Olympus E-PL5 Review

October 29, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 f.j.stols

sometimes i see the same Sample Images in different camera-reviews, like the Brixon-station. You make them all at the same time i wonder?

3:42 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#2 Philb100

Another camera that falls at the first hurdle for me again by not having a proper view finder.

And I don’t count possible add on ones that will no doubt set you back another few hundred pounds.

4:55 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#3 JS

Great camera even if not for me…

6:12 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#4 Rick

I just bought one, my first 4/3. I gave my old Nikon D70 to my niece and still use my D200 every day. I’m looking forward to using this as a walk-around camera, I cover trade shows in a professional capacity. I used a Nikon P7000 before and it was ok, but definitely has its limitations.

I need good high ISO performance and I never shoot RAW, only .jpg because I need quick access and the ability to quickly edit and upload photos to websites. I never print a photo; web only.

I don’t care at all that the E-PL5 doesn’t have a viewfinder; in fact, having one would be a detraction for me.

One of the huge draws of digital cameras is the live view, where I can compose the photo and see the results. Viewfinders are so 1960’s!

8:13 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#5 dj

olympus is on a roll!—nice camera!

8:25 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#6 Petter

Yet a review not reviewing video quality. You can’t be serious.

8:34 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#7 F.J.Stols

Correction:  i noticed that - for example - Canon, Fuji and Oly camera picture were made at different days. This red Olympus/Brixton picture even in november (this year).

8:50 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#8 mp

why do most the sample image look terrible at 100%? my epm1 is sharper. perhaps the NR is too strong as OLY overcompensated for the lack of an AA filter?? Or is the IS system a problem? I wish they would turn off NR, turn off IS, sharpen in-cam a little and shoot with higher shutter speeds. for example at 100% the picture of the trike hanging on the fence looks horrible - the entire shot looks out of focus but it could just be that the IS system and that shutter speed form a bad combo? not sure but I am sure that how the settings used does not give us the best IQ from this camera.

10:23 pm - Monday, October 29, 2012

#9 Spuff

‘Olympus offers two JPEG quality settings - Fine and Normal’

Wrong. It offers 4 - Super Fine, Fine, Normal and Basic.
Why do you do your tests in Fine rather than the best quality which is Super Fine?

12:30 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#10 Andrius

To mp> look at that picture of trike on the fence, camera focused behind the trike on the fence (right bottom corner), because of that all trike is out of focus

12:34 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#11 mp

ok, i see the fence behind the bike is in focus, was that a problem with AF?

another example is the brown plant with the brick building out of focus. the plant at 100% isn’t sharp anywhere - again I’m thinking the problem is the IS or NR or the lens is really soft.

id still love to see a pic without NR, a little sharpening, WARM set to off and without IS. that seems to be (in the direction of) the optimal settings for these cams and my epm1 for example.

maybe its the lens, my pana 14 2.5 can be near tack sharp around F4-F5.6 and I assumed the kit lens was used here.

let us know if you can post such a pic. thanks!

1:06 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#12 raven

4/3 sensor only, why until f11 & f16??? anything to prove?

7:31 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#13 Adam

This reviewer has no idea what he is doing. He uses small apertures for small sensors, no wonder nothing looks sharp and sometimes hardly any sample is in base iso (look at Nikon V2 - many at f/11).
Also, we would like to see RAWs without heavy NR so that it shows how much detail we can get from RAW. In this image quality comparison jpegs and raws looks almost the same.

9:00 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#14 Oliver

404-error when trying to download the sample-video…

11:33 am - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#15 Mauricio

I have the same opinion as the user MP, I saw some photos on flickr and other reviews on much sharper image, I’m thinking about buying this camera, but I’m afraid to spend too much and have no difference from my current sx230hs, hehehe.

1:19 pm - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#16 rpm40

I think you should reshoot these sample photos. None should be at f16- it completely kills the fine detail. As you can see from the comments already, people who don’t realize are being confused wondering why the results look like a point and shoot.

f16, iso 500 and 1/60 second outdoors in daylight makes no sense whatsoever, unless your goal is to show what happens when you shoot at f16.

