« The Story Behind the Olympus Scandal | Main | Open Mike: A Splendid Little Speaker »

Friday, 24 February 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

One of the nice things about m4/3 cameras is that you don't have to be rich, as in stinkin' rich, in order to collect them, unlike, say, Leicas. They are not free, to be sure, but they're also not completely out of reach for an average person with a greater than average interest in photography.

I just can't get over that Holga-meets-OM-1 design. The pentaprism-wannabe hump looks like infested with warts :-( And for the record, from the day I saw it, I've been in love with OM-1 (never owned it though).

You should indeed like the OM-D (perhaps more than any of the Panasonics)if for no other reason than that it has 5-axis IS built-in. This new model should increase the utility of my M.Zuiko 75-300mm zoom, which is slow, long, and very sharp.

Frankly a handsome camera, and I was this close to pulling the trigger for a G3... Actually I'm stalled at the moment because I can't find a dealer where I can handle it. Same problem with tracking down a new guitar (oops does that count as off topic?)

Eenie, meenie, meinie....

Aesthetically, the E-M5 and GX1 press different buttons and if I were to choose based on looks, I probably prefer the Panny. But the E-M5 feature set wins going away and so long as test comparisons using production cameras don’t favor the GX, it’s the E-M5 for me. IBIS, weatherproofing, built in EVF, Oly colors…this is pretty much what I’ve been waiting for.

I'd really like one, being an OM user from way back. However I just got a GH2, which I really like (but with not enough time to really enjoy it). I can't now justify buying another new camera, unless someone wants to support my habit.

if you were rich you wouldnt have to think about it!

I just read an article about Panasonic's decision to offer a high-end micro-4/3s design, which will combine the GF/GX form factor with an integrated viewfinder, much like the Sony NEX and Fuji X models. That's the one you will want, so you can relax and hold off buying the current Olympus and Panasonics.
Seriously, I have been awaiting that camera almost since I bought the GF-1 and the add-on EVF when they first came out. I loved that little camera and especially its 20mm pancake lens. I didn't much like the EVF. A burglar relieved me of the whole kit, with three lenses, about three months after I bought it. I decided then to await the inevitable addition of a built-in VF in the GF-type body. I'm still waiting.

I preordered mine when you put the first notice up. I expect the company to go bellyup about the time the warranty runs out.

The way it works is this: Whoever dies with the most toys, wins.

Omg, an OM-D

After reading the interview with Panasonic yesterday, I'm waiting for a successor to my GH2 - I can cope with the sensor's image-quality for a while longer, and I don't want to risk losing the ergonomics on a short-term upgrade.

@Robert Roaldi, Whoever dies with the most toys...is just as dead as everyone else.

And I just got the GX1 last month!

The samples from the OM-D look pretty fabulous, but that's beside the point. M4/3 has been "good enough" for most everyone who isn't a fashion/professional sports photographer for a while. Last year the 16MP sensor in the G3 put out very pretty 1600ISO files. The GX1 takes it up just a little notch. They're fast, responsive cameras that happen to be small in volume.

The OM-D is unabashedly trying to get those of us who shot with, or knew someone who shot with the OM's back in the day. What was the greatest OM combination, Mike? I seem to recall you waxing nostalgic about the OM-4Ti and the 40mm Zuiko. You were right, it was great. It's a bit cobbled now brand-wise, but I've had a blast with the GF and now the GX1 and the 20mm Pany. * Retro-mania will be back if/when the Pany meets the OM-D.

Rationally, do I think it will make a difference in my shooting over the GX1? No. Do I want one? Yes.

(* Actually, I'd offer up that the ultimate combination right now for a street shooter is the GX1, the three primes (choose any two, like a Texas barbecue) and the old Voigtlander mini-finder with the 28-35 frame lines. It looks the business and acts the business with any of the three primes. I've never had a faster camera, or more precisely a camera that I could use faster when need be.)

