Right now I do my blogging while riding on the train. I write a few posts, schedule them one per day, and since I’ve been doing it that way, I have hardly ever been late again. It takes a lot of stress out of blogging, and unfortunately it also takes away some spontaneity.
You may remember the post about the weight penalty of lenses that have to cover APS-C or bigger sensors. I wrote that “at the moment” Fuji has all the buzz, but when you finally read the post, Olympus had already announced their new flagship camera OM-D EM-1, a true Micro Four Thirds camera and also the successor to their Four Thirds line of DSLRs. In the meantime I suppose everybody has read everything about that camera and everybody has already come to a conclusion. Here is mine:
I won’t buy it.
Yes, Robin Wong showed some very impressive examples for how good the 5-axis stabilization has become.
OK, he used the big, heavy Olympus 7-14 mm lens at its widest (wider and heavier is always easier to hold) and I have only tried my light Olympus 9-18 mm, but while he claims to have been able to repeatably hold shutter speeds below 1 second, I can’t repeatably hold half a second. Yes, out of between two to four attempts I normally get a tack sharp shot and that’s perfectly OK for my usage, but half a second is kind of a magic border that I’ve never been able to cross, regardless of camera, regardless of stabilization type, regardless of focal length. Half a second has always been a wall to crash in.
If the EM-1 is really able to give access to one second and beyond (and I have no reason not mistrust Robin), then it improves upon the EM-5 in a regard that is very important to me. It’s still not important enough though.
What else could tempt me? Obviously I would enjoy the new viewfinder. I am not unhappy with the one in the EM-5, but as regards viewfinders, bigger can really only be better, so this is a no-brainer.
The integrated grip makes changing batteries easier, the camera looks gorgeous to me (though many people even have been shocked! Shocked!!), it is hardly bigger or heavier than the EM-5 with landscape grip (that I always use), it has focus peaking (that I haven’t ever missed), and in general the consensus seems to be a high-ISO improvement of about one stop.
Well, the reference images on Imaging Resource’s “Comparometer” speak another verdict. Try it for yourself:
Choose the EM-1 on the left and the EM-5 on the right. Scroll both frames down to the image with the caption “Still-life 1600”. Now open each in a separate browser tab, click each through to the full size, scroll the images to the same part, and then switch between the tabs.
I see no difference in image quality. What tiny differences there are, would even slightly favor the EM-5, but they are so small that they can be attributed to slightly different focusing.
A mistake? Wrong pictures? Maybe, but unlikely. At least the EXIF data says EM-1 / ISO 1600 in one case and EM-5 / ISO 1600 in the other.
A scandal? A new camera not better than one that is one year old? Rubbish. The EM-5’s image quality is perfectly fine for the sensor size. People may have expected another improvement, but I didn’t. Neither is it needed. The next generation, a year or two down the road will bring that anyway, and in every other possible aspect Olympus has delivered.
And I still don’t buy it.
You know me, my first impulse was to sell the EM-5, the battery grip, finally sell the D300 and the remaining Sigma 28/1.8, and use the money to buy the EM-1 body.
Or even throw 700€ more in and get the 12-40/2.8 kit lens as well? Isn’t that a gorgeous lens indeed? Finally the zoom that we all have waited for. I know how much I enjoyed the Tamron 17-50/1.8 VC on my Nikon. This would be the same focal range, the lens gets rave reviews, its semi-macro close focusing capability would exactly fit my style and … and …
And then? What about next year? An EM-6? EM-whatever? Another incremental improvement? Will I shell out another 2000€? And then?
You see, if I had all the money in the world, yes, I would certainly upgrade from the EM-5 to the EM-1, and an upgrade it undoubtedly is. Even in my current financial situation, it certainly itches, but I can’t afford every incremental upgrade. Actually I could afford the camera, but there’s more.
My laptop is a few years old and my combined requirements for light weight, processing power, main memory and display quality will put the eventually necessary replacement in the range above 1000€.
My Samsung Galaxy S2 is obviously ancient as smartphones go, my Nexus 7 tablet is of the first generation, my desktop computers in Vienna and Villach could be faster and … and … you see?
I won’t buy the EM-1. At least I think so right now 😀
The Song of the Day is “Right Now” from the stunningly beautiful Mark Knopfler / Emmylou Harris collaboration “All The Roadrunning”. Not my favorite song on the album, but the best title for this post. Hear it on YouTube.