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Wednesday, 08 February 2012

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Hallelujah! Looks like Olympus has come up with the Zuikoholic's fantasy: An OM-style camera with state-of-the-art digi-tech. "Small and light"? OK by me--one of the reasons I fell for the OM cameras. Not stylish enough? Looks pretty good to me. Price ain't bad at all, either....

As long as I can use my E-series lenses on it (and it looks like that's the case), I think this camera is in my future.

Glad to see Olympus still in the game and coming out with a seriously innovative product, in spite of the recent troubles...

Thanks for the review. I suspect this camera will functionally be much like the Panasonic G3 or GX1 in terms of usability and IQ. The weather sealing and better follow-focus would be welcome, as is the IS.

What I think you'll really be paying your money for is the retro look, but I agree that the stylists somewhat misfired. I think the camera would have looked much better if they'd simply squared it off over the Olympus logo on the front. (And from reading other reviews, I think that could have been done -- the peak doesn't serve much in terms of function.)

The accessories are somewhat, but not too, interesting. To tell the truth, if you can get 600 or 700 shots from one battery, an accessory battery holder doesn't add much, IMHO.

Then there's the price. The Panasonic G3 sells for $599.99 at B&H, so you could get one and two-thirds G3s for the price of the Oly. I'm not sure if weather sealing is better than two cameras (but it might be.)

An odd fact that I found while looking up the G3 price at B&H - a black G3 kit (with lens) costs $599.88, eleven cents less than the body-only, which is priced at $599.99. On the other hand, the red body kit (no other difference) costs $100 more. WTF?

Every time I see this impressive Olympus system photo I have to point out it's a little misleading. I count 6 redundant lenses, differing primarily in color and finish but otherwise 95% identical to the one it is sitting next to.

Nice sleight of hand, Olympus!

A lot of people will be comparing it to the G3.

The advantages of the OM-D:
- IBIS (huge... if it functions as advertise. 5 stops!)
- OLED!! the 3" viewer in the back
- OLED!! again the EVF seems to be OLED?

Also, it comes in SILVER ;-) matching the Oly-12/2, Oly-45/1.8 AND Oly-75/1.8!

I think OM-D could make a fantastic 3-lens kit. 12/2 (24mm), 25/1.4 (50mm) & 45/1.8 (90mm). It's this what we've all been waiting for?

Thanks for these insights/impressions, which I haven't read anywhere else....So it was fun the read your post!

I'm a GH2 fan and haven't yet seen any images comparing camera size of GH2 v. OM5,though there have been a few comparing the G3 and OM5 size. I'm looking forward to seeing that comparison.

Peter F

John, the 'peak' houses electronics for the EVF. Olympus added so much more stabilization-related hardware that they had to push some other bits up under their hat, so to speak.

I could be wrong, but it would seem that many people, especially old guys like me, would buy into m4:3 because with adapters they can use all their legacy lenses. That would be a key feature for me, even with the 2X crop penalty. So the question comes down to; can you rapidly and consistently achieve accurate focus with the provided EVF when using manual focus lenses. It would be interesting to test this ability on the Panasonic G3 vs the OM-D. As a longtime OM user I am ambivalent about the aesthetics. When introduced, m4:3 borrowed styling from the 1960's Pen F. Now they are harking back to the OM? I for one would have been content to see a flat topped camera about the size and thickness of the original Pen F with a high resolution and quick refresh EVF in the same place as my Pen F. I was disappointed when the E-P1 arrived without such a viewfinder. Perhaps a good built in EVF just wasn't ready yet. The price might come down a little with time but that is no sure bet. It is out of my range, house needs a new roof first. But I might swing a used E-PL1 and VF-2. With lens adapters the whole rig would be under $500 and I could use any of my collection of OM mount and Pen F mount Zuikos, not to mention the odd Takumar in M42 I've picked up now and again. That is a very appealing prospect.

Q: How do you make a bunch of photographers pay through the nose for a viewfinder?

A: Make them do without one for 2 1/2 years!

Congratulations Olympus!

Cheers! Jay

THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR, THANK YOU SO MUCH OLYMPUS. The peak is idiotic though, who the hell liked those anyway.