@Mac Dekker - The Fuji isn't a rangefinder, no rangefinding mechanism outside of the AF. So the form of a rangefinder without actually being one, much like the Oly.

That said, I have one on pre-order. I really like the OM-D. Really, really. But for my intended usage, I can't get past the high ISO advantages of the bigger sensor.

Mac Dekker said it all, really.

That damned mountain on the top is only missing some Mt Fuji or Mont Blanc snow.

I was really disappointed with the aesthetics of this camera when it first appeared. As already commented, I think having a fake pentaprism looks ridiculous, snd even worse with the hot shoe sitting on top of it. It doesn't even use the space for a built-in flash, which may occasionally be better than no flash at all. I never owned or used the original camera the look is based on, but I think the original camera was handsome, similar to the way a 1958 Ford Meteor was a stylish and attractive car for the era, and still looks good today. But designing a modern car to look like that does not make sense. Generally, I think form should follow function. In this case, it's not a pentaprism, so there is no reason to make it look like one. I'd much prefer the camera to be flat on top (Nex-7), or have a low profile rise for the viewfinder (V1).
Still, the major advantage of Olympus is the small size, built-in stabilization and good quality lenses. I hope it looks better in-person than in pictures.

I've had a GH2 for almost a year and like it a lot. Got it for video in the beginning, but it is slowly moving towards usurping my 5D2's for daily stills use. I shoot for a living and have a raft of L and Zeiss primes for the Canon's, and the IQ is just amazing. However, from a not getting any younger perspective, the light weight and additional possibilities that a flip out screen afford in terms of where you put the camera without having to be a gymnast is pretty seductive.

I'm finding overall IQ from the m4/3 sensors to be more than enough for my needs. However, with the new offerings from Fuji and Sony, I'm more than a little conflicted as to where to go next. I love the idea of the Fuji X-Pro1, the form factor seems perfect, as does the lens set for it. And the NEX7 seems like it could be a decent little beast, but only if Sony gets their act together with making serious glass for it.

Like some of the other posters, I worry about Olympus staying in business, probably irrational on my part, but there it is. Sony seems like a child with ADD, jumping from one shiny object to the other without ever really finishing anything. And, Fuji is the wild card, renowned for excellent glass and beautifully made cameras, they could be the one. Right now, Panasonic seems to have the size and commitment to stay in the game, and I believe their relationship with Leica will eventually pay dividends, especially if they can come up with a pro level NEX7 / X-Pro1 / M9 form factor m4/3 camera with killer good lenses.

If the OMD can match the IQ advantages of the GH2, I'll probably get it solely because of the in-camera IS. The dial layout of the OM, and the grip seems like it would offer some handling advantages too, along with less of a need to swap out those woefully inadequate batteries that they make for these cameras.

For me, the real question will be if Canon decides to jump in the game with a mirrorless camera of their own. Hopefully one that can take advantage of the existing glass that I already own.

All in all, it's a good time to be a photographer, but only if you don't go broke buying equipment.

It looks nice, but is it proper metal? Like 70s SLRS such as the Olympus OMs or the Nikon FM2 (and no doubt Canons, but I don't recall the models)? The sort of camera you can protect yourself with by applying it at velocity to an assailant's head?

I'm not interested if it is not metal. Cold, hard, heavy metal.

>"What I find surprising...is that while this camera is not a DSLR and has an electronic viewfinder...it mimics being one by the pentaprism roof on top of the camera...at least they could have then made it it a real (small?) DSLR which would really have made it a digital OM."

The whole point of micro 4/3 cameras is that they are _not_ DLSRs. As for what looks like a pentaprism housing (affectionately known as "the hump"), it is not there for looks. It houses the EVF and an accessory port. The reason it is so tall is because the new 5-axis IS mechanism is so big it fills the body cavity under the hump, so the EVF cannot be partially enclosed there. This site has a photo of it next to the previous 2-axis one, it's really big


It is so big there is some question whether it will fit into a PEN body.

