What would you buy today?

cjfeola

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TL;DR version: Accidently fell in love with an Olympus OMD EM10 mi that I bought to use with my stable of Pentax Auto 110 lenses. Added the jewel-like 45/1.8 and it's become my DD. So I'm thinking of upgrading the body; I bought the EM10 because it was super cheap. I mostly shoot street and landscape, and prefer B&W.

I'm NOT interested in anything big. I already have multiple backups filled with huge, heavy high-end gear I drag out when I need it. I want something small and brilliant that I can effortlessly take everywhere. It must have a viewfinder, or I would take out my Pentax Q series stuff again.

So I'm looking at the Olympus Pen-F, which is selling new for $999. I've heard lot's of raves for it's B&W mode, which is tempting.

But the OMD EM5 iii is also selling for $999, and it's brand new. And I understand it's similar in size to the EM10.

And then there's the new 20megapixel OMD EM10 iv for $699.

Finally, there's the OMD EM1 ii selling for $899 these days. But it looks a LOT bigger and heavier.

Thoughts? Advice?

TIA!

Cjf
 

cjfeola

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More details, for those who like details before they give advice: I worked as a professional newspaper photographer all over North America and Asia throughout the 80s and 90s. Spent much of the 80s based out of Tokyo roaming the Pacific Rim for Pacific Stars & Stripes. My daily kit was a Pentax LX with the grid screen and the SMC 20/4 and Tri-X; a Pentax LX with the regular screen and the SMC-A* 135/1.8; and a Pentax MX with the 80-200 and Ektachrome.

But I've always had a soft spot for tiny cameras that let me carry a whole kit without the giant heavy Domke bag skewing my spine off kilter. For years my daily driver was great Pentax Auto 110 with the 18mm lens, the jewel-like 70mm that was said to have inspired the Pentax Limiteds, and Kodachrome 64. The slides from that setup are amazing!

Back in the film days we used to say that cameras were boxes for holding the film. We were in love with the glass. I still have all that glass, and while I don't shot professionally any more these days I have my equivalent of those 2 LXs I carried for so long: a Pentax K70 for my Pentax Limiteds, and a Sony A7rii for my Pentax A* 135/1.8, my Voightlanders - including the 12mm! - and some Zeiss and Sony glass.

What I haven't had is a digital Auto 110. I tried Pentax Qs for awhile - the 08 is lovely, for a zoom - but the only prime is the 01, it has no viewfinder, and frankly I wasn't crazy about how the adapted Auto 110 lens looked on it.

Then I read an article this spring saying that Micro Four Thirds sensors are almost exactly the same size as 110 film, meaning adapted Auto 110 lenses would be about their original focal length. Bought an OMD EM10 because it was cheap, got an adapter for Auto 110...and fell hard for this little camera. Picked up the lovely 45/1.8, and it has become my daily driver.

So now, of course, I'm wondering if there's a body I would like even better if I looked harder than "what's cheap?"
 

ex machina

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Maybe not, unless you need/want weather protection, better stabilization, or more pixels. I've been holding off on upgrading my 2013 GX7 until there's a significant improvement in low light/DR because those other things, while nice to have, are not so important to the kind of photography I do. YMMV.
 

LilSebastian

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I have an E-M10 II and a Pen-F. One feature only on the newer bodies like PEN-F (Check others) is the ability to store the names of unique adapted lenses and their focal length / f-stop values in the files. Additionally, I set a button on the body to quickly switch between them which keeps the IBIS working at the proper focal length. The Monocrhome mode is really fun to play with including color filters, Highlight/Midtones/Shadows and film "grain".
 

cjfeola

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Maybe not, unless you need/want weather protection, better stabilization, or more pixels. I've been holding off on upgrading my 2013 GX7 until there's a significant improvement in low light/DR because those other things, while nice to have, are not so important to the kind of photography I do. YMMV.
Yeah, I'm not definitely buying something. I just liked the M10 i WAY more than I expected, and started to wonder whether I would have bought something different if I'd put more thought into it than "Hey! What's a cheap M43 body for my Auto 110 lenses!?!" And while I was wondering Olympus started a fire sale...So I thought I'd ask all ya'll.
 

algold

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It looks like a used in good nick Pen-F for a good price is THE camera for you.
It handles well, great fun to shoot with and you can play with in-camera B&W as much as you want.
Pair it with a couple of small primes, a spare battery and you are good to go.
There are a few quirks, but you will love the camera.
 

RichardC

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If I bought a film camera, it would have to be a Pentax LX - with wooden grip, FB-1 system finder and eyepieces, Pentax SMC-M 24-35mm f3.5, 35mm f2, 100mm f2.8.

Failing that, a Pen-F digital and a 17mm f1.8 to further compliment what I've got.

