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(UPDATED with Popphoto review) Olympus E-5 DxOmark results


I am convinced that following DxOmark test results will start a heavy discussion on 43rumors! A week ago the DxOmark test came to the conclusion that the “old” GH1 sensor is better than the new GH2 sensor. Yesterday DxO posted the E-5 sensor results: The E-5 sensor is almost equal in performance with the older E-3 sensor! DxO doesn’t take into account the imaging processor. Probably all improvements on new cameras are archived with the use of new processors and algorithms.

UPDATE: Popphoto posted a new E-5 review: “For DSLRs in this price bracket, if you’re looking for a powerful imaging tool with rugged construction and a lot of versatility, the Olympus E-5 may be your match.“.

What do you think about those results?

Olympus E-5 direct shop links:
Amazon US, BHphoto, Adorama, Amazon Deutschland and eBay.

  • Brod1er

    Admin duck now!!! I am heading for the bunker…..

    • admin

      I am hiding…you can’t see me…you can’t find me :)

  • this sux

  • Another nail in the E5’s enormous (weatherproof) coffin.

  • juavel

    Well, it´s obvious that if it is a RAW sensor test and the sensor is the same as in the E30 and E620 and EPL the results can´t be so different.

    What I don´t like is the degree of bullshit that the ISO is achieving, look at the real vs manufacture ISO comparing with the E3 and you will see that each ISO is labeled 1 step forward, so ISO 200 is a real ISO 118, ISO 400 a real 237 and so on, of course when comparing with the E3 in JPG there is a bit more than a ISO stop advantage, one ISO stop is bullshit and the other a NR software filter, but in RAW with no filter and taking exposure time and aperture into account the differences are marginal, actually Dxo claims that the E3 is better.

    This is good news for JPG shooters like reporters or sports shooters which don´t have so much time for editing, and good for a RAW shooter to have extra sharpness to play with zone noise filtering, but so much people considers this as not good enough.

    So confirmation of what the critical user already knew, is same sensor with antialiasing filter mostly removed to be able yo apply a very aggressive and smart software filtering, a tending to null R&D investment on the camera at a premium price with marginal gains from the sensor point of view, better screen and worse buffer speed, I would never buy it having a working E3.

  • Voldenuit

    Is anyone seriously surprised? Compare the E-5 to m43 cameras using the same sensor (G1, G2, GF1) and the results are almost identical in every parameter. Same sensor, similar results. Why so hard to understand?

    Every time anyone even suggests this here, rabid fans shout them down, but the objective testing bears out the observations that many have already made from the sample images posted online.

    No doubt the E-5 can produce cleaner pictures than a consumer m43 camera, but this comes from onboard post-processing (Oly’s press statements tacitly admit this). It’s clear that Oly is being held back by the 2 year old Panasonic sensor.

    Compared to a 5D MkII, the E-5 (and m43 cameras) are two stops behind at high ISO. And the 5D Mk II is over two years old now, so I expect its replacement to widen the gap further.

    I shoot micro four thirds for the compactness and acceptable quality and the unmatched (in APS-C land) video capabilities. It’s good enough for my purposes that I retired my Canon APS-C DSLR and L lenses. But I don’t shoot professionally – if I did, I probably wouldn’t find it (micro four thirds) acceptable to me or my clients.

  • zigi_S

    If the test does not tell you about the IQ you are getting out of the camera, what revelance does such test have? And I don’t agree that RAW equals RAW. What about low pass filter and the array of pixels? What about color characteristics? And what about onsensor noise reduction?

    • Voldenuit

      It still tells you gross characteristics of the sensor. Granted, it doesn’t tell you *everything* about the sensor, so it would be a mistake to use it as the sole discriminator of camera performance, but it would be equally wayward to dismiss it on that basis.

      The big review sites don’t isolate the sensor like dxomark does, so their resolution and IQ tests will help fill in the pieces of the puzzle. Of which dxomark is but one part.

    • Zonkie

      >If the test does not tell you about the IQ you are getting out of the camera, what revelance does such test have?

      It tells you about the RAW image quality only. RAW shooters sure care about it. JPG shooters probably won’t care as much, though there’s just that you can do in image processing to improve the sensor’s signal.

      >And I don’t agree that RAW equals RAW. What about low pass filter and the array of pixels?

