Is the E-M5 a keeper or?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by sge998, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. sge998

    sge998 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 14, 2013
    San Francisco, CA
    Having owned the E-M5 for some time now, I can only say it's a love and hate relationship. As there are tons of positive reviews out there for the camera, I won't be writing yet another review but simply share my thoughts about the camera.

    The pros:
    *It can produce amazing images up to ISO3200
    *Superb 5-Axis stabilization makes it great as a walk around camera, low light shooting, and great for using manual lenses
    *Dust/Splash proof

    The cons:
    *mushy dials
    *quirky control functions
    *camera hangs once in a while
    *conflicting menu structure
    *previewing image requires you to move away from the EVF and use the screen ONLY
    *when you are flicking through the menu with the auto eye sensor on, it will cancel it and go back to shooting screen. It makes it extremely annoying when you are changing things on the go

    For me, the quirky functions of the E-M5 really out-weights the advantages. It tries to be an all-around camera but it fails to excel at what it does best - photography. It has one of the most conflicting menu structure in cameras. Yes it does provide a lot of customization/personalization but half of the time you don't really know what's being set and what's disabling some other function without extensive testing. Plenty of times I find myself fiddling with the menu instead of shooting more pictures.

    For the time being, I am going to shoot with the Fuji X system for a while. For all other fellow E-M5 users out there, what are your thoughts about the camera? Please share your thoughts:2thumbs:
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Rudy

    Rudy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 24, 2013
    Oakland, CA
    mushy dials - most of what I touch are the two rotary dials. They're great. One touch to get to the SCP, a second touch to select the control and then use a rotary dial to change the setting. Pretty straight forward if you ask me.
    And 95% of the time I need to adjust aperture and exposure compensation which is directly mapped to the two dials.

    My camera has never hung and stopped responding. It doesn't run Windows after all...

    eye sensor - I don't like it, so I turned it off. The button to switch between the two displays isn't great, but it works OK.

    My greatest complaint is the hot shoe hump. It sticks out too much and makes the camera too tall in particular when using the grip. This makes the camera hard to fit into smaller bags.
    I wish they had moved the EVF to the left and lowered the hot shoe.
    The shooting mode dial is not really all that useful and could be replaced by a button press followed by a rotary dial action. This would actually make it less likely to get into a wrong mode by accident, which happened to me more than once getting the camera in and out of a bag.

  3. Hudsonhites

    Hudsonhites Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 14, 2011
    The EM-5 is not the type of camera that you pick up and instantly become acquainted with. It took me a month of shooting just to learn what I had set the various dials and buttons to and another month of shooting to master manipulating all the buttons and dials.

    I rarely venture into the menus anymore and I don't find them any better or worse than the menu system on my D700.

    The EM-5 isn't perfect C-AF is definitely lacking and a PC port and audio jack would be nice. The battery life is short.

    I used the EM-5 in the heat of Aruba and the frigid cold of the Arctic Circle and it's worked flawlessly. I find the EM-5 to be a good compromise of size and function. I'll definitely be using it for awhile longer.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. twalker294

    twalker294 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Aug 18, 2010
    No camera is perfect but I am loving my EM5. Yes the menu system is complicated but that is because the camera is so incredibly customizable. Once I set everything up like I wanted initially, I rarely use(d) the menus much at all any more. I would much rather have the level of control that the EM5 offers than have a simpler menu system. Yes the eye sensor is annoying but it can be turned off.

    The EM5 is one of the good ones in my opinion and it's a keeper for me.
  5. The only thing I find lacking with my EM-5 is tracking of fast moving objects... like racing motorbikes. With my DSLR I can pan and shoot at any point whilst the bikes are coming towards me at 320kph and the image would almost always be in focus. That left me free to shoot when the composition looked right. With the EM-5 I have to pre-focus on a point and wait for the bikes to arrive at the point because the AF isn't fast enough and that means I miss out on shots away from that point.

    To be fair the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 AF-S VR by itself is worth as much as my entire EM-5 kit but my point is rather that even with a 'fast' 2.8 lens like the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 that the EM-5 can't match my nikon's AF performance (I know it won't, I borrowed one and tried).

    I love what I can do with my EM-5 and I hate dragging the heavy DSLR kit around but I'll keep doing that when I have to because the EM-5 can't 'replace' my DSLR, not for all my needs.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. FrayAdjacent

    FrayAdjacent Mu-43 Veteran

    It's a keeper for me. I came from a Canon 7D and had a couple really nice lenses, too.

    I love the size and compactness of the camera. The lens selection is good, but getting better. I love being able to use old manual lenses without having some stupid modifying glass in the middle.

