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Tuesday, 05 June 2012


"While using the rear tilt-screen finder to frame my night shots, I found that that finder would periodically black out."

I've had the same thing occur. In my case I was bracing the camera against my chest. I think there's an infrared sensor that detects if the viewfinder is being used by detecting body heat near the eyepiece. It can't tell the difference between that and the heat from your body. Now I just use the LCD/VF button to switch between the two displays.

The camera does indeed get warm. And it will turn itself off if you're recording video if it gets too hot. With no warning...

I still love the camera, though, and the pictures I get using it. Money well spent IMHO.

"With a regular SLR I'd have needed to stand on a chair to do that."

I amnot sure what regular means, but many new DSLR's (like my Canon T3i) have a tilt screen, too.

I live in Ottawa, and for 6 months of the year the idea of a camera that can warm up my hands has a lot of appeal. If I have to buy some extra batteries and keep them in my pocket, I can live with it.

In the few articles/reviews I've read, I have not seen a mention of being able to see a histogram BEFORE taking a picture, which is when you really want it. Seems to me that this is useful feature of a camera with an EVF. My Sony R1 did that, and because of it, I turned off post-view, never did any chimping with it.

One more question. I am no longer (if I ever was) any good at visualizing B&W. Is it possible to set the camera to B&W, so that the image in the EVFor LCD is in B&W, but have it still record the full RAW? The Sony R1 also did this.

Glad you're enjoying your OM-D as much as I am mine. Really like the overhead shot. This is my first tilt screen as well and that feature opens up a lot of possibilities for both crowd shots as well as macros, low viewpoints, street shooting, etc. The "live bulb" and "live time" modes are well worth exploring too; brings a whole new level of control to long exposures (and is just plain fun). A quick note: you can definitely extend your auto ISO range, though it requires a dive into the menus. Mine caps out at ISO 5000, which is kind of necessary considering how slow the kit lens is.

Richard, the OM-D has the controls you think it does. I leave the rear LCD displaying the controls for easy access. I've set up a preset for exposure bracketing which can be invoked with a button push.

I'm loving this little camera more every time I use it. I had three bags to carry around my Canon bodies and glass which weighed on the order of 60lbs. total. Now I have a single bag weighing about 10lbs. with two u4/3 bodies, 10 lenses, chargers, filters and TriggerTrap cable! I just grab the bag and go unlike with the Canon gear when I had to decide ahead of time what to take for a quick shoot.

The real bonus is the image quality. It may not be as good as the 5DMkII I had but I haven't found anyone but other photographers who can tell the difference.

I've been using the OMD for a couple of weeks now and I am liking the results, but I'm still getting used to the interface. I really like the landscape grip. I could get by using a small prime lens without the grip, but even with the 12-50 kit lens I think it feels much better in my hands with it on.

You can turn off the automatic image review in the viewfinder, which was killing me, under the "wrench" menu (it defaults to 0.5 seconds).

@Robert Roaldi If you hit the info button you can toggle through amount of display information and you can bring up the histogram. It is visible on the screen or in the EVF. However, if you are using the focus area zoom feature it will not be visible.

"I have not seen a mention of being able to see a histogram BEFORE taking a picture"

The camera can be setup to show a live histogram in the VF / on the LCD.

"Is it possible to set the camera to B&W, so that the image in the EVFor LCD is in B&W, but have it still record the full RAW?"


Robert, you can see a histogram while framing a shot. The customization possibilities on this camera are both wonderful and daunting ...

Auto ISO seems limited to the 200 to 1600 range

The Auto ISO range is adjustable to anything you want in the menus.

I haven't found it easy to go into the menus to crank up the ISO beyond that

You can set one of the function buttons (or the REC button) to activate ISO selection, which you then change by turning either of the control wheels. You can also set one of the 4-way buttons to activate ISO selection.

... and you can show blown-out highlights (in orange) and shadows (in blue) before the shot too. Makes it easy to decide your exposure compensation ...

