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Thursday, 03 January 2013


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I think the camera of the year is not a camera... its the camera user. With so many wonderful choices, I can't imagine a better time to be a photographer - amateur or professional.

Well, the camera of the year for me will be a Fuji X-E1 with the 35mm f/1.4 lens. It appears to be the first digital camera that can successfully replace my old Leica CL - image quality + ergonomics. After a couple of years of using an Olympus E-PL1 with the VF-2 viewfinder, I'm happy to convert to an electronic viewfinder and not an optical one. And the lack of an AA filter and Bayer array means I'll have the smooth-yet-sharp surface I'm accustomed to shooting slide film in a Leica. I've also learned that a digital camera must be large enough for you hands to comfortably navigate all the damn interface controls. The E-PL1 was the exact same size as a CL, but everything was just too cramped for me to operate it quickly and intuitively. Now, on to Ebay for some load-lightening!

Not much on TV tonight Mike, so I posted a link over at the DPR m4/3 forum. My popcorn is waiting.

Dear Mike,

Well, of course that must be right, because I bought that camera. [vvvvvbg]

pax / self-centered Ctein

In the "hell bent for leather" category, my pick for Album of the Year is "Babel" by Mumford & Sons.

I'm ignoring your choice for camera of the year. It's just a thinly veiled attempt to make up for your guilt over not bonding with the Olympus... ;-)


Mike, is there anything in the fact that three of the four are small cameras - a type that seems to have come of age this year?

Your choice doesn't surprise me: although I'd have bet on you going for the Nikon. Too many nice things said about the OM-D (the camera I really wanted to like but it's too small for me).

Personally, the Fuji is the one for me - but, then, I have a vested interest in having parted with money for one and having been very pleased with it - like you say in the post.

I'm absolutely thrilled Olympus is getting this recognition. Not as a "fanboy" but simply because I think it will drive people to get a really good camera. The best camera I ever had, with nothing I dislike too much.

I am not brand loyal. I started shooting a sony digicam dsc-w1, turned to a Canon 30D, then a 40D, convinced they were the best. Grew increasingly tired of Canon immobility to acknowledge things as convenient as Auto ISO -getting more and more common on Nikons at the time- and I turned to ... Olympus when they announced the life changing E-P1. Got magnificent shots but it slowly was getting oldish with little hope of improvement as Oly kept pushing the old sensor in 12 bodies, pushing me to think Panasonic (but got a S95 for a risky trip). Eventually they got all their things right and packed in that new super body we now have + a cool sensor to boot.

Still, many newcomer friends around me keep asking me about NEX-6/7 cameras+18-200 lenses (yes). I hope these kinds of success will help people think MFT.


p.s.: okay, I'm also relieved the E-P1 can now sleep next to my dad's OM-1 and that this OM-D will later meet them.

Well, I think three of the four cameras are possible candidates, and you chose one of those three, so that should probably count as "satisfied with your choice".

Not that my opinion matters much; you carefully qualified your choice as, well, your choice, and I certainly can't argue about that!

This whole business is making me nervous. I bought an E-M5* this year. As you say, not perfect, but as close to perfect for me as exists at present.

But now it's receiving various Best of Year awards. Does this mean I have to get rid of it and get something quirkier, less, well, mainstream? Couldn't you have picked something bigger, or even something silly? [Like the Fuji, to my mind.]

Ah well, I can be strong. I survived 5 years with the original 5D as my primary camera ...


* Olympus clearly intends 'OM-D' to designate a class of camera bodies, of which the E-M5 is the first. The same idea, silly or not, as the 'Pen' series, now comprising E-P1 through 3, E-PL1 through 5 and E-PM1 % 2.

An easy to swallow choice, given that you set yourself up to make such a single choice.

If I recall, you bought an E-M5, didn't you? A confluence of small factors have somehow prevented me from warming up to mine. Its image quality is undeniably good. The IBIS is excellent. Indeed, I used my E-M5 to shoot at least four of the ten 2012 images I'm most proud of. But somehow I'm not in love with the thing or, for that matter, with the MFT format. It's just me.

