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Olympus reveals OM-D E-M5 with 15.93 million image pixel sensor, EVF  
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | by Eamon Hickey
Olympus today announced the E-M5, the first in what will be a new lineup of Micro Four Thirds format compact system cameras called the OM-D series, which will join the PEN series Micro Four Thirds models. 

The E-M5 is the most advanced, enthusiast-oriented Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera to date with a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, a new 15.93 million image pixel "Live MOS" sensor, a built-in 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder, an improved 5-axis in-body image stabilization system, and the ability to shoot at 9fps. 

The camera will be available in black or black/silver versions and will carry an expected street price of US$999.99 in the U.S. for the body only, US$1099.99 in the U.S. for a kit including a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, or US$1299.99 in the U.S. for a kit including a weather-sealed ED 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens.

New Classic: The OM-D EM-5 (Photo courtesy Olympus)

Also announced were a two-piece accessory vertical grip, a new high-end flash called the FL-600R, and two new Micro Four Thirds lenses, a 75mm f/1.8 and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. 

First of a new line

Although Olympus did not specifically say so, it seems likely that the OM-D line of cameras will be the Olympus Micro Four Thirds CSCs that include built-in viewfinders while the PEN lineup will continue to be the series without EVFs. 

Highlights of the new E-M5 include:
  • A new 15.93 million image pixel Live MOS (N-MOS) Four Thirds format sensor with a 17.3 x 13mm image area. Without specifying exactly how much, Olympus says the new sensor has "expanded" dynamic range compared to the company’s previous 12-megapixel Live MOS sensors in the PEN cameras. The E-M5's top ISO is 25,600, one stop higher than the current highest specification PEN (the E-P3). Lowest ISO is 200.
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy construction in a body that weighs 15 oz. with battery and memory card. (For comparison, the E-P3 weighs 13 oz. with battery and card, the Sony NEX-7 weighs 12.5 oz. with battery and card, and the smallest mirrored DSLR cameras typically start around 19-20 oz. with battery and card.) The M.Zuiko Digital ED 
12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ is the only weather-sealed Micro Four Thirds lens to date, but Olympus also announced a new weather-sealed Micro Four Thirds body to Four Thirds lens adapter, called the MMF-3, which would allow the many weather-sealed standard Four Thirds mount Olympus lenses to be used with the E-M5.
  • A new 1.44 million dot built-in electronic viewfinder with a 120fps refresh rate, 1.15X magnification (equivalent to .58X on a 35mm full-frame camera), and 18mm eye relief. Olympus told us that this viewfinder is "very similar" to the external VF-2 viewfinder available for the PEN cameras with the notable exception that the 120fps refresh rate is double that of the VF-2.
  • Enhancements to the autofocus system. These make for faster single-AF on stationary subjects but also "dramatically improve focus on moving subjects," according to Olympus’s press release. The E-M5 can follow-focus moving subjects while maintaining a frame rate of 4.2fps, Olympus told us in a presentation.

  • The AF system itself uses contrast-detect autofocus (there is no phase-detect component to it, as on, for example, the Nikon 1 series), and its 35 focus areas are the same as the E-P3. Olympus did not give us much detail on how the speed improvements were achieved other than to say that the new sensor can read out at 240fps compared to the 120fps on the E-P3 sensor. As it did with the E-P3, Olympus is claiming that the E-M5’s single-AF is the world’s fastest under the company’s in-house test conditions, which are not specified. 
  • In single-AF or manual focus the E-M5 can achieve a top frame rate of 9fps. (But we note that at that speed, the camera’s RAW buffer depth is 11 frames, giving approximately one second of continuous shooting. JPEG buffer depth at top frame rate is 17 frames.)
  • A new 5-axis in-body image stabilization system that corrects for five kinds of camera movement: vertical shift, horizontal shift, rotary movement (roll), pitch, and yaw. It yields up to 5 f-stops of camera-shake compensation, according to Olympus, which is 2 stops better than the company’s previous system on the E-P3 (it corrected for movement only on two axes). The E-M5's image stabilization will function while recording video.
  • A 3-inch, 610,000 dot touch-screen OLED LCD display that can tilt upwards at an angle of up to 80 degrees or downwards at an angle of up to 50 degrees.
  • There is no built-in flash, but a very small, weather-sealed, camera-powered external flash (guide number 7m at ISO 100) called the FL-LM2 is bundled with the camera. Maximum standard flash synchronization speed is 1/250th of a second with this flash and possibly others (Olympus has not provided details yet.) On at least one flash, the FL-50R, maximum sync speed is 1/180th or 1/200th of a second (the official Olympus spec sheet is not clear). (In "Super FP" flash sync mode, shutter speeds up to 1/4000th are available with progressively reduced power.)
  • Video specifications appear to be essentially identical to the E-P3: 1080i/60fps (actually 59.94) HD video recording in MOV/AVCHD (H.264) or AVI (M-JPEG) formats with a maximum data rate of 20 Mbps. 
The E-M5 will begin shipping in the U.S. in April and will be available in three configurations. They are:
  • Body only for an estimated street price of US$999.95 in the U.S.
  • Kit including body and M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R lens for US$1099.99 in the U.S.
  • Kit including body and M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens for US$1299.99 in the U.S. 
Additional accessories

