I love to work with the Olympus MFT products starting with their simple Pen series model to their most sophisticated OM-D. An interesting debate has started with the apparition of the new Pen E-P5 that will replace the previous E-P3. Many reviewers like Thom Hogan have concluded of the redundancy of having a choice between E-M5 and the new E-P5 for Olympus users.
For my own experience with the OM-D E-M5 and the E-P3 I must disagree with this assertion because there is a strong departure of the way those two models have been designed.
|Olympus E-P3 / M. 40-150mm at 40mm|
One vital point for photographer on the go (street, travel, casual) is the in-board fill-flash that is a must feature you need to have access everyday. Add-on flashes are not a good portable pratical solution. I hope that the next OM-D will include that basic feature.
Even with the all-weather contruction of the E-M5 the camera seems strangely more fragile than the E-P3 which is a little bit questionnable. The upper deck design seems to leave the camera controls into a none-protective position and the material uses for them doesn't look at the same level of the rest of the camera. Even if the E-P3 suppose to be a more simple camera you get a strong feeling of solidity and durability which is not so much present for the E-M5.
|Olympus E-P3 / 14-42mm at 14mm|
What about the viewfinder? Using the optional VF-2 on the E-P3 model will give you the same ease to compose your image compared to the E-M5. But it is an optionnal feature that allow you to pull out the VF-2 in macro or general tripod photo situations. Yes I agree that the E-M5 orientable LCD screen is an advantage at that point but the new E-P5 LCD screen is responding to that concern. Plus the fact there is a new VF-4 with large view feature (which I have already ordered…)
|Olympus E-P3 / 14-42mm at 42mm|
Yes in term of image quality the E-M5 beats the previous E-P3 but this point will be fixed by the new E-P5 that will be using a picture captor of the same generation allowing better result with high ISO.
What about the autofocus? I have used the two camera in many low light situations and I have discovered that these models tend to perform better with prime lenses with large maximum apertures like the 45mm F1.8 or the 75mm F1.8. Those lenses are fine for more specific photo projects but it cannot prevent the use of more flexible zoom lenses such as the 14-42mm or the 12-50mm or even a 40-150mm. In that case (zoom options) the E-M5 focus reactivity got the edge over the E-P3.
|Olympus E-P3 / 14-42mm at 30mm|
The OM-D E-M5 is clearly the central part of a camera system and many professionals are considering it now as a value option for a far more compact equipment on the go. It differs from the Pen E-P3 (eventually E-P5) which is less flexible in term of grip and power option & other add-on and the E-P3 is not an all-weather camera and need more precaution when used in adverse conditions. But even the ancien rangefinger film cameras have to be protected during their own era.
|Olympus E-P3 / 14-42mm at 42mm|
After a good personnal experience with the OM-D E-M5 during two recent travels I finally decided to retreive with my E-P3 with the new VF-4 viewfinder and I will eventualy upgrade to E-P5 in a mid-future. At the end the choice of photo equipment is purely personal…