(UPDATED with Robin Wong review) New Olympus E-M5 and 12-50mm reviews


UPDATED: Robin Wong posted his first part of the E-M5 review (Click here). He tested the dynamic range, resolution and sharpness of the images and that is what he writes: “I cannot believe what I have just said there !! Olympus camera, ISO6400, with no traces of chroma noise, with non-ugly luminance fine grains only. The first time I saw the images, my eyes almost popped out of the sockets too, I know.” Read his review to check out if that is really true! :)

The polish website M43 (Click here) tested how effective the new image stabilization works. Up to four stops the image stabilization is very effective. Only from the fifth images really can get blurry.
Full size JPEG and RAW image samples can be seen and downloaded at Photographyblog (Click here). Some more images at Yugatech (Click here). And E-M5 image samples of the Auto Geneva show have been posted by Sulanto (Click here).

Also the 12-50mm kit lens has been reviewed at ePhotozine (Click here): “The compact size and excellent splash-proof build are both excellent features of this lens, but I can’t help but feel a slightly larger lens with a maximum aperture of at least f/5.6 at the telephoto setting would be more appealing.
Sigma 30mm f/2.8 EX DN Photos at Photographyblog (Click here).

E-M5 preorders (Click on the names of the stores to see the product page):
Black E-M5 body at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, J&R, Warehouse UK, Redcoon Germany and Amazon Japan.
Silver E-M5 body at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, J&R, Warehouse UK, Redcoon Germany, and Amazon Japan.
Black E-M5 body with 14-42mm lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto and J&R.
Black E-M5 body with 12-50mm lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, J&R, Jessops, Redcoon Deutschland, Amazon UK, Amazon Deutschland and Amazon Japan.
Silver E-M5 body with 12-50mm lens at Amazon, Adorama, BHphoto, J&R, Jessops, Amazon UK, Amazon Deutschland and Amazon Japan.

  • Dongcat

    Fugly camera

    • Bob B.

      Thanks BatDong…..?

      Robin Wong’s Review: Robin..Excellent job of a “users review”. Beautiful images and THANK YOU for avoiding the kit lens and showing us what the camera can REALLY do in the hands of someone with some photographic ability. Nicely done!!!!!!! I am sure that your enthusiasm will enhance the lives of all those who pre-ordered the EM5. LOL.

  • Fish

    Thanks Admin. Good to know that E-M5’s IBIS outperforms lens’ OIS even at telephoto range!! Now my shots from FD 50mm would be less blurry. :D

  • binoyte

    raw examples on photographyblog are just awful !!
    What a chromanoise !

    • Charlie
      • pelex

        Nice one Charlie!

      • The mesh of the speaker really looks great :-)

      • Mr. Reeee


        Oh boy! Yet another mediocre lens from Olympus. Only 2 out of 15 or 20 (12mm and 45mm) are worthwhile? Whatever happened to the Zuiko pedigree?

        • Anonymous

          But… combined with several good ones from panasonic, 20 1.7, 25 1.4, 7-14, 45 2.8 it’s certainly adequate.

        • Justin

          But with at least 4 good to great lenses from panasonic (20 1.7, 25 1.4, 45 2.8, 7-14) and the promise of a few more to come from oly (75 1.8 comes to mind) and panasonic (the always prototypical x zooms 12-35 and 35-100) you have the makings of a pretty decent selection.

        • Its a compromise: its trying to do internal zoom, internal focus, and be compact all at once. Something’s gotta give…

          For a lot of what I enjoy doing, its not a bad lens. Not great, of course, but not bad.

        • Jason

          The 12 is nice, but seems overpriced. I still want it.

        • TomR

          I agree Mr. Reeee
          For me the let down of this camera is the lens. Yes there are other good M4/3 lenses out there, but not one of them is weather sealed. To use a weather sealed body in the weather you need a weather sealed lense to go with it.
          What we need is a 17mm or 25mm weather sealed. Now that woudl make my day! For my use it would also make this twice the camera that it is now.
          Hey, imagine if Panna launches the GH3 with a weather sealed version of the 25/1.4. Wow – that would be a camera!

