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Author Topic: Olympus OM-D: for fans of small pixels and small interchangeable lens systems  (Read 6299 times)

BJL

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The most interesting cameras of the year so far are the ones that offer ever more flexibility for my nature photography, including lots of small and/or distant subjects (loosely, macro and telephoto) while not wanting to carry more weight than necessary. Lately, the best new options have been the Nikon V1 and the Panasonic GX1, but tue latter possibly needing the accessory EVF: I am stil deciding if I could do with only the rear LCD.

Now Olympus has a temptation in the OM-D E-M5: the first mirror-less offering combining the high resolution (I mean lines per mm, not MP) of an up-to-date 16MP 4/3" format sensor, in-body image stabilization for my legacy lenses ((and supposedly far better than any previous IBIS), and a good EVF, in a body a bit smaller and laughter than the GH2, and far more so that the Pentax K-01. The retro styling has no great appeal to me, but does not get in the way too much. Yest again, great claims are made for AF speed, but I await real testing. I also await the promised 60/2.8 macro, since Olympus has a great history with macro lenses.

P.S. some have criticized the long jumble of a name, but at least it contains not a single X or G or 1.

P.P.S. I am skeptical about the ISO 25,600 claim, but very rarely need to go over 800 when IS is available, so that I'd off my radar.
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Chairman Bill

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I always liked Olympus cameras, and had I been offered the deal on a OM1 that I got on my Nikon FM, I'd happily have gone with Oly at the time. The OM3 & OM4 almost tempted me to swap out my Nikkors, FM & FE, they were that good, with the multi-spot metering. As a climber, the small size & weight were important aspects. When I compare my D700 to my old FM, I do wonder, now that I'm older & less fit & strong, why the hell am I carrying more weight & bulk in my camera kit?

If only Oly would produce something this sort of size, weather sealed, tough, small & light, with a full-frame sensor. I'd be quite happy with Zuiko legacy lenses.

Martin Ocando

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I'll be watching very closely the development on this camera, since it might be the ticket for a ever-carrying camera. I've always said why DSLRs had to be that big and chunky, I wondered, with miniaturization and all, why not make a OM-1 kind of camera, small and unobtrusive. Apparently they heard. Looks great on paper, lets wait for the complete DPreview test.
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Martin Ocando
Olympus OM-D E-M1 -

BJL

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Olympus OM-D: to repeat, _small pixels_, and small _lenses_
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 09:45:50 am »

As a climber, the small size & weight were important aspects.
This is exactly why for my purposes, the smaller ILC formats (or to be pedantic, smaller photo-sites and more lines per mm of resolution) are attractive: reducing lens size and weight is even more important than reducing body size.
Quote
If only Oly would produce something this sort of size, weather sealed, tough, small & light, with a full-frame sensor.
I did not mention, but Olympus is pushing weather sealing now: in this body, the newest kit zoom, and even in a new adaptor for 4/3 SLR legacy lenses. The designers seem to have us hikers, climbers, and city walkers in mind. So every box is ticked except "same frame size as my old film cameras".
On that last point, please acknowledge physical reality: doubling the linear format size back to 36x24mm would double the focal lengths needed to fill the frame, in exchange for offering extremes of resolution and/or low light ability that most of us do not need when climbing and hiking (we never had anything close to that performance when we carried 35mm film cameras.) Unless you get something like a D800 with vastly more pixels than you need, and keep the lenses small by not carrying the focal lengths needed to fill the frame in many situations, compensating with heavy cropping, aka "digital zoom". But then those images are not "full frame" anymore, are they?
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fike

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This camera looks interesting. My first film SLR was an OM-1 and it holds a lot of nostalgia for me....besides the fact that it was compact and could achieve high-quality images.

Trying to fill that void, I recently picked-up an Oly E-PL3 and I haven't really been that thrilled with it.  It is nicely sized and the image quality is adequate for a knock-around camera, but the ergonomics are poor.  exposure lock is a pain.  There is no focus lock.  Manual focusing is very difficult to do accurately.  If it were a tripod mounted camera, it might be okay to do manual focus, but without it, you move around too much to use the zoom-in feature and really get good focus.  I think it would be an excellent camera for a casual traveler or for general family photos, particularly for people who stick with program mode.

