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E-PL5/E-PL6/E-PL7: ergonomics?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Smashr, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. Smashr

    Smashr New to Mu-43

    6
    Jul 25, 2015
    Seattle, WA
    OK. I'm wondering if I haven't made a mistake.

    I'm coming from Pentax; I have a pretty comprehensive kit including a K-5 II and a number of their Limited primes and the 18-135mm zoom. I love it--great IQ, great haptics/ergonomics, a great shooting camera--but I'm looking for something smaller and less SLR-like for family/holiday shots, with the idea that the kit zoom and a fast prime would be enough, but if I wanted to do more "serious" shooting I'd reach for the Pentax. Also: I'd like something with a flippy screen to get better POV shots of toddlers, dogs, fire-plugs, etc.

    So I bought an E-PL6/kit lens about a week or two ago (I also got the Lumix G 20mm/1.7 II at the same time), but I'm not really getting along with it. I find it too small and fiddly, with not enough direct control. Yes--I set up SCP, I toggled on the control wheel, and even bought the larger hand-grip. But it's still too poky-fiddly, it feels like the most of the buttons are in in the wrong place, and it still feels a little small, even with the bigger hand-grip. In short, it feels too much like a P&S, not enough like a camera.

    (I'm also coming to this having shot with a lot of classic manual 35mm rangefinders and SLRs during the past few years--everything from Kodak Retinas to Konica rangefinders and SLRs to Canonets to Pentax to Yashica and everything in between. So I like knobs and dials and advance levers, and manual focus/aperture. I'm not too keen on modal switches and so on, and found going to a Pentax DSLR with autofocus and the (ubiquitous) dual-dial setup a bit jarring at first, but I'm comfortable with it now.)

    (To give you an idea of what I shoot, see my Flickr feed.)

    Don't get me wrong; I love Olympus, I love my XA (I'm on my second), I loved my OM-1, and still have an OM-10 and a couple of primes. I live near the Olympic Peninsula, I have a view of Mt. Olympus if I crane my neck, and some of my best friends are Olympians (go Bermuda ski team!). But this E-PL6....

    I really don't mean to troll, though I'm sure this post could be mistaken as such. And I'm sure there will be plenty of folks reading this who'll think, "Well, then, go find another system and buzz off and leave us alone. What's the point of posting this cr@p here, ya jerk?!? Begone with you, you miserable troll, and don't let the door hit you in the adze on the way out."

    And that'd be fine.

    But I honestly want to know from people: how would you reconcile this? Should I keep trying with the E-PL6, or return it all and get, say:
    - A Fuji XE-1, which I think I'd be very happy with, but which would kind of defeat the purpose of a small alternative to the K-5 II, and anyway it doesn't have a flippy screen and is a bit expensive, to the point where I'd only be able to afford the 18-55 kit for the foreseeable future, and any add'l primes would be significantly more expensive.
    - An EM-5 v1, which looks like it's costing not-much-more than the E-PL6 right now, and of course has dual-dial controls and an internal EVF, too--but is already looking a bit too "serious" for an unobtrusive family cam. And would I get along with something so small?
    - A Panasonic G5, kind of ditto to the EM-5: presumably has better ergonomics than the E-PL6, but at the expense of looking a bit big and clunky for a family cam.

    Other nits about the E-PL6:
    - The shutter sound, which I find a little too obtrusive. This is probably unavoidable for anything with a focal-plane shutter, but the one in the E-PL6 sounds to me like an electric stapler, as opposed to the nice, muffled scissors-on-cloth sound of the Pentax. Folks who have used the EM-5 or G5: is the sound dampening/deadening any better with those bodies?
    - Color/output. I know, I know: people are nuts about Oly color. But I'm mostly shooting RAW, and I find the colors out of this thing a little too cartoonish and, uh, digital. (I find the output from the K-5 II much more luminous and almost slide-like, as if the shots are backlit or something, but with great dynamic range and more realistic, understated color. The Oly output looks a bit antiseptic to me in comparison.) I'm on LR, mainly using Huelight profiles with my Pentax gear; anybody doing the same for Olympus ORFs? Does changing the default color saturation/sharpening have an effect on RAW output, or does it only affect JPEGs?

