14 months with an OMD...some conclusions

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by MexicoMik, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. MexicoMik

    MexicoMik Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2012
    Here's my view of the OMD with some comments that may help folks who are thinking about purchasing one to replace a DSLR.

    I bought an OMD about 14 months ago, replacing/selling all my Nikon DSLR stuff (D7000 at the time/lenses). I had been using Nikon Ds since the D100 came out and Nikon cameras/lenses since...well, longer than I care to relate. I went to the OMD for the smaller size and what seemed to be at least equal pic quality.

    I immediately bought the 12mm oly and the 45mm oly and, shortly after, the 14-150 zoom. Virtually all of my camera use is travel-related and all photos are shown on a screen, I haven't printed a digital or film photo (I shot only slides for color - printed BW) in at least 10 years. I shoot Raw + LF and any processing is done in Aperture. I have never managed to get a R to look as good as Oly JPEGS straight out of the camera but I always shoot Raw + LF because maybe someday I will see a R that looks better than the jpeg. :)

    So, did the OMD/lenses adequately replace the D 7000 for my travel use? Well, that's hard to say. If I based it SOLELY on size, then absolutely! But, (there's always a "but," isn't there?) there are, IMO, issues with the OMD in comparison with my D7000 and, I assume, with any other DSLR.

    Here are points that I consider to be annoying in comparison to the D7000:

    1. Battery life is abysmal compared to the DSLR. I have routinely run out of battery life in less than a day of travel shooting. Yeah, I know all the tips for extending battery life but if you use them, it reduces the effectiveness of the camera because you are turning off features that make the camera work better. Sure, carry a bunch of extra batts...but why? With the Nikon I never had the need to carry an extra batt.

    2. I have missed a lot of shots due to the slowness in waking up from "sleep" or whatever you call it. The Nikon was virtually instantaneous in waking up.

    3. After a lengthy period of use, it was clear that a grip would be helpful. The Nikon's grip was part of the camera. With the OMD you have to buy one. I don't care for the oly grip. Yeah, I guess it can solve the battery problem but it makes the camera nearly as big as the D7000 was...

    4. No built-in flash. I do a lot of fill flash, especially outdoors in bright sun to ensure faces aren't lost in shadow. The little flash is adequate for my use but, again, you have to plug it into the camera which adds to the size. The oly flash programming is reasonable though certainly not to the level of the nikon which seemed to never get it wrong. I'd call the Oly flash photo success rate for me to be maybe 70% with my D7000 at 99% (I'm rating the D at 99 instead of 100% because although I can't recall ever seeing a muffed flash photo, surely there must have been a few!) Also, adding the flash makes the OMD bigger. If you add the flash and the OLY grip, it is larger than the D7000 but has no greater capability.

    5. Don't even get me started on the menu system! I do not think it could have been made any less friendly. My opinion hasn't changed between the first week with the camera and now. It's pi$$ poor and over a year of use hasn't made it any less annoying if I want to do something different than whatever I have set in the "mysets."

    Some comments about the lenses...Although I agree that the 12 and the 45 are superb lenses, I have found that 95% of the time, the 14-150 is the lens on the camera. I'd estimate that the 12 is on there the remaining 5% of the time and the 45 is essentially of no use to me and has only been on the camera to occasionally shoot it just to make sure light can still pass successfully through the lens! :)

    I just got back from Peru. I was generally pleased with the results though I have to admit that with the 14-150 at 150, there is considerable chromatic abberation at 150 which can be visible in normal photos without any enlargement depending on the conditions. Several pics I shot at Macchu Picchu are not really usable due to the CA visible in the tops of mountains against bright clouds at the back of the pic. Generally, though, I find the 14-150 to be pretty decent. The 45 is clearly superior at the 45 setting but that's a focal length that I rarely use. I'm usually at the wide end or the high end, seldom in the middle. So if I wanted to use strictly FFL lenses, I would probably carry (in M 4/3 ratings) the 12 (though wider would be nice - I used a 9-18 on the Nikon a lot and really liked it), a 17 or thereabouts, and something that could cover from 100 and 150. BUT, I just am no longer into changing lenses so talking about decent primes is a wasted conversation for me.

