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Retired my trusty GF1, employed an E-M5

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by drewbot, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    This weekend, I happened to call into a couple small camera stores in Toronto (Aden Camera). They had one silver w/12-50 kit in stock, and I decided to pick it up. I was quite shocked that they had one laying around, whilst at Henry's (where my preorder was with), there are many people waiting for theirs to even come in.

    Anyhow, I had the pleasure of getting used to the E-M5 (somewhat) over the last couple days. Since I've found mu-43 to be a great resource and community for this format, I've tried to contribute back to this forum by adding in some content for those who are patiently waiting for them to arrive.

    Here are a few of my first observations, coming from a long-time GF1 user:

    - Body feels solid and well built, very brick like. Just like the GF1.
    - The small thumb rest works well for short primes
    - Of course, the EVF is much better than the LVF-1
    - Twin dials have the perfect balance. It's not too hard to spin them, and not too easy.
    - Focus is faster than the GF1, which was no slouch to begin with
    - I can finally use a hotshoe device with a VF
    - Articulated screen feels durable, and is quite useful for getting odd angle shots
    - You can customize almost every damn button on this thing
    - Its shutter sound is way nicer than the GF1. Less loud snap, more muffled.
    - IBIS is insane. I love how you can stabilize the VF with a half press.
    - I can now comfortably let the ISO climb and not feel like I'm going to get an image that looks like mush. My upper limit has gone from 800 on the GF1 to 3200 on the E-M5.
    - I've assigned Fn2 to switch between point AF to multi-point AF. Works much faster than the GF1
    - Indoors with multiple light sources? No problem. Auto Metering and Auto WB worked through it pretty well. The GF1 required custom WB changes constantly.
    - 9 fps is pretty insane. Works well for getting through shooting bracketed in a short period of time.

    Slight Annoyances:
    - The eye sensor goes into EVF mode when my hand tilts the screen. And when tilted, sometimes it's picky on deciding when to show through the screen and not the EVF. I wish there was a position switch in the tilting screen assembly that would detect that it was tilted. That way, the EVF would not switch on accidentally.
    - I was hoping that I could use Fn1 for back button AF. However, its proximity to the thumb rest makes it difficult to do.
    - The placement of the lug on the shutter button side is sorta annoying. My Gordy's strap sits uncomfortably in some shooting positions.
    - I used C1 and C2 quite frequently on my GF1. On the E-M5, you have Myset 1-4, but there is no mode dial for it.
    - There are two small pieces to remove from the E-M5 body when you want to attach the clip on flash: a silver piece covering the AP2 port and a black piece covering the hotshoe. I would have rather one piece to remove, so it's less stuff to lose when adding/removing the flash on the fly.

    Final Remarks
    The E-M5 is a great addition to the Micro Four Thirds lineup. Over the last year, I've tried finding a successor to the GF1 that addressed its shortcomings (low res EVF, poor WB, ISO > 800, etc.) while maintaining its strengths (tank like build, relatively small package). Thus far, the E-M5 has filled in nicely.

    I would've put up some comparison shots between the GF1 and E-M5, however, I wouldn't think it'd be fair until the E-M5 gets LR4 support. That way, in my opinion, they could be compared on the same playing field.

    On the hum: Yes, it hums right from start up. I can barely hear it when shooting outside. Indoors, in the dead of night, you can hear it. It sounds like my MacBook's 2.5" HDD starting up from a boot.

    On the faulty IBIS: My E-M5 hasn't crashed thus far.

    Obligatory Gear Photos
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    • Like Like x 16
  2. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Thanks Drewbot! Nice summary of pros and cons. Many of us are jealous of your find!
  3. hanzo

    hanzo Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 22, 2010
    Congrats! My plan is to do the same.. but I have financial problem in employing the new gear. :rofl:
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Hmmmm, creative finance - consider it employment/payroll and the money comes out of the general fund rather than the much more limited and tightly regulated capital fund - I like the approach!!!

    You can turn the eye sensor on and off with the little button on the side of the evf, no?

    And if you don't like the fn1 button for AFL/AEL, you can assign it to one of the other buttons, like fn2 or the record button, can't you? Oly cameras are so customizable you can usually find someplace that works for pretty much any key function.


  5. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK
    Thanks for the info and very interesting read as well as especially relevant as you previously had the GF1.

    I have recently upgraded my GF1 to GX1 and while I am delighted with the quality of the package (GX1+LVF2), when I see size comparisons showing just how small the EM5 is it does make me wish I had waited a little longer before jumping to the GX1.

    I am watching the progress / reviews / user blogs on the EM5 and what I see so far is very positive ( IBIS hum is not an issue for me but I have also read some comments about other issues related to IBIS / sensor shut down?).

    Looks like you have a great compliment of lenses as well (does the 25mm suffer from noise when focussing on EM5?) - It also looks like you have the 45mm Oly lens as well as kit lens...............I am becoming more jealous of you!

    I am in watch and wait mode.
  6. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Yes, I just found out that with an extended press on the EVF button I can turn off the sensor without digging into menus!
  7. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I too thought the logical and inevitable step from my GF1 was to get the GX1. However, I saw truly how unobtrusive the EVF hump was compared to the GF1 and loved it.

    So far I haven't had any IBIS issues thus far and hopefully what spreads here on mu-43 or DPR is simply just an isolated case.

    I tried to rattlesnake the 25mm yesterday outdoors but it wouldn't do it for me. To make sure, I used the DOF preview and really heard the apertures clicking to compare noises.

    The kit lens is quite neat but through my eyes I always frame with 50mm eq. in mind.

    I did miss one important event last year (breast cancer marathon fundraiser) due to heavy rain. I really wished I had a weather sealed camera and lens. I missed out on so many shots.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. ntblowz

    ntblowz Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 13, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Thanks for the review, silver one looks good with any lens!
  9. s2kinfinite

    s2kinfinite Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 14, 2012
    Thanks for the review! Great collection! I have the GF1 and exactly same lenses as you do down to the Gordy strap except mines black not red........but waiting for my OM 12-50 to arrive :( 

    Any interest in the 75mm coming soon?
  10. Way_Huspag

    Way_Huspag New to Mu-43

    Apr 25, 2012
    any chance you could post a pic of the GF1 and EM5 side-by-side? I too am hoping to replace my trusty GF1 with the Olympus, just waiting for it to actually be available in the UK and hopefully the price to go down/firmware etc issues ironed out. As an old Nikon manual slr fan, the GF1 is about as small as is comfortable for me but I really miss using a viewfinder to shoot. I'm keen on the EM-5 but a little concerned it'll actually be too small for my liking!
  11. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
  12. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I just loaded up LR 4.1 RC2 and compared the E-M5 and GF1 at different ISOs. I set the focus point on the cap of the Vitamin Water @ f/4.0, and everything else was set to auto (WB, metering, shutter speed). A 2 second timer was used to stabilize the shot on my tripod. The E-M5 had IS off. Here are the results:

    The GF1 is always shown on the left. E-M5 on the right.

    Base ISO (GF1 = 100, E-M5 = 200)
    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5432657/MU-43/GF1-EM5-ISO BASE.tiff





    ISO3200 - LOL

    Here is a comparison of the E-M5, ISO3200 on the left, ISO6400 on the right

    Here is an unedited ISO3200 RAW, exported from LR4:
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    Here is the same ISO3200 RAW, processed with a very light workflow that includes sharpening, NR:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
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