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Views from a Bike: Sony RX100 and Olympus E-M5 (White Mountain Peak)

I’ll have coverage on the Sony RX100 in my Guide to ALLVIEW, and the Olympus E-M5 is already there, with more to come.

Olympus E-M5

In general, I like the Olympus OM-D E-M5. It shoots great. Real camera.

But today I was incensed at the E-M5— I set it to record video on a gnarly 3000' mountain bike descent (average grade 17%), one that requires a “hard man” 3 hour climb, not exactly easy to repeat. The E-M5 aborted the recording about 2 minutes in, and then lost focus and stayed that way, starting a new file, totally out of focus. Since I didn’t touch the camera (I had it strapped against my body for the 3000' descent), I don’t know what addled its electronic brain, but since this is a once-a-year ride, I was greatly disappointed. Such things are why real testing is always needed for gear one intends to rely on. I will have to investigate further, as now I feel I cannot trust it for video footage.

Otherwise, using it is very enjoyable, but I find that for field shots, ISO 500 on up gets so noisy and destructive of detail that the files cannot take proper sharpening any more. It’s really an ISO 200 or ISO 400 camera for quality results (there is inexplicably no ISO 100, which it clearly could use for reduced noise).

About an hour before the heavens opened up (heavy hail)
Olympus E-M5 + Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
Turning cold... hail about to start pounding down
Olympus E-M5 + Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 fisheye

Sony RX100

Consistently produces great color and good exposures, with occasional burps. Focus is fast and accurate. Video file format begs disbelief— one huge file called PRIVATE for all recorded clips. WTF?

The heavy hail soaked through my pack, the RX100 got a lot of water on it, but kept on working fine. I pulled it out briefly for this shot— hail coating the ground and more pounding down, stinging my cheeks. I aborted my summit attempt of White Mountain Peak at around 12,800' due to heavy hail and lightning; this is down about 7 or 8 miles from where I turned around. The day started out clear and beautiful, but mountain weather can change very quickly, as it did today, going from bright sun to downpours in less than 2 hours.

Hail coating the ground near Patriarch Grove, August 14, 2012
Sony RX100

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