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

In a surprise twist, the kit lens on the EM-5 is actually very impressive. In some ways, we were more impressed by the versatility of the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 than the camera, which was also excellent.

While it’s obvious that the 12-50mm is a fairly basic walk-around range, roughly equivalent to 24-100mm, there’s also some solid close-up lens control, with some solid macro shooting capable from this lens.

You'll get a range of roughly 24-100mm out of the Olympus EM-5 kit lens, and there's some surprisingly nice detail in close-ups. This is a 100% crop of a flower shot in the Sydney Botanic Gardens.

Three settings are available on the lens, with a simple tug or pull on the zoom ring changing the lens into a manual zoom or an electric zoom, with the electric zoom being slower and more precise, potentially better for capturing video.

The new lens yields some amazingly fast autofocus, with the camera clearing up images so quickly, you’ll be shocked. A zoom from the widest angle (12mm) to the closest (50mm) focused in well under a second. Grabbing macro images of water droplets on blades of grass, the lens and autofocus system had no problems adjusting, working in well under a second.

We can’t validate the claims that Olympus has the “world’s fastest autofocus”, but we can say that it’s insanely fast, and you’re likely to be as impressed as we were.

But not everything is hunky dory, as the camera that feels more like a camera than most models sent our way still manages to lack things that other cameras have.

The flash is separate in the OM-D EM-5.

One of these is a built-in flash, a part that we more or less expect in a top-tier camera, especially one boasting as much technology as this one. To its credit, Olympus does include an external flash that slides into the hot-shoe mount and plugs into the little port beneath it, but it adds a little extra to the size.

We’re surprised Olympus didn’t just include the flash in the look of the pentaprism, a place where most other manufacturers would put a pop-up flash, especially since there’s no real reason why the pentaprism is there in the first place, outside of aesthetics, of course.

If you raise the camera above your head, you won't be able to pull the LCD all the way down.

The tilting screen could also be better, as it just doesn’t offer a whole lot of room to move when you’re raising it above your head. If you plan on taking photos like a waist-level camera, you can position the screen easily so that it sits perpendicular, but you can’t get the same 90 degree angle when you raise it above your head.

If we were shooting in a crowd – and we’ve certainly done this with cameras that have aritculating screens – we’d prefer a camera that allowed to screen to point straight down, instead of at something closer to a 45 degree angle.


While there are a few improvements that could be made, the OM-D EM-5 is a top notch camera, combining some excellent optics, solid colour and image reproduction, and a look and feel that makes it unlike every other camera.

Hats off to Olympus for this EM-5, as it’s one of the first cameras that has made us feel like we’re rekindling our love of photography. Highly recommended.


Value for money
Reader Rating0 Votes
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;
No built-in flash; Tilted touchscreen needs more angles;