Best digital camera for vintage lens (Olympus OM mount) shooting

JanW

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Well, just read the posts. If you want to buy a Df for your OM 50/1.4 you must have serious plans. And he wants to buy two other OM lenses.
Of course it's fun spending someone else's money :biggrin:

But back to the OP: an old Fuji or an e-m10 will get you started without breaking the bank.
 

3dpan

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I reckon you should get an E-M5 II. Now that the III is out, there are some realistic prices for the II.
e.g. A couple of months ago I paid $385 US for a mint II with a shutter count of just 1800.
Secondly, before you pay too much attention to the "doom-and-gloomers" regarding the crop factor when using a full-frame lens on m4/3, please take a read of this blog by Brad Nichol, especially the reference to using the OM 24mm/2.8 and the OM 100mm/2.8 lenses.
https://braddlesphotoblurb.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-great-m43-adventure-legacy-lenses.html
Cheers,
 

ibd

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It seems I was misunderstood by some of you, so I'll iterate my points:
- I already have a primary m4/3 body. What I'm looking for is a secondary body for lenses built for 35mm film, specifically to get around the 2x crop factor. I'm aware of the advantages and disadvantages that the smaller, stabilized m4/3 sensor brings.
- I do enjoy the slower shooting experience with vintage lenses. Check my profile for photos I've posted previously, most recently in the "walks of the pandemic" thread.
- I'm currently not interested in shooting 35mm film, getting it developed and digitized. Been there, done that. @Lee Perrins claims this is an affordable alternative, but I've found the opposite to be the case. The price of buying film, getting it developed, getting it digitized, and shipping of all these steps will run you about USD 50 per roll of film around here.
- I don't care how the camera looks ("classic style" or whatever), I care how it operates (ergonomics and functionality).
- Focal reducers are an option, but some give atrocious quality, deteriorating the quality from the lenses' original "character" to a blurry mess. I want to avoid just those bad ones. @Bytesmiths has posted some very interesting examples here: https://www.mu-43.com/threads/the-speed-booster-focal-reducer-image-thread.90639/post-1012547
- Besides that, image quality is not of paramount importance for me. I don't care about the newest sensor, lowest noise, or sharpest lens.

Of course, I don't intend to be snarky in response to people trying to give me advice. I'm just trying to clarify what I consider important. It's great to see such a lively forum and I'm sure all the suggestions that people have made will be useful for someone someday.

The guy who has been the most responsive to me was @Erich_H. Thanks a lot!
I see your comments regarding the C-mount lenses, which produce a smaller image circle (at least for the shorter focal length ones). I mainly mentioned it to show that I have some previous, limited experience with such lenses. I'm quite happy to keep using that one on my m4/3 body.
Something's gotta give somewhere, as there's no such thing as a free lunch.

So, what do you already have? What do you want? How much money have you got? How much time do you have? How interested in what you want are you?
I've obviously got way too much time :p and about USD 2k. I am fairly interested, but in the end it's just "playing with an idea", as I wrote in the beginning. I enjoy the thought process of comparing and finding a compromise's sweet spot, and the lurking on Ebay for a good lens deal. Even if nothing more comes from this, I have already learned a few things about vintage OM lenses. For example, there's https://www.om-labor.de/, where they will service your old lenses and even produce dazzling chrome versions of them. So it's still worthwhile in the end for me.
 
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@Bytesmiths has posted some very interesting examples
Since then, I've acquired the Metabones Speedbooster Ultra, two different Viltrox Mount Adaptors EF-M2 (with and without the "II"), and I just got a Zhongyi.

I must say that, although the Metabones is clearly the best, the Viltrox seems to be the "sweet spot" in the money-versus-quality range. You can get these for not much over US$100. You'll also need an inexpensive, thin EF-OM ring.

Be sure to get the "II" version of the Viltrox, which is smart enough to know what a manual lens is. Otherwise, with the older version, you have to tape over the contacts, as the poor thing refuses to display anything unless there's an electronic lens in front of it.

Haven't really played with the Zhongyi yet, but I've read good things. It also needs an EF-OM ring.
 