    Now, I have to say that my D7000 and 18-200 (same coverage as the 14-150) was definitely a MUCH larger handful than the OMD/14-150. BUT, actually using it for a day was easier due to the better built-in grip on the D. So a grip is required for the OMD, IMO. I really like the JB Camera Designs grip which makes the OMD much easier to handle and adds virtually no "size" to the camera.

    I have to admit that on quite a few occasions I have thought about going back to a Nikon DSLR. The primary photographic reason is the shots I have missed when pulling up the OMD, half-pressing the shutter button, and waiting for something to happen as the shot disappeared. I assume this is because of the time needed to re-activate the EVF since leaving it on would probably deplete the battery in no time at all. For this reason, I'd still call an optical VF technically superior though I do like some of the aspects of the EVF.

    Despite the fact that today I was looking at a D7100 and thinking..."hmmm," I really like the OMD in general and I do appreciate its smaller size. I'm sure that the things I find as limitations might not be seen that way to others, depending on how you use the camera. If I was given one thing that they would "fix," of the things that I find limiting, it would be the wake up response time. The rest is not that difficult to deal with - an extra batt and a grip like the JB camera designs pretty much takes care of my other issues, even though I don't like the fact that I have to "fix" that myself.

    But for me it still comes down to the fact that the smaller size of the OMD/lenses trumps the DSLRs for my purposes. This despite the fact that the DSLRS actually DO some of the the things I value better than the OMD when both are "out of the box."

    I have NO issues with pic quality at all. Yes, I complained about the CA of the 14-150 but the 18-200 Nikon was no better. It's tough to make a zoom that can be great throughout that wide of a range...at least at a price that I could afford or wish to carry around. With fixed lenses like the 12 or 45 (the only FFL M 4/3 lenses I have ever used) , the OMD produces superb results. If it could only wake up a little quicker... :)
  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks for taking the trouble to post this. I've had an OM-D for about 5 months now and I can relate to most of the things you've said. Battery life for sure is poor and I know what you mean about the grip. Personally I can live with these issues and consider the advantages to outweigh these downsides.

    What I will add is this - having recently played with the GH3, I think it may address a number of the OM-D's niggles. Firstly, it's nicely gripped, has better menus and in general the overall ergonomics are much better than the OM-D. Secondly, battery life is much improved (2-3 times longer use). I can see me swapping to the GH3 in time. I'm too short into OM-D ownership to go spending a fortune on another camera, esp at the price of the GH3!
  3. dcassat

    dcassat Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 16, 2011
    I think many may gain from your well posted commentary. It's important that those of us who have used the camera a lot express what we've learned.

    I have about 8000 shots on my OMD but I shoot about 97% landscape which doesn't move a lot and doesn't require a flash. I also purchased the J & B grip to add stability when shooting with the longer focal lengths and like it but it certainly wasn't that big of improvement for me.

    The Menus are not an issue for me because I use MYSETS before every shoot to setup the camera. And, I use the SCP for any "on the fly" changes.

    For landscape work, the OMD offers the tools I need to make it happen. People talk about the lack of bracketing automation. I have bracketing assigned to a function button and set to 9fps and it just works wonderfully. The ability to use the tilt/touch screen functionality enables great usability from a tripod. Since the tripod work is when the light is low, the LCD shines,... literally.

    One issue you mention that I've heard before BUT NEVER experienced is the delay in start up. That is probably a usage thing. I don't usually use my camera from sleep but turn it off and on and have never had to wait on the camera AND on the few times that I remember forgetting to turn it off did NOT notice any start up time at all. It's got to be about the way you use it and your expectations, for instance you simply raise the camera to your eye and hit the shutter... when I actually take a second or two longer to process what's in front of me than that. Turn the camera on, compose and shoot...

