the olympus e-p5

Olympus E-P5 with M.Zuiko 1.8/17mm lens, all in black
It's now official. Olympus has released the next true Pen, the E-P5. I say the next "true Pen" because the E-M5, which I own, is a different model line altogether, and doesn't have the word "Pen" anywhere on it, not the body nor the box it was shipped in.

This Pen is a far better camera than the two-year-old E-P3, which I was not at all happy with when it was introduced. Olympus took all that is good about the E-M5, especially the sensor, mixed in the best bits from the Pen line (both the old film Pens as well as the newer digital lines), fixed what needed fixing and produced this current iteration. And from what I can tell so far it's a pretty decent iteration of the Pen side of the Olympus camera lines.

The only problem is the cost. The body alone is $1,000. You can pick up the still-excellent E-M5 for about $100 less. If you buy the "super kit", which includes the new black 1.8/17mm and the VF-4 EVF, the price jumps to $1,500. If you stop and think about the individual cost of the body and the 17mm, you're essentially getting the VF-4 for free. Regardless, the $1,500 price puts it squarely in very competitive camera territory. When I think of what I can get for $1,500 these days I immediately think of the Fuji X100s and the Nikon Coolpix A. Both of them are fixed lens cameras (28mm equivalent focal length) and both of them are roughly $300 cheaper ($1,200) than the super kit price. While they're fixed lens cameras, they have larger sensors (APS-C) and their lenses are considered excellent, probably better than the 1.8/17mm M.Zuiko. And the Fuji has something that both the Nikon and the E-P5 lack, and that's a built-in viewfinder.

Since we're talking about Fuji and competitive mirrorless cameras, we might a well consider the Fuji XE-1, which is an interchangeable mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor, a built-in EVF, and built-in flash, all for the price of $1,000, body only. Fuji lenses are a bit more expensive (the 2/18mm is $600), but they're no more pricey than the M.Zuiko 12mm or 75mm or 9-18mm zoom, just to name three.

I could also bring up the Nikon D7100 DSLR for $1,200, body only, which can be matched with some rather inexpensive but reasonably fast Nikkor primes around the $200-$300 price range. But I've not been too enamored of Nikon's DX lens line, and it's glass that decides what type of body I buy.

Am I going to buy this camera? Do I even need this camera? The answer to the second question is a resounding "No." I have an E-P2, an E-PL1, an E-PL2, and the E-M5. And when I get really bored I reach across the table and grab hold of my Sony NEX-5N with its kit lens and the two Sigma lenses (19mm and 30mm) I picked up for a song not so long ago. That Sony reminds me that I can pick up a top-of-the-line NEX 7 with its 24MP APS-C sensor and the 18-55mm kit lens for $1,100, or the body only for a mere $950. And the Sony has, again, a built-in EVF.

But that still doesn't answer the question, will I buy this camera? I don't know. I don't use what I've got, and haven't for some time now due to an interesting turn of events. I am taken with the design of the camera and consider it quite beautiful. I'd love to add it to my collection, and retire all my other, older Pens. But every time I think of pulling the trigger on an E-P5 preorder, I think of the Fuji and the Sony cameras, especially the Sony NEX 7, and the new lenses coming online from various lens makers such as Sigma, Tamron, and Zeiss. Especially Zeiss.

And so, as usual, I'll sit on the sidelines for a while and ruminate. In the mean time I'll use my more than ample Pen and E-M5 collection and get back into photography. I suddenly have an itch to go out and use my gear...


  1. I have an E-PL1 and E-PL5 with EVF-2. Lens Panasonic H-H020, M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45 mm 1:1.8. I'm pleased. It is not clear to whom rasschityvaet Olympus, releasing a single sensor, E-PM2, E-PL5, OM-D EP-M5, E-P5. It is not clear what will be the result? Just a good camera?


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