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Monday, 14 March 2016


Thanks for pointing us to that E-P5 Wiki link.

It has fallen slightly out of date, but this one (http://www.bdimitrov.de/kmp/) does the same for Pentax, only in way more detail.

You'd think that the manufacturers themselves would make this info available. The closest I saw was a Canon site that listed all their lenses, current and discontinued, with specs. Maybe they do the same for bodies, I don't know.

This kind of archival info could attract viewers and encourage brand loyalty. People like history. When I look at that Pentax site, I get the urge to go on eBay and buy one of each.

It's getting harder and harder to resist those dirt-cheap Oly E-PL5 bodies, I can tell you.

This is why I sent a digital Oly back and returned to Pentax.

Meanwhile, since we're looking at things that remind us of rangefinder cameras, why not do an article on the new *and accessible to the not-so-rich* incarnation of a digital rangefinder, the Fuji XPro 2? You won't regret it.

As I said I love my EP5. Olympus does have a bad menu structure, however you can turn on their "super control panel" and have Visual access to most important setting within 2 clicks.

As long as the menu system doesn't get in your way (Olympus' does not) then who cares why they put all that crap in the menus? ;-)

Put the camera on A-Priority, control the aperture with the back wheel, exp. comp. with the front wheel, focus point using the touch screen, and you're good to go !!!

One thing is overlooked in these late model Olympus cameras is their effective 5-axis-image-stabilizer in the VIDEO mode. I'd rather have video-IS over 4K any day ;-)

Richmond Camera Carytown in Richmond VA had a Pen F in stock yesterday (sunday Mar 13) in case anyone is looking. I have no affiliation with them.

"You should be a tech whiz to shoot Olympus, at least the higher level ones."

If you like the look (form factor) and feel of Olympus micro four thirds digital cameras, the results produced by them, and the price range of the less expensive models, but you're NOT a tech whiz, what's the next best thing?

It reminded me more of the Contax G2. If I was more technically minded I would embed a picture.

To be honest it reminds me mostly of the Fuji X-E2.

OH MY! Now that I want far more than one their M series SLR lookalikes. It really does remind me of the IIIf red dial I had and loved. If I could actually afford it I'd also have to get a nice old screw mount Leica Summitar to be my long lens for it too. 35 Summicron would be pretty nice as a normal on it too... and with those gorgeous straight from the camera Oly jpgs? Talk about best of all worlds for my tastes.

Aw, who am I kidding? 1,200+500+2000 at best? Back to your thoughts on winning the lotto and setting this, with a heartfelt sigh, on the self of never to be dreams.

Asians are adverse to using the number 4 as it phonetically rhymes with death. If possible, they'll just skip the number all together. If you look at a list of M4/3 cameras, very few models have a 4.

Here is Southern California in the denser Asian communities, you'll sometimes see suites numbered from #101, 102, 103, 105....201, 201, 203, 205.

Most (all?) Japanese camera manufacturers skip number 4 in their model names. You can see the same pattern you noticed on EPs in e.g. Panasonic's G and GF series. (For some reason GH4 *does* exist, however…)

And the reason behind all of this avoidance of number 4 is superstition, or tetraphobia to use a fancy word. Phonetically "4" sounds somewhat similar to "death" in many Asian languages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraphobia

Bill Weaver - Fuji. Seriously, Fuji gets retro right - nice design cues, yes, but the analog gauges are _useful_, not misleading. The XT-1, X-Pro2, and X100t all blend very sophisticated tech into very easy to use packages - incluing amazing JPEG's that can make you forget post processing for many shots.

Only camera companies from Japan seem to like random letters. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, they all keep it simple. A Corolla is a smallish car, a Camry a bigger car, same as a Civic and Accord, always and a day.

Granted Lexus mucks it up a bit, but they're fighting with Mercedes and Audi.

A sales rep told me once that the Japanese dislike the number 4!? Does not explain the D4 but there is a pattern with some brands skipping some numbers.

My Chinese exwife told me that the number four is traditionally bad luck in the East--kind of like how buildings in the US always skip the 13th floor.

Thanks for the link to the chart. I've been a Panasonic user since the G1 and never figure out the system.

And yes, the Pen did remind me of an early Leica. Which looks most cool but is not something I'd run out and buy. I'm happier without the dedicated dials - too retro for me.

OM1 still the prettiest of all, gb.

Stephen Scharf said "The Japanese seem to have a penchant for creating products with model names that appear to be a random mix of letters and numbers."

Back in the 80s I had to buy a lot of video equipment and noticed that Sony would make a video monitor with a particular model number, and then every year they would make the new version with a model number one lower than the year before. If a store had some of the old stock the salesmen would try to "upsell" you to the older model.

