May 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM ET
The new PEN E-P5 camera from Olympus combines the best features from the excellent (but expensive) E-M5 and the more compact (but fiddly) PEN series. From the specs and design, it looks like a winner — but it doesn't come cheap.
The E-P5 was designed with a classic camera from Olympus in mind: the PEN-F, which has a distinctive '60s style and the retro silver-and-black color scheme. It's the type of design that Fujifilm has exploited so successfully in its X-series cameras. Others have tried and got it wrong, but the E-P5 (which starts at $999 for the body only) nails it.
Its all-metal body is adorned with switches and dials, most of which are customizable in their functions, which is tedious to set up but ultimately rewarding. Olympus is proud of the fit and finish, pointing out the seamless look and durable feel. Of course, it also sports modern conveniences like a tilting LCD, pop-up flash and built-in Wi-Fi.
Inside, it's quite a little powerhouse. Olympus is known for getting good image quality out of micro four-thirds size sensors, and the E-P5 inherits the E-M5's image stabilization and even beats it on its vaunted autofocus speeds. It can fire off 9 shots a second at up to an extremely fast 1/8000th of a second shutter speed — something only a few far more expensive cameras can do these days.
Some will point out that the $999 price is a bit expensive compared to the competition — in fact, its big brother the E-M5, which has weather sealing and a built-in electronic viewfinder, can be found for less. But it's hard to fault the camera itself, which hits a lot of sweet spots for anyone looking for a compact interchangeable-lens camera.
Several lenses and accessories also made their debut alongside the E-P5, all of which can be found at the camera's page at Olympus. It should be available later this month.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.