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Chasseur d’images says the E-M5 is best m43 ever (and Olympus sound noise response).


Olympus E-M5 with the Sonnetar prototype lens (that will  not go into final mass production).

Sound Noise
In these days our readers will hopefully receive their E-M5. But the first thing you will notice once you unpack the camera is the Sound Noise you hear when you turn on the camera. It’s pretty annoying but on the good side you here it in a silent ambient only and it gets away during video recording. Olympus issued that official response to explain the Sound Noise you hear on the E-M5: “You are hearing the new 5 axis Image Stabilization system. It uses a type of Magnetic field to keep the sensor assembly suspended so you will even hear it if the IS system is disabled.
My very basic question is. How is it possible that you don’t hear the noise while recording movies? I mean it’s not that it stops working …so would it not be possible to turn the noise off while shooting photos? Hmmmm.

E-M5 review
Our reader “RRR-HHH”(funny name) summarized the E-M5 review from the latest Chasseur d’images magazine: “they are absolutely in love with it. They were sincerely bluffed by the IQ, appreciated the handling, the honorable VF, the good stabilization, the reactivity, the lightness, the manufactured quality of the body and the large choice of lenses.”

What they don’t like :

  • the lack of an external plug for the mic (sema 1 prevents blocks the hotshoe);
  • and the lack of GPS.

What the E-M5 does well :

  • images : exceptional IQ up to 800 ISO, very good IQ at 1600 ISO.
  • stabilization : you gain 5 stops (sic ? I’m not sure they tested that) and it is also good for video
  • monitor : big touch LCD, flipping and offering clean and good readability, completed by a VF,
  • very nice well finished and weather sealed body.
  • full HD video of promising quality, with continuous and fast AF
  • very large choice of lenses.


Thanks for the translation!

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Silver E-M5 body at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here), J&R (Click here), Henrys (Click here).
Black E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here), J&R (Click here), Henrys (Click here).
Silver E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here), J&R (Click here), Henrys (Click here).
Black E-M5 with 14-45mm lens at Amazon (Click here), Adorama (Click here), Bhphoto (Click here), J&R (Click here), Henrys (Click here).

Black E-M5 body at Amazon DE (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here), Jessops (Click here) and Warehouseexpress (Click here).
Silver E-M5 body at Amazon DE (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here), Jessops (Click here) and Warehouseexpress (Click here).
Black E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Amazon DE (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here), Jessops (Click here), eBay (Click here) and Warehouseexpress (Click here).
Silver E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Amazon DE (Click here), Amazon UK (Click here), Jessops (Click here), eBay (Click here) and Warehouseexpress (Click here).

Black E-M5 body at Digitalrev (Click here).
Silver E-M5 body at Amazon JP (Click here).
Black E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Digitalrev (Click here) and Amazon JP (Click here).
Silver E-M5 with 12-50mm lens at Amazon JP (Click here).
Black E-M5 with 14-45mm lens at Digitalrev (Click here) and Amazon JP (Click here).

  • noise guy

    they need to give us an option to use the video ibis for stills.

    • Achiinto

      I would less concern about the noise than worrying how the camera will behave when shooting photos in area with strong magnetic field.

      As for the sound, I think it will be gone in E-M7, just like how the E-3 IS cracking noise as shut down is gone in E-p1.

      • narutogrey

        Strong magnetic fields will induce electric fields, and that will affect your camera’s sensitive electronics (such as any component from the image sensor to the processor) way before magnetic fields will affect something like olympus’s IBIS magnetic field, which is a balanced type.

        In fact, Olympus’s magnetic IBIS is more protected from magnetic fields than the tradtional IBIS in the PEN’s because the PEN’s rely on electronic feedback for adjusting the position of the sensor. Whereas the E-M5 IBIS relies on change in magnetic field WITHIN the sensor space, which means external magnetic fields do not affect the change in magnetic fields within a known space.

  • Ross

    Anybody that keeps banging on about not being able to turn the noise OFF hasn’t a brain. Turn it off & the sensor drops to the bottom, side or whatever. If we want a decent IS system, then get over the slight sound it makes that gives us the great performance of IS that it is capable of. If you want the sensor to move enough to compensate for all the movements, then a mechanical lock is not going to do it when turned OFF & that is why they use the method they do.

    • Fan

      The point is that during video shooting, it is quieter. So why not make the quiet mode optional for constant operation. Maybe the quiet mode uses more energy?