    BTW, I'm really impressed with the G20/1.7 II; I'm getting along really well with that FL, which reminds me of shooting with a Canonet or the 40mm f1.8 Hexanon. There isn't much like it in Pentax-land, other than (maybe) the Sigma 30mm. I'm tempted to stick with m43 just for this lens alone. It's sharp sharp sharp (maybe a little too sharp), with great OOF rendering and contrast. But I'm also a bit loathe to commit to a whole system for the sake of a single lens, especially if my issues with ergonomics can't be solved with other options, or with sucking it up and learning to love the E-PL6.

    What do people think? I'm attempting to broaden my question to folks who have used other recent E-PL*'s, because as I understand it the ergonomics/body design are virtually identical between the E-PL5/6/7. But I'd love to hear from OM-D users and Panasonic G users, too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  2. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    So the EPL-6, that is not one of the smallest cameras, is too small and P&S, but the G6, E-M5 could be too big and serious? I get what you mean, quite hard to find a solution. I think the best option is to go in a big shop and to try first hand a few cameras.
    The E-PL7 has one extra wheel when compared to the E-PL6. Panasonic GX7 could be another option (with electronic shutter).
    E-P5 is a more serious small camera with better controls.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I agree. I never gelled with the ergonomics of the EPL series. In fact, until the EM-1, I thought Olympus ergonomics were mediocre at best (Pens) and bad at worst (everything else). Like you, I always thought the Oly colors were a bit too saturated, but that was mainly their JPEGs. I'm not sure if Panasonic RAWs will be much different. I also agree the the P20 is great... its my most used lens. If you stay, you'll find that m43 has an abundance of really good lenses.

    As far as alternatives, I find that the larger Olympus cameras handle great, but don't get along too well with the smaller ones. The GX7 is fairly inexpensive these days, has 2 control dials and a reasonable amount of external controls, but the mechanical shutter is loud (you do have a silent E-shutter, but that has trade offs). The GMs are really small. The ergonomics are decent, and with the PL15 or PL42.5 the ergonomics are pretty good (the aperture ring is on the lens with those, so if you shoot aperture priority they handle great). Of course, that wont help if you use the 20. On the other hand, the EPL6 is currently the best bang for the buck in m43... maybe in any system. I think you will be hard pressed to beat what you get for your $299, so maybe keep trying. Also, look at the LX100. I haven't used one, but second hand reports say its really good for a small camera.
     
  4. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    From your comments on size, controls and colour, and because you use RAW
    I recommend the new Lumix G7.
     
  5. EdH

    EdH Mu-43 Top Veteran

    631
    Jul 14, 2014
    Devon, UK
    Ed
    The E-P5 has much better controls than the E-PLs, and you need the SCP much less often. It can be found at a similar price (but also for silly money in places!). The build quality is also much better and it feels completely different in the hand than my E-PL5 or E-PM1.
    The 5-axis IBIS of the E-P5 is also incredible compared to the lesser Pens. I switched it off on the 2-axis models – it was more of a hindrance than a help. The 3-axis IBIS of the E-PL7 (and E-M10) is supposed to be very good too.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  6. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Regular

    101
    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland
    Scissors on cloth better describes the E-M5 Mark II but the original E-M5 is quiet enough to be used in quiet rooms at unamplified concerts. It really does not call attention to itself.

    I suspect you might bond with the E-M5 more successfully. Yes, it looks a bit more serious, but if you use the flipped rear screen, most folks will give you the benefit of the doubt. For me, though, a viewfinder is the only way to go in bright light.
     
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  7. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    If you want the Pen style with no built-in EVF, then a used/refurb E-P5 would be a nice alternative. More buttons, better IBIS, and doesn't look much different than the EPLs.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. EdH

    EdH Mu-43 Top Veteran

    631
    Jul 14, 2014
    Devon, UK
    Ed
    Compared to the E-M5 Mk1, the E-P5 also has wi-fi and 1/8000s max shutter speed.
     
