Olympus PEN E-PL5: Touchscreens Make Micro Four Thirds Better and Easier But Is That Enough Anymore?

Last year's Olympus micro four thirds cameras were very good. Well, now Olympus is bringing touchscreens to two of the cameras from the line that should make them easier to use than ever.

The 16.1 megapixel E-PL5 has higher resolution than its 12.3-megapixel predecessor. It also goes up to a higher 25600 standard ISO (compared to 12800), which means you'll be able to push the camera sensor to some absurd lengths without blowing up your images with noise. In fact, that looks a lot like the image sensor on the awesome OM-D EM-5. One of our favorite features about the PEN line's top E-P3 was its excellent touchscreen has been handed down to the new E-PL5. You'll now be able to use it to touch focus during movie recording—a nice subtle improvement to the overall system.

While many companies are adding Wi-Fi to their cameras, Olympus has opted to instead make these two cameras compatible with wireless-ready SD cards like the Toshiba Flash Air and Eye-Fi cards. That's an interesting approach—especially since the built-in wireless connectivity in most cameras winds up being useless.

Olympus PEN E-PL5: Touchscreens Make Micro Four Thirds Better and Easier But Is That Enough Anymore?

Olympus is also updating the affordably priced PEN E-PM2 with a touchsceen. Really the only difference between the cameras is the form factor. Where the E-PL5 has a pop-out screen you can angle, the E-PM2 is more compact. The E-PM2 body will sell for $550. It will cost $600 with a 14-42mm f3.5/5.6. The E-PL5 body and kit package will cost $100 more.

Overall, though, the new Olympus cameras are less exciting than the new compact interchangeable-lens offerings from Sony and Panasonic. These are a far cry from the rad Olympic OM-D EM-5 we saw earlier this year. But who knows, if the sensor on these PEN cameras is as sharp and wonderful as the OM-D's maybe we're talking about some incredible, easy cameras. Based on the high-quality gear Olympus has produced before, we're excited to see what they've got. [Olympus and Olympus]