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OK, Olympians, convince me: my GH3 for an EM-1

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by tanngrisnir3, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    This weekend while shooting really high contrast landscapes, I ran into the shutter limit of 1/4000 yet AGAIN, and it really bugs me. Not a common problem, I know, but one that occurs to me not infrequently. I love Panasonic, have owned most everything they've made at one time, but am not willing to shell out the extra bucks for the GH4 for video capability I simply never use. And now with the EM1 approaching $900 during some sales, it's very tempting. My concerns:

    A. How hard is it to get used to the non-fully articulating LCD?
    B. How bad, really, are the famously bad menus of Olympus, and are there easy ways around them?
    C. If I shoot on a tripod almost 100% of the time, how useful will I actually find the IBIS?
    D. I often shoot early blue and later golden hour landscapes; has anyone taken, say, 1600 level shots of landscapes and noticed appreciable noise?

    I'm not really concerned with sensor differences otherwise at base ISO, since from what I can tell any differences would be pixel-peeping only.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Munich
    Ian
    I have an em5 but there are similarities.

    A. )depends what you are used to. People say the flip out screen is good as it is faster to pop out and in. Which it is. But for portrait orientation it is useless.

    B.) The menus are not bad at all. You do your quick settings on the touch screen SCP or fn buttons. The EM 5 has bracketing in the menus though. 14 clicks to activate it. Thankfully the EM1 and newer models have all this directly on buttons and 2x2 dials. So menus are not an issue.

    C.) The ibis is so good you can throw your tripod away. No just joking. I don't use ibis on the tripod. But hand held it is bloody good.

    D.) 1600 is the highest I go and expect low noise. On a tripod I'm on 200 though.
     
  3. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    An ND filter to place over your lenses would allow you to get around the 1/4000sec limit and be a lot cheaper than a new body. Also, if what you're shooting are landscapes, is there a reason you don't want to stop down to get you around the shutter speed limitation?

    That said, to answer your questions:

    A. I think the only time a fully articulating LCD is necessary is if you shoot in portrait orientation a lot or do a lot of video. If not, I don't think the E-M1 would bother you

    B. Enabling the Super Control Panel puts most of your frequently changed settings on a single screen that can be quickly accessed. Plus the EM-1 has a lot of direct control through configurable function buttons. There will certainly be a learning curve though.

    C. Generally, you should turn off IBIS if you're using a tripod so it probably wouldn't be all that meaningful to you

    D. From what I've seen there shouldn't be an appreciable difference between the two cameras in noise performance at ISO 1600.

    If you shoot RAW I think IQ differences are going to be negligible, but if you shoot JPEG, my personal feeling is that Olympus has better colors, especially for landscapes
     
  4. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Thanks, guys.

    Yes, I only shoot RAW, for a number of reasons, one of which is commercial, giving me more control over the final, salable image.

    One last question: has have you used the rather nifty live-bulb feature that allows you to check LE's while they're actually exposing? What did you think?
     
  5. CPTKILLER

    CPTKILLER Mu-43 Regular

    49
    Dec 8, 2014
    Austin, Texas USA
    Jim Phipps
    Really go to a camera store and spend time handling both and then decide.

    While there is excellent info here, it is your money and your interests. You need to look at the controls, lens, menu, cost, and etc.

    Both are good.
     
  6. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Going to Samy's on Fairfax tonight to do just that.
     
  7. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Oh, sorry, in reply to your question:

    A. It's not always feasible (or safe) to be in the position to do so with a filter. I was standing in ankle deep mud in some very steep Big Sur canyons this weekend, and need at least one hand free for balance and safety.
    B. Sometimes landscapes aren't just about big DOF and the subjects don't lend themselves to it. In this case, it was flowers, and I was trying to utilize the 1.8 F of the 75mm but the light was simply too bright.
     
  8. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    683
    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    OK, I have both the GH4 and the EM1. I had the GH4 first, which I bought primarily for the video functions (I shoot both photo and video professionally).

    I found the GH4 to be a good enough camera that it motivated me to stop using my Canon DSLRs and buy lots of M43 glass. I love many things about the GH4, but there are also a few things that bug me.

    So, for photos, I looked at the EM1 and was lucky enough to pick up a refurb in completely as-new condition. Not a mark on it yet it was less than half price.

    So how do they compare? I tend pick up the EM1 over the GH4 for photos unless I need to shoot at odd angles which is where the GH4 swing out LCD wins every time. The Oly doesn't flip out, though it can go horizontal (looking up) or 45˙ (looking down). If you're shooting in portrait mode you're stuck, whereas the GH4 can flip the LCD almost any way you want.

