considering the EM1

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by DaveEP, Sep 27, 2014.

  1. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    Sorry for the long post, a little background first...

    I shoot both photo and video professionally. I've used both Canon & Nikon systems through the years, including the original 1D, 1D2, 1Ds2, 5D2, 5D3, D300, D700, D800 and D3. I've had great glass from both companies, including lots of fast primes (14L, 24L, 35L, 50L, 85L, 135L, 70-200 f2.8, Nikors 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 etc). You get the idea. TBH I'm getting tired of the size and weight as well as the soft front/back focusing that comes with DSLR systems.

    I also shoot a lot of video and having shot with video cameras forever, I went through the DSLR phase like many, then finally settled on the C100 for it's audio/XLR, low light and awesome 1080p footage.

    --- Micro-Four-Thirds ---
    I first tried the MFT system with the Panasonic GH1 a few years ago, mainly experiment with the hacked firmware for video, but I was less than impressed by either the photo or video capabilities. The biggest problem for me back then was the lack of fast / good glass. I sold it within 6 months of first trying it and went back to Canon.

    However, I've recently purchased a GH4 to begin playing with the 4K video capabilities and it soon became my go-to camera for video, even over the awesome C100. I've started to acquire more native glass, as well as the EF --> MFT adapter, but I'm actually liking the MFT format generally a lot now due to the availability of more great glass (e.g. the PL 42.5 f1.2).

    For photography I'm wondering if the EM1 would be an appropriate purchase to run along side (rather than replace) the GH4, but to effectively replace my large DSLR gear.

    The things that particularly interest me, and drew my attention specifically to Olympus are the IBIS and the live bulb.

    So a couple of questions:

    1) Regardless of manufacturer's claims, how many stops do you gain in low light / slower shutter speeds with the EM1 IBIS? Is it one, two, three, four? Just to be clear, how slow can 'you' hand hold at 12mm, 20mm, 42.5mm using the EM1 IBIS?

    2) Does the live bulb work well enough to actually figure out when the expose is correct for longer exposures ? I'm thinking 5-30 second exposures on dark evenings....

    3) Have you made the change from Canon / Nikon to the EM1 and still use it professionally? I'm wondering if this is going to be yet another 'run along side' system of it it's actually realistic to replace the Canon/Nikon gear in the short / medium term. My back would surely thank me!

    4) What flash guns do you use / recommend with the Oly system? Obviously Oly has their own, but are there 3rd party systems that also work well that don't cost an arm and a leg?

    OK that was four questions.....

    Oh, one more question.....what would you say are the negative points of the EM1 compared to using a DSLR? I'm really not bothered about what clients think, they hire me because they know I can do the job, not because I'm toting a big white lens, but generally, what should I be aware of that has caused you problems?
  2. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    1. The IBIS is exceptional. Better than the IS on my Canon L lenses in fact. The following was taken at 1/4s handheld with an Olympus 25/1.8.


    2. Haven't had the chance to try out live bulb.

    3. I still own and don't foresee selling my Canon 5D Mk.II anytime soon.

    4. The Olympus FL-600R is nice if GN50 suits you. Third party, don't know.

    5. Negative points?

    - Compared to full frame DSLR, EM1 has more noise. Usable ISO for me is up to 3200 but prefer no higher than 1600 whereas I'm comfortable shooting at 6400 on my DSLR. Even at lower ISO, the EM1 exhibits more noise than my Canon if you pixel peep.
    - C-AF lacking compared to DSLR.
    - Battery life isn't the greatest, especially if you're coming from the DSLR world.
    - Menu system is a bit archaic and will take some time to learn.
    - Compared to full frame DSLR, extreme DoF is harder to achieve due to 2X crop.

    None of these are deal breakers for me and love my EM1 after a little over 4 months of ownership. The list of pros far outweigh the minor cons. But like I said, I don't see it replacing my Canon anytime soon but the EM1 has become my daily camera that I carry around everywhere. YMMV.

    • Like Like x 1
  3. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    i shoot down to 1/6th with 12-40mm.... at 1/3rd @ 25mm i could probably get half of the shots sharp
  4. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 26, 2014
    1. No problem with 1/10 and perfectly sharp photos with the 12-40.

    2. Long exposures - have you looked at the new Composite feature - the recent firmware upgrade has added it to the E-M1. It looks like it does what you are asking for and more.

    3. I expect you have looked at the Olympus Pro lens lineup that is coming soon. The 12-40 is already here and is outstanding. These lenses will give you the equivalents of Nikon's pro set of lenses.

    4. I use the Nikon SB-800 on it when I need a powerful flash. The little flash that comes with it is handy for macro work.

