Olympus OM-D E-M5 review

Price when reviewed

Olympus has a knack for fusing retro form with modern function, but it has set a high watermark with the OM-D E-M5. It recalls Olympus’ OM film cameras of the 1970s and 1980s, and uses the same Micro Four Thirds system as Olympus’ PEN and Panasonic’s 
G Series cameras, giving it access to a wide range of lenses.

Optical stabilisation is sensor-based, and it compensates for movement on five axes – rotational movement in three dimensions, plus horizontal and vertical shift.

Our tests at a 1/10s shutter speed and an 80mm (35mm equivalent) focal length produced a success rate of 83%, outstripping by some distance the scores of 50% to 63% achieved by other recent cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

The stabilisation also worked well during video capture, and the OM-D E-M5 generally excelled in video tests. Unlike DSLR lenses, many Micro Four Thirds lenses are designed for video, focusing smoothly and silently during capture. The picture was also extremely sharp, although moiré interference was visible in repeating patterns. Noise in dimly lit scenes was impressively low, but the ISO speed for videos peaks at only 3200.

This camera isn’t an ideal choice for serious videographers. The frame rate is fixed at 30fps, and although priority and manual exposure modes are available, the settings can’t be adjusted during capture. It isn’t even possible to move the autofocus point while recording – something that should be easy via the touchscreen. A microphone input is an optional extra, and there’s no manual volume control. Plus, the HDMI port is only active during playback, so it can’t be used to help frame shots using a camera-mounted portable monitor.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

It’s certainly a handsome compact system camera (CSC), and as such it’s significantly smaller than any DSLR. It isn’t the ergonomic triumph we’d hoped for at this price, though. The buttons are small and have a squishy feel. Battery life is a concern as well, providing enough juice for only 330 shots. There’s no integrated flash, despite the substantial viewfinder hump, and the detachable flash unit made it awkward to use the viewfinder.


Image quality4

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating16.1mp
Camera screen size3.0in
Camera maximum resolution4608 x 3456

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions121 x 42 x 90mm (WDH)


Battery type includedLithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard)330 shots
Charger included?yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash?no
Aperture rangef3.5 - fUnknown
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed1/4,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed1 mins
Bulb exposure mode?yes
RAW recording mode?yes
Exposure compensation range+/- 3EV
ISO range200 - 25600
Selectable white balance settings?yes
Manual/user preset white balane?yes
Progam auto mode?yes
Shutter priority mode?yes
Aperture priority mode?yes
Fully auto mode?yes
Burst frame rate9.0fps
Exposure bracketing?yes
White-balance bracketing?yes
Memory-card typeSDXC
Viewfinder coverage100%
LCD resolution610k
Secondary LCD display?no
Body constructionMagnesium Alloy
Tripod mounting thread?yes

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual?yes

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