    There are a couple of other things I prefer on the GH4, including the virtual horizon which is an overlay line rather than being a separate offset function to the side or below, which means you have to focus on that and not the shot.

    Also, the focus peeking is much nicer on the GH4 than the EM1, which is almost cartoon like.

    The GH4 may also have a slight edge in high ISO.

    The controls are 'different'. The GH4 has WB & ISO buttons whereas the EM1 requires you to flip the rear switch, use the dials and then remember to switch back, otherwise next time you go to adjust either shutter or aperture you're messing with ISO and WB instead, which is annoying. The GH4 cancels the WB or ISO functions as soon as you half press the shutter.

    In terms of files they produce, it's almost impossible to tell the raw files apart once you process them, though they do need a 'little' different processing, it's not that much.

    The live bulb feature is something that also interested me greatly. It's not quite as good as I'd hoped, but it is useful. You don't get a constantly emerging picture. the LCD updates every second or so, or every few seconds depending on how you have it set, and there also seems to be a limit on the number of updates you can have, after which it no longer updates and you're left guessing. That seems odd to me so I can only assume there's a good reason for it.

    If I had to buy just one of them for photo only it would be the EM1.

    For me, I need the video function (which the EM1 sucks at) so I need both.
     
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  9. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Thanks for all the extensive replies, folks.

    One last, critical thing I overlooked asking:

    Does the EM-1 produce the same nasty purple blobs with the Panny 7-14 that the other Oly bodies were infamous for doing? LOVE that lens and I'd hate to have to get rid of it.
     
  10. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Thanks. Besides the UI/menus of Panny, one of the things I love about the GH3/4 is, indeed the button layout/format.

    I'll find out at Samy's tonight if I can stand the useability changes or not. I tend not to fiddle with setting overmuch, but I do like the simplicity that Panny offers for when I have to.
     
  11. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    632
    Jan 4, 2014
    It sounds like you know what you want to do here :)

    I'm in a bit of a different situation, where I do more video, so upgrading my GH3 to EM-1 is a dicey proposition. However, I would love to get the IBIS of the GH4, since I have some lenses without OIS, and one (35-100 2.8) that is not good with OIS in video (but great for pictures).

    Then again, curious about the 40MP mode on the EM-5 mk2... That could be a good thing for landscape photography depending on how it is implemented.
     
  12. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    683
    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    Yes, it can do. Of course, Oly are bringing out their own 7-14 shortly....
     
  13. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 14, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    Just a note about Olympus's "famously bad" menus. To my mind once the super control panel is activated, most things are very easy to change. I think Olympus's menus are brilliant, and some of the "difficultly" comes from the degree to which the camera and its buttons are costumizable. Perhaps coming from Panasonic you will hate them, but they are nothing that can't easily be learned with a little good-will effort. Of course if one decides ahead of time that they are going to be awful, they will be.
     
  14. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    Oi. I'd love to have that, but we're talking about some serious dosh, I fear.
     
  15. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    A. If you love the proper LCD hinge you might hate the flip screen.
    B. The menus are fine. You get a lot more to play with than Panasonic let you.
    C. Not at all.
    D. Noise will be very very similar to your GH3 at 1600.

    Now go buy a cheap e-P5 and a used VF-4
     
  16. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    566
    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    Why not a GX7?
     
  17. tanngrisnir3

    tanngrisnir3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    594
    Oct 18, 2011
    I like the form factor and articulated LCD of the GH series, but you're right, it does have 1/8000th.
     
  18. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    re menus: biofos.com has a nice guide and spreadsheet on setting up the E-M1.

    There's so many buttons and dials, you can assign most functions to the controls and you don't need the menus much.

    Barry
     
  19. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Munich
    Ian
    Live Bulb is brilliant on the EM5. It takes the guesswork out of long night exposures. Basically you end up being very relaxed about the exposure time. Just stop it when it looks right. It really impresses the DSLR guys when out on a shoot with them. You need to set the refresh interval though, otherwise it will stop refreshing too soon.
     
  20. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Eric
    and IBIS (although not of the same caliber as the E-M1, but you don't sound like you have a need for that anyway). I will say that I tried one and coming from a Panasonic DSLR-styled body (a G5) I really disliked the G7's handling. YMMV. Definitely worth checking out though based on what they are going for.