    1. Regarding C-AF and tracking issues: I simply use S-AF instead (which is incredibly fast and accurate) and fire very short high speed continuous bursts.

    2. Lack of ultra-wide. I will be buying the 7-14 f/2.8 when it comes out (Spring 2015). But I would have preferred a 7mm f/2.8 prime as it would be smaller.
  5. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    nice one :)

    That would certainly be interesting to try.... and would only take a couple of mins.... ?

    I can understand why... but the reasons for me are getting fewer and fewer.

    Thanks - been looking at the Nissin i40 as a tiny carry around. For more than that I can use the elinchrom stuff.

    Fair point, but I seem to remember my 1Ds2 maxing out around ISO1600 and didn't have too much trouble. We get spoiled by new tech! Also, I'm over the pixel peeping ;) Unless we're looking for a heavy crop it's either going to be downsized for web viewing or going to be printed (at rational size). Either way the noise is not so much of an issue.

    Fortunately I don't shoot much that moves very fast :)

    Interesting. I can shoot all day long on the GH4, more than I can on the 5D3, so what sort of life are we talking about?

    Yeah, even the GH4 isn't great :(

    Understood, though I've been getting some awesome shallow stuff with the GH4 and 20mm f1.7 that I need to fit extension tubes on the 5D3 to get because of focus distance problems, and even then the GH4 shots look better and were selected by the client! Arrgghh!

    So, thanks for the reply - very much appreciated. If you can get back on the battery and live bulb I would really appreciate it!
  6. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    As for battery life, the maximum I've gotten out of one battery on the EM1 was around 800 shots with almost no chimping.

    On the 5D Mk.II, I can't ever recall running out of battery in one full day of shooting (well over 1000 shots easily).

    Battery life is very dependent on each user since we all setup and use our cameras differently. Some may get 300 shots and others can reportedly get 1000 shots. Depends on too many variables to really estimate for another user. The CIPA rating is 350 shots. But carrying around an extra battery or two isn't the end of the world so it's a non-issue as far as I'm concerned. The Olympus store was nice enough to give me an extra battery along with the HLD-7 grip free of charge. :biggrin:

    As we're on the topic of battery, the battery gauge is terrible on the EM1. The three step gauge goes from "full" to "ut oh" to "empty". The "ut oh" (2nd gauge) means you have approximately 10 shots left and your battery is toast.. :biggrin:

  7. JohnN

    JohnN Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2014
    I'm no pro but do have a 5D3 & 135L (and a few others stiil) - a combo that are going to be hard to shift as you'll know.

    Since getting the E-M10 I've only used the 5D3 once and oddly that was for a video and have been selling off some, the 24-105 was one of the first to go.

    1) IBIS is good, I'd say almost up there with Sigma, which is better than Canon.
    2) I've not got round to LiveBulb yet
    3) Sorry not a pro so cannot comment on that front - but take a look around here, check out LivingLoud's thread (link) if you do anything portrait - this guy has (whether he meant to or not) guided me on what lenses to buy :)
    4) I'd like to know this too - but for now I've been using my Yongnuo YN-622C triggers and Nissin Di866 II's on manual

    1) Yep no usable CAF, although oddly using the touch screen poke and snap style worked well with me today getting a couple of shots of my kids on scooters and running around, so with practice I could see that issue being overcome.
    2) Low ISO noise - although it can pass for light grain easily rather than the ugly noise of say the 7D - a body I sold because of the noise, but I'm happy with the noise on the EM10 - odd but true.
    3) 1.8 isn't 1.8 as you'd know it from full frame, more like 2.8 and so on - but still theres good separation, also the crop factor of x2 is taking a bit of getting used to, whihc will soon lead me to getting the 12-40 2.8.
    4) Battery life - yep on the 5D3 several days on one battery, on the EM10 maybe a day if I'm lucky, its as simple as the screens on so much, imagine running live view all day and see how long a DSLR lasts then, also I've heard (but not experienced) that the IOS on Panasonic lenses can drain the battery even quicker, again sort of obvious but not something that might immediately jump to mind.

    A major boon though is the weight and size. I used to carry a heavy backpack with a couple of "in case" lenses and at the end of the day I'd be aching, now I have a shoulder bag with four lenses and a body, and no ache :)
    I was always lucky with my lenses and didn't see much front\back focus - but it was there and needed correcting - it was a pain and whats worse is it always left me with the niggling feeling it was never quite right no matter how long I tested and figured out the averages on zooms - primes weren't as bad.