    So, for me the functionality / pain ratio is about 99% function and 1% pain, counting the menu digging and Myset lack of proper naming and selection (you should be able to select the myset from the SCP).

  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    a very fair assement.....from your point of view

    I would argue a few points...

    firstly battery life... wouldn't call it asbysmal... I am sure big bulky DSLR's with their bigger and bulkier batteries get more shots per battery.. but a fully charged battery is good for 300 shots in my experience. I have 3 batteries... 2 batteries will easily cover a days shooting.

    really doubt that OMD+ Grip+ flash actually feels bigger than the Nikon... actually the real deal size wise is that the Nikon lenses are so much bigger

    Olympus flash system is way better than most realise

    just my opinion

  5. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    I think abysmal is exactly the right term for the OMD's battery life. And I use only OEM batteries.
  6. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Thanks for the great report. We may have different opinions on some things (but not on battery life), but it's always good to hear another perspective--especially from someone who's come to m43 from a DLSR background, which is not the way I did it.
  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I think it's all relative to what you're used to. Compared to DSLRs, it's pretty bad. Compared to my M9, it's great, and compared to my Sigma DP2M, it's astounding.
  8. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    I can't imagine. I simply wouldn't keep a camera with worse battery life than the OMD, no matter what its other virtues.
  9. deejayvee

    deejayvee Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 3, 2013
    Sydney, Australia
    It also has the in-built flash the OP is after.
  10. gochugogi

    gochugogi Mu-43 Veteran

    I've never been one to stick to a single system or frame/format size and find shooting both M4/3 and Canon EOS to be the best of both worlds. I pick the best gear for the situation. My little GX1 or E-P3 lives in my messenger bag 24/7, tags along to dinner or walks, enjoys happy hour with me, etc. However, when I shoot landscapes, products, macro or serious travel images I greatly prefer my 5D MKII due to easier/faster handling, greater battery life and IQ. It would be hard to let either system go but I did quit shooting with my iPhone and sold off all my Nikon gear to make room for more M4/4 toys...

    I avoided the E-M5 mainly because it seemed like, once fully outfitted, would be getting dangerously close to Rebel SL1 territory. So although my GX1/E-P3 aren't a lot smaller than the E-M5, the onboard flash and lack of a battery grip ensure they remain relatively wee. I had a really hard time holding on to both cameras due poor grips combined with the tiny size (no place for 2 of my fingers!). I use RRS L-plates on my EOS gear and tried one on the E-P3 and found an immediate benefit beyond tripod use: more places to grab onto! So now my wee cameras are a little bigger, about 75g heavier but a lot easier to use on tripods and hand hold.
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I've found the speed thing annoying too. There are a lot of little things where the camera just seems to pause - waking up, switching to playback mode, even changing settings using the dial in some circumstances. None of them are deal-breakers, but they're just enough to cause me to lose concentration or miss a shot every so often.
  12. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    Although the EM-5 has various niggles, I very much like the camera and it has grown with me over the last 12 months.

    To me the killer feature of the camera is 'IBIS'. That feature alone means that I am unlikely to switch from an OMD for some time. The EM-5's IBIS is much better than the EP-3's, EPL5s etc. I have a lot of Panasonic lenses but for instance the PL 25 1.4 becomes 2 stops faster with IBIS.

    Battery life is poor compared to a lot of cameras but the batteries still last 300 shots, so it isnt a big deal.

    As far as the menus go. One of the reasons the menus are so complicated is because the EM-5 is almost infinitely customisable (although I havent found a way to put bracketing on a function button like one poster.) Once the camera is set up well you rarely have to delve into the menus.

    That said...
    (1) Olympus is making an error not turning on the SCP by default. Users who dont 'find' the SCP tend to struggle with the menus. I did a poll on DPreview and over 90% of the 110 respondents said they had enabled the SCP.

