Olympus OM-D E-M5 review

5 stars
(w/12-50mm lens)
Can the Micro Four Thirds E-M5 do its Olympus OM ancestors proud?

The OM name once signified the pinnacle of Olympus’ SLR expertise – now the moniker has been resurrected for its most advanced Micro Four Thirds cam yet. Can the E-M5 do its ancestors proud?

updated sensor and video

If there was one flaw with the E-P3, Olympus’ last major MFT release, it was its outdated 12MP sensor. The E-M5 packs a much-improved 16MP effort that shoots exceptional photos right through the ISO range. Even low-light shots at ISO 25,600 are quite usable. The 1080p video is excellent, too.

The E-M5’s electronic viewfinder is bright and clear, with a sensor that activates it as soon as it detects your eye. Meanwhile, the crisp OLED screen can be tilted up or down, which really comes in handy when you’re snapping over the top of a crowd or surreptitiously shooting from the hip, reportage-style.

quick lock

Olympus claims that the E-M5 has the world’s fastest autofocus, and we’re not doubting it. It’s nippier to lock on than any other system cam out there, including the lightning-fast Nikon V1, and focusing is accurate too. Combined with the 9fps continuous shooting, you’re almost guaranteed to get the shot that you’re after.

A small camera no longer means limited shooting options – the variety of Micro Four Thirds lenses is getting impressive. They range from this versatile 12-50mm motor-zoom right to the extraordinary Voigtländer 25mm f/0.95. Not enough for you? eBay is full of adaptors that enable you to mount thousands more.

More after the break...


The grip on the E-M5 isn’t as chunky as you might expect, but a rubber thumb rest on the back will help you keep a tight hold. You couldn’t ask for much more in terms of controls – there are two settings wheels, several customisable function buttons and a mode dial, as well as all the usual buttons and a D-pad.

Live Time and other features

If you’ve ever tried to capture fireworks, stars or lightning strikes, you’ll appreciate this. In Live Time mode, you press the shutter button for a long exposure and watch the image forming on the screen. Press again when you’ve got your desired picture. The results are frequently amazing.

This is the also first camera to stabilise the sensor on five axes. While most cams only compensate for pitch and yaw tilting movements, the E-M5 also corrects for roll and movement left, right, up and down. Never mind the science – it really works.

Turn the mode dial to Art for a choice of 11 creative filters including ‘Key Line’, which makes everything look a bit comic book, and the grainy black and white effect you see above. Set to ‘Art Bracket’ and it’ll save 11 shots, one with each effect applied.


Olympus OM-D E-M5

Astounding in almost every way, the Olympus OM-D E-M5  sets the standard for compact system cameras

Olympus OM-D E-M5
5 stars
Very fast autofocus
Sublime picture and video quality
Not as big as it looks
Buttons feel a bit naff
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