I agree with not naming a DSLR. Nevertheless, my Canon 5D Mark III is the finest 35mm dslr I have ever owned or used. Period. Exclamation point. It's a device that has been breathtakingly honed to near perfection as a general-purpose still camera. When I absolutely, positively have to get the best image in uncertain or challenging conditions I grab the 5DIII without hesitation.

I'm waiting for the "Team That Most Consistently Grabs Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory Award".

The Lions are a shoe-in.

I can understand that folks who are considering new gear want to read up on the gear and get some sort of "good/better/best" ranking in reviews.

What I have trouble understanding is the tendency for some folks to lobby and argue for ranking on gear they have already purchased.

I own an OM-D EM-5. I should feel better about my choice of camera if the OM-D beats out the BelchFilm X900Z all zirconian model?

Should I feel worse if the OM-D was ranked lower than the drain plug on the Titanic?

You should relax, you should enjoy, you should go outside in the fresh air and make some photographs already.



Might not be a good idea renting a Canon 5D Mark III...

... could turn out to be expensive. ;->

I suppose you'll get lots of comments from folks who would have chosen something else, so here's one in support of your choice: It gives fresh punch to the m4/3 format, which, while still strong, was largely overshadowed in 2012 by other mirrorless cameras (e.g., Sony's).

That said, I also agree with everything you said about the choice being meaningless.

Also, as a Broncos fan, I can say that we don't care whether Peyton Manning gets Comeback Player of the Year as long as he gets MVP. We don't even care about that as long as we win the Super Bowl.

I've found the EM5 to be a superb indoor camera with its good high iso performance and white balance combined with the fast prime lenses. But I still am missing that all-around do everything camera I want, since it can't focus my nice 4/3 lenses quickly, and I prefer to use those when outdoors (the m43 system has lots of lenses, but no high quality, fast, long zooms or primes). So I'm also waiting for the rumored super-OMD that should be coming by next fall, with full 4/3 lens high speed focusing. And I'll cross my fingers that they make a big leap in viewfinder quality, since I find the EM5's, compared to a decent optical viewfinder, ugly.

"P.S. Oh, and by the way: I will absolutely be glued to my TV this weekend when Washington plays Seattle. I'm a primate too, after all."
Are they playing with the roundy ball, or the one with the pointy ends? Come to think of it -- who cares?

Good choice. The choice OM-D for your 2012 Camera of the Year doesn't come as a suprise; it certainly has a lot of qualities and attributes that resonate with many photographers. I may well pick one of these up if for no other reason that I am also a long-time Olympus fan, having learned the craft of photography shooting with an OM-1 for many years (more than I care to admit). And we both know how good those Olympus lenses can be! The fact that I have a nice complement of legacy 35 mm manual focus Olympus lenses is all the more reason to explore this camera.

Your sensibilities are well-aligned with Lindsay Dobson of the U.K., a seasoned and expert professional whose blog I routinely follow becauuse of her clear articulate writing and absolutely beautiful photographs. Lindsay just published a superb comparison of the OM-D and the Canon 5D you and TOP readers may find of interest. http://lindsaydobsonphotography.com/blog/olympus-omd-vs-canon-5d-mkiii-nature-photography/

Stephen Scharf

Fitting discussion this week after Ray Lewis announced his retirement following this year's playoffs, and comparisons to all-time defensive greats ensued. Are the others - Butkus, L Taylor, et.al. - now any less great?

And don't even get me started on who's an 'elite' quarterback. I want to gag every time I hear the term.

Mike said "I love Micro 4/3 because I love lenses, and there are just more tasty lenses that you can stick on a Micro 4/3 camera than any other kind. "

I'm not questioning your voting the EM5 CotY. But I wonder if there are more tasty lenses available in Pentax K mount than u43? My stipulation being that proper lens operation is required (so exclude mechanical adapters that give up auto-aperture or autofocus (on such lenses)). Or for that matter if Nikon F mount might enjoy that distinction?

