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August 29, 2013


Spreading the Word About An Industry Overlooked Jewel

I do residential real estate photography and wanted to get into HDR but almost all dSLRs only do auto bracketing of 3 or 5 frames (unless you exceed $1500 for a Canon body) .

The dynamic range of a living room with a wall of bright outdoor light coming through windows just can't be captured with 3 frames - 5 frames many times will fail as well. Result - blown out windows or dark rooms - requiring extensive post editing to salvage the shots.

I wanted 7 frame bracketing even if each frame was only +- 1EV which would offer a 6 EV range. I searched the Internet daily for a month to find any camera I could afford to achieve that goal. Yes, I'm aware you could do two overlapping 3 EV brackets but I don't have time to screw around with something like that when shooting a $3 million home.

Apparently reviewers don't care about extreme bracketing and sometimes don't even mention bracketing at all because they're too busy jabbering on about how good the video output is for two or more pages.

I read somewhere that the Olympus PEN E-PL5 has 7-frame auto-bracketing and I finally found just one reviewer who mentioned that it has a specialized HDR-bracketing function of 7 frames at +- 2EV which is astounding. A 12EV range!!! His snide comment was, "Why would Olympus even bother?" My answer is - For ME and multi-thousands of real estate photographers who do what I do! Yes, 12EV auto-bracketing is excessive for shooting a mountain, rusty old truck, or a collapsing old barn, but it's absolutely perfect for specific fields of work where you need excessive range. Olympus didn't have to add that feature in this price range but they did - while no other manufacturer even tries to serve this market until you get into the big buck models.

I bought the camera this month, bought an inexpensive Olympus .75X converter add-on to take the 14mm end of the kit zoom down to 11mm, and got a remote control from eBay. After getting the three items in last week and reading the full manual (available online and on the CD that comes with the camera) several times (the manual really needs to be re-written), I took my new baby out for some exterior shots when I did a real estate shoot on Saturday. I did the interior with my dSLR. The exteriors were very natural color so I pumped up saturation in post.

Today I got bold and tripod-mounted the Olympus PEN rig on my tripod and shot all of a $500,000 12th-floor condo in 7-frame HDR auto-bracketing using the remote control. I took my dSLR and flashes along and shot the place with it too - just in case.

I found out Saturday that the kit lens is superior to all the Minolta, Sony, and Sigma lenses I have for my Sony dSLR. I found out Sunday when I took the E-PL5 with me to a Chinese Buffet and shot my wife and 3 year old son across the table from me that the image quality of the 4/3 sensor and the pure daylight color of the flash are perfect. Last night I shot head and shoulders of my son for passport pictures and they were so good I had one enlarged to 8X10 today and framed it. This morning I shot 217 frames of 7-frame HDR auto-brackets (31 compositions) with aperture priority mode, in very difficult lighting circumstances at the condo mentioned above, and the results are breath-taking.

Instead of spending six hours trying to fix my flash-based dSLR single frames in post-editing after the shoot, I just put all in one folder on my PC, told Photomatix to bulk "fusion merge" them in groups of 7, and took a nap! When I got up I touched each one up a little and resized them to the size my employer requires, uploaded them, and I'm done!

The E-PL5 is going to save me 3.5 to 4 hours per assignment because now I can just touch up the fusion results instead of doing battle with two software packages until my eyes fall out from staring at the monitor.

The E-PL5 has clearly superior image quality that rivals any crop sensor dSLR output I've seen, so my results are far better.

The E-PL5 is built like a little tank and even the kit lens feels smooth like it's much more expensive than it is. When you push the shutter button you hear a solid and smooth action going on inside that is reminiscent of FAR more expensive German cameras.

This model is worth FAR more than the $599 to me in what I do. It's a steal, top quality, and very versatile for customizing every button and dial by digging down into the menu system. You can shoot P, A, S, or M. Or you can just put it on i-AUTO and let it do everything. It has a pretty extensive "Scene" mode (SCN) that I'm going to dabble with this weekend when I do a family portrait session for a realtor I work with regularly. I'm betting that will be excellent as well.

The only negative is that the E-PL5 is so small that it doesn't look like a camera that a "professional" would use. It looks like a sturdy almost-pocket-sized point & shoot instead of a big hunk of "pro" gear. Sticking a big Guide Number 140 flash in the hot shoe would look absurd so I'd probably put it on an arm attachment instead. That image might bother some shooters but I don't care at all because this is the ultimate camera for my needs. It saved me a ton of money, cut my post editing time by 60%, and that's while it doubled the quality of my real estate work immediately.

If there was a rating of 10, I'd use it!

August 03, 2013



After a TON of research I chose the E-PL5. My criteria limited the options – I wanted a single use compact camera for dive vacations. It had to be small, take exceptional pictures and have interchangeable lenses. No other camera on the market does a very good job covering all of those bases. While I have yet to dive with the camera the land pictures I’ve taken have come out great – there are plenty of lenses to choose from too. I considered the OM-D but the size was a concern. I plan to dump my Nikon DSLR and purchase the OM-D due to my experience with the PL5. I wish the camera came with a view finder – shooting in bright sun is a problem – if you’re not concerned with the size I would recommend going for the OM-D since the price is the same after you purchase the add on view finder for $250. Many reviews point out the documentation for this camera sucks – I found this to be true – there are many references to pages that don’t exist. I would have never expected to purchase an Olympus prior to my research but my criteria dictated the decision without regard to brand preferences. Bottom line – this is an exceptional camera with tons of options in a sexy form factor that takes great pictures.

