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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Comments

Michael Reichmann seems to agree with you - or perhaps, in respect of the chronology, it's the other way round.
Anyone trying to make a decision between the Oly and Sony cameras would profit from a look at this thread on Luminous Landscape.
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=85282.0
Some surprising conclusions from an authoritative source.
I have an E-M5; I'm skipping this generation.
Roy

[I was aware of Michael's choice but of course I have to make my own choice regardless of what others do. --Mike]

You have said everything in a wonderful balanced way - congrats.
Now, naturally there will be the odd angry/snobbish/fan dude that will kindly explain to you that camera X is in every way superior to the E-M1, but oh well, we can't have the pie and eat it...

Mike,
I really hope you find time next year to expand on the theme of the 'right' lens, as opposed to lots of lenses.
Over the past couple of years, without ever really resolving to do so, I've moved completely away from zooms and feel myself reinvigorated by looking at the world one focal length at a time. It's made me slow down and consider different elements of composition more closely. I feel my awareness of what makes an interesting image has improved as a result and I would urge anyone who may be feeling a little jaded or lacking inspiration to just go out for a period of time with a fixed focal length for a change of perspective.
I'm hopeful that, barring retrenched attitudes from manufacturers in a difficult marketplace, that the Sony A7 may prove to be not so much 'Camera of the Year', but rather one of those 'Cameras of the Decade' that, like the original Canon 5D, could be said on looking back to have been a catalyst for a genuine sea-change in photography.
Many thanks for this site, and all your hard work over the past year and all the best for 2014.
Cheers.
Steve.

>The camera controls are very customizable. There seem to be just enough buttons, and there are so many ways you can set them up that I almost can't imagine any photographer not being able to configure this camera exactly to his or her tastes and preferences. I never felt in control of the E-M5. I always feel in control of the E-M1. Big difference there.<

Can't say I understand this.....I have the EM-5 + HLD-6 and it's a knob's galore and has never failed to deliver setting upon settings to customize. And yet in some ways I understand this.....but when I fail (and curse some unweary Olympus engineers to a verry hot place :)) it's not the camera, it's me simply not understanding it. It's like a teather being severed, a bond braking between man and machine. Now I'm a geek by nature and have mastered all kinds of machines (even 3D printers build by me) and all kinds of programs but the EM-5 has an interface that can indeed bite you in the fanny as you least expect it (and need it the least as well). Experienced it the other day in Cologne. Suddently the live view screen stopped working.....even a reboot or a reset of the camera changed nothing (thank god for storeble user settings). Untill I sat in a café behind a laté and found a tinesy winesy buttony kind of protrusion on the fake prism....pressed it lightly and the live view miraculously reappeared. Now I guess in some Japanese mind back in 2011 that button made a lot of sence. And having discovered it (after 9 month of use) gives me great joy (since I found the camera was lacking that function on many of an occasion).....but hell (yeps there they go again) why not put a sign on the display with an arrow blinking pointing towards the button (or something like that a bit less obvious).

Or when you use 2 batteries, I don't need to know one if failing as long as the other is this full....never understood what's actually going on. Can anyone tell me? You, Mike?

Coming from a Panasonic GF1 (as organic a digital camera as ever I saw one), the EM-5 offers so much, much more and a lot less. Now you et moi have the same history in camera's (sort of). So do tell me and remember this answer is costing me about 1000 euro in some forthcoming year, does the EM-1 feel as comfortable as a Panasonic GF-1, not close to one, but like one. If so I'll start saving, if not I'll learn to live with what I have.

Greets, Ed.

So, will you buy one ? And sell those two FF you don't use much? (I believe you won't because there's no 35mm(e) lens comparable to the Zeiss you have on the NEX6).
Happy New Year !

Damn you, Mike. You and Reichmann?

I have the E-M5 and you are making me covet the E-M1 I cannot afford.

Yes a tough choice Mike and isn't that a great story in itself. What makes this camera special is that is is a great ambassador for the micro 4/3 system. As good as the E-M5 is it really needs the (extra) grip to make it handle well. The E-M1 has a grip which improves handling straight off the bat. This grip can be extended too if needs be (an extra). It also has a class leading EVF. Add to this the fine new 12-40mm f2.8 lens and one has a small but powerful photographic machine. It's the combination of small camera plus small lenses together, makes this a very attractive system. To anyone who has never tried micro 4/3 cameras then the E-M1 might convince you that losing some camera weight might be a good thing to do in 2014.

