Olympus OM-D EM-5 User Review, brian1208 records his early impressions
I have watched the development of the micro four thirds cameras with interest since buying and then quite rapidly selling the Panasonic Lumix G1
. I was looking for a replacement for my back-up Canon DSLR which would be lighter to use as a travel camera but the compromises involved were such that I decided to stick with my Canon system.
Since then I have found that the weight of the DSLRs (Canon EOS 5D Mk2
) and associated lenses were getting too heavy for me, such that I was reduced to having to choose which lens to take with me (and it was invariably the wrong one).
When the Olympus OM-D E-M5 was announced I read all the reviews available and felt that, just maybe, here was the system that could finally replace at least my 60D
+ some of my travel lenses.
My local friendly Jessops let me play with the camera over several visits including running some images onto my SD card. Reviewing those on my PC convinced me that it was worth giving it a try so I sold my 60D
+ a couple of less used lenses and purchased the OM-D EM-5 + kit lens.
My photography covers a wide range of subjects including water sport (kite boarding and sail boarding), bugs & bees macro, studio, landscape, flowers and wildlife (particularly birds in flight and small mammals). As you can see, I'm not a specialist!
Early tests indicated that I had made the right choice so I invested some more money and got myself a travel kit which now comprises:
The weight of my old setup compared to this new setup is noticeable:
Canon EOS 5D Mk2 + 17-55mm L IS + 24-105mm L IS + 100mm L IS macro + 70-300mm L IS = 3.8kg
Olympus OM-D EM-5 + 9-18mm + 12-50mm + 45mm f1.8 + 75-300mm = 1.24 kg
Which means that I can carry my entire Olympus rig in my Lowepro Nova 180 AW shoulder bag, without injuring my shoulders or neck after a days shooting. So far I am delighted with the results I am getting under a variety of shooting situations:
Macro: with the kit lens
Crab spider with hoverfly
4 sport chaser profile
Water sports: with the Olympus 75-300mm
Board jump colour
Landscape: with the Olympus 9-18mm
Studio: with the kit lens
Colin with kit
Flowers: With the kit lens, 45mm f1.8 and 75-300mm
Wildlife & Nature: Using the Olympus 75-300mm
Birds in flight is one area were I have had real problems using the techniques I developed using my Canon DSLRs as the AF performance of the E-M5 + 75-300mm does not seem capable of getting focus lock on birds against the sky and, to a lesser extent, against other backgrounds. I have started to use manual focus for this purpose and am finding that as I develop the technique I am getting more successful with this genre. I have also found that using the 45mm f1.8 allows very rapid and accurate focus lock using S AF mode which suggests that it may be the lens that is a major contributor to this "problem".
(Since writing this I spent a while at our local airport flying club and found that the E-M5 + 75-300mm is very capable when it comes to shooting aircraft in the sky, dark planes against dark skies, distant shots and so on. I get the impression that the key is to have the subject occupying at least 30% of the frame, use the centre-point focus and shoot in SAF mode.)
Another technique I have been playing with relates to shooting macro using the "fn2" and "fn1" buttons, first to reduce the centre focus point to a minimum (I like the fact that using the "Info" button let's you select whether to use 7x, 10x or 14x magnification, I tend to use 10x). Having set this and got approximate focus on the subject tapping (very lightly) the fn2 button gives a magnified view in the view-finder which lets you manually fine focus accurately and rapidly on the subject. A quick press of the shutter button then nails the shot (but don't touch this button until you want the shot as it switches out of the magnified view).
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Conclusion:
This has been a most interesting and fun period of my photographic life, first deciding whether to buy into the m4/3rds system via the OM-D E-M5, then whether I should dispose of my Canon system. I'm happy that I made the right decison and, as others have reported, find that it has brought a sense of fun back into my hobby. It's not all good news though, I'm still finding the Menu system confusing, the buttons can be a real pain at times (as with the need to "tap" the “fn2" button to magnify the view) but it's getting better with use.
Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M5 review for full sample photos and ratings.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Pros:
Well made (some of the lenses are built like a watch)
Comparatively small, even with the battery pack
EVF is excellent, clear and large enough to compose and manual focus with
Very fast, accurate AF in SAF mode using center focus point
The kit lens is excellent value, particularly for close-up & macro work
A good range of lenses is available
The ability to use 3rd party / legacy lenses via adapters is a bonus
Prints from processed RAW images are close to the quality of those I got from my Canon system (tested up to 18"x12" so far)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Cons:
Menu system is not easy to use
Buttons are not nice to use, a bit "squidgy" and imprecise feeling
Continuous AF and Focus Tracking are not well enacted, I've stopped using this for my work
It's not best suited to shooting Birds in Flight, particularly against light, bright skies
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Specifications
|Sensor Type||Live MOS Sensor|
|Sensor Size||Micro / Four Thirds|
|Sensor Size (width)||17.3mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||13mm|
|Screen resolution||610k dots|
- Face Detection
- AF Tracking
- Touch AF
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/4000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
- Scene modes
- Centre-weighted - Average
- Multi Pattern
|ISO sensitivity||200 - 25600|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1.44million dots|
- 1920x1080 FullHD
- 1280x720 HD 720p
- 640x480 VGA
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion|
|Battery Life (CIPA rating)||330shots|
|Box Contents||Body, Flash FL-LM2, Li-ion battery BLN-1, Li-ion battery charger BCN-1, USB/Video Multi cable, Shoulder strap, OLYMPUS Viewer 2/ib CD-ROM, Instruction manual, Warranty card|
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