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