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Olympus E-PL5 Comparison Review

The Olympus PEN E-PL5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was revealed to the public in September 2012 and is equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. It offers a resolution of 15.9 megapixel.

camera

Is the Olympus E-PL5 a good camera? The E-PL5 has a Camera Elo of 1727. This rating puts the E-PL5 below average of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (Four Thirds cameras), the E-PL5 also ranks below average. – Well, the Olympus E-PL5 is more than 8 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2012.

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-PL5
Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses
15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/30p Video
ISO 200 - 25 600
Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Tilting touchscreen
8 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilization
360 shots per battery charge
111 x 64 x 38 mm, 325 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Olympus E-PL5 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Olympus E-PL5 vs credit card front
E-PL5 versus credit card top view
E-PL5 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Olympus E-PL5 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-PL5 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n Sep 2012 599i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL9 117 mm 68 mm 39 mm 380 g 350 n Feb 2018 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL8 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Sep 2016 549i
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 649i
5.
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Aug 2014 599i
7.
 
Olympus E-P5 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 n May 2013 999i
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n May 2013 599i
9.
 
Olympus E-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Olympus E-PL5 was launched in the US market at a price of $599. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Olympus E-PL5:
Check Ebay offers

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Olympus E-PL5 features a Four Thirds sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Olympus E-PL5 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.

Olympus E-PL5 sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
2.
 
Olympus E-PL9 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
3.
 
Olympus E-PL8 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
5.
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
7.
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
9.
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
11.
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the E-PL5 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL5 and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n3.0 / 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
2.
 
Olympus E-PL9none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y
3.
 
Olympus E-PL8optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-M101440 n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-P5optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6optional n3.0 / 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
9.
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
11.
 
Panasonic G61440 n3.0 / 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n

The LCD screen on the Olympus PEN E-PL5 is flexibly attached to the body. In particular, the LCD can be tilted vertically to facilitate odd-angle shots in landscape orientation. This tilting design is often preferred, for example, by street photographers to a fully articulated, swivel type of LCD attachment, as it is more unobtrusive during shooting than a screen that flips out to the side.

articulated screen
Flexible screen on the E-PL5

One feature that differentiates the E-PL5 from many older cameras is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while cameras without IBIS have to rely on optical image stabilization in OIS-equipped lenses to achieve the same effect.

Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PL9Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
3.
 
Olympus E-PL8Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic G6Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-

Expert reviews

While the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PL5 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Olympus E-PL53/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL9..+....4.5/54/5 Feb 2018 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL8........4.5/54/5 Sep 2016 549i
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II4.5/5+ +..80/1005/55/5 Aug 2015 649i
5.
 
Olympus E-M104/5....80/1005/55/5 Jan 2014 699i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL74/5+....5/54/5 Aug 2014 599i
7.
 
Olympus E-P55/5+ +..78/1004.5/55/5 May 2013 999i
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6............ May 2013 599i
9.
 
Olympus E-PM23/5....77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
10.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Panasonic G64/5+ +....5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Olympus E-PL5 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the E-PL5.

What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the E-PL5?

The camera is build around a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Olympus equipped the E-PL5 with the TruePic VI image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the E-PL5?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600.

Can the camera be equipped with an optional viewfinder?

Yes, Olympus provides the VF-3 as an accessory (here on amazon) that can be mounted on the hotshoe.

Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?

Yes, the LCD-screen of the E-PL5 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Olympus PEN E-PL5?

Olympus does not publish a shutter rating for the E-PL5. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my E-PL5?

Olympus embeds the number of shutter actuations in hidden menus. You can check the number of shots that your E-PL5 has taken up to now by carefully following the steps described on the Olympus E-PL5 shutter count page.

Does the Olympus E-PL5 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The E-PL5's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Does the Olympus E-PL5 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).

Which battery does the E-PL5 use?

The camera gets its power from the BLS-5 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Olympus E-PL5
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2012
    Launch Price USD 599
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 225 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 608 x 3 456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.76 μm
    Pixel Density 7.08 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 25 600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 72
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 889
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen
    V-logging Friendliness Front-flip possible
    Touch Input Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 8 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type BLS-5 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 111 x 64 x 38 mm
    (4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz)

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