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Thread: Olympus OMD-EM5

  1. #1

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    Olympus OMD-EM5

    Has anyone ever used an Olympus OMD-EM5 digital camera? Your thoughts?

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Oh, I use one every day, and I really like it. Like any other digital camera, it has a few quirks and twists, some of them utterly pleasing, others not so much. The user interface, including buttons and menu system, is hairy, to say the least. I'd guess nobody would ever learn it all, and it might take a few months to come at grips with it so that it won't be an obstacle between you and the picture. Of course, for someone that won't bother of esoteric things as tilt, manually focusing or frequent switching between viewfinder and screen for viewing images afterward, it would seem as just any other camera of its kind.

    The first thing that I ran into was its very limited tilt of the screen, as I came from a Panasonic that could put it in the most awkward positions, even pointing straight ahead, which is a boon if you take yourself. It's still a turnoff, but can be lived with. Another was the fact that the eye sensor that switches between screen and viewfinder also will set the camera to taking pictures, so in order to chimp the image in the viewfinder, it must be turned off. This still is an annoyance, but it's the way it is. And did I mention that the menu system is hairy?

    Then the brighter side of it. The camera can be heavily personalised in a way no other can. So many of the buttons may be dedicated to do other things than they put them to from start, although in restricted ways. But after doing all your own settings, you might need a notebook to remember the changes you made, not only to remember what each button now does, but also in order to undo or change into something else, without dedicating multiple buttons for the same thing, wasting interface possibilities. Once you get your own ways with the camera, it becomes a cooperative tool for your imagination.

    And as you can adapt it in so many ways, for us who use the camera, no two are the same.

    A feature I learned to love is the touch screen and setting focus rectangle with it for manual focusing or auto, as well as using it for releasing without budging the camera as is almost always done when using the button. In some situations, the lightning fast operation of setting focus and releasing from the touch screen beats everything I have encountered in cameras before. It is an entirely new and extremely useful feature, which we never had before. For the kind of shooting I do, particularly some small wildlife, it is truly revolutionary. It is also very comfortable when tilting, in order to set critical focus at various points within the scene.

    So, it took a while getting used to, but it is a malleable tool that can answer many different desires. Part of getting used to it is to hone your own desires, discard what you don't need and take forth what you'll want to use. Frankly, there is no other camera like it, none comes even close when it comes to useful features and what you can adapt. The only features that I miss on it now is focus peaking and a more flexible rear screen.

    Technically, it is near the top of the line, its dynamic range beaten only by some of the very best sensors (none of them Canon). If you feel dependent on high dynamic range, Pentax and a few Nikon models, as well as some Sony models have an edge over it.

    Feature-wise, there are many features that are the only of its kind, as Live Bulb and Live Time, which are very useful for night shooting. The only one that Olympus missed seems to be focus peaking. You can make a personalised kind of focus peaking with art filters, but it's not that attractive really.

    My opinion is that they put too much into art filters and other things that I won't ever use, and that they give too little control over video, where you are obliged to use an automatic mode, even if it is very good, I feel limited by it. A choice of firmwares where one thing could be swapped for another, would have been fine, but we're not there. I would have preferred to be without all the art filters and have fully manual control over video, and a focus peaking function would be worth gold.

    Anyway, in total, it is a very good tool for image making, but the hairy user interface may give you a few more gray hairs before it becomes an extension to your vision.

  3. #3
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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkanyezi View Post
    The only features that I miss on it now is focus peaking and a more flexible rear screen.
    Apparently there's a way to get a sort of focus peaking on the OM-D through one of the art filters.
    http://www.mu-43.com/f92/focus-peaki...-d-e-m5-35442/

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Quote Originally Posted by Sponge View Post
    Apparently there's a way to get a sort of focus peaking on the OM-D through one of the art filters.
    http://www.mu-43.com/f92/focus-peaki...-d-e-m5-35442/
    I did mention that, didn't I?
    Quote Originally Posted by Inkanyezi View Post
    You can make a personalised kind of focus peaking with art filters, but it's not that attractive really.
    If you see how it looks and the other features it disables, and just how hairy a way it is to kick it in and out, you'd know it is if not entirely useless, more like a peculiarity.

