Olympus PEN E-PL5 and PEN E-PM2 Hands-on Preview
Olympus was one of the instigators of the mirrorless uprising, having formulated the Micro Four Thirds standard with Panasonic. At first it looked like Olympus might be overshadowed by Panasonic's technical prowess but a combination of its class-leading JPEG processing and pretty heritage-inspired designs meant they were able to offer something interesting. With the first PEN Mini it was also able to offer the least-expensive mirrorless model on the market, but the camera that really made us sit up was the Olympus OM-D.
When we gave the OM-D EM-5 our Gold Award we said it was arguably the most capable and likeable mirrorless camera we'd then seen, and there's not been a real challenge for that crown (though the Fujifilm X-E1 might change that). Now, with the arrival of the fourth PEN Lite (the PL5) and the second PEN Mini (PM2), Olympus looks set to bring E-M5 image quality down to mass-market prices. And that's a big step forward - if these offer the E-M5's genuinely DSLR-standard image quality in a smaller, more compact-camera-like body.
Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PM2 common features
- 16MP Four Thirds sensor
- Touch-sensitive screen
- 460k dot 3" LCD screen (16:9 aspect ratio)
- In-body image stabilization
- ISO 200-25,600
- TruePic VI processor
- Up to 8fps continuous shooting
- 11 Art Filters
- Revised in-camera Raw file processing with presets
- AP2 accessory port for accessories such as an electronic viewfinder
- Movie effects as seen on OM-D E-M5, plus Picture Style shift effect
As with the previous generation of PENs, both cameras are very similar, with the PEN Lite offering a flip-up screen, exposure mode dial and two more buttons on the back of the camera than the Mini. On top of this, the PL5 gains a removable front hand grip. The articulation of the rear screen has been improved, meaning it now flips all the way up for self-portraits or into a flat position for waist-level shooting, using its touch screen to focus or fire the shutter.
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 key features
- Touch-screen flips up by 170 degrees, with reversed image for self-portraits
- Removable front grip (with other designs available)
- Drive mode dial
There have been additions to the PEN Mini too. Whereas the PM1 always felt it had one button too few for anything more than point-and-shoot use, the PM2 adds another two, one of which is a user-customizable function button. It also gains a fixed hand grip on the front of the camera and a touch sensitive screen.
Finer focus point option
Both camera still feature the 35 autofocus points seen on their predecessors but, as well as being able to over-ride these by pressing on the screen, it's also possible to refine them down to finer points. Pressing the INFO button while you're in AF point selection mode allows you to cycle between the camera's different AF area sizes (all 35 points, a 9-point square, single point or single small point). This makes it easy to select where you wish to focus with great precision.
Lens IS priority
Another addition to both cameras, to help them work more happily with Panasonic's range of stabilized lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system is new 'Lens IS Priority' option in the menus (which is set to 'on' by default). It means the cameras will make use of the lens' stabilization system, rather than using their in-body systems when available.
In-camera Raw processing
Olympus was one of the first manufacturers to provide the option to re-process a Raw file, if you decided you wanted to apply different processing parameters or if you needed a JPEG of a Raw shot you'd just taken. This feature gave the ability to adjust the noise reduction, fine-tune the white balance or change the gradation settings to optimize your image using the rather good Olympus JPEG engine, without having to boot up your computer. It extended to providing the chance to apply different art filters, after you'd taken the shot or apply a different one if you didn't like the one you first chose.
The E-PL5 and E-PM2 become the first Olympus models to allow you to create and edit two presets, making it faster to make quick JPEG copies of your images. Now, when you hit 'OK' to confirm that you want to process the selected Raw file, you are presented with a dialogue that gives you the choice of applying the current settings, Custom 1, Custom 2 or to not bother. The two custom options can be edited just before you apply them, by pressing right on the four-way controller. This gives a range of options including the new options to push or pull exposure and boost or suppress the highlights or shadows. It's pretty powerful stuff for a camera at this (or any) level.
Sep 12, 2015
Sep 11, 2015
Feb 19, 2014
Jun 18, 2013
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.