Olympus E-PL5 quick review 1/7/14

By Chris Johnson

For my birthday, my wonderful wife bought me an Olympus E-PL5 to replace my aging Canon Digital Rebel. While it’s a bummer abandoning all my Canon lenses and accessories, I wanted a smaller setup without sacrificing image quality.

Comparison shot between Olympus E-PL5 and Canon Digital Rebel

I had stopped bringing the Canon along with me on vacations because it was simply too heavy to carry around. While the newer Canon Rebels are smaller, they aren’t nearly as small as the Olympus E-PL51. When I have the E-PL5 hanging from the neck strap, I sometimes forget it’s even there.

Aside from the weight, the E-PL5 has a few other great features, including In-Body Image Stabilization, a tiltable touch screen2, full control over aperture and shutter speed, and great looks3.

Seriously, I love the retro styling.

Olympus E-PL5

Most importantly, it takes great pictures right out of the box. Here are some unedited pics I’ve taken with it:

It’s not all good news. The E-PL5 is a bit on the pricey side. You can find similar Panasonic cameras4 for $100 or $200 less depending on sales. That’s good money you could use toward a lens. The menu system is not intuitive. If I pick up the camera after not using it for a few days, I always forget how to change the white balance settings5. There is no optical viewfinder or built-in flash6. Neither is a problem for me because the screen is great, and I avoid using the flash like the plague, but it could be a dealbreaker for some.

Overall, I’m comfortable recommending the Olympus E-PL5 on size and image quality alone. If you’re in the market for a good companion lens, I’ve enjoyed using the Panasonic 14mm pancake lens. It’s fast, sharp, and extremely small. Just what I needed to make my setup even smaller and lighter.

  1. The Canon Rebel T5i weighs 580g while the E-PL5 weighs 325g.  

  2. You can even tilt the screen all the way around so it’s facing the same direction as the lens. Awesome for selfies. If you’re into that sort of thing. 

  3. Great looking gear is gear you’re more likely to take with you. 

  4. Panasonic sells cameras that use the same Micro 4/3rds lenses as Olympus. 

  5. For the record, you change the white balance in a non-auto mode by hitting the OK button, and then using the arrows to select White Balance, then the left and right arrows to change it. 

  6. It comes with an add-on flash, and you can buy a electronic viewfinder if you need one.