      • Xzei

        The reason is very simple, many morons will switch and then complain that the IBIS does not give them the performance they expected because of the reviews. It is essentially the same reason other big electronic companies do this as well.

        • Ross

          Unfortunately, it has to be ‘fool proof’. ;)

    • scooby70

      “Anybody that keeps banging on about not being able to turn the noise OFF hasn’t a brain.”

      I wouldn’t normally respond to drivel like this but I just wanted to say how annoying I find this type of post.

      Please realise that other people may have different view. You may not agree or even see a reason for the view but that doesn’t give you the right to assume that you are the ultimate judge and that anyone taking a different view doesn’t have a brain. :(

      • tmrgrs

        Ross is actually correct. The system for stabilization is what it is. Turning it completely off would let the sensor flop around inside the IBIS mechanism and make the camera inoperable. It’s also more than a little frustrating to see admin characterizing this humming sound as being annoying when the overwhelming majority of actual users are saying that it’s not a problem at all.

        • Liitle Jerk Kid

          >>“Anybody that keeps banging on about not being able to turn the noise OFF hasn’t a brain.”

          I wouldn’t normally respond to drivel like this but I just wanted to say how annoying I find this type of post.<<


          • inorog


      • Ross

        Sorry, my wife tells me the same too. I know I’m not always right or perfect & my tone could have been less insulting to make my point.

        • Geoff

          What gets me about this noise thread, is that most of those writing about might not even have noticed it had it not been brought to their attention, it is such an unobtrusive noise that it would not be heard other than in a very quiet environment.

          • Anonymous

            I think it’s good that the “issue” is raised and then discussed accordingly. At least now that we know about it, we can look out for it when testing the camera, and judge for ourselves if it is acceptable. Better to know beforehand than to find out a month later.

  • Yun

    This EM5 enjoy much reviews than any other m4/3 cameras . I would like to see it compare with GX1 in raw images . Knowing EM5 should beat GX but by what margin ? I guess it will not by huge margin .

  • Farrukh

    “the lack of an external plug for the mic (sema 1 prevents blocks the hotshoe)”

    This is my same concern, there needs to be another external socket for a microphone, and preferably, the camera should come with a built-in wi-fi other support for a wireless microphone with a 10-15m range. This would really set the OMD apart from other cameras, especially as so many MFT lens are being optimised for video!

  • Andi

    “It’s pretty annoying ”

    Acutally it is not!
    It’s just there, but not annoying:)

    • GreyOwl

      I agree, the sound is there but is soon not noticed and forgotten about after a short time. Not a problem to waste time worrying about IMHO.

      • spam

        Agree, I forget about it after a couple of minutes and if it’s any background noise at all then you simply can’t hear it.

  • Geoff

    It’s just a great camera ruined by the ability to make movies.

    • Ross

      I wouldn’t call it ruined, but necessary to satisfy the market. A camera with video now just wouldn’t be accepted by many as it is expected now.

      • Ross

        That should read without video, not with.

        • Geoff

          I just don’t find using a conventional camera suitable for shooting video, I feel there is a major difference in the way we hold a camera for shooting video as to shooting stills. The only way I find video comfortable with a conventional style is when mounted on a tripod, for video shooting I prefer using the upright way of holding a camera. Not explained very clearly but I trust you understand what I mean.

          However it will not prevent me getting one when I am able. It is a superb tool.

          • SUDRK

            “I don’t find using a conventional camera suitable for shooting video.”
            Good for you, don’t.

            “It’s just a great camera ruined by the ability to make movies.”
            How does the addition of video recording hamper your picture taking experience in the slightest? Oh yeah – it doesn’t.

    • Spunjji


    • BLI

      It is not quite clear what you mean: do you mean (1) that a camera should not have video capabilities, and thus by including it, this ruins the camera??, or do you mean (2) that the camera should have video capabilities, but that the capabilities of the E-M5 suck??

      If (1), I disagree. For me, including video is useful — I will never engage much in video making, at least right now I feel like that. I don’t have the patience to do the necessary editing, and I have other interests/things to do, too. But I will occations make a video to capture moments in a way stills can’t do. If (2), well there hasn’t really been any reviews of this yet. Yes, you can say a bit from specifications. But I think a real review of the video capabilities is needed to make a final judgement. And I’m pretty sure that the E-M5 will be a very good video camera for 95% of potential buyers.