It is not possible to argue against the lens choice phenomenon for micro 4/3 cameras. However (this is a very personal idiosincracy), I like to have things in cohesive sets, and to me it is dificult to find cohesive sets of lenses in micro 4/3. By cohesive I mean a set of lenses that share the same aesthetic, ergonomics, build quality and aproximate image quality.

I find the Fuji X system caters much better to this particular preference than anything in micro 4/3 (bar the low end lenses that just went on sale). Of course this is much more of an aesthetic concern than a real practical matter, but it does make a difference to me, though it probably does not to most other people.

Lots of DPR readers would agree with your top two selections, in the order you have them.

For me, I'd have to reverse them. While the Oly is indeed a fine camera in an overall way (I have a soft spot for Oly, and used to shoot Oly), today I think the bar is higher, and so the A7/A7r team get my vote. What Sony has done with them is remarkable in a way that no other cameras this year were---and something that not long ago many said couldn't be done. They have their issues it's true, but they are a leap forward, not a consolidation or refinement.

And they are "open app". The jury is out on whether that will be a significant development, but it sure has been in phones.

Mike writes:

The E-M1 is what I wanted the E-M5 to be...and reluctantly concluded was not.

As I've noted before, Mike is ever generous, and never less than fair-minded. So I imagine how his (mild) retroactive criticism of the E-M5 must pain him. But it is deserved. For one thing, the E-M1 feels designed where the E-M5 was styled. Big difference. Retro done right, if retro must be.

I beg to disagree when Mike also wants to

give a pat on the back to Nikon, for listening to its customers and thinking of those who want a camera with more old-fashioned controls.

Now did Nikon really listen? Moreover, did Nikon think?

I'll pass over my own superficial bias and point to someone who gave the Df a work-over: Ming Thein. Specifically:

It does not feel or operate like the Digital F that Nikon no doubt intended. If you’re going to make a retro camera, do it properly: I understand the need for controls for the digital bit, but don’t overcomplicate things – again, look at an FM3A – don’t tease with that folding AI coupling pin, a forgiving sensor and then spoil the viewfinder. Especially not when you’re charging nearly the same money as a D800E for it. If you’re sitting on the fence, I’d recommend buying a real mechanical camera and a lot of film instead. Not only will it be cheaper, you’ll be getting a far purer photographic experience.

And:

This is one of the very few cameras I felt really did not work for me at all – and it wasn’t because of image quality – that has never been in question. It’s not even a near miss; the simple fact is that haptics and tactility do matter, and matter a lot. Especially when the package and hype are trying to promise so much.

That being said, a Happy New Year, Mike, and thanks for all the good work you keep doing for all of us!

Great choice, Mike. ... I almost pulled the trigger on an EM-1, but ultimately went with its little cousin, the EPL-5. Coupled with a VF-2 viewfinder formerly installed on a trusty EPL-1,the EPL-5 is delightful. MFT is a comfortable format. Gosh, I grew up watching TV with that very same aspect ratio. My attraction to MFT has a lot to do with age--arthritis, diminished eyesight, and a willingness to jump off the IQ treadmill. Shooting with a Pen reminds me of the fun I had with the Rollei 35 I kept in my pocket throughout the mid-70s well into the eighties. I certainly love shooting with my Nikon d800. However using the Pen is more like hanging out with an old pal than a business executive.

Gratified by your choice as a few weeks ago I sold all my FF stuff and bought an E-M1. Main reason was the smaller size/weight. Camera plus 3 primes plus Oly 12-40 zoom in a shoulder bag is very comfortable to carry around.
But what I hadn't expected, and what I discovered playing around with it, is that if you put a small prime on the front and set the camera up for manual focus and exposure it feels just like my old Nikon FM2n used to feel. Except that its better because of the magnified view on focussing and the live histogram and the fact that you see the image get lighter or darker in the EVF as you adjust the exposure. I still need to explore all the other options this machine is capable of (just so as I know about them) but I am really looking forward to using it in 2014 set up as I have described.