Does anyone want to buy a lightly used E-PL3? ;-)
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BJL

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Fike,

    those ergonomic issues are why I hope for a review at this forum, either from our very ergonomics-oriented host Michael, or from forum contributors. For my purposes, the main performance issue that I feel much need to check out is of the new, lenses I would like to use with it. Compare to the Pen digitals, Olympus does seem to have aimed this new OM-D line at more experienced and demanding photographers who care about such issues, like having two control wheels that fall under the thumb and index finger of the right hand ... but is the execution good? (For me, the E-1 was almost perfect ergonomically; the E-510, not so much, but I use it because it has IBIS and smaller pixels.)
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fike

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DPReview's hands-on preview shows some pretty decent configurability. I am happy to see AF lock and AE lock buttons.

http://www.dpreview.com/previews/olympusEM5/
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John Camp

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@BJL -- I have 2 Panasonic GX1s, purchased so I could travel with a system. They are very good for that. I have one accessory viewfinder which I thought I would share between the two cameras, but now I think I'll have to buy another. A couple of days ago, I was unexpectedly confronted with a pretty amazing landscape -- a couple of lenticular clouds over the local mountains, they looked like flying saucers; and the light was incredible -- and had in the car only the camera without the viewfinder. In trying to get the shot, I found that *I could not see anything on the LCD.* I couldn't shoot in another direction (because I was shooting a mountain) and the light was overhead and slightly behind me, and no matter what I did to try to shelter the LCD, I couldn't really see what I was doing. I'm not a landscape shooter, I mostly shoot street and portrait. If I were doing nature, I'd want a viewfinder. The Panasonic G3 is essentially a slightly larger GX1...I'd go with that, if you decide against the Olympus. In either case, I think you might really like the (Pana-) Leica macro-elmarit 45, which focusses down to 6 inches...

I think there's one good reason to buy the Olympus, but not quite good enough for me...and that's the internal IS. This retro thing, including the somewhat faked-up mirror housing, doesn't ring my bell.

JC 
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BJL

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I have one accessory viewfinder which I thought I would share between the two cameras, but now I think I'll have to buy another.
...
I think there's one good reason to buy the Olympus ... the internal IS.
...
This retro thing, including the somewhat faked-up mirror housing, doesn't ring my bell.
John,
    My guess now is that I will end up agreeing with you on these three points: I am tempted by the "jacket-pocektability" of the GX1 with collapsable zoom lens, but still nervous about LCD only, and once an EVF is added to the GX1, it is one expensive than the Olympus "OMG" and with an even more obtrusive VF hump. The IS counts more for me, for the sake of my investment in Olympus 4/3 SLR lenses. Retro styling does nothing for me: I prefer pragmatic modern smooth rounded (yes, "plasticky") snag-free designs. I suppose that I haven't reached my mid-life crisis yet.

Oh and one more thing: weather-resistence: Olympus is offering that, Panasonic not.
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John Camp

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@BJL,

I'd forgotten about the weather proofing. That would indeed be a reason. And generally, while I don't think there'd be much functional difference between this camera and the Panasonics (their sensors are extremely similar, if not identical), the Oly approach seems more...professional. They have spruced up the camera in a number of ways, and I think this will have a good effect downstream on both Panny and Oly systems.
 
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armand

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This might just be my top choice for a light compact travel/hiking camera. It has probably under half of the weight and volume (which would be the minimum to move from APS-C like my Nikon D90), it has good selection of lenses if I really want more and I think the most tempting is weather-resistant which for a hiking camera is a very nice thing to have. Or for those shots that I wouldn't try to take because I don't want to ruin my camera.
Panasonic GX1 is more compact with the X kit lens but if I add another lens or 2 the difference will be much smaller.
Nikon 1 might be nicer for in-city undercover shots but I would like a touch more control. Pixel count is probably ok, as I was just looking at a few shots taken with a 3 MP camera ( http://www.fredmiranda.com/article_4/ ) and I almost feel ashamed when I think that 10 MP might not be enough. Plus I have plenty of 6 MP prints on my walls from a Nikon D50 and they are just fine.

