Olympus PEN E-P5 Official: Retro Styling and Solid Specs in a Flagship Camera


After weeks of rumors and leaks, Olympus’ new PEN E-P5 finally became official today. It’s the company’s new flagship Micro Four Thirds PEN mirrorless camera, and features both retro styling on the outside and powerful specs on the inside.


As all the leaks revealed already, the E-P5 is modeled after the old Olympus PEN F SLR from decades ago–50 years to be exact. Olympus is launching this latest PEN camera on the 50th anniversary of its legendary ancestor.

A side-by-side comparison of the old PEN F and the new PEN E-P5

A side-by-side comparison of the old PEN F and the new PEN E-P5

Like the retro OM-D EM-5 announced a year ago, the E-M5 continues the theme of stuffing high-end guts into a beautiful and portable exterior (an all-metal casing).


At the core of the camera are the same technologies found in the E-M5: the same 16-megapixel CMOS sensor (ISO range is 100-25600), autofocus system, 5-axis image stabilization system, and more.


The max shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second is a world’s first for compact system cameras. Olympus says the mechanical shutter’s speed will allow photographers to capture fast-moving subjects (e.g. flying insects) or to shoot with large apertures in bright environments (i.e. for shallow depth of field shots even during the day).


The camera is also speedy in startup time (0.5 seconds), has 9fps continuous shooting, and boasts a shot-to-shot time of just 0.044 seconds.

To aid in manual focusing, the E-P5 features a new Focus Peaking system that helps you easily eyeball the focus plane of any scene, using white or black pixels as indicators for what’s in focus.

The back of the E-P5 with the optional Olympus VF-4 electronic viewfinder

The back of the E-P5 with the optional Olympus VF-4 electronic viewfinder

The interface of the camera features a new Dial Control system that offers some choice. A lever on the back of the camera determines what the dials on the front and back do. In the first position, the front and back dials control aperture and exposure time (respectively), and in the second case, they control ISO and white balance (respectively). You can also assign a number of other functions to further tweak the behavior to your liking.

On the back of the camera is a 3-inch 1.04-million-dot tilting touchscreen that can be faced upwards at 80 degrees or downwards at 50 degrees.


WiFi is making its first appearance in an Olympus camera with the E-P5. The connectivity can be used with Olympus smartphone app, called Olympus Image Share 2.0, to pair your camera with your smartphone. Once paired, you can use your phone as an external display, remote, or GPS unit for your camera.


Other features include a built-in collage maker called Photo Story, 1080/30p HD video recording, a time-lapse maker, and 12 Art Filters.

Here’s Olympus’ official video introduction to the E-P5:

The Olympus PEN E-P5 will be available starting in May 2013 in black, silver, or white.


The price tag will be $1000 for the body only, or $1450 if you’d like to buy the camera with a 17mm f/1.8 kit lens and a VF-4 electronic viewfinder. You can already begin preordering the camera through online retailers such as B&H Photo Video.

  • chubbs

    Can’t wait to try one and see how it handles in real life!

  • Mortz

    as i will not buy CS7… because it will not be releaed and i donĀ“t buy into adobes retarded subscription and CC program…. i have money to buy this camera. :)

  • Ron Bailey

    No viewfinder, no sale. Add-ons don’t count.

  • independentskeptic

    Really like m43 but this price eliminates me from buying community. 1k with no viewfinder or lens? C’mon!

  • Imagestreet

    Samsung NX20 had 1/8000 sec shutter speed – so this is not a world first for a CSC. That’s also some price for a camera without an integrated EVF.

  • Vlad Dusil

    $1k for the body only? That’s mighty steep.

  • Sporkguy

    Maybe I’ve just been living under a rock, but what’s the draw of Micro 4/3?

    I’ve had an E-P1 in the past, and I was completely underwhelmed by the low-light performance, multiplication factor of the sensor and generally low quality of images produced.

    These days I use a Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the 18mm & 35mm lenses – superb equipment, very capable in low light and with recent firmware revisions it’s a solid AF performer in normal light scenarios. APS-C is great, but why do Olympus continue down the tiny M43 route? Please can someone shed some light on that?