I have had an E-M5 for about 18 months and was largely satisfied with it, with four or five niggles of frustration. Nothing that could not be overcome with use and familiarity, however. Based upon my experience with the E-M5, it's image quality is more than good, superb IBIS (sharp images down to 1/6 second in these 62 year old hands), great lens selection, operational options, etc., and what I had read Olympus had done to make changes and improve upon the older model, I purchased the E-M1 about a month or so ago. I am more than pleased with this photographic tool, in every way.

Your one statement sums it up perfectly in my view, "It does everything right and nothing wrong." All the niggles have not only been fixed but improved upon.

I don't know about camera of the year, but this is one camera that will be in use by me for a long, long time. There is nothing out there that better meets my needs.

no surprise, a 4/3 ish site picks 4/3 camera. Just sayin...

Check. I'm with you on this one. The E-M1 just works, and delivers the goods. Just like the E-1 did ... The only DSLR I still have and cannot bear to sell.

Lots of great new cameras this year, but this one sings to me. :-)

It's foggy outside. Time to fit the battery grip and the ZD 11-22mm lens, go for a walk...

Well played sir, well played. The Sonys are indeed great bodies and the 35 does appear to be a great lens - not too big. But these bodies still need a native system of available lenses to be judged as a system. The future may bring the title to Sony, but not this year, as CoY.
Olympus has earned the award through their continued refinement of the OMD. I own the E-M5 and have learned to work with the small buttons, etc., but do lust for the E-M1. It does most thing so well, and the available lenses complete the gestalt of a smaller, lighter system. This has become quite important to me as I deal with aging joints, aches and pains. And FF...is it really necessary in today's world of few prints, fewer magazines, etc, with most viewing done on small portable screens?

I fully agree, and I was able to try a lot of your other nominees this year. The E-M1 is fantastic. I've been shooting 75% at waist level with it. Love the 17/1.8 and 45/1.8 lenses.

Interesting choice, and I think I agree with you. Mostly. Though for some reason the Olympus has little attraction for me, even though I used Olympus regular 4/3 for several years and their 14-54 zoom is still my main lens for my Panasonic m4/3 bodies.

Sony is doing a lot of things I really like, but I'm not convinced they are doing any of them well enough yet. I've tried several Sony models over the past year and not been able to really like any of them. I am sort of stuck right now as I have a couple of NEX lenses I really love but can barely tolerate the cameras that go with them.

Oh, and it's good to hear someone else is over full frame. 2013 was going to be a major upgrade year for me. Although I had doubts about FF I knew I would not be satisfied unless I tried it. Eight months and $5,000 later it is just not working for me. The improvement in image quality is tiny, and only really comes through in a small number of my shooting situations. Thank goodness for eBay. Since everything but the camera body was bought used I should recover most of the money.

Happy New Year.

Well, sir, I think you made the RIGHT choice again. The EM-1 us what I hoped the EM-5 would be ( and that's a pretty good camera...).

"Well, Stanley. You've done it again."
Now I have to RE consider purchasing a new camera and here I had settled on the A7r. But, no. You had to throw logic in the mix. It is true that the Olympus has incredibly awesome lenses and Sony has never been much for having a wide array of native lenses.
"Durn. Durn. Durn."
Have a great New Year, Mike.
My two pesos.

[Sits down, grabs popcorn, gets ready for the show]

I've only handled the E-M5 with the attendant Olympus grip base - it is a nicely solid bit of kit. Found the buttons to be a bit small for my liking, but much like your earlier question of Leica + 50mm Lux or Sony + Zeiss, I wouldn't say no to having some fun with it if I'd've found one (or an E-M1) under the tree.

That said, I'll just have to chug along contentedly with my K5.

I have the E-M5 and have a few times handled the E-M1. What I think is noteworthy with the E-M1 is that it's a very balanced camera, getting all the details right. Things like the viewfinder optics are excellent, the weather sealing is apparently at a very high level, IBIS works well and with all lenses etc. Simply put, it's a user's camera: just works in the field, takes great pictures, but won't be the best in a spec sheet comparison. I hope that cameras like this would be the norm.

"But forget all the above: the main, overriding gestalt of the E-M1 is how complete it is. It does everything right and nothing wrong."

That's all that really counts to make anyone's "camera of the year", isn't it? You won't use a camera that you don't find charming, at least not for long. (So have you actually bought the E-M1 yet or are you still using the review sample?)

So here's hoping that all TOP readers have, or discover, their own "camera of the year" for 2014, whether it's manufactured in 2014 or 1940!

