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Friday, 15 July 2016


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"Surely even Olympus wouldn't call a camera the OM-D E-M1II, would they?"

No, they'll make it even longer. After all, there's already an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II.

Well, at least you're only demanding IBIS. I demand both IBIS and availability of the 5:4 or 4:3 aspect ratios. Which pretty much leaves me with Olympus, some Panasonic cameras (same system) and the very expensive Sony RX1RII. Probably a lovely camera with a lovely lens, but that pop-up EVF annoys me. Which I guess is lucky, because otherwise I might feel bad about not affording it, right?

Mike, I shot Olympus for about two years but always felt the sensor was too small. I did love the Leica/Pany lens that would work on the camera and took some really good pictures with the EM1 and the Leica combination.
I would encourage you to stick with the Fuji, and use a tripod more. They are really cheap and light now. With Fuji you can just turn up the ISO a bit, and shoot at a faster shutter speed. You will be amazed how much better your pictures will turn out.
If that fails add a light on top of the camera and light-up the subject. Just a suggestion. I am done with GAS and trying to ignore all the noise out there about new products. I will continue to use my Fuji and Nikon gear until it breaks, or becomes obsolete. Good Luck.

I think the new Panasonic GX80/85 has IBIS, something new for them. I would mention that this is a Micro 4/3 camera, but can't remember your house style.

I look forward to the reports. FWIW, my quick impression of the EM5mkII was that it feels significantly better than the mkI, especially with the optional grip. Nicer in hand, better controls, better & quieter shutter, along w/ the newer IBIS. Friendlier, if that makes sense--not as cold and critical as the original.

Forget the E-M1 successor, it's still vaporware at this point and will likely be delayed into next year due to supply chain problems created by the recent earthquake in Japan. The E-M1 is still a great camera that hits a lot of sweet spots, and the pricing is getting very attractive near the end of its product cycle.

Re: its trustworthiness, there's an easy solution: set it up the way you like to work and save those preferences as one of the custom pre-sets ("MySet" in Olyspeak.) Then assign one of the several customizable buttons to instantly recall those settings. This way, if you end up afield for any reason, you're only a single button push away from "home."

It's not so bad! The IBIS really does work super well. My main problem over the last year with my Olympus body was that the eye cup would fall off all the time. Most of the time it ended up in the bottom of my bag, but one day it was just gone.

I had the hot shoe fall off also, which was fixed under warranty. They put on a shiny new eye cup while they were fixing the hot shoe. Less than a week after I got my camera back, the second eye cup fell off and got lost. So I made one out of Sugru and never looked back.

So if you're getting an Olympus, I recommend picking up some Sugru and making an eye cup once yours falls off.

Don't go there - a haunted house remains haunted, even if you escaped out of it alive once!

I had an EM-5 too with a fine 12-60 lens and it took some nice photos but never was it consistantly giving me what my Fuji X-Pro 1 does now. And I (and you-?) can look forward to to new generation of Fuji's. My 18 to 55 F/2.8-4 zoom is amazing and it has OIS. I know that having to settle for in lens OIS doesn't give you a huge selection, but high ISO is getting better and better too.

I'm in the same boat of finally not wanting to have a tripod hanging on to me the rest of my life. But I'm not going back to Olympus. They are TOO small, there are not enough pixels and the menus are maddening.

That bokeh is indeed lovely.

If IBIS is the point, I suggest you consider the E-M5 II or wait for the the E-M1 replacement.

IBIS on the E-M5 II is even better than on the Mark I. I suspect it's a result of the refinement of the sensor movement mechanism to allow the High Res Mode. Where the early OM-Ds were awfully good, the E-M5 II is spectacular.

Does hand held 300 mm, 1/20 sec. sound like a tough test?

As someone who shot a lot @ 300 mm, and now shoots a lot @ 400 mm, it's a major improvement. How much difference it will make for you, who mostly use what I would call short lenses, I don't know.

One caveat: "A" Mode together with Silent Mode somehow invokes a different exposure algorithm which goes to silly slow shutter speeds before starting to raise ISO. This is only a problem in the liminal range between bright light and very dim light, which is how the above image came about, but I apparently shoot there fairly often.

I was apparently the first to document this behavior to Oly service/support. They acknowledged that they duplicated it, but had no cure and couldn't say whether a firmware update might fix it. So far, that hasn't happened.

Perhaps the E-M1 replacement will correct it.
As to setting complexity, I suggest using the menus only to set the camera up to meet your preferences. Then stay out of there and use the easy and powerful Super Control Panel for all immediate settings changes that the buttons and dials don't do.

Press the OK button in shooting mode. Up pops lots of detail about settings on the LCD. Apparently some folks see this as just a report, or don't like changing settings on the LCD? I dunno, but it's very quick and powerful. Operate by touch, if you have that on. If, like me, you have touch off, there are two other ways to use it:

1. Use the four way controller buttons to move around and the OK button to select choices.

2. Use the rear wheel to navigate between settings and the front one to change the selected setting.

May I say, with all due regard, don't do it, Mike. I have been using a pair of the original E-M5s for four years. They do some things really well -- the IBIS is great, and I wish Canon would license their exposure and color balance technology, because Olympus does those things far better than Canon does. But Canons have always been reliable and predictable for me.

Everything you said about the capriciousness of the E-M5 and the nightmare of its menus is true. I have finally got mine set up so they will do what I want them to do most of the time, but every once in a while they kick out an exception and I have to figure out what to do about it. And it seems I can seldom pick one up and just shoot with it without having to do something else to it first.

In addition, I have to say that I do not consider the Olympi durable and reliable. The shutter on one of mine is packing up, and bits and pieces keep falling off. Well, maybe not that bad, but it seems like it sometimes. I am a long-time, full-time working photographer, so I can't take chances. I seldom go any where to shoot with the Olympi without taking a Canon along for backup. That kinda kills the weight-saving aspect of owning Olympus cameras, doesn't it?

So, my advice to you, Mike, is again, don't do it. Use your Fuji and work on your technique, if necessary. Myself, I think I've had it with the Olympi.

