Let me start off first with saying that I love my Olympus OM-D E-M5. My wife wasn't sold on full frame cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon due to the sheer size and weight so we ventured in the next best thing; Micro Four Thirds. The Sony NEX-7 was heavily delayed and hadn't arrived yet but it's little brother, the NEX-5N was just released. As enticing as it was, I just didn't "love" either camera nor did I care for the operating system. With a modest budget and a baby looming, I needed a camera and lens that I could quickly acquire and learn. One major hurdle was that the camera needed to have an autofocus hence eliminating the coveted Leica M9, and the available glass ecosystem had to be great. At the time, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 was proved to be the answer. I paired it with the Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4 Summilux and haven't taken it off since. Here are a few pictures that my wife and I took at the San Diego Safari Zoo the day of our daughter's first birthday.
Since then, Olympus has released two amazing micro four-thirds cameras. The E-P5 and the E-PL5 with the former being the Pen series flagship. Highly capable and pocketable depending on which lens you attach, they both make for a very portable and pleasurable experience. They have also become my recommendations to my peers that are looking to get into photography. It's a perfect starting point especially for those that want something smaller and don't want to lug around the bulk of the full frame cameras and lens combo.
Steve Huff posted an amazing and thorough review of the OM-D E-M5 which I highly recommend you check out. He also recently reviewed the amazing Panasonic 20 1.7 II lens while equipped on the E-P5 (pictured above). I guarantee, if you're getting into photography, his website is amazing start! I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from him. Of course, I couldn't have even thought of Steve Huff as a reference without the guidance of Mr. Range Traveler himself, Gage Caudell.
When I asked a couple of friends through Facebook or Twitter on their opinions on a specific camera choice, I got an overwhelmingly response. They all gave great insights coupled with personal experiences and I just wanted to post my experience and my gratitude. First the twitter story.
Now a post from a great friend from High School.
I'm actually shooting with an Olympus Pen EP-3
(with misc panasonic/ oly/ third party Micro-Four Thirds lenses)
The NEX-7 is a nice camera, but Sony's native lens selection is kind of lacking. It's worthy of praise because you can use old manual lenses that benefit from Sony's focus peaking. Also, due to the large APS-C sensor size and flang mount in relation to a streamlined body, the NEX lenses are designed to be inherently big. It feels like handling a smart-phone with a soda-can attached. Kind of defeats the purpose of a smaller form factor when there's little to no native compact pancake lenses available. Plus, they try to bury every feature in the menu screen, requiring a proprietary learning curve... if only it worked like an apple product.
The OM-D EM-5 is pretty much an evolution of the EP-3. A compact Micro-four thirds camera with some "raise-the-bar" type features like the 5-axis stabilization, weatherproofing, fast rate viewfinder etc... The stabilization provided some extra stops for low-light hand-held shots. (Great for non-flash shots when your child is an infant, and better hand-held when the little one takes off running) In the flesh, this thing is pretty small. It's about the same size as my EP-3 sans the view-finder hump. I'd say MFT cameras had a lot of catching up to do in the last couple of years, but the current generation MFT cameras are the shit.
As for the full-frame 5D's:
No one will argue against the Mark III as the current industry standard. (And some confess: most of the time it's just to appease the clients). As a matter of fact, I was introduced to the smaller MFT cameras from a bunch of guys who have to lug around 5D's for a living. From a practical standpoint, the Mark III is a big investment on just a body when most of us don't get paid to do this. Not to mention, once you get the essential full-frame lenses you'll be lugging around a lot of equipment, averaging the cost of a Hyundai under the baby stroller. Try to chase your toddler around with all that.
To conclude, you should base your decision on what you like to shoot and the overall system. The body is pretty much dated in a year or two since the consumer camera industry is as, if not more fickle than the computer industry.
^Being a gear-head, I'm sure you already know all this but I figured I'd share my thoughts anyway. Good luck with the camera shopping man, there's a lot great choices. Just make sure you do it soon so you'll have a handle on the hardware before the baby starts to grow up quick.
Let me know what you go with and if u have any questions on the MFT side of things. And read up...we're all biased in some way.