Wishing a fine New Year to Mike and all my fellow TOP readers!

You jerk. I have an OM-5 and now I really want an OM-D. I should just stop reading these camera articles.

[You and me both. --Mike]

With today's cameras it's hard to make a bad choice. For me though...Fuji went back in time and brought my beloved discontinued X-100 deep into 2013. Pretty great trick

I purchased the OM-D E-M1 a month ago to replace my Nikon D4 and a gaggle of Nikkor lenses. I was tired of carrying all that weight. After a month of trial I agree with everything you say. In particular, the M!'s image stabilization is so good that my handheld shots are better than handheld Nikon.

I would appreciate your thoughts on one thing: The color in the images from the M1 do not seem to be as "rich" as that from the Nikon D4 or D800e. It's not a matter of saturation but something so subtle that I can not put it in words. Maybe it's a matter of bit depth, or dynamic range. Maybe Adobe Camera Raw is not quite adapted to the Olympus format yet.

Good choice Mike. Last year I purchased a new camera -- a luxury that I can only afford once every 5 years or so. I was seriously tempted by micro 4/3s. I travel with my equipment constantly and the smaller sized lenses and lower expenses nearly pulled me away from Canon . In the end, it was the ability to focus quickly on action that forced me to stay with a traditional DSLR. Had the EM-1 been released before Christmas 2012 I'd definitely would've abandoned my bulky Canon kit. In fact, I am tempted to dump my 5D Mark III on eBay and spend the proceeds on a top of the line lens set from Olympus.

... Walked in the fog for an hour or so with E-M1 and ZD 11-22. Superb light, wonderful camera to use for it. Arrived home just as the sun burned through.

One photo from the walk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdgphoto/11671294126/

Happy New Year!

You went off full-frame?? Next you'll be telling us you didn't keep up with the vacuuming...

;-)

Great selection. I don't own the camera, wish I did and am sorely tempted to rush out and get one. But I'm trying to save up some money to send my kid, Ben, to college.... And it doesn't help that I loaded up on GH3's for video production just a few months ago.

Amazing though how great the camera is and how uniform its praise. Well argued.

On the Camera of the Year:

Oh, the sensor is so small and the world is so large...

Mike thank you for the work you do on this site
have a happy 2014

So, are you going to buy an E-M1, Mike?

A camera such as the E-M1 has been missing in digital imaging. A useful tool with lots of good lens options at the right dimentions and decent durability. It"s an equivalent of the old FM, ME and OM series. Not in the sense of focal plane format but indeed in gestalt. All those cameras are small-but-reliable hand tools. I call this genre "roadie wolf" (as opposed to the "tripod toad", "sporty tiger" or the "toy bloodhound").
Oh, and I am really glad FF is losing its mythical might. The optics required to make the most of it just don't make sense to me. Shooting FF seems to involve more suffering than joy these days. If I had to take one it would be the Df. A7r would be my very last priority

The EM-1 is the only camera I just grab and hold for the fun of it, like a new motorcycle I have to sit on in the garage even when I can't ride it.

I've run into a couple frustrations with the 4/3 lenses, but I think the firmware release helped some, and plus it's a learning curve for me. It's not a 100% replacement for my E5, but perhaps 95% for my purposes, and I'll forget the other 5%.

If I had to quibble I'd ask for a weak AA filter again instead of no AA filter (or a switchable one like on the K3).

All in all, it's my most enjoyable camera since my first dslr, the Olympus 420, which now sells for around $100 on KEH.

The only quibble I have is your comment that the E-M1 is not too expensive. Viewed in the abstract, I agree. You are getting a camera that offers considerably more in almost every department than $2,000 cameras offered just 2-3 years ago. But pricing is not abstract and value is measured relative to the next closest alternative, which I have to believe is the Panasonic GX7.

The Panasonic GX7 body costs $749. The Panny 14-42mm with O.I.S. costs $166 (note that this is cheaper than the $999 GX7 + 14-42 kit option), for a total of $915.

The Olympus E-M1 body costs $1,399. The Oly 14-42mm (without stabilization) costs $299, for a total of $1,698.

Now, the E-M1 may well be a better camera than the GX7 (and the better IBIS presumably eliminates the need for a stabilized standard zoom), but is it really twice as good? Or to look at it differently, would you rather have the E-M1 with the standard, non-stabilized zoom, or the GX7 with the standard stabilized zoom, the Panny 20mm f/1.7 AND the Oly 45mm f/1.8, all for the same price?

