A short comparison of the Pen F to the EM-5 MKII from someone has used both

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Catch22nm, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Catch22nm

    Catch22nm Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 10, 2015
    I was asked to do a comparison on what I liked about the Pen F when compared to the EM-5 MKII.

    Since my last camera was the MKII and I have had the pen F for over a week, I can start to talk about what I think so far. I have good and bad things to say about both cameras and many users here could be torn between these two similarly spec'd but very different cameras. This personal and non professional review will focus on differences I have noticed so far and is not intended complete review of the PEN F.

    - First a note on appeal vs functionality -

    I think a big note of contention on here is the fact that this is the first OLY camera in a while that has put a large emphasis on being appealing / at a cost. The Pen F is not the most well rounded and cost effective option in M43 right now, period. To some people this new direction in the Pen line is total blasphemy. To others it is welcoming. To me it means two things. I think it is a smart move by Olympus to try and get Hipsters, street shooters Instagram type users into the fold (you can call me one if you want and I am ok with that) and looking M43 as opposed to Fuji X. Fuji has dominated that market. I know these people because I am one. They have seen my Pen and I can see the wheels turning. All of the sudden I am getting asked questions from my Fuji Friends like "how good are the M43 lenses" etc. Even if you hate Hipsters you have to admit that they will spend money and they were underrepresented by M43 until now. More money flowing into M43 means a healthier ecosystem even for those who cant stand the Pen-F its Jpeg and Black and White friendliness.

    1) Mysets VS Custom Modes: My favorite (and most underrated thing) about the Pen F compared to the the EM5 MKII is the new C1 , C2 , C3, C4 on the dial as opposed to being in the menus. For someone who shoots like me this is super usefull to my workflow. I am able to go from a regular mode(C1) to silent stealth mode (C2) to Astro - Long exposure mode (C4) and then If I want to mess with default settings I can use the standard PASM.. the best part about this change from the EM5-MKII's "mysets' to the Pens "Custom modes" is that it just all clicks and prevents you from diving into the menu's. It also works perfectly seamlessly with the front dial and you can customize which film emulation will pop up in each Mode. So many combos of options here. - a recent Mod i did is add a "red only" (Frank Miller esque) color mode 1 to my Custom Mode 1 and a heavy blues color mode to my color mode 1 in custom Mode 2. Yes! the color modes are can be individually customized for Each C1, C2 ,C3 and C4. One other thing of note. I have never lost the Custom settings by accident. where for some reason I was always losing my mysets. the reason why is simple. With the mysets you had to dive into the menu to switch them. This caused me to accidentally save a preset when I just wanted to switch a preset

    2) Sealing on EM-5 MKII will be missed : this is honestly the one thing I really miss about the EM-5 MKII (or am going to miss the next time a storm rolls around New Mexico) I think the Pen F could have pulled this off. But one thing to note here that nobody mentions: The weather sealed lenses all are large and heavy lenses. They really are not suited to the Pen F. But as someone who brought a non sealed EM-10 to Thailand on boats and mucking about I know that the non sealed cameras can be used in light rain as long as they do not get soaked they are usually ok. I work on computers for a living so I know what electronics can and can not handle.. the big deal is not letting something get drenched and if it does , simply power off/ pull the battery and wait a few days.

    3) Button Layout: I have to be honest here I loved the EM-5 MKII's layout but I think the Pen-F is even better. I love the magnification where it is on its own button (seriously it needs its own button everyone uses it) I love the C1, C4, I am indifferent on the power switch, I really like having an Exposure Comp dial and I use this all the time. It also never gets nudged as it is super solid. Everything feels placed well on the Pen F. The EM5MKII was great with the placment as well IMO.

    4) Grip: This is a weird one to explain unless you have used both cameras. I think the EM-5 MK II without the factory grip accessory is not as grippy and comfy as I wanted it to be. To me it is perfect with the additional grip. So I bought the grip and then it makes the camera into something its not. (a bigger, more expensive and heavier camera) So I was always kinda torn by this and wondered if I should have just went with the EM-1.
    - With the Pen and small lenses the recessed thumb Grip alone actually feels as good to me or better than the EM-5 MK-II minus its grip. I have the 75 Oly and the 45-175 as my bigger lenses for the Pen and they feel fine and can be one handed. I don't plan to buy the Pen grip (for now) so I cant really compare that part with the awesome feel of the EM-5 with the additional grip.

