Micro 4/3 Ming Thein's review of Olympus OM-D E-M1

bartjeej

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bart
mft no longer pocketable. FF cameras get smaller and so do aps-c ones. MFT looses some of its competitive edge, at least as far as bodies are concerned. Time to get rid of the adjective "micro" or else compact cameras ought to be called "nano".

Reminds me of cars. The BMW 3 series grew every time a new version came out. It`s now as large as the previous 5 series. The same with the VW golf etc.

I don't think the overall developments are bad for m43.

Yes, APS-C and FF cameras are getting smaller, and yes, Panasonic and Olympus have recently introduced some larger cameras (the GH3 and E-M1 in particular), but they're also still introducing small ones (GX7, E-PL5) which share the same sensors as their bigger brothers. And these latest sensors, incidentally, are closer to contemporary APS-C performance than the sensors of early m43 cameras were.

So whereas the body size advantage is indeed decreasing (mostly due to the shrinking of larger-sensored cameras), the sensor performance disadvantage is decreasing as well. I don't think they'll ever be at the same level, simply due to the difference in sensor size, but then the performance of all these cameras will very soon reach the point where it's more than enough for 99.9% of the enthusiast photographers. The shrinking of camera sizes can only go so far, and with all else being equal, larger sensors will always require larger lenses.

So with all cameras soon being "good enough" in terms of sensor performance,* and m43 inherently having a lens size advantage, the question is whether the larger-sensored camera+lens package will also be considered "small enough" (assuming that a smaller overall package is considered better), or whether consumers will appreciate the size advantage that the overall m43 package retains.

By the way, I'm not sure if the faster lenses that m43 requires to obtain the same shallow DOF for a given FOV increase the lens to comparable (or even larger) sizes than the lenses for larger sensors, so if shallow DOF is the objective then both m43 and larger sensored systems might be about equally large, and the sensor performance of both will be good enough, meaning equal cameras in terms of both quality and size.

*I'm sure that even once this is the case, marketing people will be able to fool people into thinking they need a larger sensor to make good photos, but those consumers who take time to inform themselves will see that even fairly small sensors will have low enough noise and high enough DR for nearly all purposes.
 

drd1135

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Lexington, VA
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Steve
The funny part is that we have many posts complaining the Pen/OM-D bodies are too small, and then a group now complaining the E-M1 is too big. I prefer to see it as Olympus has a range of cameras made as small as they could be given a particular feature set.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Agreed that Olympus has a range to fit various needs. I think the new E-M1 is about perfect as I tend to add grips anyway. Since you have a lens on the camera anyway the grip does not add much "size" and it sure helps me to hold the cameras!

The E-M1 has me thinking about 14-35/2 again.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
I don't think the overall developments are bad for m43.

Yes, APS-C and FF cameras are getting smaller, and yes, Panasonic and Olympus have recently introduced some larger cameras (the GH3 and E-M1 in particular), but they're also still introducing small ones (GX7, E-PL5) which share the same sensors as their bigger brothers. And these latest sensors, incidentally, are closer to contemporary APS-C performance than the sensors of early m43 cameras were.

So whereas the body size advantage is indeed decreasing (mostly due to the shrinking of larger-sensored cameras), the sensor performance disadvantage is decreasing as well. I don't think they'll ever be at the same level, simply due to the difference in sensor size, but then the performance of all these cameras will very soon reach the point where it's more than enough for 99.9% of the enthusiast photographers. The shrinking of camera sizes can only go so far, and with all else being equal, larger sensors will always require larger lenses.

So with all cameras soon being "good enough" in terms of sensor performance,* and m43 inherently having a lens size advantage, the question is whether the larger-sensored camera+lens package will also be considered "small enough" (assuming that a smaller overall package is considered better), or whether consumers will appreciate the size advantage that the overall m43 package retains.

By the way, I'm not sure if the faster lenses that m43 requires to obtain the same shallow DOF for a given FOV increase the lens to comparable (or even larger) sizes than the lenses for larger sensors, so if shallow DOF is the objective then both m43 and larger sensored systems might be about equally large, and the sensor performance of both will be good enough, meaning equal cameras in terms of both quality and size.

*I'm sure that even once this is the case, marketing people will be able to fool people into thinking they need a larger sensor to make good photos, but those consumers who take time to inform themselves will see that even fairly small sensors will have low enough noise and high enough DR for nearly all purposes.

