Field Review: Olympus E-5 (Day 2)

Now that the impressions were given and the Olympus E-5 was customized to my special settings and needs, I decided to take it out into the medium snowfall and that New York City was experiencing not long ago and see what the images came out like.

Image Quality

When I used the Olympus E-510, something that I realized was that in order to get great color you need to set the camera to, “vivid” mode in order to get great colors. The image above was taken in Vivid mode while on my lunch break at the local deli.The image was overexposed about 2/3rds of a stop because I originally thought to myself that I would overexpose every image and then pull them down in post production. However, the image above wasn’t edited at all except for a resizing in Lightroom 3 and conversation to JPEG from the ORF (Olympus Raw File). As you can see, the blues, reds, and greens are so very rich. The yellows are another story: on the bottom left of the image they are nice and subtle. On the bottom right, they are a bit stronger. Right above that where the egg salad is is where it becomes a bit problematic.

If I had edited this photo in Lightroom 3, I would’ve used a brush to desaturate that area but a little bit. Of course, this is just for my personal preference. You could obviously have a different opinion.

Even when you tend to underexpose the images a bit, you can still get some really nice colors out of them. Many photographers will really appreciate this if they don’t do much post production work (or don’t want to.)

I did another test for the yellows. In this test, the yellows were very life-like. The red bag in front of me in oversaturated and the the red pillar holding the, “34 Street” sign is actually undersaturated. The entire image was balanced evenly according to the camera’s metering system.

I did another flower test since I know that lots of Olympus shooters use their cameras outside in the rugged outdoors. When in the outdoors, you’ll perhaps be taking more flower shots. As you can see, these flowers are wonderfully colored.

At this point, it would be a good idea to once again reiterate to everyone that the images in this section were shot in RAW, resized in Lightroom 3, and then converted to JPEGs.

Most people will be totally satisfied with the images that come from this camera. The colors are significantly better than the Pen series. You can put this test against the Olympus EP-2 that we reviewed previously.

In my initial tests though, I did find the dynamic range to be a bit lacking. Once again, I say dynamic range vs color depth (which this section has proven is very high.) Part of this could be the smaller sensor which therefore also means smaller pixels.

Once again we’re going to bring up this chart: note that the Olympus E-5 is a Four Thirds DSLR.

Raw File Versatility

A comment about the opening photo for this story: we featured it on our Facebook page and Olympus tweeted it. It was fairly heavily cropped for composition. Then the recovery level was raised a bit to save the highlights and I converted the file to black and white. After this, I set the color levels, added a vignetting effect, and got the image that opens this story.

The image above was also converted to black and white after a fairly terrible move on my part in overexposure. The man in the center was skipping along in the snowfall. The same editing process was done for this image but the clarity, contrast and black levels were also tweaked. Additionally, grain was added in the post-production process in Lightroom 3.

Sure, the Olympus E-5 has art filters: but I’ll be testing those later on in another posting.

I shot this image because I loved what the woman was wearing: her coat is so unique amongst most people in midtown (no really, you don’t see many leopard print in that part of Manhattan), her scarf and hat match so well, she’s got great legs and her boots are very stylish. I was in a rush to work myself so I couldn’t stop her to take a photo before she went down into the subway.

So what does that all mean? The colors! The only editing I did to this photo was to get rid of some highlight clipping with the recovery bar. The yellows in her coat, the red in her hat, and the punchy green in the man’s jacket really make the Olympus E-5 a big winner in my book for color depth.

Comments About Weathersealing on the E-5

The Olympus E-5 took lots of hard falling snow like the Spartans take the rain of arrows in the movie, “300.” If you haven’t seen the movie, they essentially shrug them off.

And that’s what the E-5 did. It got very, very wet but kept on clicking with no problem. Additionally, the focusing still remained lightening fast. I was using the Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Digital ED SWDlens.

Much more to come in this review: we’ve only scratched the surface. Let us know what you think so far in the comments below and also tell us what you want to see in future postings.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.