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The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Experience

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds Forum' started by Luckypenguin, May 5, 2012.

  1. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    7132149209_fc6490c198_c.

    Well, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has been out for a little while now and has already received the full bells-and-whistles review from DPReview, so there's not too much point giving any technical background on the camera or listing all the headline features. My general take on the E-M5 is that this camera really is a wonderful example of the merging of electronics and technical wizardly with the traditional camera. I think that we're really starting to enjoy the fruits of the development that has occurred since Canon first put a CPU in the AE-1 and even more so since the digital sensor began to replace film.

    In the last two years the way that I use cameras has changed dramatically; going from a viewfinder-based SLR style to live-view, tilting screens, waist-level shooting, chest-level shooting, ANY-level shooting. The E-M5 is a fine example of a camera that allows me to continue down that path. Ergonomics are an issue when a camera like the E-M5 is made to be so small (and it is small, don't let the DSLR look fool you), but this is another area that I have comes to terms with. Whereas I once would have said that an Olympus Pen was a bit awkward and the grip on a Panasonic G/GH too narrow, I've simply adapted, even if it means holding a camera in a completely different manner to what I was once familiar with.

    P5020107-PRR.

    You can still operate an E-M5 like any other camera, but the above grip is how I learned to love the Panasonic GH1, how I enjoy using the Canon G1X, and will also be my default grip for the E-M5 as well. The common feature between all thee three cameras I just mentioned is a tilt or articulated screen, a finger grip of sorts, and a front control wheel that can be operated with the forefinger.

    My first usage of the E-M5 was at night after I had travelled into the city to pick it up. With some charge in the battery I immediately gave it a test run and knew that I had the first camera that I ever really enjoyed shooting at night with. Yes, the higher ISO performance is a big improvement on any Olympus before it, but ironically that was not the most impressive feature. It was the speed and accuracy of the AF in low light combined with the superb new "Five-Axis IBIS" system that really got my attention. Ray showed some examples using the IBIS in his "Month in New York" thread, and I'll add a couple more here

    1/8 second

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    1/3 second

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    1/3 second

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    All three were taken handheld with a 25mm lens (50mm equiv on Micro 4/3). I feel that 1/3 second was acceptable limit to get genuinely sharp images assuming you were steadied. BTW, these were all taken at waist or chest level which is no less stable a way to hold a camera than the traditional eye-to-viewfinder IF done correctly.
     
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  2. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Some more examples from my first night out shooting the E-M5. I am referring to the camera as the E-M5 but so far OM-D seems to be the more popular title. This may change once the E-M5 isn't the only model available under the OM-D badge. For those not fully aware of how the Olympus model structure works, all of their current non-DSLR interchangeable lens cameras follow the Micro Four Thirds standard and share the same lenses and accessories. OM-D is simply the name of the line of cameras (presumably there will be more to come) that sits above the existing Digital Pen range in features and price.

    If I am referring to my own E-M5, his name is Darth Vader :wink:.

    As above, these images were all shot with the Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux.

    Colour:

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    B&W:

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  3. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I hate you Nic. :)

    I want one!!!!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Stop holding out for Silver :tongue:

    Go black! Go Darth Vader!
     
  5. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    I am not!!! I want to join the dark side! But I can't find it either! :jedi:
     
  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I missed a few of these on flickr. These are really great, Nic. Enjoy your new camera.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Some of the cooler technical features I like about the E-M5:

    - Five Axis IBIS, already described above. The effects can now be previewed on both the screen and EVF, just as you can with lens-based IS systems. It's amazing how much you can jiggle the camera and yet still have a steady view

    - Tiltable OLED touchscreen. This screen seems to be me to be better in bright conditions to any LCD that I have used before, and while I still prefer the fully articulated screen, the tilt-only screen is a very useful feature for shooting away from eye-level. The touchscreen is inherited from the E-P3 and is capacitive like a smartphone so it is very sensitive to the touch. In normal shooting it operates in three modes which can be switched by touching a button icon on the screen: off, focus only, and focus/shutter release. If using the touch shutter you do need to exercise some caution because with most m4/3 lenses the autofocus is extremely fast and the continuous shutter function is also operated by the screen. Touching the screen accidentally or holding your finger on it for more than a fraction of a second can start the camera firing away at 9fps! Incidentally I don't leave the camera in the high-speed continuous shutter mode because the slightest hesitation on the shutter button will give you an extra frame or two. The touchscreen is also linked to the "Super Control Panel" but it only lets you select a function which can then be changed using a control wheel.