The LX was easily the most beautiful 35mm camera I ever got to play with.
 

cjfeola

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It looks like a used in good nick Pen-F for a good price is THE camera for you.
It handles well, great fun to shoot with and you can play with in-camera B&W as much as you want.
Pair it with a couple of small primes, a spare battery and you are good to go.
There are a few quirks, but you will love the camera.
I'm pretty much a 100% primes and Tri-X guy, and I've been tempted by the Pen F since I learned of it. I feel like the M5iii is the most logical choice...but I don't know that this is a logical decision. Need to get my hands on a Pen F and see if it is alluring in person as it seems online.
 

cjfeola

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If I bought a film camera, it would have to be a Pentax LX - with wooden grip, FB-1 system finder and eyepieces, Pentax SMC-M 24-35mm f3.5, 35mm f2, 100mm f2.8.

Failing that, a Pen-F digital and a 17mm f1.8 to further compliment what I've got.

The LX was easily the most beautiful 35mm camera I ever got to play with.
Yeah I always felt the Pentax LX was the pinnacle of manual focus 35mm. Army/Stripes photographers shot in crazy conditions: the Mojave, Sea of Japan, Korean winters and such. Few cameras lasted long with what we put them through. We had issue Canon F1s...which no one used. We pretty much all bought and used our own Pentaxes. (A few guys were partial to Nikon FMs.) A friend put his K1000 down on a tank track; the tank then unexpectedly drove off. The lens was trashed, but the camera survived. As for the LX; I was running down a street in Tokyo on some shoot or other with my daily kit: a Pentax LX with the grid screen and the SMC 20/4 and Tri-X; a Pentax LX with the regular screen and the SMC-A* 135/1.8; and a Pentax MX with the 80-200 and Ektachrome. Tripped and went down hard. Grabbed the LX with the 135 and the MX. The other LX hit the sidewalk so hard that it bounced three feet into the air. No exaggeration. Caught it on the bounce...and finished the shoot. The corner was dinged pretty bad, but that never affected anything. The LX was a tank of a camera built like a Swiss watch. All in all, a tour-de-force of the camera maker's art.
 
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ac12

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EM1-mk2 and EM10-mk2.
Which is what I have.
I use the EM1 as my primary camera, and the EM10 when I want a smaller/lighter camera (like for family parties).
The EM10 is a bit smaller/lighter/cheaper than the EM5.
 

khoi

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Somewhat relatedly: does Olympus usually have sales during the end-of-year holiday season? I’m in the market for a new body and am restraining myself from buying every day out of the hope that there might be some added discounts come Black Friday.
 

Bob in Pittsburgh

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Somewhat relatedly: does Olympus usually have sales during the end-of-year holiday season? I’m in the market for a new body and am restraining myself from buying every day out of the hope that there might be some added discounts come Black Friday.
I have usually seen Olympus have markdowns around Black Friday. But this is an unusual year, between Covid-19, and Olympus selling the camera division. They have been doing a lot of discounting in recent months. I have no idea when it's time to strike. I bought my reconditioned EM-5 Mkiii when they had a one-day sale at getolympus.com at the end of August.
 
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While I haven't bought anything "today", I actually bought a new Olympus body just earlier this summer and it was another Pen-F. As you might notice in my forum signature, I actually own two Pen-F: The first one bought in late May 2016, I immediately fell in love with the camera the moment I got my hand on it in a store and it kind of changed the way I think about photography. Fast forward about three months ago I bought another copy, brand new at a price which wasn't a deal at all. However Olympus ceased the production of these cameras about two years ago, so any "new" stock you see around is actually left-over stock which won't last forever. For instance here in Germany no shops have any new, unopened units in stock - they are gone.
Since it seems very unlikely, especially now at this point, Olympus/JIP will ever introduce a Pen-F Mark II, the camera actually holds the value pretty well compared to some other cameras of this age.

Considering the price tag, the Pen-F isn't really a "smart" or logical choice, it wasn't really when it was new and it sure ain't now four and a half years later. You can get a used E-M1 Mark II for a similar price as a used Pen-F, you can pay two or three hundred bucks more and get a new E-M1 Mark II or E-M5 Mark III. Both cameras are newer, more feature packed, offer better AF, larger EVFs and so on.
Yet in my opinion they simply don't offer the Pen-F user experience: I could've almost bought a new E-M5 III for the price I paid for the Pen, yet I didn't, simply because I enjoy shooting with the Pen so much: The build quality is great, it just feels great in the hand and is a pleasure to use. The dials offer a nearly perfect balance of assuring resistance and still easy enough one finger operation, the shutter button provides a nice tactile half-press stop while the shutter itself really compliments the whole camera: It's fairly subtle and quiet, yet you can still feel and hear it. That might sound stupid, but the whole package combined make this camera, at least for me, a real pleasure to use - somewhat more than just a tool for my hobby. I even enjoy the "no grip"-ergonomics.