In any case, a good year all 'round.


"Also, as a Broncos fan, I can say that we don't care whether Peyton Manning gets Comeback Player of the Year as long as he gets MVP. We don't even care about that as long as we win the Super Bowl."

Well, he can't do THAT, because Aaron Rodgers is going to do that. But he's a nice guy, though.


That will at least make rule breaking news in the ranking primate if you follow this up ... "the best all-around camera that came out this year ... have been the Canon 5D Mark III,"

Hi Mike,
I bought an OM-D last year, and I have a love/hate relationship with it. As a looong time Canon user, I have pretty much committed all the user functions to muscle memory, they're second nature. But then I pick up the OM-D thinking, "I'll take the little camera today". Then I end up driving myself nuts trying to do things quickly like adjust exposure comp or something and have to stare and think. Drives me mad! But...then I look at some of the photos, and think,"Wow, that looks GREAT!". I know it's just me, my wife is utterly techno-illiterate, and she loves the Oly. She uses Scene modes...

"Are they playing with the roundy ball, or the one with the pointy ends? Come to think of it -- who cares?"

Well, considering that pro and college football together are a $15 billion business, considering that football is the favorite sport of 36% of Americans who watch sports (nearly three times baseball's 13% runner-up number), and considering that half of all U.S. households that own a TV tune in to the Super Bowl, I would say the answer to your question is "a lot of people."


Thanks for choosing one of several great cameras. I agonized between the OMD-D and a couple of cameras not on your list, the Sony Nex-7 (and Nex-6) before finally putting my bucks into the Nex-7, which of course has last year's "ancient, certainly decrepit" technology! It was difficult because I started my transition to digital with M4/3 Panasonic G-1, to which I attached my Canon FD macro lenses. Even had one of the Panny's converted to IR.

So, in the end it meant getting new adapters and giving up on syncing things. I almost got the OMD-5, but I persuaded myself that if I was going to upgrade I better go at least to 24MP from my 12MP, instead of the 16MP Olympus offered. Also, since I shoot everything off a tripod... my landscapes, macros and studio still lifes, the Sony offered me plenty. The wonderful in-body stabilizing that Olympus offers street shooters and journalists would have been wasted on me.

Nice. Well I guess I have to get that camera too. . . . wait, I am an independent thinker possessed of free will . . . no I am a primate who must follow the pack . . . no I'ma, I'ma nrrrg (drools, passes out).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm becoming more and more enamored of 4/3rd's, because of the lenses. So, you know my vote...

It's called 'diminishing returns.'

That's why your OMD is enough for what you need.

Whew! None of your picks interested me so I bought a new lens for the camera I already have. More important, I have a trip scheduled to use both.

Using cameras is a great hobby and can be an interesting job. Talking about cameras is just talk.

Just sayin' ...

I'm not surprised by your choice Mike. The more things change the more they stay the same.

I remember having had a long email conversation with you, during the CompuServe PhotoForum heyday, at a time when I was considering dumping my Nikons in favor of the Olympus OM system. I ended up staying with Nikon (which persists to this day), but your admiration and fascination with Olympus (especially the lens lineup and the OM4's metering system) was very compelling.

So here it is 20 years later and the songs have changed but the music remains the same: Olympus, with all its foibles, still has your heart. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Maybe the term you are looking for to describe comparisons between similar cameras is the "narcissism of small differences" coined by Freud. There's also the saying that "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake" which I believe goes by the name of Sayre's Law.

>>"Why is necessary to call one of them Rookie of the Year and the other one chopped liver? It's ridiculous."

I'm with you 100%...on cameras and most everything else. Counter-argument: It's easy to win a race when you're clearly better. But when the competitors are close? *Then* you have to be really good. You have to *think*. You have to have a plan. You have to execute. Being close doesn't diminish the #1 result that belongs to the winner. It enhances it.