    5) Looks, The Pen looks and feels Classy like the 60's and the EM-5 looks cool and like it means business. Its like the early 60's vs the early 70's. I own a 63 Lincoln Continental (same year as original Pen F) so something about it feels like it calls to my aesthetic. I looove the 60's styling. I plan to use the Pen as my second camera if the EM-1 MKII does not disappoint. But I will probably wait for the EM-1 MKII to drop in price because I am in no rush to buy another camera right away. I think the pen really disarms people compared to my EM-5 with the grip. this is actually useful with street photography as you dont want people to be intimidated by your camera setup. I am nervous about seeing a Black Pen F in person as I am afraid I might like it more :)

    6) EVF - I think the EVF on the pen is great, but The EM-5 MKII is better with more magnfication.The good news for the Pen IMO and the opinion of the DPR guys is that it is not laggy as some stated. (at least mines not) In my opinion on lag (or lack of) its very similar to the EM-5MKII. I cant tell the difference.

    7) Performance - So far they perform very similarly to my eye tests. Still need to go do some astro shots (damn full moon) I have taken a few super low light photos with the Pen F a few days ago that I was able to pull shadows and detail out of that I am not sure I would have been able to with the older sensor. (check my instagram Triangle_Craft for the photos of the weird 1954 CabOver Coke truck that were done in horrible light but manage to look really neat with the Monochrome setting) But if your in it for just the performance I dont think the pen will be enough of an improvement to warrant the price difference. Another neat trick with the Pen is that you can use Mono Mode 2 to mask a noisy low light photo that would otherwise be unusable if on normal settings (the guys at DPR said this as well about using the film grain to mask noise in low light / high ISO to great effect.)

    - Overall so far: I am loving the Pen F. For me it clicked right away and has only grown on me. I cannot understate how much the simpler and better C1-C4 dials make my personal workflow. I really loved the EM-5 MKII but I did not get the same feel or connection to the camera that cannot be explained by specs. Call it honeymoon, call me a hipster call it whatever but this is the best camera I have handled in my short photography experience. I also kind of felt that the EM-5 needed the grip to be really comfy and take advantage of the weather sealed lenses. The Pen makes you feel like you want to keep it even if its 2018 and you are using a (hopefully great) EM1 MKII as your work camera.

    -I imagine if the Pen was weather sealed how they really would have had to make it have a prominent grip, changing the styling and the camera overall. The heavy the weather sealed lenses now available for M43 do not balance well on the un-gripped Pen. Basically Olympus just made the decision for us (like it or not) the Pen is for small lens street shooting setup. Even if it were weather sealed we dont have any small weather sealed primes to use with it right?

    - The Pen is an amazing street shooters camera or complimentary camera for say and EM-1 or Full Frame user,

    - The OMD EM-1 and EM-5's are better all around cameras for many people who demand weather sealing and a more professional video setup (ahem GH4), especially if you want just one body to do it all.

    - The EM-5 MKII is an awesome camera and I still loved it when I sold it. I think for someone who wants all the bells and whistles, plans or needs to shoot in foul weather. Needs the Mic, jack and or wants to get the better deal of the two. you have to side with the EM-5 MKII.

    Cheers, and Happy shooting.

    IMG_3672.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
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  2. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I get that it works in combination with the new front dial but as far as menu diving goes can't you assign MySets to unused mode dial positions (like Scene, iAuto, Art) on the E-M5II? I can on my E-M1.
     
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  3. Catch22nm

    Catch22nm Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 10, 2015
    You are right! It tried this on my EM-5MKII but It never just clicked for me. I always forgot which setting was which as the naming does not correspond with the settings in the menus. Long story short I got frustrated and gave up on going that route. But other people may have a better memory for stuff like that than I do :)

    With The C1- C4 dials it just becomes super simple.
     
