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14th September 2010
Olympus E-5 hands-on preview
by Ian Burley
7440: Olympus E-5 hands-on preview

The last hurrah for traditional Olympus DSLRs?


With the E-5 and the E-3 before it, Olympus remains the only DSLR maker to feature a fully-articulating LCD in rugged moisture and dust sealed body

The long wait for Olympus fans who have been waiting for a new DSLR model for 18 months, is over. The successor to the three year old Olympus Four Thirds DSLR flagship, the E-3, can now be revealed and there are no prizes for guessing that it's called the E-5, with the number '4' being considered unlucky and so skipped.

Expected to be available from the end of October, the new E-5 has a European guide price of €1699 and in the UK £1500.

If you are expecting a revolutionary new model, sorry. The E-5 is an evolution of the E-3. Indeed, from some angles it's quite difficult to see any obvious body design differences, especially from the front. But at the back there are many changes, most of which centre around the replacement of the E-3's old 2.5 inch 230,000 dot articulating LCD screen with a shiny new 921,000 high resolution 3 inch articulating screen.

The larger screen has necessitated the relocation of the row of buttons that live under the screen on the E-3, while the IS (Image Stabilisation) button has disappeared altogether; you now have to set it view the super control panel on the LCD.

Here are the key new features:

  • TruePic V+ image processor designed to extract more detail from the sensor image data.
  • Modified sensor anti-aliasing - this is a development beyond the reduced power of the anti-aliasing filter introduced with the Olympus Pen Micro Four Thirds range.
  • 3 inch 921,000 dot articulating LCD screen.
  • 720HD 30p (Motion JPEG/AVI) video recording capability with integrated mono microphone plus 3.5 inch port for external stereo mics.
  • Sensitivity range extended to ISO 6400
  • Four custom reset memories instead of two previously, now called Myset modes.
  • Revised menus
  • Ten Art Filters including Dramatic Tone Art Filter that generates a virtual HDR image with just one shot
  • Dual memory card slots retained now with SD card support replacing xD slot alongside UDMA class Compact Flash support.
  • Up to 7 auto bracketing steps instead of 5.
  • Digital level (three dimensional) from E-30.

Bearing in mind that for existing E-System users you get the familiarity of the E-3 design, complete with large 100% optical finder, dust and moisture sealing, 11-point biaxial AF system, proven SSWF sensor dust protection, 1/8000th top shutter speed and 150,000 cycle heavy duty shutter mechanism, Olympus will be hoping that existing E-3 and even E-30 and E-620 users, etc., will be tempted to upgrade.

Whether the E-5 will serve to tempt more people to switch to the E-System is more debatable. The 12.3MP LiveMOS sensor and image processor is a step up from existing Micro Four Thirds Olympus Pens, but some will be disappointed that we don't have a proper next-generation sensor from Panasonic. The unchanged 5fps fastest shooting rate is bound to disappoint some, too. Critics will say that Olympus has simply produced the E-5 to satisfy pent up demand from existing Olympus users. A big question is what next for E-System users? Rumours indicate that the E-5 could well be the last thoroughbred E-System camera from Olympus, which might mean E-System users might eventually have to consider switching to Micro Four Thirds Pen models. Micro Four Thirds camera bodies can use Four Thirds lenses via adapters and without a major loss of functionality. At present, however, Olympus has no Pen models that could remotely be considered a comparable replacement for a top-end DSLR.

Undoubtedly, there will be a furious debate among Olympus fans and others about the E-5 and what it means for the future of Four Thirds. In the mean time, don't miss our E-5 pictorial tour gallery below, and a feature comparison of the E-5 next to the E-3 and E-30 on page 2.


Click on a thumbnail below to see a larger captioned version of the picture...