      • Thats exactly my thought here.

        Sometimes, its hard to put things into perspective, you read some of the comments from the videographers and anything less than what they want by a hair splitting margin literally sucks. When you don’t understand the jargon involved, its unsettling, but then, how many still photographers commits the same sins?

        Fact is, for the very occasional video users, 720p, kit lenses, a tripod and maybe a constant light kit and a separate sound recorder is most they will ever need. I want to learn more, right now my unhacked GH2 is overkill for me as far as video is concerned.

    • Dave

      I disagree, and I used to be in your camp.

      Took my EPL-1 with collapsible kit lens on vacation last week. I took a lot of photos, but also took some video clips as well. Some very meaningful video clips of my 10 year old enjoying Disney. I am convinced now that the option to have video is indispensable in a camera I choose to buy today.

  • David

    I wonder if this will persist in the new pen if they put the IS in. Plus on a side note, I think olympus should make a newer vf1; one that has lines for 35mm and 50mm. Cause I just like the optical feel over the evf

  • Jacques

    and the end of the review: It’s too expensive!
    Don’t forget this

    • Achiinto

      Is it too expensive? Maybe you will have to wait for the E-M50 or wait a few years for this to drop price.

    • rrr_hhh

      No ! This is not what they say; they write “a little expensive” which is not the same at all.
      I had missed that comment, which is added at the end of the spec list only. Also, if it was a serious drawback, aka if they thought the value/price relationship was wrong, they would have added it to the list of things they don’t like.

  • The E-M5 “hum” is one of those traits that quickly become hyperbolic. It may be annoying, but you will not know for sure until you experience it yourself. My own gut feeling is that the IDEA of unresolvable imperfection is more annoying to many than flaws per se, whatever they might be. In a situation where image quality is already way beyond the practical needs of most consumers cameras are expected to have no side issues, even if those issues do not hinder the intended purpose of the tool whatsoever. Actually, the complaints about the hum are not different from concerns regarding mismatching lens and body colours. In both cases the experience of making photographs as well as the results obtained remains unaffected (unless this sound scares off your subject matter).

    • GreyOwl

      Well said.

    • The sound is not going to scare off your subject, unless your subject is a really nervous bat.

    • +1

      • bli

        Or: maybe it sounds like a mating signal to bats :-)

        • Achiinto

          That is good, which mean the bats won’t fly right into your face in the cave.

          • BLI

            Ah, those blood suckers!

  • GH1 Owner

    It is great to hear that they said “very large choice of lenses.”. I bought my GH1 when it first came out in 2009 in Japan. As I was a real novice in photography, I thought my 14-140mm lens was all I needed as it covers a wide range of focal length. Looking back, it was a risky thing to buy a m43 but now I am glad that I made the purchase. I now have 20mm 1.7, 45mm 1.8, 25mm 0.95, 7-14mm 4.0 and CV 40mm 1.4. Right now, I hope they stop producing cool lenses as I will go broke ;)

    • LOL – story of my life too (except with GF-1).

  • Spunjji

    Very well said, good sir.

  • I got my E-M5 for two days now. These are my first impressions:

    • admin

      Will link to it within my next E-m5 post :)

      • Charlie

        Battery life sucks? Haven’t heard that up to now … ?

      • jim

        @ Admin

        “How is it possible that you don’t hear the noise while recording movies?”

        Its a known frequency and level – you could just subtract the sound from any recoding – i.e. filter out the sound as it is predictable…

    • Thank Tobias, nice review.

    • Thanks Tobias,
      I have written on several posts that when Oly does make a pro version of m43, it is going to be bigger than the EM5. I think that people see the m43 range as small, but to offer a pro version, it has to get bigger, not a lot bigger but possibly bigger than a lot of people have in mind, maybe between the E5 and the EM5. (think em5 with grip + a bit).
      Practical requirements will determine the size not wishful thinking. Much of what you say in your impressions is why we will not see a small pro m43. More functionality requires more space, more electronics/memory, more buttons and the space round them to perform the I/O of the additional functions. I would like to see 2 versions, an equivalent of the E5 and another lesser version similar to the E30/620 for those of us who do not have a private bank. Oh and cdaf with phase detect for my 12-60.

  • ArtP

    Hum? What hum? Tried one out in the store yesterday… didn’t here any hum, but then it wasn’t absolutely quiet in there.