I think you are just a bit bored with your current system...

How about trying something totally different, like the new Sigma SD Quattro?

A very affordable system with super high image quality! All recent Sigma lenses have very nice bokeh, and the SD Quattro should be very straightforward to use!

No love for the Panasonic GX8?

This direction makes some sense of course...it's good to confront your demons. What happened to the GX8?

Mike, you could always get help to set up the Olympus the way you want it and then save that combination of settings to one of the "Mysets". Then when you inadvertently change something you can go to back to the "Myset" you defined and revert it back to the way you want it. I am sure there are plenty of TOP readers willing to give advice on how to set whatever setting you would like. This will not be perfect but then nothing is perfect but if you use it long enough it will become a familiar friend (that may be exaggerating it a little but you know what I mean). This is nerdy, but you may want to document the settings in a spread sheet once you have them set up so you will always be able to get back to where you want it.

Mike, I can appreciate your angst. I've come to the realization that IBIS is important for me, but the complexity of Olympus menus and the fear I will accidentally change something and never find a way out has kept me away from Olympus. The Fuji works naturally for me. Why won't OIS lenses work for you? I ask that question because you have more experience than I. But if I can resolve that question for me I think I would go for Fuji.
Can your readership weigh in on the pros and cons of IBIS?
Thanks, Ed Stanulis

As for myself, I can't swim, but I love shooting my E-M10. Although it has far too many buttons. I prefer my M3 and M8 in that respect :-)

Michael have you been stalking me? Or is it just our photographical demographic that travelled from DSLR to Olympus to Fuji? I too couldn't quite settle with the E-M5 or the E-M1 despite the superb 45mm/75mm lens lineup. Fuji has it now and the jpg image quality is insane.

IBIS? Nah. At 54yo my hands are still pretty steady (unlike my hearing). I'll wait and see what the M43 world brings and whether or
not Olympus can improve the user experience.

Regards from Down Under

I am a self confessed Olympus die hard. I have recently been using a Canon 5DsR and am continually frustrated with it. Usually missing the Olympus features, but occasionally finding stuff that the Canon does better. C1, C2, C3 modes work so much better than Olympuses my modes.

Acidently pushing buttons and touch screens sees me turning them off. The supper control panel is my home for changing settings. So I rarely delve into the menu. The most frustrating was the movie record button so I have set mine to zoom.

As I shoot raw, I increase sharpness and contrast so manual focus is easier. Works a charm and is a little like focus peaking as the image snaps into focus. Brooks Jenson was raving yesterday about the Panasonic 12-35 mm lens, yet I am so in love with my Voitlander 25mm 0.95 manual lens, that I take 98% of my photos with it. Thanks mostly to you for encouraging the use of a standard lens for a year. I never took it off.

I hate changing camera brands. No wonder we become band die hard. Change is hard. Good luck with that. Cheers Len

I've heard this criticism of Olympus cameras before and as an OMD-EM10 owner I just don't get it. This is my first Olympus and it's so easy to use. I've never accidentally told it to do the wrong thing and don't see how I could. Perhaps we just suit each other. I picked up someone's Canon EOS mega-DSLR recently and couldn't work out how to make it just take a picture.

The one thing that is most maddening about Olympus is the "wandering focus point". It is nice to set it with a finger tip anywhere on the touch LCD, but when you take another shot it may be off to another extreme location. You can try to avoid any contact (finger, nose, cheek) with the LCD, but that will cramp your style. Or you can turn off the touch screen and either use focus-and-recompose or move the focus point by the ancient method of using the arrows. Apart from that, I loved my EM-5 and now my EM-5 II.

I do think we approach our cameras differently. I'm more oriented towards shooting fast-changing situations (very loosely, journalistic work, with some sport thrown in), and even for that I manage to navigate the menus to get what I want from my EM-5 most of the time.

You seem to have a higher requirement for the camera disappearing from your mind -- even though, as I understand what you shoot, you're less constrained by outside timing than I am.

None of this is "right" or "wrong"; if anything, I may be wrong to accept the amount of futzing I sometimes do. I miss shots setting up (and may guess wrong what will be possible in the near future) but often get things I couldn't get with simpler settings. Setting the focus point somewhere weird means I can keep precise focus without re-aiming the camera all the time, so with very fast lenses and hence shallow DOF I can still get the shot even if the musician's head is moving forward and back or something. Give me a D5 and maybe I would stop down three stops :-). Or just shoot in darker situations.

My M3 was probably the closest to perfect -- but I only had three lenses, longer lenses tended to over-stress the focus mechanism, and changing rolls of film was a pain (the removable bottom, giving you a separate piece to juggle). So, not perfect. Everything else I've had is better than the M3 in some ways—and, I think, worse in others. I've made trade-offs both financial, and in mass to carry, in my choices of cameras. I've done decently overall, is my current analysis of my past choices with hindsight.

Why not the Panasonic GX 8? You could still use your PL 45 macro...

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

I kinda agree with you, Mike. But I think that Panasonic is almost as obscure. For the GF1, after going a little crazy working with a manual that told me HOW to change settings, I ended up buying a book that explained WHY. I found the EPL1 menu particularly dense. It's long gone. The GF1 sports an IR conversion, while the "normal" cameras are a GX7, an LX7, and an LX100. By this time I'm accustomed to the menu structure, and there certainly is something to be said for staying within the same "family."

Welcome back!

There's something to be said for going with your gut or on a whim rather than overthinking it. In that vein, I recently bought a used Pentax K-01 with matching 40mm XS lens for $280. It's lots of fun, surprisingly functional, takes great pictures, and has IBIS to boot! If I had made a "rational purchase" I probably wouldn't have bought it, and that would have been a mistake. Just as, in my mind, it would be a mistake to buy a camera that makes you feel "wary, leery, not entirely happy." Sure, it might check all the required fields in a spreadsheet, but if it's not enjoyable to use, if you're not at least a little excited about it, it'll probably end up sitting on the shelf in some months time while you're out taking pictures with a camera you actually like.