2:38 pm - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#17 mp

@adam - yeah all the f11 is questionable but i don’t totally fault the reviewer. i think many people will buy this camera and use the AUTO settings and that’s prob what they did here (i didnt check the exif). I WISH review sites would take time to optimize camera settings but I understand as they review lots of cameras and don’t have time to be an expert with each one. I’m guessing they are more interested to know if the camera is a lemon or does it shoot well exposed images with fast AF, no major quirks and good JPG colors, if so it gets a highly recommended rating and the rest is left to us.

something else I see is OLYs jpg engine is still overprocessing the noise - IMO - creating splotchy unsharp images. Take a look at the blue sky background with a green plant and two yellow flowers - I can see where the camera focused and it was shot at F5.6 with a 640 shutter speed but still doesn’t give results that would make me WANT this camera. For a long time Olympus used the 5/6-year old panny sensor and they had to milk that arcane sensor for every drop of performance possible. now that they have sony sensors I think they need to shift the jpg engine’s focus as noise isn’t the issue it once was. the jpg engine is trying to perfectly denoise the image which makes for splotchy details….even in the epl5 flickr images. 

im guess “RAW” and “NO NR” jpg settings would produce some really nice large images. hopefully dpr will show us what that’ll look like.

as for purchasing, i’ll wait until the price drops when the e-pl6 is announced and I’ll get one then. :)

6:22 pm - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#18 Adam

No, I am pretty sure he didn’t use full AUTO. It is impossible that a camera would raise the ISO and go to such a small aperture. That never happens, because it doesn’t make sense. Every auto mode I’ve seen would choose wide open before raising ISO even a notch over base ISO.
So the person who shot these pictures chose the apertures on purpose. He probably thinks everything works just like full frame.

8:36 pm - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#19 Tina Edwards

Mark Goldstein

Thanks for your review. I have a question for you. Below is a quote from another review of the E-PL5 which surprised me when I read it this morning.

“The Release/Drive page in the Custom menu contains a new Lens I.S. Priority setting that prioritises the systems in stabilised lenses over the body-integrated system in the camera. This enables the camera to use, for example, Panasonic lenses and take advantage of their stabilisation systems.”


This sounds like astoundingly good news for Panasonic M4/3 lens owners(if true)! Based on your tests and evaluation of the E-PL5 can you confirm this? If so why didn’t you mention it in your review?

2:50 pm - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#20 Spuff

Rest assured the EPL5 can do better than the sample shots show in this review. I’ve got an EPL5 and I’ve done better (using Jpegs) than any of the sample shots in this review.
I can be found.

3:26 pm - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#21 Andrius

@Tina Edwards

I have Olympus E-PL5 and there is option in the menu system to use lens stabilization system istead of cameras IS, you can turn it on or turn it off.

I also can assure you that E-PL5 is much more better photographic tool then E-PM1, because i had one and sold it. Faster autofocus, specially in low light, more silent, better image quality….

6:47 pm - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#22 Tina Edwards


Thanks for your comment. However, I had hoped that one of the Photo.blog team would reply to my posting. Isn’t an innovation like the E-PL5’s I.S. capability important enough to deserve a mention in the review?

I didn’t mention the E-PM1 in my posting so I don’t see what that has to do with the question I raised.

10:04 am - Thursday, November 1, 2012

#23 Tina Edwards


Thanks for your comment. However, I had hoped that Mark Goldstein, or another of the Photo.blog team, would have replied to my posting.

Any I.S. innovation is surely worth mentioning in a PROFESSIONAL review isn’t it? I’d have thought that this particular development would be of considerable interest to both Olympus and Panasonic lens users.

As for the E-PM1 - don’t see the relevance of your remark. I didn’t mention E-PM1 image quality in my posting. My query was solely about the E-PL5.

10:34 am - Thursday, November 1, 2012

#24 Tina Edwards


This is the third time I’ve tried to post this comment so apologies if the other postings eventually turn up as well - don’t want to sound repetitive.