        • Mr. Reeee Zuiko pedigree is FT lens mainly. :-P

        • Yes , indeed it makes you wonder :)

          Olympus needs a VERY good 2.0 or 2.5/20mm


        • Odd, I didn’t get the impression at all from that ephotozine review that the 12-50mm was just mediocre. It looks decently sharp wide open across the zoom range, has internal focus, good build quality, weather seals, a really good macro mode, and is obviously 24mm equivilent on the wide end (far better than the typical 28mm). Seems like a fine kit lens to me. If that review is accurate then I’ll be perfectly content using it along side my PL 25mm.

          • TomR

            Good point eric. Sounds like a good setup kit lens plus PL25mm. I think I will end up with the same. The main complaint about this end I think is that it is slow (I know there has to be a trade off somewhere), and there are no mor weather sealed lenses. I would have been happier if olympus had announced the camera with a roadmap.

            • Yes roadmap, absolute we need.

    • Think he mean colour noise, by chroma noise.

  • jj

    no shit….comon give me that 11-22mm 2.8-3.5

    • Miroslav


      That would be great.

  • Sonny

    The infamous Robin Wong has finally posted his review on the E-M5 !! And this time there was an accompanying video, which seems like fully shot with the E-M5 by another person.

    • The Real Stig

      Infamous? I didn’t think his photos were that bad.

  • Brian

    Is it me or does the IBIS have a weird effect on the video that’s posted on the review? It looks like the frame takes an intermittent pause every few seconds or so.

    • JimD

      Yes I notices that. Maybe the IBIS locks on and then has to restart over and over due to the constant speed of the transport. Like being in a train and looking at every fourth house and following it with your eyes until it’s just past then going to the next fourth house. Get a sharp effect then a blur, recurring. Might need to find out more about the effect.

    • fgl42

      Where are you seeing a video- on the Polish review? I don’t see a video.

    • fgl42

      I’m impressed with how smooth the video that is shot from the car is in the third link.

    • fgl42

      If you’re talking about the video shot from the car I’m not seeing what you’re describing.

      • JimD

        I can see it quite clearly.

        • ght

          And I can’t.

        • ght

          Strange. I just looked at it on another computer and now see what you’re talking about. I wonder if the problem is with youtube. On my other computer it looks smooth.

        • ght

          My apologies Jim D. On a different computer I can see what you’re talking about I think. Haven’t noticed it in any of the other videos. I suspect it has more to do with youtube but will keep an eye out for it.

    • The Real Stig

      If you read the comments on Robin’s review, someone asked him about this and this was his reply:

      “Yes, the movie was shot with OM-D.
      It has been compressed for upload, and then recompressed by youtube video. The original file was rather smooth.
      There will be a dedicated entry soon about the video recording. Stay tuned !!”

      So it looks like Youtube is likely to blame – no surprise there.

  • JimD

    Why? Oh Why? Do these so called professionals and experts go off half cocked and produce rubbish like this. These shots from photographyblog are on a par with the “bloody” rolls shown at the beginning. Is photographyblog a canon or fuji site hell bent on showing the worst pictures they can. We have seen better and very good from others so its not the E-m5. Must be the bloody mindedness of the “expert” determined to expose the ego to the world, not the ability which is demonstrably lacking.

    • JimD

      And. Yes, I have read Steve Jobs Biography. And. Yes. He was right.

  • Anonymous

    @ Admin Robin just made a review part 1 about OM-D EM-5

  • Anonymous

    Robin Wong just reviewed OM-D EM-5,.check it out guys;http://robinwong.blogspot.com/

    • ght

      Thanks. Can you imagine if Panasonic would license the five axis image stabilization for the upcoming GH3? I’ve seen enough videos to where I’m convinced- this really is remarkable technology. It’s not just hype. As tempting as these new GH2 prices are, I’m going to hold out for a cheaper Olympus model with this stabilization- or wait for the EM-5 prices to come down. I wish Olympus would take video a bit more seriously because this blows away many of those expensive stabilization systems that you have to add on to Canon and Panasonic cameras. Maybe not as good as a steadicam but still impressive.