Before you make the leap to Olympus could I mention that your much loved Panasonic macro lens is one of the few that is compatible with the GX8's new dual IS system, which combines the lens's own steady shot system with the camera's internal IS to produce results very close to those of the EM1. you would need to update the firmware on both the body and lens to achieve this benefit.
I should declare my bias as, after two years shooting with the Em1 cameras, I have now switched to GX8s. That's another, rather longer story,and it's nearly midnight here in Blighty!

I had much the same experience with the early Olympus E-Pen models. I kept hitting random buttons and turning that damn tiny control wheel and getting frustrated with them regularly. Loved the IBIS, loved the way the pictures looked but hated the ergonomics. Conversely, I loved the old E-volt system cameras and their beautiful lenses. They simply fit me perfectly. Then Olympus discontinued the system proving the adage "If it's really good, they'll stop making it".

As I get older, I can see how useful IBIS is, however, I just can't see returning to Olympus after using the Fuji system (although I still have several E-volt cameras and lenses and I still use them). Besides, I like the APS-C format better than the 4/3 format and the Fuji designs seem to fit me better than new Olympus designs. I'm even warming up to the EVF in my X-E2 and that's something I never thought would happen.

This is exactly why I sold my EM -5, I just didn't trust it. I took some time setting up the menu system to my liking but it seemed to have a mind of its own. I missed a lot of shots when travelling in Japan last year and sold it shortly afterwards.
I just could not love it!

I had the Oly E-M5 before my Fujis and couldn't come to grips with it either, even if, as you said, I also took some lovely photos with it. You seem to prefer the Panasonic lenses that are stabilised though which kinda negates the IBIS doesn't it? Anyway, luckily for me I don't give a hoot about IBIS so Fuji is fine with me.

I know *exactly* how you feel about Olympus. I had the very same feeling when I moved from Panasonic to my current main button, the E-M5 II. And it still doesn't sit very easily with my mind. Also, its haptic are just plain unenjoyable IMO.

Mike...I'm not insinuating that this is a bad choice, only that it might be. And that it might not be.


I like my Sony, despite its faults. It's a good camera, reasonable size, delivers results and has gorgeous image quality, more than I really need. I like Olympus' cameras too, but at this point I feel that my Sony feels better in my hand so to say. I have all the stuff important for me customized and the setup works, Olympus was a little bit more limited in this regard, though this might not bother most people. Olympus is significantly more compact, however; if I was using micro 4/3, I'd grab that new Panasonic 25 mm lens and snap away.

Olympus has a pretty long list of models. I distinctly remember the viewfinder in the E-M1 being better than the one in E-M5, but the latter camera is more compact and affordable too.

What comes to IBIS, my completely unscientific experience tells me that Olympus' IBIS is more effective than Sony's. Which makes sense, since the sensor to move is four times the size in Sonys, bigger mass to move, more impulse. But Sony has a larger, more sensitive sensor to compensate.

The OM-D E-M5(MkI) was my second Micro 4/3 camera (the Panasonic GF1 was my first). I found the buttons and dials on the E-M5 difficult to work with and prone to being changed inadvertently. The E-M1 is better in that regard but by no means perfect: I've never been able to master changing the settings by touch alone and I frequently move the switch that is to right of the viewfinder into position 2 which changes the functions of virtually all of the other buttons and dials. And I've managed to change the ISO from Auto to 25,600 (!) on more than one occasion. But, after two years, I've learned to anticipate and adapt ... when something doesn't seem right - I usually know what happened and what to change. Maybe taking the time to get to know a camera is the key. Now, unwisely no doubt, I'm experimenting with Fuji, getting used to an entirely different set of quirks and "shortcomings". Invested in 3 different "systems", it seems the quest for the perfect camera may be a disease. In any case, good or bad, the smart money says the new Olympus flagship will be the E-M1 Mark II. I'd be happy if they would just drop all those hyphens - can never remember their proper placement.

I know what you mean about being wary of Olympus. I have the E-M5 II and still get unpleasant surprises from its menu.

I also have the new Panasonic GX-85, which has IBIS. If you use this body with one of the newer Panasonic M43 lenses with OIS you will get "dual image stabilization" which is as good as its Olympus counterpart (Olympus body with 300mm f4).

So you have some choices.

The problem with digital cameras is complication.
Perhaps you should try a variation of the 1C1L1Y discipline on a camera.
I hate messing with menus, so I take the camera (I have 3 Oly Pens) and after I use it a couple of weeks to see how it works, I program it to my taste and leave it alone. I change only exposure and compensation.
I even rarely change lenses. One Oly has a 17mm f/1.8, another the Oly 12-50 ( even good enough macro for most close-ups) and the third a Pana 100-300 - my critter cam. I grab a camera and I know what to expect. I rarely miss a shot or screw one up because I changed something and forgot to undo it.
I'm sure there are lots of camera owners who love to play with set-ups and fine tune the camera, but not me - I like my cameras to be like the first good one I bought - a Leica M2- simple.

My EM-5II allows me to assign custom presets to each mode, P, A, S, M. So I set the camera up the way I want the default settings for each of those modes to be and save that as a custom preset assigned to the corresponding mode. That way simply turning the camera off and on in a given mode sets it to my defaults for that mode. Switching modes does the same.

This takes away much of the unpredictability and guards against accidental exposures with some setting I don't want. Of course once in a mode I can go ahead and make whatever setting changes I wish. And quickly get back to my defaults by either turning the camera off and on or switching to another mode and then back to the one I'm using.

I love my OMD.

I think user interface it's one of the most important things when choosing a camera, if not THE most important.

Of the entire universe of brands and models, you first rule out the tools you don't need (you want IBIS, so no Canikon), then the money rules you out of some brands and models (what's a Leica?).

Still, an average person will end up with a lot to choose from, and I usually make that choice thinking about the UI.