I often shoot outdoors in bright sun light and I have to wear sunglasses. Have you tried the EVF while wearing sunglasses? I bought a Fuji X100 and I find it necessary to use the OVF on it while wearing sunglasses.

I think this might be the first time seeing someone use Aperture as part of their workflow for image processing/archival! It's usually some combination of photoshop or lightroom. Glad to see that I'm not the only one out there who uses aperture (well, at least it seems that way sometimes).

On the battery life, Jordan Steele did a whole day of shooting (http://admiringlight.com/blog/olympus-e-m5-sports-shooting-field-report/, 872 images) and reported excellent battery health. I suppose battery life is still one of those YMWV type of issues.

You can definitely set the OM-D to show the histogram in the viewfinder, it is how I use mine. I have also turned off the auto switching between the viewfinder and the rear screen, this allows me to set which ever is my preference.

I have just finished my first week with this camera, I took it on a photography tour I was running. It did take me a few days to get it set up exactly as I wanted, but once I did, I have loved using this beautiful little camera.

When I upgraded to Lightroom 4, I didn't notice that it wasn't the latest version, so I didn't have raw support, so I spent the week editing and manipulating jogs. Not my usual way of operating. But, I must say I am impressed with the files, and the pictures. They are stunning. Shooting straight into the sun with sunsets, the dynamic range left my students Canon D5 mk II behind, with much smaller blown highlights and more details in the shadows. The difference was jaw dropping, and they were only the jpgs.

I couldn't be happier with this beautiful little camera, and my photos show the difference...

For the past few weeks I have been thoroughly enjoying my OMD EM-5. I bought the body without the lens and chose, instead, to purchase the Panasonic 14-45mm lens along with the Panasonic 45-200mm lens. I decided not to buy any other lenses until I was satisfied with the handling of the camera and quality of the images produced. I now plan on purchasing a couple of strategic primes.

I am totally happy with the image quality. The camera handles well, albeit a bit small for my hands. I normally use a D700 and have ordered the Olympus battery holder to allow me to grip the Olympus a little better. This camera has a huge, but easily found, number of options from which to choose for making images. I don't care much for the off/on switch but that is nitpicking. In the past I have not been a fan of EVFs, but this one is very usable. So far, everything seems to be rather competently engineered and the camera does what it is designed to do.

My goal is to eventually downsize to a smaller, lighter and less expensive photographic system but to stay completely satisified with my photographic tools. I believe the EM-5 is a good first step.

Have found that, because EVF/rear display autoswitching sensitivity can't be adjusted, it's best to switch it off when using the rear touchscreen focus control (which is a darn handy thing). Luckily there's a menu shortcut: press and hold the EVF switch.

Enjoy the camera!

either you are pulling our legs by twentysomething years, or your father is in mighty great shape. he, and you, are lucky people. congrats to Dad!
I lost my Sony R1 in the backseat of a cab five years ago, and I still miss it. What a great prophetic concept it was. Only wised it had had a metal body...

That first shot is =SO= Toronto suburbs!

Arrrgh! You got yours at Henry's on a day's notice? I'm back-ordered at Vistek (also in Toronto) until the end of June even though I ordered it in April!

That said, I'm glad to read another positive response to this camera, and I'm really looking forward to getting mine... eventually.

The gizmo that switches off the screen when you use the EVF is usually an infrared proximity sensor. It emits infrared, and when a nearby object reflects the light to a receiver the screen turns off and the EVF turns on. Thus, waving your fingers or the camera strap near the sensor can start the process.

The pictures of the EM-5 don't show the sensor, but $5 says it's one of this type.

Most compacts are sensitive to infrared and will let you see the infrared LED. You can test for infrared sensitivity by pointing the camera at a TV remote and pressing a button on the remote. No need to take a photo, if it's going to work you'll see it on the preview.

John Holmes - Make sure the sunglasses you're wearing aren't polarized. Any EVF or LCD screen generates polarized light. If the angle of the polarization in your sunglasses is aligned with the light coming from the EVF or LCD, it will look black.

