- Real Name
- Andrew Lossing
Ironically, the follow-up post to this one about M4/3 cameras is that the original EM5 didn't work out due to shutter defect, and the EM5 mark ii is what I ended up with, despite my not-so-glowing review in the above post. I still agree with my former self: the handling of the EM5ii just isn't as good as the EM5, even though the mark ii feels better-made. There are just too many buttons on the top plate, and the new slope at the top of the grip in the front seems awkward. It's a higher-end camera, and I appreciate the level of design effort and construction attention to detail that went into it. It's just a shame that Olympus went down a tons-of-tiny-buttons route for a while.Hmm, is this a personal gear review thing? I went and handled a few different cameras that I've had lingering thoughts about, just to see where they stood in terms of ergonomics and overall feel - how much I would enjoy shooting with them. I was in Seattle over the weekend and they have a couple of decent brick and mortar shops, so I went to both (Kenmore Camera and Glazier's) as well as a used camera store, looking for anything decent for my Bessa in addition to digital considerations.
The latter experience first, that used shop was chock-full of SLRs and little else. They had a few Pentaxes but no MX or LX, which I'd wanted to see, and a few Barnack Leicas and a Canon 7, but no lenses beyond a few overpriced Canons, Soviet lenses and one or two old Leica collapsible fifties which were also overpriced. But I did get a chance to put my eye to two of the turret viewfinders, and older Leica one and the Nikon one - confirmed my suspicions that they don't work for me. You need to literally poke the eyepiece into your eye to see the whole frame. Oh well. The guy in the shop admitted to the customers he was helping that he has over 450 cameras himself, and could open his own store. Yeesh. Glad I'm not in his shoes.
I handled a Fuji XE-4 kit briefly, just to see what was going on with it. I'm surprised that, even though this is the "little" camera for Fuji, the size is still pretty chunky. It's surprising that they're not putting IBIS in these bodies yet. Given even the miniscule GRIII can move the APS-C sensor around, there's no reason the XE4 couldn't have IBIS or even slim down a little more. It also didn't feel great to me, the weight and materials of the top plate feel nice but the stiff textured stuff on the non-existent grip persists in giving the camera a bit of a "cheap" feel. I can't believe how long it has taken Fuji to get over their cameras having a bit of a hollow and cheap feel.
I also handled a Panasonic G95, they had a decent deal on the 12-60mm kit that was used, but felt like new. I instantly took a bit of a dislike to that camera, though. It feels like it belongs in a vlogger's setup, just doesn't give a pleasant grip or feel for shooting stills somehow. I think part of it is just how angular it is, I don't know why they changed it up so much from the G85. Plus it's as big as the EM1 series. G9 looked even bigger, and I didn't even handle one. It's a terrific camera by all accounts, but there isn't a point for me in my shooting to go with that large of a body since I'm always gravitating to small wide to normal primes.
There was a like-new EM1 mark II, however, and that camera - wow! It is super nice. Focus, frame rate, EVF, build, everything about it was basically ideal. And that grip, ugly as it is, fits the hand almost better than any other camera I've tried. I was almost brought around to getting it, but it would have necessitated selling something else that I use frequently, and I decided against breaking up my go-to kit yet again, for a while at least. I also tried out the EM5 mark II, which is kind of the body I've thought about getting the most. I'm not sure why I didn't care for it. In theory it's almost perfect for a tiny kit - build quality is about the best that Olympus has gotten to (sorry, they downgraded for the EM5 mark III), but the angles are all wrong in the grip and on the back where my thumb rests. The original EM5 is better in the hand. And that's what I ended up getting.
I sold on the Olympus OM-1 kit that I had for a short while, after carrying it around in my hand for a while and shooting a couple rolls, I realized that it's just not likely to see much use, and I didn't want to let it gather dust. The slightly beat-up EM5, which I hope will continue functioning without problems, is more fun to use, with instant results of course since it's digital, and is a gateway to shooting with the 20/1.7 again, and Olympus colors, which just look more like slide film than most digital cameras output.
I shot a single roll of film on the Bessa T when I was in Seattle, as well as some with the GRIII and then with the EM5 after purchasing, but I didn't go to my usual haunts around Pike market. There were just too many people, and, I don't know whether this was good or bad, but I just wanted to think about and look at gear this weekend, rather than take lots of photos. Strange!
On the other hand, the positives of the mark ii body: I like the articulated LCD, as closing the screen on itself just makes me happier. I like my thumb pretty far forward on the back of the body with film cameras, and now I can do that with a digital camera too. The customizability of the aforementioned mess of buttons is so complete that I can pretty much just turn them all off, and if I can get muscle memory to function this way I can just ignore the existence of the buttons on the top plate. I haven't settled on a configuration yet. It doesn't look like there's a function to just lock down everything, that might have been nice. But I'll figure something out. I may get a half case which should make it easier to handle. As long as I can keep it small.
Had I decided I "needed" an EM1 mark ii, in addition to spending more than twice as much as I did on the EM5 mark ii, I would have wonderful ergonomics but zero pocketability. As it stands, I'm still able to stuff the EM5 and 20mm into my jacket pocket. Not that I will tend to use this as a pocket camera, that's what the GRIII (and XA!) is for, but sometimes it's very convenient to make a camera disappear for a bit to carry stuff or juggle keys, etc. I may slowly expend with a couple more primes, I am thinking the 45/1.8 might be next. I might even force myself to shoot street with that 90mm focal length to stretch my tele abilities.
Having as much experience as I do with the 16MP M4/3 sensor, I decided that rather than obsess over exposure trying to get within the ideal dynamic range with this sensor, I'm just going to shoot on manual, full simplicity, and eyeball exposure for the highlights, keeping a low ISO. It's a nice way to shoot, the closest I can get to a film-like experience in a M4/3 camera. Perfection in the results can go hang! This is for enjoyment.