Olympus PEN E-P5 vs OM-D E-M5 vs Sony NEX-6

May 10, 2013

Olympus PEN E-P5, OM-D E-M5 and Sony NEX-5 compact system cameras

In this article I will compare the Olympus PEN E-P5 vs Sony NEX-6 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5. The Olympus E-P5 is the latest PEN cameras from Olympus (as or the time of writing this article). The PEN E-P5 inherits some of the great features of the E-M5, including the 5-axis image stabilization, AF sensor and comes with many great new features, including a mechanical shutter (first on any CSC), 1/8000 sec shutter speed, built-in Wi-Fi, full meta body and much more. It’s easy to see why so many people are getting excited about this latest release and this is the perfect camera to compare against Sony NEX-6 and I know that many of you want to know the differences between the E-P5 and OM-D E-M5 as well. I hope that after reading this comparison review you will clearly understand the differences and can make an easier and smarter buying – Let’s begin, it’s gonna be very interesting!

Olympus PEN E-P5 Introduction

The it is, the new Olympus PEN E-P5 with all its glory. The E-P5 is a direct replacement for the Olympus E-P3 model that was announced on June 30, 201.  For a release starting price of ~$1000 (last checked on B&H), this camera is even a bit more expensive than the E-M5, Olympus Micro Four Thirds flagship camera. The PEN E-P5 is an amazing camera that packs tons of useful features, some evolutionary in every sense of the word. The E-P5 PEN flagship signifies Olympus commitment to excellence for the Compact System Camera market and its wide fan base of serious and professional photographers as well. The camera was designed to match the look and feel of the  the PEN F from 1963 (see image below and video at the end of this section).

Olympus PEN E-P5 and PEN F cameras

The E-P5 looks amazing, with its retro-style design that we are all familiar with, designed with all-metal casing that gives you a feel that you are holding a professional equipment in your hand  This new Micro Four Thirds camera features a 16-megapixel sensor, TruePic VI image processor and was built to be very responsive so you’ll never miss a crucial moment.

The E-P5 is equipped with Olympus 5-axis image stabilization mechanism (Oh Yeah!!), an in-body sensor-shift image stabilization that compensate camera movement in 5 axis (yaw, pitch, rolling motion, vertical shift, horizontal shift). This features was inherited from the OM-D E-M5 and it’s a very effective image stabilization mechanism that I am thrilled to see in the E-P5. Olympus also added a Multi-motion IS feature that works with the 5-axis image stabilization  to provide better compensation of camera movement during video recording. E-P5 is the first Compact System Camera to feature a mechanical shutter and allows the camera to shoot at maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec and enjoy a 1/320 sec. sync speed. Olympus also added a new short release time lag AF mode to allow you to capture sequential shots much faster with shutter release time lag of 0.044 seconds and allows the camera to capture up to 9 fps in burst mode. You also get super fast autofocus performance borrowed from the E-M5 as well. The camera uses a new AF feature called “Super Spot AF” that was designed to help photographers to easily focus on very small subjects.

Olympus doesn’t stop here and also added a built-in Wi-Fi. You enjoy the ability to remote control your camera from your smartphone using a free smartphone app provided by Olympus called “Olympus Image Share 2.0”, utilize your phone’s internal GPS receiver to automatically geotag images and transfer images between your camera and your mobile device or home computer. Olympus also introduced OI.Share feature, that allows you to sync your camera with your mobile device by generating a QR code on the back LCD and your camera and phone are synced in a secure private connection. You will need to download the OI.Share app to your mobile device, it’s available for Android and iOS (iPhone / iPad) as well.

The Olympus PEN E-P5 doesn’t comes with an electronic viewfinder, this features apparently belongs to OM-D cameras only, however, you get a gorgeous 1040K-dots tilt touchscreen LDS display that can tilt 80-degrees up and 50-degrees down. If you do want to compose your shots via a viewfinder, Olympus also introduces a new (optional) Electronic Viewfinder model, the VF-4. This EVF offers 2360K-dots resolution higher resolution than the VF-2 (1440K-dots), has 1.48x magnification and eye sensor to turn the inner LCD panel when you are not looking through the viewfinder to save battery. This new viewfinder also tilts up to 90º as the VF-2, has built-in diopter adjustment and is compatible with all Olympus PEN cameras, including the E-PL5, E-PM2, OM-DE-M5, E-PL3, E-PM1, E-P3, E-PL2, E-PL1, E-PL1s, E-P2 and also with the XZ-2 (a firmware update might be needed in order to be compatible with this new EVF).

