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Is The Olympus OM-D E-M5 a Game Changer?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Phillip Swanson, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Phillip Swanson

    Phillip Swanson News Writer

    Jun 15, 2012

    There is no denying the growing popularity of the micro four thirds format. The promise of high-end DSLR quality photos in a package the fraction of the size is extremely enticing for a great deal of photographers.

    But, is the release of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 a game changer? Has the m43 system, in arguably its most important year ever, finally reached a point where it can overtake larger DSLR offering from Canon, Nikon, and others?

    Andy Hendricksen's Op-Ed "Why I Sold Everything for the Olympus OM-D E-M5" makes a great argument that for a select group of photographers, the m43 system is arguably the best choice. Hendricksen isn't a professional sport photographer, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, but he is a high skilled hobbyist, and he believes the m43 format has finally matured to fully match his needs.

    Hednricksen's perspective is a great read, and may speak to many of you here on Mu-43. The future of m43 systems is bright. I've previously talked about the stealth factor these cameras give photographers in certain environments. What I want to know is, where does everyone see the m43 format, and mirrorless format in general, going in the next five years?

    There will always be a need on the professional level for full-frame fast as lightning offerings. I've always been a proponent of using the right tool, but the tools are advancing so quickly, those traditionally at the top (Canon, Nikon) will have to take notice, less they miss out on a movement, and get left behind. I can honestly say there is little reason for professional photographers, especially newcomers, to invest in the APS-C and cropped sensor DSLR over high-end m43 systems.

    Source: The Photo Blogger [via m43blog]
    • Like Like x 1
  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I agree that with the OM-D (and to some degree even the nearly two year old GH2) :43: seems to have all but bridged the gap with the cropped sensor DSLRs in all but a very few use cases (e.g. fast action sports). I'll be very interested in what Canikon come up with to keep their APC-S sensor offerings relevant to anyone who isn't "locked in" with a significant investment in lenses.
  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    It sure seems like a game changer. I shoot Canon DSLRs, and spend a lot of time on POTN. The majority of folks there (many hardcore Canon fans) mostly scoffed at m4/3s historically. The E-M5 has changed that reaction in a big way. Lots of people have grabbed one. Some even act like m4/3 is some brand new invention.

    I don't think the majority of those E-M5 purchasers are dumping their DSLRs, but some are, and others are streamlining that kit a bit to allow for m4/3 expenditures. Some folks are predicting a more entry-level (cheaper) FF offering from Canon, based on the logic that the E-M5 has more or less "caught" their cropped sensor offerings in terms of performance and that Canon needs to push full frame to maintain the differentiation they've always enjoyed.

    So maybe we can say the game has started to change. It will be interesting to see what Panasonic does with the GH3 (can they top the E-M5?) and what Canon and Nikon do in an attempt to bolster their consumer/prosumer lines against the rising m4/3s tide.
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    while I will be getting one in my hands very shortly......it is still just a camera. For the vast majority of camera buyers/photographers 4/3 and then micro 4/3 has been more than adequate quality wise for large numbers of people.

    Canon/Nikon have dominated the whole perception of what a 'good camera' is by marketing spending power and leveraging their heritage brand recognition.

    at the end of the day its the photographer who makes the picture...not the camera

    • Like Like x 3
  5. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I think the m4/3 lens ecosystem is the real game changer - it's just that the E-M5 has brought much needed visibility to the m4/3 standard.
  6. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    For my part, I also sold a collection of Canon APS-C gear to fund my OM-D. I have the OM-D for only a couple of days, and the only thing I can say is that it more than lives to its promise. I'm actually astonished of almost everything about this camera, in daily use, but this is of course an observation more about my needs and desires, thus being subjective.

    What I can say more objectively is that, if one doesn't shoot sports or wildlife, the OM-D (as a representative of the latest iteration of high end :43: cameras) is as good as any APS-C DSLR and better than most, in many ways. I'm sure future cameras by Olympus and Panasonic will solidify this argument.

    For a variety of reasons, I strongly believe mirrorless in general is the way of the future, regardless of sensor size. As for :43:, I'm sure we'll see advancements such as advanced sensors, PD-AF in sensor, an even greatest collection of lenses, etc. I agree that, by design, the APS-C sized sensor doesn't seem to offer a significant level of practical superiority (if any) to a :43: sized one. The logical next step is FF, or even larger sensor (if we believe the rumors, Canon is already examining the option of a larger than FF sensor for future cameras).
  7. The term game-changer is so often used that it has lost the impact that it once had. It now really means something that is a bit better than what went before it. Is the E-M5 a game changer, then? The answer is no...and yes. To be true it is "just another camera", but it is also the only camera that has tempted me to spend that much money on a m4/3 body where none have tempted me to do so in the past. So far, just about everything the camera has done and has let me do has led me to believe that I was right to wait for this one.
  8. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I don't think anyone is suggesting that the E-M5 is magical and can make good photographers out of bad ones. I think the "game changer" is more about creating an option to the traditional larger and more expensive DSLR/big glass combo without significant compromises.
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    don't think price really comes into the equation... most of the camera manufacturers tend to price their models within similar band e.g. 500. 750, 1000, 1250, 1500, 2000 dollars etc

    Olympus tend to place models into those bands as well....

    Olympus suffers from not getting shelf space/visibility in big retail outlets as do every other manufacturer apart from Canon and Nikon.