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Oops, I somehow missed that! Well, at least the link's there in case anyone wants to try it.

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Hello Urban,

    Thank you very much for sharing so much of your user experience with this camera. Everything you pointed out was helpful. I have two questions. What do you mean by "hairy"? I want to make sure I know what you mean - though I think I can figure it out from context. Sorry. Also, I noticed this camera's ISO does not go down to 100. Does that present any kinds of issues for you? Oops - here's a third question: what size lenses are you using?

    There's a favorite place I venture off to here in Alaska in March where bald eagles visit. One day, I counted 27 - on the ground and in the trees and in flight. What size of lens do you think I'd want on this camera to get nice pictures of the eagles. My distance from them ranges from about 28 -80 meters. Of course, some are still and some are moving.

    Thanks for your help,
    Anita

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    I bought one after using 2 Pens. It's unusual for me to buy cameras this quickly but decided to go this way rather than upgrade a 300D. I made a very quick post here.

    Some quick OMD Shots

    John
    -

  8. #8

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Oh, by "hairy" in this case, I mean that there are so many options as to bewilder, and it is not easy to revisit, as I can hardly remember exactly where in this many-layered system of menus exactly that option might reside. Then there are a few options that you won't find at all in the menu, but might find by pressing a certain button for longer than normal time. Other buttons too have one function when "clicked", another when pressed for somewhat longer. I rather soon lost the "super control panel", but I don't miss it, so I won't try to find it again (good riddance?), but nothing of that is self-explanatory. The manual has to be referred to many times before getting used to the camera, and to make things even more difficult, when you start changing the options, it is easy to lose track of what you actually did, so you might have to reset it to factory settings and start over if you get lost. Been there, done that.

    I don't know exactly what lens you would fancy for those eagles, but I guess that it would be in the region of very long, say at least 400 mm. There is nothing in that range for 4/3 so far, but lots of legacy glass that can be adapted, and it should work well if you won't need the quick AF. Focusing on the screen or in the viewfinder is not difficult, and the stabilisation works with any lens although it forces you to set it to a suitable focal length when using legacy lenses. I have shot hand held with 400 mm at 1/80 second with reasonably sharp results. I'd suggest a good long lens and a converter of good quality. The 400 is a tad short for a heron at about 40 m distance, so I guess you might need longer if you cannot get closer. You won't find 4/3 lenses longer than 300 yet.

    And the ISO problem is solved, just look at DxOMark. ISO settings read about one full stop more than actual ISO. So when you set it to 200 it is in fact 100. It's not really an issue. Dynamic range then is sligthly over 12 full steps.

    And my most used lenses are 14-45 and 45-200 both 4/3 Panasonic lenses, then Olympus Pen F 38/1.8, Carl Zeiss Planar 50/1.4, Tamron SP 17/3.5 and Pentacon 29/2.8, the latter two with tilt adapter, and for macro my present favourite is a Rodenstock Trinar 50/3.5. I also use the Carl Zeiss 35/2.8 with a macro teleconverter from Vivitar, as well as a Fujinon 55/1.8. So far I have only tried my old long legacy lenses to see if they are usable, and sharpness is considerably better with the OM-D than it was with the Panasonic, mostly due to its supreme image stabilisation.

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye View Post
    Has anyone ever used an Olympus OMD-EM5 digital camera? Your thoughts?
    Hi Anita,

    I have an Olympus OMD-EM5 camera since May 2012, and I have absolute no problems at all with the camera, I had the manual printed out by a printer, and I understood all the menus in the space of about one week, so I am often quite a bit baffeld if people complaining about the menu of the camera.......

    I shoot all my photos with "A " ( Aperture ) and use all my Panasonic 4/3 system on the Olympus camera without any problems, 20mm, 14-45mm, 45-200mm, 100-300mm and also the leica macro 45mm lens.....

    I also own the Fuji X100 camera, but shoot mostly with the Olympus E-M5, I love this camera !

    Griddi.......