Thanks for your comment. My question was for Mark Goldstein and I’d hoped that he would’ve taken the time to reply to it. Perhaps he will.

My point is - surely any I.S. innovation is worth mentioning in a PROFESSIONAL review isn’t it? I’d have thought that this particular development would be of cosiderable interest to both Olympus and Panasonic lens users.

As for your reference to the E-PM1 - I don’t see the relevance of your remark. I didn’t mention the E-PM1 in my posting. The query was solely to do with the E-PL5.

11:00 am - Thursday, November 1, 2012

#25 QQ

Hi, Andrius, are you from Lithuania? Where did you buy it, if so? And how are it’s video capabilities? Nobody speak of them… Is it bad ad video recorder?

7:43 pm - Thursday, November 1, 2012

#26 QQ

Hi, Andrius, are you from Lithuania? Where did you buy it, if so? And how are it’s video capabilities? Nobody speak of them… Is it bad as video recorder?

7:55 pm - Thursday, November 1, 2012

#27 Verla Ryder

Tons of copy and paste spec information but NO VIDEO SAMPLES !!
Guess the “reviewer” couldn’t be bothered!

2:43 am - Friday, November 2, 2012

#28 Andrius

Yes i’m from Lithuania, bought in Fotohobis in Vilnius (they just recieved E-PL5), i already liked video of E-PM1 and this one is even better, has more functions and better video quality. Overall very nice camare in my opinion better than Sony Nex 5N.

@Tina Edwards

That comparision between E-PM1 and E-PL5 was for “mp” :)

7:11 pm - Friday, November 2, 2012

#29 Jurgita

Better than Nex5N? Why? Can you compare image quality of the two? I’ve been thinking to get a Nex, but might be changing my opinion. I only need good quality picsand video and fast af. So should I still be looking at Sony?

5:08 pm - Saturday, November 10, 2012

#30 Andrius


Didziausia Sony beda yra letas autofokusas,ypac prietemoje,o Olympuso auto fokusas dirba puikiai,nes Olympuso procesorius ir sensorius is OM-D E-M5,nuotrauku kokybe panasi,net esme ta,kad nuotrauku kokybe labiausiai priklauso nuo objektyvo,o pas Olympusa jie daug aukstesnes kokybes,todel ir nuotraukos gaunasi geresnes,Sony daznai megsta per daug isbalinti nuotraukas ryskioje sviesoje, Olympusas gerokai mazesnis,nes Sony objektyvai gremrzdiski,mano manymu Olympus siuo metu geriausias kainos/kokybes sisteminis fotoapartad

4:29 pm - Sunday, November 11, 2012

#31 Antan

You might not notice anything from .JPEG images, instad of RAW format.
Samples are great. I tried it at closest store. But I won’t pay the price for smaller sensor, while yet bigger one built-in inside (even) entry level DSLR out there (at liast, experience the sensation of DSLR). No, I won’t. Thanks

5:15 am - Monday, November 12, 2012

#32 Jurgita

Andriau, aciu, itikinot, nors ir taip sirdis labiau linko prie Olympus vien del af. Dar klausimas: i koki objektyva geriau ziureti? Aciu

11:30 am - Monday, November 12, 2012

#33 Andrius


Siaip sakyciau geriausi yra 12mm F2 (bet brangus), 45mm F1.8 (sito labai labai gera kaina ir nuotraukos gaunasi tiesiog fantastiskos) ir brangus, bet manau vertas, kad ji tureti Panasonic/Leica 25mm F1.4, tuo labiau,kad turi iseiti daug nauju objektyvu sitai sistemai, tai perspektyvos dideles :)
Sigma yra isleidusi 2 objektyvus 19 mm ir 30mm F2.8, sitie gal ir nero tokie geri kaip mineti anksciau, bet uztat labai gera kaina(~600 lt. vnt.)