>"Olympus could have stunned us all by making a digital SLR in the vein of the analog OM with modern technology offering something special."

They already have. Oly's 4/3 cameras are DSLRs. And they have hinted that a new 4/3 body is in the works. It will surely have all the latest goodies.

>"This can still be a very good camera but I find it a missed chance."

I think it's brilliant. Oly could have given it the melted soapbar styling like the Panasonics. By choosing the retro OM styling, I think this will prove to be a home run. I have no way of measuring, but the buzz this has created seems as big as before the Fuji X100. Time will tell.

>I'm not interested if it is not metal. Cold, hard, heavy metal.

Quote: "Magnesium alloy body"

from here: http://tinyurl.com/7cmotvf

And one more count of "I can't get over the hump". Great technology, it seems, but even as a kid I could not stand clothes with buttons that weren't working as buttons. I want structural truth.

Now, I have learned that sometimes decoration is part of the function (say in living room design, or in clothing). And all products work with "delight factors", small things that make you say "oh so cute". But what happens here is a company copying from itself, like in an endless replay of a band's "greatest hits", making it look like it was the only idea they ever had or that ever was worth having. Sort of like Harley-Davidson. And just like the motorcycles, the OM-D surely works well and is appealing too. But intellectually this design is just so devoid of any progress. It is barren. It is an example to Jaron Lanier's lament that in the internet age "everything's a mashup".

I still have a slim hope that somehow the real thing looks more acceptable than the photos of it, because I love the technology. Or maybe better, that Panasonic comes up with something that is both technologically advanced and intellectually honest.

After just finishing the article on Olympus in Business Week, I do not know if I could purchase anything from them. Even if things are being turned around. Best article I have read in a year.

"Fuji did this right by making a camera which not only looks like a rangefinder but it actually is one (albeit a digital one with all the modern technology)."

The Fuji is a range finder? There is no way to tell tell if you have focus with the Fuji. It's more like an external optical viewfinder just crammed in the corner of the camera. There is no range finder mechanism on the camera at all! I like the idea and I like the look, but Fuji's implementation falls far far short.

"What I find surprising and a little irritating is that while this camera is not a DSLR and has an electronic viewfinder (which, I am sure, is fine) it mimics being one by the pentaprism roof on top of the camera.

True, it does mimic DSLR styling. An EVF isn't just a flat screen like the LCD. It takes up space and has to go somewhere. It's pretty clear from looking at the back that placing it where the X Pro1 has their finder would of resulted in some sever compromises to the shape of the camera. There isn't isn't any space. There are still some other electronics you'll have to find space for too.

From some of Oly's interviews it seems like they view the OM-D much differently then the Pen. Where the Pen is more about small lenses and primes, I think we'll see more zooms aimed at OM-D users. In that sense the shape makes more sense. I wouldn't be surprised to see an EVF in a Pen shaped camera at some point though.

Mike, on the link to B&H, did you notice the pricing?

LUMIX DMC-GX1 Digital Camera (Body Only, Silver) $699.00
LUMIX DMC-GX1 Digital Camera (Body Only, Black) $699.00
LUMIX DMC-GX1 Digital Camera & G VARIO 14-42mm Lens Kit (Black) $799.00
LUMIX DMC-GX1 Digital Camera & G VARIO 14-42mm Lens Kit (Silver)
>> $699.88 <<

If you can live with the silver body, you can get the 14-42 zoom for 88 cents. Not a bad deal at all!
(With the black body, the zoom adds $100.00.)

I actually think that the form factor of the SLR is something that just works well ergonomically. I find that I am most comfortable with the SLR shape and controls, and have continued to use a DSLR mainly because I like how it feels in my hands.

Regarding the OM-D E-M5, I don't really care if its not a DSLR and has an EVF that mimics the shape of an OVF... if it works and feels good in my hands – I'm down.

I've no idea why I want this thing. I already have a G3......