    - Gradation. This is Olympus' version of dynamic range expansion for jpegs. This has been available in previous Pen models but I always turned it off because I don't think that it was implemented well and didn't suit the characteristics of the sensor. On the E-M5 with the new 16MP sensor I think that it works very well. RAW support for the E-M5 is now available in lightroom 4.1 and from the DNG Converter, but I feel that the gradation setting is doing a lot of what I would've done to a RAW file anyway. The E-M5 also features a visual tone curve adjustment tool (as opposed to plain contrast) that I have set to a slight reverse curve. In combination with gradation this further prevents the loss of detail in jpeg files.
     
  8. Ghosthunter

    Ghosthunter boo!

    Sep 8, 2010
    London UK
    Andy
    :eek:F*** they are good images!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  9. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    Very nice Nic.
     
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  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Nic - I'd seen the "movement" images but not the others - great stuff! And thanks for the tips. I'm already with you on the IBIS and the touch-screen, but I'd just instinctively turned off the gradation feature based on past experience (well, I've always shot raw with my Oly's but I've shot jpegs when I had a camera that didn't have raw support yet). As good as jpegs are getting, I may give this a try - Haven't played with the tone curves yet - always figured that was something I'd leave for PP, but maybe there's a reason not to...

    -Ray
     
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  11. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Thanks Luke, Andy, Bill, and Ray.

    Ray, the tone curve is just something that I am experimenting with at the moment and the effect is much less than what setting gradation to auto offers. The tone curve adjustment is assigned by default to Fn2 but probably doesn't need to be constantly accessible. Currently I have it set to slightly reduce contrast (which is what I meant by a reverse curve but should have explained it better). I like a more contrasty image as a finished product but I want to keep the OOC file as data-rich as possible. In combination with setting the gradation to auto, the jpeg that I get OOC is very similar to how I process and export a RAW image from Adobe Camera RAW and from there go into Silver Efex or Color Efex. Gradation will add some shadow noise but on the new sensor I don't find it objectionable and noise reduction software like Nik Dfine will take care of most of it if desired.

    It may well be that I will ultimately use the RAW file, but these are the best jpeg files that I have seen so far (never having used a Fuji, of course).
     
  12. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I have had one chance to use the camera during daylight hours, albeit only when going for a walk at work during lunchtime. To me the E-M5 seems better at handling extremes of exposure and subtleties in tones compared to the Panasonic GH1 which has until now been measured as having the best dynamic range amongst Micro 4/3 cameras. Added to that, the GH1's jpeg engine compresses the DR terribly and it needs to be shot in RAW, whereas all these E-M5 images were developed from jpegs.



    M Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3




    Lumix G 20mm f1.7 Pancake



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    Leica 25mm f1.4 DG Summilux



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    Leica 25mm f1.4 DG Summilux



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    Lumix G 20mm f1.7 Pancake



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    M Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3



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    M Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3



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    Leica 25mm f1.4 DG Summilux
     
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  13. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    Great photos Nic. They are very similar to your G1X photos, except for the photos with a shallower DOF.
     
  14. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Thanks, Armando. The images coming off the sensor of each camera are quite close. Both seem to have very light AA filters, have quite pleasant noise patterns, but the Oly probably just pulls in front for it's ability to handle extremes of highlights and shadows. For overall image quality I am very pleased with both cameras.
     
  15. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I should note have read this thread. I've been holding out for (hopefully) the new sensor in an EPM2. I'm assuming there would be no 5 axis IBIS. These shots are convincing me I might want BOTH an EM5 and an EPM1. Nice shots.
     
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  16. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    Nice shots, Nic!

    :biggrin: Yeah, I was holding out just fine until the camera store told me my preorder was in... there went the plan to wait for a new E-P4/5.

