On a budget: used Olympus body--which one?

With my shoestring budget, which body should I get?

  • E1 (excellent condition)

    Votes: 1 4.3%
  • E5 MK II (bargain condition)

    Votes: 13 56.5%
  • E10 MKII (excellent condition)

    Votes: 9 39.1%

  • Total voters
    23
  • Poll closed .
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I'm looking to switch systems (from Pentax). I'm going to be on a tight budget--not sure exactly how much I'll be working with until I chat with a fellow at KEH tomorrow afternoon about trading all of my Pentax gear for some new-to-me M4/3 gear. I'm hoping to get enough in trade that I can pick up one body and one lens that I can get started with and add to as I get more money.

I've bought from KEH before and know that even their bargain-condition stuff is still perfectly good. :)

TIA for any helpful insights.
 

jimr.pdx

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I also came across from Pentax. Welcome to µ43!

All three series have two control dials and some degree of touchscreen control as well.
The eM10 series has no weather seals, eM5 has seals, eM1 has seals and phase-detect AF.
The first generation of all three had tilt screens but eM5/M1 Mark II and higher now have flipout screens and leave the eM10 to tilt.
All have live time/bulb, all except original EM5 has live composite. Both are pretty creatively 😎

The eM10-ii is probably the best-liked of all OMD models, I never see complaints as long as those who buy it don't need seals or other new items. The step to eM5-ii adds seals, a high-res mode (like Pentax Pixel Shift but 8 total shots to increase overall pixel count) and flipout screen. The eM1 is the oldest of the three, quite strongly built but has a reputation for dials going bad over time.

So I'd suggest the 10, unless weather is a thing.
 
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I'd go 5 2
You may never (thinking) need weather sealing.
Too late after the event.
I don't deliberately point it in wet conditions but I don't flinch if get caught in such or its one of those mizzly days which often are awesome for photos

The 5 2 is a really good camera IMO. I've got one and a 5 3.
Having a 1 2 also I doubt I'd want a first edition 1.

Never seen a 10 so can't comment there.

Price obviously plays part.
But having used my 5 2 if I had to repurchase I know my choice would be simple.
 

ac12

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I personally went with the EM1-mk1.
There is an issue with the back dial on some EM1s. Mine has been fine.

But I also have an EM10-mk2. Why? For when I want a compact camera, like going out to dinner or a casual party. Put the 14-42EZ on it, and it is similar in size to some P&S cameras. And you can still swap lenses. And it has a built in flash, for when you really need one.

While I use both the EM1 and EM10-mk2, I prefer the EM1.

As for lens, I suggest you THINK about the final system you want, based on what and how you shoot. Then get your 1st lens based on that. The suggestions below may or may not match what you shoot.
  • Example1, my first lens was the Panasonic-Lumix 12-60 (used). A bit wider and longer than the Olympus 14-42. It is a great travel lens. For me, 60mm is generally good enough on the long end. Paired with a 17/1.8 for indoor low light, it made a nice 2-lens travel kit.
  • Example2, the Olympus 14-42 first, then later get the 40-150R for more reach.
  • Example3, or primes: the 25 is the "normal" lens for m4/3. A 17 + 45, is similar to the 2-lens kit that was used on 35mm film cameras, just start with the 17.
 

John King

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I'm looking to switch systems (from Pentax). I'm going to be on a tight budget--not sure exactly how much I'll be working with until I chat with a fellow at KEH tomorrow afternoon about trading all of my Pentax gear for some new-to-me M4/3 gear. I'm hoping to get enough in trade that I can pick up one body and one lens that I can get started with and add to as I get more money.

I've bought from KEH before and know that even their bargain-condition stuff is still perfectly good. :)

TIA for any helpful insights.
:Welcome: to this lovely forum, Heather. Same name as someone I know pretty well after 40 years ...

I would recommend the E-M1 MkII rather than E-M1 MkI (I own both). Better grip, battery, IQ, robustness.

After that, maybe the E-M5 MkII in excellent condition.

The Olympus 12-50 macro is extremely underrated! Swing a "fast fifty", f/1.8 25 for low light.

I have all this gear (see my profile).

Photo of my E-M1 MkII + 12-100, E-M1 MkI +12-50 macro and E-PM2 + 14-42 EZ with JJC auto-opening lens cap.

IMG_20210306_155523.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
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Welcome to the forums!
As others already said, the form factor of all three cameras is a bit different. The E-M1 is more or less a mini DSLR body, with a rather deep grip, fully weather sealed and rather well spaced out controls. While it is rugged, it has a bit of a bad reputation for the back dial failing or at least acting up as well as the strap lugs might getting lose or even falling off. Please note some owners never had those issues after years of use, while others had bad experiences even with repaired/replaced bodies.