Take a look at this great video by RedDotPhoto that explains many of the useful and cool features of the E-P5 camera, including time lapse, Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control, photo-story and more..

That’s the Olympus PEN F that was produced by Olympus in between the years 1963 and 1966. the Olympus Pen F was one of the smallest SLR cameras at that time. Take a look at this next video where you can get a glimpse on the Olympus Pen F film camera.

If Olympus didn’t convince me to get a PEN camera before, it certainly convinced me now.  If you don’t mind not having a built-in EVF, the Olympus PEN E-P5 is nothing but a remarkable Micro Four Thirds camera and evolutionary camera in the PEN series.  This is the Micro Four Thirds camera that many enthusiasts have been waiting for, and its hard not to get over excited about its great new features.

Having said that, the debate is not over yet. We still have the Sony NEX-6 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 that are worth a second look before you jump and grab the E-P5 from the store shelf.

Olympus E-P5 vs OM-D E-M5 vs Sony NEX-6

If you are like me, you are probably very excited with the E-PM5, but still debating between the NEX-6 and OM-D E-M5 and want to be sure that you are making the right choice. In this section I will be comparing the three cameras side by side so you can clearly see how the three cameras differ.

Olympus E-P5, OM-D E-M5, Sony NEX-6 size comparison

Olympus E-P5, OM-D E-M5, Sony NEX-6 size comparison (via camerasize.com)

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As you can see, there are a lot of difference between the three cameras.

Sony NEX-6 Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Larger APS-C sensor, bigger pixels considering same resolution
  • Hybrid AF (taking advantages of both technologies, contrast-detect AF and phase-deteciton AF) / **not compatible with all lenses
  • Built-in Flash, lacks on the E-M5
  • Fastest burst speed in the group (10fps)
  • More flexible exposure compensation (5 frames)
  • 1080p60 + 1080p24 (progressive frames) video recording.  Both Olympus cameras only offer 1080p30
  • Built-in Flash, not available on the OM-D E-M5
  • Lightest camera in the group
  • ISO 100, the E-M5 ISO starts at ISO 200
  • Cheapest, costs approx. $100 less than the other two
  • Doesn’t have a touchscreen, both E-M5 and E-P5 do (some see this as an advantage though)
  • Plastic body, the Olys have metal body construction
  • No in-body image stabilization, bot the E-P5 and the OM-D E-M5 have it
  • slowest flash sync speed in the group
  • No WB bracketing
  • No 3D stills, available on both Olympus cameras

 

 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Smaller Sensor than the NEX-6 (slightly noisier than the NEX-6 at high ISO but excellent high ISO performance considering the size of the sensor (checked in dpreview studio scene comparison)
  • Magnesium alloy body, the NEX-6 has plastic body
  • Built-in 5 axis image stabilization, NEX-6 lacks this feature
  • Built-in Electronic Viewfinder, the E-P5 lacks a built-in viewfinder
  • OLED LCD screen
  • Best battery life in the group together with the NEX-6
  • Can shoot 3D stills, the NEX-6 cannot
  • Weather Sealing (dust and splash proof)
  • Fastest sync speed for external flashes (1/800 sec) in the group
  • No Hybrid AF, only contrast-detect, NEX-6 has Hybrid AF
  • Lowest back LCD resolution in the group
  • ISO starts at 200
  • No 24p/60p video recording
  • Largest and heaviest camera in the group
  • No built-in Wi-Fi, both the NEX-6 and E-P5 have Wi-Fi
  • No built-in pop-up flash

 

Olympus PEN E-P5 Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Smaller sensor (need to way for high ISO results to see if that’s actually a disadvantage)
  • Magnesium alloy body, the NEX-6 has plastic body
  • Built-in 5 axis image stabilization + Multi-motion movie IS, the NEX-6 lacks this feature and the Multi-motion movie IS is exclusive  in this group
  • ISO 100, the E-M5 ISO starts at 200
  • Fastest maximum shutter speed in the group, twice as fat as the other cameras (1/8000 sec)
  • Built-in pop-up flash, the E-M5 doesn’t have a pop-up flash, also the strongest in the group
  • Highest resolution LCD in the group
  • 3D stills, the NEX-6 doesn’t have this feature
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, lacks on the E-M5
  • Built-in time-lapse video recording functionality
  • Sequential shot in JEPG limit to the memory card capacity
  • WB Bracketing, the NEX-6 doesn’t have WB bracketing
  • No built-in Electronic Viewfinder
  • No 24p/60p video recording
  • No Hybrid AF, only contrast-detect, the NEX-6 has Hybrid AF
  • Lowest battery life in the group

 

This is kind of a summary of the cons and pros of the key features of the three cameras. You can see why the E-P5 is such an attractive camera. The metal body, 5-axis built in IS, high res LCD, Wi-Fi, fast burst and many other cool features, makes this camera one of the most interesting Micro Four Thirds camera on the market right now.

