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EM1 ergonomics

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jonlong, May 20, 2014.

  1. jonlong

    jonlong Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 25, 2013
    I was originally looking at an upgrade path from my G6 to the GH4, but decided that I didn't want to pay the premium for video features I won't use. So instead, I'm looking at the EM1. I'm wondering how the EM1 handles with a long lens, such as the 100-300, and in anticipation of the longer lenses from Olympus, such as the 40-150 f2.8. It appears from photos that the EM1 is similar in size to my G6, and that's just on the small side of comfortable for me.

    For those of you that have handled various cameras, how does the EM1 compare to the G6 or the GH3/4?


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  2. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    I used my EM1 with the 50-200 SWD w/ an EC-14 and MMF-3 adaptor. While it wasn't the most balanced combo, it certainly wasn't unwieldy. The built in grip is very helpful for holding...it's even better with the RRS BOEM-1 plate. I have the HLD7 grip coming this week, so I'll be able to compare the two.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The 100-300mm is a tiny lens in my photographic world, but the size of your body has little to nothing to do with handling of super-telephoto lenses. If it did, then 90%-95% of top-pro glass couldn't be handled on the largest pro-grade DSLR either. When your lens gets bigger, your hold shifts more to the barrel of the lens. The only difference the size of your body makes is when that shift occurs.
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  4. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    Dont agree - The body you use has a considerable effect on the handling of larger lenses and the feeling of balance will be greatly affected if you use the smaller M43 bodies compared to the larger ones
    Although the 100 - 300mm is small in comparison with other formats it is still quite big on a micro four thirds body
    It will handle much better IMO on the larger bodies and/or the ones with a good grip such as GH3/4, EM1, EM5 (with accessory Grip fitted)
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I am a full-time working photographer, and use the same lenses on the smallest Pen bodies as I did on the largest pro-grade DSLRs, handling them every single day throughout the entire day. In my experience, I have felt no difference in how I handle large lenses no matter what body I use. The only difference I have found in using a larger, heavier, metal-framed DSLR body is in using smaller lenses, as there is a point where the lens is so small that you don't need to hold onto it, but can hold onto the body itself. Just like using pancake lenses on a compact body. The point where a lens falls into that category is the only difference in handling a slightly larger lens on a smaller body, but when using a super-tele there is no change in HOW you hold it, as you are already holding the lens. The change is that lightening the back end where you no longer carry your weight will make wielding that big mother around all frickin' day a lot easier and less taxing on you. That's a plus for the smaller body, as there were many times in the past where my arms would be totally spent after a day of shooting with big fast glass... and I am a strong man.

    Now you are certainly free to disagree with me. There is no "yes or no" right or wrong answer, as there are many variables to be considered. The point I am bringing up through my varied experience is the importance of a variable which you are perhaps not seeing, which is that if you are having trouble handling your large lenses on a small body, then the problem is not in your body and lens combo or anything to do with your equipment, but rather in the technique of the photographer. Try hauling some of these 1KG+ lenses every day all day long, and you will learn how to handle them differently. What I am giving you is only advice, and you are free to dismiss it but please do not take it offensively... but good technique in handling large lenses will not only negate any differences in body size, but will also make your handling of super-telephoto lenses much more secure and steady. When you are using a long lens, try holding it at the very end of the lens when you release the shutter, instead of at the middle, and see how much of a difference it makes to the stability of your shot.

    My overall suggestion is to stop worrying so much about "what your camera can handle", as it can probably handle a lot more than you you think. Worry more about adapting your technique as a photographer, and getting used to using different types of equipment instead. If there is something not right about how you're shooting for the equipment you're using, then learn to adapt to it so you can grow in skill.