I did my own summary of the Oly Pens, to keep them straight in my own mind. More informative about actual differences, and non-differences, I hope, than the simple Wiki entry. I haven't added the Pen-F, as it's a different sort of thing.

"Somebody in charge at Olympus sure likes complexity, is all I can say. Its cameras, with their florid proliferation of intricate controls, are almost anti-Jobsian in their lack of essential simplicity."

Here, I must disagree, at least in part. You seem to have allowed the proliferation of models and your prejudice toward high end models to obscure the actual choices of interface offered. The E-PM2, for example, offers E-M5 IQ in a much smaller body that is the personification of Jobsian simplicity in operation.

With no Mode dial, the two Fn buttons set to MF and Magnify and the rear dial disabled*, it is heavenly simplicity for an A Mode shooter. The SCP* and four way controller give me complete control over exposure, ISO, WB, etc.

AND - I can stuff it into bag or pocket, pull it out again, and no settings have changed!

"You should be a tech whiz to shoot Olympus, at least the higher level ones."

I disagree. For the vast majority of users and uses, the menus are "set and forget". Control of virtually anything used in actual shooting is outside the menus.

'If you like the look (form factor) and feel of Olympus micro four thirds digital cameras, the results produced by them, and the price range of the less expensive models, but you're NOT a tech whiz, what's the next best thing?'

The next best thing is not to worry about the menus. First of all, the Oly menus are, in my experience, easier to navigate than Panny's. Brave them far enough to set the SCP* on and the other assistants off. Or get a tech savvy friend to walk you through setting the menu options to suit you. Then forget about them!***

The controls, Fn buttons and SCP give very complete control of the camera.

The menus are simply not for moment to moment control of the camera. They are so extensive in order to give those who want it far more control of how the camera operates than most other makers. To me, that's a good thing.

* Yes, disabling dials and/or touch screens may seem anathema to us control freak techies, but can significantly improve usability for some purposes.

** Super Control Panel, a magical assistant.

*** Well, note which you have changed. Firmware upgrades reset everything to default - bad Oly!

[But Moose...are you saying you're NOT a tech whiz?!? I'm just sayin'.... --Mike]

The naming of the OM-D E-M5 isn't really obscure. It should be known as the Olympus M5. The original Olympus OM1 was called the Olympus M1 when first announced and the O was added because Leitz objected (so it was reported at the time but I've no idea if it was true). Olympus then produced the M2, M3 and M4 before eventually introducing the digital M5. Just ignore all those other silly letters ;-) .

I do wish that the camera companies would use the model year as a designator, like cars and Apple MacBooks. I'm dreading the upcoming Pen F mark II. I hope they just call it the Pen F, with a (2018) under the battery compartment or in the serial number!

Then they could have OMD Pro, OMD, and Pen F lines with model years to designate the upgrades.

(Yes, I'm probably going to be disappointed.)

I actually really like the Oly controls, and I hate Apple products. These two things may be linked: I like user control and customization, and dislike products that insist that I use them in a certain way.

I'm on my 2nd Olympus digital. (M-5.2) I'm normally the type of person that can pickup a new camera and figure it out in about an hour. I have to admit that even the second time around trying to figure out olympus' functionality was a challenge. Non-standard nomenclature and lack of a good built-in information help system don't make matters any easier. That said, once you finally do get the damned thing sorted out I'm happy to say you can pretty much forget the menus even exist. The "Super Control Panel" screen takes care of 95% of menu related needs that come up, all in one place and all accessible by simply turning the dials. It can be done with the camera up to your eye.

It's strange because with the ridiculous complexity you'd expect the anti-Jobsian effect to take over and make the product a bear to operate, but when it comes down to shooting the camera is capable of getting out of the way and letting you shoot. I guess that's all that matters.

Olympus has been doing the retro look for a lot longer than most people think. If you want some quirky Olympus history, there's the O-Product (aha, a simple name!) from 1988. It was a basic point and shoot 35mm camera underneath but had styling that harkened back to old press cameras, especially with its side mounted flash "gun". It was launched to commemorate Olympus's 70th anniversary, and was made in a limited edition run of 20,000.

I have one and it's quite delightful. I have a photo essay about it at http://www.massmadesoul.com/olympus-o-product

The Olympus menus are one of the main reasons why I sold the E-M1. I spent hours setting up the camera, making occasional revisions over the course of months as my preferences changed. Then a rubber grip started peeling off the back and I sent it to Olympus for warranty service. Well, they fixed the rubber but also reset all of my customizations to default settings. "Set it and forget it" wasn't a solution. At the point, it wasn't the camera as I had customized it, and my memory of the controls was all wrong, making ... it ... very ... slow ... to ... operate. I just didn't want to deal with it anymore.