You can see this effect with polarized sunglasses if you turn the LCD around in a circle while watching it (or a smart phone, or tablet, etc.). You'll see it go from black to pretty much normal and back to black.

Some sunglasses don't have consistent polarization (usually cheaper ones) so you may not see it go totally black, but it will look weird.

As someone else mentioned, you can set the upper (and lower, if you find a need for it) limit of Auto ISO - Gears menu > Section E > ISO-Auto Set. It comes set to 1600 max from the factory, but I've bumped mine to 6400, which works fine for most of my work intended for the web.

For Robert Roaldi - Yes, you can set the OM-D to several different Picture Modes (which include the various Art Filters); one of those is Monochrome. Once in that mode, you can choose a filter (neutral, yellow, orange, red, green) and Picture Tone (neutral, sepia, blue, purple, green). All of this shows up in real time in both the EVF and on the LCD. These modes are applied to the out-of-camera JPEGs, but the RAW files (if you shoot RAW+JPEG) are still in color.

While you can shoot with a live histogram, I've found that the Shadow/Highlight mode is more useful - adjusting exposure in the EVF based on how much orange/blue you see on screen quickly becomes second nature.

I've switched over completely from a 5D Mark II/7D combination to two (the second just acquired yesterday) OM-Ds. My shoulder is so thankful, and shooting is much more fun. It's not a perfect camera for everyone (action/sports is not its forte), but it is amazingly capable for its size and price tag. For all but specialized areas, I really think the OM-D (and cameras like it) are the future.

I have been using mine with the automatic switching between EVF and rear display turned off as well. It was switching too slowly for me. I snap-shoot when on the street and it couldn't keep up. Having done so, it's a wonderful camera; I shoot in the rain a lot, by choice, and for years used plastic-wrap and electrical tape to protect my cameras. Now it's so convenient I feel spoiled. And larger prints(I use the Epson 3880) at ISO 3200 look good!

Dpreview has a very useful post about setting up the Olympus E-M5 which I found very useful. Its very customizable, but default settings are not very enthusiast friendly.


I'm sure all the posts so far will have answered Richard's 'minor annoyance' about the viewfinder, or just read the manual. But the battery life was another annoyance and after a few charge cycles the battery life will improve, but there will always be a trade-off between a small battery to fit the size of camera and running as many functions as a large FF DSLR. A spare battery is needed, but then you'd need one for any camera.

The most annoying software glitch with this camera is the fact that if you reduce the (horribly oversized) focus box by using the magnify function - which is in itself very useful when mounting non-native lenses - the live histogram vanishes. When you stab the info (or is it "OK"?) button to restore the histogram, the focus box returns to oversize. Additionally the reduced size focus box is quite impossible to control when using the cursor keys - it simply flies about all over the vf. Infuriating. Maybe they'll offer a firmware fix. And maybe they'll wait until they release the next version of the camera and we can throw away this one.

> Of course it's not like I really needed a new camera. <
Oh my, oh my. http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7843621/ah-a-new-camera

Thanks for the info everybody, and I use Aperture as well. Does everything I need.

Well, I finally got mine. Great camera. Three things which bother me, though:

1.The instruction manual is not a model of clarity. (not to mention the complete manual is only on a CD, which makes it a bit difficult to carry around.) I'm still having trouble getting certain functions to work the way the manual says they're supposed to. This may be more a reflection of my mental capacity, however....

2. The fact I can't use RAW from the camera with my version of Photoshop (CS 4). It appears Adobe will not provide an upgrade for CS 4, so it's either seeing if their DNG Converter will work on my computer (and it sounds more like it archives RAW files for future prep, rather than allowing you to process them--correct me if I'm wrong), or getting CS 6. But if I do that, I have to get a new operating system installed in my computer, which is gonna cost even more bucks. And I've heard that even if I do that, the new system might not work with my film scanner, printer, etc...

3. That fact that spare batteries for the EM-5 appear to be unavailable. Ordered some from B&H some time ago and I'm still waiting...

