Olympus OM-D review

Image Quality

Olympus OM-D review - Image Quality

Tone and Exposure

The OM-D E-M5 uses a 324 zone Multi-pattern Sensing System, so similar to the one found in the E-P3. There's a choice of either Multi-zone (ESP), Centre-Weighted, Spot, Spot Highlight and Spot Shadow. It's a system that works well - exposure is accurate, though in some circumstances could be seen to underexpose ever-so slightly, though this does mean highlight detail is maintained.

White Balance and Colour

Set in Auto White Balance and the OM-D E-M5 performs well, though not as neutral as some may like with a slightly warm cast. As well as Auto White Balance, the OM-D features a range of other presets: tungsten, fluorescent 1, sunlight, flash, overcast, shade and underwater.

There's a host of Art filters as well, and a selection of colour modes: i-Enhance, Vivid, Natural, Muted, Portrait and Monotone. The Art modes can be really fun - we especially like the Grainy Film and Dramatic Tone modes, while shooting in Raw/JPEG means you've always got an unaltered original that you can always return to should you not be happy with the filtered result.

Sharpness and Detail

The 16MP chip in the OM-D E-M5 eclipses the 12MP sensor used by the E-P3 and other cameras in the PEN range. At this resolution, the OM-D E-M5 is capable of producing an A3 print at 240ppi without an interpolation.

Pair the OM-D E-M5 with one of Olympus' high-quality primes and the level of detail is excellent - definitely the best we've seen from an Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera and possibly the best from any camera with a sensor this size. As you might expect, the 12-50mm bundled kit lens doesn't deliver quite the same kind of detail, but is fine for general shooting.

Raw/JPEG

The OM-D E-M5 is packaged up with Olympus Viewer 2, allowing you to edit and adjust the Raw files. It's not a bad piece of software and will allow you to make quite a few changes and adjustments to the image, though Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4 is bound to offer updates to support the Raw files from the OM-D E-M5 soon.

Comparing the JPEG and unedited Raw file side-by-side and there's very little to choose between the two at low ISOs - the JPEG files may be a touch warmer, but that's about it. Image noise control becomes more noticeable in JPEG files as the sensitivity increases - the Raw file maintains detail better, but image noise is more pronounced.

ISO Quality

While it's a shame to see no ISO 100 on offer, the OM-D E-M5 performs very well at the lower end of the ISO range, delivering clean and detailed images. Increasing the resolution over the E-P3 could lead some to assume that with more photosites taking up the same sensor area, image noise could be more pronounced, but the OM-D performs very well. At ISO 800, image noise is only just becoming noticeable, but is still very well controlled and images still maintain a good level of detail. Up to ISO 6400, and while image noise is beginning to encroach on the image more, it's still relatively subtle and not that distracting. At ISO 12,800 and 25,600, image noise is more apparent, but it still looks pretty good considering the sensitivity, with colour noise is kept very well under control to produce a more natural result. Very impressive considering the sensor size and rates very highly against the competition.

Movie Mode

The OM-D E-M5 offers the choice of either shooting in AVCHD or M-JPEG. Recording in AVCHD will deliver good quality 1080i MTS files - the recording is compressed to keep file sizes down, though to convert them to a more useable MOV files, you'll need to process your footage in either Windows Movie Maker, iMovie or similar. Shooting in M-JPEG will deliver a resolution at 1280 x 720 and are outputted as AVIs - these can be used without processing, but the quality isn't as good and file sizes are larger.

Video quality is very good, and a stereo microphone is built-in, though those wanting to attach an external microphone will have to connect via the mini USB  socket on the side of the camera, or with the additional SEMA-1 microphone adapter set that connects to the accessory port just behind the hotshoe.


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Price as reviewed

with 12-50mm kit lens
£1,149.00

Scores

WDC-goldaward
Scores
Features 18/20
Design 19/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 18/20
Value 17/20
Overall Score 90%

User Score

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