Olympus E-P5: New PEN mirrorless camera’s retro styling hides cutting-edge features


posted Friday, May 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST

Olympus' PEN-series mirrorless camera line has proven to be very popular for the company, and today it grows by one, with the introduction of the Olympus E-P5 compact system camera. (And the first sample photos are already available. Click here to see six full-res images from ISO 200 to 1,600 equivalents on the official website of Olympus Asia.)

We weren't alone in praising their most recent PEN flagship -- the Olympus E-P3 -- for its well-considered design, very fast autofocus, good image quality at base sensitivity, and its feature-rich nature. It didn't hurt that with a pricetag starting from US$900 at launch, it was reasonably affordable too. For the designers at Olympus, though, the success of that camera must have presented a challenge: just how do you follow it up?

Inside the retro-styled body of the Olympus E-P5 are a host of new features, many inherited from the much-lauded, SLR-like Olympus OM-D E-M5.

The answer, a little under two years later, is a comprehensive inside-and-out revamp to create the Olympus PEN E-P5, a camera that couples the best of its predecessor with many features borrowed from the much-loved OM-D E-M5, plus a generous sprinkling of features unique to the new camera.

On the rear panel of the E-P5 is a new, higher-res, tilting LCD monitor.

The Olympus PEN E-P5 is clad in a brand-new body that features more external controls than ever, along with a new tilting LCD panel. Both display and image sensor have more resolution than ever, and a number of other key metrics -- sensitivity range, fastest shutter speed, X-sync speed, and lag time for the LCD and viewfinder -- have also been improved. The Olympus E-P5 also received brand-new Wi-Fi connectivity, and supports an overhauled viewfinder accessory that itself boasts much higher resolution. Add much the same 5-axis stabilization system from the OM-D, and you've got quite a proposition for the prospective mirrorless camera owner.

Olympus' promotional video for the PEN E-P5 compact system camera.

Three body colors are slated for availability in the US market: black, silver, or white. The Olympus PEN E-P5 ships from May 2013, priced at around US$1,000 body-only. A kit including both the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm f1.8 lens and VF-4 Electronic Viewfinder will also be available, priced at around US$1,450. The kit will include a black lens, and your choice of black or silver bodies. The VF-4 viewfinder will retail for around US$280 by itself, but note that it's only compatible with the E-P5 at this time.

For much more information on the latest and greatest PEN mirrorless, read our Olympus E-P5 hands-on preview. Like what you see and don't want to wait? Reserve your spot in line now at IR affiliate Adorama, and be one of the first to shoot Olympus' new PEN-series flagship!