Again, I'm not saying the E-M1 isn't the better camera or doesn't deserve camera of the year honors, but given the competition, I have trouble saying it isn't too expensive. Maybe it's just that the GX7 is too cheap! ;-)

[Maybe when guys like me stop writing about it--and that's not an expression; we will--the price of the E-M1 will drop to a more tolerable level. I don't keep strict track of such things, but I do think the price of the GX7 went down when the E-M1 came out, so Panasonic wouldn't lose too many sales to its natural rival. --Mike]

Aw, the heck with the choice; I just really enjoyed the way the piece was written. . . just the right balance of fun and information.

Mike, ya done good!

Ken Tanaka says

"That's all that really counts to make anyone's "camera of the year", isn't it? You won't use a camera that you don't find charming, at least not for long."

We're all a bit fickle if the charm wears off after a year.......

Happy New Year everyone!!

I do not own an Olympus OM-D EM-1, so I can't say too much about it. I have a rule now (a dumb rule) that I will only buy cameras that do not have a flip up mirror, , do have an EVF and do have at least 20 megapixels and at least a one inch sensor. Also, I will only buy zooms that have a fixed aperture of at least 2.8 and primes with at least 2.8 as well. This is mostly to keep me from buying stuff. At any rate, the Olympus was excluded because of megapixels. That may sound dumb, but I really think 16 is less than I want in a modern camera. Sometimes you just have to crop.
But, I may add good in-body image stabilization as a criteria, because I think it really makes a difference. And Olympus is the king there. That would have ruled out the Sony A7r, but I already bought it before I made that rule. With its 36 megapixels, it seems really hard to get a truly sharp photo without a tripod. Lack of stabilization is its Achilles heel, not lack of lenses. That 35 mm is really good, as is the 50 mm, and others are coming. I really only need a few lenses. So for me, it's a toss up between these two cameras. I have the A7r, so I was rooting for it.

I'm not in the market for another camera I get confused when I have more than one camera, and my Cambo WRS, 5 digitar lenses and IQ140 is hard to beat. BUT if I were it would be the A7r not this.

Does seem to be prompting discussion, so it's clearly a good choice :-).

I like the EM1. In fact, when it came out, shortly after I went with the EP5, I read about the great weather sealing and had a moment of remorse over the decision to jump on the EP5. Then, I realized that Olympus, for some reason, offers very few weather sealed lenses. I guess, considering my: 17mm, 1.8; 45mm, 1.8; 25mm, 1.4; body cap lens; and 40mm, 4 (not to mention the 75mm, 1.8 I've managed to talk myself out of, daily, for the past 6 months)are not weather sealed, the weather sealing of the EM1 would not be such a liberating thing. At least it makes me happier about the EP5 choice.

[I have to agree with you Wayne. I will have to switch to the 12-50mm when I want weather sealing. I really wish the 17mm was weather sealed. --Mike]

I took a break from drooling over photos on Flickr taken with the Nikkor 58mm (which seems to miss some outright sharpness but delivers a most beautiful rendering of almost anything) to read this and enjoy this piece.

I'd think I'd love an E-M1 (have only used one briefly) and am looking forward to trying an A7r, too. I usually agree with your COTY choices and this year's no exception.

A little under three hours of 2013 left here in London. Best wishes to you and to all the readers and thanks for what you do.

Sorry, I cannot take Olympus and this camera serious until they figure out what to call it. OM-D EM-1? Seriously? Which is it?

I have a perfectly good EM-5 that I love, but after reading this post (and a few others) I went to my local camera store this morning "just to see" what the EM -1 was like. Big mistake! Only because I just had dental surgery to the tune of several thousand dollars, did I not grab the EM-1 then and there. Mike, you're right, there's no real need to upgrade, but the EM-1 just feels better, has much better buttons and a better EVF. It just felt right. Maybe next year.

Eh Mike. No mention I the k-3? How come.

No I don't have one and I am not buying one. But a k-3 is almost the size of an em1 an probably focuses faster in low light plus has an AA you an turn on and off. The IQ also has other advantages depending what you are doing.