Olympus also announced new accessories, including two new Micro Four Thirds lenses. No availability dates were given for any of the accessories. They are:
  • The HLD-6 Power Battery Grip, a two-piece grip. It includes a "landscape" grip that can be used alone, which provides an extended grip for the shooter’s right hand, and a second piece that you add to the first and which provides vertical-position shooting controls and also accepts a second battery, doubling battery life.

  • The FL-600R flash with a guide number of 36m at ISO 100. It has a built-in LED in the flash body which can function as both an AF-assist light and a constant video light.

  • The previously mentioned MMF-3 weather-sealed Micro Four Thirds body to Four Thirds lens mount adapter.

  • Two new Micro Four Thirds lenses, which will be introduced later this year (no specific dates were given). These are the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 macro, which will achieve a 1:1 reproduction ratio. 

System: EM-5 bodies, lenses and accessories (Photo courtesy Olympus)

More information is in the press release below.

Press Release

The Olympus E-M5 Unites an Intuitive Built-In Electronic Viewfinder with the World’s First *1 5- Axis Image Stabilization and World’s Fastest*2 Autofocusing System inside a Powerfully Portable and Rugged Dustproof and Splashproof Body
CENTER VALLEY, Pa., February 7, 2012, 9:00pm – Today Olympus builds upon the 40-year legacy of the OM SLR film camera series and marks the beginning of the new digital imaging era with the launch of the Olympus E-M5, the first of the new Olympus OM-D (OM Digital) Series of Micro Four Thirds™ products. Designed to meet the needs of advanced photographers, the Olympus E-M5 is packed with a built-in electronic viewfinder, superior image technology, blazing fast speed and total creative control in a classic, rugged body ready for sand, sun, sleet or snow.

Evoking the classic design of the original OM Series introduced 40 years ago, and transforming it for the modern age, t he Olympus OM-D Series is a new and entirely unique Micro Four Thirds camera system. It combines outstanding features found in the Olympus E-System DSLR line with those of the compact Olympus PEN® Series to meet the requirements of discerning photographers who demand more performance and portability from their interchangeable-lens cameras. The compact and ready-for-action Olympus E-M5 boasts breakthrough innovations inside, including:

    •    A built-in 120-fps (frames-per-second) refresh rate, high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF) with outstanding image quality, eye detect and intuitive functionality that enables real-time viewing of shooting conditions
    •    A 16.1-megapixel Live MOS Sensor and TruePic™ VI image-processing engine for superior image quality and high sensitivity
    •    The world’s firs t *1 5-axis image stabilizer to compensate for multi-directional camera shake during both still photography and HD moviemaking
    •    The world’s fastest *2 autofocusing system (FAST AF) plus new 3D AF tracking for improved performance following moving subjects at up to 9 frames-per-second sequential shooting
    •    A lightweight magnesium alloy body that is enhanced with the same dustproof and splashproof durability of the Olympus E-5 DSLR
    •    A tilting 3.0-inch touch screen OLED and new Movie Effects: One Shot Echo, for a semi-transparent frame at your whim and Multi Echo, for a multi-motion trail effect.

Intuitively Designed Electronic Viewfinder
The OLYMPUS E-M5 is the first Olympus interchangeable-lens camera to incorporate a 120-fps refresh rate, High-Definition electronic viewfinder with an eye sensor to seamlessly switch the display between the tilting, 3.0-inch touch screen OLED and the electronic viewfinder for ease-of-use, features a 100-percent field of view, maximum 1.15x magnification and an eye point of 18mm for fatigue-free viewing . Camera setting information, such as shutter speed, is displayed at the bottom of the viewfinder so photographers can concentrate on framing shots and take full advantage of an EVF’s ability to display the effects of various exposure adjustments and Art Filter effects – all without having to take the eye away from the viewfinder.

Superior Image Quality
The Olympus E-M5 uses a new 16.1 megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor offering improved performance and exceptional clarity and speed in all aspects of image capture. Olympus’ Tru ePic VI image-processing engine dramatically improves image quality in low-light environments. The camera’s sensor allows for a maximum ISO of 25,600, and the dynamic range has been expanded for more faithful color reproduction.