100% sure I'll buy this! Still using my OM-4.

Maybe "the peak doesn't serve much in terms of function" but the slightly higher hotshoe will hold a flashgun further from the axis of the lens. That strikes me as a plus.


And it has an on-off switch. Wonderful!

Eamon, is this the multi-aspect sensor Panasonic uses in its high-end cameras?

Not blown away with this offering, was blown away by the Fuji X1 Pro. I think the price point is not important, as a 30 year pro I have never needed a waterproof camera so that is not important to me. I had a film OM and it was a jewel of a camera, still own it with my fave 35 on it. This new one looks clunky with a rear screen that is too big.

I will be buying this camera, for me it ticks all the boxes I need(and want).

Mike I want to be sure to do it thru your site, does that still work in the "pre-order" mode?

Sorry for this bad joke, but if the "OM" is "Oh my", if this new camera really is sensational, shouldn't it be the "OM-G".

I preordered it from B&H, then remembered that I hadn't linked from TOP, so I went back and cancelled and re-preordered through your link.

Heartily agree with Eamon's comments about the styling.

@ Tim F -- I'm sure what you say is correct, that they needed more space, but one of the large photo-review sites (probably DPR, but I don't have the patience to re-find it) said that much of the height can be attributed to the fact that Oly put some port connections up there that, in other cameras, come off the side.

@ David - Couldn't they have made the flash a half-inch taller?

Smaller than an OM-1:

OM-D 122x89X43 (without lens) 425g

OM-1 136mm x 83mm x 81mm w/ 50mm 680g.

Eamon, you hit the nail. I look at this camera's photos, then look at my E-P1; and you know what? The E-P1 looks better. And this from a guy who considers the OM-1 one of the most beautiful cameras ever made.
On the other hand, I'm sure this is a step forward in terms of image quality. And, as someone remarked above, I am starving for an Olympus m4/3 with a built-in viewfinder. This camera divides me in two.

I'm surprised (well, maybe not) at the number of folks who nitpick this camera before actually using it. I remember all the nitpicks over the OM-1 when it was introduced; yeah, I'm old enough. That was just before it "went viral", to put it in today's terms.

And the new Olympus E-M5 allows you to shoot in a 6x6 aspect for the medium format look!!

Hmmm...I don't like this for the same reason Mike doesn't like the Leica M9. Retro styling alone does not make a retro inspired camera. Paring down control buttons and pruning menus down to the absolute essentials does. So does a measure of smooth and continuous control over adjustments through the judicious use of dials or wheels.

OM-D Revolution I: In Bulb Mode (Long Time Exposure) you can watch the screen while exposure and stop when you see the exposure is right! (i think since TTL and AF the first real revolution in photography.

OM-D Revolution II: The 5 axis IS - you can walk while video filming without a steadycam tripod.

Other:
- although there is a build in Viewfinder you can use VF-2 viewfinder, if you want to frame TLR-like :)

- with Grip 7 programmable FN Buttons!

- One of them with live Tone Curve adjustement for shadows and highlights (via thr wheels)

-new flash F600R works also as a light for video!

Congrats Olympus!
Cheers XebstYan

I thought it looked rather clunky; like 1970s renderings of design concepts that aren't quite thought through.

They make some quite strong claims about AF ability. As a D700 owner I have rather high standards there, we'll have to see how reviewers try to measure that.

But Hallelujah! for somebody finally putting a screen you can adjust on a higher-end model.

And whaddya mean "your father's OM-4T"? :-) (I had a pair of those from 1987 to 1994, when I noticed AF was viable and discovered it was useful for me.)

Seems like a reasonably well thought-out camera. I am sure the image quality will in some respects be better than the EP3, but I don't expect any significant difference from the G3 or GH2. So we'll have a nice body (if it's what you like / need) and some pretty good images. The design - particularly controls and IBIS, may be useful to some in actually capturing the shot, so that is always nice. The price seems good too.

The 'but' for me is that I can't help feeling that the output will not match the positioning of the camera, at least for me.