Erich_H

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It seems I was misunderstood by some of you, so I'll iterate my points:
- I already have a primary m4/3 body. What I'm looking for is a secondary body for lenses built for 35mm film, specifically to get around the 2x crop factor. I'm aware of the advantages and disadvantages that the smaller, stabilized m4/3 sensor brings.
- I do enjoy the slower shooting experience with vintage lenses. Check my profile for photos I've posted previously, most recently in the "walks of the pandemic" thread.
- I'm currently not interested in shooting 35mm film, getting it developed and digitized. Been there, done that. @Lee Perrins claims this is an affordable alternative, but I've found the opposite to be the case. The price of buying film, getting it developed, getting it digitized, and shipping of all these steps will run you about USD 50 per roll of film around here.
- I don't care how the camera looks ("classic style" or whatever), I care how it operates (ergonomics and functionality).
- Focal reducers are an option, but some give atrocious quality, deteriorating the quality from the lenses' original "character" to a blurry mess. I want to avoid just those bad ones. @Bytesmiths has posted some very interesting examples here: https://www.mu-43.com/threads/the-speed-booster-focal-reducer-image-thread.90639/post-1012547
- Besides that, image quality is not of paramount importance for me. I don't care about the newest sensor, lowest noise, or sharpest lens.

Of course, I don't intend to be snarky in response to people trying to give me advice. I'm just trying to clarify what I consider important. It's great to see such a lively forum and I'm sure all the suggestions that people have made will be useful for someone someday.

The guy who has been the most responsive to me was @Erich_H. Thanks a lot!
I see your comments regarding the C-mount lenses, which produce a smaller image circle (at least for the shorter focal length ones). I mainly mentioned it to show that I have some previous, limited experience with such lenses. I'm quite happy to keep using that one on my m4/3 body.

I've obviously got way too much time :p and about USD 2k. I am fairly interested, but in the end it's just "playing with an idea", as I wrote in the beginning. I enjoy the thought process of comparing and finding a compromise's sweet spot, and the lurking on Ebay for a good lens deal. Even if nothing more comes from this, I have already learned a few things about vintage OM lenses. For example, there's https://www.om-labor.de/, where they will service your old lenses and even produce dazzling chrome versions of them. So it's still worthwhile in the end for me.
In this case, I'd definitely get two ten dollar adapters (OM/Konica) to the M4/3 body. Just to see if you like this "SloFlo" kind of photography. Crop factor be damned, for the time being...
 

ibd

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Ed Diaz

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Be sure to get the "II" version of the Viltrox, which is smart enough to know what a manual lens is. Otherwise, with the older version, you have to tape over the contacts, as the poor thing refuses to display anything unless there's an electronic lens in front of it.
Is this still the case? I thought there might have been an FW update that allowed the original "I" version to use MF lenses without having to cover the contacts.
 

pdk42

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The Z6 works well for OM lenses.. This is with the 50mm f1.8. Wide open. Not modern lens sharp, but still pretty good - and it works well for portraits:

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DSC_0904.jpg by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
 
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I thought there might have been an FW update that allowed the original "I" version to use MF lenses without having to cover the contacts.
This may be true, but the update requires a Windows machine (.exe file), and I can't be bothered to virtualize my Macs.

Tape over the contacts works fine, and I don't need (or want!) any of the electronics. In fact, I taped off the contacts on the "II" version, as well, as it was saving goofy EXIF data, and probably was telling the camera the wrong focal length for IBIS use — I'd rather it behaved like a manual lens.
 

pdk42

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Nice. I'm curious about the upcoming Nikon Z5. Could be a more affordable alternative. I hope it's got IBIS.
The Z6 is being heavily discounted now and it's an excellent camera. IBIS, fantastic EVF and rear screen, great focus peaking confirmation support, unbelievable noise handling at high ISO, beautiful colours and rendering, not crazy high resolution (24Mp), readily-available adapters for OM (and about any other legacy mount you can think of), really nice body handling and controls, ... It's even got some excellent lenses in its own mount!

I can't believe the Z5 will be launched at below the current discounted Z6 price and it's designed to be a lower end model so it will compromise on some things.
 

3dpan

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The Z6 is being heavily discounted now and it's an excellent camera. IBIS, fantastic EVF and rear screen, great focus peaking confirmation support, unbelievable noise handling at high ISO, beautiful colours and rendering, not crazy high resolution (24Mp), readily-available adapters for OM (and about any other legacy mount you can think of), really nice body handling and controls, ... It's even got some excellent lenses in its own mount!

