Thursday
May102012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Field Notes

We had the chance to use a friends Olympus OM-D E-M5 for a weekend.

Here is our take on all the Olympus m43 cameras so far before the OM-D E-M5.

In short: We would have preferred the Panasonic GH2 all the time.

More Details:

  • No or external EVF which is not really optimal (although we liked the swivel on the EVF)
  • 12MP vs 16MP resolution
  • Video on the GH2 was way more interesting
  • Missing swivel or tilt LCD on most models
  • Handling (very subjective though)

Most of this is addressed with the new Olympus OM-D E-M5:

  • 2 dials for e.g. aperture and EV compensation which improves handling a lot
  • Nice tilt LCD
  • 16MP on an improved sensor
  • Very nice EVF built-in with good refresh rate
  • Video is likely still better on the GH2 (especially if hacked)

There are also important extras:

  • Weather sealing
  • IBIS (In Camera Image Stabilization)
  • Small body (again very subjective of course)
  • Snappy AF and fast operation
  • Higher ISO images possible than with the GH2
  • Live bulb mode could be interesting (did not try though)
  • Flash not built-in but a small unit comes with the camera.
  • SD card slot on the side and not in the battery compartment
  • Shutter is quite quiet and feels solid

What we like to see improved:

  • Lens hood for the 12-50mm kit lens is extra
  • default focus point is too big. Changing a bit of a hassle and still not that small.
  • No CA and vignetting correction info passed to the raw converter (The GH2 does just that)
  • Video with default setting showed very strong aliasing
  • There is a humming from the camera. This seems to be related to the IBIS implementation but is noticeable even with IS turned off. On the other hand you only hear it in very quiet environments and it is no real practical annoyance.
  • Setting up the camera can be confusing
  • tripod socket not centered under lens

What about the lenses?

  • The 12-50mm kit lens is very versatile with an excellent range (effective 24-100mm compared to FF cameras). Here you would like to see support for distortion corrections from the camera. At first we looked at images from this lens and were not impressed. Later we processed some images in PictureCode's Photo Ninja (an new not yet released raw converter, coming hopefully soon) and were quite happy with the results.
  • There are really nice prime lenses available for the m43 system. We used the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 and the 45mm f/2.8 Macro and both were excellent on the E-M5.
  • Did not test the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4 but we heard it is fine.
  • Still missing are fast and high quality zooms (e.g. 12-35mm and 35-100mm).

Image Quality

First Conclusion (we still hope we get a loaner from Olympus for a longer period)

Some say this is the best m43 camera as of now and we agree. Today we would clearly pick the E-M5 for stills and the GH2 for video.

Learn more about our detailed image processing workflow.

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Reader Comments (10)

Great First Notes. Looking forward to more impressions and pictures.

05-9-2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

You know the real notes are actually the pictures. Not sure when (even if) I get a new OMD. Much to like about the OMD.

05-9-2012 | Registered CommenterUwe Steinmueller

Great article Uwe! I just got the magic e-mail that my OM-D is on its way, so I will be posting my own version of this as well. I would certainly like to compare notes with you.

05-9-2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos Echenique

Fine with me.

05-10-2012 | Registered CommenterUwe Steinmueller

Great camera, agree with your comments. IQ is excellent - I guess it is the same Panasonic sensor as in the G3, but as is often the case, the third party seems to get more out of the sensor than the manufacturer! (cf Nikon and Sony). Second body arrived today, so now I have an identical back-up/second lens body! Small size and low weight are a huge benefit, but the fist-stage grip does little to detract from this, and makes the handling better, and even the second stage grip leaves you with a light and small camera, but with extra controls, even better handling, and a second battery (the grip was free here in the UK for pre-orders, but will need to buy another if I decide I want it for the second body). The absence of lens hoods with the Olympus lenses is a real pain - not only are they expensive, but difficult to get - it is outrageous that even the expensive 12mm comes without a hood.

05-10-2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Hessey

>The absence of lens hoods with the Olympus lenses is a real pain

That is why I mention it. Seems they make the profit from the hoods :-)

05-10-2012 | Unregistered CommenterUwe Steinmueller

What image quality issue did not impress you regarding the 12-50mm lens ? In which sense did Photo Ninja solve this issue (since I remember Photo Ninja just focussing on noise) ? Regarding your image samples, which RAW processor did you apply ? Thanks !

05-30-2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Weikert

>since I remember Photo Ninja just focussing on noise

As mentioned Photo Ninja is a future non released raw converter. Noise Ninja is the available noise tool.

05-30-2012 | Registered CommenterUwe Steinmueller

Thanks ! Just one left: what was the image qualilty issue you were not impressed, just the noise, or other issues too such as distortion, resolution, etc ? Did you also processed your sample images by this non-released Ninja RAW processor ? Thanks again !

05-30-2012 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Weikert

Was more about the look. Probably I can also do it in LR4.

05-30-2012 | Registered CommenterUwe Steinmueller

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