  9. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    There are also few EP5s in the buy and sell section for under $400.
     
  10. Yong

    Yong Mu-43 Regular

    96
    Sep 25, 2014
    If you think your output is over saturated, try another picture mode. Natural is default mode, so you can choose Vivid or Muted mode in the live menu or SCP either. Or you can customize saturation levles as well as contract, sharpness, luminosity curves of each picture modes.
    Hit the EV comp. button on your rear command dial and hit the info button. You can adjust highlight/black point levels manually.(OM-D cameras have dedicated fn button for this control) I think contrast and luminosity levels of the image are closely realted to our color perception, so you can make experiments.
    With all of these customizations you may get the results you want out of camera I guess.
    BTW, overall WB compensation for preset WB(including AWB) is also available.
     
  11. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    I thought that only effected JPEGs. Does that change RAW output as well?
     
  12. Yong

    Yong Mu-43 Regular

    96
    Sep 25, 2014
    No... of course it only affects jpeg. Usually people say the 'Oly colors' for their OOC jpg. I thought you were referring the jpeg. my mistake.:doh:

    I missed your statements about RAWs for some reason. I apologies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
  13. Smashr

    Smashr New to Mu-43

    6
    Jul 25, 2015
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks, everybody, for your thoughtful responses. I'm realizing now that I probably should have posted in the "This or That" forum...

    At any rate, after having a chance to play with the OM-Ds at my local camera shop, I'm now leaning toward an EM10, though it's almost twice the $$ of the E-PL6. But it feels and handles MUCH better than the E-PL6, especially with the baseplate grip installed.

    I also had a chance to try the EM-5 Mk.1 (now I understand what people have said about spongy controls), as well as the EM-5 Mk.2 (better, and a very nice build, though it's more camera than I want/need) and an EM-1 (fantastic build, great integrated grip, but much more camera than I want/need).

    So for about $250 more, in the EM-10 you get:
    - Nice EVF
    - Better main screen resolution
    - Twin-dial controls, plus more external (programmable) Fn buttons
    - Integrated WiFi
    - Integrated fill flash (instead of the fiddly and easily-lost clip-on flash of the E-PL6)
    - Much better ergonomics (than the E-PL6)
    - Same sensor as E-PL6 but faster image processor
    - Same 3-axis image stabilization
    - Included baseplate grip

    And for about $150 more, in the EM-5 Mk.1 you get:
    - Nice EVF
    - Twin-dial controls, plus more external (programmable) Fn buttons
    - No WiFi
    - A fiddly and easily-lost clip-on flash
    - Much better ergonomics (than the E-PL6)
    - 5-axis image stabilization
    - Magnesium WR build but with mushier buttons than the EM-10
    - Same sensor/processor as E-PL6

    Or, said another way:
    E-PL6 + $150 =
    - Nice integrated EVF
    - Twin-dial controls, plus more external (programmable) Fn buttons
    - Better ergonomics/build

    + another $100 =
    - WiFi
    - Even better ergonomics
    - Better main screen
    - Better image processor
    - Integrated fill/controller flash

    Hmmmm......

    Of course, in addition to the extra $$$ this also means a bit of mission creep from the original intent of the purchase (a small camera for casual family/holiday snaps to supplement a nice K-5 II kit), but what's the point of holding onto a camera you don't like using? Life's too short for that....
     
  14. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    330
    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    OK, for a bit of background, Oly have been designing the OM-D line primarily, and then the PENs have been spinoffs from this. The E-PL6 was the last "Pre OM-D" design, and also the last 2 axis IBIS design.

    The E-M5 design was taken and turned into the E-P5 design, and had WiFi added.
    The E-M10 design was taken and turned into the E-PL7 design.

    So these pairs of cameras are about comparable.

    I'm sorry, I don't think it is possible to have "a small camera for casual family/holiday snaps" that at the same time isn't too small to be fiddly. As soon as it is big enough not to be fiddly, as you say it then becomes too big to fulfil the family cam role. The reason the button placement will be sub optimal, is because there is just no space inside to put them anywhere else.