The Nex 7, and likely the new Fuji, are closer to my needs.

While the Olympus system image is a bit deceptive, it would be less so if it was a full µFT portrait, including Panasonic's offerings.

Here's a link that provides a very good size comparison between the EM-5 and the old Oly E-420. The differences are there but surprisingly small. At least to me.

http://camerasize.com/compare/#289,206

>said that much of the height can be attributed to the fact that Oly put some port connections up there that, in other cameras, come off the side.<

There is an accessory port on the back of the hump and just below the hot shoe. It is the same arraignment that the E-P2 and E-PLx have, so all the current accessories such as the Macro Arm light, Bluetooth adapter, and any new goodies they come up with (GPS, WiFi,?) can be used. This includes mounting a current VF-2 or VF-3 to peer down in to. ;-)

BTW, the Penpal Bluetooth adapter is shown mounted on the middle body and the Macro Arm LED and Ext. Stereo Mic are at the top left corner of the photo. You can also see them here:

http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_pen_accessories.asp

I only count 4 redundant lenses, JohnMFlores.

From back left:
70-30, 14-150, 40-150 (x2) (I could have these two switched), 9-18
14-42 (x2), 12-50 (x2), 75mm, 60mm macro, converters
17mm (x2), 45mm, 12mm

Am I missing a duplicate?

Even eliminating duplicates, between Olympus and Panasonic, there'll be well over 20 different lenses available by the end of the year for Micro Four Thirds. That's pretty impressive.

I'm hankering for a digital that looks like a Topcon DM. God, i could shoot great pictures with a camera that looked like that! This retro-fetishism is just getting sillier. Something else for us Boomers to throw our money at.

pretty neat. I'm not in the market for this type of camera, but it's great to see all the new options as of late, and to see serious consideration being put into making these smaller cameras seriously functional. I'm the type of person who has a camera on my shoulder every day, and weather sealing means a lot to me. glad to see olympus stepping up. now, how's the IQ?

On the face of it, this could be the travel camera that I've been looking for and micro-4/3 has been promising but failing to deliver.
And if that's a fivre-optic trigger module I see there, could also become the resonable sized underwater outfit I desire.

This would have been the bomb 6 months ago, but the Panasonic GX1 already ticks off all the important boxes, except IBIS. As a former user if the OM-4Ti it does tickle my fancy a bit, and I won't say it may not reside in my house sooner or later, but in all honesty, the GX1 is so damn capable, and smaller, and with a little OVF like the Voigtlander 28-35 mini so perfect for the troika of pancakes we have to choose from, that....... this one seems like a luxury that I can do without for a moment at least.

Mike, you have to do a GX1 review or guest comment or something. The thing is SO good at what it does it's sinful. I never thought the GF1 was going to be anything but diluted, but the GX1 does it one better and then some.

Andy

I suspect Oly will uncork a fairly large pent-up demand for a µ4/3 body avec IBIS, EVF, OLED and weatherproofing. The host of improved specs are most welcome, of course, even if the ISO range sounds fanciful in the extreme.

I just dialed up an E-P3+14-42 kit lens+VF2 and darned if it wasn't $1,120. Seems as though the new camera will hit the proverbial pricing nail on the head.

Good times.

I am getting really, really tired of the retromania of the camera industry. Now that we finally have systems with good enough EVFs that dispense of mirrors, and it took a while, we still can not get over the traditional looks the thing must have. The Pens, the Fuji Xes... Not everyone is an ageing baby boomer... Ageing Gen-Xer here: how about cameras emulating mid 80's Maxxum looks? [/sarcasm off]

All the while, is there any technology to take away your breath? The updates bring Olympus closer to the state of the art of mirrorless (arguably between GH2 and NEX-7, depending on your priorities, and some neat features are missing, like focus peaking). All solid tech for sure but I don't see a decisive advantage here and I really resent needless retro. Another good camera that doesn't make me want it.

The most honest design these days, form follows function wise, is somewhere between a Panasonic G/H/x and the industrial charm of a Ricoh GXR.

Miserere wrote:
Eamon, is this the multi-aspect sensor Panasonic uses in its high-end cameras?