The thing is that there isn’t a big difference in price between those three cameras. The price of the NEx-6 and E-P5 when down since they time of release last year.  That might take some of the shine out of the E-P5 regarding price, but all an all, the E-P5 remains an amazing camera in its own right. I know many people that will get the Sony NEX-6 or Olympus OM-D E-M5 for its built-in EVF.  If you intend to buy an EVF that will add to the overall cost. The VF-3 costs approx. $100 and the new VF-4 costs around $280. That something that you need to consider as well. For those who want a built-in EVF, this makes the NEX-6 a very attractive Compact System Camera at the moment, because it costs around $100 less and comes with a built-in EVF.

The E-P5 looks great and Olympus designed it to match the design of the Olympus Pen F from the 60s. That adds to the nostalgic atmosphere and that something that many Olympus film photographers won’t ignore.  Olympus adds to the E-P5 the Super-spot AF mode for precise positioning of the AF point when you magnified the image, you get the time-lapse movie recording function and Live Bulb function that allows you to review the ongoing exposure on the back LCD in Live View mode. I also liked the flick switch at the back that have two options, “1” and “2”. In mode number you control the aperture using the back dial to change the shutter speed and front dial to change the aperture value. In “mode 2” the back dial now allows you to change the white balance and the front dial changes the ISO sensitivity level.

For more information, check out this Olympus Pen E-P5 hands on video by CNET

The Olympus E-P5 sample images on olympus-imaging.jp look very good. It might not be the king of low-light but the color is reproduction and exposure looks spot on. You can check out the E-P5 sample images here.

 

Conclusion

There is plenty to like about the Olympus PEN E-P5, the 1/8000 sec shutter speed, 1/320 sync speed, smaller AF point, meta body, dual controls, tilt screen, base ISO 100, 5-axis image stabilization – very impressive.  This is a great camera for manual focusing too with its great IS and focus peaking. The lack of an EVF might trouble some people, and the other cameras might be the better option. Not everyone will want to sped extra $100-$200 to an EVF that also ads to the size of the camera, because this ruin the all idea of compact system camera being..well..compact. From the sample images I’ve seen. it seems that Olympus didn’t developed a new sensor and this is probably and old sensor recycled into this new model (not sure about it though).

For a $1000 some photographers might prefer getting the E-M5 where you also get a weather-sealed body and a built-in viewfinder, two important feature for the outdoor photographer that cannot easily be ignored. I think that people that expect the E-P5 to have evolutionary IQ will probably be disappointed, although we still have to wait for some online lab test comparison reviews.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is my favorite camera among all Micro Four Thirds cameras. I lie the ergonomics, the OLED display, EVF, weather-sealing, 5-axis IS, metal body, fast AF, excellent high ISO performance – really capable camera and worthy to be Olympus Micro Four Thirds flagship camera. I think that the E-P5 price is a bit steep, but eventually the price will drop. Some people don’t want to wait though. Whether or not the E-P5 is a well worthy alternative to the E-M5, I think that for $150 less is might have been.

The NEX-6 will probably continue to be a very popular camera due to its built-in EVF, high ISO performance, 1080p60/1080p24 video recording, Hybrid AF and bring relative cheaper than the other models in the group. I love the E-P5, but I personally prefer having a CSC with a built-in EVF. That’s me, just can’t leave without it. You might decide otherwise. There is always the option to buy the external EVF, but get ready to pay between $100 to $200 for a good EVF. As I mentioned earlier, buying an external EVF can be a good thing, because you can enjoy the tilting mechanism and have the option to choose the viewfinder of your choice.

Three excellent cameras, each one with its cons and pros. I hope that this comparison article helped you understand the differences between the three cameras and helped you make a more educated buying decision. If you like reading this article and find it useful, please share it with your friends online. Thanks for reading.

Check latest prices and buy from:

Olympus OM-D E-M5: B&H Photo, Adorama, Amazon

Olympus PEN E-P5: B&H Photo, Adorama, Amazon

Sony NEX-6: B&H Photo, Adorama, Amazon

 

 



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