Applies a lot more to people in races than to products. But, of course, products are just the embodiment of people's work and judgment. So...the same? Or different? Discuss.

Great choice Mike, in a year that offered some nice stuff.

I don't have an OMD and I won't get one. It's a great camera in so many ways, from IQ through a long list of solid features, and a solid lens selection. It left me cold; ugly, too cramped, unnecessarily complex and clunky controls. These are my personal views. The OMD reminds me of many computers - lots of desired features, but not enough time thinking of the user and how they interact with the tool. Still, I acknowledge that it's nearly perfect for many people. So I feel I would have chosen it too as a COTY.

For my personal use, this year I chose an X-Pro 1, and I am beyond delighted.

I'm a big fan of the E-M5. The only real criticism I have is that there is no correspondingly competent, versatile, compact lens available for it.

My selfish hope is that the attention paid to the E-M5 leads to a lot of copycats. Not in the sense of cameras that look or spec identical, but rather in the notion that serious cameras can be small.

Great choice. I totally agree. The EM-5 is revolutionary. It's so good that I seriously considered switching from my oversize DSLR system to micro 4/3. I think I could accomplish 90% of my photography with an EM-5.

BTW, I've owned a Canon 5D Mark III for a little over a week now. This camera is awesome. I love the auto focus, frame rate, silent shutter, and ISO performance. Also, the camera is very user friendly and comfortable in hand. With my 40mm Pancake attached and silent shutter enabled, the Mark III is a dream. The Mark III didn't break any new ground, but it seems like the perfect refinement of the modern DSLR.

Hi Mike, and Happy New Year, 2013 s/b yet another great year for photographer's gear.

If you do go ahead with the Canon 5D3 rental and review I know you'll find it a wonderful camera. I work with a team of photographers, I shoot now with Nikon's, they shoot with Canon's so I've been able to compare both the D800/E and the 5D3. While there are of course differences, biggest seems to be 24 vs 36 megapixels and 8FPS vs 4 or so FPS, both are amazing tools. The high ISO performance is very close to equal but with a interesting divergence. Nikons tend to stop lifting shadows at about 1600 iso, while Canons tend to keep lifting shadows all the way to 25,600 iso. But, this only means you may not want to shoot Nikon's beyond 1600 iso, underexpose and then lift the shadows in PS, same, equal or better result as pushing the iso in Canons. Again, very similar results. Unlike many others I'm happy to use either, and don't really care much about nit picking why one is better or worse than the other. Neither one is really ever going to get in your way of making great pictures if you know how to use them. It is the best of times, and only getting better!



I'd been shooting with the GF1 and the 5DII for years before I got my hands on the EM5 at the store back in May of 2012. I liked the camera immediately, especially the sound and feel of the shutter, the tilting screen, and the position of the EVF, i.e. more behind the lens than way on top or over on the side.

So I got one. And for all of its qualities, I didn't immediately love it. Perhaps it was my high expectations, but in retrospect I believe it was just plain unfamiliarity with a new camera. Over the many months since I got it, however, I have come to appreciate it very much. It just goes, it's there when it needs to be, especially since I got the Oly 17mm 1.8 to complement it. The GF1 could never have replaced the 5DII, but the EM5 has done the trick.

Well I gotta tell ya that I am very happy with my two week old d800 of course it's way too cold here in Mainetoday have really worked it much . But when I have, I have been stunned. By the IQ and detail with that said, my first prints are no better (so far) than my d700!

You're absolutely right Mike, the most amazing camera this year is Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning.

I to am glad you got it "right" I just got my EM-5 for Xmas. I'm still giddy with euphoria

Joint first place award with DPR (sorry for mentioning the D word) which is interesting, although their 2nd and 3rd spots are predictable. I haven't invested in any new models myself so I don't have an opinion, other than that Fuji deserve recognition for investing in camera design as opposed to mainly sensor improvements. My own requirements from a sensor were probably surpassed some time ago

ACL-Tear, oh yes. "Unhappy triad" wrecked my knee and put a stop at my passion, cycling. Overcoming something like this and re-starting as a professional sportsman is no mean feat.