Nikon makes great cameras and amazing lenses, but I could never get along with their menus. More than once I tried to like them but failed.
Same story with most Sony cameras, with that huge pop up message every time you change the shutter speed or aperture.

But then I bought an Olympus EM5, and my oh my... Lots of 'set and forget' menus, buttons and the Super Control Panel.

Oh, and it's got IBIS too!

Mike, I have some sincerely heartfelt buying advice: never buy a camera you don't enjoy using. Are you professionally shooting events? No. So don't tell yourself that you "need" certain features and buy a camera system accordingly. Don't we all photograph for fun in the end? I just cannot get myself to use a camera I don't feel I have control over. And for this reason, my M rangefinders get a lot of use while that Sony Rx100 bothers me every time I try to use it.

Love the size, handling, lens choices, and images that come out of Oly mirror-less cameras. I have both the EM-5 and EM-1.

But there are a couple things that I find really annoying about Oly cameras.

1) The menu system. They should give out diplomas to anyone who has mastered it. There has got to be a more logical and intuitive way to design it.

2) There are always bits and pieces of the camera that are prone to falling off, eye cups, flash-shoe covers, accessory port contact covers, grip interface covers, lens hoods, etc.. It's almost comical how many times I find some piece of the camera gone missing or sitting in the bottom of my bag.

The eye cup on the EM-5 used to fall off so often that I finally resorted to using super-glue to keep it on. I'm still scratching my head over the unnecessarily over-engineered lens hood on the 12-40 PRO, the hood release button is way too easy to press while the camera is against your body, and then it only takes a slight nudge for it to work itself loose and fall off the lens.

After using and loving my Panny GF1 for close to 5 years, I switched to the Oly e-p5 a couple of years ago. I think the e-p5 is the BEST bargain among any digital cameras available to purchase. It has the newer IBIS and shutter ( a generation better the EM5), smallest Oly body with their latest technologies. And almost the same exact size as my beloved GF1.

You had so many good things to say about the GX8 which are all true I am surprised that it did not pop into first place. The dual stabilization is excellent especially with your favorite lenses. The menus and haptics are better than Oly and that viewfinder; how can you not love that TILT EVF!!

I'm also a member of the "Olympus has the worst menus ever" camp. It's compounded by the fact that Olympus crams a million different features and tweaks into the settings banks. That said, after the initial groaning period I can safely say I haven't visited the menus of my EM5.2 in ages. I eventually did get it the way I wanted it, and I've customized it to the point where the things I would have to visit the menus to change are assigned to one of the thirty-seven customizable buttons. I use the menus to format my card and that's about it.

Is it worth dealing with the annoyance? I guess that depends on the person. Every time I think I'll dump the system and try something else I end up doing something ridiculous like shooting hand held at half a second or fitting my entire kit into a bag that holds one DSLR lens and I decide to stick around.

Mike: I'm somewhat perplexed by your move to Olympus. I've found that the Fuji lets me set very high ISO without consequence for the quality of my photos, so that the wobbliness of my aged and coffee-addled hands becomes irrelevant. The Fuji is, in that respect, a so-called 'ISO-less' camera.

And why not go to Pentax, which has good IBIS and also has splendid optical viewfinders?

On the other hand: it is no doubt useful for us readers that you should experience many different systems ...

As an Olympus fan myself I will follow your venture back to Olympus with interest if you do decide on that path. I do have a lot of empathy for your concerns. I wonder what Yoshihisa Maitani would design if he were alive today - perhaps the true digital successor to the OM1.

I'm productive with film OM1n and digital E1, but have not persuaded myself yet that the current OMD offerings are for me.

I'm definitely not a Neo-Luddite by any means, but, my god, I just want a manual camera (ala OM1) with a digital sensor (preferably monochrome). Less is more and simple design is hard. And I understand the economics of not wanting to pander to the minority.

Hoping a manufacturer brings something out which would be a good fit for me in an affordable package. One day. Perhaps.

You don't need Oly IBIS, not with the ill fit you get with that camera. You shoot mostly short lenses, so you don't *really* need IBIS at all, and the GX8's IBIS is good enough for guys who use short lenses. Frankly, I think you're just gassing. ☠☠ And guess what. I just discovered emojis on my iPad.

Mike, you like the ergonomics of Your fuji don't you? So why swap it for a camera that you don't like just for the IBIS? Fuji make great lenses with very efficient stabilisation. They are zooms but they're all excellent. Better to use a zoom than change to a camera you know you won't get on with.

Yes, there's a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on!

Olympus is mastering the problem very well indeed. If the rumor is true that the next generation is going to be so good that it will be possible to take handheld high resolution shots it is worth the wait. At the end of 2019 when the price of the E-M5 III comes down substantially is the moment to strike.


I used to have a Sony A77 and then an A99. Both had IBIS. Now I have an XT-1. I can say that the Fuji OIS works at least as well as the IBIS in the Sonys, and on some lenses is a good deal better. I have tried a friends EM5 and like you I couldn't get along with it.
Image stabilisation is not a panacea either. If you take people you will find they move.
Don't do it would be my advice.

I bought my first serious camera, an om3, in 1989. I wasn't really comfortable with the shutter speed control being on the mount, in line with the barrel, rather than on a top dial. Supposedly the designer thought it was more ergonomic to have the exposure controls on the same axis, but I'm mildly dyslexic, so it only made it easier for me to reverse two similar actions--and you couldn't operate them simultaneously, as I routinely do on my leica, eg to switch from deep dof to shallow for the same scene. But I figured I could get used to anything.
I used that camera, and several om1 bodies, for decades, and they served well--still sometimes use them. But I never did get comfortable with the dual-ring setup. And when I finally bought a Leica m, I got more comfortable with its controls in a week than I ever did with the om cameras.
I always wonder now what would have happened if I hadn't gone with the 'practical' choice in 89....

It may not be the right time to mention it, but the Sony A7RII output file size is 18Mp in APS-C 3:2 mode.