I always chuckle in amusement whenever a new Micro 4/3 camera is introduced.

The story behind this is that I bought my first DSLR, the E-520, barely two months before M4/3 debuted with the G1*. Talk about missing the boat.

Not that the E-520's big though-- pretty petite, and a helluva learner's camera too (except the tunnel vision VF)

*(I knew the G1 was coming out, but needed a camera urgently for a long trip. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.)

Was the new IS really so important to photographers? Before Oly started its marketing campaign for this camera, I never read of many people demanding new and improved in-body IS in their next Olympus or improved IS in other cameras/lenses. The IS in my E-P3 was just fine---I needed better low light focusing and ISO performance more than better IS to me from problems that don't have. Of course, with the in-body IS, we have the problem of trying to use a long lens on a camera that does not show the stabilization in the viewfinder. For grins and giggles, try attaching an MF OM Zuiko of 200mm to your E-P3 and try to hold that steady enough to focus. You'll soon remember why they make tripods, or will go back to your dSLR with stabilized lenses. Will the new IS address that?

So was the OM (sorta*) retro design chosen because of the need to stuff the new IS in a large hump, or was it chosen as the best, cleanest, most efficient, most practical design for photographers?

Olympus may be right with this and the 1970s OM (sorta) flashback might prove to be very popular outside of a certain age/sex demographic, and outside of Japan (see Thom Hogan for an idea of Oly's sales problem (http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/olympus-financials-us-camer.html). But what are they gonna retro after the current retro rage is over?

Yes, I am just trying to be a grouch. Just not a retro-grouch.

*Wasn't the original OM-1 a very basic, simple camera without a bunch of (without any) add-on frills?

I am currently a Nikon user but this camera would be my first choice were I to buy a new one. And that's only because of one feature - Eye Detect. This camera can not only detect faces but it can also detect eyes and automatically put the focus point on them. Not only that, it lets you specify which eye you want to focus on - left, right, or the closest one. For a portrait photographer like me, this feature is a god-sent.

Any reason, Mike, you haven't uttered peep one in these pages about the Pentax K-01?

Love it, hate it - certainly it would be a conversation/debate generator.

Dear Clayton,

Thanks for the pointer to those image stabilization tests. All of a sudden, I'm finding this new body more interesting...

Test data trumps spec-peeping any day.

pax / Ctein

I got to play with one briefly at a camera shop last night, and was impressed. Nice to hold, and nice to operate.

@Mac Dekker re: the hump. Here's a cross-section of the camera, which shows that it is a very necessary feature http://tinyuploads.com/pics2/cp/35.jpg

Hey, didn't Pentax release some new camera or something?

Clinical hypothesis: benign form of anal sadistic regression of obsessional type ?

Suggested therapy: to accept the irreversibility of passing time.

An alternative: change your / life / wife / husband / job...

Strict interdiction: give in to temptation, since it's not the desired object that matters but the desire as desire per se.

Worsening risk of becoming a compulsive collector, which will be expelled by her /his husband / wife / boss / banker...and end up as a homeless beggar!

Ugly on the outside, pretty on the inside.

Can't wait for the features to migrate to E-P4X.

Who cares about the looks if the functionality and handling works?

I'm certain it will be a great camera, but I am less certain is has the mass market appeal to make Oly a heap of money. Not everyone has got the message yet.

It takes time for a system to mature, and this is perhaps the first camera from MFT that says, 'i'm grown up'.
I would like to see a 135 1.8 from Oly. This will take care of whatever DOF limitations the system is criticized for.

"Featured Comment by Mac Dekker: What I find surprising...is that while this camera is not a DSLR and has an electronic viewfinder...it mimics being one by the pentaprism roof on top of the camera...at least they could have then made it it a real (small?) DSLR which would really have made it a digital OM."

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think you can make a "real" DSLR with m4/3. This has something to do with the lens mount to sensor distance being to short for a mirror to swing.

