So what has Olympus done to mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary Pen F half-frame film camera? Answer: Introduced the flagship Pen E-P5 Micro Four Thirds camera, a digital update, with what Olympus calls “breakthrough” technology and performance advancements. Note the reintroduction of the “Pen” name, appearing for the first time on an Olympus digital camera.
The camera has 1/8000th of a second shutter speed – a claimed world-first for the compact system camera class – built-in Wi-Fi, autofocus advancements, easy-access manual controls, and a number of other features.
It sports an all-metal casing that houses many of the same technologies found inside Olympus’s OM-D E-M5: 16-megapixel TruePic VI Live MOS sensor, FAST AF, 5-axis image stabilization, and more.
The built-in flash, with an improved, faster 1/320th sec. synch speed, makes it easier to take backlit shots during the daytime. New short release time lag AF mode reduces the time between shots to 0.044 sec., and there’s 9 fps sequential shooting.
The E-P5 borrows the E-M5’s autofocus system, using it to power the E-P5’s new Super Spot AF, accurately bringing into focus even extremely small subjects. Simply select an area on your subject where pin-point accurate AF is required and the E-P5 can autofocus on that area – offering even more precision than phase-difference AF systems claims Olympus.
New Focus Peaking dramatically improves the usability of manual focus lenses by bringing shots into focus by emphasizing the contours of the point of focus in white or black.
The camera’s in-body 5-axis image stabilization mechanism, which has been further evolved since its introduction in the E-M5, is now compact enough to fit in the E-P5. The system corrects various kinds of camera shaking, whether shooting still photos or recording movies. The new IS-Auto mode automatically detects the camera’s movements and provides optimal control of correction when panning regardless of direction or camera orientation.
Correction-checking on the Live View screen makes it possible to check the image stabilization effects on the Live View screen that was previously difficult with in-body image stabilization systems. The user can press the shutter button halfway to check the image stabilization effects on the display and then decide upon the composition. The image remains on the display for two seconds after the shutter button is released, making it possible to stabilize the autofocus point and set framing.
Multi-motion IS used in combination with the 5-axis image stabilization mechanism produces excellent correction performance, says the company, especially during movie recording.
For those who are more hands-on with their photography, the E-P5 has 2×2 Dial Control system, on the back and top of the camera. When shooting manually, a lever on the back can be quickly moved to one of two positions. In the first position, moving the dial at the front of the camera adjusts the aperture while the back dial affects exposure time. In the second position, the dials change the ISO value and white balance.
Alternatively, you can use the lever on the back of the camera to assign a range of other functions.
The E-P5 is the first Olympus camera to include built-in Wi-Fi. Setup involves scanning the QR code displayed on the camera’s LCD with your Smart device to synch it with the Wi-Fi network created by the camera.
Olympus’ free smartphone app, Olympus Image Share 2.0, synchronizes your smartphone’s and E-P5’s screens so you can effectively see the camera’s LCD on your phone and control it by touching the smartphone display as if it were your camera. Olympus notes this is useful for self-portraits and for remotely shooting subjects like wildlife that are easily startled if you get too close.
You can count down to shutter release on the phone itself, grant friends’ devices access to selected images, and even use your smartphone to embed GPS information in your shots.
Photo Story mode enables you to capture a scene from multiple viewpoints and then combine them into a single image to create unique collages inside the camera.
New “Photo Story+” adds a rich variety of stamps and “Signature” for adding a handwritten or original image signature on top of the image through the Oi.Share app.
Other creative features include new interval shooting that sets a time interval between 1 second to 24 hours, as well as how many shots the camera will capture in a series (1 to 99) during that time.
Time Lapse Movie converts the series of pictures taken using interval shooting into a movie inside the camera.
The 12 available art filters on the E-P5 lend more creativity to time-lapse movies as well as still images.
Live Bulb mode has been improved by automatically reducing the monitor’s brightness to prevent glare and to display a histogram and the elapsed time of an exposure to more easily shoot stars, light painting and fireworks.
The E-P5 is equipped with a tilt-type touch panel LCD that can be adjusted to face upwards at an 80-degree angle and downwards at a 50-degree angle.
For photographers who prefer composing their shots using an eyepiece, the new optional high-definition VF-4 viewfinder provides an impressive 1.48X magnification, a 2.36 million dot LCD, eye detect to turn it on at the right time, and intuitive functionality that enable real-time viewing of shooting conditions.
The Olympus Pen E-P5 will be available this month in two configurations: body only, available in black, silver or white, $999.99; and black or silver body with black M.Zuiko Digital 17 mm f/1.8 lens and VF-4 electronic viewfinder, $1449.99.