    Even Sony who has a strong retail presence have struggled to gain traction in the market

  10. bongestrella

    bongestrella Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 2, 2011
    Mechanicsburg, PA
    It is for me. Coming from a 60d, my em-5 matches everything what my Canon does. It is unfair to canon though since I'm comparing it to a 3 year old sensor (pretty old by tech's standard).
  11. phrenic

    phrenic Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 13, 2010
    I have to say that it seems odd to see it as a game-changer. Some neat new features like the IBIS and weather sealing..built-in EVF (like we've seen in panasonic bodies) but still with a hump.

    IQ seems leading, but not by that much compared to the GH2 and G3/GX1.

    Is it the styling and retro appeal? I much prefer the look of the E-P1 for classical looks.

    I suppose as a sum of the parts it crosses the threshold of enough things together for lots of people to grab one/lust over.
  12. dcisive

    dcisive Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 19, 2010
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    I've been a paid professional wedding and portrait photographer before and while I've been away from that end of it for some time now, I've also had plenty of pro DSLR bodies and fine pro lenses to go with all that. After 2 shoulder reconstructions and a bad back I'm mellowing a bit. Recently only AFTER I had a chance to work with a OMD in person for several hours putting it through it's paces, I decided to off a completel Nikon system as well as a NEX-5N system to get a OMD. It not only frees one from the "bonds of bulk" but offers a plethora or customization to fit one's particular requirements. I'm not saying for the high end professional that requires the Nth degree of performance the DSLR's still have to speak for themselves, but for those of us who can live without that Nth degree and are more than tired of the heft to carry and the burden of real estate a body and lenses can demand, the OMD makes perfect sense. I am not finding any glaring weaknesses for my typical shooting and will grow this system over time. I DO believe the OMD has become a game changer in the photographic world.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    I believe the OM-D E-M5 is a GREAT camera ... but I'm not sure if it's a "Game Changer" across the broad range of photographers.

    I was at a media event last night where both Olympus and Nikon had booths setup with cameras and lenses to show the press and let journalists (and the many photographers there) mess with them. I spent more time at the Olympus booth but I'd have to say the Nikon booth had WAY MORE people visiting than the Olympus booth.

    I'd also say that, while I'm glad the E-M5 is here, I won't be buying one. The E-M5 is too much like a small DSLR for my taste. I want a "pro Pen" series camera looks and feels more like the E-P1/E-P2/E-P3 but has a built-in EVF in the top left corner like the Sony NEX-7 or the Fujifilm X100 and X-Pro1.

    I also want Olympus to make more accessory grips for the E-P3 (hopefully Oly can use the same grips on the next high-end Pen).

    Anyway, the E-M5 is a great camera but I don't think it's going to make dramatic changes to the camera industry or change the way "most" photographers think of compact system cameras.
  14. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Three words: fast zoom lenses. The vast majority of pros I've met use f/2.8 zooms.

    Sure, they're coming to m4/3 (in theory - with Panasonic one never knows for sure) but until they actually reach the market, zoom-shooting pros are SOL.

  15. Beady

    Beady Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 10, 2012
    Trenton Ohio
    I am with the author. I just sold all my Nikon gear and have gone micro 4/3 after buying a olympus and kit lens as a trial. I really like having the smaller gear and granted I am not shooting sports. I really believe that this is the wave of the future and I like the fact that there is a standard as opposed to a Cannon a Nikon a Pentax version. What I would really like to see happen is two or three "systems" micro 4/3 system, full frame system etc. I think this would really make sense for photographers and would allow you to mix and match on your needs verses which manufacturer you picked.
  16. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    there is the argument that the need for 2.8 zooms was for primarily getting an acceptable shutter speed at ISO 400... the upper end of the acceptable film world... the shallow DOF was a a by product that became a visual fad

    things have moved on and we shoot happily at 1600 ISO and acceptably at 6400 ISO.....plus we have effective image stabilisation......unless you really need that extreme DOF ( lack of) then the need for 2.8 zooms for regular day to day photography is somewhat diminished.

    in my head photography is about capturing the good light.... if its a black cat in coal cellar on a dull day.... I doubt that even a f 0.5 lens at 512,000 would guarantee a good photo... though i reckon a good photographer could get away with a lot lot less

  17. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    One can easily make the argument that the OM-D E-M5 is nothing special compared to pre-existing Micro 4/3 cameras, but in many places I see people getting rid of various other cameras because they are happy with the OM-D. I haven't seen this happen to the same extent with any other MFT camera.
  18. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Extremely shallow DOF may be a fad, but when you are relatively close to your subject, like for a casual portrait, f/2.8 is already at the limit of getting good separation of subject and background, even on larger sensors. Press photographers the world over know this, and they are not after trendy effects... they just want to make their subjects look good. One way to do this is to fade out distracting backgrounds... though not going to the extreme of rendering them invisible, as that kills context.

    I jell with f/2.4 on APS-C and rather prefer f/2 on MFT (depending on the focal length of course). And this is not for any crazy effects... for that I have f/1.2 which I rarely use. I can't imagine being limited to f/2.8 on MFT and as a result never use zooms.

    But then again I'm not "professional". I shoot because I care about images. (And yes, this also means I need lots of DOF sometimes.)
  19. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    I think it's the fact that, while each incremental improvement may not be earth-shattering, the sum of all these amounts to something really a significant.

    That said, this is the first MFT camera to have two critical features in one package. A built-in viewfinder is necessary for the camera to be taken seriously by many photographers. And the IBIS makes possible some incredible shots in just those impromptu situations where a compact camera would be used in the first place.

  20. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Just noticed that Trevor said much the same thing a day earlier. :tongue:
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