  • Charlie

    What’s that about Wong?

  • JimD

    Go Robin. Great shots nice to see they got an em5 to you. Now for some real shots with character. Not like some of the non experts that present themselves here occasionally. http://robinwong.blogspot.com/
    I liked Gabrielle Motola’s shots the other day as well.

    • rrr_hhh

      Plus one !

      The shots that got my attention to the E-M5 are first the jpegs test shots of the E-P3 next to the E-M5 : great IQ improvements, then the pictures of Gabrielle Motola, plus those put up at the same time by Quesabesde. And I always appreciate the reviews of Robin Wrong, he is a photo enthousiast and it shows.

  • Wong has a nice review but waiting for dpreview…..

    Examples in the above links are not much useful.

    • JimD

      Why? What does dpreview do for Olympus.
      What is not useful in Robin’s page? Far better than anything dpreview could produce.

      • napalm

        to some here, it’s only good if DPreview or DXO says so… :D

        • Miroslav

          Let’s just say we’re waiting for some website that uses same methods for testing all cameras they review. Not everyone is Robin Wong ( or Steve Huff or Pekka Potka ). Let’s see if we mortals with our simple photo techniques :) can get out of E-M5 more than from E-P3.

          • JimD

            So you need dpreview or some elaborate equipment to tell you if what you see is good or not? wee mortals need more eye view, not graphs and diagrams. Graphs and digrams dont good pictures make.

            • Miroslav

              Put simply: I know high ISO, IS and DR limits of my E-PL1. When dpreview, Imaging resource or DxO compare E-M5 with my camera, I’ll know what I’d be able to do with it in given situations. Cave pictures may be nice, especially if made by Robin Wong, but do not tell me anything about potential benefits I’d have if I upgrade to E-M5 ( I won’t anyway and I’ve explained why several times, but I’m curious to see how much that sensor is better than 12 Mpx one ).

            • Really? From a photographers persepctive (I’m not concerned with video), I’ve seen all I need to see from the E-M5 to know it can handle anything I can throw at it. I’m very very happy I pre-ordered 5 mins after the announcement. These shots by Robin, as well as some others I’ve seen, are all the proof I need that I made the right decision. There is absolutely nothing DPR, and especially DxO can tell me that matters at this point.

              • JimD

                Ahhh! You take photographs! So many just want to hang graphs and charts on the wall and most of the ones seen recently are a real mess.

      • +1

      • rrr_hhh

        DPreview is probably more neutral than Robin Wong. They test all types of cameras, while Robin Wong only tests Olympus gear and always receive the last gear lent to him by Olympus Malesia. This doesn’t take away the interest of his reviews which I appreciate, but you have to know from where he speaks. (I’d add that he is honest about it, he always disclose it before sharing his remarks.

        Still it is fully understandable that many are waiting for the results of DPreview who makes more serious and side by side comparisons. Both types of reviews are interesting, each bring a different perspective and it is good to consider both before buying : one balance the other and you can take what is important for you from each.

        • Yes.

          I read DPR reviews for tech details and potential quirks. They shine in the department.

          But I read reviews like by Robin Wong – for the feeling of the camera.

          DPR reviews try to describe handling/etc, but they try to be overly objective and one can’t describe handling objectively. It is a subjective, personal matter.

          Generally, I try to find a subjective reviewer who shoots similar subjects as I do and imagine myself taking the shots in the review with the camera: that is IMO the closest as one can get to understand a camera without handling it personally. (E.g. to me Robin Wong’s portraiture and candies are the most interesting.)

    • Agree. I think we should wait until dpreview announces their formal, standardized analysis.

      • DonTom

        That’s usually quite a long wait. DPReview rarely get a full review out before the camera is well on the market.

