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08-15-2013, 08:35 PM   #1
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First day with the Olympus OMD EM5

Like my D800 and D600 threads, this will be a sounding board for my findings with these Pentax alternatives....


First things first, this system is overpriced when your first look at it. Much like what I thought about the Q at first. The kit lens/body combo retails for around $1300, even though the camera is already a year into its life cycle it hasn't really come down in price. But it is the best m4/3 camera on the market, period. Especially for an SLR shooter looking for a smaller kit.

From the first time you power on, you can tell, this camera is something special. The body has an incredible feeling of quality and durability to it. It feels incredibly solid, like it will last for decades much like the original 70's film camera's that this digital device is inspired by.

The menu system is very easy to navigate around, and nearly every button has full customization, you can plop commands everywhere and anywhere! I naturally have it setup exactly like my Pentax K5 and Nikon D800 for simplicity sake, with the added benefit of being able to move the iso control to a button right by the control dials.

The intelligent view finder that swaps from live view on the beautiful tilty display to the EVF operates very quick swapping back and forth the second you pull your eye away. The only problem is that if you pull the camera too close to your body, especially if your in shadow, it will swap over to the EVF from the live view screen.


unprocessed with kit lens
The EVF was a scary thought... but so was a straight live view camera like other m4/3 cameras. However, this camera gives you an amazing pair of tools to compose your photos on. Unlike other flippy screens I've used, this one feels incredibly solid and robust, almost like you could drop it extended and it would be perfectly fine. The screen is very clear and has fantastic contrast, even in the bright August mid day sun it is still beautiful and visible. Oh, and it's touch screen. didn't know that. probably won't use it.

The EVF is also equally impressive in the short time I've used this camera. The refresh rate is quick, and its very bright. It does not offer as large an image as that of the D800, but its somewhere in between that and the Pentax K5's view finder in terms of brightness and clarity....but this one is digital. There is some ghosting if you do quick movements, but it's much better than I anticipated after reading other reviews. It really is quite good.

The autofocus for single shot mode by the way... brilliant. There is no other word to describe it. Incredibly fast, accurate, and just...brilliant.

The kit lens on the other hand, well semi-disappointing. Or should I say.... amazingly disappointing? with the amazing being positive, but the disappointing being negative. It's too big. It really is. I hate the size of this thing. It's also clunky, as it has this built in electronic power zoom feature which is slow and a pain in the ass to use. It could be amazing for video, but for stills when you just want to jump from wide to tele in an heartbeat... it leaves a lot to be desired. Now...if it included the Zoom lock feature like the old Pentax film power zoom series lenses (you lock onto your subject and the lens adjusts zoom to keep the subject the same size as it approaches you) that would be cool... but no I can't be that fortunate. Oh, but the lens has a manual zoom feature, too bad it sounds like grinding motors. The sleeve for selecting zoom modes also is very loose and keeps jumping back and forth. I really don't like the operation of this lens.

unprocessed with adapted Pentax DA 10-17

The nice thing is that it's 100% contained in and of itself, it does not extend as you zoom in. So it stays the same large size. I guess it's not so bad when you consider it's a 24mm to 100mm equivalent lens, in that case it is quite small. Too bad it's slow with a max aperture of 3.5.

However, it does have pretty solid optical quality. The details it picks out are sound, and the images are vivid and hold contrast well. Very Pentax like images in my opinion, with a tiny bit richer color. No need to select a color profile like the D800 either which is very nice. One less step.

Now, the main thing that convinced me to try this out was a Fotidox PK-m4/3 adapter I found used at a local camera shop for $5 last week. With the battery flashing dead I quickly got off a quick shot with the Pentax DA 10-17 fisheye mounted up. I can't wait to see what I can do with the FA Limiteds!

This is a cool camera, and I'm excited to have it in my collection. It is the perfect size for every day shooting, especially with that tilty screen and EVF. It's stealthy, much harder to get noticed using it than say...yanking out a D800. But the best part is that it's light, and still built like a tank. I think I'll take it bike riding with me this weekend.

I'm gonna put it through some good tests right away... I'll take it out for a bike ride this Sunday, then next week I plan on using it to shoot a few live bands, should be able to see how good that AF tracking is, how good the low light noise performance is, and that 5 axis image stabilization!


