settings.

The Olympus has a large number of presets to choose from.

Autofocus

I was actually pretty surprised that the autofocus was spot on pretty much every time I used it. I primarily used the touch-to-focus function which works great as long as you don’t touch anywhere near the edges of the screen. If you’re impatient, there’s also a touch-to-focus-to-shoot method which will take a picture the second you touch where you want the focus to be.

Image Quality

This is where I was really surprised. The jury is still out on RAW images (I’m waiting for Lightroom support) but take a look at these JPEGs:

Lovely tones and very clean

Still looks good up close

Sharp.

Here an example of high ISO performance:

This is ISO 16000 mind you.

First Impressions

Though I initially had some concerns, the E-PL5 is turning out to be one heck of a compact performer. If I took it with me as a backup camera on a job and my 5D suddenly died on me…I doubt most people would notice a difference in image quality. Though the chunky lens makes it a little hard to slip this one in your jacket pocket, quality is fantastic for such a small camera. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the E-PL5 .

The Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 is available from Amazon, and they’re selling like hotcakes.

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