      Yes, the weak low pass filter gives much more detail. Resolution is much improved, pity DxOmark doesn’t measure this.

      >What about color characteristics?

      Those are in the JPG engine. The RAW data is the same. Examine the RAW samples at

      >And what about onsensor noise reduction?

      There isn’t, thank God. It would be a pity if Oly would start giving half cooked RAW (but DxOmark would warn about it, as they do with Pentax et. al).

  • P_Ohf

    What you can see again very well in the DxO test is that Olympus lowered the true ISO values (compared to the E-3 which has true values) which is a kind of a cheat. I’m glad DxO is the only testing lab that’s doing it. What I don’t understand is why they don’t measure resolution at all. Noise measurement should be done with regard to the outcoming resolution otherwise it doesn’t make sense.

    • Zonkie

      I wish DxOmark would explain better what this “real” ISO means. However, it is not exactly what you think it is.

      When you shoot at a given ISO speed (and same lens aperture) all cameras will expose equally to achieve the same brightness. So no one’s really cheating (unless the announced shutter speed is false).

      It’s just that different manufacturers use different “tricks” to achieve best results. Olympus, for example, is lately underexposing (except at ISO 100) and then bringing up the brightness to achieve better dynamic range. For example, when you shoot both ISO 100 and 200 the camera is using the same “real” ISO speed (about ISO 125) but exposing twice longer the ISO 100 shot. In the end, both shots are equally bright, but the ISO 100 might have burned out highlights, while the ISO 200 will have more noise. They are different options, different trade offs, but not cheating.

      • P_Ohf

        Now I understand. For the “SNR 18%” diagram that means they don’t let the RAW converter raise the exposure afterwards and therefore measure better noise level (because of the too dark photo) but then shift the values to the left according the “measured ISO”.

  • napalm

    what’s surprising about this? Olympus already mentioned a couple of times that it is the TruePic V+ processor that is making the difference

    Since E-5 uses the E-PL1 sensor, the unprocessed results will definitely be similar

  • So perhaps GH1’s sensor is better then GH2 after all…

    • Boris

      I don’t know about the sensor, but images I prefer are from GH2, and that is what counts in my book, sorry.

      • I hope ur right,
        did u have the chance to compare then side by side?

        • Boris

          No, not a chance to get GH2 here in Russia till the next year. I have looked through as many pictures by GH2 as I can get, and they look special for me, the word “creamy” would come to mind. Like these on a German site (clickable)

          • the creamy photos are due to the 25mm/f0.95 Voigtländer lens, more then due to gh2

    • Voldenuit

      If you’re buying a GH1 or GH2, then video should be a big factor, and the GH2 wins that match handily, even against the GH13.

      If you’re not interested in video, you’re paying a price premium for minimal gain (higher resolution, multi-aspect sensor, EVF) over a G1/G2 or GF1/GF2. Also, the GH1 sensor is notorious for banding at high ISO. It’s said to be better on more recent models, but those also have the locked firmware.

      Also, Dxomark doesn’t tell you if there have been IQ gains in areas they don’t measure – resolution/detail, colour rendering, artefacts (like banding) etc.

      • In photography dep there is 2 stop gain over GF1/2 G1/2 Gain + better EVF + 60FPS AF (twice as fast) + multi aspect sensor + no banding + faster burst mode, are enough of an upgrade even w/o the video capabilities

  • 43 photo

    I think all people who actually bought the E5 are very happy and say it is much better than E3. DXO measures only a very small part of the IQ chain. This does not make sense. We are not going to test a ferrari-preformance on its engine noise only. You have to judge the whole chain which determines performance.

    I think other sites judging performance on actual usage and IQ tests do a much beter job here.

  • scott

    I have both the E5 and E3. The E5 is a great improvement. The end result is the E5 IQ is as good as the 7d and only one stop worse than the 5dmll. Wonder why they cant get better results if their sensors are so much better? I think you have to judge the camera with lens and I am sick and tired of everybody testing the E5 with the 12-60. Yes its a good lens but it doesnt come close to the quality of the 14-35

    • Voldenuit

      The 14-35/2 is over $2k, whereas the 12-60 can be had as a kit with the body (which is probably how most smaller review sites get their sample).