    The menus are a little odd coming from Canon... but it is nice that you can customize the buttons and dials almost endlessly.
  7. Tapper

    Tapper Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 12, 2013

    As for mushy buttons and the menus etc., I find the buttons easy to operate. I don't have large hands, so maybe that helps. And my OMD is very new, so maybe it was improved in later production runs? As for the menus... I have a NEX camera, so I'm used to convoluted menus and I can deal with that. Plenty of good guides and setup help online.

    My complaints, so far:

    -- no built-in wireless shutter facility, really annoying
    -- that EVF hump, needs to be moved to the left, NEX 7 style
    -- and once that's done, make the screen able to tilt like the EPL-5
    -- no built-in flash, NEX has Oly beat there
    -- strap lug on the right side needs to be moved, but not a huge deal

    But I like the OMD way more than not, so for me, so far it is a keeper. Things I'm especially fond of:

    -- weather sealing, love knowing I'm OK in a bit of rain or mist
    -- seems well built overall
    -- LOVE the lens selection, coming from the bleak NEX lineup
    -- the control wheels and main buttons seem great to me
    -- nice EVF and good OLED screen
  8. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Jan (John) Kusters
    It is most certainly a keeper for me. Excellent files, the camera does everything I want it to do. I am so satisfied that I might go and get a second body when this one is about to disappear from the shelves, just to make sure I can go on using it for a long time.

    It took me some time to get used to it, and even now -after 10 month and almost 4000 pictures- I sometimes have to break out the manual (I printed in and made a booklet out of it). It is the price we have to pay for the huge possibilities to set up the camera.

    Every camera is a compromise. Over the years I have learned to accept the things I did not like to get the things I really wanted, and this camera is no worse than the Canon's, the Nikon and the medium format camera's I used. I can dream up things that would make the camera better suited for me, but one look at the wishlist everybody on forums has, shows that it is time for individually designed and custom build camera's :smile:
  9. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    I have never had a camera that I love 100% and I have been shooting for 50+ years.
  10. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    I'm keeping mine as it's the first digital camera that has made me change from film.

    As others have said there are NO perfect cameras (if there was we would all use it and other manufacturers would cease to exist). As a result all cameras are a set of various compromises and we all struggle to figure out which ones best suit us - with significant differences in price, size, control layouts, lens options, still vs movie options, etc. etc. the options are almost endless.

    This is one, I believe, of the reasons this forum is good and popular:- We all sometimes need help going through all the options available and to see how the cameras ( and lenses, flash, accessories, software, printers) perform in the real world and people who contribute to this site are very good at advising what they have found and advising what suits them WITHOUT resorting to dismissing others choices or being negative or abusive.

    Congratulations to owner, moderators and perhaps more importantly the contributors for continuing to give those balanced helpful replies.

    Anyway after the long ramble OMD for me as I have small hands, used to using a pentaprism based viewer, no need for video and used to holding metal cameras so it's compromises suit me.

    If I had larger hands, a need for video, used to polycarbonate bodies then I might have gone for a Panasonic.

    As for lenses..........
  11. Mikefellh

    Mikefellh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2012
    Toronto, Canada
    To me most of those are nit-picking, and others can be disagreed with:
    - mushy dials? Better than having dials too hard to turn.
    - camera hangs once in a while? Never happened to either of my E-M5s, but I have had it happen to other brands; cameras are computers, computers hang.
    - conflicting menu structure? It makes perfect sense to me!

    Out of all the digitals I've owned (over 20+ years) I've never gone on a forum to question my choice in a camera or what I have issue with it, because I know they are *MY* issues with the camera, and other users may not have those issues.

    And if you did design your 100% favourite camera, someone else may not like it, for instance:

    - The Olympus wireless remote was too only had shutter control (fire), no timer features (beyond the camera's 2 and 12 second delays), no repeating interval. Also you had to be BEHIND the camera to use the remote because the remote sensor was on the back of the camera on later Olys.
    - The EVF hump is just perfect, just like the film SLR I used for 20 years...I hate oddly designed cameras where the hump was off-centre like the Olympus E-1, or didn't have one like the E-300.
    - The E-3/5 swivel screen would be far superior than ANY tilt screen!
    - With all the dSLR cameras I owned that could use an external flash, I've never used the internal flash, and prefer not to have an internal flash!
    - My SLR had the lugs in a similar location...never had issue with the E-M5 lugs.
  12. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    This looks like quite a discussion, but here's my take on getting on with ANY camera -- or perhaps finding that you can't.

    First, it really shouldn't matter too much what the gear looks like. Cameras aren't art -- they MAKE art under your direction.

    Part of the reason I love ANY camera I do is because I've learned I can take it out and get MY images out of it. This is why the dinky little Panasonic LX7 thrills me so much now: I can use it to get what I want, and not just "some image". It has the controls I need for the way I shoot, and I've now if not mastered them at least become proficient.