Real men set the exposure dial to M and just get on with it. My photography has improved no end after I started doing this. Seriously, it's not hard to set up the camera using one of the cheat sheets on the net. I only need to revisit the settings for sports or high-res mode, which is hardly ever. I carry a PDF of the user manual on my phone. The EM-5 Mark II is the more interesting one of the current crop, imho, since IBIS delivers high-res mode on this model. That said, I can see this being a very close comp between Oly and Fuji. Both strike me as absolutely lovely. Which one suits is surely down to personal preference and the kind of photography one enjoys. Pretty hard to go wrong with either. #spoiltforchoice again.

I tried. I REALLY tried. Got an A7 II, then get a Pen-F because the A7 was too large with lenses.

As much as I enjoyed the IBIS (lovely with a 40mm Summicron-C) I just couldn't live with the lifeless colors both systems deliver. One random picture from my Fuji and I'm in love all over again and vow never to look at others again.

Have you tried using the stabilized 18-55 on the Fuji instead?

Mike, I had a Panny G1, loved the straightforward controls, didn't like the color and propensity for blowing highlights. Got an Olympus E-PL3 -- did some very good work with it, wonderful color, but I was always fighting the damned little thing.

At the Panny G5/6, I figured Panny had got their color act together, and they had. So with a sigh of relief, went back to Panny. Now I have added a GX7 to my G6 and find it is practically addictive as a camera. The EVF drives me nuts -- it is the same one as the GX80/85 -- why on earth did Panny do that? -- but I so much enjoy having the GX7 in hand (often with the diminutive 12-32 lens on, and excellent performer) that I just put up with it.

The GX80/85 has a huge advantage of every other decent sized m43 camera -- it finally beats shutter shock comprehensively -- with its new shutter, but it has one weird thing that stops me cold, the pop-up flash is not programed for RC control of an external flash, but the hot shoe is! Say what??? Since that feature is important to me for my Q&D food photography solution, I won't be changing the GX7 any time soon.

But yes, the Olympus menus are a nightmare compared with the straightforward Panny system.

If you must buy Oly, though (and I still remember my OM1 kit with great fondness) I would wait for the EM1 II. I suspect it is going to be quite a camera.

Cheers, Geoff

once upon a time you had a pentax (i think it was k20d). pentax still have their lenses that you liked (though with red instead of green ring). you may try the new (not yet available) k70. i dont think it will be significantly bigger or heavier than fujifilm or olympus.

I have an E-M1, and it mostly sits on the shelf. Lovely pictures, but I'm simply baffled by the buttons and menus. Why does it have to be so obscure? My Pentax K-5 is admirably easy to use.

Actually, my main camera for travel is now the Panasonic FZ1000. Beautiful images, and beautiful 4K video as well, and no decisions about lens changing or extra weight and space. Sometimes I feel like a second camera and it may be the GX8 after your mini review. Otherwise, I also have the Pen PL3 and PL5 if I want a small body to use with my Rokinon 8.5mm ultra-wide.

I'd really like to stay with Pentax, but video is important to me and the Pentax is hopeless at this.

I'm another with the Voigtlander 25mm on an EM10Ii. Great lens with lovely bokeh and they are selling relatively cheaply on eBay. Using it solves the wandering focus point problem!

"I'm feeling wary, leery, not entirely happy." Isn't that telling you something? (Hey, think of it as for a marriage for one minute...)

For my needs, objectively assessed, the best fit would be Micro 4/3. That there is a host a beautiful lenses doesn't make it worse. I also had the E-M5 and didn't find it as complicated as common wisdom would have it, once you have taken the time to configure the beast. On the contrary, it is quicker in use than the X-T1.

But somehow I didn't like the experience, while I really do with the Fuji, even though it has its faults as well. I blame it on my Contax days. And I find the Fuji meal tastier when it comes to the pictures as well. I'm not saying the Fuji pictures are better, just that I like their recipe better. And I don't really feel like cooking raw ingredients myself. (Besides, I've tried but I'm not as good as the cook hiding in the camera.)

I'd really love IBIS in the Fuji too, but it's not on the menu for this brand new "2" generation, that much is clear.

From an EM5 user, one that agrees with both the positives and the negatives of the cameras, the Pen F looks to be more harmonious than the OMD series. Many of the features Gordon Lewis talked about recently-logical and simple button placement.

So what exactly IS wrong with the a7mk2? The lenses you covet are there, it does have the stabilisation, the interface is simpler, the image quality is higher... so why not?

[I can give you 4,097.52 reasons why not. --Mike]

My suggestion: Lumix GX85. I've been using one all summer as a casual camera and it's been superb! I think it fills your whole bill without breaking the bank, Mike.

(60 comments so far on this?)

As a Fuji using person, I also wish that these otherwise lovely cameras had IBIS but Fujifilm decides, not me. I'd love it if someone would do a test (not me thanks) to see if shooting the Fuji at high ISO is better or worse than shooting the IBIS camera at normal ISO. Sensor size does matter at some point and there is an advantage of APS-C over M4/3, albeit probably small. In the end, use what you like. I do wonder if you do get an Olympus whether the unquestionable advantage of having IBIS will be enough of a positive to overcome the many times stated negatives of the menu system.

People have suggested using "myset" to quickly access a pre-set configuration. On the EM-5, this only works while you hold down the button—which qualifies, for me, as perhaps the stupidest piece of user interface design ever committed by a camera company, and has rendered it utterly useless to me.

Am I missing something? Having a way to quickly access one of a group of stored configurations would be wonderful—if I could then use the camera normally. But keeping one of those little buttons pressed while doing everything else I do while taking a picture is simply impossible for me. Is it different on other Oly models?

Can someone tell me what IBIS is?



[in-body image stabilization. --Mike]

Another Suggestion:
Forget about buying a new camera, become OUR (your readers) long term tester ;-)
Keep a camera for 6 months, and then tell us how you liked/disliked it. And, move on to the next one. (You've been doing that anyway ;-)
I suggest you start with K-1/31mm/77mm ;-)

Hi Mike

I started in digital photography with Minolta, and then Sony. I went that route precisely because of IBIS. It was going to be cheaper, in the long run, than IBIS in each lens, etc.