OK, enough whining. Otherwise, everything is cool.

@ Dennis: C'mon, admit it. You drive around with a stuffed deer in your car! Nice deer portrait!

@ Richard: Nice summary. I think your final sentence also sums most of my feelings.

Since writing my notes I've had the opportunity to use the E-M5 in a wide gamut of situations, from fast-moving documentary ...

Chicago Police at NATO Summit Protest
Chicago, 2012

... to more studied work requiring far more subtlety of capture ...

The Wall, Revisited / 2012

It has not yet disappointed me badly, although I have encountered some errors induced by settings confusion and mushy buttons. If I were to amend my own remarks I would do so as follows.

- Budget plenty of time to study the E-M5's options and controls, particularly the customization of button functions. This time investment will pay strong dividends in getting the camera out of your way.

- If you currently own and enjoy an E-P3 think hard about whether you really need the E-M5. Touts aside, the advantages are slim for most purposes, particularly if you also have the VF-2 accessory viewfinder.

- The E-M5's spongy buttons are really beginning to bug me, especially in fast-moving situations.

Overall, today the E-M5 falls squarely into second place behind the Sony NEX-7 (and NEX-5N) for me. Each has quirks and strengths but after several continuous weeks with the E-M5 I'm eager to pick up the NEX again for casual work.

It's a lovely little camera. I've just shot with one for a week while attending our exhibition opening at the London Festival of Photography.

The biggest problem is of course the short battery life, caused in part by Olympus' failure to reach even GF1-level sleep mode standards with their latest camera, a mystifying state of affairs. Also, with the Panasonic 20mm, AF is slow in poor light, worse than with the GF1, and the E-M5 will lock up if it goes to sleep with that lens, necessitating a battery removal.

Another unnecessary annoyance is Olympus' insistence on showing 4:3 shots in review, even though the actual photo, in framing the shot as well as in PS or LR, appears in the aspect ratio of your choice. This necessitates shooting in RAW+jpg, effectively doubling the number of files and reducing memory space.

That said, however, the shutter is lovely, the EVF usable, the ergonomics reasonable, and the files you do get before the battery runs out are very nice.

I have the GF1 and the E-M5 here, with the 20/1.7. Can't say I have found the 20 to perform poorer in any light on the E-M5 so far.

I have had the locking up issue when it goes to sleep with the Panny lens though. Emailed Olympus about it and they said a firmware fix is in progress.

I have had the OM-D for about a month now (Australia) and am very happy with the results and handling, with 2 major exceptions: #1. I shoot a lot of hand held bracketed exposures for HDR or similar processing and bought the camera primarily for the advertised frame rate and exposure options. I was dismayed to find that to access a bracketing set requires at the very least 12 selections and button pushes. One can make a Function for a bracket set that can be accessed by pressing *and holding down* a Fn button, which is cumbersome to do while framing and shooting. If one needs to change any parameter (ISO, aperture etc.) one has to abandon the button and the set is lost. I hope I am missing something, but it appears that exposure bracketing is very cumbersome with this camera, unlike with the EOS 7D and Pana GH2 which I use.

oldsweng mentioned making a preset for exposure bracketing that can be invoked with a button push. Did he mean a push *and hold* and can he then change other parameters without loosing the bracket preset?

Exception 2 from my previous post is that when shooting a 5 or 7 exposure bracketing sequence, often some frames are not bracketed (differently exposed): say for a Raw 5-bracket sequence at 1 stop intervals, the sequence should be 0, -2, -1, +1, +2. In Camera Raw the nominal sequence in the Exif is displayed correctly, however often the -2, -1, are identical visually and if processed, and often only the first and last frames show any exposure difference.

This happens mostly on lower contrast subjects and may be related to the camera's poor AE/AF locking ability in lower light/contrast situations. Sometimes it happens in quite normal situations and it makes exposure bracketing a non-feature for me.

Since many people do exposure bracketing these days, I wonder if anyone else had this problem or if it is a problem with my copy iof the camera.

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