  • jyzer

    About your complaint about battery life: capacity probably increases a lot while loading and unloading a few times

    • BLI

      Loading? Loading what? Or charging (the battery)??

      • Achiinto

        Loading film…. Lol

      • In several countries, the word used for charging a battery is similar to the word used for “loading”. Please let us not ridicule people who would like to contribute but do not have English as their first language. Thanks.

        • BLI

          You are mistaken! I did not ridicule anyone! I am perfectly aware of that the English verb “to charge” is e.g “zu laden” in German, and similar in other Germanistic languages! That is why I suggested jyzer meant “charge”!! But it is perfectly possible that he/she instead meant e.g unload pictures from the camera via the USB port, isn’t it?

        • BLI

          Let me also say that if jyzer meant charging the battery, that is a valid point: normally the remaining charge estimate needs some history/experience to get a better estimate. (And as I indicated: if the camera can charge while connected to a computer via the USB port, that is of course interesting, too.)

  • Victor

    3 GBytes of pictures, that alot. 187 shots in half a day, 5 boxes of film. On only one charged battery, it took me a week to do 500 shots. I was on the Disney Wonder March 2011 with my E-410. I guess a farmers market is better place to take picture. Thank you for the review.

    • I shot both RAW and JPG, so the number of shots is rather small compared to what I can get out of a battery charge in my E-5. Without a doubt in my mind, the GF1 has better battery life. Shooting both RAW and JPG I can fill a 4GB card no problems at all. ;)

    • removed

  • metalaryeh

    Humming sound?
    For 5 stops of IBIS I wouldn’t mind.
    A fast lens + 5 stops of stabilization would be pretty awesome for low light.

  • Camaman

    Can someone please explain to me how can a small electromagnet(s) make an audible sound…
    How does el. current passing through a coil make a humming/swooshing noise?

    • Geoff

      An electrical current running through a coil will always produce a hum, it’s the very basis of audio reproduction, almost all loudspeakers use a coil and magnet to create sound. Another interesting point though digressing from the thread is the Sigma lens where it seems to me that the focusing element are floating in a magnetic field, hence the rattle noted by some when it is unmounted or switched off, as the elements must be free to move.

      • Atle

        Thats not the basis of audio reproduction. The eventual hum of current through the coil is just a side effect, at loudspeaker will work just as well without the hum, (even better), the coil setup is to move the element, nothing more nothing less, its the movement of the element that makes the sound, the eventual hum is not needed, its a side effect.

        • bli

          The basis of audioproduction is to use some technique (e.g electromagnet) to move “something” so that air is set in motion and creates pressure variations that can be detected by the ears.
          The hum is definitely caused by something constantly moving, and within an audible frequency.

  • Have you all seen this and is the site reliable?

    From the look of these samples comparing the E-M5 and the GH2 stills, the E-m5 images are not as detailed as the GH2. However, some might find the E-m5 images preferable.

    • Geoff

      Four Thirds User is a very reputable forum and can be trusted.

      • Not after different tests I’ve seen there.

    • Agent00soul

      They were taken with different lenses and I think the E-M5 wasn’t even focused exactly on the micrometer scale.

    • Pointless test, with different lenses…..
      Dpreview test says it all, a great camera ;-)

  • dau

    the more i look at the black version of this camera, the more i feel its just ugly and a little strange looking. much prefer the pen and GX1 design..
    anyone else agree?

    • bli

      Not me. I think it looks elegant even with silver lenses — like grey hair against a black shirt :-).
      Another decisive factor: does the black or the silver model give a better grip? Some say the silver. But is the “cost” of more friction that it more easily collects dirt?

    • And, I don’t like the colour of your car it makes it look all short and dumpy!!!!!!

    • The Real Stig


  • bli

    “Best m43 ever”… I sure do hope so! Being Oly’s top model, and competing against a one year old top model from Pana — anything else would have been a disaster.
    I enjoy more reports that the image quality is similar to the NEX-7, the D7000, and even trailing that of the 5D MkII, and German magazines claiming a DR of 11.3. Although the X-Pro1 appears to be the class leader, the point is that the E-M5 is not much poorer than the best APS-C and even FF cameras, and will be a super alternative for all except the most demanding users.
    And I do expect (and hope) for Panasonic to strike back — this competition is good for us, the buyers :-).

  • Dear friends,

    I know it’s a bit OFF but I need your help!

    I’ve just bought a Pana 45-200 second hand, but the seller said the lens was new, or at least “like new”.

