Olympus Brings Retro To Micro Four Thirds With The OM-D E-M5

Olympus is building on its significant micro four-thirds IP (i.e. mirrorless cameras with the M4/3 sensor size) with a premium offering with a stylized, retro look. The OM-D EM-5, digital successor to the long-running OM series of film cameras, has a look straight out of the 70s but specs that should satisfy enthusiast photographers looking for a compact but powerful system.

Their PEN series of M4/3 cameras is popular and well-reviewed, and the EM-5 builds on that tech. The difference is in some pro-like features Olympus has added in: a weather-resistant magnesium body, high-FPS EVF, and high-speed autofocus and shooting.

Here are the basic specs:

  • New 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • ISO up to 25600
  • Tilting 3″ OLED touch screen (~610k dots, I can’t determine the resolution)
  • 120Hz 800×600 electronic viewfinder
  • Magnesium alloy body, as “dustproof and splashproof” as the E-5
  • New fast autofocus system
  • 9fps burst shooting

I’m thinking that people who bought into Olympus’s M/43 line early and were thinking about upgrading are going to have a lot of trouble picking between these and the next PEN series.

It also comes in a handsome black finish. I really can’t say which I prefer.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t use the old OM mount, which would have been pretty cool but ultimately alienating to modern shooters. But it is looking like a solid camera. At $999 for the body only or a bit more with kit lenses, it’s right at the top of the line for M4/3 cameras, though — more than the capable GX1 I reviewed last week and many similar and very good cameras. Will the EM-5 be able to prove itself?

Only real hands-on testing will be able to show one way or the other. It’s a new sensor, a new form factor, and there’s a lot to be evaluated. It ships in April, so expect a review around then. Until that time rolls around, entertain yourself by hanging around the official Olympus page. There are some accessories and a couple new lenses worth checking out as well.

Update: there are hands-ons appearing around the web. Here’s DPReview’s thorough-as-usual take. Worth taking a stroll through the pages to see some of the size comparisons (the camera is quite small).