Friday, September 13, 2013

Olympus OM-D E-M1 WTF?

WTF - What The Fuss?  Did you think I mean something else? DUH!

So finally Olympus announced their most talk about, argued about; leaked before launch MFT camera, the OM-D E-M1.

Google "Olympus OM-D E-M1 and you get...

About 6,740,000 results (0.27 seconds) !!

But what was all the fuss? 

Is the EM-1 a revolutionary NEW camera?


Come on boys (I mean fanboys), look at the "new" camera with a cool head; did Olympus not just shift the dials and buttons of the revolutionary E-M5 around, put in a fake "rewind crank" to remind you of the fabled OM-1; an after thought "grip" and claimed this will be their FLAGSHIP, PRO offering.

And I thought a PRO camera will not have "ART" and "SCN" on the main dial? And where are the double card slots?

Don't get me wrong, the E-M1 is a rugged, business like machine... I actually like most of the new lay out to get the work done :) Come to think of it, my E-M5 do her job well too... now that IS A REVOLUTIONARY camera!

The REVOLUTIONARY E-M5, does it remind you of the new EVOLUTIONARY E-M1?

By now, all the Olympus fanboys are after my blood, but lets keep cool and look at the E-M1 new features and see if I actually need them...

Olympus claimed their new 16MP image sensor has no Anti-Aliasing filter, promising even greater level of sharpness.

But according to pekkapotka journal, a much respected test site and I quote...

"Although I would say that even the sensor in E-M5 and E-P5 had no low pass filter. This is not verified by Olympus, though."

As for "even greater level of sharpness", I did lots of comparisons of shots taken by Robin Wong; using E-M5 and E-M1, they all look pin sharp. His shots did not give me the impression that the E-M1 is sharper; after all; both are using the same type of sensors!

As you probably know, Robin Wong is Malaysia's most famous Olympus user; his blog entries are mainly about using Olympus and recently he joined and work for Olympus Malaysia :)

As for sharpness, so what the new E-M1 is "slightly" sharper than the E-M5; who cares? Well, at least I don't... my E-M5 is plenty sharp!

Tip toe through the tulips was shot with my OM-D E-M5 and a Panasonic zoom.

Anyway, Robin Wong's review on the incredible sharpness of the new E-M1; using ultra close-up insects shots, to me; DO NOT give a real world indication of the actual sharpness of the "new" sensor. How many of you shoot insects? I don't ;)

The most controversial claim from Olympus on their E-M1 is this:

Its ability to perform DUAL FAST AUTO FOCUS, the normal contrast-detection autofocus (E-M5) and phase-detection autofocus which allow the older 4/3 lens to perform as fast or faster than mounted on the old E5 camera.

Since I do not use 4/3 lenses, who care!

Obviously, there are thousands of 4/3 owners care, but how true was that speed claim?

According to DPReview who tested this function and I quote...

"Focus is usually acceptably fast, though anyone coming from an E-3 or E-5 is likely to find themselves disappointed, in comparison."

Their statement must have caused a HUGE UPROAR, because the next day they quickly amend what they say!

"However, side-by-side use suggests that, while the E-M1 focuses at a similar speed to the E-5 in good light, it is more prone to occasionally slowing down and juddering the lens into focus than the E-5. This behavior is particularly apparent when switching focus from distant to near objects or when shooting in moderate-to-good lighting levels (inside a well-lit office with large windows)."

To me, that is just as bad ;)

Anyway, I have no 4/3 lens... it is the next claim that really interest me!

Every E-M5 owners knew how crappy the continuous AF is, right? 

Seems E-M1 has got that fixed :)

To quote from Robin Wong...

"While shooting in Continuous AF mode, the Phase Detect AF will work hand in hand together with Contrast Detect AF to optimize subject tracking while in motion, and we will see how well this performs in real life shooting conditions."

Robin then went on and show us three tests that supposedly demonstrate how reliable the new set up in E-M1 is. 