  4. Ranger Rick

    Ranger Rick Mu-43 Veteran

    228
    Apr 11, 2009
    Tempe, AZ
    Rick
    I used the white label tape (6 point type) from one of those label machines to put over the unused mode "labels" on the E-M5 and E-M1 dials to show which Myset they represent- works fine. Otherwise, I would probably be confused and frustrated too!
     
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  5. Catch22nm

    Catch22nm Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 10, 2015
    What a great Idea!
     
  6. Prahasaurus

    Prahasaurus Mu-43 Regular

    74
    Jan 30, 2016
    Prague, Czech Republic
    Great summary, thanks. I, too, struggle my the MySets on my EM5. I hate having to go into the menu. And I have a bad habit of resetting them, or simply forgetting what is what... Completely agree with you on the weather sealing, it would have been nice to have on the Pen-F at this price point. But on the other hand, the lenses I plan to use with the Pen-F are not weather sealed, so.... And I rarely shoot outside in bad weather, anyway. And as you noted, a bit of water on the camera will be fine, similar to my laptop.
     
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  7. D MATIC

    D MATIC Mu-43 Regular

    144
    Jul 18, 2012
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  8. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Neat. I may have to give that a look. I bet there's a market for hand painted metal ones. Someone should call Etsy.
     
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  9. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    The big problem with this, at least on the E-M1, is that customized button assignments will not work right this way. Because of that, I gave up on using mysets on the mode wheel.

    There was a post in another thread that the Pen F may have a different limitation... Can't change settings if you don't use the C modes, but I haven't seen confirmation.

    Barry
     
  10. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Yeah, that bugs me a little too. I've just lived with having the same button assignments for everything.
     
  11. saladin

    saladin Mu-43 Veteran

    387
    May 29, 2015
    jason
    Great write up!

    Id love to treat myself to a 5ii or PenF for an upcoming trip to thailand, but even after reading the above im still not sure which way I'd go, lol.
     
  12. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    946
    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Clint
    I want that illustrator file...please.
     
  13. Catch22nm

    Catch22nm Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 10, 2015
    I'd go with a used and more rugged and sealed EM-5II with a 12-40Pro + a Fisheye. If you plan to go to one of the Islands like Ko Chang or are going during the wet season the sealing might be worth it, get back to the US and then think about selling the EM-5II if you still are itching for the PEN :)

    As for your trip. If its your first, Make sure and take a Sleeper train from the south to the north. Taking the train up north to Chaing Mai and Chaing Rai was one of the most amazing and cheap things Ive ever done. I really used my Rokinon Fisheye more than ever in Thailand with all the cool temples. And watch Bourdain when he goes to Northern Thailand

     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
  14. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I would have been fine if I could have set one set of button assignments and used it across all Modes, but I could not figure out how to get that to work; every time I switched to a custom mode position, it would loose all the button assignments.
    Did you find a way?

    Barry
     
  15. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    For those of us who are Adobe-challenged, InkScape is able to open the file.

    Barry
     
  17. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Yes! The way MySets works is that custom buttons can be configured for each MySet, but activating MySets via mode dial or button does not change the assignment from the current *menu* activated MySet.

    Solution:

    1) Assign default shooting parameters and custom buttons to a 'default' MySet 1.

    2) Activate said MySet 1 *from the menu*.

    3) Change other parameters for next profile (including P/A/S/M mode), assign to next MySet.

    4) Repeat 3) as required.

    5) Reselect the 'default' MySet 1 *from the menu*.

    6) Map the non-default MySets to mode dial positions.

    The custom mode positions will still activate their assigned MySets, but you should find that switching MySets from the mode dial changes shooting parameters (including P/A/S/M), but all button assignments still follow MySet 1.

    If you want to quickly go back to defaults in any mode except those assigned to a MySet, just reload MySet 1 from the menu.
     
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  18. Catch22nm

    Catch22nm Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 10, 2015
    Wow I could never figure that out, good work!
     
  19. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
  20. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror!

    946
    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Clint
    Thanks for the link!