Clayton James: "Magnesium alloy body"

This is just a fancy type of aluminum. The commenter demanding "heavy metal" will surely be disappointed, it's a very lightweight metal, even lighter than the more pedestrian non-alloyed aluminum.

"They already have. Oly's 4/3 cameras are DSLRs. And they have hinted that a new 4/3 body is in the works."

Really? That's good news if true, and if they're talking about a follow-on to the E-620 (As opposed to the massive E-5)

But I thought Oly had announced that the DSLR line was dead, except for the E-5.

You can afford one, Mike. If only a hundred thousand of your readers buy one using the TOP link to B&H, it'll be paid for.

"You can afford one, Mike. If only a hundred thousand of your readers buy one using the TOP link to B&H, it'll be paid for."

Actually, the real number is 34....


Regarding the black model - will it brass?

You can afford one. A bare Olympus E-P3 plus the e-viewfinder costs about the same as the OM-D. The bigger sensor, the five-way gyro stabis, the weatherproofing, the control wheels and dials, the hopped-up image engine, are free. The shape is a cadeau. You can't not afford one. It may be smaller than the Olympus E-450, but it will be better even if it isn't.

"Of course, with the in-body IS, we have the problem of trying to use a long lens on a camera that does not show the stabilization in the viewfinder. Will the new IS address that?"

From http://www.pekkapotka.com/journal/2012/2/24/olympus-e-m5-5-axis-image-stabilization.html

"One huge benefit .... is [the] E-M5´s stabilized EVF. It´s so calm, you can concentrate on subject and framing without any vibration. [The] EVF image just stays put there solid and clear. It even lacks the snaps and jerks of optical stabilization."

The SLR hump and the rangefinder portal are longstanding designs in cameras. They are tried and true. But, also, it looks like the EM-5 design isn't too far off the design of the E-Pen-1,2,3. Stick a housting for an EVF on its top, but one that doesnt detach? Good idea. Place things to allow top controls for both hands to mess with? Nice.

It's an evolving design. They're dickering a little with a layout of components that, for them, is becoming tried and true. They've gone out on a limb enough, I think, with u4/3rds, already. No need to muck with too much, Olympus.

So, sure, they've messed with the lines and details of their line so that it (falsely) suggests a 70s-80s SLR, tugging at some people's nostalgia and others' crankiness. Good for them. And, yeah, I was a little cheesed off when the E-P1 didn't have a design with something suggesting the old Pen's finder, but I bought and love using it anyway. Controls in the right place, feels good in the hand, decent quality shots, carryable.

With all the fine camera choices offered in today's marketplace, I fail to understand why someone would by from Olympus. You're not only taking a chance that the company will fail, you're also rewarding illegal behavior. The only way that consumers can make themselves heard is through their buying choices.

Mac Deccer: The new Fuji is not a digital rangefinder, it is hybrid of window-finder and electronic viewfinder.

I bought the E-PL2 last year with a couple of lenses via the Olympus site. Then I added the 20 1.7 and really loved the combination. I had been growing tired of Canon weight, size and pricing so when the OM-D was offered for pre-order, I sold my 5D and and plan to sell off all my Canon lenses. I have added a Fuji HS20 to round it things out (I never have less than 2 cameras on hand). I spent 12 years and a huge bunch of dollars on Canon but recent increases in weight and price on Canon products have encouraged me to look elsewhere. I can't tell you how freeing it is!

I'm annoyed. OK? I'm annoyed because I don't understand why everyone seems to be so gaga over this camera. I mean, for a lot less you can get a G3 which is essentially the same camera. (See Kirk Tuck's site). Furthermore,
Panasonic and Olympus seem to turn out a new camera every other week. So, if you want to collect cameras, you've come to the right place.

Meanwhile, back at the sensor ranch, they seem to be ridin' the same old nag. Not much doin' there compared to the competition. Too busy paying off the Yakusa ,I guess. Sigh!