The E-M5 Mark II sits inbetween the E-M1 Mark I and the E-M10 Mark II: It is more styled after traditional OM camera bodies, hence it has just a slightly detailed grip. Hence it is a bit lighter, more compact, however it keeps essentially the same controls, the weather sealing and the very rugged build quality of the E-M1. It comes with an improved IBIS system and is the first camera to feature the first generation of the High-Resolution Mode. It shares the same, large .74x magnification LCD EVF of the E-M1. To my knowledge there are no common, known issues with the E-M5 Mark II.

The E-M10 Mark II is less rugged due to the plastic housing and not sealed at all. It features more basic controls, the mechanical shutter is limited to 1/4000s max (compared to 1/8000s of the other choices), however it is also lighter and more compact. The IBIS the least advanced of the trio. The E-M10 Mark II is a very well regarded camera and often praised as the best iteration of the whole E-M10 series. It sports a .62x magnification EVF, although smaller than the other two EVFs, it uses an OLED panel and, if Michael Meissner finds this topic, he most likely will mention it works perfectly well with polarized sunglasses - unlike the other two LCD EVFs.


In terms of image quality all are more or less identical, it comes down to pricing and how badly you want weather sealing or how much you value lower weight and compact size. Also keep in mind what kind of lenses you are looking at: Larger and heavier lenses handle a bit better on the DSLR-styled E-M1, while both the E-M5 and E-M10 handle beautifully with smaller primes and more compact zooms. I personally would go with the E-M5 Mark II.
 

algold

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Out of the three options - E-M5 II. Ideally with a 12-40/2.8 Oly zoom. This way you will get a compact, weather sealed and very capable combo.
If you can’t stretch your budget to a 12-40/2.8, the older 12-50 is also weather sealed and very underrated and cheap.
14-150 II Oly is also weather sealed, compact and reasonably priced.
 
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:Welcome: to this lovely forum, Heather. Same name as someone I know pretty well after 40 years ...

I would recommend the E-M1 MkII rather than E-M1 MkI (I own both). Better grip, battery, IQ, robustness.

After that, maybe the E-M5 MkII in excellent condition.

The Olympus 12-50 macro is extremely underrated! Swing a "fast fifty", f/1.8 25 for low light.

I have all this gear (see my profile).

Photo of my E-M1 MkII + 12-100, E-M1 MkI +12-50 macro and E-PM2 + 14-42 EZ with JJC auto-opening lens cap.

IMG_20210306_155523.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

Your pic is extremely helpful. I am actually leaning towards the M5II with the thought of eventually pairing it with the 12-100, but it looks like the lens would swamp the camera! 😂

A couple of things for the record—
1. Hubs has agreed that it would be ok to add a little money to the trade value if need be.
2. After 23 years with my current employer, I may be retiring this summer and will be getting a nice payout for unused PTO. At that point, I will be using at least some of it for new camera gear. The trade of the Pentax gear is just a starting point. ;)
 
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You might want to take a look at the rather recent Olympus 12-45 f4 Pro. While you might at first wonder what the point in such a lens is with the Olympus 12-40 f2.8 Pro being available since years, the lens actually is an interesting alternative: In terms of optical quality it is at least on par if not a bit better than the f2.8 version. It is more compact and about 40% lighter. If you don't need the fast aperture and the manual focus clutch, the f4 is a great companion for more compact bodies like E-M5, E-M10 or Pen-F. Last but not least the f4 offers an impressive minimum focusing distance of just 12cm, which is a huge improvement over the already excellent 20cm of the older f2.8 - plus it is just as weather sealed as the bigger sibling, with an E-M5 you can create one of the smallest and lightest fully weather sealed M43 setups.

It doesn't have the reach of the 12-100 f4 Pro, however it absolutely beats it in portability as well as pricing. You might want to take a look at this thread, which also has some pictures of the lens mounted on an E-M5 Mark III:
https://www.mu-43.com/threads/olympus-12-45-4-pro-lens-details.107175/page-18
 

turbodieselvw

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you didn’t mention what you shoot but if it’s moving objects then you should look at the EM5.3 or EM1.2 for the phase detect focus system
 
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Out of your choices I voted like the majority for the 5mkll I have been using it for 5 years and its my fav. The prices you can pick it up for also make it appealing . I have added the oly grip with the extra battery and portrait position controls which makes it a small full line camera. I am betting 50% of the responders to your ? will be about something completely different but that's the way forums go.
 

Michael Meissner

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It depends, each has their advantages and disadvantages.

