Upgrading from EM5mk1

emilb

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I apologize in advance that this is yet another rambling reflection on gear. I also understand that ultimately all such gear decisions are personal, but I assume that many of the members on this forum are self-selecting and here because you enjoy reading and discussing such ramblings. I would appreciate any thoughts and experiences you may have that relate to my situation. In any case, on with the rambling.

First some context.

I am basically entirely a "dad photographer". 95+% of my photos are of my children, family, and/or friends. I started with a compact zoom, but moved to m43 first with a short stint with the G6 and then have been using the EM5mk1 for nearly 5 years. The primary reason for the move from the G6 to the EM5 was IBIS, which meant that I had a much higher keeper rate. At the time, I had been watching the mirrorless segment develop, didn't want or believe in the future of the DSLR, but was not specifically attached to the m43 system and considered both Sony and Fuji options. I chose m43 because I appreciated both compactness and lens selection (circa 2014) if I was going to move into a ILC system, in addition to the IBIS which (I believe at the time) was only available through Olympus.

My light kit is the o12/2.0, p12-32, and o45/1.8. I also have the pl25/1.4, o75, p100-300, and p14-140, which I probably use in roughly that order of frequency. I use the pl25 almost as regularly as my light kit. The o75 and p100-300 are more specialized and aren't brought out that often, but I really appreciate having them when I do. I only bring the p14-140 when I really don't want to juggle lenses but I haven't been entirely happy with the results from this lens. The only gap that I feel in my current system is a mid-wide prime, and I've been considering a pl15, o17, or p20, but have typically been able to make do with either the p12-32 or pl25 so haven't felt any urgency in filling that gap. I'm also curious about a UWA like a 7.5, but given that I almost entirely shoot people, I'm not sure how much I'd use it in practice.

I also have the vertical grip for the EM5, which for those who may not familiar comes in two parts, a smaller part which simply adds a normal grip to the EM5, and then a larger vertical grip part. The regular grip is on my EM5 often enough because of the improved ergonomics for me that in hindsight I somewhat wish I had gotten the EM1. But at the time, the price difference seemed pretty high just to get a grip.

On to the main question, which is why I'm considering upgrading. I'm primarily considering upgrading the EM5 body, but I'm also looking at a possible new lens, which I explain below. The two reasons I am considering upgrading are:
  1. The contacts between the grip and body have failed, so although I can obtain the grip ergonomics by attaching them, none of the controls work, and the second battery in the vertical grip no longer power the body. I could replace just the grip, but I'm not sure if the contact failure is in the grip or the body, so a new grip may not resolve the situation.
  2. My children are now playing sports, and I'm taking a lot more video of their indoor basketball games. I break up the videos by quarter, so each segment is typically 9-13 minutes long. The video quality from the EM5 seems subpar compared to what I'd expect that I can get from a more modern camera. When I record their games I have everything on a tripod and use the pl25 at 2.8, manually focused to the hyperfocal distance so that basically the entire court is in focus as a I pan from one end of the court to the other (there is an advantage to smaller sensor sizes and broader depth of field). The problem is that gyms vary in size and where in them I can record from, and although I've made everything "work" with the pl25, it would be really helpful if I could zoom. I used the p12-32 once for this purpose, but the lack of a manual focus ring and the variable aperture made this very awkward.
Since I want a grip, the body options for me that I see in the market right now include the EM1mk2, G85, G9, and GH5. Some of the issues I'm considering are:
  1. I think I want 4k/60p if I'm going to upgrade. Given that I also record clips longer than 10 minutes, I believe this leaves the GH5 as the only option (EM1mk2 and G85 only do 4k/30p, and the G9 does 4k/60p but with a 10 minute record limit). Questions here include: Do I actually care about 4k/60p? Are there not yet released bodies in the pipeline that are likely to have 4k/60p? I'm unlikely to use any of the advanced video features of the GH5, and the only reason that G9 doesn't fit is the recording limit. Will there likely be a G95/G10 that adds 4k/60p with no recording limit (or at least closer to 30 minutes)?
  2. All of these bodies, and especially the G9 and GH5, are much bigger than the EM5. Although I'm used to having a vertical grip on my EM5, I appreciate the flexibility of not having it on, and I'm a bit wary of a camera body that by itself is as heavy and bulky as my current "big" configuration. My favorite lenses are the o12 and o45, and I'm not sure how they will "fit" with these bigger bodies.
For a new zoom lens, the options seem clearly either the p12-35/2.8 or the o12-40/2.8. The questions that I have here are:
  1. How much do I care about Dual IS? If I don't, then any combination of bodies and lenses would work, but if I do, the options are much more restricted.
  2. Will getting one of these zooms fill the mid-wide prime gap that I currently feel? Both of these lenses are much bigger than the primes that drew me into m43 to begin with, but on the other hand if it replaces all of the primes then I suppose the total bulk and weight is roughly comparable, at least in the bag if not in the hand.
Of course, a final option might be to consider a different system entirely. I've been somewhat following what Fuji has been doing, and it may be possible that an eventual XH2 would have both IBIS and 4k/60p. I haven't been following Sony quite as much and I'm not sure if there are options there that might fit the bill (my impression is that they're primarily focused on FF and when combined with lenses any kit would end up much bulkier than a m43/Fuji kit).