I think I am going to stick with my E-M5 for another year or two. It really has proven to be a great camera for me, fantastic image quality in a tiny (but capable) body. Sure, some of the controls are a bit fiddly, but I pretty much just got it set up the way I want and left it. It makes me glad to see Olympus has released an even more impressive follow-up. Now if only Olympus could get more regular people (rather than photo nerds) to take notice...

I am also eagerly awaiting the release date and price of the upcoming Panasonic / Leica 15mm f1.7 lens...

I'm curious why the Canon 70D didn't make the entry list? (I'm not sure it would have won, but the DPAF is pretty amazing.)

I'm also not sure about the E-M1, I might not recommend it to people personally as it's expensive and the m43 lens line-up still has some omissions for pro camera pricing. (I have two m43 cameras BTW, my GH3 was bought this year - well, last year in 90 mins time.)

I wouldn't have chosen either of the Sonys because, in reading the reviews, they seem to be fairly mediocre cameras by modern standards, but with a really good sensors. Same with the NEX system, which I handled reasonably extensively before deciding which way to jump -- fine sensors, clumsy concept.

I'm sure the M1 is a fine camera and deserves the award, but I'll stick with my GX7s. They handle well and the image quality is as good as the M1's. I think I have the same standard as most of the commentators here: I simply *like* them best.

Mike, bought one for myself for Christmas along with the oly 12-40 zoom and two primes. Still have the d800 but plan on selling some of my "big iron" in 2014, and just using lighter gear. If you do any major traveling heavy gear just does not work. "Small is beautiful" to quote a book from the 60's. Great choice Mike. Have a great 2014.

I completely disagree with your choice. The Olympus is, by all accounts, a terrific small sensor camera. However, it is only a terrific camera because it gets so many of the small things right that others have not been able to accomplish. It is purely evolutionary. There is nothing really groundbreaking about it. There are many other small sensor cameras that offer similar capabilities. The Sony A7R, on the other hand, does break completely new ground. There is NOTHING like it. It has the potential of putting the capabilities of medium format digital into the palm of my hand. You have to handle an A7R with one of the native Sony FE lenses and carefully analyze the files to appreciate what Sony has achieved. It remains to be seen whether the promise will be fully realized, but the potential is breathtaking to me.

Oh, and BTW, Happy New Year to you, Mike. You and your terrific group of writers provide us with much joy throughout the year. I hope you know how much you are appreciated.

Hi Mike, I bought the E-M1 in November and am loving it so far.
As far as regards the super-wide-angle range, Olympus are supposedly releasing a PRO-grade super wide (?7-14mm) in 2014 (along with the 40-150 tele lens) to address that sector. If it is anything like the 12-40, it will be something special. I'm using my E-system (4/3) 7-14 on the E-M1 and getting some great images but will trade it for a more compact version if the image quality is the same.
Cheers Kevin

It's like you said. Hurrah!

"no surprise, a 4/3 ish site picks 4/3 camera."

Bolllox. It would be very hard to find anybody less brand biased or format biased than Mike. Heck, he has two full format cameras and even a large format film camera.

---
By the way, I wonder if Olympus and Panasonic really had looked forward ten years to a time where are the sensor size came into its own, or they just got phenomenally lucky?

Maybe you should just reconsider the RX1 as COY 2012? I've been shooting the darn thing for a while, and, not only have I sold all of the rest of my digital gear, but I've lost interest in most new gear releases. I've tried just about every 35mm or equivalent lens out there, and I don't foresee an interchangeable version from any make trumping the RX1 anytime soon.

I agree so much, I bought one. It arrived yesterday. Lovely feel. I have to study the manual to figure out many of the controls, though.

Now, at last, I can use my Zeiss Contax G lenses, admittedly in MF and stop down mode, but the viewfinder lets me see the focus properly. Even on the Contax G bodies I struggled with focus.

Well, the fickle readers at DPreview seem to think the Pentax K-3 is the "Camera of the Year." Naturally, since that's not a 4/3ish site. ;)
HNY, TOP!

Am no longer qualified to judge or make comment on this most entertaining last topic
of the current year post 2000.

Happy New Year MIke to you, Zander and Lulu;
may the coming 12 months of 2014 be enjoyable, happy and worthwhile to your readers and friends.

