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40 megapixels, monochrome sensor, minimalist controls.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Coverage

I’ve examined my images from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and my conclusion is that it merits some serious discussion (review). Which is quite unlike my current point and shoot whipping boy, the frustrating Leica X2. What an overpriced non-camera (the X2) by comparison to the intelligently designed OM-D E-M5.

One way to judge a camera is by how quickly you can use it efficiently (though inherent camera design goals should be respected, e.g. manual focus on a Leica M9). The Leica X2 rubbed chafed me ergonomically for multiple reasons, the OM-D E-M5 was exactly the opposite, as well as doing several little things right.

I’ve returned the OMD E-M5 that I was testing— it’s not for me, but that is not to say I don’t like the camera (I like it a lot), rather that it doesn’t solve new problems that I need solved, doesn’t fit into my pocket, and and for $1800 with the 12mm f/2, it’s money that I’d rather spend elsewhere on other gear that I will soon need.

I have a reasonable amount of material from it, and so I’ll be taking a 1-2 day diversion to write up the OM-D E-M5. Simply because it’s timely (new), and it represents what I think is an exceptionally well done camera of its type, perhaps the best of breed so far. No, it doesn’t make a terrible photographer into a good one, as I confirmed when I had my father shoot pictures of me during my bike race. Ugghhh....

Previous quick notes on the Olympus OM-D E-M5—

  • Olympus has done a stellar job of avoiding the shortcomings found on cameras like the Leica X2; the OM-D E-M5 is just so much more usable as a camera. Smartly done.
  • The 12mm f/2 lens (24mm equivalent) is a gem. Results at f/2 are already impressive and stopping down slightly makes razor-sharp images.
  • Focus is super-fast, as claimed.
  • Sensor noise is a challenge. ISO 200 makes nice images, but are not noise free. For my taste, ISO 800 is already on the margin. Presumably this is the result of cramming 16 megapixels in a tiny 4/3 sensor. Though the pixel density is only a tiny bit higher than the Sony NEX-7, the “sensor” is really the sensor + electronics— a lot can be done there.
  • Black and white results look very promising.
Cabin #10 bedside table (Tioga Pass Resort)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 12mm f/2 @ f/8, 1/2 second at ISO 200
Cabin #10 (Tioga Pass Resort)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 12mm f/2 @ f/4, 1/2 second at ISO 200
Cabin #10 bedroom (Tioga Pass Resort)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 + 12mm f/2 @ f/8, 1/8 second at ISO 200
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