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Olympus Announces New Mirrorless E-M5

new olympus mirrorless camera

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5, Micro Four-Thirds in an SLR body

Olympus raised the curtain on a new Micro Four-Thirds camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M5, the first new model not part of the Pen series and sporting a new line of interchangeable lenses.

The E-M5 is styled like a smaller version of the old style Olympus SLR cameras, down to the control knob in roughly the same position as the ISO dial on the old OM-1. Yet the E-M5 has at its core a Micro Four-Thirds, 16.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, backed up by the TruePic VI image processing engine providing a maximum ISO of 25,600. That compares to the 12.3-megapixel sensor in the E-P3 and E-5.

My question for Olympus would be why they stuck with the Micro Four-Thirds sensor on an SLR form factor instead of going with an APS-C chip? I’m guessing it has something to do with the size, weight and ability to stick with the quieter electronic shutter that makes barely a whisper when taking pictures. The slightly larger prism hump actually houses the 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder.

The E-M5 incorporates a new type of 5-axis image stabilization built to compensate for multi-direction camera shake and Olympus is claiming they have the world’s fastest 3D AF tracking system that can follow moving subjects at up to 9 frames per second.

Top view of Em-5

Top view of the Olympus EM-5 is reminiscent of the old OM-1

For video the E-M5 offers full 1080i video at 60 fps with automatic correction for rolling-shutter, sometimes also called “jello cam”. Somewhat strangely the in-camera video effects include Echo effect that deliberately creates visual trails behind objects in motion.

back of Olympus E-M5

The EM-5 has a tilt screen LCD in back

What you won’t get is a built-in flash. A detachable flash is included with the camera, but that’s something you’ll have to remember to stick in your pocket or do without if the situation arises.

The Olympus E-M5 is due out in April and is slated to have two kit configurations: A 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 for $1,100 and the new 12.50mm F3.5-6.3 lens for $1,300.

Compare to:

Olympus E-M5 vs Olympus E-5

Olympus E-M5 vs Sony NEX-7

Olympus E-M5 vs Sony SLT-A55

Olympus E-M5 vs Panasonic GX1

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Cameras For a Rough World

olympus tough

The Olympus Tough TG-810 is waterproof to 30 feet, shockproof from six feet and has built-in GPS support - by Olympus

It’s not easy being a small electronic device sometimes, the world can be a rough place. Some of you might be looking for a camera for the kids that can stand up to the rigors of the playground, the park and the back yard water slide. Others may need a camera that can get bounced around in the glove compartment and may be called upon to work in any weather conditions. Or perhaps a camera that can survive a bruising climb up a mountain trail in a backpack or road trip in bicycle panniers.

For those situations, you need a tough camera. No sissy electronics will do, you need something that can take it and still deliver decent photos.

Luckily there are cameras engineered for a rough world.

Olympus Tough TG-810

Capable of being dropped from a height of 6 feet, can survive underwater to a depth of 30 feet, and can even take being stashed in a snowbank.

The 13.8-megapixel CCD chip does yield great results underwater or in low light, but overall the camera will survive the rigors of being dragged around in the field. The Tough TG-810 has built-in GPS so you’ll know where the pictures were taken.

Video specs are okay, but not great. You’ll get 720p at 30 fps.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3

This rugged compact not only sports built-in GPS, but also a compass, barometer, and altimeter. It’s dust proof, waterproof down to 40 feet, and shock resistant to falls up to 6 feet. And, oh yeah, it takes pictures.

Again this camera has a 12.1-megapixel CCD type sensor, which means you’re giving up a little in low light performance, but you gain full 1080 HD video at 60 fps.

Nikon Coolpix AW100

With the Nikon Coolpix AW100 you step up to a 15.9-megapixel CMOS sensor in a camera that still has an integrated GPS transceiver, but this time coupled with internal mapping software. Video is 1080p at 30 fps.

The Coolpix AW100 is shockproof to a height of 5 feet, waterproof to a depth of 33 feet and, like the Olympus, can survive an extended period in a snowbank. Which begs the question of how much time people are spending in snowbanks? Because that seems to be a big selling point for camera manufacturers.

Life is hard, but with one of these tough customers, you’ll at least be able to get good photos while buried in snowbanks.

Compare:

Olympus Tough TG-810 to Nikon Coolpix AW100

Nikon Coolpix AW100 to Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3

Olympus Tough TG-810 to Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3

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