My big issue is I need to wear polarized sunglasses when I'm outdoors (due to migraines). The E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark II both have a TFT LCD viewfinder that is problematical when you shoot in horizontal/landscape orientation and you use polarized sunglasses:
  1. The E-m1 mark I has severe distortion with alternating bands where you can see the image and bands where the image is heavily distorted. With practice, you can use the bands to aim the camera so the focus point allows the camera to capture your subject, but it can be annoying. If you shoot in portrait/vertical orientation or without sunglasses, there is no issue.
  2. The E-m5 mark II is completely opaque when you shoot in horizontal/landscape orientation and view it with polarized sunglasses. If you shoot in portrait/vertical orientation or without sunglasses, there is no issue.
  3. The E-m10 mark II uses a different viewfinder technology (OLED) that can be viewed in either orientation with polarized sunglasses. However, I do find in general OLED displays tend to supersaturate the colors. This means if you really like the pop of the colors in the viewfinder, you will need to adjust levels a bit in post processing to get those colors once again. I just now mentally tune down the image I see, knowing the colors will not be as saturated. One other thing that affects some people is the refresh rate is faster with TFT LCD displays than with OLED displays.
Next is being splash proof. Note, a splash proof camera is only splash proof if both the camera and lenses are splash proof. The E-m1's and E-m5's are splash proof, while the E-m10's are not splash proof.

FWIW, I have shot (or least carried gear without plastic bags) with my E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark I in rainstorms that lasted an hour. I have also shot with the cameras on the boat ride that takes you up to Niagara Falls which drenches you for 10 minutes or so and on amusement park flume rides. However, given a choice, most people would prefer not to shoot in the rain, and for them, a plastic bag to protect the camera when rain comes up is sufficient.

Next up is video. Note, all 3 cameras are 1080p and do not shoot 4K. All Olympus cameras are limited to 30 minutes maximum record time, and I generally don't shoot video with Olympus because of that limitation.
  1. The E-m1 mark I is the oldest, and its video support is the weakest. The E-m1 mark I has an external microphone jack. It does not have a headphone jack. IIRC, the E-m1 mark I will also stop recording if the video reaches 2GB of size, so it likely will reduce your maximum record time to about 20 minutes at 1080p. The E-m1 mark I does not support using external HDMI monitors for live view.
  2. The E-m5 mark II is when Olympus started putting more features into video. Since I don't own it, I don't recall what the new features are. The E-m5 mark II does support an external microphone jack. The E-m5 mark II has a headphone jack if you buy the extra cost HLD-8 battery grip, but it does not have a headphone jack on the body itself.
  3. The E-m10 mark II does not have either an external microphone or headphone jack. I believe it supports using an external HDMI monitor.
In terms of auto focus support, the E-m1 mark I has phase detect auto focus sensors that are meant to speed up continuous focusing and support using older lenses from the 4/3rds DLSRs with an adapter. However, IMHO, while it has the sensors, the implementation in the E-m1 is badly flawed. One of the reasons I bought the E-m1 mark I was because of those sensors (I had several good lenses from my 4/3rds DLSRs that I wanted to use), but I found in practice that the sensors were not cross shaped, and at times it would hunt, unless I switched orientation of shooting. Olympus did fix up the phase detect auto focus sensors in the E-m1 mark II/III, E-m1x, and E-m5 mark III, but I would not buy the E-m1 mark I because of those sensors. The E-m5 mark II and E-m10 mark II have contrast detect auto focusing, and it is decent.

Note if you look at the later E-m10's (the mark III/IIIs/IV), Olympus has decided to 'simplify' the camera, removing some of the options, and burying others in deep sub-menus. But the E-m10 mark II has all of the normal Olympus menus (i.e. its menus will be similar to the E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark II, and it supports a wired shutter release). If you only shoot in P mode and don't change much settings, it likely is not an issue with you.

All three cameras support using a wired shutter release. You can also control the cameras at a distance using the smartphone app on Android and Apple smartphones.

It is likely not an issue with KEH.COM since their grading system tends to be conservative, but the E-m1 mark I had a few issues that people ran into. I have not seen them in my camera. The issues that I remember are:
  • If you turn the diopter on the viewfinder up high, and expose the viewfinder to bright sun, it can burn an area in the viewfinder, and you will see green blobs there.
  • Some users have reported that the strap hooks on the E-m1 mark I have come out.
  • Some users have reported that the mode dial becomes unresponsive.
Also in terms of the E-m1 mark I, I did have to send it in for extended warranty repair twice. The first time the camera would not take high speed shots with an accurate time, and photos came out over-exposed.

The second time the USB/shutter release port stopped working. I suspect the later may have been delayed effects to the camera getting splashed twice with salt water. While I tried to clean off the camera, possibly some salt got into the board. While the E-m1's and E-m5's are splash proof, salt water is problematical.
 
