Body & Design

The first thing that will draw attention about the E-M5 is its retro styling but it shouldn't be written-off as a pastiche - it's a pleasantly functional design as well as a reverent one. The hand grip is well-shaped and nicely textured, making it easy to hold comfortably. Just as important are the two control dials on its top plate, which makes it easy to control the camera quickly. Having been buffeted by several waves of mirrorless cameras with fiddly dials around their four-way controllers, its lovely to have a pair of proper dials back.

The other thing to notice is that the E-M5 is small. It's not tiny but it strikes a good balance between being conveniently portable and looking like a 'proper camera' - a not insignificant consideration in a camera of this price.

Body Elements

The most obvious feature of the E-M5 is its pronounced viewfinder hump. This may seem odd, given its use of an electronic viewfinder rather than glass prism. It turns out it's not simply that Olympus wanted the camera to look like its OM series, it's partly because there's an accessory port above the vidfinder and below the flash hotshoe. This allows a host of accessories to be added to the camera, including stereo microphones, macro light LEDs or the PENPal bluetooth transmitter.

The AP2 port can even be used with the VF-2 and VF-3 external viewfinders, if you want to make use of their ability to hinge upwards by 90 degrees. We can't imagine many people will do this but it's nice to see Olympus hasn't prevented its use.

The camera's connectors are under a flexible rubber cover. At the top is a USB 2.0 connector that's also compatible with the RM-UC1 cable release. Beneath it is a Micro HDMI Type-D cable for video playback on your TV.
The camera's SD card slot is also sealed and sits on the right-hand-side. No more scrabbling about in the battery compartment.
The main power switch is underneath the 4-way controller - note the lack of a surrounding dial (as it's not longer needed).
Despite the prominent hump, the E-M5 doesn't include a built-in flash. Instead it comes with a clip-on flash that fits into the hot-shoe and accessory port.

This can be used to control offboard flashes using Olympus' wireless control system - like the E-M5 it's weather sealed.
The E-M5 uses a new BLN-1 battery that in not compatible with any previous models.

It's a 9.3Wh unit which is rated at 360 shots-per-charge when tested to CIPA standards.
The tripod mount is slightly offset from the lens axis. On the left is the latch for the sealed battery compartment.
There's also an optional two-part grip/battery pack which, again, is extensively sealed.

Adding just the grip section results in pushing the tripod mount ever further off center.
This gives the option of either just adding a more substantial grip to the front of the camera (with its own front dial and shutter button), or also adding an extra battery and portrait orientation grip and separately configurable controls.