Is Olympus EM-5 the perfect outdoors camera?

View of the Alabama Hills and White Mountains taken with new Olympus E-M5.
View of the Alabama Hills and White Mountains taken with new Olympus E-M5.

My hunt for a new camera for outdoor pursuits ended recently when I (and my bank account) broke down and bought an Olympus EM-5 mirrorless camera. I’ve had it a few weeks now, and the switch from a point-and-shoot camera to one with interchangeable lenses has been eye-opening, to say the least.

Camera outsideI wanted to step up in image quality without sacrificing too much in weight and size, so decided mirrorless cameras were the way to go. Their sensors are smaller than those in DSLRs, and in a downsized body, but much bigger than those in compact cameras. And size matters when it comes to sensors and image quality. For all you camera tech geek wannabes, here’s a good explanation on micro four-thirds technology.

After a few weeks of research on sites like Digital Photography Review, I was frankly driving myself nuts. I narrowed it down to the Olympus OM-D cameras, and what eventually sealed the deal for me (along with a no-tax special at Samy’s Camera) was the EM-5’s splash- , dust- and freeze-proof weather sealing. My previous cameras have always managed to attract whatever environment they’re in — sand, water, dirt, dog hair — so I figured the extra bucks were worth it. We shall see.

So far, I’m very happy with the EM-5, but I haven’t ventured much beyond the automatic setting. I’ve played a bit with exposure compensation and the art filters, but I have a lot of studying to do on all the camera’s functions.

Mountains above Bishop Creek, using Olympus EM-5's diorama art filter setting.
Mountains above Bishop Creek, using Olympus EM-5’s diorama art filter setting.

My one rap on Olympus is the totally lame owner’s manual that came with the EM-5. The functioning of this camera isn’t exactly intuitive, a complaint I’d read about. Luckily an online FAQ from Olympus is providing some answers.

Camera bagThe Olympus came with a 12-50 mm telephoto, so I knew my old habit of shoving my camera in a pocket would be a thing of the past. Luckily REI was having a 20% off sale, so I picked up a fabulous new camera sling from Lowepro that worked out great on a recent trip to the Eastern Sierra.

 

 

 

 

Bag pocketThe sling has a zipped camera chamber that provides easy accessibility. And there are plenty of pockets for extra lenses, keys, wallet, water, etc. I was even able to fit the water bladder from my Camelback in the top of the pack.

Below are some more shots with the new Olympus from a recent trip we took to the Eastern Sierra right after Memorial Day:

Gardisky Lake, near Yosemite National Park, in early June.
Gardisky Lake, near Yosemite National Park, in early June.
Old cabin on Pine Creek Road, using the EM-5's sepia art filter.
Old cabin on Pine Creek Road, using the EM-5’s sepia art filter. A bit under-exposed.
Blue waiting patiently while her companions fly-fish at Bishop Creek.
Blue waiting patiently while her companions fly-fish at Bishop Creek.
Heading back south on Interstate 395.
Heading back south on Interstate 395.
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2 thoughts on “Is Olympus EM-5 the perfect outdoors camera?

  1. Steve Hymon June 17, 2014 / 9:05 pm

    Agree. Very good image quality but the manual and controls suck!

    • Steve Hymon June 17, 2014 / 9:06 pm

      Actually meant to say the controls work fine, but they’re not intuitive at all. User needs to practice shooting a bunch to learn their way around the camera.

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