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Darmok N Jalad

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Your pic is extremely helpful. I am actually leaning towards the M5II with the thought of eventually pairing it with the 12-100, but it looks like the lens would swamp the camera! 😂
You'd be surprised at how manageable the bigger lenses are on the smaller bodies. I've shot some rather big lenses (40-150 pro, PL100-400) on an E-M5iii, and it doesn't bother me one bit. Plus you can get a grip accessory to transform the smaller body into a gripped body. To me, it's about what is comfortable in your hand, and what has the best features for your needs. There's something nice about the versatility of the E-M5 line--you can go the other way and put a prime lens on it and it's as light as a feather.
 

GBarrington

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I'm looking to switch systems (from Pentax). I'm going to be on a tight budget--not sure exactly how much I'll be working with until I chat with a fellow at KEH tomorrow afternoon about trading all of my Pentax gear for some new-to-me M4/3 gear. I'm hoping to get enough in trade that I can pick up one body and one lens that I can get started with and add to as I get more money.

I've bought from KEH before and know that even their bargain-condition stuff is still perfectly good. :)

TIA for any helpful insights.
All 3 cameras, are aimed at different types of photographers.

I STILL love my E-M10 II. Small, and extremely light weight. When coupled with the kit lenses and primes, there isn't much out there that is more portable (and luggable) on a long hike, especially at the end of the day! Pro lenses work with it, but it's with the tiny lenses mounted that makes it special.

The other two simply have more STUFF that they can do. If you need that stuff, then they make sense. For me, size and weight is THE THING I value most, so my second choice would be the E-M5 II since it is only a bit bigger and heavier than "the ten". I am quite content with my E-M5 III, and it balances a bit better with the 12-40 pro lens.

I don't see any of the 3 bodies as a 'bad' choice!
 

ac12

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Your pic is extremely helpful. I am actually leaning towards the M5II with the thought of eventually pairing it with the 12-100, but it looks like the lens would swamp the camera! 😂

About the 12-100

I've used the 12-100 on my EM10, so I don't think you will have an issue with it on the EM5.
But it will make the camera+lens rather front heavy. The 12-100 is not a small light lens.

The 12-100 is a power hog.
  • On my EM1-mk1, with a Panasonic-Lumix 12-60, it will run about 4 hours continuous. But with the 12-100 it will only run about 2-1/2 hours continuous.
  • While most people will not shoot continuous for LONG periods of time, my runtime experience shows for a lenghty/all day shoot, you will very likely NEED to carry spare batteries with you. I have FOUR spare batteries for my EM1-mk1, and a 2nd charger so that I can charge two batteries at the same time.
  • All three cameras have somewhat similar capacity batteries, so you can expect similar run times with the EM5 and EM10.
Sync IS (combined lens + camera image stabilization):
  • I think the EM10 does NOT support Sync IS.
  • I "think" the EM5-mk2 does. You need to check.
  • I know the EM1-mk1 does.
  • Note: At present, there are only THREE lenses in the Olympus system that support Sync IS, the 12-100, 300/4 and the very expensive 150-400.
  • Sync IS, does NOT work with Panasonic lenses.
 

StirlingBartholomew

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I have been using "last year's model" mu4/3 since 2011 when I picked up a Lumix G2 new for $300. In 2014 added a used EM-5 purchased on this forum. I have never obtained any native mu43 glass. Have used three good 4/3 lenses all of them now getting too heavy. Have 7 old pentax lenses only bought one of them $35 for a SuperTakumar 150mm F4 which is currently my favorite tele. The Zuiko 50-200 2.8-3.5 is a great lens which I used a lot a decade ago but the weight is more than I am currently willing to carry. My expenditure on photo gear since 2011 has been roughly $100 a year. Weight is the overall biggest issue. Was not willing to get anything heavier than an EM-5. The Pentax glass is light. Performs well at medium settings like f4-f5.6. I can carry the EM-5 all day with a Super Takumar 55 f1.8 or a Pentax M 85mm f2 or SuperTakumar 150mm F4. In 2017 picked up a Zuiko 50mm F2 Macro in mint conditon for $200. Great lens. Twice as heavy as the three Pentax 50mm/55mm which are all decent glass. The Zuiko 50mm F2 Macro is better but you don't always want sharpness. I recently ran some Bokeh tests comparing the Pentax against Zuiko 50mm F2. The Zuiko has nice smooth texture compared to the atomic ST 55mm f1.8 which can be a little chaotic with high contrast edges in the background.
 
Last edited:
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Just an update—
I got my quote from KEH and a $ figure that I can add to it So I know what my budget is going to be.

I‘ve already packed up the Pentax gear and I’m just awaiting the shipping label and FedEx pickup on Wednesday.

At this point, I’m leaning towards trading for the M10mkII with 12-50 and 40-150 lenses.

Once I retire and get my PTO payout, I will definitely be adding a dedicated macro lens. A second, body (M1 or M5 series) with the 12-100 is not out of the question, nor is a fast 25.

I’m so excited! :D

Thanks again for all of your input!
 
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