Unprecedented 5-axis image stabilization
The Olympus E-M5 is distinguished by the world’s first 5-axis image-stabilization mechanism capable of reducing the effects of camera motion and image blur from five directions on stills and video, even including motion blur caused by the photographer walking or running. Previous IS mechanisms compensated for camera shake by addressing only two kinds of movement along the vertical and horizontal axis. However, camera shake can actually be caused by five different kinds of movement: horizontal shift, vertical shift, rotary motion, as well as the yaw and pitch. While some technology has attempted to correct for camera blur by building the Image Stabilization mechanism into the lens, the Olympus E-M5 IS mechanism is incorporated into the camera body itself so that all lenses mounted on the body can take advantage of this sophisticated technology, whether shooting stills or HD video.

Blazing Speed
Focus and shoot faster with record-breaking autofocus speed and imaging processing. The Olympus E-M5 employs the FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) AF system, introduced in the PEN E-P3, but with even greater speed. The 16MP Live MOS chip drives image data off the sensor at a blazing 240 frames-per-second, a 2X speed increase in Continuous Autofocus, with reduced image blackout enabling photographers to track fast action, Maximum frame rates in sequential shooting have also increased more than 2X with a max frame rate of 9-fps in Single AF. A new 3D tracking AF system can follow the subject through the X-, Y- and Z-axes to dramatically improve focus on moving subjects. Paired with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50-mm f3.5-6.3 electronic zoom lens for optimum focusing speed, fast camera start-up times and operational speeds enable the photographer to keep up with the most challenging shooting situations, while dual control dials and dedicated function buttons help them adjust settings on-the-fly.

Creative Freedom
T he Olympus E-M5 features a 3.0- inch tilting OLED touch-screen to enable photographers to get up high or down low for any shot . The touch screen interface offers intuitive focus and release of the shutter and review and enlargement of images in playback with the touch of a finger . The new Live Bulb feature updates the Live View image on the OLED screen at pre-set intervals during long exposures and enables the user to preview continually unfolding action such as fireworks or waterfalls and adju st the exposure time accordingly while capturing the image at the desired moment. An innovative new interface, EVF Creative Control, produces a tone curve overlay on the viewfinder screen to enable separate adjustment of highlight and shadow brightness, white balance, magnification and aspect ratio can also be manipulated via the EVF.

A new “Key Line” Art Filter joins nine other available filters on the Olympus E-M5 and enhances the edge lines of the image to make it look more like an illustration. New “Cross Process II” and “Dramatic Tone II” Art Filters provide variations on the popular existing filters, and the two new Echo effect for movies leaves a momentary residual image of a subject’s movements when activated during movie recording. Users who like to perform their movie post-editing on a PC will particularly appreciate the Full HD 1080i movie recording function, which adopts the MOV format (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264).

Powerful Portability and Rugged Durability
The striking, iconic design of the Olympus E-M5 is more than just looks; its magnesium alloy body is rugged enough to stand up to severe environmental conditions like heavy rain and blowing sand. The Olympus E-M5 employs internal seals extensively and, when the new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50 mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens is attached, this combination delivers an integrated dustproof and splashproof camera system. The electronic viewfinder section of the body is also made of magnesium alloy to ensure durability, and the FL-LM2 E lectronic Flash that ships with the camera features the same dustproof and splashproof construction.

New Lenses and Accessories for Every Shooting Challenge
The HLD-6 Power Battery Grip, in the same dust- and splashproof construction as the Olympus E-M5 body, is an adaptable, two-part grip that can be used either as a landscape grip for easier handling or as a portrait grip with an additional shutter release. The portrait grip accommodates an extra lithium-ion battery to supplement the one in the E-M5, thus extending battery life. The FL-600R electronic flash (GN 50 at ISO 200 or GN 36 at ISO 100) offers improved recharge time and enhanced flexibility and operability for movie recording, and with a wireless control option. Equipped with a built-in LED, the FL-600R can be used to light movies and as a brighter AF auxiliary light. The MMF-3 Four Thirds mount adapter is designed for mounting a Four Thirds Standard-compliant lens on a Micro Four Thirds Standard-compliant camera body. The MMF-3, which also features dust- and splashproof construction, is ideally suited for use with Olympus’ similarly constructed High Grade and Super High Grade lenses.

The Olympus E-M5 is compatible with all Micro Four Thirds-compliant lenses, including two new lenses that Olympus will introduce later this year: the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 and the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm f2.8 macro. The 75mm lens is a high-quality metal design with fast aperture settings for portraits and indoor sports shooting, while the dustproof and splashproof 60mm lens features 1:1 macro and a closest shooting distance of just 7.5 inches.

*1 As of February 2012. Among interchangeable-lens cameras.
*2 As of November 2011. Among interchangeable-lens digital cameras on the market, and using Olympus’ in-house test conditions.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Olympus E-M5 will be available in April and ships in the following configurations:

Estimated Street Price:           
$999.99 (Body only, available in Black and Silver)
$1,299.99 (Black or Silver body with black M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-50 mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens)
$1,099.99 (Black body with black M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42 mm f3.5-5.6 II R lens)
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