@Garret B and Steve J: The problem of the hump is really functionality, not aesthetics. The viewfinder at the center is in the wrong place functionally, should be at the left of the body as in the rangefinders. It was forced to be at the center in the SLR, to have the pentaprism above the mirror. Now with the EVF it can be put back were it should, not to mimic a rangefinder but to make space for the nose. What is irritating is that "retro" aesthetics won over functionality (and I'm sure the few other things hosted in the dome colud find place somewhere else, keeping the volume constant).
Despite this, I'm very likely to buy it.

I think it's a valid question to ask why a 2010s digital mirrorless camera must look like a 70s SLR or a 60s rangefinder. One could even say that a camera today could be shaped completely different from the previous generations because it does not house roll film. Of course ergonomics are essential, but that does not automatically demand a traditional shape in my opinion.

However promising this camera looks, there's one irritant which, sadly, goes with the format. The aspect ratio. You have to crop the image to make it 3:2, which takes away premium pixels away from a megapixel starved sensor.

Not only do I see functional rationales for the OM-D's hump, I wish it were interchangeable, like the great system SLRs of old. (With a secure attachment of course.) Imagine, say, a high eye-point/high-mag version, or for video rigs a breakout box for mics/monitor/remote, or even humps with mundane features like fill-flash, articulation, etc., etc.

Yes, economically impractical for Olympus I'm sure, unless perhaps they were willing to open that hump attachment to third parties, which I am sure they would not be.

As it is, I am convinced that the hump allowed designers to make the body so small, for one thing. Of course, they likewise could have traded a larger chassis for a smaller--or no-- hump. Elevating the accessory port might give some advantages re accessory design and function.

By the way, the photo that someone linked to of the older and newer IS assemblies side-by-side looks like it's a composite of two images at different scales. Once you adjust for that, the difference in lateral dimensions seems negligible, while the difference in thickness can't be determined. The cut-away that someone else linked to is more convincing, at least about the space available (or unavailable) in the body.

Need to agree with Mac's comment. I was really on fire when the first pics showed up.

I was hoping for a small DSLR in OM design. And then... well it sure looks nice and takes good photos, but to me it looks like an E-P3 with added evf. And what's the point of making pentaprism-shaped thing on top when there's no pentaprism inside?

The lure is the lenses. I'm starting not to care which of the tiny bodies I use as long as they take the 25mm 1.4 and my collection of fast, older Pen lenses.

I don't object to the hump as such. But I think it is a bit too much to put the power outlet above the finder and then a hot shoe standing proud on top of that. The hump could be a bit smaller, as much as is needed by the EVF. Hot shoe is good to have but it could be a slim design, not standing up as it does now. 1.8/135 would be nice but it would be a huge lens. I have the 2/150 Zuiko and would not really want to mount it on a small body. I would be happy with a 2.8/150. Another thing I don't like is the new battery. Why these companies keep coming up with new batteries that then need new chargers. The benefit of having two bodies that share the same battery and charger are huge. And I usually buy at least one if not two extras. I suppose that answers my question why manufacturers do it...

@anurag--for my money 4:3 is a much nicer aspect ratio compared to 3:2. I find I'm always cropping my DSLR images to match my old 645 negs. I'm half in the market for a second camera; the aspect ratio is one weight in favor of the OMD compared to the APS-C alternatives.

Still can't convince myself to preorder, though.

I believe the "hump" on the camera is very functional. Sony engineers have previopusly stated that large sensors in small bodies with IBIS have problems relating to heat from the IBIS causing noise on the sensor. The noise on previous Oly mft cameras has been an issue. By raising the new (and probably more heat developing) IBIS assenbly away from and above the sensor, I think the new model is probably reducing sensor noise. I'd call that good design.

It is more a ”retro-fake” than ”retro-design” for me.
A long time ago Woody Allen created some amusing monsters.
One of them had “a head of a lion and a body of a lion, but not the same lion”.
This little monster has a body of a lion stuffed into the skin of a camel!

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007