I personally own 2 cameras – one Canon 60D DSLR with a few lenses and an amazing Kelly Moore ladies camera bag. I use that mostly for personal events, birthdays, parties (like the annual Halloween costume party I organise every year in 2010, 2011 and 2012) and others. I also carry a compact camera, the Canon S100, in my bag all the time, as an everyday camera and for blogger events.
Because I love gadgets and can’t stop buying toys, I’ve been looking to get my first mirrorless camera. Have always been tempted by the Olympus PEN cameras and heard great things from other bloggers on the Sony NEX series.
In case you don’t know what a mirrorless camera is – it’s also called different names, like MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens) or CSC (Compact System Camera). Wikipedia defines MILC as a digital camera without a mirror-based optical viewfinder that allows interchangeable lens, but is not a DSLR. Read more at the Wikipedia page here.
After much recommendations from photographer friends, family, bloggers, enthusiasts, and months of reading online reviews, I finally shortlisted my choices to 2 cameras – Sony NEX-5R or Olympus E-PL5.
Over the weekend, I went to the camera shop to look-see, touch and feel and play around with my shortlisted choices. No guesses here, I came home with my newest gadget, my first mirrorless camera, my latest everyday camera – Olympus PEN E-PL5.
I was so excited with my new camera, I posted it on Instagram, too.
Rationale behind the purchase
Reason why I bought the Olympus E-PL5 instead of the Sony NEX-5R or any other mirrorless cameras :-
- My budget was less than RM 2500
- What I really want is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (approx RM 3,800 body+kit lens) or the new Olympus PEN E-P5 (approx RM 4,499 body+kit lens; pre-order now)
- Other MILC in consideration but didn’t make my shortlist includes Canon EOS M (slow autofocus & shutter speed), Sony NEX-6 or NEX-7 (above my budget, although I hear great reviews), Fujifilm / Panasonic / Samsung (never really considered these brands), Leica (find me that money tree).
Sony NEX-5R (RRP RM 2,399 body + kit lens) highlights:-
- Pros : Large hand grip (where the battery is) gives you a good grip when holding the camera. Articulating screen tilts 180 degrees for self portraits. WiFi connectivity.
- Cons : Small camera body with a comically giant lens. No mode dial for quick switch between Auto, Aperture, Shutter, Manual switching. Limited lens selection within Sony brands only.
Olympus E-PL5 (RRP RM 2,599 body + kit lens) highlights:-
- Pros : Solid body and retro design. Large lens choices (incl Panasonic/other 3rd party lenses). Good image quality with selection of Art filters (ala Instagram). Capacitive touchscreen display.
- Cons : Articulating screen has weird hinge that tilts only 170 degrees up. Complicated navigational menu. No WiFi, but comes with Flash Air SD card.
I held the E-PL5 in my hands and it feels good. The silver model makes the camera look solid (metal body), durable (although it’s not weatherproof), chrome finish and just premium, although it’s the PEN Lite series.
Back track a little and let me give you a quick background info; the Olympus PEN series is one of the oldest mirrorless cameras introduced more than 4 year ago.
- High-end flagship PEN series (eg, E-P1, E-P2, E-P3 and latest pre-order only E-P5). Olympus skips the E-P4 series as “4” is an unlucky number for Chinese, and I guess Japanese, too.
- Mid range series called PEN Lite (eg. E-PL1, E-PL2, E-PL3 and my new E-PL5).
- One level below that (I won’t exactly call it low-end or entry-level), you have the PEN mini series (eg. E-PM1, E-PM2 and upcoming E-PM3).
Another flagship Olympus OM-D series is not within the PEN series and is perhaps what I call the “Cousin Brother” of the PEN series. It’s a slightly different variation of camera, also using mirrorless technology.
Loving my new Olympus E-PL5
I got a good deal. Although the list RRP of the E-PL5 is RM 2,599 for the body (available in Black, Silver or White colour) and 14-42 mm kit lens, I managed to get it at RM 2,050 for the same bundle.
In the box, you get the camera body, rubber hand grip, hotshoe electronic flash and the usual battery, adapter charger, cables, user manuals and camera strap. The sales lady also included a FREE 8 GB Flash Air SD card (WiFi enabled SD card) and Olympus PEN camera bag, for my purchase.
I was also informed of a promotion for the 17 mm f/2.8 pancake / prime lens. If I get the lens as a “Purchase-with-Purchase” I’m entitled to a promotional discount of only RM 399 for the lens, which normally retails for RM 999 to RM 1,199. Naturally, I bought it.
Of course, I started surfing online to get cases and accessories for my new toy… I’ve ordered a little more than a few stuff, from camera cases, neck and wrist straps and small camera bag.
Meanwhile, I am still learning the menu and settings for the E-PL5. I played around with some sample photos in the shop as well as at home.
Here are some initial test shots. And yes, my doggie became my model again. These images are in its original format, not edited or resized in any way. Click the image to enlarge.
I am happy with my purchase. I can’t wait to snap more pictures, and perhaps do some street photography with it soon. What do you think of the Olympus E-PL5?
Do you have a mirrorless camera yourself? If so, let me know which camera you have? Or is planning to get?