Photos © Robin Wong / Olympus Malaysia
Looking at those photos Robin took, it is obvious that when he locked his focus on the first frame and even when he pan, the camera will still steadfastly lock onto the same subject; I am sure the E-M5 can do that too.

I think a better test of this claimed AF function was done by Pekka Potka.

From the test I can see that the AF of the E-M1 is indeed faster than the E-M5.

Pekka concluded, "I think E-M1 is now in a good DSLR class regarding C-AF. It is not in the top class. Where more exactly and comparable to which DSLR? I really don´t know."

If you think the C-AF of OM-D E-M1 is as fast as a Canon 1D-X or Nikon D-4, you are dreaming!

Olympus also claimed that the high ISO performance of the E-M1 is at least one stop BETTER than the E-M5.

This still life test shot was taken in early May last year, while I was testing my newly acquired dream camera. It was shot at ISO 25,600!

Even at that never heard of (a couple of years ago), ultra high ISO for a HALF FRAME sensor, the result was ACCEPTABLE!

So if E-M1 can do a stop better, who care!  How often you shoot ISO 25,600? DUH!!

What about the incredible 5-Axis Image Stabilization?  Better than ever?

According to Robin Wong...

"During the product briefing with Olympus Malaysia staff I was told that the 5-Axis Image Stabilization has been improved further. My spontaneous reaction was, come on, what else do you expect us to do with the Image Stabilization? In my OM-D E-M5 review previously I have stated that I can shoot confidently with shutter speed as slow as 1/2 second hand-held, and I believe that is already more than sufficient for most shooting needs. In case where we need to shoot slower than half a second shutter speed or for long exposure shooting, logically we would use a tripod. The existing 5 Axis Image Stabilization was already effective and sufficiently capable for handheld shooting. 
I was going to be proven so WRONG, and honestly, I was still quite shocked at this discovery."
Photo © Robin Wong / Olympus Malaysia
Robin was shocked after discovering the above picture shot with E-M1 at 1.6 second is sharp!

Thus he seems to conclude that the 5-Axis Image Stabilization in the E-M1 is BETTER than the one in E-M5!

Lets look at this objectively...

The said shot was taken with the amazing Zuiko Digital 7-14mm F4 lens at 7mm (14 mm ultra wide in FF term).

From what I know, an ultra-wide lens can be successfully hand held for really slow speed exposure than, said a normal lens or a zoom lens. If you are able to get a sharp shot at 14mm, 1.6 sec, you will NOT be able to achieve the same with a 35mm or even a 28mm lens.

And how many poor photographer own a 7-14 zoom?  Especially THAT Zuiko which cost a whopping NZD 3,000.00  ;)

The loophole in that test was, Robin; did you shoot the same picture with the same lens; same exposure; using an E-M5?
If not, how can you concluded that the E-M1 have better stabilization?
Even the stabilization in my E-P2 allowed me to hand held a 0.3 second exposure with my Lumix 7-14 ultra-wide zoom.

So, after reading all those reviews; do I still yearn to have a new E-M1?
Funny enough, YES!
I like the new "grip", the lockable mode dial; the new bigger, sharper EVF...
May be if I start saving my lunch money from today, I will be able to get one on 201x  ;)


Simon Gotlieb said...

The marketers will always try and make you think the new camera makes the old one look like a dog. But as I always say CY, you like the camera, you have the money... and it works for you - go shoot some photos!

steven said...

It is called 'planned obsolescence'. And my hard-learned remedy - buy the best lenses I can afford. My Ai-s Nikkors 35/2, 85/2, 105/2.5 & 80-200/4 (which I rushed to buy used after reading your blog on Dr M), while used now on my FM2N, can also be used on my EOS30, 33 & 300 bodies via adaptors. And when I can afford the Nikon D4 or its successor ... well! Steven. (same chap who asked you about Focus Penang).