The E-5 is the first top-end E-series DSLR to offer a video mode, and the basic specifications are the same as the PEN E-PL2 - 1280x720 (720p) at 30 frames per second in the motion JPEG file format. For smaller file sizes you can also record SD video (640x480). The built-in internal microphone captures mono audio, but there is also a socket for a 3.5mm external microphone that allows recording of stereo sound, and it is possible to use contrast-detection AF during movie shooting.

Although manual control over exposure is not possible during movie shooting, aperture and ISO can be pre-set manually if you so wish, before the start of recording. It is possible to shoot movie footage in any of the camera's color modes, including the Art Filters, but because of the demands that most of these filters make upon the camera's processor, framerate drops significantly (to the point where arguably, the footage is of limited use). Movie footage cannot be edited in-camera, and although the setup menu contains a 'movie' sub-menu, disappointingly this is just a toggle for movie mode on/off.

Sizes 1280x720p: 30 fps
640x424: 30 fps
Audio 44.1kHz Mono (Internal Mic), Linear PCM, stereo recording possible with external mic
Format AVI motion JPEG (1/12 compression in 720p mode)
Max file size per clip 2GB/7 min

Using Movie Mode

As you can see from the paragraphs above, the E-5's movie mode is nothing much to shout about either in terms of resolution or versatility. It does at least have the benefit of being very simple to use. In live view mode, movie recording is initiated by pressing the AF pattern/movie button once. To end recording, you simply press this button again. Frustratingly though, the E-5 gives no indication of video framing when it is in live view mode - the only way to accurately frame a video clip is to start recording, frame the shot, then (since you cannot trim footage in-camera) stop and recommence filming. This isn't an insurmountable problem but it is rather inelegant, and makes shooting video with the E-5 a lot less spontaneous than it should be.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the E-5's live view image shows a noticeably wider field of view laterally than is captured in video mode. As well as the expected black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, as soon as video recording is commenced, the image on the E-5's LCD 'zooms in' perceptibly, as you can see in the example below.

Movie mode displays

The E-5's focus point selector button is in exactly the same position as it was on the E-3, but it now doubles as a conveniently-situated movie stop/start trigger. When video recording is initiated, the screen crops to a 16:9 aspect ratio view, and a count-up timer appears. With movie turned 'on', footage is initiated from within live view mode. Notice how the lateral framing changes when the camera starts recording. This makes accurate framing prior to commencing video shooting very difficult.

Video quality comments

Putting aside the issues when shooting video in some of the E-5's Art Filter modes (see examples below), movie footage from the E-5 is very nice. At 30fps, playback is smooth, and 1080x720 footage is crisp and detailed. Audio quality from the built-in mic isn't fantastic, - it picks up background and handling sounds very readily, but this problem is not confined to the E-5. Wind 'boom' can also be a real issue when shooting outdoors, even on moderately still days. For these reasons, if you're serious about shooting video using the E-5, we'd definitely recommend the purchase of an external microphone.

Sample videos

Caution: very large files

Sample video 1

This video was captured with the E-5's 'Dioramama' filter. Designed to mimic the effect of using a tilt and shift lens, Diorama blurs the upper and lower portions of the image. In movie mode, this places very high demands upon the E-5's processor, so frames are captured at a much slower rate than normal. Playback, however, is at the full 30fps, resulting in dramatically sped-up footage. The effect is fun, but a tripod is essential.

1280 x 720 .AVI file, 'Diorama' Art Filter 30 sec. 54.0 MB

Sample video 2

This video was captured with the E-5's 'Pop Art' filter. As you can see, color saturation is boosted significantly, but although this footage is fractionally jerkier than we'd expect from conventionally captured video, the framerate remains usefully high (unlike the Pinhole, Dramatic Tone and Grainy Film filters).

1280 x 720 .AVI file, 'Pop Art' Art Filter 20 sec. 86 MB

Sample video 3

This video was shot using the E-5's 'Pinhole' Art Filter, and as you can see, the framerate is significantly lower than the full 30fps of which the E-5 is capable. Although we can see envisage some (limited) applications for this effect, we'd generally advise against shooting video in this mode. The footage is simply too jerky.

Although the video itself is sampled at a very low rate, audio is captured normally. In this (tripod-mounted) video you can hear how much difficulty the E-5 has with wind 'boom'. Although this footage was shot on a day with only light wind, it is the main component of the audio track. Naturally, an external microphone would have mitigated the effect, but ideally we'd like to have a wind cut option for recording with the built-in mic.

1280 x 720 .AVI file, 'Pinhole' Art Filter 10 sec. 11 MB

Sample video 4

This (handheld) video gives you some idea of the E-5's video abilities in poor light. Audio capture is from the built-in monaural microphone, and although fidelity is good, the E-5 has picked up a lot of background 'roar'.

1280 x 720, 30fps .AVI file, 13 sec. 56 MB

Sample video 5

this video, shot handheld at 120mm (equivalent) demonstrates the capabilities of the E-5's image stabilization system. After a slightly jerky start, this clip settles down nicely until footage is smooth and reasonably stable, even as the camera is panned.

1280 x 720, 30fps .AVI file, 14 sec. 60 MB

Sample video 6

this video, also shot handheld, further demonstrates the limits of the E-5's built-in microphone, and the slow-moving, wobbly-looking propeller is an interesting illustration of both CMOS rolling shutter effect and also the occasional temporal aliasing problems that you might encounter when shooting video of very fast moving objects.

To the naked eye, the propeller of this float plane was just a blur, but the blades are not moving quite fast enough to be captured as a blur in individual frames from the E-5's 30fps video. As a consequence, the blades look reasonably sharp, and seem to be rotating quite slowly. Oddly, too, because of the framerate of the video footage the plane appears to have six propeller blades rather than three, and they look like they're rotating in the wrong direction. If you take a look at individual frames from this footage you'll see three blades, but you'll also see that they are slightly banana-shaped. This is is the so-called 'rolling shutter' or 'jello cam' effect, where the way in which CMOS sensors capture video (by vertical scanning) makes fast moving objects appear distorted.

1280 x 720, 30fps .AVI file, 30 sec. 133 MB