Those menus are indefensible, and the lack of a way to save customizations to a memory card and restore them later is a recipe for frustration.

I'm another who doesn't understand this Olympus OMD bashing. Mine is very easy to use. I hate complex computers that get in the way, my OMD-EM10 doesn't. It's just easy. The menus are no more complex than any other digital camera I've ever picked up. I can shoot more easily and fluidly than I could with my Pentax DSLR, which I previously thought was a model of good ergonomics.

@glenn brown. I'm with you on the OM1 comment. Classic industrial design. I still use them. For me it's a camera that truly disappears in operation allowing me to concentrate on content, composition and creativity. I wish there was a true OMD, with a sensor in place of film, and a storage card (and battery of course). No LCD screen, no chimping, no menues.

I owned the Pen Ft, a red dial IIIf with a collapsible Elmar and wish I had them all back.
However, after contemplating yet another purchase(s) I may settle on the Fuji XPro 2.
My only suggestion (and I have made it to Fuji Corporate) PLEASE give us a simple camera. You know with Auto/f/stops/shutter speeds.
After all, the Japanese "invented" simple is better...maybe not.
"I didn't make the rules. So why should I follow them?" Break some modern rules and give us SIMPLE!

Mi dos pesos!

Thank you, Sophia!
I appreciate the ability to customize an Olympus.

In my work I have gone completely through the menu of every Olympus 4/3 camera several times, setting it up to be useful to me, and I find them to be very consistent and loaded with helpful options.

There were a couple of bad decisions early on to separate closely related options into different sub menus, but at least they are consistent.

Yes, they are anti-Josbian. I despise Apple's smug know-it-all attitude. I can set up an Olympus to be useful to me. I cannot set up an Apple product at all. They do not allow it.

If you want to gripe about menus, look at any Fuji. They have the most intensely annoying UI ever devised. Why must I turn a shutter speed knob AND then twiddle a lever just to get the speed I need? Why must I wade through menus to turn file formats on or off just to get the ISO I need? Why must I back out of shooting menus to get into setup menus? Why must I go into setup menus to pick one of two possible high ISOs? I have a long list of Fuji UI failures.

I can pick up any Canon DSLR and it just works.

I can pick up any Nikon, and the lenses still screw on BACKWARDS.

Sophia's right. I found a friend's E-M1 incomprehensible at first blush, but it didn't take me long to get to grips with then Pen-F at all - a quick blast through the menus, populate the custom settings with combinations I want, and life's good.

The only problem I really have is that formatting the SD-card is in one primary menu and changing the hi-res mode's inter-shot delay is up & over, down, in and 4 lines down the next menu; I jump between those two quite regularly, but for such things was patience invented.

I agree with Sophia. I don't own an Olympus OM-D camera but have rented them on several occasions. I've managed to set them up to my satisfaction in a matter of minutes, even without an instruction manual. It's true the menus on my Canon 60D are simpler and easier to navigate, but they're also more limited, which means I can't set the camera up the way I'd like. In this case I'd rather trade some simplicity for more customization. Someone moving from an iPhone to an OM-D may have very different feelings. Fair enough. That's why we have choices.


"Anti-Jobsian" is a lovely neologism, perfect for the day after Pi Day. Thanks,


It looks like they skipped the 4 in E-P4, E-PL4, G4, GF4. As in Chinese, "four" also sounds a little like "death" in Japanese. It also has the advantage of making the model seem more "advanced." ("Oh, the E-PL7 must be the seventh in the series," when in reality, it is only the sixth.) Just like how some buildings omit the 13th floor; it makes a 20-story building appear to be a 21-story building.

Interestingly, there is a GH4, and OM4 back in the day.

As someone who's tested a fair bit of camera gear, I disagree with you. I find Olympus's menus THE VERY BEST (caps intentional) in the business. There are myriad settings that allow you to customise to your taste, after which, you never have to set them again.

I distinctly remember the first Oly camera I tested and my first reaction to seeing all the menu items... It felt bloated. But then I came across the "global EV" setting (I forget the actual name), which allows you to set the zero-point, so to speak, for the exposure. After shooting Pentax for years, during which time I had to constantly remember to turn the EV Comp dial to -1/3, Olympus's common sense approach, which probably took 3 lines of code in firmware, was a breath of fresh air. I found many more similar examples, and I still yearn for those Oly menus.

It's taken Fuji until firmware 4 to, for example, add EV Comp to the M mode, which I'm pretty certain Oly has, on top of which, the global EV setting works for the M mode too.

