by Julia Burley
New PEN E-P5 flagship takes excellent imaging interactive
Olympus' PEN F homage is an instant collector's item
Hamburg, 10 May 10 2013 – If you asked an optical engineer, a design expert and a professional photographer to imagine their ideal system camera, they would describe a device like the new Olympus PEN E-P5. With its practically invisible screws and all-metal casing, the new PEN flagship is a beautifully crafted camera. The retro design alone singles it out as a future classic, but the technology inside is landmark too. The 1/8000th second shutter speed is a world first for the compact system camera class and a 16-Megapixel Live MOS sensor emulates Olympus' award-winning OM-D camera. This ensures the image quality of the new camera does justice to PEN's proud heritage. Olympus also prides itself on PEN portability and usability. The lightweight E-P5 delivers with built-in WiFi, FAST AF and easy-access manual controls, to name just a few highlights. The body is available for €999 from the end of June 2013, or with a choice of interchangeable lenses and accessories. Kits start at €1099 for the 14-42mm lens.
Power meets pocket
Olympus' PEN design team has won praise from industry experts and consumers alike for creating a series of contemporary cameras with a retro twist. But to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous PEN F, they wanted a more distinctively retro concept. The answer came in the shape of the PEN F itself, which started a revolution at its launch. Instead of spending a year's wages on a clunky camera, 1960s consumers could get a portable PEN F with interchangeable lenses for no more than they earned in a month. 50 years on, the E-P5 looks to honour the PEN F tradition with the same sloping lines, elegant Olympus lettering and ‘step-down' front profile. The excellent build is another reminder of the original cult classic. With the screws visible only on the base of the camera, the quality of the craftsmanship is apparent from both ends of the lens. To round off the individual look, an optional, real-wood ergonomic grip can be fitted in one of three styles.
Style meets substance
For demanding photographers, no collector's item is worth collecting unless the quality of the technology lives up to the looks. Which is why Olympus has given the E-P5 the same 16-Megapixel TruePic VI Live MOS sensor found in its OM-D camera. In tests, this sensor has outperformed the APS-C variety found in some DSLR cameras and Olympus cherry-picked some of their very best optical technology to take maximum advantage. The E-P5 is the first compact system camera with a mechanical shutter capable of operating at 1/8000th of a second. This gets the very best out of super-bright, high-speed system lenses. You can freeze fast-moving objects such as insects in flight or – with an 1:1.8 aperture – create pictures with dramatic background blur, even in bright conditions.
Another speed-based Olympus trademark is FAST AF, which on the E-P5 offers macro fans the option of using a very small AF point to pick out part of a subject they have already framed, for example a single pollen in the centre of a flower. Thanks to minimal shutter lag, the E-P5 increases the chances of capturing the shot just as they want it.
Smart camera meets smartphone
If you tell a friend your new E-P5 has built-in WiFi, they'll likely assume that makes it easier to upload pictures to the Web via your smartphone. But on the E-P5, WiFi means more than that. You can use your Apple or Android smartphone to operate the camera remotely, including the autofocus and shutter release. You can synchronise the smartphone and camera screens so that you effectively see the camera's LCD on your phone – and control the PEN by touching the smartphone display as if it were your camera. This is extremely useful for picking your spot with FAST AF, for self-portraits and for remotely shooting subjects like wildlife that are easily startled if you get too close. You can countdown to shutter release on the phone itself, grant friends' devices access to selected images and – with new Olympus Image Share 2.0 software – use your smartphone to embed GPS information in your shots.
Comfort meets control
Fans of hands-on photography will appreciate one E-P5 innovation in particular: the 2x2 Dial Control system comprising two dials and a switch, mounted in easy reach on the back and top of the camera. When shooting manually, the switch on the back can quickly be moved to one of two positions. In the first position, moving the dial on the front of the camera adjusts aperture while the dial on the back affects exposure time. With the second setting, the dials change the ISO value and white balance respectively. Alternatively, you can use the switch on the back of the camera to assign other functions.
The new PEN boasts other top-notch features far too long to list here. Among the highlights are 5-axis IS, 9fps sequential shooting and a tiltable VF-4 electronic viewfinder. With its 2.360.000 dot display, the VF-4 makes framing easier and more accurate. It automatically switches mode when it detects your eye.
For the full list of features, please visit the Olympus home page. The E-P5 will be available from the end of June 2013. As a camera body only for €999 and in kit form with one of two lenses: the 17mm 1:1.8 for €1449 (including the VF-4) or the 14-42mm for €1099, which includes the option to fit a distinctive real-wood grip at the time of ordering. Of course, the E-P5 is compatible with the whole Micro Four Thirds range, which now extends to black versions of the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 17mm 1:1.8, 45mm 1:1.8 and 75mm 1:1.8 lenses.
Selected outstanding features
- Unique, full-metal retro design with no visible screws in normal use
- The best-ever image quality achieved by a PEN
- First-ever 1/8000th second mechanical shutter speed in the compact system camera category
- Built-in WiFi with smartphone interactivity
- FAST AF with Super Spot AF and Touch Shutter AF
- 2x2 Dial Control customizable manual system
- 5-axis IS with IS Auto
- Photo Story and 12 Art Filters
- Focus Peaking on MF Assist
- 9fps sequential shooting