To answer my own question: No, it isn't. What a shame!

"Mike I want to be sure to do it thru your site, does that still work in the 'pre-order' mode?"

Paul,
Yes! Thanks.

"I preordered it from B&H, then remembered that I hadn't linked from TOP, so I went back and cancelled and re-preordered through your link."

Bill,
You da man. Thanks also.

Mike

Steve Biro, if you look at the view from above on this site you linked to:

http://camerasize.com/compare/#289,206

I think you will see that there's quite a difference.

I think that the folks at Pentax may be wondering now if the hump on the top of their K-01 should have had a viewfinder instead of a flashgun. If this Olympus takes off, and I think it will, perhaps the other makers will get the message about putting viewfinders into their cameras.

Looks nice, but:

- EVF seems to be plain LCD and not OLED (at least dpreview say so) - if so, it will not be a match for Sony's EVFs
- It is funny, but it's easier to put an old OM lens onto Sony than on OM-D (crop factor)
- The IQ will probably be a little step behind current APS-C offerings
- IS in body is great, but we shall see how it works in movie mode. Sony's SLT have sensor shift stabilization but do not use it in movie mode for two reasons - it overheats easily (for stills, the stabilization works only for a fraction of a second, for movies it must work for minutes) and because electronic version seems more effective for movies (but there is a price - image is cropped in movie mode)

Otherwise it looks great. I hope the EVF is OLED and the DR is really improved. I love the silver version :-)

"This retro-fetishism is just getting sillier."

"I am getting really, really tired of the retromania of the camera industry."

I see well-placed controls, improved ergonomics, potentially range topping IS performance, weather sealing ...

Hmmm ... Maybe I just got up on the right side of the bed.

And there's nothing "wrong" with retro styling; classic never goes out of style. No one is forcing anyone to buy it.

He is a link to an interesting video with Mr Terada of Olympus demonstrating some features with a working e-m5.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yutTntpDhE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

I admit I'm among the barbarians who prefer a compact zoom to a collection of prime lenses. Olympus of course has some excellent zoom lenses. Unfortunately, they're in the wrong format: 4/3. The good 4/3 lenses barely AF on my Pen E-PM1, and the response to Eamon's question doesn't give me much hope that the E-M5 is any better in that regard. Sigh.

It's not the full-frame I had hoped for. I hate not being able to control depth of field. The zooms are a joke with the sensor size.

Nobody is excited about the multiple function keys that you can program the way you want? The ability to watch the screen while doing a long exposure and see the exposure as it progresses? The tone curve adjustment? To me, these are much more interesting than the IS and weather sealing, tho those are welcome too.

John Camp: not sure if weather sealing is better than two cameras

You could get a chamois leather for ~$30 more than the cost of one camera, too. :)

Yea, the retro-look is starting to worry me. Who is the market?

Will Apple introduce a new and improved 2007-look iPhone when they run out of real ideas?

Not that this is not an attractive camera as far as specs go. And it is priced at the same level as the E-P3 which will thrill all those who just bought an E-P3 with the retro-2008 sensor. It is nice that it is weather-sealed, for sure. The hump on the right side for holding is nice; it should be better shaped for that than the orignal OMs. It would be really nice if the AF is as good as claimed---unlike that of the E-P3 which most certainly wasn't.

Still, I have no doubt it will be a hit. Had I not purchased an E-p3 recently, and had the company not pulled its shenanigans and gotten away with it, I would be taking a hard look.

It doesn't really look much like an OM, though. At least not the OM-1. I had an OM-1. I still have an OM-1. And this is no OM-1.

Regardless of what you think of this new offering, the big surprise is that Olympus was able to develop a new camera system. (yes system)! A few months ago they were on their death bed and we were waiting for Reuters to announce that they are no more. I'm just glad they are still in the game. This has to be good for everyone.

I keep seeing a silver OM-D with the 25mm Summilux on it and I get a similar feeling to the one I got when I saw the X-Pro 1 with its 35/1.4, only smaller and tinged with nostalgia for the OM-2 I used at the newspaper.