It makes me think of America's sport culture. It seems like "Camera of the Year" is largely about selling more stuff every year, stuff that's not that much better than the equally praised stuff released just a few months before. There are players financially benefiting from the hype and, that's okay, as far as it all being apart of the culture. Economics aside, it would be refreshing (in an attempt to suppress the endless upgrade urge) to award a gold-silver-bronze medal once every four years to the top cameras of that period. If it were for 2010-2014, I wonder if Olympus would win (probably, with a name like Olympus).

It's interesting how an educated but subjective opinion can garner such controversy. Clearly religion is still alive and kicking. Hallelujah!

Congratulations to the E-M1, and congratulations to Mike for picking something so reasonable. Although by being a top-of-range camera, I feel that the principle of the sweet spot has been missed.

I am also starting to wonder if cameras with built-in flash disqualify themselves from this award, based on recent winners. ;)

[Like super-wide lenses, built-in flashes have no known uses. [g] --Mike]

FWIW, built in flashes have one use: provided then can be used in manual mode with no pre-flashes and you can dial-down the power, they are very useful for triggering slaved off-camera flashes. [g] --Adam

How about the lens of the year? For me, it is the Fujinon 14mm f2.8, for Fujifilm X cameras.

As for your choice of camera of the year, no surprise. It just shows that compact system cameras have matured. But... in spite of having myself a Fujifilm X system, yesterday I could not resist the Canon rebates in Europe, and got myself a 6D with 50mm lens. There is still some life left on a FF DSLR, that is for sure...

BTW,

I own the Oly 9-18 and it's a whopping great lens. A jack of all traits and it eats landscape and city....most of my shots are taken with this lens or the 14-45 kit (haha) pana.

For my analog Nikon F5 I owned a 14 and I thought it to be way over the top anyway....18 is about as wide as you can go without ending up in circusland.

Greets, Ed.

I would love to get the A7R with the Zeiss 35/2.8. Currently, I enjoy using my RX100 as a pocketable camera. My GF1 stays in the glove box of my car most of the time....somehow I am not fan of the Micro 4/3.

I guessed I am more looking at camera 2014 instead now.

Dream one - Nikon D400, Blackmagic pocket 4k (may be 2016) and surprise Canon 60 HS (for my bird photo before jumping the cliff to get the 500F4 VR).

Real one - still waiting for the 4x5 one mentioned during this discussion.

Unreal one - find a way to get the 8x10 polaroid from project impossible to work without dealing with 1960s roller machine (and paid 1k US$ for it)

"By the way, I wonder if Olympus and Panasonic really had looked forward ten years to a time where are the sensor size came into its own, or they just got phenomenally lucky?"

This was my thought, too. Back when the E-1 was released, even with its beautiful rendering, the 5MP density and lack of low light performance had everyone stating that 4/3 could never really compete, that there was no substitute for real estate, blah blah blah. And I was pretty much in that camp. I realized that with Moore's law there was room for improvement in small sensors, but that eventually big would win. (And then, much later, there was the Olympus financial scandal, which threatened to sink the camera division along with the rest of the company. Not auspicious.)

I'm glad so many of us were wrong. There was no way I would be committing to the bulk of CaNikon FF gear. I prefer the form factor of the Pen 5 and even more the styling of the X-Pro 1, but the versatility of the M1 may just swing me. Now if Zeiss would release some m4/3 lenses ...

can't disagree with anything you've said. i would give the olympus the win here as well. on the other hand i'm going to buy the a7 (maybe r, must test them both out a bit) and not the olympus. none of the µ4/3 lenses excite me much optically (plus most are AF, which i hate) while i already have all the lenses i need (and love) for the sony. maybe when i have time to start birding more regularly i'll consider the olympus again.

Darn. Here I was, about to order a Pentax K3, when I see that photo of the Olympus next to a black Pentax MX, my favorite SLR of all times.

I have lots of Pentax lenses, but now I'm thinking about the OM-D. Or if I'm going m43, should I get a GX7?

Too many options! If all we had to buy were, say, Smenas, I would be outside shooting already.

Mike replies: Jim, that second picture at your link has some serious distortion on the right-hand side, and the colors look off. I admire the flashy way those Italians dress, though.

Could be the curve of the frescoe itself. As I recall it tapered towards the top to form almost a triangle. Colors...I don't know. All I do is set auto white balance. Thanks.