Prior to switching to Fuji, IBIS was the angst point. So, I turned IBIS off on my Sony for awhile, and guess what? It was OK! I just upped the ever-improving ISO.

The reason I switched to Fuji was because of the lenses. I just found them to be special, each one of them, for me at least. Even the so-called kit lens is superb.

When the long zooms came out, they had IS. The 55-200 was nice, but the 50-140 and 100-400 are spectacular, as regards both quality and IS. I could hand-hold at 1/15th, no problem.

I realize now that the advantages of in-lens IS are:
1) It's optimized for the lens.
2) The engineers can tweak and improve it with each iteration.
3) IBIS is not affecting price - price is a marketing decision.

I have 16mm F/1.4, and 35mm F/2 primes, which have gorgeous image quality, and just don't need IBIS. I also have the 90mm F/1.8 which did concern me a bit without IS, but it's a non-issue and is my favorite prime. I'm now looking forward to the 80mm F/2.8 macro, and since you need maximum DOF with macro it will have IS.

I've decided to trust Fuji, and I think they are making the right decisions with their lenses and their cameras. I couldn't be happier right now with my equipment. It doesn't get in my way, and it lets me enjoy taking photos.

So, for me at least, Fuji is now my home. it's an all-in-one beautiful photography experience for me.

But that's just me. I'm not shooting sports or videos. I'll do the occasional birds, and it's great for that.

I'm only writing this post because you also are or were Sony and Fuji, both somewhat less mainstream (at the time with Sony in any event). Reading about you using your Fuji I got the impression that you felt similar to me. If that's true, don't rush out of Fuji just because of IBIS, have more and better reasons to do so.


Paul, IBIS is "In Body Image Stabilisation" and we are talking about the camera body. :-)

The best Olympus camera is still the OM-3Ti. Alas, no IBIS.


I have a suggestion...

How about buying a Canon 5D3 and the 40mm/2.8 pancake lens, setting it for 800 ISO, BW, yellow filter, and leaving it like that for a year?

I seem to remember reading some advice like that once ;)

David Dyer-Bennet,

You asked about the MySet thing? The two Olympus cameras I've owned just let you "load" your settings, and then you didn't have to worry about them at all. No holding down a button. I don't even know how you'd enable that behavior.

One of the later ones, an E-PL1, let you assign custom settings to the PASM wheel, overriding whichever mode you wanted, including the "special effect filter" mode. Some found this very useful.

The worst thing about the Olympus camera settings is having to turn to gear forums for explanations for what the settings actually do. (The best thing is that you can customize pretty much anything on the camera, just by hitting the down arrow in the settings menu.) The second worst thing about Olympus camera settings is having to enable the full settings menu, and the "super control panel" overlay for the lcd (which is awesome!), probably closely followed by the fact that the factory default is for jpeg only, not jpeg+RAW.

Mike-I went from Nikon (35 yrs of use) to Sony specifically for IBIS. I've developed hand tremors, some days heavier than others. The IBIS works well for me. a7II files look fine at low ISO. a7RII files look great at all ISOs. That's the good news. The bad news is that the menu functions do not and will not ever mesh with my brain. This drives me nuts!
Before you sell your Fuji, consider taking a look at Joe McNally's technique of using his left arm as a stabilizing platform for hand held shooting.


Instead of IBIS you could just get a camera that doesn't make a feather look heavy. I'm utterly convinced that these tiny jewel like cameras *need* IBIS because they've got no substance to them. A camera with a bit of heft to it just seems to be easier to hold still because your body puts some of it's own IBIS into the mix. You know there are some amazing deals on used Leica S2's out there. :)

Then again I just added a Pen F to the mix because it's sooo damn pretty!! Once I'd dusted off the 80% of my brain that I've dedicated to storing Olympus menu information in and got it set up, it actually is an entirely usable little camera. I'm sure my XPro2 makes better files but the Pen F will go with me when even the Fuji is too big.

And say what you want about those menus (because it's all true) but they do (unlike everybody else) make it easy to format a memory card. Top of the menu. Top marks.


I must admit that if I was tempted into 4/3, I would be buying a GX8.

Since I first recommended a Panny to a friend who is still in love with it (4 faultless years of excellent service) I have admired their no-nonsense approach and general build quality.

I have steered many others in the same direction, and so far not one person has had an issue or been anything but happy.

AF is excellent, IBIS is improving, IOS available for longer lenses, really excellent controls, simple enough menus, and very nice handling.

Sure, they don't look like much, but they work extremely well.

And of course, you can use Olympus lenses. Not that there is anything at all wrong with the Panny/Leica ones.

I would have disagreed on you about the controls of the Olympus, but then I upgraded to the Pen-F. I don't know how I keep doing it, but my focus point is never where I want it to be. Is it the touchscreen? Is it the control pad? I have no idea. I just know that I have to pay way more attention than I want to on what the camera is actually focusing on, and I sometimes am not quick enough when I'm out in the field to fix wherever it went wrong.

I'm really deep into the Micro Four Thirds system, which I'm starting to regret. After picking up a Fuji GW-690 I really miss the direct shutter and aperture controls, and wish I were in Fuji-land for my digital gear.

Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side?

Hi Mike. I was hiking yesterday in the local rainforest - beautiful and rather low light on an overcast day. The beauty of Olympus IBIS is this: I saw a scene that I liked and was able to do a 5 shot HDR burst which, when stacked came out very well aligned.
I was standing on a slippery metal step, balancing my (unused) tripod (I know) and the shots ranged from 1/4 second and up. Not bad, I think!

Admittedly, the Oly E-M5 II has a steep learning curve. The day it arrived, I spent eight hours fiddling with it. The instruction manual is confusing. At one point I got really frustrated and nearly broke down and cried. ... It took another six months before I could figure out how to get myself out of a pickle if I'd inadvertently activated a function. Now that I've been shooting with it for over a year and a half, I think it's the most versatile camera I've used. The pro zooms are phenomenal. I love the diminutive 17mm f/1.8 and the 75mm f/1.8 is a gem. I will most likely skip the E-M1 II and wait for the E-M5 III.