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Of course, if you do not care much for choosing your own focusing spot, and if you don't focus manually a lot, and if you don't personalise the camera to a high degree and also not use a lot of legacy glass, but only 4/3 lenses, then the user interface might not constitute a problem. Some people don't change a lot options, and then there won't be many problems with the interface.

    But for example, something that is not pointed out very clearly, and not as easily assessed as for example on the Panasonic cameras, is the focusing spot and how to enlarge it for manual focusing. It is not well explained in the manual, and it cannot be applied without first setting a button to actually do the enlargement. And I don't talk about the square pattern on the screen with some rather large spots, but the one that you may create yourself and adjust its size and also move freely around the screen. When it is activated, it is green, whether the camera is focused or not, and the AF system will use it when it is green. To use it manually, a button must be "clicked", and actuating this button for somewhat longer will make it disappear. Again clicking the same button will take it forth, and another click enlarges the focusing spot. The rear wheel changes function when the focusing spot is enlarged, it alters the size of the spot, which can be made rather small or very large. Those functions are used a lot when you use legacy glass, and you'll be forced to legacy glass if you need more than 300 mm focal length.

    The touch screen also has some quirks that are not well explained in the manual. To the left, you have the "button", where you change states of touch from focusing only, to focusing and shooting, and then to no touch at all, whereupon the button disappears in short time. To call it forth again, you have to press the "info" button. The "info" button is the one that walks you through the display options that you have chosen. When in touch mode, you have an enlargement scale to the right, and if it is hidden, there is a button at the right bottom corner to call it forth. With that scale, you may change the size of the focusing spot. Logically, the highest number is the smallest spot - and when using enlargement, the number is of course the enlargement of the same.

    So there are several different touch modes, and the screen changes skin as a chameleon. To lock focus after AF-focusing with touch, the only option I have found is to switch to manual focusing, a function to which one of the buttons can be dedicated. Nothing of all that is included in the user interface from start, and it is not well explained in the manual. But of course the AF locks simply when you half-press the release button in normal AF mode, so it's again not much of a problem when just snapping away. However, occasionally, you might want to critically focus with AF and then lock focus. Then one of the buttons must be dedicated to switch to MF if you want to assess that function conveniently.

    And of course, changing the function of each and every button to a dedicated function will wreak havoc with the factory settings. The time I had to revert to factory settings was when I wanted to try the art filter way of getting peak focusing. Most of the art filters were disabled, because of some setting I had done. Nothing at all explained in the manual about that. They were just disabled, so they could not be chosen, and the mode I wanted to set was gone gone gone. It's not in the manual, found out the hard way.

  11. #11
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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    DPREVIEW sum it up as.

    Good for :
    A wide variety of photography, particularly if you spend the time configuring it to your needs.

    Not so good for:
    Photography of moving subjects - the only area where it falls significantly behind a good DSLR.

    The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is certainly the most capable Micro Four Thirds camera we've reviewed and arguably the most likeable mirrorless model yet. It falls down a little bit on its continuous focusing but we have no absolutely no complaints about the image quality. It's small, attractive and a pleasure to use, and its pictures are equally enjoyable.

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    I get round the slow follow focus by not using it ! Pan moving subjects and then shoot. No problems so far but I have seen signs of a tendency to focus on the near side rather than into it. To get round that on the Pen's I have taken a going to crop this shot a bit and try to get the focus square somewhere suitable. This has worked on the OM but not many shots due to weather around here of late.

    I'm not keen on the 45-200mm it's too soft at the 200mm end but beats the Olympus Pen 40-150mm at 150. I would be inclined to buy the Pen lens to fill a hole when needed and go for the panasonic 100-300mm. I feel that one will crop fairly heavily at 300mm maybe to twice it's focal length for web shots of moderate rather than small size.

    I may not be fair on my comparison of the Pen 14-42mm and the 12-50mm. More pixels on the OM. The 14-42mm will definitely take 100% resolution crop shots for the web used on 12mp. I haven't tried it on the OM yet. Wouldn't surprise me if the 12-50 suffers the more than 3:1 problem though and just can't give excellent resolution through out the range. Few over 3:1 do and the invariably suffer at the long end.