    (2) iAuto is simply horrific.
  13. I used to love the fact that I could leave my old Canon 50D in the "On" position but with the camera essentially hibernating. After an hour, a day, a week, etc I could pull out the camera look through the viewfinder, half-press to focus and the camera would be ready to shoot in an instant.

    The battery life certainly isn't as good as I have had previously but I figure that if I'm taking hundreds and hundreds of photos in one I'm probably taking some double-ups and probably a lot of junk as well. I've found that while travelling, two batteries will last me a while even if I don't have the ability to recharge for a few days.
  14. yekimrd

    yekimrd Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 14, 2012
    Cincinnati, OH
    +1 to the revolutionary 5-axis IBIS on the OM-D (and now the E-P5 as well). I thought the SCP was on by default in the OM-D (or maybe am remembering it wrong).
  15. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    Nice info, have used mine 10 months myself. Can relate to OP points there but I don't find so annoying myself and if I wanted a flash I would buy the EP-5 but since I don't use flash almost never that's no problem :)

    One issue that isn't mentioned is the continous AF. Sometimes I takes videos and wish the AF-C was a little better. Now I use MF and try to work around it but not really satisfied.

    But. Whatever. I don't shoot so much video and when I do maybe only half of them would need AF-C so it's not much of a problem. I really like the OM-D despite these things anyway. For me the concept is nice with good EVF and no flash :)
  16. robbie36

    robbie36 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2010
    rob collins
    While having a thread about the niggles that are wrong with the EM5 iris much harder to express how much I love this camera.

    It is the sole reason that I took up digital photography as a hobby - combining a mixture of small size with great IQ. Really it is not a case the camera is best at anything but on the other hand it is pretty good at everything.
  17. ntblowz

    ntblowz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 13, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    The only camera that have really good battery life is the GH3 (same battery as K-5), the rest only last about 50% of GH3's battery life.
  18. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK
    Ticks the box

    Having switched totally from full frame to OMD there are some areas of frustration but none that cannot be worked around and will probably be addressed in future models.
    1. Battery Life - this to me is not as bad as some people make out, often I can get around 300 shots out of a full charge and when using the grip with 2 batteries (such as at the airshow for 8 hrs solid power on in 32 degree heat) I only just used 1 of the batteries.
    2. Sleep mode - I do not let my camera go into sleep mode as (previously mentioned) it can take a long time to came back to life and often the shot has gone - it is faster to turn off/back on or tap the shutter button on a regular basis to remain powered up.
    3. Continuous AF / AF tracking - is rubbish and was again confirmed at the recent airshow, I now pan whilst tapping the shutter button in AFS mode and ensure the subject is in the centre square, full press when I want the image - it worked for me at the airshow
    4. Base ISO - I wish this was 50 / 100 ISO to allow narrower DOF on bright days, I would be willing to sacrifice top end ISO for this
    5. Shutter speed - needs to be 1/8000 to again allow narrow DOF on bright days without having to resort to filters.

    Apart from these points that can all be worked around, the OMD is a solid well made small camera that is a pleasure to carry and use without the shoulder ache associated with my previous full frame kit.

    The IQ form Mu43 is superb for my needs and despite what some may think, it does (and continues to be proven) produce professional quality images that meet the demands of the most discerning customer.

    I am delighted with my kit and intend to add the 12mm when I can afford it - great kit, great format that does what it says on the box and is only limited by the skill of the user.

    Current kit:
  19. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    A real question here: is there anything that OLy can really do about the batteries aside from making the batteries (and hence the body) bigger? I've been using compact cameras for a while now and I'm simply used to taking three batteries.
  20. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Me too, but I don't want to see the files from Sigma DP. If I do, the battery life won't matter, I'm certain.

    GH3's battery is like forever coming from GF1, GX1 and G3...
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