12:53 pm - Monday, November 12, 2012

#34 Jak Crow

I agree with Tina that the camera’s IS features should have been discussed with significantly more depth. Also, I would like ANYONE doing these reviews to also to discuss IS when it comes to shooting video on the E-PL5. On the E-PL3, video IS is digital and degrades video quality significantly. On the E-M5, IBIS is supposed to be used when shooting video. So far, every review about the E-PL5 glosses over its video capabilities, other than the typical buzzwords regarding “full HD, 1080p at 30fps”, etc.

8:47 pm - Thursday, December 6, 2012

#35 BdV

Don’t sneeze while shooting sample images, this could result in motion blur (see the image of the brown leaves plant).

1:50 pm - Saturday, December 22, 2012

#36 Basic bits

So what is a walk-around camera? You walk around a place and you take photos. Remember, always separate walking and taking photos, otherwise you can trip over on obstacle. Oly engineers really must do something about this - to incorporate some sensor for providing an additional protection for not falling on nose when walking and taking photos. Like a flashing warning sign on live view screen WARNING AN OBSTACLE DON’T TRIP OVER - OBSTACLE IS PASSED - CONTINUE SHOOTING! This m4/3 is a joke of a camera. Have you ever think, future m4/3 users, buyers that most annoying thing is that this cameras are not equipped with fast focus, but with the slow one, still you must change lenses very often? Every test on youtube is showing a fast focus, but is fast only for stationary objects. If you wish for example to photograph a fast moving object in combination with a fast shutter lets say 1/2000 sec, it wont work. Subject must stand still. Where is this going? $599 for this - no way, never.

8:44 am - Friday, January 4, 2013

#37 Francis

Epl 5 looks good to go for most of my requirements. Is this camera featured with manual kelvin temp settings when needed in difficult lighting situations?

7:54 am - Thursday, April 25, 2013

#38 Alnoor Somani

Has any body experienced the screen showing too much red.
very hard to white balance.
prints seem to be ok or more green,trying to remove red when adjusting red on screen

1:58 pm - Monday, June 24, 2013

#39 subroto mukerji

A 460K screen is “high resolution”? Since when? I am so fed up with the technical glitches in your reviews that I’ve stopped taking them seriously. They all follow a template and this can cause errors, besides for making boring reading. Sample images are really awful. I have an E-PL5 and I can vouch for the fact that even with the kit lens (14-42 f 3.5~5.6,II R), stills can be very sharp PROVIDED the photographer knows what s/he’s doing.

7:49 am - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#40 Daniel

“One of the huge draws of digital cameras is the live view, where I can compose the photo and see the results. Viewfinders are so 1960’s!”

So what you have to understand is that EVFs are Live View—essentially a replica of what’s on the LCD screen but up to your eye instead. This is no SLR optical viewfinder.

This can be a big help in two ways:
1) In bright sunlight, an LCD screen can be hard to see. The sun will wash it out. So holding it right up to your eye will help you tremendously in framing your shot.

2) In low light situations with longer shutter speeds, you can tuck your elbows in and stabilize your camera better if you have a viewfinder. This can reduce camera shake!

Viewfinders are about ergonomics. But the content shown on an EVF is exactly the same content as what appears on the LCD screen. I own an E-PL5, and when I got the VF-3 (it didn’t cost hundreds of dollars extra, by the way), it helped me out tremendously! There are very good reasons to use a viewfinder, whether it’s an EVF or an optical.

7:20 pm - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#41 C Murdock

Based on its features and specs, this is a camera that I want.  But the photos look unusually soft to me.

12:51 am - Saturday, August 2, 2014

#42 Jon

Disappointed with the sleep mode on the E-PL5.  Manual states that camera can be bought out of sleep mode by half press of the shutter button.  No it cant, and even a full press has no effect. Makes it pretty useless for remote control use

2:44 pm - Thursday, March 5, 2015

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, compact system camera, 16 megapixel, wi-fi, csc, RAW, olympus, DSLR, touch-screen, micro four thirds, touch screen, tilting, touch, EVF, compact system, 8fps, PEN, lite, epl5, e-pl5, e pl5, epl 5, Olympus E-PL5 Review