OM-D E-M1 initial thoughts (mini review)

Discussion in 'The Gallery' started by dche5390, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    It has been 4 years of full-frame goodness, from my very first 5D to the 5D3, having full-frame seemed to be pivotal to the job. Recently, the 5D3 has been bugging me with hard to see AF points (in the dark), crippled dual card system, and weight. These things when paired with anything larger than a 35mm take their toll after a long day's work.

    I never got into micro 4/3s. A long time ago I played with a GF-1. I didn't like it. That was the last of m4/3. Until this week.

    I don't know what sparked the idea, but once it crept in, it manifested quickly. I bought 2 EM1s on NYE and paired it with a Panasonic 25mm (reason being it is a 50mm equivalent on 35mm). I even splurged on a battery grip for $221 when I was too cheap to buy a battery grip for the 5D3.

    I've owned and used Canon and Nikon extensively. Apart from the D4 and 1Dx, I've owned them all. The last brand change was the brand change to end all brand changes. Or so I thought. It was from D3s/D3 combo to 5D3s. The technology was just better.

    As a wedding photographer, my criteria for a viable system revolves around autofocusing ability, lenses, and cost effectiveness. AF is the top priority with lens choice and cost effectiveness having shared import. Canon's AI-SERVO on the 5D3 has been very good. For the past year, it has served me well. Of course there have been misfocuses; party due to poor light or user error, but for the majority, tracking with a single AF-point has been fantastic on the MK3. But buffer replenishing rate with a CF + SD was a joke. Having redundancy was a farce. I was also extremely disappointed with the clustered nature of AF points on all full-frame cameras. With the OM-D series, touch anywhere, yes anywhere on the screen (which maps the entire sensor I presume) and it focuses. ANYWHERE! Top right corner, bottom left corner? Not a problem.

    6-months ago, I got my parents the original OM-D (E-M5). I bought it solely due to NAMCO's videos. The in-built stabilisation was epic. The technology was just better.

    "A smaller sensor? Why would you move to a smaller sensor?" I have been asked. Why? Why not? Looking at my work, have I really needed full-frame? The answer was a deafening 'no'.

    I must profess, ever since changing to the 5D3, I have forgotten how to meter. I've been a liveview exposure chimper for over a year now. I sure have regressed :p The beauty of the E-M1's EVF is that everything I like about liveview chimping is presented within the EVF. No need to meter. Just adjust shutterspeed/ISO to suit. Awesome. No need to wait for the flappin' mirror to flip up. No wasting time to check exposure. It is all right there within the EVF. And Oly are correct in saying that the lag in the EVF is imperceivable to most naked eyes. I guess I fit that segment. There is no lag. Much wow. My last EVF (x100s) was l-a-g to the max.

    The burst mode is insane. I suppose it is nothing compared to any 1-series but from a 5D3, being able to pop off 50 raw files non-stop is incredible. Obviously 16MP vs 22MP is a sizeable gap but still, I can burst all I want. In raw. Without pants on. Winning.

    What are the dangers of migrating away from Canon/Nikon? Loss of NPS/CPS. Not that I ever had it. I have insurance and rather have the flexibility of liquidity to buy replacements as I see fit. Obviously, there needs to be stock but to date, this method has worked well for me.

    There are definitely a few things I'm unhappy with the E-M1. For starters, the lack of battery meter is stupid. I have to set a warning to show once 50% has been expended. I'm sure I will discover more subjective critique of the system as I use it more.

    I am also a bit disappointed with the Panasonic 25/1.4. In all fairness however, it does seem to share a lot of quirks with its 35mm equiv (Canon 50/1.4) in terms of build quality and AF snappiness. Funny that.

    Real world use, nothing is as difficult as a family portrait session to me. Weddings are easy, they follow a pattern and routine. Go to enough weddings and you will know where to be, where to point said camera, and when to press the button. Children are terrifying. My last family session was 2 weeks ago. I struggled with focusing (mostly because I was shooting at f/2.2-2.5). The children moved a lot. Erratically. Without warning. Randomly. I spent most of the time changing AF points and recomposing and hoping my exposure was right.

