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Olympus OM-D EM-5 reviewed: it’s retrolicious

By Leigh D. Stark | 10:39 am 29/06/2012

With the look of a classic camera and the innards of something truly modern, the latest Micro Four-Thirds camera from Olympus is one of the best devices we’ve seen all year.

Features

The new top tier camera from Olympus, the OM-D EM-5 harks back to a time when the Japanese company made cameras that looked like cameras, especially as compact cameras these days often look like toys.

Crafted from magnesium alloy, the design is truly retro, similar to models from the OM series Olympus released in the 70s.

A mirrorless interchangeable camera, Olympus has kept the same Micro Four Thirds mount as cameras in the EP range, but improved the sensor, with the EM-5′s new 16 megapixel sensor. The sensor is capable of hitting up to ISO 25,600 for low-light control, pulling in 9 frames per second, and support for Full HD video capturing.

Olympus rates autofocus as among the fastest in the world too, provided the camera is partnered with the right lens, offering 35 point autofocus with 3D tracking.

Aside for the new sensor and retro body, Olympus has thrown in a new five-axis sensor that the camera can use for stabilising shots and video, almost like an internal steadicam.

Olympus has provided two ways of composing images on the EM-5, with a 3 inch touchscreen OLED on the back, as well as an electronic viewfinder just above this.

Above the viewfinder is a hot-shoe mount, with a small data port just beneath it which can power a small flash, like the one that comes with the EM-5. Sadly, no flash in built into the camera.

Each of the two sides on the EM-5 holds a door, with the left side (looking at it from the front) holding the SD card slot, while the right side features AV out and HDMI.

There are several buttons on the camera, with a full compliment of directions for the menu button and its menus – left, right, up, and down – with an “OK” button, trash, info, image playback, video record, and two function “Fn” buttons. An on-off switch sits at the back just under the directionl buttons.

Three wheels decorate the top, with the left wheel setting the mode for the camera – manual modes, iAuto, art, scene, movie – and the remaining two controlling aperture, shutter speed, and switching between the various settings on-screen at the time, including ISO, image order, and image magnification. Underneath one of these wheels is the shutter release button.

An extra button can be found on the front for changing lenses.

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Price (RRP)

$1499 with 12-50mm; $1199 body only

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Solid build; Looks and feels just like an old camera; Awesome kit lens; Features both a viewfinder and a multi-angle touchscreen OLED display; Insanely fast autofocus;

Product Cons

No built-in flash; Tilted touchscreen needs more angles;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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