Although the grip failure is frustrating, I'm still able to capture everything I need to (though not necessarily at the quality that I'd want), so I'm not exactly in a rush to resolve the situation. But I am definitely trying to better understand what the options are, and how things have changed in the 5 years since I was last much more deeply paying attention to the market.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
 
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I was in a similar situation when my daughter was born. I had been using the original E-M5 and I had found the low light performance to be just a little lacking. Upgrading to an E-M1.2 fixed all of the low light performance issues that I was having. I will say that I miss the form factor of the 5 though.
On the lenses I will say that dual is does make a difference the IBIS in any of the modern Panasonic and Olympus bodies is so good I wouldnt make that a high priority in your decision making process regarding a new standard zoom.
Only you can answer if you really need 4k/60 but I will say shooting extended videos in that format will create some really large files. Those files will also take a significant amount of computing power to process.
All of the u4/3 cameras you listed are excellent choices.
 

Biro

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To the OP: Think about it. Are you really gong to capture uninterrupted shots of video that are longer than 10 minutes? You rarely see that even in cinematic films. I realize many raw shots are much longer than they are in final, edited form. But longer than 10 minutes?

I suppose if you wanted to shoot an entire school play that your child is in, maybe. But do you really want to deal with 4K video files that large? I hope you have a modern computer with some real horsepower and a lot of storage.

You stated yourself that you are unlikely to use many of the advanced features of the GH5. If that's true, your work may not be videocentric enough to worry about takes that are longer than 10 minutes. But if you require it occasionally, just press the video button a second time to start a new file.

I say get the G9 or E-M1 Mark II. I have both and, frankly, like the G9 a bit better. Some people are bothered by the viewfinder "wobble" from the DFD focusing system. It doesn't bother me and the hit rate is quite high. It's also $400 less expensive than the Oly.
 
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I wouldn't worry about 4k 60p unless you plan on lots of slow mo 4k. 30p looks great and you can still slow it 20%. I would go with the G85. The EM1 is still a pretty nice upgrade over the em5, but the video on the g85 will be much better.
 

ac12

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Are you ONLY going to shoot video in the gym outside or also stills?

I switched from a Nikon D7200 dSLR to an Olympus EM1-mk1.
But I still use the D7200 for fast sports (soccer, basketball, and similar). The EM1-mk1 display freezes the last frame on a burst, and that screws up my ability to track a fast/erraticly moving subject. I understand the mk2 is better, but still has not cracked the barrier. Hence some here are still shooting the D500 for sports/fast action.

Shooting in a gym is a compromise. I shoot with a 35/1.8 prime, rather than a f/2.8 zoom. I would love to use a zoom, but the prime lets me shoot at a faster shutter speed, while keeping the ISO down. Yes I loose coverage when the player comes too close or is on the other side of the court, but I get enough good shots. Besides a f/2.8 zoom is expensive and out of my hobby budget. BTW, I am shooting on the court floor, not from the bleachers.

When you are shooting on a tripod, IS should be turned OFF.
Unless the bleachers is vibrating from people walking and stomping, then IS would be called for.
 
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I don't know anything about video, so my suggestion may not address that issue.