I can't believe the Z5 will be launched at below the current discounted Z6 price and it's designed to be a lower end model so it will compromise on some things.
.

Quite frankly, for the price I would rather buy an E-M1 III
 

ibd

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The Z6 is being heavily discounted now and it's an excellent camera. IBIS, fantastic EVF and rear screen, great focus peaking confirmation support, unbelievable noise handling at high ISO, beautiful colours and rendering, not crazy high resolution (24Mp), readily-available adapters for OM (and about any other legacy mount you can think of), really nice body handling and controls, ... It's even got some excellent lenses in its own mount!

I can't believe the Z5 will be launched at below the current discounted Z6 price and it's designed to be a lower end model so it will compromise on some things.
I've been watching the used markets around here for a Z6, but not much is coming up. From the Nikon users I know, most have stayed on their DSLR cameras, as there aren't many lenses for Z mount yet -- nor ones that would replace their F mount ones. The price for a new Z6 body also has barely dropped below the launch price around here (around USD 100).
 

drd1135

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Here is a DPR comparison of the A7 and XT2 at iso 6400. Despite the smaller sensor, the Fuji clearly has better high iso noise. The A7 II has the same sensor with a different noise reduction algorithm. Notice these are raw files, so clearly some NR going on for Sony even is the RAW files. Fujis have good high iso if that matters to you.
1594830486968.png
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1594830624130.png
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BDR-529

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While m4/3 is nice in that almost anything can be adapted to it, the crop factor gets old fast. Even with a focal reducer, you'll not get below 1.5x effective crop.

Points I consider:
- Should be fun to use, needs good ergonomics
- Probably JPEG output is all I'd use, creative filters a plus
- Don't care about video
- Don't care about AF or burst speed
- Should be a small body to match small Olympus OM lenses :)
- Price: USD 500 or less
I would go for Canon FF SLR. Yes, SLR with the EF mount that has flange focal distance of 44mm. Models like 5D-something are available on second hand market on your price range.

There are plenty of mount adapters which cost next to nothing. Including Olympus OM to EF. You might wonder how is this even possible because OM flange focal distance is only 2mm more (46mm). Well, have a look at the throat diameter: 54mm for FE and 46mm for the OM. So the OM bayonet lugs can be machined on the inside of the adapter tube and lens sits 2mm above the original EF flange.

M42 is also a piece of a cake because it requires 45,46mm flange focal distance (who on earth invents something like this on a metric system?) and 42mm throat diameter so threads can be machined on the inside of the original 54mm Canon EF throat and there's just 1,46mm thin washer between camera and the lens.
 

pdk42

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Here is a DPR comparison of the A7 and XT2 at iso 6400. Despite the smaller sensor, the Fuji clearly has better high iso noise. The A7 II has the same sensor with a different noise reduction algorithm. Notice these are raw files, so clearly some NR going on for Sony even is the RAW files. Fujis have good high iso if that matters to you.
View attachment 835504
View attachment 835505
Those DPR test shots show once again that Fuji hide noise by baking in NR to the raw files. Just look at the loss of detail compared to the Sony. So yes - less noise, but less detail too.
 

pdk42

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I would go for Canon FF SLR. Yes, SLR with the EF mount that has flange focal distance of 44mm. Models like 5D-something are available on second hand market on your price range.

There are plenty of mount adapters which cost next to nothing. Including Olympus OM to EF. You might wonder how is this even possible because OM flange focal distance is only 2mm more (46mm). Well, have a look at the throat diameter: 54mm for FE and 46mm for the OM. So the OM bayonet lugs can be machined on the inside of the adapter tube and lens sits 2mm above the original EF flange.

M42 is also a piece of a cake because it requires 45,46mm flange focal distance (who on earth invents something like this on a metric system?) and 42mm throat diameter so threads can be machined on the inside of the original 54mm Canon EF throat and there's just 1,46mm thin washer between camera and the lens.
Good luck manual focussing with a Canon DSLR! I tried it years ago with the 5D and 5Dii and a couple of Samyang lenses. I even added a focus conf chip to the lens, but it was still hard to nail focus.
 
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