Did I buy this to replace anything? No. I bought it out of sheer curiosity. In fact, it could very well end up being a shelf queen like my MX, ME, Spotmatic II, K1000... but we will see what happens.

right now:

Pentax pros: colors and contrast are top notch. FA Limited series lenses are just amazing lenses. Great high iso performance. great anti-shake system. compact and heavily weather sealed. easy to find lenses used, and for great prices. the best ergonomics I've come across in a camera. K5 still beats almost all other cameras in terms of image quality. fantastic battery life

Nikon pros: autofocus is quick and accurate. flash system is brilliant. image quality of D800 is fantastic.lots of non-oem lenses and accessories available.

olympus pros: compact, easy to use, built like a tank, great for incognito shooting, great colors

Pentax cons: autofocus system is weak. no "new" flagship camera in 3 years (counting the K5ii as a refresh not a new model), non-oem lens selection limited

nikon cons: incredibly heavy, not as well weather sealed as the competition, the "great" lenses are considerably more expensive than other brands. no shake reduction unless included in the lens. more post-processing steps required

olympus cons: lenses, even the primes are quite expensive. limited lens selection. battery life is not very good.


Pentax K5 kit: for shooting live music, travel, can swap to film kit easily, good kit to keep in the car as backup for my D800, ironically a better performer for strobe work in the studio, better long range kit

Nikon D800 kit: for professional portrait work, great for landscapes, going wide angle.

Olympus OMD kit: for incognito street shooting, taking out on the bike or other places to save weight

Pentax Q: ultimate portable kit, great for keeping in the diaper bag to get those priceless shots, for sparking the creative juices when the big boys have eaten up all your inspiration.



The following images are unprocessed:








(adapted DA 10-17 fisheye)

08-15-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
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It is an interesting camera, isn't it? I have had one for maybe some 9 months and use it as my primary camera now. When traveling, the lower weight makes it much nicer to carry than even a smallish DSLR like my K-5. The kit zoom is a mixed bag. On the other hand, the focal length is suitable for a general lens, it is WR and has a reasonable macro function. But admittedly it is kinda long in relation to the camera body, slow aperture-wise and ... well, of kit zoom quality. Some primes are much much smaller and mostly very nice, like the 45mm for example.

What irritates me to some point is the short battery life. And without any extra grip I find the body too small to hold. So I use the official grip without the extra battery part, which would make the whole camera bigger and heavier. But every time I change the battery, I have to remove the grip. What were they thinking?

But in conclusion, it is a pretty good camera. When my kids recently had a party where I took lots of photos, I did not even consider using my randomly focusing K-5 but the E-M5 in stead with spot on focusing and nearly as good IQ.
08-16-2013, 06:54 AM   #3
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Don't forget to try the touchscreen for autofocus (when appropriate). You can tap anywhere on the screen and it will AF and shoot in an instant. S-AF is so fast and reliably accurate, plus you choose exactly where to focus, arbitrarily.
08-16-2013, 06:49 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I'm definitely going to give the touchscreen AF/shooting method a try, it sounds like it could work swimingly. I did have a little change of game today.

First things first, I went out this morning to shoot and just screamed hatred at this kit lens. it's so annoying. Its big, its slow, power zoom sucks, and the grindy manual zoom makes me feel like I'm hurting it. So I came up with a game plan. I usually only shoot primes on all four of my systems (645. K, Q, F) aside from a 70-200mm equivalent lens which is my only zoom. My most used focal length on all systems goes 85mm, 50mm, 28mm. So why not do the same with the OMD? That, and while the black is sexy magic, the silver is just so classic. so...........

I went and exchanged the kit for a silver only body, and a 45mm 1.8 Olympus lens. I also decided, why not grab the 15mm f8 lens cap lens as well. battery is on the charger, but I did get a few shots before the exchange with the f8 lens. and I'm impressed, I really really really like this lens... like a lot.

The 15mm Olympus lens cap lens is worth the price of admission. It's $50. but I think if you own a m4/3 or think about getting a m4/3 camera, this has to join your kit bag. It's so much fun. Its hyperfocal, so constant f8 is all you need, just keep it open and go. There is a "close up mode" which works okay as well. Its a 30mm focal length which is great for street. It's also soft, but sharp... figure that out.

I haven't shot with the 45 yet...














08-18-2013, 11:45 AM   #5
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The OMD does lend itself well to HDR shots...










All three done with the pinhole lenscap lens

I think I'm gonna order the 07 Lens for my Q now too.
08-18-2013, 08:50 PM   #6
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Having multiple OM4t bodies and lenses and E1, E330, E30, and an EPL1 I was excited to see this camera. A friend brought one by work so I could play with it. I am sure it is a very nice camera but I was greatly put off by the feel and construction. Part of it was probably the kit lens. But I just kept thinking this has nothing to do with a real OM camera. Heck, the E1 is much closer. They should have named it something else. Crossed it off my list. Oh well.

Same friend brought by his Fuji X10 and X100. X100 was pretty but I hated the way it worked. He got me with the Sigma DP1Merrill though. Cost me money.

thanks
barondla

PS: he has sold all these cameras except the Sigma.
08-18-2013, 09:03 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Having multiple OM4t bodies and lenses and E1, E330, E30, and an EPL1 I was excited to see this camera. A friend brought one by work so I could play with it. I am sure it is a very nice camera but I was greatly put off by the feel and construction. Part of it was probably the kit lens. But I just kept thinking this has nothing to do with a real OM camera. Heck, the E1 is much closer. They should have named it something else. Crossed it off my list. Oh well.

