Controls and customization

The E-P5's main shooting controls are clustered on and around the top plate, and are designed to be operated by your right thumb or forefinger. In the view below you can clearly see the repositioned rear dial, and the front dial is just about visible protruding on front of the shutter button. Both rotate with satisfyingly positive clicks; the contrast with the fiddly dial around the 4-way controller on the E-P3 or E-PL5 couldn't be more marked.

Olympus Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras tend to be incredibly user configurable, and the E-P5 is no exception. In fact it's possibly the most customisable camera we've yet seen - no fewer than five buttons are user-configurable, and you can set up the front and rear dials to control exposure parameters pretty much as you please (meaning that if you're used to another brand's control logic, you can almost certainly mimic it on the E-P5). Even the exposure mode dial can now be customized, with any of the four 'Myset' memories assignable to any dial position.

Four mode Function Lever / '2x2' dial interface

The E-P5 features a small lever on the back of the camera with positions marked, slightly cryptically, 1 and 2. By default this controls the '2x2 dial' interface: when the lever is in position 1 the front and rear dials change exposure parameters, and when it's set to 2 they change ISO and White Balance. This being Olympus, you can of course choose which dial you want to change which of these settings, by selecting Mode 1 or Mode 2 in the menu (Settings Menu B: Lever Function).

This being Olympus, though, the E-P5 also offers two further, distinctly different modes for this lever's behaviour:

In Mode 3, it switches the red movie button between behaving as a programmable function button (position 1) and controlling movie recording as usual (position 2). So, for example, you could set the button to perform autoexposure lock in normal shooting, without entirely losing its movie record function.

In Mode 4, the lever behaves as a focus mode switch. Essentially the camera remembers the focus mode separately for each of its two positions, meaning you could use it to quickly flick from auto to manual focus, or alternatively turn on focus tracking.

Mode dial customization

In a feature unique to Olympus (and first seen on the E-PL5), any of the positions on the exposure mode dial can also be customized. The camera has four 'Myset' memories which were relatively awkward to access in older models, but on the E-P5 you can assign each of them to any of the positions on the mode dial. So if you have a specific shooting setup you like to be able to access quickly, perhaps for low light work, and you never use the Photo Story mode, then you could save a Myset and assign it to that position for quick recall.

Any of the positions on the E-P5's mode dial can be customized to recall one of the camera's four 'Myset' memories.

The fact that you can reassign any of the dial positions opens up some interesting options; for example, you could store specific setups for each of the PASM modes. One option might be to configure the S position as a 'sports' mode, keeping it as shutter priority but adding continuous shooting, tracking autofocus, and JPEG-only recording for maximum burst depth. But at the same time you could set up the A position with your preferred settings for general shooting, and switch between two different setups at the flick of the dial. This would certainly be easier than trying to remember exactly what purpose you had 'Myset2' set up for (or indeed 'C2' on other brands).

Customizable buttons

As well as the top-plate Fn button, the Magnify and Record buttons can each be customized to operate a wide range of functions. The Right and Down keys on the 4-way controller, which by default set Flash and Drive modes, can also be re-assigned to operate Flash Mode, Drive Mode, ISO, WB, or Exposure Compensation. Alternatively the entire controller can be re-purposed to allow direct selection of the AF point, just like the E-M5 (which can be useful when shooting with an add-on EVF).

The E-P5's Fn, Record, Magnify, Flash mode and Drive mode buttons are all customisable

One point worth noting is that you can now assign autoexposure bracketing to one of the function buttons, or indeed HDR bracketing (which allows the use of larger steps, to give a total bracketed range up to +/-6 EV). Pressing the button toggles bracketing on and off; holding down the button and spinning either dial allows you to change the bracketing increment.

Button Fn Magnify REC
Available Functions • AEL/AFL
• Movie record
• DOF Preview
• AF area select
• AF area reset
• Manual Focus
• Raw/JPEG
• Backlit LCD
• Underwater scene
• Exposure Comp
• Live Guide
• Digital teleconverter
• Magnify
• HDR BKT
• AE BKT
• ART BKT
• ISO
• WB
• Peaking
• Off
• AEL/AFL
• Movie record
• DOF Preview
• One Touch WB
• AF area select
• AF area reset
• Manual Focus
• Raw/JPEG
• Test Picture
• Myset1
• Myset2
• Myset3
• Myset4
• Backlit LCD
• Underwater scene
• Exposure Comp
• Live Guide
• Digital teleconverter
• Magnify
• HDR BKT
• AE BKT
• ART BKT
• ISO
• WB
• Peaking
• Off
• Exposure Comp
• ISO
• WB
• AEL/AFL
• Movie record
• DOF Preview
• One Touch WB
• AF area select
• AF area reset
• Manual Focus
• Raw/JPEG
• Test Picture
• Myset1
• Myset2
• Myset3
• Myset4
• Backlit LCD
• Underwater scene
• Live Guide
• Digital teleconverter
• Magnify
• HDR BKT
• AE BKT
• ART BKT
• Peaking
• Off

Touchscreen controls

The E-P5, like the E-M5 and E-PL5, has a touch-sensitive tilting screen. This can be used to specify the focus point and, if you wish, to release the shutter. It can also be used with the on-screen Super Control Panel to select a setting to be adjusted, as shown above. Additionally you can select Scene modes, Art Filters, and Photo Story themes by touch. Crucially though Olympus doesn't force you to use the touchscreen - you can turn it off completely if you prefer.

In playback mode the touchscreen offers image browsing and magnification controls, along with touch buttons to mark images for protection or sharing over Wi-Fi. One really nice touch is the ability to turn on Wi-Fi with an onscreen button. But overall the somewhat arbitrary selection of what you can and can't operate by touch means that it all feels a bit mix-and-match, and nowhere near as coherent as the latest touch interfaces from the likes of Canon and Panasonic.

Adjustable AF points

A criticism levelled at previous Olympus bodies has been that the AF points are too large for precision shooting - leading to a situation in which some users would use a work-around based on the camera's ability to autofocus in manual focus mode and the smallest magnification target.

This is no longer necessary, as the E-P5 allows you to reduce the size of the AF points. It's not made particularly obvious - press the Info button when you're selecting an AF point, then press downwards on the four-way controller, but it does allow the focus point to be set with greater precision.

In addition to the standard AF point size, it's possible to access a finer version. Pressing the Info button while you select an AF point brings up the icons shown at the bottom left of the screen here.

Pressing left or right on the four-way controller lets you specify the camera's eye-detection settigns. Pressing down selects the smaller AF point size.
Once selected, all the AF points are refined - but you don't gain more points - so you can be more certain about where the camera is trying to focus but you don't gain the ability to position the focus more finely.