    I am liking the E-M5 quite a bit so far. I have used the VF a bit more than I thought I would, but I am really loving the tilt screen. I do think that I will end up wanting something that is a bit smaller, so I am also excited to see what Oly does with the new PEN line. It would be tough to give up the high ISO performance now that I have the E-M5, especially when I would take the compact kit out a bit more for evenings out, etc.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Did I read correctly Nic, that these are processed from JPEGs? Wow, the pixels seem to hold up well to pretty heavy abuse. I have a pretty heavy hand in post and I'm quite amazed how clean they look. And the noise that's there seems more pleasant.

    Is it possible for a JPEG from particular camera to be more forgiving than one from another camera? Or do I sound like an idiot? Maybe, if it's cleaner to start with? Nic, only you could answer in regards to what you are seeing since you are more intimate with the kind of processing you do, but perhaps other pixel-peep-aholics can weigh in with their opinions on that concept in general.
     
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  18. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Bill, for quite a while there I had the exact same thoughts as you; let the E-M5 go, hold out for when the Pens pick up the new sensor. In the end I changed my mind although the path will sound a little convoluted. After I bought the Canon G1X I decided that all my existing Canon DSLR gear was pretty much obsolete compared to the latest compact, large sensor cameras. I took my Canon 500D + 17-55mm f2.8 down with me for a short trip to Sydney and I know that with the G1X I would have done at least as good a job and probably better. Following that decision, which will free up a lot of space and more importantly money, I also wanted to update my Micro 4/3 gear since it will become my only camera system alongside the G1X.

    The E-M5 isn't cheap but there is still a lot of value inside it. I'm super pleased that Olympus has come out with a camera that has really delivered everything that was expected of it and more. The IBIS and the IQ are really beyond my expectations, and you'd expect that maybe later this year there will be a tiny E-PM2 that will be an absolute giant killer, even more than the current one. I do wonder though if there will continue to be three different Pen models. With the E-M5 available it may be prudent for Olympus to merge the E-P and E-PL lines into one. From the bits and pieces I've read I also gather that the new IBIS may not filter down (or physically fit) into smaller Pen body but that's something that we'll have to wait and see.
     
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  19. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Hi Luke

    Yes, that's correct about the jpegs. I've since downloaded the DNG Convertor and am trying the RAW files but I'm not really seeing much difference between the two yet. Oly has always had a reputation for good jpegs but they would still compress the dynamic range to achieve good contrast. If you've still got your E-P3 you'll see on the Super Control Panel there is an option caller "Gradation" which is essentially a dynamic range expansion for jpegs if set to Auto. You'll excuse me if my technical terminology is all wrong but as well as boosting the highlights and shadows it also applies some kind of "micro contrast" so the images don't look all washed out. On the 12MP Pens I don't think that this suited the characteristics of the sensor because it would produce siginificant shadow noise. On the E-M5 the Auto Gradation is doing the same job but working with a higher DR sensor that has less inherent noise and more pleasant noise patterns, which means the shadows look much better compared to the Pens.

    So by using Gradation, the OOC jpeg and the RAW file that I would apply a preset to and export out of ACR contain basically the same shadow and highlight data, but the jpegs have a contrastier look because they have more shadow definition/noise. The OOC jpegs are giving me what seems to be close to the full dynamic range of the sensor which I can then choose to retain or compress. If I want to compress the DR and apply more overall contrast to the image using a tone curve, the shadow noise will start to disappear as the shadows get darker. From that, I figure that unless I find something amazing in the RAW files I could easily use the OOC jpegs as long as I haven't significantly under/overexposed or got the white balance wrong. So far the AWB seems to be spot on. I should add that I haven't used the Auto Gradation at night yet, and it may well be that the shadow noise becomes too much.

    That was a fairly wordy explanation but I hope that I made sense :smile:
     
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  20. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Hi Nic,

    That's what I was figuring. I didn't need or care about the 5 Axis IBIS. I have to get along without IBIS in my EPM1 anyway. But, reading more about just how revolutionary it is, I could see it for video, for night shots, and especially for helping with telephoto. Even if the shutter speed is OK for the shot, just framing on the long of end a telelphoto with the EPM1 is tricky.

    Thanks for the write-up!

     
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