No surprises here.
The first time I saw the E-M5 in the flesh I had the strange feeling it was a plastic toy, a crude pastiche of the OM-4. I was hugely disappointed, but decided to give it a chance. When I held it, those unfavourable impressions vanished instantly: it is so well-balanced, feels so nice to hold, the rotary controls on the top are so cleverly laid out; a real delight to use. Its image quality is sufficiently documented everywhere: it is the best micro 4/3 camera yet. The OM-D E-M5 (Olympus does need to rethink their model naming) is so well-judged it becomes an obvious winner.
...But not for everyone: here at TOP we're sheltered from the rage of the Nikon and Canon fanboys who bitterly resented the D800 and 5D MkIII having lost for the Olympus on the COTY poll DPReview promoted. The comments on the article which announced the poll results would provide some interesting chats at the coffee break of a clinical psychiatry symposium.

Mike said "I love Micro 4/3 because I love lenses, and there are just more tasty lenses that you can stick on a Micro 4/3 camera than any other kind".

You are aware that both Canon and Nikon each have over 140 lenses in their respective catalogues, and m43 doesn't offer a single long telephoto lens that's not a slow variable aperture zoom like 45-200 f4-5.6.

Nobody has a more complete, quality lens line-up than Nikon and Canon, period.

>> "Also, as a Broncos fan... Peyton Manning... gets MVP.

>> Well, he can't do THAT, because Aaron Rodgers is going to do that.

Mr. Hubble says trophies are for people with self-esteem issues.

(Apologies to all who haven't seen that TV ad 9,877,251 times this pointy-ended ball season) - Go Pats!

Relating this back to the post, I wonder what % of original retail the 2010 COTY is selling for on KEH these days? Time for a discount double-check! *wink*

I just got an OMD to replace my Panasonic G2 based on a lot of the commentary on this site, and I'm very, very happy with the decision. The ergonomics are clunky, as I expected from the reviews, but the image quality is fantastic. Like others, I've had almost no buyer's remorse to this point, and can see using this camera for many years.*

*Statement not legally binding in the United States or anywhere else on planet Earth.

Contrary Old man say:

John Unitas

Nikon V1

I am fairly certain that the proper name, when referring to your observed principle, is "laziness". It's easier to argue over a single point than over twenty.

And here I thought the camera of the year was going to be the Canon EOS-M: for showing everyone how wonderful the rest of the mirrorless market really is! ;)

Well, I'll have to commend you on your choice, since I've become a raving fan of the EM-5 ever since I got it. It's put all my other cameras in danger of losing their home...l

Okay, now that that that's over, a bigger challenge... Name the TOP photo of the year and the TOP photographer of the year.

You spend all that energy explaining why "Object or thing of the Year" declarations are silly, and then go fall in line and do the very same thing that you just ridiculed. Sigh.

In any case, health and happiness in the New Year!

Use what makes you happy. Tried the Olympus EM5 and the electronic viewfinder had me ready to dump it down a badger hole. Drove me nuts!

I love my E-M5, but I sure wish it had a bigger viewfinder.

What drew me to m43 was initially the size. Now it is the lenses that make it more interesting, as well as the increasing quality of the sensors---sensor quality was lacking a bit until last year, in my opinion.

While Nikon has plenty of lenses for the f-mount, it does not have anywhere near the choice designed specifically for DX (APSC) as Thom Hogan has noted (http://www.bythom.com/stateofdx2012.htm)
Yes, I can use lenses designed for full frame---and that is what I have been doing for the last several years with for my D300---but the choice in fast lenses that take advantage of APSC smaller, lighter size is very limited. And fast Nikon lenses for full frame come at a substantial price.

