Camera Memory Speed
Memory Card Comparison & Performance Tests for Digital Cameras

Olympus E-M5 SD Card Comparison

The Olympus E-M5 represents the first OM-D series camera from Olympus. This Micro Four Thirds camera combines a mirrorless configuration with an electronic viewfinder. It includes advanced image stabilization with Olympus' 5-axis technology. The E-M5 can shoot up to 9 frames per second in continuous mode. We test several memory cards to measure write speed and find the effect they have on shooting performance.

Write Speed Test

Each test begins by formatting the card in the E-M5. The camera is placed on a tripod and aimed at a detailed test scene. The camera is set to manual focus, manual mode, with RAW image mode and continuous shutter release. Five bursts of 15 frames are made and timed using the card access icon to determine write time. The write speed is calcualted by diving the total number of bytes written by the write time in seconds (1 MB = 1,048,576 bytes). The average write speed for each card is shown below. Higher numbers are better.

Continuous Burst Shooting

This comparison of SD cards test measures the total number of images taken in 30 seconds. We use three image settings: RAW+JPEG, RAW, and JPEG. The E-M5 is in manual mode, manual focus and aimed at the same test scene throughout. The test scene has a lot of detail and produces relatively large files. Shooting a less detailed scene will create smaller files and increase the number of frames. JPEG file setting is Large, SF quality. Image stabilization is off, ISO 200, noise filter off, manual white balance.

Analysis

The E-M5 is capable of very fast burst shooting, however it is limited in write speed as shown in the write speed test. Its maximum write speed is around 28MB/s. In RAW mode the faster cards are able to get about 16 shots into the buffer before the frame rate slows down. Slower cards were a frame or two less. After the buffer is full the frame rate is reduced corresponding to the card write speed. The fastest card continued at 1.8 frames per second while the slowest card was only 0.74 frames per second. All cards we test are recent UHS-I Class 10 speed rated. The camera is not able to approach the maximum write speed of many cards tested. As a result, most of the cards perform similarly in this test. The numbers in the continuous shooting test will change based on the image subject. A less detailed test scene would create smaller files, allowing more images to be taken at a slightly increased frame rate. The maximum write speed remains the same regardless of the image subject.

Recommended SD Cards for Olympus E-M5

The fastest card for the E-M5 is the SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s card. This card is capable of 90MB/s write speed (as meaured in card readers), however the E-M5 is only capable of writing up to 28 MB/s as shown above. All of the top eight cards we tested perform very well in the E-M5. The differece between them is very small in actual use.

Another consideration is how fast the card can download your images to your computer. The faster cards offer high read speeds up to 95MB/s. In most cases reaching the full read speed requires an external (USB 3.0) card reader. The USB port on E-M5 is much slower because it is limited by the camera as well as the USB 2.0 connection. See the memory card reader reviews for information about high speed card readers.