    My big problem is that I feel the focusing to be much louder than I’ve got used from my 14-42. The focusing speed also seems to be greatly inferior to 14-42, at least two times less, even at wide end (45 mm).

    I’m not sure whether the above are normal or not, but as I understand this lens has to be virtually silent and even faster than 14-42, at least on wide end.

    Would somebody give me an opinion whether my lens is OK or not? I’ve tried the lens using my G3 (firmware 1.2) and the lens also has the latest firmware (1.3).

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Freddy

      Do you have a local shop were you will be able to compare to a demo lens?
      I think is supposed to be faster an silent.
      Panasonic is big on video, so silent is a must on their lenses….
      I would send it back.

      • I also think this would be the right way. Thanks.

  • John

    Dear admin please please please kill the lifort spam account!!. The prom dresses are bad enoungh but in th espace of half an hour 297 lifort post have come in making you feed virtually useless. Perhaps its time to change how people post and become members, maybe implement captcha to prevent bots posting like mad.

  • I have found that I got used to the whirring noise fairly quickly. What has been harder to get used to is the heat: the EM5 gets noticeably warm during use. It’s not painful, but it’s annoying. Of course, during the winter this probably will make it my favorite camera!

    • Agent00soul

      The Pens get hot too. I sometimes copy old newspapers (page by page) in libraries. This heats up the E-P1 considerably.

      • So, the library doesn’t have a scanner?

        • scanning takes much much longer per page though…

          • agent00soul

            They might have an A4 scanner bur certainly not one that can take the traditional daily paper format.
            And as Ulli mentions, scanning is much slower. The E-P1 can copy an entire page at a time.

  • Ron

    Hi all. I have the chance to get an OM-D from Japan. Anybody knows if the Japanese version has full language selection and an international warranty card? Cheers. Ron

    • Rob

      Hi Ron – yes it does. You’ll still struggle to find one available in the shop though if that’s what you’re thinking of doing.

  • Sven

    I own an EM 5 since thursday.. Lucky me , he he.. You can hear the Ibis – If u really focus on it. I have to say its not anoying at all . Don’t Event worry about it. This little cam ist awesome. Thanks a bunch Oly .

  • Marilyn

    Admin digital rev just reviewed low noise of omd em5, nex7, fuji

  • nicwalmsley

    Would like to hear from someone technical, could they make the body more sound proof, to dampen the hum?

  • Has anyone given any thoughts to the mechanic issued that my come up with such a complex IS mechanism?
    Has anyone seen this?

    I was actually thinking about getting this camera but with that noise issue, this video and understanding how the mechanism works (sort of) I think I’ll pass….

    I’m still waiting for a worthy upgrade for my GF-1….

    • Ouch. Mine doesn’t do that. That camera clearly is damaged.

      And about the noise? Don’t worry about it, when shooting it’s irrelevant.

    • Ross

      Sometimes a fault may arise in someones camera & this is one of them. It is just a case of (unfortunately) having to return it for repair or replacement.

    • That’s why there is a warranty, things do go wrong, I think they have found 3 + 2 possible with the problem so far, a very low % of sales.

  • Roland

    Why are people making a big fuzz about the noise, you have it in any in camera image stabilisers in E3, E30, Sony Alpha’s. Why is it such a fuzz ? If it’s working good for stabiliser then I don’t mind having a little bit of noise ^^

    • I think, about 99,9% of the people complaing about the noise never had an E-M5 in their hands ;-) In my prefered foto forum no one with an E-M5 not even wrote about the noise, so it doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. Just another internet thing ;-)

  • Gerbo

    Have you seen this review?
    Fuji X-Pro1 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Oly OM-D E-M5 – Low Light Test

  • Steve

    People really find that hum objectionable? I mean, I suppose you can hear it, but I have been using the camera for close to a month now and rarely have I noticed the noise and never have I been bothered by it.

  • I can’t understand why they see the lack of GPS as a problem. If it was built in (and switched on) then it would simply be a waste of battery power especially indoors where the GPS could be continually searching for satellites. (The same goes for the idea of using Android as a camera OS … its not needed. And just thinking about it, how much power would be lost rebooting the camera after changing the battery?)

    • rrr_hhh

      Apparently you are rarely travelling !
      The only thing needed s an on/off switch. They already have that for the Eye-Fi card. It could also come in the form of an accessory, but Wifi instead of bluetooth.

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