      I like that DPR uses the Zuiko D 50/2 macro for the studio and resolution tests on the 4/3 and m43 bodies, because that is arguably the sharpest lens on the format. But it’s probably not the best lens to test the camera as an all-around system in (for instance, the slow AF speed of the lens would mask the AF performance of the camera, and it’s not useful for landscape photography and/or metering tests due to its narrow FOV). The 12-60 should be a decent lens to test the camera out with, and outside of resolution, it won’t matter what lens is used (eg noise/ISO tests, JPEG engine, metering).

    • I agree, DPR does use the 50mm as @Voldenuit said which is good, but they havent reviewed the 14-35 or 35-100 which are 2 of the best lenses on the (m)43 system

      Even when they do the 70-200mm round up they exclude the 35-100mm

      Maybe because they don’t want it to look bad since no 43 camera had a sensor that would show these lenses potential, but with the GH2 and E5 they shouldn’t have much excuses now not to review these great SHG lenses from OLY

      maybe oly wanted them to hold on it until or E5, or maybe they even still want to hold until this rumored 14mp sensor from panny

      they do get inside info from these companies ahead of time

      Who knows, but as good as the 12-60 is the 14-35 is better and the 50mm is maybe better then both so until we know, 50mm should be used for IQ like Voldenuit said

  • cocute

    E-5 is only for Olympus freaks.
    Sensor of E-5 is prehistoric, all camera models evolve its sensors less olympus.
    i’m wait new year new decent sensor in new bodys or i rebranding.

    • napalm

      your first 2 sentences already nullifies your intent on staying. no need to wait, rebrand asap. bye!

    • zigi_S

      A lot of new sensors can’t hold a candle to E-5 detail capture. But you probably like blury overcooked smeared pictures that’s why you bought a sony p&s camera.

    • Michael

      Changing camera brand is pointless. Better change the photographer.

    • cL

      Interesting labels you used there…. People who use Olympus are freaks eh? Then what kind of freak are you? :-D

      Sensor in E-5 is the same as E-PL1, which is less than one year old. If that’s prehistoric, what age are you from? ;-D

      I can’t wait for you to “rebrand.” Your attitude certainly need a makeover. :-D

      Okay, too much fun, back to work.

  • kenB

    If you own Oly lens then the E5 is the only choice for upgrade, I went micro 4/3 same sensor and one version below E5 processing engine. If you are not happy with your IQ then get something else.

    Oly owners will love their E5, if the competition cant handle that then unlucky.

    If you have to wait for the decent sensor to be released, for what say better IQ, better ISO, more DR, poor photos are from poor photographers not equipment. If you dont have the skills and need all the help you can get then you might as well go and rebrand.

    Cameras and lenes are tools, some people have the skills to use them and some just dont.

    • Vlad

      “If you have to wait for the decent sensor to be released, for what say better IQ, better ISO, more DR, poor photos are from poor photographers not equipment.”

      Hm, Why do they even make pro models? Or DSLRs? Let’s just by P&S and make great photos!

  • KJS

    Tests are tests… how many people are going to set up their subjects with perfect lighting and take the shots with multiple cameras? :) :) IMO test really only give you a marker of where a camera rates in comparison of others, they don’t tell you how a camera is going to perform in real world situations. If you’re using these rusults to decide what camera you’re going to buy, are you really a photographer, or a tech geek? Real world reviews like Robin Wong are the way to go, use those to decide :) From my experience, it is exactly what I wanted when I bought it, it does everything that I want it to, and it does it well!

    You can have the best camera in the world, but that doesn’t make you a photographer.

    • Vlad

      I think those results are pretty useful in choosing a camera. The problem is how to ponder them. They are just a small part of the overall performance and their importance must be taken as such.

  • When I was going to buy my first dSLR, pretty much everybody I asked said me “look at the lenses” (why I got the Oly in the first place).

    I appreciate the effort of the guys behind the DxO Mark guys, but sorry the sensor isn’t the top deciding factor of IQ. Person behind the VF and the lens are the top two. The sensor and the post processing might be in a tie for the 3rd place.

    What I would have really appreciated, if DxO Mark tried to some how test popular and less so camera body + lens combinations, measuring vignetting, CA, sharpness, AF speed, etc under several preset conditions (street, indoor, flash, etc). That would have been really helpful. Sensor alone doesn’t really help making an informed buying decision.

