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Sunday, 24 July 2022

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You have somewhat surprisingly defined “Goldilocks camera” in terms of sensor size only, but with image quality at such high levels all round, I think a more useful definition is: User Interface & Convenience (UI&C). In this definition, the iPhone is again at one extreme, but the Olympus OM-1 is clearly at the other. So the “Goldilocks” camera would most probably be something like the Leica Q2. But perhaps the Leica CL, or even the Leica SL2 would also be contenders.

[And you have surprisingly not considered the Goldilocks principle in terms of cost Peter! You see how complicated it is. When we are happily being picky like we are here. --Mike]

“it makes more sense than an iPhone” … until you want to make phone call or send/receive text messages.

Seriously, though, if they made an X-Pro or X-100 rf style camera, I’d be happier. But then, I’m a curmudgeon.

Regarding the Fujifilm X-T4, I looked at what I'd be "giving up" and bought 2 X-T3 bodies. I never shoot video and every review for the X-T4 says that it is much better for video shooters, so a wasted "benifit" for my use. The bigger battery with more possible frames per charge would be great, but I have 8 batteries from the pre-X-T4 models, so I'm use to just having spares on hand.

With the X-T3 bodies, I give up nothing in terms of image quality plus I get to keep the well thought out flip screen that stays in alignment with the body. Add to that that the X-T3 was coming in at a ridiculously low price for a while and it was a no brainer considering my large collection of XF lenses. These should be my last cameras.

Missing the Pen-F (note that dash, it separates the digital from the analog one), although that also had the display going out to the side instead of upwards which would have been so much nicer.

So for the moment I'm pretty happy with my (still mad of metal) E-M10 Mk2, and if one day a Pen-F Mk2 would come along, I hope it will have a display going up only.

Agree on he 'Goldilocks' comparison, µ34rds is just right for me as well.

I bought into the M43 system very early with an Olympus EM1 and a variety of nice lenses. I loved using it - it was fun! While primarily a Nikon shooting at the time, once I used the Olympus I knew that the world would go mirrorless. Size, silent shooting option and the ability to live view the actual photograph was a gamechanger.

I had two big issues with the EM1 that were hard stops. First, at the time, the autofocus was inferior. Especially continuous/tracking focus which was completely unusable. Second, I shoot in low light a lot and compared to the Nikon D3s at the time, the Olympus, with the smaller sensor, was no match above iso 400.

I'd be very interested to see how those two elements have improved on the most recent Olympus? I really loved some of the lenses in that lineup including that sleek little 75mm 1.8!

I think your observation about the Nikon Z5 demolished the case for a smaller sensor.

Perhaps part of the problem that faces amateur snappers is the obsession with this idea of life having to be hand-held or nothing. I used to do it both ways: with fashion stuff on a Nikon F or F2 it was hand-held outdoors from 125th sec. and faster, with anything up to, and including a 50mm lens. Longer lenses were always tripod-mounted. On 6x6, it was always tripods, especially after the culture shock of moving from Rollei TLR to Hasselblad 500 bodies, where the delights of mirror bounce with the latter ended the former hand-held ease of use of that convenient format.

(As an aside: when faced with a situation where I just knew that no matter how much I tried, the model/photographer/garments shooting combination was never going to produce miracles, I invariably opted for 6x6. This, because twelve shots was, sadly, going to be as good as thirty-six or a hundred and thirty-six, and the contact sheets looked better than those for 135 films. Pragmatism at work.)

My Goldilocks would be considered “This camera is too small!” by many but despite owning a Z5 my perfect go everywhere camera is my Sony RX100VII. Fitted with a handsome Small Rig grip the camera is no longer a bar of soap. The lens is sufficiently sharp and reasonably fast considering the 24-200 zoom range and the AF is pro level. Add in a crazy frame rate and you can actually shoot sports and action with this thing. I use ISO 64 whenever possible and 800 looks just fine. Sure it’s pricey but is well made and truly is a pocket camera.

My only quarrel with the OM-1 is that it's unobtainable at present, and has been for a while. Presumably OM is working to ramp up production, at least I hope so.

Flip-out screens aren't just for videographers, they're also for photographers who like to shoot verticals. It's something I find the 4:3 aspect ratio especially suitable for.

My primary work camera is an E-M1 II with 12-100mm, and as much as I love it and would never replace it, I'll admit the Z5 with 24-200mm looks awfully good in comparison. It's when you look at the f/1.8 Olympus primes that you realize their combination of size, image quality, and low cost, that you see what is pretty unbeatable in any other system. They are especially lovely on an E-M5 body, and rumours are that the next body from OMDS will be a continuation of that line.

Micro 4/3 is a real sweet spot for lens size. Even APSC lenses are almost the same size and weight as FF/35.

If you're a photographer who actually has to carry your gear all day, every ounce makes a huge difference. When I had to carry a FF/35 kit, 2 bodies, 24-70 & 70-200 f2.8 zooms, a fast prime or two, and a 300 f4 for more reach, man that stuff became a chore. Photography wasn't much fun, it was more like a test of will every day. And no matter how much I purged, it was still a lot. I eventually got down to a 24/50/135/300 prime kit, which was both lighter (not by a whole lot) and faster, but I spent a lot of time changing lenses.