    At this particular session, I turned face detection priority off. I think I should have left it on in hindsight. For the first 15-minutes (where the subjects were mostly stationary), I used AF-S. Then when the subjects were moving and running/walking towards me, I switched to AF-C. The AF is insanely accurate. I'm simply blown away, especially when combined with 6.5fps burst rate.

    The following photos are nothing special. I think it merely demonstrates the camera and lens' ability to achieve fast and accurate focus. When my other lenses arrive, I'll be able to provide a more rounded review.

    1.
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    10.
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    I think it did great. The main (and most obvious) difference to my eye is the depth of field. I think I prefer the greater DoF due to the smaller sensor size.

    I'm looking forward to how the new system works in a fortnights time at a wedding. With a 60mm macro, 45/1.8 and 12/2, 35-100/2.8, I'll have everything I will possibly need. Except for flashes. I need to hunt some on-camera Oly flashes down.

    PS - pairing my existing Phottix Strato II Canon trigger/receivers with the OMD EM1 has been a perfect. Obviously no TTL. Not sure if the hot shoe on top of the trigger works with a flash. Will have to test that out. But since I've moved back to continuously lighting during reception, I haven't really used too much flash since ...

    PPS - I'm selling all my canon gear here.
     
  2. herzeg

    herzeg Member

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    Subscribed...

    I went from OMD to 6D about 6 months ago, and the reality is I haven't been shooting as much, and if I have, it's mostly been with the Fuji X10 for convenience. So, been rethinking the whole thing; curious to leech off your experience some.
     
  3. Taceo Corpus

    Taceo Corpus Member

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    I bought an E-M5 last month and just yesterday picked up the Olympus M.ZUIKO 17mm f1.8. I've only been using it for 24 hours, but I'm already blown away with the build and image quality.

    I'm really looking forward to finding out what you think of the battery life. I know on my E-M5 I find that the battery seems to die fairly quickly, coming from a DSLR where you don't really need to pay attention to whether the thing is on or off. Out of curiosity, did you get two grips (one for each E-M1) or just the one?
     
  4. Xang

    Xang Member

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    Dan aiming for increased depth of field.

    Never thought I'd see the day :p
     
  5. humanrace

    humanrace Member

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    interesting summary - mustve been a huge leap of faith. also, being so familiar with FF SLRs, it wouldve been a little nerve racking the first shoot you did with the oly.

    ive never actually heard of the live view metering, but it makes so much sense. i should try it.

    and increased DOF? have you been doing that a lot with SLRs or your just finding you like the look after using the m4/3rds
     
  6. OP
    OP
    dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    With the 5D3, I chimped a lot so battery was chewed up fairly quickly. But I would rarely ever use more than 2 LP-E6s. With the OM-D, the battery size is significantly smaller, although Oly have done some quasi wizardry in having large capacity in their BLN-1. That said, I think I will need 3 spares as a minimum per body to last a 12-15 hour assignment.

    I got just the one grip. They're expensive. I might get the grip that Steve Huff got. It isn't a vertical grip but adds a bit more length to make the E-M1 easier to hold in the hand. I wish for the price, the grip had its own multi-direction pad/stick to change AF points quickly. I had the same complaint with Nikon's battery grips for D700 and even with the D3/D3s. I have small hands. I'm Asian :D

    Not really. I've changed brands a few times now so it is a matter of listing the pros and cons before proceeding. When I switched from Nikon to Canon, it was based on glass, ISO performance above ISO 3200, and cost. Nikon glass was really expensive. After selling all my Nikon gear, buying more (brand new) glass I ever had, I still had change in my pocket. The same principle applies with Canon to Oly OMD.

    After 5 years of photography, I think I have come to accept that narrow DoF is the crux of what a lot of us rely on. "Ooooooh the boorrrkeeeeeehhhhh" Take that away, what is left? A boring, poorly composed, poorly thought out composition. My obsession with the tilt-shift was of a similar nature. "Let's blur the fuck out of everything so that I don't have to think about composition." - I see a lot of that in my industry. I guess I'm just getting old and grumpy cat has inspired me.
     
