Olympus Pen...perception vs reality

Mellow

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perhaps we could start a thread about why mu-43 is a better forum than dpr.
LOL, I wonder if some of the trolls over there have to sign up here to defend it.

But the point before was a good one, and I humbly rescind my provocative statement about panny/oly owners. No offense meant and I hope none was taken.
 

stratokaster

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I think :43: works well as a system because Oly and Panny compliment each other. Olympus bodies are wonderful compact stills-oriented cameras, while Panasonics are better for video.

The only thing I don't like about Olympus is their ill-concieved UI. I hope next models will borrow XZ-1's simple and logical menu structure.
 

icase81

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I drove a Fiat AND an Alfa Romeo when I was younger so I also have an attraction and tolerance for character over clinical efficiency.
haha, I've had 80's saabs, a few MGs, and now I'm restoring a 1980 VW Scirocco. I'm no stranger to the character over reliability myself.
 

mauve

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The only thing I don't like about Olympus is their ill-concieved UI. I hope next models will borrow XZ-1's simple and logical menu structure.
I used to think like that when I first got the e-p1 (I had a LX-2 before). Finally, Oly UI has grown on me more than I expected. The ability to change almost every button meaning, even if convoluted, works well enough and the mighty 'super menu' under 'Ok' is just brilliant. Does 99% of what you should ever need to alter on the fly. Other parameters are of the 'set once and forget' category, and I don't mind them being burrowed after a twisty maze of passages all alike.

My only real gripe with Olympus is the lack of an electronic scale for focusing distance and DOF indicator on the LCD. This really should be trivial to add at least for native lenses. Someone blew it big times while designing the µ4:3 specs.

Cheers,
 

kevinparis

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At the end of the day what cameras you use is not at all important

if i look at the group of my 'most interesting' photos on flickr i find that

Most interesting - a set on Flickr

8 were taken with E-P1
27 with an E-510
5 with a canon 10D
6 with a G9
2 with a canon 5D mk2
1 iphone
1 ixus 500 - bought in 2000

not that i say that flickr interesting is a perfect measure of anything... but it is indicative that to me that the quality of the image is more important than image quality.

K
 

stratokaster

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Finally, Oly UI has grown on me more than I expected. The ability to change almost every button meaning, even if convoluted, works well enough and the mighty 'super menu' under 'Ok' is just brilliant. Does 99% of what you should ever need to alter on the fly. Other parameters are of the 'set once and forget' category, and I don't mind them being burrowed after a twisty maze of passages all alike.
Yes, Super Control Panel is nice. However, even the latest Pen (E-PL2) suffers from some really strange UI decisions. For example, there's no way to turn AE bracketing on or off without diving deep in the menu system. Also I have found that by default button functions differ from their markings, which is REALLY weird.
 

Fiddler

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I have Pany and Oly m4/3s, and both brands are great IMO. Different strengths and weaknesses, but all very functional and elegant designs, so I'm happy enough :smile:

All the best,

Colin
 

Brianetta

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My Pen is beautiful. I think the Panasonic cameras look very generic. I was sold on the aesthetics, and mostly learned how good my Pen was after I got it home.
 

dixeyk

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...don't forget 80's Subarus when it comes to UNUSUAL user experiences. I guess that's why I like the Olympus EPL-1. In all fairness though, the Olympus Pens do have a certain quality to to them that either endears you to them or puts you off.
 

WT21

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...don't forget 80's Subarus when it comes to UNUSUAL user experiences. I guess that's why I like the Olympus EPL-1. In all fairness though, the Olympus Pens do have a certain quality to to them that either endears you to them or puts you off.
:tongue:

1980s Subarus! One of my first cars out of college was that wedge-shaped Subaru sports car (XT Turbo). The interior felt like a video game! It also had powered air lifts, to get more ground clearance when needed.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

scotth

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I don't know that there is a general perception that the Olympus cameras are inferior, at least I do not feel that way. I bought a GF1, mostly because it was an inexpensive way to get the 20 mm lens.

I have been considering expanding my system, but I am waffling right now because neither system seems to have everything I want. Panasonic has cameras with built in EVF's which I can see using when I am less concerned about size, and Olympus has built in stabilization which I think is a big advantage.

If Oly made a camera like the G2 I would not hesitate to buy Olympus, but to me at least, the Olympus system seems less than complete with no camera that has a built in EMF. YMMV and all that, that is just how I feel.
 

stratokaster

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Yes, a compact DSLR-style body with a VF2-level viewfinder, typical Olympus fit & finish and IBIS (and, preferably, a swivel screen) would be exceptionally nice. In fact, I'd buy such a camera the moment it hits shelves.
 

Howi

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I don't know that there is a general perception that the Olympus cameras are inferior, at least I do not feel that way. I bought a GF1, mostly because it was an inexpensive way to get the 20 mm lens.
Yep! me too, I think any perception about inferiority is probably down to using plastic bodies on the E-PL1 and 2 and possibly art filters.
Some of the on line reviews comparing Pany and Oly have quoted that the Oly is more 'Fun' than 'Serious'.