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E-5 compared to E-3 and E-30



  Olympus E-5 Olympus E-3 Olympus E-30
Sensor LiveMOS 12.3MP LiveMOS 10.1MP LiveMOS 12.3MP
Image processor TruePic V+ TruePic III TruePic III+
ISO sensitivity range 100-6400 100-3200 100-3200
Maximum continuous shooting rate 5 frames per second 5 frames per second 5 frames per second
Body construction Magnesium alloy Thixo casting Magnesium alloy Thixo casting Polycarbonate
Moisture/dust sealed Yes Yes No
Integrated pop-up flash Yes Yes Yes
Integrated multiple wireless flash control commander Yes Yes Yes
Viewfinder size/magnification 100%/1.15x (-1m-1, 50mm lens, infinity) 100%/1.15x (-1m-1, 50mm lens, infinity) 98%/1.02x (−1m-1, 50mm lens, infinity)
LCD screen size/resolution 3.0 inch/921,000 dots 2.5 inch/230,000 d 2.7 inch/230,000 dots
LCD screen orientation Full articulation Full articulation Full articulation
Art Filters 10 N/A 6
Maximum exp. bracketing steps/EVs 7 steps/0.7EV per step 5 steps/1EV per step 5 steps/ 1 EV per step
Memory card slots/types Compact Flash UDMA/SDHC Compact Flash UDMA/xD Compact Flash UDMA/xD
Video SD and HD (720 30p) N/A N/A
Audio microphone Single mono mic integrated N/A N/A
External microphone port 3.5 inch stereo socket N/A N/A
Video out ports HDMI, composite video Composite video Composite video
Multiple exposure mode Yes No Yes
Custom reset memories 4 2 2
AF points/type 11/all biaxial 11/all biaxial 11/all biaxial
DIY AF point calibration Yes No Yes
Digital level (3 dimensional) Yes No Yes
Detachable battery/portrait mode grip HLD-4 HLD-4 HLD-4
Weight (body only) 800g 810g 655g
Dimensions (mm) 142.5 x 116.5 x 74.5 142.5 x 116.5 x 74.5 141 x 107.5 x 75


