Olympus PEN E-P5 Review
The E-P5 offers fairly similar video options to the E-M5 before it - 1080 movies at up to 60i (actually progressive segmented frame 30p), but no multiples of 25fps for those outside the US. The footage is saved as MOV files with H.264 compression - 20Mbps fine quality, which limits individual clips to around 22 minutes, or a 17Mbps normal option that lets the camera record up to its 29 minute limit.
There is also control over the sound recording volume, with three selectable volume levels. There's also a wind-cut function (three levels and off). There's no built-in microphone socket but one can be added using the optional SEMA-1 unit that slots into the accessory port (and occupies the hot shoe).
In addition to the One-Shot Echo and Multi-Echo features added with the E-M5, the E-P5 gains the option to fade between different Picture Modes and Art Filters, as you're recording. The other addition is to be able to jump zoom by cropping in on a small region of the frame.
Video quality options
|Sizes||• MOV (AVC H.264)
1920 x 1080i (60i from 30p capture), 20 Mb/s
1920 x 1080i (60i from 30p capture), 17 Mb/s
1280 x 720p (60p from 30p capture), 13 Mb/s
1280 x 720p (60p from 30p capture), 10 Mb/s
• Motion JPEG
1280 x 720p30
640 x 480 (30fps)
|Audio||Stereo sound (Linear PCM)|
|Format||H.264 / MOV|
|Max file size per clip||4.0 GB|
|Recordable time||29:59 minutes|
Handling in Video mode
Movie shooting can be initiated from any mode on the camera by pressing the Red record button (or any button you've set to act as 'REC' from the Custom menu). Depending on how you hold the camera, you may find one of the other buttons (or the shutter button) is a more convenient way of starting video, without accidentally shaking the camera at the start of each clip.
When initiated from stills shooting modes, movies are always shot in Program mode, with the camera setting aperture, shutter speed and ISO with no user input. Focus is also switched to whichever focus mode was last used when shooting in Movie mode. During recording, pressing either the Magnify or Fn button performs a focus acquisition, almost irrespective of what you've customized them to do normally. If you have a button assigned to AEL you can lock exposure before recording starts, but not once it's underway.
|The movie record button is on the right rear shoulder of the camera. If, as some people in the office did, you find this inconvenient, you can configure several other buttons to initiate movie recording.
There's also a choice in the Custom menu to decide whether the camera should stop shooting movies if you try to grab a photo.
Switch the dial to Movie mode and you gain P,A,S and M control, a choice over focus mode, and retention of AEL if you've got it assigned to a button. All the buttons on the camera are overtaken by the Echo modes, Art Fade and crop zoom in movie mode, so there's no way of accessing AEL in this mode (or any other function you might want on a button). Frustratingly, while nominally offering a very good level of control over video, the camera doesn't allow you to change any exposure settings when you're recording. The P,A and S modes will adjust to match the camera's metered value, with whatever exposure compensation you've applied before recording.
The camera's five-axis image stabilization system really comes into its own during movie shooting. Rather than the often disastrous digital stabilization (which tries to adjust the crop used for each frame so that subjects stay in the same position on the screen, but usually results in a shimmery, wobbly mess), the E-P5 continues to use its mechanical IS system. Olympus claims that it will cope with both the high-frequency, low amplitude movement of hand shake and the low frequency, high amplitude movement of walking.
Presumably because the sensor can shift left and right, the camera crops slightly further into the sensor if you shoot with IS turned on, compared to shooting stills. It's not a huge difference but it's worth being aware of before you line your shot up perfectly. If you switch the mode dial to the movie position, the camera will crop its live view feed slightly to give an accurate preview of what it will record.
Video image quality
Disappointingly, the E-P5's video is no better than the E-M5's: although nominally 1920 x 1080 resolution, it looks a lot lower, possibly as a result of clumsy sharpening. Shooting a video resolution chart, we can't get it to produce the roughly 1000 lines per picture height that it should be able to produce. The result on real-world footage is that everything looks rather mushy and indistinct.
The sound options - with three record levels and three levels of wind noise reduction - are much as you'd expect for this class of camera. The ability to add an external mic via an (optional) adapter extends this capability, albeit in a way that blocks the hot shoe and prevents the use of an EVF or hot-shoe-mounted mic.
The camera can continuously autofocus during movie shooting (from movie mode) but, being based on contrast-detection AF, the result is footage that shimmers and 'breathes' as the camera constantly overshoots and undershoots to confirm that it's still in focus.
Sample video 1
This sample shows the camera's attempts to re-focus, detracting from the video. Part of this is the operator's failure to keep the subject centrally in the frame, but this is something quite likely to happen with spontaneously occurring events, where you don't have an opportunity to practice your technique first.
|1920 x 1080 60i, H.264 .MOV file, 11 sec, 50.2 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
Sample video 2
|1920 x 1080 60i, H.264 .MOV file, 13 sec, 32.7 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
Sample video 3
This sample video, shot in a well-lit indoor scene shows that the E-P5's video is able to perform reasonably well in moderate light. However, the occasional attempts to refocus are pretty distracting - making it wortk turning C-AF off for video shooting.
|1920 x 1080 60i, H.264 .MOV file, 21 sec, 37.6 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
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