For a comparatively modest sum, I have a number of very good to excellent, light, fast lenses for m43.

Could not agree with you more Mike.

The OM-D has been a game changer for my photography. It. Just. Works. The folding touch screen has been a revelation to me and has created new ways of seeing, a kind of; 'intuitive' photography, if you will. There is a fluidity that I have found when working with the screen. The way I described it to a friend was like; Jackson Pollock's painting with sticks; what you loose in control you gain in fluidity.

This is by far and away, my choice for the camera of the year. Perhaps camera of a lifetime, albeit the Leica M7 holds that special place in my heart.

I just finished up a blog post that tracks my DMC (decisive moment camera) thoughts, from GF1, X100, Nex 7, to OM-D, and my last 6 months with the OM-D.

The post can be viewed here:


>>"Best of" awards have always annoyed me because of a principle I'm highly aware of, yet which doesn't, to my knowledge, have a name. Namely: the closer to equal two things are, the less important it should be to rank them, but the more important it seems to be to humans to do so.? <<

It's called Gotcha syndrome.

TOP = Tipping Of Points...for Maggie, who just bought an OM-D system with the 12 and 45 primes.

I am very well pleased with it already.

"I'm highly aware of, yet which doesn't, to my knowledge, have a name. Namely: the closer to equal two things are, the less important it should be to rank them, but the more important it seems to be to humans to do so."

Like other things of yours, I was much gratified and enlightened by this. Hope it becomes Johnston's Principle.

I just sent my OM-D back to Olympus for a service after 6 months of fair usage.

It served well as a small high-quality camera fit to hike with and to keep in a padded "photographers buddy" in a shoulder bag for when I didn't want to take it in the Lowepro mini AW.

Never mind the the complicated menus, I went to a forum to quickly learn how to bring up the "Super Control Panel," which was the menu that brought me closest to the functionality of my favorite SLR - the Nikon FM2.

Never mind that I would regularly find the focus point would inadvertently have been changed - must be my clumsy fingers pawing that tiny body in the wrong place.

It was the other little things that would go wrong that finally made me decide to send it back, that and the fact that I still hadn't sold my D300 and Nikkor glass.

Things like having to turn the camera off and on again to get the playback button to function. It didn't happen every time, but often enough to be irritating. This was from day one.

Holding the camera at waist level and using the tilted back screen while attempting to do candid shots would have been better if the back screen hadn't kept blacking out. Again, it didn't happen all the time, but when it did it was just as I was focusing.

Then the rubber eye-flange became loose and, sure enough, I eventually lost it.

I lost one of three little plastic covers associated with the flash hot shoe on day one - if only Olympus engineers could have built in a flash device instead of the detachable flash with its easily-lost plastic covers. I just ended up not using it but on the odd occasion I needed to... oh heck, I'd left it at home.

But what finally did it for me was the lens cap on the kit zoom. The plastic cover with the Olympus logo just fell off one day. It had been glued on with not enough silicone. This has little to do with anything much except resale value. But what it did suggest is that Olympus did not build this camera kit to handle treatment from one such as me. That's a shame, for as a bunch of best of camera awards for 2012 suggest, it has a lot going for it.

"Holding the camera at waist level and using the tilted back screen while attempting to do candid shots would have been better if the back screen hadn't kept blacking out. Again, it didn't happen all the time, but when it did it was just as I was focusing."

I think that's operator error, unfortunately. It's the eye-control automatically switching to the EVF from the viewing screen. It happens because you put the camera too close to your body and it triggers it. You can turn that off in the menus.


"It happens because you put the camera too close to your body and it triggers it. You can turn that off in the menus."

Hugh! Never thought of that. It does seem a bit counterintuitive, however, as to be viewing a subject through the tilt screen, it feels as if the camera would need to be further away from the body than the seemingly very short distance required to trigger live view through the eyepiece when I bring the camera up to my eye. I suspect Olympus service will find nothing wrong, so I'll be checking for that when it is returned. Thanks.

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