Since 2009, Olympus has matured its family of PEN cameras each and every year. Last year's fantastic OM-D was simply icing on the cake for vintage-seeking photo geeks. And now we're getting the PEN E-P5, the successor to 2011's critically acclaimed E-P3. What happened to the EP-4? Well, in Asian culture, the number four is considered an unlucky number because it sounds like the word for "death." So, E-P5 it is, and boy is it a beaut.
Sony may have the upper hand in terms of image sensor size in its NEX mirrorless cameras, but if this was a beauty contest, Olympus's PEN E-P5 would win without contest. That's not to say the E-P5 isn't a quick camera. The camera's guts have been given an overhaul from the E-P3 that'll delight many looking for a small and light camera to tote around.
Vintage-inspired Design, 21st Century Imaging Optics
Right off the bat, you can immediately see the E-P5's resemblance to the company's 35mm PEN F film camera last produced in 1966. Even the font of the logo above the lens mimics the old PEN F style. New to the E-P5 is a 16.1-megapixel image sensor (up from 12.3-megapixels), 3-inch touchscreen display that now tilts outward (finally), dual dial wheels for hardcore manual shooters and a 5-axis image stabilization system.
Action shooters or parents who can't seem to keep their kids still enough to snap a good picture will appreciate the 1/8000th shutter speed and 9 frames per second continuous shooting, as well as what Olympus claims is "the world's fastest" single autofocus speed out of any mirrorless camera. The E-P5 also boots up faster than other cameras in the same category in quick startup mode in 0.5 seconds.
If there's one thing we're upset over, it's the new VF-4 electronic viewfinder. Sure, it's been revamped to have less latency and is sharper than the old one, but it's still an attachment instead of being built-in. It also looks doesn't match the E-P5's retro-styled construction at all.
Ready For Social
At this point, we already know that Olympus's PEN cameras can produce great images (with the right lens), and the E-P5 continues that tradition. But what about social features?
Olympus understands that people want to share their photos or tell "stories" with their pics, which is why they've added a "Photo Story" function that works much like the PicStitch app for smartphones. Additionally, there's also a nice little feature that makes it easier to set and capture time-lapses (something everyone seems to be a fan of these days).
There's also built-in Wi-Fi on the E-P5, which lets you send taken photos to a mobile device via an iOS or Android smartphone. Of course, you can also use the smartphone tethering as a remote shutter with touch autofocus and remote live view. Hallejujah!
The Cost Of Premium
As you'd expect from something so pretty, the Olympus PEN E-P5 is a pricey toy. It'll be available later this month for $999.99 (body only) in black, white and silver/black. A kit with a black or silver body, 17mm f/1.8 lens and VF-4 electronic viewfinder will also be sold for $1,499.99.
It's a big chunk of money, but then again, nice things often cost a premium. And the E-P5 just oozes of premium without even trying.