Nikon is easier yet. Hold down two buttons, release, hold them down again. Card formatted with no menu involved.

Mike, I'm an OMD E-M5 II (and I) user, but I have a bad feeling about you moving to Olympus, especially since you show such reluctance.

I thought the Fuji X-T1 was about as perfect a digital camera for you as could be. It's certainly about the simplest to operate, especially if you're of a certain age and are used to the aperture ring, etc. When you said you were getting one I thought "Of course, it's just right for him!"

Couldn't you push up the ISO for a higher shutter speed?

If you do decide for Olympus, why not wait for the OMD E-M1 Mk II? That would be fun to read about.

Ah, the fear. I know it well. Just today I decided to take the plunge and buy an X-Pro2 despite my hatred (yes, not too strong a word) of my old X100. Tired of the weight of my full-frame Nikons, I thought I'd give the Fuji with the 35mm f2 a go. I even played with it on a relaxed job I had this evening, though I've not looked at the results yet. The Nikons are still the go-to cameras but if it works out, who knows, I might overcome my fear and find out what all the (Fuji) fuss is about.

You can have both IBIS and simpler, traditional SLR controls-- with Pentax. I came over from Sony's alpha system, which made me a big believer in camera stabilization with whatever lens I happen to use. When Sony abandoned the SLR, there was really one way for me to go. Fortunately, Pentax was willing to sell a barely-outmoded flagship DSLR (weather-sealed, IBIS, etc.) for only $500. Then I started finding great used Pentax lenses, and I was set. I dabble with mirrorless with my XP1, but it's hard to see its practical advantages over Pentax.

I've looked at the Olympus cameras because I actually prefer the 4:3 format shape. But I just can't accept the limitations of EVFs, and the Olympus lenses don't show the same size advantages of their cameras.

I don't understand all the complaints about the Olympus menus. I don't have any problems at all with them. I have my three cameras (EM1, EM10 and EP5) all set up in the same way and then I just use the super control panel to make any changes.

I have a Sony A7r as a long term loan and that has the worst menu configuration I have ever seen - there is no logical layout to it at all. WOrst of all is that there are a lot of everyday functions that require menu diving and I end up scrolling through pages wondering where things are.

As much as I like the convenience of digital imaging I am getting to the point where I just want the simplicity of a manual SLR and black and white film. Could be time to resurrect the OM bodies.

I have friends and customers who use Olympus cameras with great results, particularly with Panasonic's 12-35mm f/2.8 lens, which seems stellar in most situations. When I used an Olympus E-PL3 for a while, turning on the Super Control Panel (SCP) improved its interface dramatically; at the touch of a button, it showed the status of the important camera settings and provided an easy way to change things. Other photographers (Ctein included, if I remember his comments here correctly) find the SCP unhelpful but it's worth experimenting with.

I dunno, Mike, in the long run, I don't think you will be any happier going back to Olympus than you were the first time around. The Auto White balance can't compare, and I doubt you will get the black and white quality in the images you get with the X-T1.

I know you want IBIS, but if you would actually give the Fuji 18-55 the consideration it deserves (and it does deserve it), it's OIS would provide the stabilization you are looking for. And it would be way less expense that buying into another entire camera and lens system all over again. I have to admit that I am a bit mystified that you wax poetic about the Panny 12-35 zoom, but have never considered the Fuji 18-55 "equivalent". Here's some info for you: it's just as good a lens as the Panny. I shoot about 65% of my images with it. It is not a "kit" lens, it only obtained that moniker with it was first bundled with the XE-1.

Three other points for consideration:

1) Fuji's repair services is considerably better than Olmpus' A simple viewfinder glass replacement for my E-M5 took 2 1/2 months. My last repair for my X-T1 when it accidentally flew out of my Retro 5 and hit the pavement took one week. A company's infrastructure for service and support should not be overlooked.

2) if you can't get the shutter speed you're looking for to prevent motion blur, you can alway bump the ISO a stop or two.

3) try that funny-looking three-legged thing called a tripod. Works wonders. ;-)

Besides, do you really want to give up that fab Fuji Fourteen?


PS BTW, like Dave Jenkins, I've had issues with durability with my E-M1; the card slot failed. The card will not stay locked in it's slot when inserted, and the camera has hardly been used.

Can anyone explain to me how a TV maker like Panasonic can make a camera and its usage simple and intuitive and a camera maker like Olympus make a beautiful camera like the OMD EM1 with a bunch of menus and button choices that remind me of controlling yourTV experience when you have four different controllers made by four different companies!

Just saying!

I second the points about loosing EM5 eyecups. I was an early adopter and have too much m4/3 glass to change to Fuji. My wife's has a GX7, so she's also on m4/3.
And I have a pricey RRS L-plate/grip combo for the EM-5. That and the Olympus IBIS help me a lot.

But I share the common dislike of the menus and I suspect the buttons may be getting sticky as I'm getting some funny responses from the camera. What a dilemma.

Go with the Fufi. A bit of blur can often do wonders for an otherwise mundane photograph.

Fell in love with m4/3 since the EPL2. Since then it's become my preferred system. Got an EM5 shortly after they came out and it was a revelation. Now have a em5m2 and quite frankly it's never been better. Its high ISO and that precious IBIS never cease to amaze me!
But unlike many, I actually spent a couple of months learning the thing with the new user guide that came out with the latest firmware update (indispensable!).
Only thing missing in my lens line_up is a tele macro AF lens like the old Sigma ApoMacro 180/3.5. If I ever find one that good, the DSLRs will make a trip to ebay: the Oly will be all I need.

Whenever I looked into Micro 4/3rds I never found a likeable 35mm-e. Not sure if anything has changed recently.

Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about the eyecups constantly falling off my E-5. That failure mode is what resulted in my viewfinder window getting scratched in my camera bag. I think I lost three of them in the 9 months or so I had my E-M5. I used to order them in three's from B&H just to have a spare of a spare.