    There is a good dpreview article called something like get the most out of the om em5 that is worth a read and trying including the super menu. I set the camera up in "Pen mode" plus easy access to iso but after reading that I think they are correct along with with easy iso access. Ideally the needed controls should be available with the viewfinder in use but why not use the super menu when it isn't. I suspect these cameras also have the touch screen, focus on that area and shoot. A rather interesting option in some situations actually.

    I shoot these cameras in P mode as a spin of the wheel sets what I actually want if it needs changing. The only problem has been no way to get at manual iso on the Pens but on the other hand auto iso makes more variation in P mode available. A or S priority?. P mode can bend things either way so that is what I generally use also full manual.

    I program one button for manual focus and another for exposure lock. Indispensable in my view. The focus lock actually switches to manual focus so a twitch of the focus ring allows that to be checked where it may be needed. I use the movie button for one of these functions as it's easy to get at.

    Manually focusing manual lenses to pixel level is great fun on all of these types of cameras. A min mag of 7x is needed on Pen's for really reliable focusing. There just isn't enough pixels in the viewfinder so at a 1x view it's pure guess work.

    Complex menu options - good idea as they don't have to be used if some one can't be bothered to get into them. I have noticed certain settings disappearing from Pens. I suspect a full reset is needed to get them back. This smells of dubious software really but on the other hand there are rather a lot of variations. Some may conflict so it may be a sign of good software - but I have my doubts.

    John
    One day most cameras may be like these - that would upset some. The really silly thing in my view is 16mp on a sensor of that size. Being realistic about optics make me think that even 12 is border line.
    -

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Hi Urban

    when reading your comments about the E - M5 Olympus it seems to me, that you perhaps make the camera unnecessary complicated for yourself ?

    I mean I have set the camera in the menu to the setting which I using the most, and any other settings which I like to use from time to time, I can change in 1 min. in the super menu.......

    I also can move the green focus square anyway I like without any problem, perhaps you have set the camera from the start not completly right ?

    BTW the Olympus E - M5 was voted in Dpriew best camera of 2012......

    Regards,
    Griddi.......

  14. #14

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    Re: Olympus OMD-EM5

    Quote Originally Posted by just me View Post
    Hi Urban

    when reading your comments about the E - M5 Olympus it seems to me, that you perhaps make the camera unnecessary complicated for yourself ?

    I mean I have set the camera in the menu to the setting which I using the most, and any other settings which I like to use from time to time, I can change in 1 min. in the super menu.......

    I also can move the green focus square anyway I like without any problem, perhaps you have set the camera from the start not completly right ?

    BTW the Olympus E - M5 was voted in Dpriew best camera of 2012......

    Regards,
    Griddi.......
    Oh, not at all, I don't make it complicated, but simpler to use, faster, more convenient. I won't need the "super control panel", it is of no help to me. I work more intuitively, I won't have to look at anything, I use the buttons by touch, just as I type on the computer keyboard without looking at it. So in fact any change to settings I want to make, I can do it without looking at anything on the camera except what pops up in the actual viewfinder when I touch the button for it. What's sometimes annoying, or what I find unnecessarily clumsy, is that some options have to be cycled through, by touching a button repeatedly. Of course there are options that can be used by rotating the wheels, which is different, as the wheel works both ways, both left and right. But button controls with several functions have to be cycled through. For example, the touch button on the screen left, which must be cycled over inactive before again becoming a way to position the focusing spot. The focusing spot itself may be moved by the arrows when visible, but there you have one of the anomalies: When the pattern is used, the actual focusing points that find focus turn green. OTOH, when using a specific spot, whether from the pattern or personal, it is green all the time and won't change, whether in focus or not. This is counter-intuitive. It would be better to have the active spot some other colour and turning green when focus is found, instead of having a green spot in upper right corner of the screen or viewfinder. I.e. you have to direct your attention to the upper right corner when half-pressing, to check that the camera finds focus, then again look back at the scene in the viewfinder, while it would have been more logical to keep attention to the spot where you want it to set focus. If used with two different colours, it could also have had focus confirmation, when using legacy glass or focusing manually with dedicated lenses.