Product Type Product type Single-lens reflex Live View digital camera with interchangeable lens system
  Memory CF/SD Dual-Slot, CompactFlash Type I (UDMA), SD Memory Card(SDHC/SDXC compatible)  Class 6 or higher is recommended for Movie shooting
  Screen size 17.3 mm (H) x 13.0 mm (V)
  Lens mount Four Thirds Mount
Effective Pixels number Effective Pixels number 12.3 million pixels
Image Pickup Unit Product type High speed Live MOS Sensor
  Total no. of pixels Approx. 13.1 million pixels
  Dust reduction Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system for image sensor)
Recording(Still) Recording format DCF, DPOF compatible/Exif, PRINT Image Matching III
  File format RAW (12-bit lossless compression), JPEG, RAW+JPEG
  Recording image size [RAW] 4032 x 3024 pixels
    [JPEG] 4032 x 3024 pixels - 640 x 480 pixels
  File Size RAW: 4032(H)x3042(V) (approx. 1/1.5 lossless compressed) Approx. 13.9MB
    Set1(LF): 4032(H)x3042(V) (1/4 compressed) Approx. 5.7MB
    Set2(LN): 4032(H)x3042(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 2.7MB
    Set3(MN): 2560(H)x1920(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 1.1MB
    Set4(SN): 1024(H)x768(V) (1/8 compressed) Approx. 0.3MB
Recording(Movie) Recording format AVI Motion JPEG(30fps)
  Movie Mode HD: 1280(H)x720(V)  Aspect 16:9
SD: 640(H)x480(V)     Aspect 4:3(VGA)
  Compression Ratio 1/12(HD), 1/8(SD)
  File Size Max 2GB(limited by AVI format)
  Maximum Recording Time HD: 7min, SD: 14min
Recording(Sound) Recording format Wave Format Base
Stereo PCM/16bit, 44.1kHz
  Maximum Recording Time Picture with Sound: 30sec
Movie: depend on Movie Recording Time
  Mic/Speaker Mono/Mono (Stereo external microphone available)
Viewfinder Product type Eye-level single-lens reflex viewfinder
  Field of view Approx. 100%
  Viewfinder magnification Approx.1.15x (−1m-1,  50mm lens, infinity)
  Eye point Approx. 20.0 mm (-1m-1)  *from eyepiece lens
  Diopter adjustment range -3.0 - +1m-1
  Focusing screen Changeable at a service center (Neo Lumi-Micro Mat screen supplied, possible to change to gird mat type)
  Eyepiece shutter Buil-in type
  Eye cup Interchangeable type EP-5/6/7/8, EP-7 is supplied (Magnifier Eyecup ME-1 and Dioptric eyecup DE-P3, DE-N3 are available.)
  Optical preview (view finder) Yes, by preview button
  Live preview Available to set to Fn button or Preview button
  View finder information Aperture value, Shutter speed, Record mode, AF confirmation mark, Flash, WB, AE lock, Number of storable still images, Exposure compensation value, Metering mode, Battery warning, Exposure mode, AF frame (super impose), IS, Bracket,
ISO value
Live View Live View High speed Live MOS Sensor for still picture shooting is used, 100% field of view, 
    Exposure adjustment pre-view, White balance adjustment pre-view, Gradation auto pre-view
    Face detection pre-view, Perfect shot pre-view
    Grid line displayable, 5x/7x/10x/14x magnification possible, MF/S-AF,
    AF frame display, AF point display, Shooting information, Hitogram, IS activating mode.
  AF High speed imager AF (Phase-difference detection AF is available with button customizing)
Image stabilizer System Built in (Imager shift image stabilizer)
  Mode 3 modes (2 dimentional activation, 1 dimensional activation in landscape frame to vertical direction moving, 1 dimensional  activation in portrait frame to horizontal direction moving )
  Manual Function input focal length 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 24, 28, 30, 35, 40, 48, 50, 55, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 100, 105, 120, 135, 150, 200, 210, 250, 300, 350, 400, 500, 600, 800, 1000 
  Effective compensation range Approx.5 EV steps (in maximum effect)
Monitor Product type HyperCrystal  LCD (transmissive TFT colour LCD)
  Size 3.0 inches
  Total no. of pixels Approx. 920,000 dots
  Playback field of view 100%
  Brightness control 15 levels, with auto mode
  Colour balance 15 levels
Focusing AF system TTL phase-difference detection system
Contrast detection system in Live View
  Focus mode Single AF (S-AF) / Continuous AF (C-AF) / Manual Focus (MF) / 
    S-AF + MF / C-AF + MF * C-AF mode is not available with the contrast detection system
  Focusing point 11 points full-twin cross AF sensor with the phase-difference detection system
11-area multiple AF with the contrast detection system (Auto, selectable in option)
  Focusing point selection Single target, Dynamic single target, All targets with the phase-difference detection system
Single, all 11 area, or Face detection with  the contrast detection system
  AF luminance range (phase-difference detection system) EV -2 to 19 (at 20℃, ISO 100, TTL phase-difference detection system)
  AF illuminator
(phase-difference detection system)
Built-in flash (external flash available)
  AF lock Locked at first position of Shutter button in Single AF mode / AEL button (customizable)
  Focus tracking
(phase-difference detection system)
Interlocked with Continuous AF mode
  Focus aid Available
  Fine Adjustment +/- 20 steps, 20 data can be registered
Exposure Control Metering system TTL open-aperture metering system
