Olympus E-PL5 Pen – OM-D Performance & Self-Portrait Touch Screen LCD

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Olympus E-PL5 Pen – OM-D Performance & Self-Portrait Touch Screen LCDThe Olympus OM-D E-M5, announced early this year (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Intro), was one of the most exciting camera introductions of 2012. With a new 16-megapixel sensor it brought near-DSLR performance to mirrorless cameras and delivered considerably better image quality than many of us believed was possible from the from the Micro Four Thirds format. At the Photokina tradeshow in Germany last week, Olympus put that performance in a couple of even smaller cameras, one of which is the new E-PL5 Pen. Since much of a mirrorless camera’s performance comes from the sensor, using the 16-megapixel OM-D sensor means the E-PL5 has the same great auto focus performance and image quality as the bigger and considerably more expensive OM-D. It also has full HD video and a new 3-inch touch screen LCD display with touch AF and touch shutter that flips all the way up for self-portraits.

Olympus E-PL5 Pen Camera - Front & Back

Olympus E-PL5 Pen Camera Key Features and Specs:

  • Same 16.1-megapixel Live MOS Sensor as the Olympus OM-D
  • TruePic VI image processing
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • 3-inch, 460k-dot tilting touch screen LCD display
  • Touch auto focus and touch shutter
  • P, A, S, M plus 23 scene modes
  • New “Small Zone AF”
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video in .MOV format
  • Sensitivity: ISO 200 to 25,600
  • 8 frames per second high-speed burst with focus locked (3.5 FPS in continuous AF mode)
  • Art Filters
  • Accessory port
  • Removable grip

I’ve been a fan of the Olympus Pen compact system cameras since Olympus introduced the E-P1 in June of 2009. For me, the Pen cameras offer the best balance between size and image quality of all the mirrorless cameras. It seemed like they might be nearing the image quality limit of the Four Thirds sensor, though. That is, until they introduced the OM-D this spring with a new 16-megapixel sensor. My reaction to the image quality of the OM-D (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sample Photos Page) was that it was better than it had any right to be. And the improved processing gave the OM-D a super-fast 9 frames per second full resolution burst rate. To have that image quality and performance in a smaller Pen camera is a wonderful surprise. I didn’t expect Olympus to trickle this technology down to the Pen cameras this soon but I’m not going to complain. Useable ISO 3200 and 8 frames per second RAW shooting in a Pen camera? Yes, please!

Here’s our hands-on Olympus E-PL5 Pen camera unboxing and intro video:

Along with the E-PL5, Olympus also announced the E-PM2 “Mini” Pen camera and three new lenses including a new super-compact 15mm f/8 “body cap lens” that protects the sensor but allows you to very quickly take snapshots without having to remove a lens cap. The other lenses are a splash proof 60mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro and an all-metal 17mm f/1.8 that’s still under development.

The Olympus E-PL5 Pen camera should be available next month (October, 2012). It will come in black, silver or white and the price for just the camera body will be US $649.99. It will also be sold in a kit with the Olympus MSC M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm II R f/3.5-5.6 zoom for $699.99.

Olympus E-PL5 Press Release >>

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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