    And other options that must be cycled through are the ones you get by the info button. Then the various options for personalising other buttons are not straight-forward. Buttons should work more or less in the same way, and controls should be predictable, not change function at random, which is what is experienced for a power user of the camera. It's OK for me that you are content with the "super control panel", but it is nothing that I would have use for. I have the essential settings at my fingertips without looking. I set white balance by first touching right arrow, then rotating the rear wheel. If I want to set my own, my right thumb moves to info button, touches it and then I shoot my reference. It's all done without looking at any panel, and the relevant information pops up in the viewfinder or the screen as I use the buttons. If I want to change ISO, I touch down arrow and then use the wheel to set it - the wheel is more comfortable than the arrows, which can also be used. All that I need to do can be done without the control panel. For some options I press the OK button to call forth "live control", where it would have been nice to personalise it to options that I would use. As it is, it has several options that I regularly have to move through with the arrows before getting to one that I would use. Again, those options that I have at my fingertips should not be doubled there, so I'd like to have all of those personalised settings disabled from the "live control", as I want to use it only for other options, that are not so often used. And there is one option that really should be there, but isn't, bracketing.

    It is certainly not that I make it complicated, but I streamline it as far as possible for my own use. The "super control panel" is more or less useless for me, as it would depend on close vision to be used. For anyone playing around with the camera as a technical toy, it might be nifty, just a touch of a finger, and you're in this or that mode, but you lose it as soon as you use one of the options. The personalised buttons are supposed to work in a consistent way, in the same way each time. Unfortunately it is not exactly so, as some of them have schemes to cycle through, but in essence, all changes I do to the interface are to speed up my use of the camera for taking pictures. I am not interested in a "super control panel", I want to do anything I want to do as swiftly as possible, without even thinking of it, just as touch typing. I have a few settings that I want to get to fast and easy, by touch alone, without looking at anything else than the viewfinder/screen. I want to be able to control white balance, ISO, focusing, by touch alone. The super control is counter-productive, sets you back, because you must look at it and concentrate upon it to use it. I don't need to do that. I touch a control with a finger, and I immediately get at it, whichever one it is. I would have appreciated if some of the options could also be withdrawn when personalising, The only ones I would need the live control panel for would be bracketing, delay shutter and stabilisation mode. Any video related option should not be there if video mode is not chosen. Unusable options are only confusing and slow down work.

    So my complaints is that this little computer has been too much of a playstation for engineers and too little a tool for serious photography. The camera produces excellent files, and it can be personalised to a large degree, but fairly many of its bells and whistles do not help work. It would have been better to give the user more control over its functions, now that there anyway are so many way to personalise it. They are just too locked into a way of thinking that is not photography, but icons and cycling through options. Actually, it would be easy for any camera manufacturer to let the user personalise the camera by altering its firmware, where essential settings of button functions and disabling options could be done from a computer, to streamline camera functions to their actual usage. Ergonomically, all electronic cameras have quirks like this, they are in a way much worse ergonomically than old cameras ever were. Fifty years ago, you could take up any camera, no matter what make, and use it immediately. It had a few essential controls, and they never changed function. They were identical for all cameras, and even if the position of a control might be different, it was evident what it was supposed to do. Now, the controls change function at a whim, so the photographer won't know sometimes what will happen when a particular control function is used. It's trial and error many times, just as those buttons with functions that must be cycled through to get to the one you want.

    So it's not that I "make" it complicated. It is complicated, overly so.

    And probably it is one of the best cameras of last year; anyway its sensor beats all Canon sensors for dynamic range, and most of them at other points too. I won't regret getting it. As I said before, i have come to love some of its functions that are not available at other cameras. What annoys me is only those things that are not well thought out from a photographer's point of view. I don't want the camera in any way stand in my way when making pictures, I prefer it to be an adaptive tool to put my visualised image on a memory card with as little hassle as possible.
    Last edited by Inkanyezi; 12th January 2013 at 09:20 PM.

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