    (1) Digital ESP metering (49-points multi pattern metering) (2) Centre weighted average metering 
    (3) Spot metering (approx. 2% for the viewfinder screen. Highlight / shadow bases are available)
  Metering range EV 1 - 20 (Digital ESP metering, Centre weighted average metering, Spot metering)
    (At normal temperature, 50mm f2, ISO 100)
  Exposure mode (1) P: Programme AE (Programme shift can be performed) (2) A: Aperture priority AE
    (3) S: Shutter priority AE (4) M: Manual 
  ISO sensitivity AUTO: ISO 200 - 6400 (customizable, Default 200-1600) / Manual ISO 100 - 6400, 1/3 or 1 EV steps
  Exposure compensation  ±5 EV in 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV steps selectable
  AE lock AEL button (customizable)
  Exposure bracketing 2, 3, 5 or 7 frames in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable
2F-0.3step  ・2F-0.5step  ・2F-0.7step  ・2F-1.0step
3F-0.3Step ・ 3F-0.5Step ・ 3F-0.7Step ・ 3F-1.0Step
5F-0.3Step  ・5F-0.5Step ・ 5F-0.7Step ・ 5F-1.0Step
7F-0.3step   ・7F-0.5step  ・7F-0.7step
  ISO bracketing 3 frames in 0.3, 0.7, 1EV steps selectable
  Metering standard value adjustment 1/6 EV step, +/- 1EV range 
White Balance Auto WB system Hybrid detection system with High speed Live MOS sensor and dedicated external sensor.
  Preset white balance 7 settings (3000K - 7500K)
Lamp (3000K), Fluorescent (4000K), Daylight (5300K), Flash (5500K), Cloudy (6000K), Shade (7500K), Underwater 
  White balance compensation ±7 steps in each A-B/G-M axis (in Auto WB / Preset WB mode / One touch WB)
  CWB (Kelvin setting) 1 setting can be registered at Kelvin temperature (2000K - 14000K)
  One-touch white balance 4 custom setting can be registered
  White balance bracketting 3 frames in 2, 4, 6 steps selectable in each A-B/G-M axis.
Colour Mode Colour space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Picture Mode Mode i-ENHANCE, Vivid, Natural, Portrait, Muted, Monotone, Custom (default setting: Natural), Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Color, 
    Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Gentle Sepia, Cross Process, Dramatic Tone
    In custom mode, basic 5 modes and adjustment is available.
  Adjustment parameter Contrast, Sharpness and Saturation level available in 5 steps for i-ENHANCE, Vivid, Natural, Portrait and Muted 
    Contrast and Sharpness level available in 5 steps for Monotone.
    3 effect levels are available in i-ENHANCE
  Filter effect Yellow, Orange, Red or Green filter available for Monotone
  Picture tone Sepia, Blue, Purple or Green tone available for Monotone
  Gradation 4 levels (Auto, High key, Normal, Low key)
Noise Filter at High ISO setting OFF, LOW, STANDARD, HIGH
Noise Reduction at Slow shutter speed OFF, ON, AUTO
    ON (effective when shutter speed is slower than 1sec)
    AUTO (effective when shutter speed is slower than 4sec(at ISO 200 or higher) or 8sec(at lower than ISO200)
Shutter Product type Computerised focal-plane shutter
  Shutter speed P(Ps), S, A, M mode: 60 - 1/8000 sec. 
    Bulb: up to 30 min. (selectable longest time in the menu. Default: 8 min.
    1/3, 1/2, or 1EV steps selectable.
  Self-timer Operation time: 12 sec., 2 sec. (cancel available)
  Remote cable release Available  (with optional RM-CB1 Remote cable.)
  Optical remote control Operation time: 2 sec., 0 sec., bulb control available (with optional RM-1 remote control)
  Anti shock mode Available (1/8 to 30 sec selectable)
  Movei mode Electronics shutter  1/60s-1/250s (1/3 EV steps) 
Drive Drive mode Single-frame shooting, Sequential shooting H, Sequential shooting L, Self-timer, Remote control
  Sequential shooting speed Approx. 5 frames/sec. in sequential shooting H, 1 to 4 fps selectable in sequential shooting L.
  Max. recordable pictures RAW mode: Max. 16 frames. (with SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB)
  on squential shooting JPEG mode: Depends on compression ratio and no. of pixels
(Large normal mode: up to the card capacity with SanDisk Extreme Pro 16GB)
Integrated Flash Built-in flash Retractable flash, GN=18 @ISO200, (GN=13 @ISO 100.m)
  Compatible external flash FL-50R, FL-36R, FL-50, FL-36, FL-14
  Flash control mode TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, Manual
  Flash mode Auto, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction slow sync., Slow sync at 1st curtain, Slow sync at 2nd curtain, Fill-in,
Manual (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), Off.
  Synchronisation speed 1/60s -1/250s (1/3 EV steps)  (Min. speed can be down to 60 sec)
  Flash intensity control Up to ±3 EV in 0.3, 0.5, 1 EV steps
  Flash bracketting 3 frames in 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1 EV steps selectable.
Wireless flash control Compatible external flash FL-50R, FL-36R
  Control method Triggered and controlled by built-in flash light
  Flash control mode TTL Auto (TTL pre-flash mode), Auto, Manual, FP TTL Auto, FP Manual.
  Number of channel 4 channels
  Group setting 3 groups
Multi Exposure Number of picture 2-4 pictures
  Functions Auto gain, Live View, Exposing on Recorded picture