  • The polish stabilizer test is raising the question, what happens with the newer Panasonic lenses that don’t have a OIS switch anymore. Will the OIS allways be ON and thisway ruin the nice stabilization of the 5-axis Olympus stabi?

    • ght

      Well, looks like five axis is much better than mega ois. Too bad he didn’t have a power ois lens.

      • Well, just found a thread at DPreview that says OIS lenses without switch default to OFF on Oly bodies. So there’s no influence to be concerned about.
        I think there’s no Power OIS lens with switch. So no chance to directly test Power OIS against 5-axis IBIS.

    • rrr_hhh

      The Panasonic OIS will always be off. The new IBIS will work as intended, the Polish reviewer confirmed that the E-M5 is reading and using the focal length correctly. So no worries.

      As for the new power OIS, from what has been written they are nor better than the usual mea OIS. It is even creating problems at some shutter speeds.

  • Anu Nyymi

    “no traces of luminance noise, with non-ugly luminance fine grains only”

    That is called (chromatic) noise reduction. Photons always have color.

    If a reviewed doesn’t understand this, what use is he?

    • Sonny

      Anu, I cannot find what you were referring to. He did say it is “chroma noise”, TWICE.

    • Robbie

      Just look at his shots if you see it then it is there
      Why trash what he says LOL

    • JimD

      To whom are you referring in you comment?

    • napalm

      as stated in his blog, it is an enthusiast’s point of view, not a technical review.

      what use is he? he gives us real-life scenarios when reviewing, not controlled studios. that is also important for some of us non-studio shooters.

    • Bob B.

      Anu Nyymi…there is a little bit of a language barrier there with Robin. I do not think that English is his first language, but he does an incredible job of imparting his appraisal of the camera, in spite of that. (I think Robin’s primary language is Visual Communication!!!!! :-))

      • Are you saying that his English is bad?!
        As a Malaysian guy, his native language is obviously not English,
        but I will argue his English is rather excellent!

        The quote from Anu Nyymi above is made from the ingress here at 43rumors.com, which contains an obvious typo, ref. Admin’s correction made from my comment further down-thread…

        • Riley

          his english is way better than my Malay, let me tell you

        • Bob B.

          no…I am not saying Robin’s English is bad. I totally got what he was imparting about chromatic observation. If you read what I said, it was in reference to Anu Nyymi’s comment “If a reviewer doesn’t understand this what use is he?”.
          I was defending Robin’s review and his enthusiasm. YEEEEEEEESHHHHHHH!!

        • American lowbrows have such poor language skills, that they better learn visual communication skills, if their brains can’t reach abstract thought :)

          It’s nice to know that the Empire’s inheritors instead have kept such lovely English.

          Beware when they’ll do their reviews in Mandarin, and you won’t understand a thing :)

          • Bob B.


            • Charlie

              Ahhh, the gentry.

              May I serve you another, master???

  • nobody

    Why does the E-M5 apply so heavy noise reduction even if the noise filter is set to “off”, as can be seen again in Robin Wong’s review?

    I don’t mind if it does so when it’s set to “normal”. But I want to have the option to use less noise reduction, and that seems to be impossible in jpg mode.

    No good decision, Oly :(

    • Balthier Bunansa

      if you read carefully Robin Wong’s review he states that he shot samples in raw and converted them to jpegs in olympus viewer. so samples are not out of camera jpegs.

      • nobody

        Yes, I know, but AFAIK Olympus viewer closely resembles ooc jpgs.

        BTW, the ooc jpgs published by Pekka Potka look just the same.

  • Admin:
    You should correct a typo in the ingress above:

    “…with no traces of luminance noise, with non-ugly luminance fine grains only.”

    Should read:
    “…with no traces of chroma noise, with non-ugly luminance fine grains only.”

    • admin

      Corrected it! Thanks!

  • BLI

    So — (if I upgrade to the E-M5): to include the 12-50 or not?
    * alternative: the 14-54 is also weather sealed, optically better, but more expensive
    * the 12-50 has internal focus and zooming (not the 14-54). Both have some macro capability.