  7. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Whilst not the EM-1, my playing around with my GF's EP-5 and Oly 17 F1.8 have had me seriously thinking of selling the 7D and lenses. Generally, I've found the EP-5 to be more accurate to AF, the IQ is actually better than the 7D, High ISO is about on par, ifn ot a tad better - but the IBIS has meant I can hand hold shots with the 17mm @ 1/5 at night. that means I can walk around at night without a trip - unless I am aiming some sort of fancy long exposure type thing.

    And Oly aren't targeting their stills camera at video...

    DOF, as Dan said, not as shallow, though you can certainly get some good bokeh going with the right lenses. And there are a few available.

    I also found people seem not to notice the EP-5 if I am trying to take "street" photos of randoms sucking on a smoke. Unlike the 7D, which tends to bring on way more attention.

    Nice summary Dan. Overall, do you think it is worth it, so far?

    Z...
     
  8. squaredonut

    squaredonut Member

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    Interesting, you should seriously give the 75mm f1.8 a try though, that's probably the cream of the crop of all m43 lenses, I love mine and I can't seem to part with it, really reminds me of the 135mm L f2 canon.
     
  9. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Thanks for this tip. I'll look at getting one for my GF....

    Z...
     
  10. humanrace

    humanrace Member

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    its true, and I'm one of them! :(

    i really appreciate people who can create truely unique compositions without having to rely on shallow DOF or underexposing backgrounds whilst lighting the subject
     
  11. OP
    OP
    dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    It is only early days, with only one real world test so far with one lens. I'm supposed to drop by DigiDirect and haggle some prices down today but I've got a lot of work to do. For my purposes, I think it was the wise move. Risky, impulsive and random - but I'm like that. I think I will miss the megapickles the most. That was what enticed me initially. 22MP to crop. So good. Now I have 16MP to work with.

    As with the 135L, it doesn't suit my line of work. I don't have time/energy/motivation to run 20 meters away and then shout directions. As the lead photographer, I have to be close by to provide directions. Compression is great. Bokeh is great. But does it matter in business? Absolutely not.

    So no 75/1.8. The 45/1.8 will do. And the 35-100/2.8 for groom reaction down the aisle.
     
  12. Statitica

    Statitica Member

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    When DOF is merely one part in the composition puzzle, I really don't see an issue with using it. Having a narrow DOF is not going to hide poor lighting, poor background choice or any other flaws in the shot...
     
  13. OP
    OP
    dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    Overuse with the justification of 'dreamy art'.
     
  14. Zee

    Zee Member

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    I'd have to say, I'm quite guilty of the thin DOF overuse syndrome. Using the m4:3, in this sense, is kind of like going from a zoom to a prime.

    Anyway, I'm still debating. And whilst I actually want an EP-5, no one makes an underwater housing for it, and seeing as UW photography is what got me in to photography to begin with, it's a bit of a deal breaker. Shame the EM-1 is so much more pricey....


    Z....
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  15. OP
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    dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    Give it 18 months. Price will drop :D
     
  16. Taceo Corpus

    Taceo Corpus Member

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    There's an underwater housing for the E-M5... The E-P5 is the PEN, not the OM-D.

    That's one of the things that drew me towards the E-M5 in the first place.
     
  17. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Yup, I know - and I specifically want an EP-5 and housing, (which no one makes) as the camera is a tad better specced than the EM-5, and I can remove the VF-4 when I'm just happy snapping whilst doing the tourist thing.

    The EM-1 gives me pretty much everything, but built in EVF, and weathersealing, but at a significant cost hike, and a small size hike.

    But such is...

    Z...
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  18. Deftone2k

    Deftone2k In the Darkroom

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    The moons will never align.
     
  19. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Yeah, I think it means hanging out for a second hand EM-1 at a good price.

    Hopefully, it means a 2nd hand housing will also be findable by then, seeing as the housing system is usually 2-3x the price of the camera body!

    Who knows, maybe they'll update the EM-5 and give me what I want at a $1k price point.

    *dreaming*

    Z...
     
  20. OP
    OP
    dche5390

    dche5390 Member

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    I got some hands-on real world usage out of the OMD EM1 one again yesterday. Unlike the first sample set, this was more of what I'm used to shooting and a better experience to compare workflow between the OMD and previous Canon 5D3 system.