    Nitpicking little details of a camera often sounds like certain gearhead (automotive) friends I have who spend endless time critiquing -- but really don't do any driving that would actually make use of vehicle in a way that would really tell what it can do. It's one thing to say, "I missed a shot because..." and another entirely to say one doesn't like the feel of the buttons. One of those critiques simply isn't that important really. It also implies that the critique involves the camera in real use.

    However, all that being said, I'm keeping my E-M5 and I'd have two if I could -- but I got an E-PL5 as my second body to have the slightly smaller less intimidating camera for some things. With a VF-2 it's nearly an E-M5 anyway.

    There's is something intangible about some cameras though that ultimately may cause us to love it or hate it regardless of any merits or shortcomings. Call it the "X-Factor" if you will. In this blog post I talk about that idea more: Photographers and Their Machines: Love Affair, Crutch, or Prosthesis

    Here's something I say in that blog post:

    "How do you feel when you shoot your camera? Is it a fight that you struggle to win? Or is it a flow that comes from within?

    I believe that there is no objective "best camera" -- there's only the one feels like a part of you, that frees you to make your art; and those are the cameras you want to find.

    Whatever you've got, you've got to use it and use and use it -- and when you've really worked with it, does it work for you? Any new camera feels strange, but when you get to know it, is it an intimate friend, or a casual one? That should be something that matters to you I think. This makes buying an expensive new camera a risk and something that needs to be done carefully.

    Neither I, Ken Rockwell, Chase Jarvis, nor anybody on DPReview can tell you what your best camera is. It's part of the journey of any artist or craftsman to find what tools fit their hands."
  13. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    There is sometimes "anti-serendipity" with a camera body. Every camera has its flaws, but sometimes those shortcomings are in particular conflict with a personal style of shooting. Have you tried the Panasonic bodies like the G3 or G5?
    • Like Like x 2
  14. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Were you addressing the OP? For myself I have only shot with an old G1 my daughter owns but I actually love that camera. I think the G's are excellent, but I've wanted to shoot a GH but haven't had the chance yet.
  15. amalric


    Jul 24, 2012
    Rome. Italy
    I found my (provisional) bliss with an E-P2, especially now that I have fast AF primes like the 14 and the 30mm.

    While considering the E-M5 as a replacement I am always stopped by the hump. I am an intuitive street photog. so I need to get the camera out of my pocket fast, and it should be as unobtrusive as possible, so again no hump-

    Main problem with E-P2 is that I end up pushing buttons by mistake, so I'll have a careful look at the coming E-P5. Will it have the sturdiness and ergonomics of the E-M5?

    These cameras are so expensive at introduction here in the EU, that they better be close to perfect :biggrin:

    Not in terms of frills but in terms of ergos.
  16. ptolemyx

    ptolemyx Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2012
    Vancouver, BC
    I love my E-M5. There are the specific reasons--IBIS, sensor performance, viewfinder, controls--but simply put it's the first digital camera I've ever owned that fits with my intution of how a camera should work.
  17. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    For me the E-M5 is damned near perfect. Mine has never hung, so I don't know what the problem is there; I think the controls are great, and so customizable that it's hard to see how you couldn't set it up to your liking. The placement of the two dials is perfect and makes shooting either manual or A (the only modes I shoot) dreamily easy. The menus are typical Olympus menus and not hard to learn with the manual, and then are fairly easy; the quick menu, brought up with a press to OK gets you to any shooting setting you might reasonably be expected to want to change with a touch of a button. The only thing I might possibly want would be a "lock" function on the control buttons, so they won't change with an inadvertent press.

    The dials function perfectly as far as I'm concerned; I've never changed an aperture or shutter setting I did not want to change.

    I'd be annoyed if I had to wade into menus to change shooting modes. I rarely go out off manual into A priority, but when I do, it's because I need to shoot quickly without metering every shot.

    I love my Fuji X100, but really do miss a quick menu (like the X10 had through a firmware update), and which all the Pens and the E-M5 have.
  18. mistermark

    mistermark Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 16, 2012
    You can review images in the EVF if you want to. And I used to think my E-M5 was hanging but realised it was writing to a slow card. Try a Sandisk Extreme 45MB/sec or Extreme Pro; that should solve the problem.
  19. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Without pressing the EVF button every time?
  20. Mat - MirrorLessons

    Mat - MirrorLessons Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 10, 2013
    I agree on the quirky control functions and the menu structure.
    The E-M5 isn't perfect in functionality and there is still some things Olympus can improve.
    That being said, in my experience I can say that I have easily learned how to use the camera and deal with its inconveniences.
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