  • Boss

    These test results are pointless, the E-5 produces amazing pictures, and that is really most important.

    The only reason I would not buy an E-5 is if the new Olympus Pro offering is a better option. And being that it probably is not, I’ll have an E-5 very soon. And I’ll be attaching 50 mm F2.0 most of the time… So the results should be amazing… IQ is what matters not some bs sensor measurement.

    • KJS

      curious… every HG lens seems to be dust and splash proof, but the 50 doesn’t say… is it?

  • cL

    I think everyone forgot E-5 has 2 more megapixels….

    Anyways, when read a technical test like that, be sure to read their methodology. See what and how they test their stuff. Dx0 review may not be flawed, but it’s not a customized review, so it doesn’t test special strength of each system.

  • PEN

    Which begs the question as to why DXO bothers to measure the same sensor repeatedly in different bodies? Why not just test a sensor once and list which cameras use it? It would be much more valuable if they would expend their limited resources testing more lenses; so far they have tested only two Olympus lenses, both Zuiko 4/3 standard models.

    The sensor tests themselves are interesting technical exercises but as DXO notes, “it is not the only factor that should be taken into consideration when choosing a digital camera.” Considering the large differences between some sensors compared to the small differences in actual photos taken by the cameras in typical conditions, I wonder if it has much relevance at all.

  • Chris S

    I find in strange Olympus just drops the whole 4/3 line of cameras (except the E-5) with no announcement whatsoever and no one says a word. It’s pretty obvious where the companies future efforts are and it’s not 4/3rd’s. What about future 4/3 lens development? For one body? Not likely! Forget future lens improvements. Will Olympus continue to manufacture existing 4/3 lenses for just one camera body? Remember, it’s an expensive professional body not a high volume entry unit. Sadly, I think not.
    If you have invested in Olympus 4/3 lenses, as good as they are, I think Olympus just dropped you like a hot potato.
    For some reason, no one seems to know it. Or if they do, they’re not writing about it.

    • Inge-M.

      Olympus have not Pro Grade M43 also, but Olympus go modular soon the is best choice fot us all.

  • juavel

    cL, i f my memory doesn´t fail the Dxo mark tests are performed after a scaling down of the image to 8Mpx.

    • cL

      Scaling down doesn’t make any difference. Maybe two photos would look similar in detail because they are the same resolution, which is good for eliminate subjective part of seeing two photos, but it won’t affect the hardware portion of it. Do you mean crop or scaling down?

      I mean, if a sensor remained the same size, but megapixel was increased, then its light sensitivity would decrease because of pixel density issue. Which means, if everything remains constant (nothing improved nor made worse), then packing extra two megapixel will decrease the performance. (whether the decrease in light sensitivity would be enough to offset the benefit of increased pixel count is another issue, but at pixel level, the detail is going to be worse). Remaining the same score already suggests the improvement of the sensor is enough to offset the decrease in light sensitivity. Sorry I wrote so little earlier without further explanation.

  • mmm … so would now be a good time to pick-up a NEW Olympus E-3?
    (before they disappear from stock)
    (they are a little over half the price of the E-5)

    Would an E-3 give me any image quality advantage over my E-30?
    E-30 having the rather widely used 12mp chip, and being more modern technology!

    • Dont be fooled, the E-5 is far better then E3 from spec and images samples I see. Dont go by this sites conclusions, many other factors were not taken into account

      • looks

        like a steaming mound of ripe shite from here all right, replete with requisite e5 labeling

        And only 100 more than the K5, think of what a bargain you’re getting there

  • KJS

    Anyone interested in some different ISO shots from the E-5. I was hired to photograph an event at My church so I thought it would be a great time to test its capabilities!

    I found that photos were acceptable up until 3200, not so much above that.

    Overall, I’m really happy with the quality! would love to hear feedback.

  • @admin:

    Hungarian photography website publishes a detailed test about E-5:

    They consider that the “naked” noise level (w/o in-camera noise suppressing) is even worse than E-3 on high ISO values, but the image quality is very good due to the much more intelligent TruePic V+ engine (although the ISO6400 still has very limited usability).

  • I’m glad my E-5 has less érzékelőhelyeket, it really irritated me on my old camera ;)

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