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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital Camera Review$1,099.00
Speed and Timing
The Olympus E-M5 utilizes a computerized focal plane mechanical shutter, but it moves at a pretty spectacular rate. Olympus claims that it is able to fire at up to 9 frames per second in the high speed continuous mode, or 4.2FPS in low speed continuous. The camera also comes with single frame drive modes, as well as self-timers of 12 and two seconds.
You can access the E-M5's many drive modes through the custom menu, or by going through the control panels brought up by pressing the rear OK button. In intelligent auto mode this brings up the live guide, so you'll have to go through the menu in that case. You can also assign drive mode to the down key on the rear control pad, giving you access to this even when using the camera in a fully automatic mode. Also of note, the drive mode being used is tied to the shooting mode selected, so if you change to continuous in program auto and switch to shutter priority, it will return to whatever drive mode was selected last time you were in shutter priority.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is blazingly fast, amongst the fastest compact system cameras on the market. We found that its electronically-timed focal plane shutter operated at a rate that averaged out to about 8.5FPS over a five-shot burst in the high-speed continuous, with the fastest shot-to-shot time getting as low as .095 seconds. If you're just counting that fastest rate, that would give the camera a speed of up to 10.5FPS, well above Olympus' claim of 9FPS, so points for honesty on their behalf.
The JPEG buffer is also quite expansive, able to record 16 frames at the fastest rate before slowing down to a more pedestrian speed. The camera processed those files quite quickly as well, though there is a delay between taking that burst and being able to refocus and shoot again. That will shrink with any of the fastest cards, but an approximately 16 frame buffer at 8.5FPS puts the OM-D above the Samsung NX200 and just below the Sony NEX-7 in terms of raw speed. Speaking of RAW speed and awful segues, switching to shooting RAW instead of JPEG still resulted in 14 frames before slowdown, taken at approximately the same 8.5FPS speed.
The self-timer on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 allows for either a two- or twelve-second delay, with the AF lamp blinking to countdown the last few seconds. There's no in-camera intervalometer and the camera body itself does not feature a proprietary shutter release port. The OM-D E-M5 is compatible with the USB remote cable release from Olympus, model number RM-UC1, and can be used with bulb exposures, though we haven't tested this functionality.
Focus on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is lightning quick, even faster than we saw on the latest series of PEN cameras. It's also startlingly accurate for a contrast detection system. Contrast detection systems, by their nature, have to move past optimal focus in order to ensure maximum sharpness, retreating to the point of highest contrast. That the camera can do so that fast is remarkable, and it gives the E-M5 a leg up on the rest of its competition in the high-end compact system camera market.
The E-M5 features plenty of focus modes and methods, with manual focus, single AF, continuous AF, single AF with manual focus adjustment, and continuous AF with manual adjustment. There's also a digital zoom function that will engage when you turn the focus ring to help you lock in focus, with magnification of 5x, 7x, and 10x available.