You know the old saying, "Be careful what you ask for?" I'm beginning to have that feeling with the E-M5.
It was only a matter of time before somebody in retail posted photos online of the E-M5. That somebody was Amazon Japan. Don't try to go back and look for them because they're gone now. But before Amazon pulled those images 43rumors grabbed copies and slapped their URL on the images before posting them again. Oh well.
What's interesting is the external winder/motor drive combination that the E-M5 images strongly hint at. The original OM had a Winder 2 and a Motor Drive 2, both being separately attachable accessories. You used the Winder or you used the Motor Drive, but not both at the same time. The E-M5 photo seems to indicate that Olympus has followed the design pattern of the Motor Drive 2. If you follow the link to the Motor Drive 2 you'll see that the Motor Drive 2 follows he same two-part construction of the E-M5's faux winder construction. You purchase the equivalent of the Winder 2 which gives you the finger grip, then if you need more batter power you purchase what we've come to call the vertical grip to bolt on the bottom of that.
You can see what appear to be two lock dials on the back of the camera, one for the Winder with grip, and the second for the vertical grip with additional controls.
I can see why Olympus designed it this way; the E-M5 doesn't have a built-in grip like many of their other DSLRs did (E-1/3/5, E-30, E-300/330, E-500/510/520, E-600/620). So you purchase that separately and get some additional battery capacity in the process. Then if you need even more you purchase the vertical grip. The design makes it a clean way to build up a system.
The only problem is going to be price. Make no mistake, these accessories are going to cost a pretty penny, especially the batteries that fit into both grips. That's because I believe those batteries are going to be custom. The E-1 had a custom single batter that fit in the HLD-2 grip, the BLL-1 battery. Both grip and battery were quite expensive, especially when compared to the HLD-4 and BLM-1s that came with the E-3/30/5 cameras.
As far as overall size is concerned when you have everything mounted it doesn't look to be any larger than the OM-4T with a Winder 2, perhaps even smaller than the OM-4T with Motordrive.
Ergonomics - SDHC Card Accessibility
One of the biggest complaints many have had (myself included) about the Pen cameras is where the SDHC card is located. It's in the same compartment with the battery, and if the Pen is attached to a tripod the door is blocked. The description doesn't sound all that bad, but in practice it is, especially when it comes time download photos. Many prefer to remove the card and use an external reader rather than plug into the camera body. Olympus has never really given users a fast USB port.
But there appears to be a side door on the shutter release side of the camera. So I'm hoping that at least one (and maybe two if enough room) SDHC card is available from the side without having to pull the winder assembly from the camera. At least I hope so, especially if this is a Pro Pen.
Ergonomics - Built-in Flash
I can't tell but I'm hopeful that the high hump over the EVF is indicative of built-in flash. It doesn't have to be particularly powerful, just provide the ability to remotely trigger my FL-50R flashes. The Pens with built-in flash have provided remote trigger (just like my E-3), so it makes perfect sense that the E-M5 would provide this capability.
What's also visible are two small lozenge-shaped holes on both sides of the hump's lower forward edge. Since there are two I'm willing to bet those are the built-in microphones for video. I'd also be willing to bet there is no external connection for an external microphone. Instead, I believe that Olympus will continue the use of the accessory port underneath the hotshoe. Whether that accessory port is the same as the older Pens or a new accessory port I have no idea. But if you want an external microphone you're going to probably have to plug an adapter into that external port.
I'm pretty much satisfied with these images. And after having thought about them for awhile, I'm not quite as sure I'd buy one as I was before I saw these (it's a funny old world, isn't it?). Flaws notwithstanding I love the design of the Pen and its relatively small inconspicuous look. With the E-M5 I'm right back into holding a piece of camera gear that screams LOOK AT ME, I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER!
There's rumblings out on the 'net that some folks might get pre-release copies for evaluation. I'll wait and see what they write, then think on it some more. I know it sounds ungrateful, but there's a lot that goes into the decision process when buying a new camera (at least for me). The next step for me is to wait on some trusted reviewers to review it and offer their opinions (backed up with lots of photos). Make no mistake, the E-M5 is going to require some serious cash outlay (as compared to all the current Pens) and I want to make sure this makes sense for me. In the end I might just purchase an E-P3, and considering how I reacted to it when it was first released, wouldn't that be a hoot?
43rumors Link: http://www.43rumors.com/ft5-first-full-size-pictures-of-the-e-m5/
Photo Rumors Link: http://photorumors.com/2012/02/04/olympus-om-d-e-m5-camera-looks-like-a-dslr-with-the-optional-battery-grip/
Part 1: http://blogbeebe.blogspot.com/2012/02/tallying-up-rumors-of-olympus-e-m5.html
Part 2: http://blogbeebe.blogspot.com/2012/02/tallying-up-rumors-of-olympus-e-m5-part.html
From Decent Exposures, "Is this the first photo of the Olympus OM-D?" http://marty4650.blogspot.com/2012/02/first-real-olympus-om-d-photo.html