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Faithful to film

A little bit bigger than the Sony Alpha NEX-7, the E-M5 retains many of the design characteristics of the original OM film series. Those include the pyramid-shaped viewfinder protrusion, which in the digital version houses an EVF. Instead of a built-in flash, the camera comes with a small add-on unit.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Body

According to Olympus, the magnesium alloy body has the same level of build quality and weather sealing as the E-5. That would make it a pretty tough camera.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Tilting display

The 3-inch OLED display is the same size and resolution as the E-P3's, but the E-M5's tilts and supports touch operation.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Relatively small

The E-M5 falls into that class of mirrorless cameras that's smaller than a dSLR, but not small enough to be considered compact--especially when equipped with a zoom like the 12-50mm kit lens. I like the new lens design, though, with its programmable function button on the barrel.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Typical control layout

Except for the design of the power switch, the thumb-operated controls have a pretty standard layout. The camera also has a well-defined thumb rest, for easy holding despite the relatively shallow front grip.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Top controls

The camera has Olympus' typical mode dial, with the usual set of manual, semimanual, and automatic exposure modes, as well as a dedicated movie mode and Art Filters mode (with expanded options over previous Olympus cameras). There's also a function button, which can bring up Olympus' novel in-camera curve adjustment.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Viewfinder

The viewfinder has a big, comfortable eyecup and seems nice to use, though not nearly as magnified as Sony's. It's standard LCD, rather than OLED.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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Operation

The camera has the now-common quick-access interactive display. In the bottom right, you can see the icon for the in-camera curve adjustment, which allows you to manipulate the exposure-compensation highlights and shadows separately. That's a clever idea that could either be a really useful feature or try-it-once-and-never-again tool.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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New flash

Olympus also announced a new full-size flash unit (FL-600R) that seems designed more for the E-Series dSLRs than the OM-D models; it dwarfs the E-M5. It does have an LED light on the front for continuous illumination while shooting video.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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Battery grip

Olympus will also be offering a novel two-part battery grip for the E-M5. Without the bottom, it's just an extra-deep grip for landscape shooting; with the bottom, it becomes a vertical grip. Because the horizontal grip is so deep, there's a duplicate control dial and shutter button for easy access.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Lori Grunin/CNET
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