Olympus OM-D E-M5 Digital Camera Review
The new sensor on the Olympus E-M5 outputs video data at 30fps, which it interpolates into 1080/60i and 720/60i footage in a .MOV container (MPEG-4AVC/H.264 compression). In that format you can elect to shoot at either "fine" or "normal" compression, with bitrates of 20Mbps and 17Mbps, respectively. Also of note: this drops to 13Mbps or 10Mbps when shooting at just 720/60i.
The camera also offers AVI Motion JPEG, with 720/30fps and VGA/30fps options, though if you employ some of the camera's art filters while recording video, that frame rate will slow to around 15fps, creating a flickering effect. The maximum you can record in any of the formats is 29 minutes, with that dropping to 22 minutes when using normal compression for 1080/60i footage. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
When recording video you have a full host of manual controls that you can use to set exposure prior to recording, including shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. These are locked in once you've pressed the record button, however, so you can't alter shutter speed the middle of a video. Prior to recording you can also set autofocus type, white balance, image stabilization, audio recording (on or off only), and activate face priority mode.
You can access all of these features by pressing the OK button when in the dedicated video record mode. This brings up a sidebar of selectable options, along with a choice for what recording mode you want to be in. This lets you choose various auto exposure programs, like shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, program auto, or any of the 11 in-camera art filters. You can also simply choose manual mode and set exposure, aperture, and ISO yourself.
As the E-M5 utilizes an on-sensor metering system, it's capable of utilizing the full automatic exposure modes whenever recording video. In addition, you can apply any of the in-camera art filters, though the effect sometimes slows down the shutter speed such that there is a flickering effect like an old silent film. Also worth noting: the camera's dedicated record button will begin a video in any mode, with any of the settings you currently have set. So you can be in intelligent auto, or program auto, or even the scene modes and pressing record will just begin recording video right away. Through this method you can apply not only the art filters, but the standard color filters as well, including monotone (B&W).
Most of the lenses that are available for the E-M5 require manually turning the zoom ring to zoom in and out. If you elect for the E-M5 kit with the 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 EZ lens, though, the lens' built-in zoom motor will apply a slow, gradual zoom in or out from your subject, which will look smooth on video. One thing to note is that the lens doesn't continually focus while zooming, so you may have to let the camera readjust for focus once zooming in or out.
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 offers all of the same focus modes for video as it does for stills, including single AF, continuous AF, manual focus, single AF+manual, and continuous subject tracking. The continuous AF worked occasionally while recording video, though we wished it was more sensitive. The camera also seemed to struggle tracking subjects moving around the frame, though it was good at adjusting for depth if a person moved toward or away from the camera. The single AF was, as with most cameras, a little jarring during video. This is because for contrast-detection AF, the lens has to open up all the way to brighten the scene and enable focus. This creates a bright flicker for a second in your video and can be pretty disruptive.
When recording video on the E-M5 you are allowed to employ any of the aperture settings that the lens allows for, with shutter speed restricted to anything faster than 1/30th of a second. Manual ISO control is only available when shooting video in the full manual mode, otherwise auto ISO takes over. ISO is only available between 200-3200, with the maximum ISO settings not available.
The E-M5 features a strobing effect during video that is very similar to the famous John Zimmerman Hulcher shot, where a subject in motion continuously strobes in the frame. This can be done while recording video continuously (by pressing the down key on the rear control pad), or at selected times (by pressing the right key on the pad). It creates an interesting effect that would be very difficult to replicate in post with a moving video.
The E-M5 features a stereo microphone built into the body on either side of the electronic viewfinder housing. The camera does not have a microphone port or audio level control, however, so you're stuck with that audio unless you opt for Olympus' stereo microphone set, the $89.99 SEMA-1. Also of note: this sucker is loud. With an internal fan humming along the entire way to cool the camera's innards, you will immediately notice when your camera wakes up and goes to sleep. The fan cuts out (or at least drastically slows down) when you begin recording video, but we did notice it on some audio we recording in a quiet room (though that may have been our own air conditioner, and any noise would've drowned it out).