Olympus Unveils New Mirrorless OM-D EM-5

olympus OM-D EM-5
Olympus fields new Micro Four-Thirds OM-D EM-5 - by Olympus

Olympus launched a new Micro Four-Thirds camera, the OM-D E-M5, the first new model apart from the Pen series and featuring a new line of interchangeable lenses.

The OM-D E-M5 is styled like a smaller version of the old Olympus OM-1 SLR cameras, down to the control knob in roughly the same position as the ISO dial on the older film camera. Yet the OM-D E-M5 is thoroughly modern, with a Micro Four-Thirds, 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor at its core. The Micro Four-Thirds sensor is backed up by the TruePic VI image processing engine providing a maximum ISO of 25,600. That compares to the 12.3-megapixel sensor in the E-P3 and E-PL2.

It seems surprising that Olympus would stick with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor on an SLR form factor instead of going with an APS-C chip. I’m guessing it has something to do with the form factor and ability to stay with the quieter electronic shutter. What looks like a prism hump on top actually houses an 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder, which separates the OM-D EM-5 from mirrorless cameras that frame primarily with the LCD screen.

The OM-D E-M5 incorporates a new type of 5-axis image stabilization built to compensate for multi-direction camera shake and Olympus is claiming they have the world’s fastest 3D AF tracking system that can follow moving subjects at up to 9 frames per second.

Pity Olympus didn't put this engineering into an APS-C sensor - by Olympus

For video the OM-D E-M5 offer full 1080i video at 60 fps with automatic correction for rolling-shutter, also called “jello cam”.

While the OM-D E-M5 does not have a built-in flash, it does come with a detachable flash. That’s something you’ll have to either remember to stick in your pocket or do without if you need a fill flash.

The OM-D E-M5 is due out in April and is slated to have two kit configurations: A 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 for $1,099 and the new 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens for $1,299. The body only is $999.

While this is a nifty little camera, I’m still going to ding Olympus for staying with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor instead fielding a new line with APS-C size chips.

When you can get a Sony Nex-5N with a lens for $300 less than the cost of the body alone, I’m questioning the value proposition to anyone but those missing their old OM-1.

2 responses on "Olympus Unveils New Mirrorless OM-D EM-5"

  1. While the Nex 5n has excellent dynamic range and low light capabilities it also suffers from from far more vignetting and chromatic aberration than micro four thirds. This is because the lens has to spread the light over a much larger distance without much room in the body to do so. Micro Four Thirds also makes a lot more sense with lenses because you can get full frame equivalents such as 25=50, 12 = 24. With APS-C chip you’re always stuck with weird focal lengths: 50 = 80, 35 = 56. 50mm is one of the most common lenses for good reason and there’s no way other than zoom lenses to even get the focal length with APS-C.

  2. “It seems surprising that Olympus would stick with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor on an SLR form factor instead of going with an APS-C chip.”

    Why would they introduce a new sensor format, requiring a new lens-lineup and a redesign of the bayonet? It doesn’t have anything to do with the electronic shutter and very little with the form factor (ie. see Sony Nex) and much more with lens and industry support for the m43 sensor/mount.

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