Olympus launched a new Micro Four-Thirds camera, the OM-D E-M5, the first new model apart from the Pen series and featuring a new line of interchangeable lenses.
The OM-D E-M5 is styled like a smaller version of the old Olympus OM-1 SLR cameras, down to the control knob in roughly the same position as the ISO dial on the older film camera. Yet the OM-D E-M5 is thoroughly modern, with a Micro Four-Thirds, 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor at its core. The Micro Four-Thirds sensor is backed up by the TruePic VI image processing engine providing a maximum ISO of 25,600. That compares to the 12.3-megapixel sensor in the E-P3 and E-PL2.
It seems surprising that Olympus would stick with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor on an SLR form factor instead of going with an APS-C chip. I’m guessing it has something to do with the form factor and ability to stay with the quieter electronic shutter. What looks like a prism hump on top actually houses an 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder, which separates the OM-D EM-5 from mirrorless cameras that frame primarily with the LCD screen.
The OM-D E-M5 incorporates a new type of 5-axis image stabilization built to compensate for multi-direction camera shake and Olympus is claiming they have the world’s fastest 3D AF tracking system that can follow moving subjects at up to 9 frames per second.
For video the OM-D E-M5 offer full 1080i video at 60 fps with automatic correction for rolling-shutter, also called “jello cam”.
While the OM-D E-M5 does not have a built-in flash, it does come with a detachable flash. That’s something you’ll have to either remember to stick in your pocket or do without if you need a fill flash.
While this is a nifty little camera, I’m still going to ding Olympus for staying with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor instead fielding a new line with APS-C size chips.
When you can get a Sony Nex-5N with a lens for $300 less than the cost of the body alone, I’m questioning the value proposition to anyone but those missing their old OM-1.