Maybe I'm just a sucker, but this aging Xer loves the aesthetics. Or maybe it's because I don't care for the blob that is a typical modern SLR, and still prefer older SLRs in this vein, with minimal grip and simple lines rather than curves and bulges. Modern SLRs leave me cold in much the same way as the anti-retro folks are responding to this.

There's a reason Nikon's FM/FE/EL/EM form factor endured as long as it did: it was highly functional, and its aesthetics were pleasing to the eye and hand. This isn't quite the same, but should come closer than any previous digital.

Regarding the pyramid: nothing wrong with a centre-mounted viewfinder, for the left-eye dominant among us.

As to comparison with the GX1: I see this new body ticking off way more boxes. Weather proofing, waist-level/low-angle friendly, EVF that can't get accidentally bumped off or snagged in the strap (and that isn't a $250 accessory likely to be orphaned next year), the new Bulb mode (a genuinely exciting feature IMO), stabilization.... And the re-programmable record button is a nice touch -- it's a completely wasted button on my GF1.

The fly in the ointment is the apparent kitchen-sink approach to the features. I have little experience with previous Olympus bodies, so I just hope it'll be reasonably easy for me to program the function buttons and avoid digging through menus.

What's with people complaining about the styling while missing the fact that this is the first mirrorless camera with a great EVF, tilting LCD, image stabilisation, weather-sealing, proper ergonomics (dual dial control, on/off switch, etc.), grip and so on... all in a small form factor at a reasonable price. The only camera to compare it to is the larger and more massive Pentax K-5, which no doubt has better IQ but locks you into K-mount (instead of supporting practically every lens mount ever invented).

Here's a link that provides a very good size comparison between the EM-5 and the old Oly E-420. The differences are there but surprisingly small. At least to me.

http://camerasize.com/compare/#289,206

The more things change ...

This camerasize.com site is great and really up to date. Thanks for the link.

The size (as far as I can tell without holding it) appears right and I like the chrome and the look-in-here viewfinder.

And it takes, I understand, OM-mount lenses with an adapter. Great!

But it's not full-frame — and that means I'll never buy one.

I'm still waiting for Nikon, Pentax, or Oly to come out with a small-size (D700 is too big), full-frame digital SLR that uses manual focus lenses. Until that appears, I'm keeping my film in good working order.

Damned. It seems to match all my wishes. Yes, I don't like the central fake pentaprism, would have preferred a lateral EVF (as I happen to have a nose between my eyes). But this drawback is unfortunately too weak be a show-stopper. So Mike, please get ready with the Amazon.it link. If the sensor will be proven to be good enough, I fear I will not resist.

The digital age started for me in 2004 with my first digital camera a Canon 20D. How nice it is to see that the niche cameras are starting to trickle onto dealers and online retailers shelves. The almost 8year wait was almost too long and its about time that manufactures give us the equivalent Contax G's, Konica Hexars, OM's etc etc!

"OM-D Revolution I: In Bulb Mode (Long Time Exposure) you can watch the screen while exposure and stop when you see the exposure is right!"

Does OM-D offer bracketing in Bulb mode? Would have been nice.

so, this is love...

Developing by inspection was weird enough (I never did it myself). Now we've got exposing by inspection, it seems!

Oh, Olympus, will you just make an MFT version of the 12-60 and I'll let go of my DSLR in a heartbeat!

"I'm still waiting for Nikon, Pentax, or Oly to come out with a small-size (D700 is too big), full-frame digital SLR that uses manual focus lenses. Until that appears, I'm keeping my film in good working order."

Don't hold your breath ... oxygen is sorta essential to life. I, too, continue to use film, but will use a sweet digital camera like the OM-D to fill niche needs.

Not full frame = fail.

was waiting for this Oly as compared to G3...Oly took three pens to put in a flash, now they remove it? and add height for a port for another evf? Pens had more style but IS is nice. For cost and features, I'm leaning back to G3...Panny for bodies and Oly for lenses.(GF1,9-18,45)

I'm someone who needs my camera to be pretty, as well as functional. While just on paper it seems to have everything I need, looking at it all I see is one ugly camera. So I won't be getting it.

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