Olympus E-PL5 review: For the price, is this PEN mightier than the OM-D E-M5?


posted Monday, May 13, 2013 at 6:43 PM EDT

We've been very pleased with the image quality and overall speedy performance of the Olympus PEN compact system camera line over the past couple of years, and the E-PL5 stands out as a significant evolution on almost every front.

First off, the Olympus E-PL5 inherits the exceptional 16-megapixel sensor from the groundbreaking OM-D E-M5, one of our all-time favorite cameras. Bolstered by this sensor and the TruePic VI image processor (also borrowed from the E-M5), the image quality we saw from the E-PL5 proved to be nothing less than stellar -- demonstrating accurate colors, an impressive dynamic range and tons of detail. When you consider the camera's price, such image quality is an outright amazing feat that rivals much higher-end CSCs and DSLRs.

One major issue we had, however, with the Olympus PEN E-PL5 was its labyrinthine menu system, which most of us here at IR had difficulties figuring out. Our reviewer spent hours solving its riddles, but once he mastered them, he was able to activate the camera's Super Control Panel and create a bunch of presets (Olympus Mysets) that made for much easier (and outright convenient) operation. Happily, by digging through the E-PL5's maze of settings and shooting options, we fully uncovered its plethora of advanced functions -- and its immense customizability -- and we were impressed by how sophisticated this tiny camera could be for a patient and motivated photographer.

For the price, is this PEN mightier than the E-M5? Read our Olympus E-PL5 review to find out, and to see our full IR lab test results and real-life image samples.