General question: What about price/performance? If m43 gets as large as a smaller DSLR, if they release 1.0 or 1.2 lenses to match DOF, if sensor noise and sharpness are in the same ballpark (lets say, within a stop), and if AF speed gets close, then you are still left with price. If they become "as good as DSLRs" while almost nearly as big, then why should m43 command a premium?

Of course, we could all come up with point and counter-point combinations of cameras and lenses, combined with the specific use cases that mean something to us. There are so many variables (weatherproofing, sharpness, DOF, birding, still life, low light, etc.). But overall, with m43 equipment getting larger and more expensive, some of the attraction of the system starts to fade.

The other issue is value. I never lost as much as I did with m43 in, e.g., Canon gear. They would need to prove to me that their equipment can hold up a bit better in value, and also build quality in general (cracked bezels, buttons popping off, IBIS issues on the EP1, data/time reset issues, etc.). Even my underwhelming little EOS-M feels better built the the EM5 did.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
The funny part is that we have many posts complaining the Pen/OM-D bodies are too small, and then a group now complaining the E-M1 is too big. I prefer to see it as Olympus has a range of cameras made as small as they could be given a particular feature set.

Of course, this being the internet, every viewpoint gets it's time as a vocal opposition, so this isn't at all surprising. Wait until the "it's too middle sized" crowd shows up ;)
 

stratokaster

Top Veteran
Location
Kiev, Ukraine
Real Name
Pavel
The funny part is that we have many posts complaining the Pen/OM-D bodies are too small, and then a group now complaining the E-M1 is too big. I prefer to see it as Olympus has a range of cameras made as small as they could be given a particular feature set.

I think both Pen E-P5 and OM-D E-M5 are just right in terms of size, but the combination of grip size/shape/materials makes them awkward to hold. Sony NEX and Samsung NX are much better in that respect. I also don't like the fact that until the GX7 there were no small bodies with an integrated EVF, and there are still no small bodies with a mic input, and the smallest available body with a mic input uses the old 16 MP sensor which I don't like. So while it seems that there are a lot of choices in Micro 4/3 land, they were all wrong for me personally — that's why I left.
 

Djarum

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Huntsville, AL
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Jason
I'm hoping the new lens will drive the panny 12-35mm down in price.

I think this new lens could have been made smaller if it wasn't water and dustproof. It probably would have been closer to the panny.
 

Stan

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California
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Stan
This is got to be the most serious compact of the year!
And you just have to love Ming's water resistant testing photo!


View attachment 7636

As a fishing,hiking,kayaking sort of guy this ticks all the boxes for a compact, go with me everywhere, system camera.

Great one, Olympus!

That's seriously weather sealed! I could see this as being a useful camera for outdoor photography. (Or if you work at a water balloon factory.)
 

pictor

All-Pro
mft no longer pocketable. FF cameras get smaller and so do aps-c ones. MFT looses some of its competitive edge, at least as far as bodies are concerned. Time to get rid of the adjective "micro" or else compact cameras ought to be called "nano".

That would be valid, if there were only bigger µ4/3 cameras. But there are still as many small µ4/3 cameras as before, there is just more choice now. No one forces you to buy a GH3 or an E-M1, you may buy an E-PL5 instead and get one of the smallest cameras.
 

Stan

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California
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Stan
Regarding body size of the EM1 (GH3). The advantage of M43 as a system is that you can have a small rangefinder and a small DSLR sized camera for different needs/objectives with a single lens system. The lenses are smaller and video optimized. So there is a (broad) niche that M43 satisfies. I agree pricing isn't cheap, but then the good Nikon or Canon L glass isn't cheap either. I don't see any system on the market where the good glass is cheap. You gotta pays your money.

All that aside, the EM1 looks like a solid camera and the 12-40mm appears to be sharp across the FL range regardless of f-stop (up to diffraction). Ming Thein is picking one up, so that says a lot. He tests a broad range of cameras, shoots MF, and Nikon FF, so that says a lot.
 

monk3y

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Japan
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Steven
That would be valid, if there were only bigger µ4/3 cameras. But there are still as many small µ4/3 cameras as before, there is just more choice now. No one forces you to buy a GH3 or an E-M1, you may buy an E-PL5 instead and get one of the smallest cameras.

Agreed. Also, lenses are still way smaller than FF.