I will likely continue with an APS-C or full-frame system when I'm really just into photographic journeys but that's not going to happen that often.

Now I still didn't decide about a compact take anywhere camera to replace my current dust-in-the-lens Canon S90...  :(
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 03:05:26 pm by armand »
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deejjjaaaa

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Oh and one more thing: weather-resistence: Olympus is offering that, Panasonic not.

Panasonic was showing 12-35 + 35-100 wr lenses... so a good chance to see wr gh3 ?
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BJL

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@deejjjaaaa,
I have not seen that weather sealing mentioned, but one would hope that when Panasonic starts labeling some lenses with "X" for higher quality, the price premium would include a few gaskets for weather-resistance.

Between those Panasonic f/2.8 zooms and the Olympus 75/1.8 and 60/2.8 macro, all four promised vaguely for "later this year", m43 seems to betrooping to take a step up in level, trying to appeal to more demanding photographers (I eschew the vapid distinction of "pro" level). Maybe Olympus and Panasonic feel that they have closed the performance gap with SLRs in areas like viewfinders and focusing to the point that this now makes sense.
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hellbike

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you may be more interested in fuji x-pro1, which will have much better IQ than e-m5 (and optical viewfinder).

olympus has much better autofocus if you'll decide to photographs goats (or whatever you find climbing mountains) and much more durable body if you encounter one of those.
And much wider lens selection.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 06:01:06 pm by hellbike »
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BJL

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you may be more interested in fuji x-pro1, which will have much better IQ than e-m5 (and optical viewfinder)
Maybe about 2/3 stop more light gathering ability (when I do not need to stop down for adequate DOF) does not for me translate into "much better image quality", in particular not as soon as I want a FOV not given by the few lenses available (all single focal length) and cannot adjust FOV by changing position --- then I have to crop, getting lower resolution, and often enough the crop would leave a smaller image size than the 4/3" senses gives. And my budget would limit my focal length options even more: $2,300 for one focal length, $2,900 for two.

Also, for me, a non-TTL optical viewfinder that does not display focus information, is prone to parallax error at close range, and only works at a couple of focal lengths, is of minimal value: it is a pseudo-rangefinder without the principal virtue advertised by the word "rangefinder".

At least the throw-back design elements of the OM-D only hamper form, not function.

Well maybe the X Pro 1 fits well for some people, but it is so different from the OM-D that I find the comparison strange.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 06:29:41 pm by BJL »
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hellbike

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Maybe about 2/3 stop more light gathering ability (when I do not need to stop down for adequate DOF) does not for me translate into "much better image quality", in particular not as soon as I want a FOV not given by the few lenses available (all single focal length) and cannot adjust FOV by changing position --- then I have to crop, getting lower resolution, and often enough the crop would leave a smaller image size than the 4/3" senses gives. And my budget would limit my focal length options even more: $2,300 for one focal length, $2,900 for two.

Also, for me, a non-TTL optical viewfinder that does not display focus information, is prone to parallax error at close range, and only works at a couple of focal lengths, is of minimal value: it is a pseudo-rangefinder without the principal virtue advertised by the word "rangefinder".

At least the throw-back design elements of the OM-D only hamper form, not function.

Well maybe the X Pro 1 fits well for some people, but it is so different from the OM-D that I find the comparison strange.

i think these are very similar cameras; these both are for people who want DSLR quality in smaller package.
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BJL

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i think these are very similar cameras; these both are for people who want DSLR quality in smaller package.
That one point in common still leaves them very different in suitability to a particular photographers interests, once you look at the systems as a whole: almost as different as rangefinder vs SLR. For my photographic objectives, one difference is enough: the entire X Pro 1 lens system is limited to a focal length range of 3x, with about the FOV range of a typical 3x standard zoom, and so almost no real telephoto range. M43 instead offers a 25x range, from 12mm to 300mm. [Edit: 43x range, from 7-300mm, or "14-600 equivalent"] And zoom lenses.

If you find these systems similar, I suppose that it is because your main goals for a compact system lie within the territory that the X Pro 1 covers.