  • Baskins

    $1K with no viewfinder? no thank you!

  • alexP

    for that kidn of money, I’d rather go EM5. At least I get a viewfinder AND weather sealing.

  • Esrhan

    The appeal of Micro Four Thirds is it’s good balance of size, weight, price, a diverse lens selection and hybrid shooting. Olympus just has appearently decided to let Panasonic lead the way when it comes to video performance, so it depends on what someone is looking for to spend their money. I personally would never pay a thousand dollars for an E-P5, when a competitor offers a very smilar camera but with proper video specs to boot. You can even add an external microphone and are not limited only to 30 FPS.

    The Fujifilm cameras on the other hand, and many other offerings, produce technically much higher quality pictures, but are also much more expensive, there aren’t that many lenses to choose from and are currently very bad selections for video shooters.

  • Castillo

    This mirrorless fade is getting tiresome. If I want to hold a camera arms length way to take a photo I’ll use my iPhone.

  • John Goldsmith

    Thinking of a certain VISA ad campaign:

    Olympus PEN E-P5: $1000
    PEN E-P5, kit lens, and viewfinder: $1450
    Having to buy a viewfinder for a $1000+ camera: Priceless….

    No thanks.

  • gochugogi

    The E-P3 hit the street at $900 in early 2012 and is now on closeout for $350. Wait another year and the E-P5 will be priced to sell. Debut prices are for the well-heeled.

  • gochugogi

    “APS-C is great, but why do Olympus continue down the tiny M43 route?” The size and performance difference between M4/3 and APS-C is there but pretty minor with current technology. Olympus and Panasonic continue on because sales are brisk. Every other Japanese tourist I see is carrying M4/3 (white M4/3 cameras are really popular with women) whereas Americans love the larger cameras.

  • Gregory Lemieux

    Why did they keep the retro font as well? Everything else about this camera appeals to me, but I viscerally dislike the font. Holy crap.

  • Mantis

    I just came.

  • Mantis

    This is not a fad.

    I have an Olympus E-PL2, and the photo quality rivals, if not surpasses my Canon 60D. It’s also much smaller, lighter, and more portable.

    There are few weaknesses, of course. The controls are a bit fiddly, and it can’t focus for sh*t in low light, but it’s a fantastic travel camera.

    The lack of a viewfinder bothered me a little at first, but I soon found it be a feature and not a bug as it actually freed me up to more spontaneous and fun photography.

    I absolutley love the Olympus PEN line of cameras. Love them.

  • Ryan Oliver

    You are comparing the 4-year-old, first-generation m43 sensor in your E-P1 with the latest sensor in the current E-M5 and now E-P5? Yes, you have been living under a rock.

    The new ones are magnitudes better. In terms of ISO performance, your X-Pro 1 has a whopping 3/4 stop advantage over the latest m43 cameras. The E-P5 and E-M5 also have IBIS (which gives a two stop camera-shake advantage for shooting static images handheld in low light and often prevents the need to shoot at a higher ISO). The auto focus on the Olympus m43 cameras also blows your X-Pro 1 out of the water even with the latest firmware.

    The E-M5 was voted dpreview’s camera of the year for a reason. I’d say body wise, the systems are a wash. I do like the Fuji’s classic controls and slightly larger senor, but top m43s handle faster and have a big advantage with IBIS. When it comes to lens selection, m43 is leaps and bounds above, but I suspect Fuji will catch up as their system matures.

    I think both systems are competitive, but you need to compare the latest Fuji equipment with m43 of today, not 2009.

    As for this particular camera, I don’t know how would chose it over the E-M5, considering you can get the E-M5 for $900 these days, and it has the built-in viewfinder the E-P5 lacks.

  • MS

    I think it looks great. Stick an optical viewfinder on top for framing and you are good to go.

  • Leo Ls Liu

    APS-C is good, full frame is even better, digital backs (48*36mm or bigger) are much better, but they are bigger and more expensive.

    The smaller M43 sensor make sensor-shift anti-shake mechanism easier, E-P5 5-step anti-shake is good for manual lenses lovers.