[I was just kidding Jim. Don't worry, my son doesn't think I'm funny either. --Mike]

I cannot disagree with Mike's choice for 2013, but I also have a feeling that the m43 format will have a relatively short day in the sun. If people really want both high quality and small size, Sony is showing that it can be done with far superior FF sensors. As for lenses, native FE FF lenses will be considerably smaller than standard FF lenses, due to the shorter registration distance of mirrorless cameras. This, at least, is what I am hoping for in the very near future and is the reason that I am waiting for the A8 and a flood of native FE lenses.

Happy New Year!

I loved your comment about the _right_ lens against _many_ lenses. Exactly feel the same: if there was only the 40/2 M-Rokkor for LM-Mount, fine!

I don't know about this choice of yours for CoY. No denying it's a great camera, but if you talk about lens availability nothing can beat the Nikon Df.

I predict 10 years from now people will be looking back on 2013 as the year that Nikon released the Df, with all it's nice metal knobs and classic optical/prism viewfinder. There will be (literally) 100s of cameras that act and feel like the OM-D E-M1, but only a handful that act and feel like a Df, and maybe only Df descendants. Old crusties like me will be sitting in their rocking chair and muttering things like "real cameras have optical viewfinders."

And what kind of name is "OM-D E-M1"? The Oly should be penalized just for having such cumbersome name.

Happy New Year!

The E-M1 is undoubtedly a very fine camera, but to my way of thinking the most commendable development in cameras this year was Fuji's firmware updates to older models. Every manufacturer should show such commitment to their customers and their products. I enjoy my Olympus E-M5, but it would be a much better camera were it to gain the firmware improvements introduced in later models. So my pick for camera of the year? The Fuji X100 firmware v2! :-P

Hi Mike,

I can't help but feel like reading an obituary. What if this camera does't sell?

While that doesn't make it a lesser tool (it should be a great camera, going by my year long ownership of its sibling, the EM5), it is not the camera of the year in my book.

I find it curious that your write up is not a confident recommendation of EM1. You do sound a bit defensive about it, in discussing why you couldn't give the honors to a more obvious choice. (And also why you shouldn't have given it to EM1 :)

I feel the COI has to be a camera that has pushed the limits, has done something revolutionary. EM1 is evolutionary. EM5 is every bit an EM1. Same tech. Improved speeds, Pro body. So you chose the evolution :)
Also, availability of great system lenses can't make a camera score brownie points. That's unfair :) to Canon and Nikon. What's wrong with 6D?

When talking about A7, you talk about the format (FF) in general. But that's not a limitation of the camera. If anything, its a strength.

MFT cameras are all about balance. As you said, the image quality is 'good enough'. One can compare them with APS-C dslr's at one end, and with something like RX100 at the other end. They were supposed to be the sweat spot, the middle path, or if i may, the 'best compromise'. That its not the best is fine, the bigger point is, it doesn't have the potential to get better. EM1 is the highest expression of Micro Four Thirds. Where do they go from here?

Having said this, I do respect your judgement and understand that this is a subjective point of view and you own the rights to express them :)

Please don' take this criticism seriously. I love it that you always go against the grain. And EM1 must be a fantastic camera, i am positively sure. Was it me who waxed eloquent on how beautiful EM5 was, perhaps last year, in this very same place.

Great write up, as always. I don't agree that's not a big deal :)

Mike said "I never felt in control of the E-M5. I always feel in control of the E-M1."

That's the clincher for me. I love a lot of things about my E-M5, but I hate the fact that I don't feel in control of it. For one thing, I can never figure out what ISO I'm shooting at; I have to click a button to change the ISO in order to see my current ISO setting. What's up with that?

More important is the "random setting change" phenomenon. The buttons on the back are easily clicked accidentally when you're just walking around, leading to some annoying and unpleasant surprises. For example, I just found out that I shot in JPG (FINE) mode for an entire day because the camera randomly jumped out of RAW mode. The fact that the viewfinder doesn't tell you what the current mode setting is means I only found out when I loaded the images into Lightroom. That is unacceptable.

I'm switching to an E-M1 ASAP.

"[I was just kidding Jim. Don't worry, my son doesn't think I'm funny either. --Mike]"

They are missing out. You were pretending that you didn't know it was a photo of a painting, and I thought it was funny.

Though, like Neil Gaiman says: "not the ha-ha kind of funny, the other kind".
(I think by the "other kind" he does not mean "weird", but an inward, twisted humor, about the absurdity of the Universe itself.)

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