The em5 is not worth much if you were to sell it. Might as well keep using it without the grip with the smaller lenses if you like the form factor. Given that, then I would go for a used em1, which uses the same battery as the em5. The em1 is just a little bit bigger compared with the em5. Having two cameras, one set up for video, and the other set up for stills, you have more flexibility when covering events like you do.
 

emilb

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@Biro Sorry if I wasn't clear but yes, I'm definitely recording for over 10 minutes. Precisely because I'm not a video pro I'm want to avoid transcoding/editing/etc and want to be able to capture the game quarters as-is. My computer infrastructure at home is enough that I'm not worried about storage and processing (especially since I don't expect to be editing). My question more surrounds 4k/60p. Since I'm trying to capture sports action I think the 60p might be nice, and 4k might have enough resolution that combined with 60p some of the frame-grabs might be serviceable as basic stills. In either direction of going "down", I imagine that 1080/2k is too low resolution for frame capture, or 30p would be too blurry for frame capture. If I don't worry about possibly capturing frames from the video then I imagine 1080/60p would suit my purposes of sports better, but I get the impression that the 1080 output from some of these cameras isn't what you'd expect downsampled from the sensor resolution, presumably due to different processing pipelines (e.g. see Ultimate OM-D: Olympus E-M1 Mark II Review).

@ac12 That's a great question that I didn't address in my original post about video vs stills. I'd always like more quality/faster autofocus/less noise for stills, but to be honest, I've been fine with the stills output of my EM5. I don't generally feel a need to have the latest and greatest, and I don't worry too much about some noise or when things aren't tack sharp. I tried to give a sense of my standards in my original message. I do find the output of my p14-140 frequently disappointing when compared to my other lenses, and I do find the 1080 output from the EM5 less than what I'd want. Those are probably the only major IQ issues that I have. Regarding the specific questions of taking videos and stills at my children's games, I mostly only take video. When I take stills I'm wanting to get closer to the players, and I'm typically using the o75/1.8 at ISO1600. The output here isn't great, but I have at least a few images with this setup that I've been fine with. If there's one thing that I would most want improved it would be tracking autofocus, where I believe that the EM1mk2 outshines the current Panasonic offerings, but my impression is also that all of the current offerings should do substantially better than my existing EM5mk1 anyways, such that the difference between them may not be the most significant factor that I'd actually notice.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts!
 

emilb

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I don't generally feel a need to have the latest and greatest
I should probably clarify this point with the fact that I'm obviously listing some of the "latest and greatest" bodies like the EM1mk2, G9, and GH5 (I guess the G85 is currently considered "mid-tier" but a great value).
I'm fine with what I have, but just dissatisfied enough to start looking around at the options again. My current thinking is that 4k/60p for video is something that would justify an upgrade from my EM5mk1.
I could afford any of what I've listed, but getting the premium offerings is not generally my inclination (I've gotten everything I currently have second-hand), and so I may wait until 4k/60p isn't considered a "latest and greatest" feature any more and is available in mid-tier offerings. In addition to getting a sense of the benefit people perceived for 4k/60p, another goal was to get a sense of the market and what people thought was coming down the line (which is obviously speculative, but I haven't been following the rumors much recently).

Thanks again for letting me think out loud in this thread.
 

ac12

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From practical experience, for mixed sports (like basketball and soccer), forget tracking AF and zone/area AF.

Tracking and zone AF might work for a SINGLE subject (like tennis), but in a group sport like basketball or soccer, where the players "mix it up," the AF has no way to keep track of YOUR player.
Tracking by color does not work, because your team will be in the same color uniform.
And camera AI AF has not gotten anywhere near what your brain can do to keep track of a player.
Zone AF in some/many cameras use 'closest subject' logic. So if there are 3 players in the AF zone, the AF will focus on the closest of the 3 players. And the odds are that is NOT your subject.
I use single point center, then I manually track the player that I want in focus.
But, then ALL the tracking effort is now in MY hands and brain, and that is NOT easy in some sports.
Yes, I miss a lot of shots when I don't have the AF point on the subject.
But I am also able to pick out and focus on MY subject in a bunch of players.​
 

emilb

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@ac12 Thanks, yes, I do use single point AF currently with my EM5 when the situation is difficult like you suggest. I had gotten the impression that perhaps the tracking had improved since that generation of technologies but perhaps it's still not so reliable?
 

cdmicha

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Based on what you say you want in video (4k, 60p, long record times), it seems the GH5 is the only camera that will fit the bill. I own the G9, and it's brilliant for both stills and video, but that 10 min limit on 4k 60p sounds like a deal breaker to you. If it helps, the G9's 1080p looks really good- but as you've said, that might not work for your image capture needs.

Perhaps rent one and test it out? I've saved a lot of money by renting things I thought I'd want to buy only to find out I really didn't like them at all.
 

emilb

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Based on what you say you want in video (4k, 60p, long record times), it seems the GH5 is the only camera that will fit the bill. ... If it helps, the G9's 1080p looks really good- but as you've said, that might not work for your image capture needs.
Re: 4k/60p, yes, that's what I'm currently thinking, but one of the reasons why I started this thread was because I was wondering what people here think of 4k/60p. I'm hoping that others might share their experiences with 4k/60p vs 4k/30p vs 1080/60p, etc. The ideal case would of course be someone who is in a similar situations as me, taking video of their children doing sports in indoor gyms, but I'm curious about any thoughts people have. Thanks for your feedback on the G9's 1080p. What framerate do you usually use? On what kind of subject? Have you ever tried doing frame grabs?

