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My feelings on OMD Vs. XE-1

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Chronos, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Chronos

    Chronos Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 18, 2012
    I own both of these now :) 

    Totally different cameras for sure. This is to be taken with a grain of salt, it is just my own poorly formed impressions

    Keep in mind I could be wrong about some of this as I am still learning the XE-1. So there is no fanboi-ism here, just my initial impressions.

    1) Autofocus

    OMD's AF blazingly fast for single AF. It focuses in low light areas without the need of the focus lamp, very little hunting. The Continuous AF is not on par with the D7000.

    XE-1's AF system is best not tested after using the OMD, because compared to the OMD it is laughable. It hunts in low light even with the AF lamp. It seems to work well enough with some decent light around.

    2) Customization

    The OMD is highly customizable, everything from the viewfinder, display, lens function, f1, f2, the list goes on. It is the most customizable camera I have ever had. Almost to the point of making things a bit confusing. It took a while but I now have it set to how I like it, and it is pretty easy to use. You can have the OLED and EFV display different things as well.

    The Fuji XE1 is nowhere near as customizable. It has ONE function button, but you cannot even use the scroll wheel on the back to control it, you still have to use the thumb pad which means you have to pull it from your eye, seems kind of pointless. I would say this camera is not very customizable, if it were not for the Q button where you can scroll through pre-sets, but I would argue this is not customization, this just enables fast configuration changes. The screen and EFV will show the same info

    3) EFV

    The OMD has a decent viewfinder. It is not very sharp even when adjusted with the diopter, I know it is not my eyes because I read at 20/15 since my Lasik. Very little lag, even in low light. The eye sensor works ok but could stand to be a bit faster. It throws up a nice large image about the same size as the OFV on the D7000. Not sure why but you cannot have the EFV on non-stop, even when shutting off the rear display the EFV is off until the eye sensor is triggered.

    The XE1 has the same size viewfinder, but higher resolution and you can see the difference. Things look sharper and crisper, no doubt about it. However it is much laggier. The eye sensor is better though, and flips from screen to EFV faster. You can leave the EFV on non-stop with the back off if you like.

    Build quality

    The OMD nice solid construction. Not a fan of the dials, the dials do feel a bit cheap. Weather sealed which is awesome!

    The XE-1 also has a nice feel to it, but not as nice as the OMD. However the dials feel much better and more secure.


    OMD is not bad, it is a small camera, with small buttons a bit mushy because of the weather sealing but that does not bother me. Without the grip it is ok for lighter lenses. I have the Panasonic 12-35 on mine and it really needs the grip. Let’s talk about the grip too, it really helps, but the bottom corner of it sort of digs into my palm on the large area at the base of the thumb. The battery grip helps, but I have been considering machining out a plate to attach to the bottom with a curved surface to help remove the bottom corner. The memory card is on the side which I prefer so you don’t have to detach it from a tripod plate to swap out the memory card. Dials and buttons are well laid out in a nice intuitive manor

    XE-1 Better IMO ergonomically. The 18-55 kit lens has some heft to it, but it still seems to balance without the need of a grip. The buttons are larger, fairly flush but stick out just enough. It is pretty comfortable to hold. I like how the viewfinder is not in the middle like the OMD, this means I don’t have to bump my nose in the screen. The dials and buttons are very well laid out. The memory card sits in the battery compartment like the NEX, I don’t like this. it is also in the back next to the door and sort of annoying to pull out.

    Image quality

    This horse has been beaten to death. You can find TONS of sample images and pixel peeping online. Basically 95% of the time the OMD will be more than good enough for what you need. The XE-1 in my opinion IS better, but not by a substantial amount. However one area the XE-1 shines is HIGH ISO. 6400 is perfectly usable on the XE1, but not the OMD. In fact, ISO 12,800 looks pretty good on the XE-1.

    Cool stuff specific to each camera.

    OMD - Highlights and Shadows. How cool is this? it shows you live where you are clipping. I always have it ON with the OMD. I really like that feature

    OMD- Articulating screen. I was not a fan of the idea when this became popular, gotta admit, I have started to like it.

