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Olympus OM-D E-M5

The handsome rebirth of a classic film camera as a high-tech point and shoot

by Greg Stefano in Tech on 05 June 2012

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With the newest addition to their digital family Olympus takes a grand leap into the field of high-end retro-influenced point and shoot cameras. Based on the quintessential design of the original OM film cameras, the OM-D series marks a new stage in Olympus' well documented success with Micro Four Third products. The first in the line, the E-M5, packs an unprecedented number of features into a rugged and compact magnesium alloy body. Made for photographers who demand higher performance and image quality, the E-M5 seamlessly blends cutting-edge technology into a classic form factor that delivers excellent results.

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One of the most exciting new features is the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The built-in eye sensor lets you simply hold the camera up to your face, and the HD viewfinder is automatically activated to offer a stunning preview of your subject. The 120-fps refresh rate keeps the EVF operating in real time while offering a heads-up display of all the active settings and information. The spectacular image quality within the EVF becomes instantly apparent, and the option of a viewfinder is a welcome tool when shooting in bright conditions. Similar to the Olympus E-P3, a crisp three-inch OLED touch screen fills the back of the camera. As in previous models, it offers the same functionality for focal point selection, image browsing and touching to activate the shutter, but on the E-M5 the screen pivots and swivels, offering an excellent variety of positions to help keep the display central no matter the angle.

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The construction of the E-M5 marks a real win for Olympus. The camera is lightweight but very solid in the hand, and the thumb grip and textured surface offer a great feel. As their first foray into a field traditionally dominated by Fujifilm and Leica, the E-M5 does a supreme job of combining classic structural elegance with today's newest technology. The beautifully simple camera is a real eye-catcher—more than once we were stopped and interrogated during our field tests. As with the PEN series, the E-M5 is compatible with all of Olympus' micro four thirds lenses and offers full manual functionality, truly offering the photographer endless possibilities. Combine that with the 16.1 Live MOS sensor and a blazing fast shutter speed and you have a compact work horse capable of pumping out crystal clear shots on the fly.

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In conjunction with the new OM-D line Olympus is releasing two new lenses, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f1.8 and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f2.8 macro, both of which will be compatible with the newest member of the family. The E-M5 is now available for pre-order, retailing at $999 for the body only or as a kit for $1,299 or $1,099 depending on lens and color choice.

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