On the lenses I will say that dual is does make a difference the IBIS in any of the modern Panasonic and Olympus bodies is so good I wouldnt make that a high priority in your decision making process regarding a new standard zoom.
Just to clarify, I think you're saying that IBIS (by itself) is good enough that you would not prioritize dual-IS. Is that right?

The em5 is not worth much if you were to sell it. ... I would go for a used em1, which uses the same battery as the em5.
Yes, I wasn't planning on selling the EM5, both because it won't sell for much anyways, and it would be nice to have a backup body, even if I generally won't be carrying both at once. Thanks for pointing out that some models share the same battery - I hadn't been thinking about that. Do you know if the EM1mk2 the only Olympus camera that uses the BLH-1 battery?
 

cdmicha

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The ideal case would of course be someone who is in a similar situations as me, taking video of their children doing sports in indoor gyms, but I'm curious about any thoughts people have. Thanks for your feedback on the G9's 1080p. What framerate do you usually use? On what kind of subject? Have you ever tried doing frame grabs?
The only video Iv'e taken in gyms of youth sports/activities is the 4K/6K photo mode video on panasonic, with the express purpose of extracting stills (There's no audio). While this has worked for me, I still prefer taking mechanical shots. Video wise, it's either family videos of my kids (almost 2 and almost 9), usually doing some sort of activity, or concerts. I shoot 1080/60, and the quality is great. I've not used it like you intend, so can't speak to that, but I can say that unlike some other cameras, the G9's 1080p looks pretty crisp. Of course, the 4k looks amazing too- I just have found that I don't need that resolution for what I do (or file size!)
 

TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

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if you don´t need any professional videographer features, why in the world do you need 4k/60p? have you worked with such files, are you editing your videos, or is it just an urge for the possibility to do so?
g85 along with 12-35 f2.8 would satisfy all your needs. if you want more photographic features(high res, focus stacking, etc - also works with 75mm if i´m not mistaken) and better af go with e-m1ii +12-40.
 

morphodone

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One thing you might consider is using HDMI out to an external recorder. I think this would eliminate the 10 minute limit for 4k 60p. But keep in mind those files would be gigantic; I know you said you have the PC and storage at home to deal with those files but you may want to double check that.

Also, the G9 can take stills during video if you want that feature, but there are limitations.
ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/camera/om/dc-g9_en_adv_om.pdf (page 168)

I use the G9 to record clips of my daughter doing gymnastics in poorly lit gyms. But my clips are nowhere near as long as yours. I don't even bother with a tripod but if I did, it would probably be a monopod. I generally use 1080 60p and I am satisfied with the output. I wish the G9 had 1080 120p but it does not. It can do 1080 180p but that mode is really limited.

I think overall for video I would go with Panasonic over Olympus. And for G85 vs G9, the G9 has better autofocus, better burst, better viewfinder, more megapixels, better low light. But you pay a premium over the G85 for those features.
 

emilb

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Thank you everyone for your feedback. I had looked at the GH5 recording time estimates at ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/camera/om/dc-gh5_en_adv_om.pdf (p32-p33) and for 4k/60p mp4/lpcm at 150M it sounds like you can record roughly 60 minutes in 64gb. From a storage and storage bandwidth perspective I'm okay with that. I should still probably confirm that everything would work as I'd expect, however. Are there places where one could download sample footage? For those of you using 1080/60p, what container format/bitrate are you using?

I want to reiterate that I'm not suggesting that I need 4k/60p. I'm here to see what others with roughly my use cases are doing, and because I'm trying to get a sense of what kind of improvement I'd see for different kinds of investment, and to see if I think it's worth upgrading. 4k/60p seemed like a possible feature threshold to justify the upgrade. I would like to keep my relatively simple workflow of taking 10+ minute clips and uploading them to share with others. Comparing to other videos on e.g. Youtube I'm disappointed in the quality of the footage from my EM5. In the same way that I take pictures with an EM5 instead of my phone, I'm willing to invest in getting better IQ, but of course there are limits. Those trade offs are what I was hoping to get feedback on and I appreciate the comments, especially from other parents taking footage of their kids. Thanks again!
 

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