    XE-1 - DOF and manual focus bar. This is AWESOME. There Is a bar at the bottom of the screen/efv that indicates distance, there is a red line surrounded by a white bar that indicates the focus point. The red line is the exact center of the focus, the white bar shows you the depth of field. So when opening the aperture up the white bar expands to show the area that will be in focus. Using this you can manually focus in very low light with only knowing the approximate distance to the subject.

    XE-1 film simulation modes. I know I know, the OMD has Art modes. However to be honest, my personal opinion is most of the art modes are just stupid and I will never use them, they are too over the top, the only one I kind of like is the Dramatic Tone. The film simulation modes are just more subtle and does not look like it was heavily processed, it still looks like a natural photograph.

    XE-1 Pop up flash. I dig it, it is low powered, probably just enough to kick up shadows a bit in harsh sunlight conditions or to nudge up the shadows a bit on a backlit situation. It goes INTO the camera and gets out of the way. you can also use it for bounce in smaller rooms. The OMD just has that goofy/stupid attachment flash that requires you to remove 3 separate plastic covers which can get lost.

    XE-1 Aperture ring! yes! I love the way this camera is setup. The shutter dial, aperture ring, give it a very nice feel.

    XE-1 High end kit lens? Yes! This kit lens is awesome! it has a wonderful feel, metal construction, very very smooth and competent feel to the focus and zoom rings. Due to it being a variable aperture lens there is no hard stops on the aperture ring, but it does feel very good.

    In the end these are two very different cameras and do not make for a good comparison.

    The OMD is a Ninja, it is a Jack of all Trades and master of many, it is fast, efficient with excellent image quality. It is a finely engineered marvel of photographic joy.

    The Fuji XE-1 was clearly designed as a fun camera geared towards photographers. It takes more care and thought, and seems to have been intended with more of an artistic purpose. It has a lot of personality to it.

    The differences between the two really balance each other out, and I recommend them as a set. They are so different they almost feel natural together.

    As for which is better that depends on what you are into. If you need high speed system for fast changing environments the OMD is probably the better choice. The Fuji seems to be more of an artist’s tool intended for deliberate shooting. Even though I will probably use the Fuji more than the OMD, I will probably take far more pictures with the OMD than the XE-1. I feel the OMD us something I will "use", the Fuji will be something I "work with".

    If I were only allowed to keep one, it would certainly be the XE-1. It really seems to hit what I want to do with my photography which is very slow and deliberate. If you are into wildlife, sports, etc., the OMD would be a better choice. In fact, for many people I think the OMD will be a better choice.
    • Like Like x 10
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Nice write up. I have the OMD and X-Pro, so similar comparison except for the addition of the OVD on the Fuji. I fully agree that they're a nice complimentary set rather than competitors, because they are so different. Yet they compete for some of the same market. Although I feel largely the same regarding trade offs, if I had to narrow it to only one, I'd keep the OMD instead of the Fuji, not because I like it or enjoy it more, but because its so overwhelmingly versatile and with so much fine glass available now. I'd HATE to have to give either up though, because the combination keeps me interested and on my toes in a way that neither would do as well on it's own.

  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    Thank you for the post Chronos; great review, but I should have stopped reading after your comments on AF...

    As a current E-M5 owner who thinks he has the X-E1 lust under control your review makes pretty perfect sense to me given the tons of other stuff I've read on this subject. My conclusion is that the E-M5 makes more sense for me, but your closing comments about the X-E1 are what keep it from leaving the radar screen completely.

    The other point you make that is resonating more and more for me is about the kit lens. While I think the 12-50 is a bit underrated on the Olympus side it doesn't appear to hold much of a candle to the Fuji 18-55. I've been thinking about the Panasonic 12-35/2.8, but I really wonder how that compares to the 18-55. Seems like the 18-55 gets a bit more love, but that may be due to it exceeding expectations and the 12-35 not quite living up to them (at that price).