    On the other hand, will I use the 12-50? (I already have the 12/2, the 20/1.7 and the 45/1.8.) My current set is pocketable. The only three advantages I see with the 12-50 (or 14-54) are:
    – One lens to cover the same range, i.e. do not waste time changing lenses. Probably most useful on trips.
    – Get some basic macro capability (I doubt I will buy the 60/2.8 — I’m only occationally attempting macro shots)
    – Weather sealed, so I have no excuse for not taking pictures when it is raining or when it is windy

    Anyone that has experience with the 14-54 on e.g. E-P3? How is the focus speed?

  • At any rate I find Wong’s review excellent. If you look at DPR’s forums some decided to buy the OM-D based on his review.

    Even if I don’t have the money to buy it now, it is clear to me that it is a must have. Two stops less noise is like an order of magnitude less.

    And please note that resolution/sharpness doesn’t take a hit. This must be proof that RAW results won’t be very different, as usually in Oly cameras.

    I might be overenthusiastic but that means that we don’t have to fear the competition of APS anymore, and that cropped sensors are starting to rival old FF cameras.

    • tmrgrs

      Even though my 5D2 is almost sold, I have plenty of RAW files from it so that we can have some nice conversations/disagreements when we both have our E-M5. I hope you’re right about rivaling FF but we’ll have to see about that!

    • Riley

      for some reason we all seem fascinated in what have been previously unworkable ISO’s for 4/3rds, and it should be obvious that RAW is needed there and makes a big difference

  • Cropped sensors won’t rival for image size of course, although the Sony… But they will rival for image quality anyway.

    There have been enough comparisons lately, to think that the concept is crossing the reviewers’ mind.

  • excellent blog from Robin!

  • Berneck Ramolt

    After dpr and dxo results they might get my order

  • The best news for me was the IS test! Being very prone to shaky images the new IS would benefit my photography a lot. I have a Pana OIS lens and can compare.
    The Robin Wong evaluation a) made me want to travel to Malaysia again, b) made want to have a RAW file to work with to see what the best possible is. Actually I have a similarily difficult scene in the mountain just behind the house. – Dark cliffs in the shade and behind strongly lit moutain side. Not 100% sure EM5 is a lot better than G3 in dynamic range.
    The negative was the 12-50 lens test: Another average kit zoom….. As this one has an interesting zoom range and macro it is even more disapointing.

  • Mal

    The guys at m43.eu seem to have done a good job of testing the image stabilisation of the EM5. It clearly outperforms the native OIS on the 14-140 Pana lens.

    What I would question though is the comment that Olympus exagerated the claim of 5 EV. This might be a google transaltion problem, but at 4-4.5ev it is hardly exagerated. And my understanding is that Olympus claim “up to” 5ev, and that may be achievable on other lenses.

    I think what Olympus have done is great, especially the IS on preview, and I look forward to trying it out.

    • OM-4ever

      I was just about to say the same. “Up to (a five stop effectiveness)” would not seem excessive to me as
      as an upper lImit. However, it is reasonable to expect
      a geometric increase in wasted exposures after the

  • longxin

    Redcoon doesn’t work anymore.

    but this is really sweet: http://olympusomd.sales-promotions.com/

  • Nikku

    Really liking Robin’s tests…I especially like the way the EM-5 handles highlights. Much more film like than previous m4/3rds cameras. Still not the dynamic range of Tri-X or Portra, but very useable, with much less clipping.

  • i need a 17/1,8 + 25/1,4 + 45/1,8 with fast AF and ‘good’ manual focus system.

  • awaler

    I find that although Robin’s tests appear to overstrech the acceptable range of noise somehow, they are indicative of the camera’s low light possibilities.
    Given 5axis IS, I’d limit the ISO range to 1600 and be quite satisfied with the results.
    The 45mm 1.8 obviously is a fantastic lens.

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