Objectively, aside from the card socket failure mode in the E-M1, I've always found it to be a superbly built and responsive camera with excellent image quality.

The one, key, thing that is missing, though, is the magic I find in my Fuji image files. I don't what it is, but the only camera I ever used that had that same kind of magic was the first Canon 5D.

[Yes, that's why I very regretfully didn't switch to the GX8, which I loved. The Fuji files make better B&W with my particular workflow, and that's what I care about most when push and shove get down to brass tacks and you make the horse drink water. (Sorry, I'm a little punchy today.) --Mike]

I hear ya loud and clear. It's one thing to have complex menus but their phraseology is atypical as well. I have nearly always used cameras without conulting the manual and done well enough, but I still don't know why a button option depicts turning three fish into one fish.

It's interesting to me how much people despise the Olympus menu system. I think it may come from a position of knowledge, while my acceptance of it comes from a position of ignorance: I haven't really used too many cameras, so I lack a basis for comparison. I fiddled with the settings on my E-P1 endlessly; after that, each additional Oly camera got set up in exactly the same way (pretty much what Gordon Lewis described a few posts ago, but without moving the focus button; I am fine with the focus on the shutter release) in a period of about 45 minutes, then I never touched the menus again. Perhaps if I had tried a camera with a better and more intuitive menu system, the fussing about with the Olys would displease me. And I am quite certain that I would be annoyed if I were trying to do something complicated (shooting birds in flight, for example). Perhaps my ignorance is bliss (or, well, mild annoyance rather than rage or fear) in this case.

Everybody seems to suggest what camera you should buy - I doubt you actually need a new one ....

I've been collecting the Olympus prime lenses for a while, trying to save up and get them when I have the money. They and Panasonic are few of the only camera companies that offer a comprehensive prime lens line for their particular sensor size. I've been using them on an old Pana G-3, which maybe isn't the best body for them, because they would probably do a little better by using the Olympus bodies software, which I'm saving up for as well. I buy the lenses in hope that the bodies will improve until they're great, and the settings and functions will finally get around to professional standards. I really liked the output from my Nikon D90, but they never made a comprehensive prime lens line for APS-C (the 35mm f/1.8 was a step in the right direction, but where's my 'right sized' 16mm and 24mm?).

I still worship at the altar of the multi-aspect ratios of M4/3rd's, being able to shoot 4:3 or 1:1 for an old view camera commercial photographer like myself is really valuable! I have no idea as to why other, larger mirrorless sensor cameras do not offer all these ratios, it makes no sense. I know I always get into trouble when I say this: but I hate the 3:2 ratio of 35mm, it's practically worthless to me (and no more talk of the "golden mean" and all that...).

Love the Fuji stuff, especially for camera body 'feel' and primes, but still not feeling it for the files! Never did like the look of them. The shutter shake problem is a killer in mirrorless, tho, and I see it all the time. Strangely enough, it also rears it's ugly head with "live view" in using other camera models. I manage an e-comm photo department, and we use "live view" all the time, and we've had shutters repaired that burned out, but when we get them back from repair they look and function OK, but they now have shutter shake in live view, and when we send them back to Nikon, they claim they don't know what we are talking about...

I'd wait a couple months until Photokina 2016, sport.

Pentax K-1 + 31/1.8, 43/1.9, 77/1.8 100/2.8 Macro all IBIS'd. Admittedly the K-1 feels very solid in hand but you get uber build, very nice optical viewfinder with nice framing options and a completely overengineered but beautifully tactile rear screen. 31 is your favoured 28 but with smoother oof graduations and it balances perfectly on the K-1, the 43 is the most normal normal out there and the 77, well the 77 is just gorgeous in everyway once you overlook the little bit of purple fringing wide open. Add the 100 macro because it is small, cheap and does exactly as it says on the tin.

This somewhat repeats above comments, but just sharing another completely subjective similar decision... I've recently decided to sell off my Fuji and Ricoh/Pentax systems because as much as I appreciate the positive aspects of both those systems the Olympus M1, Pen F, and even the much maligned P5 have won me over, even though I resisted strongly for quite a while.

The PM2 got me going, what an irritating little camera, but I loved the images so I would keep making nice - then bought the other bodies to get the images in a better body.

As many others have mentioned if you just dig in for an hour or two you can create your own custom setups and then rarely have to dive into the crazy Olympus menus again - so that is just a temporary irritation.

The IBIS is excellent and still improving. The jpeg colors are not bettered by anyone, and the raw are rich enough for any need I've had.

And for me, the Olympus cameras just feel good - although I do add wood grip extenders to every body, and that might be important to good feel because I don't have large hands.

I keep my Nikon D700 around and a Canon 5D3 mostly because I like the 135 2.0 DC lens on the Nikon and the 100 2.8 macro (pre USM) on the Canon, but I can use these lenses on the Olympus bodies - so it is mostly nostalgia for cameras I have known. And I keep a sigma body around with their 50 1.4 just because foveon is still unique and one sometimes get an image you won't get any other way - but the foibles of the sigmas are well known.

I'm not a pixel peeper and, in our new lexicon, am a photoartist more than a photographer and rarely print beyond 16" on a side, so the 16mp limitation, even though I usually crop is not a problem for me. I'm more likely to be adding grain than to be concerned about it. The 20mp in the Pen F makes it even less of a problem.

The Fuji's seem like the best cameras when I'm reading about them (on Reid's site for example), and I think Fuji jpeg color is also great, but, in my hand and at my eye, there is no comparison.

Some have noted above that the "feel" of the camera as a physical object is more important to some people than others, so that is a huge differential in subjective camera assessment. If asked I would have said the camera is just a tool and I'll work around any issues to get an image. Turns out that is not quite true.

And now that I get the feel I like and images that often surprise me - in a good way - using m4/3 Olympus, it is like both having and eating my cake.

I also make use of film and art filters and Fuji has a good set but the Olympus options are excellent for my purposes.


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