The reality though, is somewhat different, each model has it's own good points and bad points with no one camera winning overall (in my view)

My personal thoughts went like this,
1/ I want the Pany 20mm f1.7 (proved to be an absolute cracker)
2/ would prefer metal body but not a deal breaker
3/ Oly JPG the bee's knees - only shoot raw so that don't matter.
4/ Oly has in body IS - I'm not convinced IS under normal considerations is a good thing (I have tuned it of on my E-3 and will only turn it on if I think I may need it)
5/ Art filters etc - don't want them, don't need them, won't use them, but not a deal breaker
6/ AF speed/shutter lag - Pany definitely faster than Oly.
7/ on camera controls - prefered Pany to Oly (it's personal of course)
8/ ability to use(AF) 4/3 lenses - Oly wins out here to my chagrin - manual only ZD 12-60)
9/ overall cost to get the 20mm prime - Pany with the GF1 wins out big style.
10/ Video - not a prime concern, so doesn't matter - GF1 video VERY good albeit only 720p....)
11/ touch screen (GF2) - The GF2 didn't offer ME anything worthwhile over the GF1.

At the end of the day, it's down to personal tastes, actually they are ALL very good cameras in their own right, it doesn't bother me what anyone else thinks of my choice, so long as I get good pics.

Am I happy with my choice - oh! yes!
 

Djarum

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I think there are a few things that Panasonic does differently than Olympus, and because of that, the perception is there.

1. Panasonic produces an SLR like model of cameras, Olympus does not.
2. Thier AF is faster, especially with the GH2 out.
3. Some of the lenses they make are better quality. Some of this though is made up in software.

I think any reason outside of these reasons is becomes really, really subjective in terms of defining a better quality product. Even the three items I mentioned above doesn't guarantee a better product, but they are a little more definable than just saying someone doesn't like the UI on a camera, so the other company must be better.

My pennies.
 

mauve

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In the light of the almost full year since I bought my e-p1, I'd like to add some inputs over your arguments, although I wish to say quickly that they're perfectly sound and what I have to add isn't contradictory to your opinions. It's more like a mirror vision of your very articulated review.

My personal thoughts went like this,
1/ I want the Pany 20mm f1.7 (proved to be an absolute cracker)
2/ would prefer metal body but not a deal breaker
3/ Oly JPG the bee's knees - only shoot raw so that don't matter.
4/ Oly has in body IS - I'm not convinced IS under normal considerations is a good thing (I have tuned it of on my E-3 and will only turn it on if I think I may need it)
5/ Art filters etc - don't want them, don't need them, won't use them, but not a deal breaker
6/ AF speed/shutter lag - Pany definitely faster than Oly.
7/ on camera controls - prefered Pany to Oly (it's personal of course)
8/ ability to use(AF) 4/3 lenses - Oly wins out here to my chagrin - manual only ZD 12-60)
9/ overall cost to get the 20mm prime - Pany with the GF1 wins out big style.
10/ Video - not a prime concern, so doesn't matter - GF1 video VERY good albeit only 720p....)
11/ touch screen (GF2) - The GF2 didn't offer ME anything worthwhile over the GF1.
1 - I had a -then- 50% discount on the e-p1 kit, so I invested the difference in the 20, and the seller was kind enough to apply a rebate on the 20 tag price. In the end, I paid about the full amount for a 20 kit with the 14-42 MkI zoom as a bonus. Didn't regretted it for minute, because that kit zoom despite being 'wobbly' makes darn sharp pictures of its own. They don't stand up to the 20 ones, but there are cases where there are no other options to grab the shot than using that zoom, and you can carry it aside the camera in a coat pocket, so it's a no brainer to bring along.

2 - Internal metal structure is overrated. The e-p1 (and 2 as they're about the same camera) feel pretty substantial even if the metallic parts are only a thin shell over a plastic structure. I had the occasion to lay my hands on an e-pl1, and it felt quite solid too, although I understand some can be put off by the touch of the plastic skin. But as someone already said, many cars bodies are now made of plastic, not because it's less expensive, but because plastics have come a long way and exhibit properties metal would be hard pressed to match.

3 - I used to shoot RAW only before I had the olympus, be it with my former Pentax or Panasonic LX-2. There was no way on earth OOC jpg could match careful processing of the RAW on both these cameras. Not so much now, in a way tables have turned : I find myself hard pressed to process my RAW as well as the camera does on its own. To best it is a really difficult and time consuming job. So I shoot RAW+JPG, and for casual pictures if the JPG is good enough, I don't bother anymore. I still process RAW when I do black and white images, and for an 'exceptional' picture now and then I really wish to push to the limits for a big print. All in all, I now rely for 80% of my snapshots on the OOC JPG (but I still archive the RAWs for the future, as they hold much more information than JPG, and they may come handy if consumer LCD technology overcomes JPG capabilities, which isn't the case yet).