The shortcomings for the Pen-F are: Price, already talked about that. C-AF isn't the fastest nor reliable, S-AF in my opinion is fine, it is fast and snappy in good light, however it starts hunting and second guessing as the light fades. The port cover-door feels rather cheap, as it would be really out of place for the camera, also the battery door somehow doesn't match the other build quality. The tripod socket is in a fairly forward position and can interfere with some lenses. The eye-sensor can be a pain when you are a right eye shooter and the sun is in your back: It messes up the detection and the camera switches unreliable between the EVF and the display, even while you are using the EVF. Bothered me so much I disabled the option and instead switch manually via a button. Last but not least the Truepic VII image processor, which at release was already about two and a half years old, seems to be having a harder time handling the additional megapixels of the newer sensor - it always take a short moment to review your photos.

The Monochrome Mode indeed is great for the Pen-F, it comes with three different, factory pre-set profiles, which you can completely adjust to your liking. The most popular one, for me too, is Profile 2, which has been said to pay some homage to Kodak Tri-X. The profile is set very contrasty with highlights +6 and shadows -6, while providing a strong ("Medium"-setting) amount of grain to the image. I'm using this profile most of the time, however either without any grain at all or just "Low" grain setting. In addition I've lately created my own profile, which brightens up profile 2 a bit using highlights +4, shadows -4 and midtones +1 with low grain. A bit less contrasty, yet also less extreme than Mono2 profile.
Since I always shoot RAW+JPEG, I essentially get the best of both worlds, nice sooc B&W jpegs, while still have the full flexibility to revisit the RAW file if I want.
We have a dedicated topic for Pen-F B&W images here: https://www.mu-43.com/threads/olympus-pen-f-monochrome-mode.88718/
 

mike3996

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PEN-F is a real bummer in many ways. $999 is not a particularly good deal either. It does have a gorgeous RF-style EVF though.
 

retiredfromlife

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TL;DR version: Accidently fell in love with an Olympus OMD EM10 mi that I bought to use with my stable of Pentax Auto 110 lenses. Added the jewel-like 45/1.8 and it's become my DD. So I'm thinking of upgrading the body; I bought the EM10 because it was super cheap. I mostly shoot street and landscape, and prefer B&W.

I'm NOT interested in anything big. I already have multiple backups filled with huge, heavy high-end gear I drag out when I need it. I want something small and brilliant that I can effortlessly take everywhere. It must have a viewfinder, or I would take out my Pentax Q series stuff again.

So I'm looking at the Olympus Pen-F, which is selling new for $999. I've heard lot's of raves for it's B&W mode, which is tempting.

But the OMD EM5 iii is also selling for $999, and it's brand new. And I understand it's similar in size to the EM10.

And then there's the new 20megapixel OMD EM10 iv for $699.

Finally, there's the OMD EM1 ii selling for $899 these days. But it looks a LOT bigger and heavier.

Thoughts? Advice?

TIA!

Cjf
I would go for the PenF or EM1.2 for the better build quality over the EM5.3.

The Pen F seems to be a really nice camera if you don't need CAF. Virtually no problems reported for that camera that I have seen so it should be rock solid for years to come [hopefully]
This would be my pick for a solid small camera especially if you like B&W
 
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and a Pentax MX with the 80-200 and Ektachrome.
I had 3 MX's at one time, bought the first in 1979. The most beautiful camera I've ever owned, it jumped up and down on the end of the bed every morning shouting "Take me out! Take me out!". With the 40mm f2, it took up no more space than a rangefinder camera and was the main reason i chose m43: nothing else was that good and pocketable. The metering was superb but if the battery did go down i could still meter with a Weston. Happy days.
 

algold

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@Ghostbuggy nice to see someone have such a clear and well-stated opinion with little regard for a "great deal".
Pen-F is just like Fuji X100 series cameras - it’s great, but it’s not that great to warrant the asking price. It’s not a logical or economical choice- there are better cameras for less money or much better cameras for the same price. But you pick it up and it’s either you are in love, or you hate it, no other options and there is a cult following.
 

demiro

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Pen-F is just like Fuji X100 series cameras - it’s great, but it’s not that great to warrant the asking price. It’s not a logical or economical choice- there are better cameras for less money or much better cameras for the same price. But you pick it up and it’s either you are in love, or you hate it, no other options and there is a cult following.
I was more talking about how often people making decisions are completely wrapped up in the deal they can get, and how that seems to supersede the camera or lens and what the expectations are around it's performance. Nothing wrong with a good deal, but I thought it was nice to see someone expressing a strong preference and letting that be the priority.

If a particular camera works so well for you that it provides some extra level of enjoyment then I think saying it's not a logical choice is a fallacy. Maybe for a pro, where these are just tools, that's true, but not for most of us. @Ghostbuggy said it well: ...but the whole package combined make this camera, at least for me, a real pleasure to use - somewhat more than just a tool for my hobby
 

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