Same friend brought by his Fuji X10 and X100. X100 was pretty but I hated the way it worked. He got me with the Sigma DP1Merrill though. Cost me money.

thanks
barondla

PS: he has sold all these cameras except the Sigma.

I feel the same way when Pentax came out with the MX1. I was excited at first, but as time went on, and I purchased the camera and brought it home...put it beside my MX and went... why is this thing share the same name as my old film body? and let it go back to the store soon thereafter.

I guess never owning an Olympus camera before has let me get over that hurdle with the OMD
08-20-2013, 01:23 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Having multiple OM4t bodies and lenses and E1, E330, E30, and an EPL1 I was excited to see this camera. A friend brought one by work so I could play with it. I am sure it is a very nice camera but I was greatly put off by the feel and construction. Part of it was probably the kit lens. But I just kept thinking this has nothing to do with a real OM camera. Heck, the E1 is much closer. They should have named it something else. Crossed it off my list. Oh well.

Same friend brought by his Fuji X10 and X100. X100 was pretty but I hated the way it worked. He got me with the Sigma DP1Merrill though. Cost me money.

thanks
barondla

PS: he has sold all these cameras except the Sigma.
Aren't you a Q fan, barondla? If so I'm surprised you didn't like the OM-D. The Olympus with its small primes (and to a lesser extent the Nikon 1 system, which is slowly getting there, too) is showing the potential of what a Pentax Q system could be with a few more good lenses and some more tweaks to the body. The main difference would be the advantages and disadvantages that come with sensor size.

08-21-2013, 08:25 AM   #9
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Update on the fly. I'm going back to a black body. I love my camera store for their patience in my mental ways.

I love this camera. It's so much fun and just perfect for street shooting. I threw my 75-150 f4 M lens on it last night and went to the street performrers festival and got some great shots. A few on my flickr page, more on my hard drive to be processed. It's a pretty awesome combo aside from the PF one gets from the M lens. Surprisingly balanced.

I think I'm gonna grab the Penny Leica 25mm lens in a few weeks and call it a kit. Maybe grab the grip too...

Haven't charged the battery yet either and just cranking out the shots. More impressed with this than the D800.

08-21-2013, 03:06 PM   #10
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Nice summery of the camera. There are so many times when I don't need the quality of my D800 so my mirrorless ends up taking lots of pictures too. I wish it had the focus speed of the EM5, however.
08-21-2013, 05:44 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Urkeldaedalus Quote
Aren't you a Q fan, barondla? If so I'm surprised you didn't like the OM-D. The Olympus with its small primes (and to a lesser extent the Nikon 1 system, which is slowly getting there, too) is showing the potential of what a Pentax Q system could be with a few more good lenses and some more tweaks to the body. The main difference would be the advantages and disadvantages that come with sensor size.
Yep, huge supporter of the Q. The OM-D just didn't do it for me. It struck me as a gussied up version of my Olympus EPL1. Which I bought to be a small camera system to carry when not taking the DSLR. The Q and Nikon 1didn't exist at that time. The m43 wasn't small enough to fit in a pocket. When the Q came out I knew it was my other system. Think the aps-c and m43 systems are just to close for me. Plus I would rather shoot with Pentax K5 than any Olympus I own.

Do think using the OM-D name was unfortunate. This camera has nothing in common with the original Om cameras. Different lens mount (x2), not an slr, and so on. I am sure it is a nice camera. For me, the Pentax will always offer better quality and the Q will always be smaller. M4/3 falls between the cracks for me.

I agree with wired. Pentax squandered a great name( MX) on a nice but non legendary PnS camera. The MX deserved more, much more. Pentax honors history more than most companies so this surprised me. It fills me with dread that they may waste LX on a camera so unimportant.

thanks
barondla

Last edited by barondla; 08-21-2013 at 05:53 PM.
08-21-2013, 09:37 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Yep, huge supporter of the Q. The OM-D just didn't do it for me. It struck me as a gussied up version of my Olympus EPL1. Which I bought to be a small camera system to carry when not taking the DSLR. The Q and Nikon 1didn't exist at that time. The m43 wasn't small enough to fit in a pocket. When the Q came out I knew it was my other system. Think the aps-c and m43 systems are just to close for me. Plus I would rather shoot with Pentax K5 than any Olympus I own.

Do think using the OM-D name was unfortunate. This camera has nothing in common with the original Om cameras. Different lens mount (x2), not an slr, and so on. I am sure it is a nice camera. For me, the Pentax will always offer better quality and the Q will always be smaller. M4/3 falls between the cracks for me.