July 28, 2013


Very good camera

I own both the Epl1 and the Epl5. The 1 is better to hold and feels better in the hand due to the bigger grip and metal body. I wish the 5 had the 1 body and pop-up flash. That said, the 5 is a blast to use. I love the touchscreen focus and shoot via finger tap. The focus speed has to be seen to be believed. Picture quality is superb with the Pany 20mm or Oly 45mm. Color rendition is great. I use the electronic viewfinder so I tend to use the 1 inside at family events where I may need the pop up flash with a Gerry Fong puffer diffuser as I get better results. Outside I use the 5 due to the faster speeds available and way quicker focus and shoot times. I bought this on sale from Olympus for $499 with a case, very small tripod and 4 gb card. Overall I think this is one great camera to own!

July 19, 2013


Excellent Performer

I have used Olympus cameras starting with the E-510, E-3 and E-PL1 and own several lenses. The E-PL5 is a game changer. It has the best image quality of all the Olympus cameras I own. The dynamic range, focusing speed, resolution are all excellent; the size and weight are just perfect, I took me a while before I could fully transition from the "full size" E-3 to the pen series, but today this is the camera I use for all my photography.

July 10, 2013


First olympus

Decided to break away from Nikon and Canon and try the Olympus PenE-PL5 with the kit lens and the 75 to 300 zoom lens.
Was on a boat trip in Northern British Columbia where we were swarmed by bald eagles. Main trouble was panning quickly enough to catch the birds at particular moments of flight with the zoom lens. Very quick to focus and shoot multiple frames.Light weight.Rather small buttons for large male fingers.Sharp and always good exposure in automatic.Will just have to keep practising on those swooping birds and using the touch screen to click.Very satisfied.

June 23, 2013



I am a novice when it comes to cameras, digital or otherwise. All of the other reviews, seemed to be speaking French, at least for a novice, like me. So I decided it would be a good idea for me to write a review from the "novice" perspective.

First of all, there is a website,, that helped me to understand, more clearly, the camera terms that I was running into. With that "under my belt" I was able to move on. Let's face it, if you know what is being said, but don't clearly understand, it is guesswork.

With that said, to the camera. I have had it for a month, and, so far, I love it! I am learning so much. It will do exactly what I want it to do, all by itself, in the iAUTO mode. I enjoy immensely, taking pictures of landscapes, so I am especially fond of it's panoramic feature, in the SCN mode. I am just beginning, but this camera seems to have all of the features that I will ever need. One more thing, I love the ability to change lenses. Obviously, it makes the ,camera more versatile. If I should "run into something" I wish to do in the future, I have no concerns, at least not yet!

Happy Shooting!

June 05, 2013


Wow, something special.

Picked up this little beauty over the weekend and have had a chance to work with it. (FYI, I typically shoot Nikon D600, D3200. Formerly shot OM-1 and OM-2 with film.)
This is mostly a replacement for a Canon point and shoot (SX260) that has developed dust motes on the sensor and isn't user cleanable. This should not be a problem with the E-PL5 using a dedicated sensor brush.

So far it has exceeded my expectations. The image quality is very good (14-42 lens) in RAW, and the touchscreen makes it easy to operate. There really is nothing I am missing in comparison with the Nikon, except for the viewfinder, but the articulating screen makes up for it.

The size is small enough to easily carry (although I wish it would fit in a pocket). I'm looking forward to attaching some of my old Olympus equipment (Zuiko lenses and bellows). I have an adapter for my older Nikon equipment that will let me reach out an effective focal length of 600 mm (f 5.6). I'll need to worry about the connection but it manual focuses and auto exposes nicely using the aperture setting.

And of course it feels much like my old OM-1 and OM-2 which were something special. I have been very pleased with the E-PL5 to date. Small, great image quality and a bargain.

June 04, 2013


Excellent Stills. Ok Movies.

As a stills camera, this camera is fantastic. As for video, I don't know why Olympus refuses to include 24p or a greater-than 20Mbps bit-rate on the E-PL5, OM-D, or even the upcoming E-P5.

May 11, 2013


Compact OM-D on a budget

Superb camera in a compact package. Does most of what the OM-D does, just in a much more compact and less expensive package.

Here is what's missing compared to the OM-D: built-in viewfinder, weather sealing, and IBIS. Still does IS. However, the camera has the same excellent sensor as the OM-D.

I use it with the larger grip and the VF-2. Wonderful for low angle photography.

Fantastic bargain!

April 10, 2013


just how cool this camera is

The E-PL5 is truly a contender with a know out ability to capture a moment as you travel. No one notices the camera. BUt with the right Lens from Olympus like the 35mm f 1.8. You can go into the low light an bright light realm and shoot quicker and bag more frames than someone with a big full frame. I just got back from Holy Week in Antigua Guatemala .

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