    Now if you want to see what I've been doing with it and to see if you can tell when I swapped check my flickr stream (link) - you can tell I'll bet, but they're not that much worse and now I'm with a much much lighter setup.
  8. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I am not qualified to compare the FF Canon bodies/lenses with the E-M1. However, I can say that the E-M1 is a wonderful camera. The focusing is much better than the E-M5 and E-P5 and GX7 that I have/had. As far as how good results you can get hand holding the camera and using long exposures, it would depend on how steady you can hold the camera :wink:. I have had good results with hand held shots of over one second, but I have had plenty of blurred ones as well.

    I disagree about the battery life. I have not found it to be a big issue. Perhaps because I have the extra battery holder/grip and maybe I don't take as many shots. I have taken over 300 shots with the E-M5 (and I think the E-M1 is comparable) without running out of battery life. Anyway, the batteries are small and carrying a couple of spares is no trouble for me. The other points I leave to more qualified people to judge. The DOF is probably not as shallow as what you can get with the FF cameras and glass, but it is pretty darn thin with fast glass wide open. It's shallow enough to allow only small parts of a face to be in focus and the rest is blurred (soft?).

    Anyway, you might be quite happy with the E-M1, particularly if you obtain the best native lenses for the job.

    Good luck!
  9. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    Keeping in mind that no one shoots the same as others...

    I could see me giving up my Nikon's right now, but for the simple fact that the way that I shoot sports, I currently cannot replicate the level of accuracy on the OMD bodies(yet).

    I say give Olympus/Panasonic another 2-3 iterations and they very well may have this issue locked down.

    There is ISO noise to deal with, but for me that is nothing more than a post processing step that is dealt with as you already have to with your current setups.

    Beyond that, I love shooting with the m43 stuff. I even have had great success shooting street with it as well, a place where the current and previous Fuji gear I owned did not mesh with my shooting style. I do love my Df, so that will always be with me, even if I only ever have it and a nifty fifty.

    There are quite a few people out there using their Olymous gear for professional shoots and have not had any issues delivering to clients.
  10. newphoto

    newphoto Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 12, 2013
    Real Name:
    Made the switch From Canon Full Frames

    I recently sold my 5D III and 6D cameras and all the lenses. I am 67 and have back problems, so really didn't have much choice. I replaced all with two E M-1s and the 12-40 PRO, 60 Macro, and 75 1.8. I have pre-ordered the 40 - 150 PRO and will also buy the 300 F4 PRO when it is released. I am very satisfied with the image quality - hard to explain, but a different look than the Canon full frames, but not in a negative way. Tracking AF is not as good, but I am still playing with camera settings and practicing. EVF takes some getting used to for wildlife, but I just turned off image display as the last shot would display in the EVF making tracking a moving subject difficult. Don't let the menu settings scare you, they are pretty intuitive in a relatively short time. Cameras and lenses seem to be really well made. Biggest change for me is not being noticed as much when shooting with a group of other photographers. The assumption is made that I must not know much since I am using such a small rig. Not altogether a bad thing at all.
  11. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Real Name:
    1. Several seconds is feasible - these are not great photos just test images but will give you an idea of the extreme, 5 seconds for the first two and 6.1 seconds for the last.




    2. I think it would with practice. For me it is more of gimmick, friends or watchers are amazed at the process! A quick way to get onlookers at night.

    3. Yes. I have kept my D800 as it fills special needs and situations. No camera can do everything. The size and weight reduction are significant.

    4. Olympus wireless remote control is quite surprisingly good, for serious work the FL-50r and FL-600r. You might want to check out this thread,

    5. Extra question - No deal breakers and some things require a different shooting style or technique. The Olympus UI will be a challenge.
  12. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Real Name:
    Here's an example at 1/6th at 12mm in difficult lighting, i've got as slow as a second with some care
    [​IMG]_EM80932 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr
    This was also at ISO2000 so it was quite dark
  13. GH1NGER

    GH1NGER New to Mu-43

    Mar 28, 2013
    In the store I compared the E-M5 vs the GH3, after my GH1 died. When I saw the live bulb, the IBIS and the 9fps and the touch focus selection on the E-M5 it won immediately. I knew it wan't a great video tool but it just won for stills. I don't have an E-M1 but it's a similar comparison.

    The live bulb is excellent. On the E-M5 you have a limit of about 24 stages (if I remember right) so you have to select the correct intervals between them in order for it to be useful. Eg for a 30 sec exposures you want intervals at least 1 sec. For a 10 sec exposure you can choose half second etc. Of course, the idea of it is to determine your unknown shutter speed, so this requires guesswork.

    The IBIS Is also phenomenal. With the 24-50 kit lens I was shooting 1 sec exps handheld yesterday at the wide end. No problem. It works on all your adapted lenses too.