I went to an event yesterday and was able to try out the E-M1, I also handled the GX7 on another store afterwards. It was a nice day haha...

Look at the size of the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens that is to be released in 2014 relative to the skeleton of the E-M1. You make one of those for FF and it's gonna be pretty huge
p2103701851-5.jpg
 

Luckypenguin

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Nic
I'm hoping the new lens will drive the panny 12-35mm down in price.

I think this new lens could have been made smaller if it wasn't water and dustproof. It probably would have been closer to the panny.

I hope that this lens being larger than the Panasonic 12-35mm (also a sealed lens but maybe not to the extent of the Oly) means that it is less reliant on software correction and more than optical correction. We've see software correction work wonders for all types of lenses but there must always be some penalty pay however small.
 

Djarum

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Jason
I hope that this lens being larger than the Panasonic 12-35mm (also a sealed lens but maybe not to the extent of the Oly) means that it is less reliant on software correction and more than optical correction. We've see software correction work wonders for all types of lenses but there must always be some penalty pay however small.


That's true. It does look good on the e-m1
 

Yeats

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Chris
Look at the size of the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens that is to be released in 2014 relative to the skeleton of the E-M1. You make one of those for FF and it's gonna be pretty huge

You don't need to, though. With the FF's larger sensor you can make a much slower lens that will still provide you with the same DOF and noise control as a 40-150/2.8 for m4/3.
 

retow

All-Pro
Interesting views on sizes. I remember why I went on this very expensive journey from EP1, EP2, EP3, GX1, NEX and two mft Panasonics.
It was about size and weight. For me, the best compromise as far as size, weight, ergonomics, UI and sensor quality is concerned is still the NEX 7. If Sony only had started working on excellent lenses earlier. A Pentax K5s is not significantly bulkier than the new top of the line Olympus or Panasonic. And with a few Pentax primes and selected Sigma`s zooms, such as the 18-35mm f1.8, quite a contender.
 

wolfie

Veteran
I hope that this lens being larger than the Panasonic 12-35mm (also a sealed lens but maybe not to the extent of the Oly) means that it is less reliant on software correction and more than optical correction. We've see software correction work wonders for all types of lenses but there must always be some penalty pay however small.

If you read the about glass in the 12-40 lens seems to almost have a different type for each element! Ming noted that when he used it on his E-M5 he got moire, which I take means the lens maybe out-resolving that sensor. Of course the new Oly TruePic 7 has to programatically correct for moire in the E-M1 because there is no anti-aliasing filter.
 

wolfie

Veteran
I'm hoping the new lens will drive the panny 12-35mm down in price.

I think this new lens could have been made smaller if it wasn't water and dustproof. It probably would have been closer to the panny.
Look like better image quality, near macro capability at all focal lengths, better construction but a bit bigger and heavier - but then what "pro" gear isn't? The big surprise is cheaper.
 

serhan

Hall of Famer
Location
NYC
12-35mm vs 12-40mm comparison from mu43 link:
http://www.omuser.com/thread-217506-1-2.html
1240vs12351_zpsd3358f2b.jpg

1240vs12352_zps5b7aa3a2.jpg

1240vs12353_zps8c170b2d.jpg


With also Zeiss 16-70 f/4 (24-105mm) coming, the question remains which lens is more optically vs digitally corrected. I don't mind digital correction as long as I can control it but because of auto correction, now I started to use rawtherapee as an inital raw program then to lightroom for people shots.

I checked yesterday to find a complimentary zoom lens on my nex with FF adapter so I looked at sizes (roughly sizes):
Canon/Tamron 70-300 f/3.5-5.6 ~ 15cm/6 inches which is comparable to new Oly 40-150mm. Canon 70-300mm af with my nex, but slow.
Canon 70-200 f/4 ~ 20cm/8 inches
Sigma 70-300 f/4 over 20cm / 8inches
Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 non-is older version ~ 30cm - 12 inches

It is hard to beat the physics if you want a faster FF equivalent lenses.
 

wt21

Hall of Famer
Depending on how important 24mm is to you, I have the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 zoom on my 6D. It's a very nice lens for what I want -- e.g. I want shallower DOF at wide angle, and I don't care about 24mm or weather sealing. My one complaint is it's a little noisy when focusing. But it cost me $400 and is frankly not that large nor heavy. But if you want compact, silent focusing, and weather sealing, then the Oly looks like a nice lens.
 

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