4 - I had almost no previous experience with IBIS. I find it as useful as carrying a monopod, and way less cumbersome. So I leave it to 'ON', and it saved my ass many times. IBIS + 20 mm f/1.7 is a killer combo, if you have enough light to read a newspaper, you can take a picture handheld.

5 - On all digital cameras I owned or used before, I never used scene modes once. So I was very reluctant to even try art-filters. I was wrong. They are absolutely fun, enjoyable, and they make you see your picture with another distant eye. They bring 'beauty' to the world. After many experiments, what I do now is shoot raw+jpg with an art filter, to preview the picture I wish to make (like a polaroid in the film days), and I then post-process the picture from RAW to reproduce the filter or blend some effects with much more flexibility than the rigid in-camera algorithm. Like superior JPG process in point #3, it's not something you shall miss if you've never had it. But once you take a bite of it, you'd feel very frustrated it it was taken back from your hands.

6 - Yes. You are absolutely right. AF speed doesn't impact me much, but shutter lag is really a pain ; it may be better than most compact cameras, but I really wished it could compete with a 1970's canonet. Not so, by a wide margin. OTOH, the GF-1 is snappier, but not that much and not enough for my taste either.

7 to 11 - No opinion on those. I have no legacy 4:3 glass, don't do video, and happen to like Oly controls.

At the end of the day, it's down to personal tastes, actually they are ALL very good cameras in their own right, it doesn't bother me what anyone else thinks of my choice, so long as I get good pics.

Am I happy with my choice - oh! yes!
That's the most important.
 

peterpix

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I drove a Fiat AND an Alfa Romeo when I was younger so I also have an attraction and tolerance for character over clinical efficiency.

I've driven a Fiat and a Renault (2 of them)! Just got the GH2, haven't used it much. Also have an Ep2. When I compare the two, there is just something sweet about the Oly that i don't feel with Panni. Perhaps in time, I'll change, but right nowI feel more comfortable with Oly. I got the GH2 for video and looking forward to working with it and to see if in fact it is better for video than my 5DMKII. I do think it is great to have two interchangeable body and lens systems. Whatever your choice, we live in wonderful camera times.
 

dixeyk

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I think that we are very fortunate to have some really terrific options for digital cameras and I suspect that most of us have more than one. I have a Fuji F20 and F45, the EPL-1 and a newly acquired Panasonic LX3. They each have their strengths and I use them in much the same way I use my different lenses.

In the end they are simply tools to help me make images. I remember taking a photo seminar from Art Wolfe many years back and a lot of the people were asking him why he used Canon cameras and why did he find them superior to Nikon (or what-have-you). He told us the reason he used Canon was that all his Nikon gear had been stolen after a shoot and Canon gave him new gear. I thought that was hilarious (especially seeing the disappointed faces of some of the attendees with their big Canon rigs). He basically reminded us that the gear is the least important part of the process and you make images with whatever you have on hand.
 

Howi

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In the end they are simply tools to help me make images. I remember taking a photo seminar from Art Wolfe many years back and a lot of the people were asking him why he used Canon cameras and why did he find them superior to Nikon (or what-have-you). He told us the reason he used Canon was that all his Nikon gear had been stolen after a shoot and Canon gave him new gear. I thought that was hilarious (especially seeing the disappointed faces of some of the attendees with their big Canon rigs). He basically reminded us that the gear is the least important part of the process and you make images with whatever you have on hand.
This is the most frustrating thing I find in forums and indeed photography clubs, the assumption by many, that it is the camera that makes a great picture and the more you spend the better your photographs are going to be.
Also, that spending money, alleviates the need to understand the basic principles of photography.
:horse:
 

dixeyk

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This is the most frustrating thing I find in forums and indeed photography clubs, the assumption by many, that it is the camera that makes a great picture and the more you spend the better your photographs are going to be.
Also, that spending money, alleviates the need to understand the basic principles of photography.
:horse:
Yeah, and unfortunately we all fall victim to it from time to time. We get a jones to get that cool new toy and suddenly it's because it'll make us smarter, sexier and cure us of cancer.

It's a problem that isn't helped by the underlying message we get from many of the companies that we buy stuff from. You see it a lot in the way software is marketed as though a particular application is all you need to be an expert in (fill in the blank). I have a good friend that is really susceptible to this kind of thing. He's on a fixed income and I am always talking him out of running up his credit card buying the latest and greatest camera body because it has X more megapixels, IBIS or what-have-you because that will make him a better photographer. I've tried to tell him that perhaps a lesson or practice would be more valuable way to approach things but he doesn't take that well. He thinks that he is an accomplished photographer (he's not) and the gear he has is holding him back.
 
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