I enjoy trading and swapping different cameras and trying them out almost as much as taking the photos themselves. I would consider myself enthusiast with an ok knowledge of the basics. I will write a review based on this, more experienced shooters may find it to basic. I also will only comment on user experience based on photos, not comparisons per say
While on holidays in Croatia 2 years ago my Canon 24-105L lens failed. I could manually adjust this but that is not the way I normally shoot. I had a 50mm prime and a Canon 5d with me and felt restricted with the prime lens as it was mainly for evening street photos that I wanted this lens for on this trip. A little frustrated and realising I had now approx 2kg of photo gear with me, but unable to take the type of shots i wanted, maybe a smaller set up was the answer. Maybe a little knee jerk, but on my return home I got the 24-105L repaired and sold all my canon gera, 5d, 1d mark 2 and various lenses.
A friend was selling his Olympus EM5 as he was upgrading to the EM1. He loaned me the Olly for a week or so and I never gave it back. I pretty much told him afer a few hours that I would buy the camera off of him, and this was on shots taken with only the two basic lenses (14-42 and 40-150). So its a ten out of ten camera right?- well not quite, but it is quite a bit better than I expected.
If you need to know about video you will have to look somewhere else- I know it does video but video does not interest me so how good the video is can be found on a different persons review, sorry.
This is where the Olympus surprised me. Olympus jpegs are very very good. I still shoot raw with this camera, but find my processing in raw barely improves on the jpegs straight out of camera. When you buy the camera it is by default selected to some kind of warm bias WB. I am not sure why, but shots are a bit orangy until you find this setting and turn it off.
Olympus jpegs are well saturated with very nice natural colour tones, for the most part I think they are better than Canon or Nikon SOOC (thats just my opinion). Skin tones seem naturally rendered. Metering is for the most part very accurate, I rarely have issues just using evaluative metering. It definetely has better dynamic range than my 5d had, allowing better definition when shooting into the light (this is apparent on sooc jpegs, but also if post processibg a difficult raw file). The olympus noise is well controlled in the jpeg engine, and I would be very happy generally with ISO 1600 jpegs, and ISO 3200 from a raw file with a bit of care (to be fair, I think a person selling photos might not find these settings acceptable). I have shot well above these settings also but more to get the shot than to have a great photograph.
Raw files are a little more muted and noiser initially than jpegs but post process well in lightroom, and I would say that the Olympus produces nicer files than my previoously owned 7d. Id consider the noise of both these similar at similar iso levels.
This camera seems very well built. It is a quite heavy for size metal body and weather sealed to a quite high level with the appropriate lenses. The screen is tilt out on quite a rigid hinge and feels strong also. The buttons are many, and are quite small. This may be an issue for bigger handed people. Sone say the buttons feel cheap, maybe they are not up to quality of rest of camera, but they are up to task. There are twin dials and plenty of fn customisation buttons. There is also a feature called "super control panel" which is by default set to off. Why olympus have this set to off I dont know, it transforms the camera from an awkward to use camera to one of the easiest cameras I have ever used. When set to on, one can just press ok on back of camera, screen lights up with finger access to all the usual settings, WB, Metering, FPS, Quality,Flash settings, its just brilliant.
Menus are awkward on this camera, they take time to set up but make a very user friendly user experience if you take the time to do so.
Instantaneous single focus, up to 9fps, touch screen to focus and take shot if required, what more could you want? Well, continuous tracking focus is very very poor with this camera. It is not a sports or action camera because of this. In reality if you can follow a moving subjuct on the rear touchscreen and tip where the moving object is in single focus, you can work around, the single af is that good, but its not a camera build for this type of shooting. I bought into a nikon dslr system again for when I want to do this type of shot.
This camera has IBIS (stabilisation) that works with all lenses and really works
Battery life isn't great. I bought few extra to carry which isn't to bad as they are not bulky
Not built in but a little clip on unit supplied
The EM5 is a great little camera with a lot going for it, not least the many lovely m43 lense that are popping up regulary. It wont give you the dof seperation that a ff will. It doesn't have as good high iso files as a ff. It does however take lovely photographs in most situations. As I write this (14 june 2015)the version 2 is out. I see this camera going for very small money now for its ability. That makes it a very good bargain for someone who may want a smaller ILC system camera.
Excellent image quality
Very well built
Tidy with small lenses
Excellent interface (that does unfortunetely take time to set up)
Almost instantaneous single focus
Excellent range of lenses
Excellent inbuilt stabilisation
Very good at higher ISO all things considered
As of now, very affordable
Wont track with focus
Has only one card slot
Auto switching betwwen screen and evf very sensitive
Menus complicated and take time to manouvere
Super control panel default off
WB default to warm
Battery life limited when compared with DSLRS