Other brands should learn from Oly about camera settings and camera customisation.

My favourite item on my Olympus OMD EM5 is in custom menu C near the bottom. It says: Multiple fps + IS Off, Off/On. If you select 'Off' and are in non single frame shooting, then the IS is on, and if you select 'On', then the IS will be off. Makes sense, if you think about it. Sort of...

The only menu issue I have is the inaccessibility of Live View Boost, which needs to be 'off' for normal shooting so you can see what exposure adjustments are doing, but needs to be 'on' for flash photography or you will see nothing in the viewfinder (too dark at the required shutter speed and aperture). The control for this is on the second page of Custom Menu D; requiring many button presses to get to it and make a change.

However, I have used the camera for four years, and have now achieved mastery of the menus! To make optimal use of the camera you do need to figure out how to set it up though.

In case you and your readers don't visit this site often enough --


or equally entertaining,


The newcameranews.com website referenced in the comment above is one of the irritatingly large number that does not date its posts which rather diminishes their jibes at Olympus.

Beautiful camera no matter how you look at it. I better wait a while for the prices to drop and then get one slightly used. Too dear for me at its current price.

"[But Moose...are you saying you're NOT a tech whiz?!? I'm just sayin'.... --Mike]"

Well, yes, and no.

I'm pretty capable at a fair amount of tech stuff, some even about photography. \;~)>

And yet, more often than I would like, when I'm totally absorbed in my surroundings and photographing much of what I see, I don't think of something that I should change, or change back, don't notice a wrong setting, and so forth, thus losing some images I would have liked to have or to have done differently.

Recently, I installed a FW upgrade, and simply forgot that that resets all the menu settings. I got a day's shooting with the shots taken with that body all as JPEGs, with IBIS off. Not a disaster (a few otherwise good shots unusable) but less than I would like, or would expect of a full scale "tech whiz"

You'd think I would notice images @ 600 mm eq. unsteady in the VF. But I just see through the VF to the subject, tending not to notice its shortcomings.

Thus my preference for cameras that have less to screw up in use. Where's the iMAuto Mode?

Robert Roaldi: A definitive guide to all Micro Four Thirds gear (Olympus and Panasonic) can be found at the official site.

Personally, I kinda wish the Japanese (or even German) camera companies would follow the lead of Italian motorcycle manufacturers. Rather than a random mix of letters and numbers, they often use names with real character, and you know exactly what bike is being referred to by name:

Monster, Pegaso, Panigale, Mille, Tuono, Diavel, etc, etc.

Imagine the Olympus Ocelot or Fuji Jaguar....much more fun! ;-)

Miserere points out a feature I love.

The feature is "EXPOSURE SHIFT" in the cog-J (Utility) menu. It lets you set the metering bias for each metering mode (matrix, center-weighted and spot) SEPARATELY.

But it's better than that ..

The AEL (auto exposure lock) metering can be set (in the cog-E menu under AEL METERING) to a different metering type than the one being used for a shutter button half press. For example, you can be using matrix metering most of the time then when you want to spot meter on the fly you press the button for AEL, lock the metering, and take the shot.

Wait there's more ...

Even better than that you can make AEL metering use spot metering that's biased +1 or -1 stop (so you can meter the highlights or shadows directly rather than just mid-gray or fiddle with exp comp to bias the meter).

And yet more ...

Another entertaining feature if the way AFL/AEL share the same button so if you set the AFL mode correctly you can do "back button focus" with the movie button (useful for a slow focuser like the E-PL1). If you now switch to manual focus the camera automatically switches the AFL/AEL movie button function to AEL. Combine that with the AEL METERING feature and you can spot meter in manual focus but matrix meter when back button focusing. All by pressing the FN button that's customized to manual focus.

The other good thing is that these menus are on ALL of the Olympus cameras. Even my E-PL1 has all of these top end features. There aren't dumbed down camera (though they have fewer buttons or dials) so you can be upsold to the next model just on expert features (I'm looking at you Nikon).

It's just behind the Ricoh GR/GXR menu set for flexibility in camera set up so that on the fly you press a button and you end up.

The one thing the GR have is "the box" so you can have 6 camera setups stored in the camera and you can move them to any of the three MYSET dial settings on the fly with a couple of button pushes. Again a geeky feature but one that helps if you change environments or styles of photography as you walk around.

Ricoh allows you to save all the camera settings (and "the box") to files on the SD card so you can share them with others, back them up, or just reload them later after a firmware update. Why more companies don't do this I don't know but I suspect that Ricoh (and Olympus) perhaps have more camera designers that use the cameras and can "scratch their own itch".

Or you can ignore these features and just use the default settings. :-)

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