Review Date: June 20, 2012
Category: Serious to Advanced
Photoxels Editor’s Choice 2012 – Interchangeable Lens Camera
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is an Interchangeable Lens Camera (ILC, aka “mirrorless DSLR”) targeted to serious and advanced photographers. It has 16.1MP resolution on a Four Thirds (17.3 x 13.0 mm) Live MOS image sensor, built-in Sensor-shift Image Stabilization, and accepts interchangeable lenses on the Micro Four Thirds mount.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has excellent image quality including very good low-light performance at ISO 200 with good detail preserved. Image quality is very good up to ISO 800, and ISO 1600 is very usable; at higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail.
|Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-50mm
4.2x Optical Zoom
(24mm, 35mm equivalent)
(100mm, 35mm equivalent)
One of the many advantages of an ILC camera is the ability to use interchangeable lenses suited to specific jobs. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 comes with a M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 (35 mm equivalent focal length: 24-100 mm) 4.2x zoom kit lens which has 5 circular blades, a minimum aperture of F22, and accepts 52mm diameter filters. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 12mm [24mm equiv.] then 50mm [100mm equiv.].
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has full exposure flexibility with PASM modes, and Program Shift.
The camera also provides exposure compensation (with Auto Bracketing) and Custom (Manual) White Balance. A Histogram can be displayed in both Live and Playback modes.
The actual macro capability is a function of the lens you use. The 12-50mm kit lens allows you to focus as close as 20cm (8 in.) at a fixed 24mm [equiv.] when the lens macro feature is engaged.
The AF Area can be manually moved to any of 35 focus areas by simply pressing the LEFT ARROW button and using the Directional Keys to select an AF area. AF is very fast in good light, takes about 1 sec. in low light with the help of the AF-assist illuminator.
There are three metering modes: Digital ESP (Multi-Pattern), Center-Weighted Average and Spot (plus Spot Highlight and Spot Shadow).
|Auto White Balance Indoors|
As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting [I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling]. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 allows WB to be set manually and this brings out the real colors. AWB works very well in natural light.
|ISO 400||ISO 800|
|ISO 1600||ISO 3200|
|ISO 6400||ISO 12800|
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has 8 or 22 ISO settings, depending on whether you choose 1 EV or 1/3 EV ISO steps in Custom Menu [Menu – Custom Menu – Exp/Metering/ISO – ISO Step] going from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, plus extended ISOs 3200 to 25600. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds (in 1 EV ISO steps). At ISO 200 to 800, noise is under control. Noise starts to be slightly visible at ISO 1600 but is still very acceptable. Noise (with progressively higher detail loss) is quite visible at higher ISOs. Overall, very good noise handling.
CA is not much of a problem, even in high contrast shots, using the 12-50mm kit lens. We had to look very hard to find anything remotely worthy of showing. The corner delimited by the red square at bottom left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows negligible purple fringing.
Our Long Shutter Speed test is a torture test for digital cameras. Here we test whether (and how well) a camera can lock focus, provide accurate WB and obtain a correct exposure in extreme low light situations. The OM-D E-M5 passes the test easily, locking focus well, and getting a correct exposure on the very second try.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec., therefore allowing nice night photography. Generally, with image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we take a low-light indoors shot. I experiment a bit to obtain the optimum exposure, eventually settling on 60 sec. at F8. Even at this long shutter speed, the Olympus OM-D E-M5’s noise reduction seems to be working great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect of the background.
Overall, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has excellent image quality including very good low light capability, making it an easy choice for an ideal alternative to a traditional mirrored enthusiast DSLR.
View the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Photo Gallery [In the Photo Gallery, click on the picture of the camera to return here.]