Multi Aspect Aspect Ratio 4:3(Default)/3:2/16:9/6:6/5:4/7:6/6:5/7:5/3:4
Level Gauge Detection 2-axis
  Display Rear LCD monitor, Viewfinder, Control panel
Control panel Information WB setting, WB compensation notification, B/W mode notification, Record mode, ISO sensitivity, Program Sift
    BKT notification, Flash mode, Drive mode, Recordable still image number, Shutter Speed, Aperture Value
    Exposure compensation value, Metering mode, AF mode, Activated AF points, Focusing mode, IS, Multi Exposure
  Back light timer 8 sec.
Color Universal design   No
Super control panel Information (shooting) Battery information, Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Expsosure compensation value, ISO sensitivity,
    Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure indicator, Flash intensity compensation indicator, Date, BKT setting, 
    NR setting, WB, WB comensation value, Picture mode, Flash mode, Record mode, Image size, Card information, 
    Drive mode, Flash intensity compensation value, Metering mode, Recordable still image number, Focusing mode, 
    FP warning, AF frame, AF illuminator disactivated notification, IS, Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation,
     Gradation, IS activating mode, Face detection, RC mode setting, Myset, Flush Charge, Multi Exposure, Aspect Ratio
  Information  Exposure mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value bar, Exposure compensation value
  (wireless flash commander) Flash compensation value bar, Flash compensation value, ALE notification, Flash compensation notification
    NR notification, BKT notification, AF illuminator disactivated notification, Color space
    Wirelss channel setting, Built-in flash intensity, Group setting
  Back light timer Back light lighting time is selectable. (Keep, 8, 30sec, 1min)
Live control Information (LV shooting) Battery information, Shooting mode, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure compensation value, ISO sensitivity,
    Exposure compensation indicator, Exposure indicator, Flash intensity compensation indicator, Date, Auto BKT setting, 
    NR setting, WB, Record mode, Flash Status, Image size, 
    Drive mode, Flash intensity compensation value, Metering mode, Recordable still image number, Focusing mode, 
    AF frame, Internal Temperature Warning, IS activating mode, Face detection, Myset, Multi Exposure, Aspect Ratio
Playback Playback mode Single-fram
    Information Display
    Index Display(4/9/25/100 frames, Calendar)
    Close-up (2 - 14X)
    Movie (w/sound, FF/REW/Pause)
    Slideshow(Still/Movie/Still+Movie, Slide show w/BGM/BGM+Sound/Sound)
  Information display Histogram (independent luminance / RGB available),
    Highlight / Shadow point warning, AF frame, Shooting information
Menu Languages Japanese, English , French, German, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Traditional Chinise, Simplified Chinise, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Portuguese, Swidish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croat, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovakian, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Rumanian, Indonesian, Malay, Thai
  Myset 4 setteing recordable
Image Editing Erasing function Single frame, All frames, Selected frames
Protect function Single frame, Selected frames, Release protect (Single/All selected)
Copy between media Single frame, All frames, Selected frames
RAW picture editing RAW development
JPEG editing Shadow adjustment, Red-eye fix, Triming, Monotone, Sepia, Saturation (colour depth), Resize (producing another file), Aspect Change, e-Portrait
Marge function 2-4 pictures, marge gain step 0.1-2.0 0.1 step
Print Print function Print reservation (DPOF), Direct print (PictBridge compatible)
Input/Output PC interface USB 2.0 High Speed for storage and camera control (MTP mode is available) 
  TV interface HDMI(HD/Mono or Stereo Sound), Audio&Video out (Audio: Mono, Video: NTSC/PAL selectable)
  Flash attachment Hot shoe / External flash connector
  HDMI Version 1.40a, Mini HDMI type-C (1080i/720p/576p/480p)
  DC-in Yes (AC-1 compatible*)   *CAUTION: AC-1 is usable in some regions from safely reguration
Power Requirements Battery BLM-5 Li-ion battery (included)
  Sleep mode Available (1, 3, 5, 10 min., off selectable)
  No. of recordable pictures  Approx. 870 shots (optical viewfinder)
  (with 50% flash light) (with BLM-5 under CIPA testing standard)
  Power battery holder HLD-4 compatible
Dimensions/Weight Dimensions  142.5 mm (W) × 116.5 mm (H) × 74.5 mm (D) (5.6" × 4.6" × 2.9") (excluding protrusions)
  Weight 800 g (body only) , 892g (incl. Battery and CF card)
Operating Environment Temperature 0 - 40℃ (operation) / -20 - 60℃ (storage)
  Humidity 30 - 90% (operation) / 10 - 90% (storage)
Splash proof   Yes
Box contents   Body,  Li-ion battery BLM-5, Li-ion battery charger BCM-5, USB cable, Audio&Video cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS View2 CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card.
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