first impressions of Micro Four Thirds and E-M5 (+ G6)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by tlovegrove, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. tlovegrove

    tlovegrove Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Mar 3, 2014
    Southern California
    Tim
    About a month ago, for corporate video work, I got rid of my Canon 6D and lenses, switching to a cheaper/smaller/lighter Panasonic G6 (primarily with Canon FD lenses via adapter). I was so impressed with the MFT experience that I decided to switch for my personal stills shooting as well. So I sold my Canon gear and about a week ago I got a used E-M5.

    Thought I'd share a few first impressions, FWIW

    First of all, let me say how pleased I've been with the forum "attitude" of so many of the MFT users I've come across so far. Seems to be a friendly group.

    I'm kind of amazed at the possibilities with the MFT system. It's great to be able to choose one body especially tuned for video, and another especially tuned for stills, and share the same system. Or to choose a tiny body for travel (like GM1), and a nearly-pro body for portrait work (E-M1), and share the same lenses. Very pleased with the lens selection and prices. Even more pleased with the size and weight of the lenses. Amazing that a whole kit can weigh just a few pounds.

    I bought my E-M5 body not having learned about the Panasonic 12-32 pancake zoom. Wow. That little silver beauty is just perfect on the silver/black Olympus body (ok, the two silver tones don't match exactly, but really close). And then I was delighted to discover that it unlocks by simply turning the lens (no switch you have to use with two hands, like some other lenses). But most importantly, this E-M5 + 12-32 gives me a very compact combo with EVF and stabilization that I feel comfortable taking anywhere. I moved to MFT because I concluded that the best pictures I took were the ones I actually took, and the worst pictures I took were the ones I never took because I didn't even take my big Canon 6D/lens combo along with me. In other words, my greatest image problem was not corner sharpness or high ISO performance - it was images that never existed in the first place. I've taken more photos in the last week than I have in a long time.

    Pleased to learn how well the greater depth of field can be a benefit in many (not all) situations. You can get f/1.4 or 1.8 light without having to fight impossibly shallow depth of field.

    Love the retro style - I've had an old OM-1 body and lenses, and it was just so beautiful and compact. I think this is retro done well.

    Very impressed with image stabilization. Definitely gives me 3+ stops. So glad that everything I put on the camera can benefit from this.

    Amazed at the level of customization that is possible on the E-M5. Things like changing the direction of the focus ring and adjusting the color temperature of the EVF are kind of crazy (I know it's not a big deal from an electronics standpoint, but it's still not stuff I would have dreamed of a few years ago with my NEX C3 or Pentax K-x).

    As all the reviews note, tracking focus is not great but in general the autofocus is lightning. I'm amazed when I use the touch shutter - it seems almost as if it focuses instantaneously.

    Love having a viewfinder, wish it was higher resolution.

    Grip is OK - better than nothing, not as good as the traditional DSLR styling of the Panasonic G6, which I prefer. But I'll gladly deal with that to get the beautiful E-M5 body and features. I'm not very interested in the add-on grip options I've seen so far, but it's nice to know they are available.

    Mounting the flash is a pain - but love the fact the flash is included and it seems to be a decent flash for basic use.

    Build quality isn't the greatest (viewfinder cup slides off too easily, buttons feel a bit fiddly, etc.), but just fine for the price I paid. I'm not trekking the Himalayas.

    The design and layout is nice. A couple more function buttons would have been nice, and the placement of the "play" and Fn1 buttons is a little awkward. But overall it's very usable. I love the placement of the dial around the shutter button - so easy to use. Glad I don't have to open the battery compartment to access the memory card. Super Control Panel is nice.

    Though this is only my backup camera for video, I'm still generally pleased with the video quality and controls. Nothing like the Panasonics, but as a backup to the G6 it will do the job just fine.

    Post-processing is so powerful these days that I'm really not concerned about any image quality difference from the 6D. Again, the best pictures are the ones I actually take because I have a camera with me.

    Some of my simple current frustrations:
    • I miss focus peaking. I have learned about the hack and set it up, and it works fairly well. But real focus peaking would still be very welcome.
    • Sad that (unless I'm missing something) there doesn't seem to be any quick access to exposure bracketing. I have to go to the menus.
    • I'm one of those weird people who likes a lot of information in my viewfinder, and I'm frustrated by the fact that there doesn't seem to be any option to show all of the available information around the edges of the screen. It flashes on sometimes (when you change shooting modes, I think) but I can't seem to find any way to turn it all on. The info button certainly doesn't do it.

    So my current kit is:
    E-M5 Silver/Black
    Panasonic 12-32 Silver
    Olympus 40-150 Silver
    Panasonic 20 1.7 (so much for color-matching...)
    Down the road I'd like to add 45 1.8, 75 1.8, and 12 2.0.

    I'm a happy camper so far!
    Tim
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Great kit. I would recommend adding a second, smaller body to accommodate those lenses, e.g. inexpensive E-PM2 for use with a prime. The possibilities of m43 are already impressive and expanding rapidly. The future is bright: I predict effective on sensor phase detect AF for both stills and video (compatible with current lenses), electronic shutter for unlimited flash sync speeds without reduction in power like HSS/FP. Hopefully, we'll see more affordable third party lenses in the future (e.g. Sigma or Tamron). One thing currently lacking in m43 is the ability to control flash in camera via radio trigger.
     
  3. tlovegrove

    tlovegrove Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Mar 3, 2014
    Southern California
    Tim
    Thank you for the reply, Art. Just this weekend I went for the ebay $349 deal for a silver E-PM2 :)
     
  4. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Doesn't the new firmware update include focus peeking?
     
  5. tlovegrove

    tlovegrove Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Mar 3, 2014
    Southern California
    Tim
    I've only heard rumors that it might be coming, not that it has already?
     
  6. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    Plug in the EM-5 and update it.
     
  7. tlovegrove

    tlovegrove Mu-43 Regular

    94
    Mar 3, 2014
    Southern California
    Tim
    Updated from firmware 1.6 to 2.0, no indication of focus peaking either in the menus or function of the camera.