On the other hand, although the m43 lens system also offers primes that match all the X Pro 1 lenses for FOV plus numerous additional options, two of the X Pro 1 lenses offer minimum f-stops as low as their m43 counterparts, so due to the format being large by a linear factor of about 1.2 to 1.3, can probably handle low light situations with about a 1/2 to 2/3 stop speed advantage and 1/2 to 2/3 stop more background blur.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 08:13:51 pm by BJL »
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hellbike

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That one point in common still leaves them very different in suitability to a particular photographers interests, once you look at the systems as a whole: almost as different as rangefinder vs SLR. For my photographic objectives, one difference is enough: the entire X Pro 1 lens system is limited to a focal length range of 3x, with about the FOV range of a typical 3x standard zoom, and so almost no real telephoto range. M43 instead offers a 25x range, from 12mm to 300mm. And zoom lenses.

If you find these systems similar, I suppose that it is because your main goals for a compact system lie within the territory that the X Pro 1 covers.

On the other hand, although the m43 lens system also offers primes that match all the X Pro 1 lenses for FOV plus numerous additional options, two of the X Pro 1 lenses offer minimum f-stops as low as their m43 counterparts, so due to the format being large by a linear factor of about 1.2 to 1.3, can probably handle low light situations with about a 1/2 to 2/3 stop speed advantage and 1/2 to 2/3 stop more background blur.

You'r right. However:" this fuji is 1/2 to 2/3 stops better in terms of speed and blur, what's moreover i don't care about autofocus and durability of my camera, therefore i love fuji and don't care about olympus" do you think this is on people's mind right now?

I doubt it. Indeed these are different cameras, but type of differences is similar to those between nikon and canon cameras.

And about telephoto zooms for fuji - these are coming in 2013.

Fuji is aiming at leica users, while olympus is aiming for snapshotters(in addition to "advanced enthusiasts"/professionals), but these are mostly design/tactical decisions, rather that decisions infuencing quality of the camera.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2012, 08:22:06 pm by hellbike »
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BJL

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" this fuji is 1/2 to 2/3 stops better in terms of speed and blur, what's moreover i don't care about autofocus and durability of my camera, therefore i love fuji and don't care about olympus" do you think this is on people's mind right now?

I doubt it.

...

And about telephoto zooms for fuji - these are coming in 2013.
I am glad that you do not think that the 1/2 to 2/3 stop sensor size difference is a big deal; I must have misunderstood what you meant by your claim that the X Pro 1 "will have much better IQ than the E-M5".

I agree that if Fujifilm adds a sufficiently wide range of zoom lenses, the system could become much more like Micro Four Thirds or NEX or NX. But what has been said about those zoom lenses? Given the emphasis on the hybrid OVF/EVF, I am not expecting a wide focal length range, but perhaps the system will be expanded with other bodies that rely mostly or entirely on "video viewfinders", of either the rear screen or peep-hole variety.


P. S. isn't it strange that we already have seven different lens mounts in the new mirror less "EVIL" camera class, more than there ever were in DSLRs, and probably too many to all survive in the long run.
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JBerardi

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This looks like the mirorrless body we've been waiting for. Small, lightweight, inexpensive. Built in EVF, flip-floppy LCD. In-body stabilization for a body that mounts basically any lens ever. Metal body with environmental sealing and a reasonable control layout. And the autofocus allegedly sets a new benchmark for contrast-detect cameras, although that certainly needs to be tested in the real world. I mean, that's everything that anyone wanted, right?

Now, you could say the same thing about the NEX cameras, but for me the difference is the lens ecosystem. That Zeiss 24 1/8 notwithstanding, m4/3rds is the system to be in for small, high quality, inexpensive primes (it seems like it isn't a problem for a lot of people but I continue to be baffled by the "lens three times the size of the camera" design that Sony keeps pushing for the NEX stuff). In the m4/3rds system, you can get a three lens kit that's very high quality, covers a wide range, doesn't cost much more than $1000, and takes up less space and weight than the extra battery from your D4 does. I'm blown away by the sheer practicality of it all...
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