    If you can add some specific thoughts about how the E-M5 + 12-35 compares to X-E1 + 18-55 that would be awesome.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Agreed on everything you said Chris, matches up with everything I've found on the X-E1 so far.

    One thing I'll add, the X-E1 isn't as customizable as the older X100 but it does have some nice flexibility in areas like:
    1) EVF/OVF, you can choose what elements to display
    2) JPG modes available in JPG + RAW, and you can choose to display the JPG / Film mode version or the normal version in the display. I love that I can shoot B&W and have everything in B&W on the camera, but still be recording regular RAWs for later processing.
    3) focus ring control - you can actually change the direction the focus ring turns, for people coming from different systems

    There's little bits like that within the camera that are customizable that I appreciate. Also a plus is that with the controls on the X-E1, there's just not much I need a Fn button for - I don't even use mine, because everything I need has a control button already on the camera. Obviously everyone's preferences are different but I'm pleased that the lack of Fn buttons hasn't been an issue for me. One nit-pick with the X100 and X-E1 both is why the Macro mode button can't just be a toggle. There's only two options (on/off) - why do I have to press the button, then change the mode with another button?

    I am also hopeful that like with the X-Pro1 and X100, Fuji will listen to customers and add more flexibility and options in firmware updates. That kind of responsiveness to feedback is incredible, and rare in the camera world.
  5. feilb

    feilb Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 4, 2012
    You can push the macro button twice and it will change modes (i.e. up, then up again to toggle).

    I had similar observations to those listed here. IQ overall is better on the XE1/XP1 and high ISO is no contest.

    If, like OP, I did more slow, deliberate photography with a digital camera, I'd have kept the XE1 as well.

    For me, AF is the real killer. I've got a kid. The XE1 couldnt see him (in focus at least) :smile:.

    As far as customizability goes, I'd say the XE1 doesnt need more than it has because everything is so clearly purposed and well laid out. The OM-D needs more because its menus are poor (except for SCR or whatever it's called).

    That being said, the OM-D, once you get used to its UI quirks, has been a much more pleasurable shooting experience for me. The AF is outstanding, the size is nice, the build quality exceeds the fuji cameras, the touch screen is super handy for settings changes, etc.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Thanks, that's definitely less cumbersome than using the left/right arrows. Learn something new every day :biggrin:
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    A big +1 here.
  8. Chronos

    Chronos Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 18, 2012
    As for the 18-55 vs the Panasonic 12-35, ill try to expand on that more in the next week as i get more time with it.

    I like the panasonic 12-35 but it has not really wow'ed me yet, then again it is winter, it is cold out, it is dark before i get home from work, and i dont have a flash for my OMD. Maybe this weekend ill get some changes to play with them in the daylight a bit.

    One thing I can say is the 12-35 had the smoothest zoom ring i have ever felt, until i for the Fuji 18-55. The 18-55 just screams of quality build, more so than the panny 12-35.

    Ill report back in a bit.
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Both the Fuji lenses (I have the 18-55mm and 35mm) I've handled are heavy and solid. They feel like tanks compared to m4/3 lenses. I've read some comments about Fujinon lenses feeling cheap but I don't know if that's only applicable to other models, or if those people just have incredibly high expectations. The Fujinon lenses are as nicely built as anything I've used, except maybe the Voigtlander with its all metal and glass construction and manual focus ring.
  10. asterinex

    asterinex Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2012
    Thx for your view on this. Can you tell us something about the use of legacy lenses on both ?
  11. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    thanks for this review ive been wondering on getting a second body for my OMD and opted for an EPM2, but that thing is just too small and might start sharing it with my fiancee and potentially lose it. I just hate that for any change that i want to do in any PASM mode i have to click on the wheel to change aperture or shutter speed.

    so ive been reading all this nice comments about the XE1, i honestly wanted to like the X100 and actually i was one of those early adopters of the X100. but the AF just killed it to me. sold it after a couple of months. is just crap. period. And apparently Fuji just CANT make the AF work properly compared to almost any camera in the market. But then they said the XE1 had a way better AF, and apparently has, but still not even close or even comparable to the OMD.