    The session was for my junior associate. To give her a better understanding of how I direct and interact with clients, I threw she and her husband in front of the camera. So that is the context.

    Since the Panasonic 25/1.4, I have added the Oly 17/1.8, 12/2 and 45/1.8. I have a macro 60mm on order. I would love to have a Oly 12-40/2.8 by the end of this week but since I haven't done anything about it, it is looking unlikely since there is no stock in Australia.

    The EVF is great. It did however have some issues when it was late afternoon towards sunset. Actually, the EVF was having some discrepancies whenever shooting into the sun I think. I have AF-constant-on turned off (and I forgot to re-engage smiley face detection again) so it confused me to see the EVF metering fluctuating considerably. Not sure how to explain it. But it was not something I had observed before.

    There was one instance where the EM1 went spastic on me. It became totally non-responsive. No buttons/dials worked. It remained powered on. I had to remove the battery grip and the camera's internal battery to turn the unit off. I may have to report this to Olympus AU for them to debug. It only happened once.

    The EVF blacks out in between shutter actuations (yes, there is a mechanical shutter). In burst mode, the EVF goes completely black.

    Tracking in AF-C was good, but with all cameras, when strongly backlit by the sun, tracking goes pear-shape. But it did very well (possibly because of the actual f-stop due to its 2x crop factor) in tracking moving subjects (walking and running and spinning).

    I was on AF-C up until image #6. From #7 onwards, I went back to AF-S.

    The biggest performance for me was shooting in darkness. With DSLRs, I required significant constant lighting to allow the camera's AF system to find focus. With the EM1, the need for fill light is irrelevant. I still had two video lights pointed towards the subjects (refer to #17-20) for the naked eye but the OMD didn't need it. By this stage, it was too dark, so I used the rear LCD. I touched the area where the subjects were and BAM, it focused immediately, triggered the 3 flashes, and took the photograph.

    How does the OMD EM1 work for off-camera flash you may ask? Scroll down to images #10 and beyond. Those are all OCF, very similar workflow to my previous one. I retained my Phottix Stato II trigger and receivers for Canon. The trigger still works, the hotshoe on the trigger still works with a flash mounted. What doesn't work (obviously), is any pass-through information.

    1. 1/250 f1.4 ISO 1000 25mm
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    2. 1/640 f1.8 ISO 200 25mm
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    3.1/1250 f3.2 ISO 200 25mm
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    4. 1/1600 f/.5 ISO 200 12mm
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    5.1/1600 f2.5 ISO 200 25mm
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    6. 1/640 f1.8 ISO 500 45mm
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    7.1/2000 f2.2 ISO 200 12mm
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    8.1/2500 f2.8 ISO 200 12mm
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    9. 1/2000 f3.2 ISO 200 12mm
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    10. 1/125 f1.6 ISO 1250 25mm
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    11. 1/125 f1.6 ISO 1250 25mm
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    12. 1/125 f1.8 ISO 2000 45mm
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    13. 1/125 f1.8 ISO 2000 45mm
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    14. 1/125 f1.8 ISO 2000 45mm
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    15. 1/200 f1.8 ISO 640 45mm
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    16. 1/160 f2 ISO 640 45mm
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    17. 1/30 f3.5 ISO 200 12mm
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    18. 1/30 f3.5 ISO 200 12mm
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    19. 1/80 f2.8 ISO 200 12mm
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    20. 1/50 f2,2 ISO 200 12mm
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    I think the EM1 doesn't have the AA filter, so sharpening in post is minimal. I left sharpening on 15 in LR5 and at 1-point in ASE. It is over-sharpened already (due to ASE).

    Workflow in LR5 hasn't altered much.. Still the same type of adjustments required. The Oly raw is fairly malleable. So far it has been good. I should have gelled the flash for #10-14 so that is user error rather than in-camera WB. And on the note of WB, auto-WB has been good. Like all auto-WB, some shifts in direction will cause it too cool or warm. Easy to fix in post.

    I did a test print of #14 at the office inkjet onto Glossy II. Looks fantastic. Sure there is plenty of noise on the screen but in print, what noise?
     

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