    What you initially said was the E-M5 is "too serious", but would you "get along with something so small"? OK, a bit larger than an E-M5 but not a top of the range model, that would be a Panasonic G5/6/7. Which apparently is too clunky. About the same size as an E-M5 but with a better grip would be a Panasonic GX7. I would say that's unobtrusive because of no EVF hump.

    http://j.mp/1SGf6Zg

    But fundamentally, you want a camera that's smaller than a big thing and at the same time bigger than a small thing. It's not that there isn't a model that meets your needs, just on physical size I don't think there is any overlap and intersection between your two sets of requirements.
     
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  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    :mad: Complete nonsense! ;
     
  16. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    330
    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    OK, before you go making proclaimations, how is what I said complete nonsense? The E-P5 is the PEN (no EVF range) version of the E-M5. The E-PL7 is the PEN version of the E-M10. In both cases the OM-D model came first, the PEN version came later. Mr Terada from Olympus has gone on record to say that Olympus are concentrating on the OM-D line because of how successful it has been, although they recognise that for certain market segments (asian women, mainly) the PEN line has been a success so the PEN line will continue.

    So saying "Oly have been designing the OM-D line primarily, and then the PENs have been spinoffs from this" is not at all the nonsense you claim it is.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. EdH

    EdH Mu-43 Top Veteran

    631
    Jul 14, 2014
    Devon, UK
    Ed
    Perhaps it shouldn't have been put so strongly, but the the Pens came before the OMDs. The Pens were very successful in their own right, but it appears from Olympus' current strategy is that the OMDs are more important. You are definitely correct that from the E-P5 (E-M5 plus improvements), the Pens have evolved from the OMDs. In fact, Olympus whole range of 16MP cameras (E-PM2/E-PL5/E-PL6) come from the E-M5 MkI. And certainly the E-PL7 is just an E-M10 without a viewfinder. Let's hope Olympus stick with this and that there will be a Pen based on the E-M5 MkII. If so, I want one!
     
  18. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 5, 2013
    Dan
    I feel your pain. When I originally came to m43 I wasn't looking to replace my dslr, I was looking for a smaller, lighter, less obtrusive camera that I could use to supplement my dslr. So, I bought the smallest m43 camera I could find at the time. But I found I was frustrated with the controls and ergonomics and ended up buying a G5, which handles a lot like a scaled down dslr. I liked it so much that after a year of not using my dslr much at all, I sold my entire dslr kit which I had been building for years. Be careful, you may end up doing the same thing.
     
  19. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    330
    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    Very true. Mr Terada has said that when they were working on their first m43 camera, they purposely wanted it to be "different from a DSLR", to differentiate it. I am going to assume this is as much to differentiate m43 from the Olympus E-System DSLRs as it was from DSLRs from competitors. The PENs were targeted at "compact camera upgraders". I was one, and my first m43 camera was a PEN. At some point, the E-System advocates within Olympus had to be convinced that an SLR shaped m43 camera would still be differentiated from E-System. And so we got the OM-D.

    In more recent interviews he's explained that Olympus marketing and product planning has changed tack somewhat. OM-D is for "customers who would otherwise upgrade to a DSLR". And the PENs are now for "smartphone shooters who have got annoyed that smartphones don't work very well in the dark". I'm assuming he's talking about people that are image conscious and don't like how their iPhone shots taken in a bar at night are covered in noise.

    The PENgeneration marketing campaign says it all - they are fashion and lifestyle accessories, the events they are promoted at are catwalk shows, and the brand ambassadors are all fashion bloggers. It's about having a camera that makes you look beautiful, both when you are carrying it, and the images it produces.

    Yes, I hope so too, an E-P7 based on the E-M5 MkII would be great. I've seen some examples of superresolution techniques that do the same as the E-M5IIs high res mode, but rely on being used handheld. I could see fashion bloggers taking a product shot loving a feature like that.
     
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