Stepping across the great DSLR divide into the land of mirrorless cameras always requires some compromise. Focusing speed, image quality, lens compatibility and battery life are frequent casualties, but for everyone except professional shooters, the size and cost benefits of swapping a full-grown beast for a compact ILC surely help soften the blow. The latest Micro Four Thirds model from Olympus, the OM-D E-M5, adds functionality that expand that list of betterments even further, allowing more versatility than larger DSLRs have to offer. These perks include a water-resistant design, for starters, along with a nifty lens that offers macro shooting and both manual- and powered-zoom in one compact package.
One area where the 16-megapixel E-M5 does match the footprint of its full-size brethren is in price: you’ll drop a cool grand for the body alone, while the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens kit will bump that tag up another $300. Make no mistake, the E-M5 is a fantastic camera, but $1,300 is mighty steep for any mirrorless model, especially one with a Micro Four Thirds sensor. This, however, is no ordinary MFT camera. As the first model in Olympus’s OM-D line — taking design cues from the company’s popular line of OM film cameras — the E-M5 is in a class of its own, at least as far as Olympus’s portfolio is concerned. Besides physical appearance, perhaps, the most notable selling point is its focus speed: press the shutter release, and your subject comes into clarity with rapid-fire precision, whether you’re shooting in bright sunlight or a dark restaurant. But though the E-M5 has already received accolades for its powerful focusing, you might be wondering how the whole package performs. Meet us past the break to find out.