    But at the same time, i read from this photographer that says, the XE1 with the 18-55 the AF is like the OMD with a P20 on it. which in M43 language is "dead slow are you out of your mind" (for some) but in real life it is good (for me), just not BLAZING fast as with other lenses.

    but then theres IQ, where i can see that the XE1 is being compared to the 5DMKII head to head, and im into landscapes and long exposure shots were the OMD is just not there for that. Every time i do long exposures and keep the shutter open for more than a min or two, even with NR i get tons of weird artifacts that almost kills a color Long exposure for me, unless i transform it to black n white.

    So ive been wondering of gettin the XE1 almost for scenery and landscapes and such. how do you see the resolution, and noise for long exposures (if you do)?. Or should i just concentrate in saving for a Medium format and leave in peace for the rest of my days?
  12. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Chris, I'd probably agree the AF on the Fuji is sort of comparable to the Panasonic 20mm. I've definitely lost some shots shooting indoors at a party for example where I was at ISO 3200-6400 and F/2.0 and the AF just didn't want to lock, particularly on moving people. I also had a lot of trouble using it for the Christmas card photo of our dogs this year, due again to AF issues. I gave up and switched to the GH3 to get the shot in that instance. IMO it's not unusable, but it's not in the league of the modern m4/3 systems either.
  13. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Jay, have you tried zone focus with the XE-1? I had some issues with AF on my X-10 recently and have concluded that in good light I might be better off using manual focus, using the AEL/AFL button to set the initial focus point. Not much help on indoor shots, though.
  14. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    I have not, I've never done zone focusing (something I definitely need to learn and try eventually).

    I have done manual focus with the X-E1 and it definitely is improved over the absolutely god-awful, unusable mess that it was on the X100. Still not perfect, and not as good as manual focus on m4/3 but usable at least.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. ccunningham

    ccunningham Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    The only good thing about being broke is that I can read stuff about the X-E1 and not worry about buying one. The bank computer would laugh at the store computer when the EFT was attempted.
  16. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011

    The best and most useful second body for the OM-D is an OM-D (IMO). (Maybe a GH3 if you're into video.) I use two OM-D's and it's working out quite nicely.

  17. NJH

    NJH Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 8, 2012
    South West England
    I came to the conclusion that back button focus is just about the only reliable and fast way to shoot with the X100, many seem to use the X-pro this way as well. There are 2 problems though:
    1) No focus confirmation, have to look at the scale and decide if it has moved to a reasonable distance.
    2) Can't resize the focus box so stuck with a huge box. Positive is it works in even very low light but the bad news is I have lost shots due to miss-focus.

    If Fuji could provide a firmware update to their cameras to fix the above points I would probably move into Fuji X lock stock and barrel, as I could live with a fully useable and trustworthy back button focus camera.

    These are the sort of things that infuriate me with Fuji cameras, the hybrid VF is the same it leaves you having to do a certain amount of guess work as you can't trust either the frame lines or the focus box overlay. Still love the thing though.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I hear ya. and yeah ive thought about that Gary. I was just sneaking around on the neighbors sensors to see what else is out there (if its greener) that would help in my long exposures. other than that my OMD is by FAR the best Travel-camera out there for me.

    And no, im definitely not into video whatsoever. Also beside that, the "looks" of the GH3 doesn't appeal to me.
  19. When these are floating around the second-hand market I suspect that I will eventually try one out, but I'm not getting that compelling reason to do it right now. I suspect that I will like it, but perhaps not "I can justify spending $1400 on ANOTHER camera" like it. I've got some other things to save for at the moment.
  20. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I could end up with one some day... love the look, could deal with the speed, and the lenses look great.

    For how I would use it, though, mostly for landscapes, I am going to hold off until they get the processing figured out. The whole point for me would be to print bigger than I can with my OM-D, and I am not sure that would be the case given the current state of X-trans RAW and JPEGs. It seems like you see these cameras used to great effect on people, street, low light, etc., but not necessarily for landscape work. I am guessing they are bound to fix sooner or later...
    • Like Like x 1
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