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Which One? Olympus OMD EM5 or EP5

by Chris Gampat on 05/10/2013

OMD-EM5-vs-EP5

Today, Olympus is announcing their EP5 Micro Four Thirds camera. It is now the top tier of the Pen family of cameras under the Olympus brand and in some ways challenges the flagship from Olympus–the OMD EM5. Everyday, we see and hear about new people purchasing the OMD EM5, but if you want to go with the Micro Four Thirds system you’ll be able to now take a look at another very good option within the Olympus world (though Panasonic does offer some good selections as well).

At the moment of publishing this article, we’ve reviewed the OMD EM5 and have tested it in the long run. Additionally, some of our former staffers have sold everything they own to convert over to it. The EP5 hasn’t been reviewed yet, but there is more than enough to compare the two.

Editor’s Note: The EP5 is available body only for $999.99 in blacksilver and white or with the 17mm f1.8 and new VF-4 viewfinder for $1,449.00 in black or silver.

Tech Specs

Figosa-camera-strap-on-OMD

EP5: The major spec difference that makes the EP5 difference is the lack of a built in EVF–which may be the end of the question for many users. However, it houses the same sensor as the OMD EM5. Other advances though are the built in WiFi, faster autofocusing with older Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds lenses, an improved LCD screen, and focus peaking. The latter is a really big factor for Micro Four Thirds users because many people tend to adapt their older lenses onto the cameras.

For the strobist in all of us, it has a 1/320 flash sync speed.

OMD: The OMD isn’t totally out of the game here. Its biggest advantage is not only the weather sealing, but the built in EVF which helps with making the shooting experience simpler and more accurate due to the lack of camera shake with the camera being held to the eye. The OMD’s LCD screen isn’t as good as its fancy little brother’s, and it doesn’t have focus peaking.

Additionally, the OMD actually feels lighter but not any less solid.

Decision:  If we sit around here talking about tech specs all day, we’ll see that these cameras are in many ways matched toe to toe. While you’ll be able to take your OMD out in the rain, you’ll be able to transmit images from the camera without the use of an Eye-Fi card totally wirelessly.

In the end, it’s all about your personal preference.

Ergonomics

P5_image cut_back_oblique_si

EP5: The EP5 feels like a rangefinder–end of question. Ever picked up a Leica? Or one of the old Pen SLR cameras? Heck, even imagine a Bessa R–it feels just like it. That’s why it will throw you off like crazy when you go to shoot with it and you realize that there is no viewfinder unless you can immediately embrace the LCD screen or attach the viewfinder. The dual control dials are also very nice feeling and the overall package will make for an extremely pleasant shooting experience.

OMD: I own a lot of cameras and if I have to reach for one at the end of the day, it is usually my OMD. The reason for this is because of the old-school SLR feel to the body. The camera is thin enough without being too thin and small enough without being worthy of being deemed a midget. Most of the controls that I need are right where I need them and the shooting experience is a seamless experience that comes as second nature.

Decision: The OMD EM5 wins our ergonomic challenge in this respect.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 product images (2 of 6)

EP5: The EP5 has more buttons and controls than the OMD does, but for the most part almost all of those controls are accessible on the right side of the camera. That essentially means that you’ll be using the right hand all the time to manipulate any settings. Many users will appreciate the dual dials for exposure control and the switch on the back to change how those dials interact with the camera.

OMD: The OMD is targeted at the professional and high end enthusiast. Like the EP5, most controls are on the right–but there are less of them and the camera really puts an emphasis on what will matter the most.

Decision: When it really comes down to it, we suspect that the EP5 may be easier to use because of the buttons also being more clearly set up. The OMD EM5 had more than one custom function–and that is sometime that I’ve seen throw off many people in real life use.

Focusing

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM5 New York Burlesque Festival photos (8 of 13)ISO 6400

EP5: Olympus states that the EP5 is the fastest focusing camera in their lineup–faster than the OMD. Additionally, it has been designed to focus faster with older non-FAST AF Micro Four Thirds lenses. Even further, it also now features focus peaking for the manual focusing users amongst us.

OMD: When you compare the OMD to the EP5′s focusing, it starts to look a little lacking. It isn’t as fast and doesn’t perform nearly as well with the older lenses. However, if you crank up the frame rate, you can get a form of focus peaking with manual lenses.

Decision: This battle is won by the EP5–hands down.

Build Quality

P5_image cut_front_bl

EP5:  The EP5 has an all aluminum body and the company learned from some mistakes that they made with the OMD. The OMD had a couple of external screws and the eventually lead to issues that caused a recall from Olympus on certain cameras. This was specifically cited with the LCD screen on the OMD.

OMD: Despite a couple of design flaws with the screws mentioned above, the OMD has a magnesium alloy body and weather sealing. Additionally, my version of the camera never suffered from any build quality issues.

Decision: In the end, the OMD’s weather sealing and magnesium alloy body will mean that it can take more punishment despite one critical weak point. Try taking your EP5 out into the rain (we don’t really mean that…)

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 lens sample images (4 of 17)

EP5: The EP5 has the same sensor as the OMD.

OMD: See that statement up above?

Decision: It’s a tie in this case.

Initial Decision

We’ve spent an hour with the EP5 as of writing this article and close to a year with the OMD. However, in our rundown it has been split down evenly to a complete tie between the two cameras. In the end, it will just mean whether or not you plan on taking your camera out into the toughest of weather situations and if you want to shoot like a pro with PocketWizards in the hot shoe and the viewfinder up to your eye.

Alternatively, you can shoot in ideal situations and upload your images via WiFi to a mobile device and share them with the world.

Which one are you best suited for?

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