I agree with wired. Pentax squandered a great name( MX) on a nice but non legendary PnS camera. The MX deserved more, much more. Pentax honors history more than most companies so this surprised me. It fills me with dread that they may waste LX on a camera so unimportant.

thanks
barondla
What if they were to use the LX name on a camera that combined the LX, K5, D600, and EM5....

D600 sensor, K5 menu system and pro features , EM5 viewfinder and mirror less, and LX body style? I would buy it...

08-22-2013, 05:17 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Yep, huge supporter of the Q. The OM-D just didn't do it for me. It struck me as a gussied up version of my Olympus EPL1. Which I bought to be a small camera system to carry when not taking the DSLR. The Q and Nikon 1didn't exist at that time. The m43 wasn't small enough to fit in a pocket. When the Q came out I knew it was my other system. Think the aps-c and m43 systems are just to close for me. Plus I would rather shoot with Pentax K5 than any Olympus I own.

Do think using the OM-D name was unfortunate. This camera has nothing in common with the original Om cameras. Different lens mount (x2), not an slr, and so on. I am sure it is a nice camera. For me, the Pentax will always offer better quality and the Q will always be smaller. M4/3 falls between the cracks for me.

I agree with wired. Pentax squandered a great name( MX) on a nice but non legendary PnS camera. The MX deserved more, much more. Pentax honors history more than most companies so this surprised me. It fills me with dread that they may waste LX on a camera so unimportant.

thanks
barondla
I can see what you're saying about camera companies mining the past for their marketing. I was initially quite turned off by Fuji's use of a rangefinder like design in their Fuji X100 to "trick" consumers into the idea that they were buying a cheap digital rangefinder. Olympus has been fairly guilty of this as well, with their OM-D and Pen series cameras. Pentax with their MX-1 is another example, as I've always identified the MX with its gigantic viewfinder and sexy simple simplicity and the MX-1 has no such thing

I can also see what you're saying by "fall between the cracks." as M4/3 is a sort of inbetweener system compared to smaller sensors, just like APS-C has become with full frame sensors. The nice thing about advancing technology is that I feel sensor size won't be the limiter anymore soon, it'll just be a different flavor that people can pick for different characteristics depending on what works for them. You've got small sensor cameras like the Q system and high end point-and-shoots, the 1" inch sensor is well represented by the RX100 series and the Nikon 1 system, they're getting more and more out of M4/3, APS-C is the new 35 mm standard, Sigma has an interesting niche with their Foveon sensors, and full frame is finally approaching affordability for the general consumer and not just advanced amateurs and pros while also retaining its boutique and pro appeal with its high-end models. Medium format seems like the odd man out at this time, but we'll see what advances come with the next releases.

I'm torn on whether Pentax needs to upscale the Q and release some premium lenses to give it some more cache with pros and wealthy hobbyists or if they should keep with their sort of whimsical (and I mean that in a good, Pentaxy sort of way) direction for the camera that is based more on having fun. I am interested in seeing what they do if they ever release a HQ wide angle and their upcoming macro.

Last edited by Urkeldaedalus; 08-22-2013 at 05:25 AM.
08-22-2013, 05:22 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
What if they were to use the LX name on a camera that combined the LX, K5, D600, and EM5....

D600 sensor, K5 menu system and pro features , EM5 viewfinder and mirror less, and LX body style? I would buy it...
Oh geez, a digital LX would be amazing, although I'd love it if they could keep an OVF. I'm not sure if any company besides Leica can get away with having no autofocus in their premium bodies in this day and age but I'd still probably be really tempted if the price was right. This might be what an eventual FF NEX system will be for a lot of people, practically, especially if Pentax dawdles too long on bringing out their FF solution.
08-22-2013, 05:40 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
Update on the fly. I'm going back to a black body. I love my camera store for their patience in my mental ways.

I love this camera. It's so much fun and just perfect for street shooting. I threw my 75-150 f4 M lens on it last night and went to the street performrers festival and got some great shots. A few on my flickr page, more on my hard drive to be processed. It's a pretty awesome combo aside from the PF one gets from the M lens. Surprisingly balanced.

I think I'm gonna grab the Penny Leica 25mm lens in a few weeks and call it a kit. Maybe grab the grip too...

Haven't charged the battery yet either and just cranking out the shots. More impressed with this than the D800.
I think you'll like the 25 mm f/1.4 quite a bit. One of the nice things about it is that with the EM-5's autofocus and greater DOF you can shoot at f/1.4-f/2.0 pretty much all the time and feel safe that it won't miss its mark without worrying about things like "did I get the eyes in focus, or was it on the tip of their nose?" Of course the DOF isn't as narrow as a "real" 50 f/1.4, but I find it to be narrow enough to still really enjoy the creaminess of the bokeh and quality of the rendering.
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