    Now I will add that there is one point in which the small body becomes bothersome with longer lenses, and that is when mounting the camera to a tripod when you are in that no-man's land in between a tripod collar and no tripod collar. Once you mount a tripod collar on your lens then the light weight of the body once again becomes an advantage, but when you are at the cusp with a lens that doesn't include a collar (since the decision to include them or not was largely based on a heavier body), then the small body will make for an unstable tripod mounting experience. There is a 4/3 adapter for some of your larger digital lenses which has a tripod mount on the adapter, and I would like to try that out one day. :)  I shoot mostly hand-held so this hardly ever affects me, but when it does this is the only place I am bothered by the small size of my bodies. Every other time I'm loving the reduced size and weight.
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  6. jonlong

    jonlong Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 25, 2013
    I know what you mean about handling the lens instead of the body, but when I'm handling the camera in a general sense, I appreciate a comfortable ergonomic body when the overall package is weighty and front heavy. For example, carrying the camera in one hand, or letting go with my left hand to manipulate some control while my right hand holds the weight of the camera.

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  7. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    The camera is designed with lens controls for your left hand, and body controls for your right hand. What controls would you need to use with your left hand that doesn't involve the lens?

    Again that sounds like something awry in your technique, not the design of your equipment...
  8. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    To be fair, on the E-M1, the top-plate on-off switch is not really reachable from the right hand. So there's a camera where the second most important body control is designed for the left hand.
  9. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I agree with Ned from a handling and practicality perspective. From an aesthetic perspective though, big lenses on tiny bodies look comical. I know that's a subjective and facile point of view, but I think many would agree.
  10. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    I'd like to hear your feedback on the grip comparison when you get the HLD-7.
  11. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    looks perfectly balanced to me :) 

    Attached Files:

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  12. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I took several hundred photos with the 100-300mm zoom on an E-M1 this weekend and the ergonomics are just fine. But, to agree with Ned, a couple of years ago I used that lens extensively on a GX1. While it looked out of proportion, it really handled fine in spite of the small size and purely rectangular shape of the GX1 body.
  13. fredlong

    fredlong Just this guy...

    Apr 18, 2011
    Massachusetts USA
    I'm a big fan of comedy ;) 
  14. jonlong

    jonlong Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 25, 2013
    Appreciate the insight so far. I disagree that there is never a scenario where you are holding a camera with the right hand only, but we all do things differently. I also understand the aesthetic issue with a big lens on a small camera. It doesn't matter, but it does look a little funny.

    Anyway, I knew that the battery grip existed as an option if I wanted more grip, but also just found the RRS base plate and that looks perfect to me. I put on an arca swiss plate anyways, so might as well use that and get the little bit extra grip for my right hand. And it doesn't seem to add much bulk or weight.

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  15. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California

    My 12-60mm ZD handles well enough on my E-M1, it's 575g and 10cm + the adapter.
    My 7-14mm ZD is a little tougher at 780g and 11cm + adapter.

    I don't have a grip.

    Both need 2 hands.

    The 100-300 Pana is lighter, but if you don't like it, try the even lighter m.ZD 75-300.

    BTW, I got a Joby Ultrafit sling strap and it makes a huge difference in comfort, esp. with heavier lenses.

  16. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Fine with me as I only use it twice for a shooting session....start and stop.
  17. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    The main thing I think to keep in mind between the E-M1 and GH4 is that the latter is significantly larger-bulkier - roughly 30%. The E-M1 is better suited for still photos; i.e. slightly higher detail resolution according to cameralabs.com, 5-axis image stabilization that works with any lens, a better viewfinder (although the GH4's is good) and rich Olympus colors (although the GH4's colors are good - greatly improved over the GH2's).
  18. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I use an E-M1 (with the RRS grip to make the body a bit more comfortable) with a range of 4/3 SHG lenses, the 35-100mm f2 is the biggest lens to practically hold, without a monopod at least, and it fits the E-M1 like a glove. I came from an E-5, which is a bloated camera compared to the E-M1, which has had all the fat trimmed off and only the muscle retained.
  19. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    The E-M1 works really well with the Olympus 75-300. A complete lightweight combination in the hand with a powerful telephoto. Keep your shutter speed high (1/1000) and I use Continuous High so I always fire short bursts, increasing the chances of a perfect result.
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