The M4/3 gear has made photography fun again. That, and a whole host of other improvements over DSLR's. But that was 13 years ago.

The comparison picture shows there is no advantage of the OM-1 over then Z5. Maybe the IBIS on the OM1 is better, but the Z5 can perform better in low light with moving subjects.

Overall, I find the sweet spot for performance, compactness, and cost is still Fuji APSC.

Forgot to say, if Fuji makes a GX8 with APSC sensor, that will be my Goldilocks Camera. The X-Pro3 has this weird LCD and I don't need OVF. Replace the hybrid VF with the EVF in the X-H2 and give it the X-T3's 3-way tilt LCD and IBIS.

Last time I did any kind of camera surveying, I concluded that APS was my Goldilocks sensor, but that was five or six years ago. If m4/3 has improved significantly, I may have to change my mind.

It wasn't about resolution--it just seemed like APS files were more flexible, or had more margin for adjustment. I just felt a greater degree of comfort. Maybe that was about dynamic range and/or color gamut, or maybe it was about what my software or printer or printer profiles liked.

Another reason I see changing my mind is that Canon seems to be done with APS, which is too bad because I like Canon color and tonality. But that's OK--I would happily "settle" for Olympus texture or Fuji character, or even Canon FF.

I have two Z cameras and two GX8s, but the Panasonics are getting long in the tooth. I looked at the OM1, and the Zs are almost the same size (a little taller, but a little thinner.) The Z lenses are much bigger, which I don't like, but another big factor is aspect ratio. I don't shoot landscapes, and the 4/3 aspect ratio is better (for me.) I don't know exactly what I will do if Panasonic doesn't update the GX8s with a similar small body, but I could switch to the (much larger) OM so I could use all my m4/3 lenses. I'm really waiting on Panasonic to announce something one way or another. Would it really kill them to say they're not going back to the m4/3, so we could move on?

I also have an RX100 VII, which is great for what it is, but it's not in the same class as m4/3 or FF, unless you shoot exclusively for video screens.

I've used micro 4/3 since the Panasonic G1 came out, and it's my mainstay system. A couple of other things which the m4/3 cameras do better than the larger systems is dust control and stabilization. I know that some FF systems are rated as high as m4/3 for stabilization, but putting that 12-100mm Olympus lens on an E-M1 body, v1, 2 or 3, lets me shoot at slower shutter speeds than anything else. The E-M1 bodies also have some other technical advantages that should by now be offered by other systems, like the 'Pro Capture' (holding 15 or so pre shutter press exposures in the buffer) but they are brand specific rather than sensor size limitations.

One of the main downsides of m4/3 for me is the relatively poor low light performance. For my taste ISO 1600 is usually the limit, with FF cameras offering 6400 or a bit less at the same standard. The superior stabilization sometimes compensates for that. However, I really like B&W, and there I find that whereas colour cameras top out at ISO 5000 or 6400, the files from the Leica M10Monochrom are just fine at ISO 50,000. Even at that ISO they're less 'grainy' and much more detailed than properly developed 120 format FP4. But if you wanted colour....

I've been shooting with that-sized sensor since my E-1 that I bought in 2004 and am currently shooting with an EM-1 mk.iii so I'm probably going to sound a bit "me too" and I don't have as much breadth of experience to compare others. I also am skipping the OM-1* and expecting that I will look at an OM-1 mk.ii (or equivalent) whenever that comes out.

Ironically, although I have the very nice 12-45 zoom, when I am hiking in the woods I often carry the Olympus 4/3 12-60 zoom from 2007 which, along with its 4/3-to-micro4/3 adaptor, simply kills any small size advantage! However, I simply love the sharpness and colours I get from that lens on the mk.iii and happily lug it up and down hills. I should also say that the Panasonic-Leica 8-18 zoom is also my constant companion on these walks. I find both these lenses perform very nicely with the camera's built-in HDR routines.

However, I haven't been that happy with the high-resolution images from this camera. I might be using it wrong; I don't know. But at any rate, this past winter I carefully considered investing in a Fuji medium-format body and lens or two. That didn't come to fruition, but the idea is still out there, for me.
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*The digital OM-1 that is. I in fact also have a film OM-1 but that is another story altogether ;-)

A century after Oskar Barnack's choice of the 35mm film in a small camera, the format - despite the steady stream of usurpers ready to take it on - remains the "gold standard" of imaging formats.

In response to Wolfgang Lonien: the E-M10 II has a plastic body with metal dials and a thin "metal sheath" (Olympus' own words) over the outside of the plastic body. Somewhere along the line a couple of review sites incorrectly stated that it had the same magnesium alloy chassis as the E-M1 and E-M5 series, despite the fact that Olympus themselves never stated that, and that iFixit has posted photos of the disassembled camera, clearly showing the plastic chassis.

In response to JOHN B GILLOOLY: if you shot raw with the E-M1 and still have the photos, I'd suggest downloading a trial version of DxO PhotoLab or PureRAW, and seeing what the modern DeepPrime noise reduction can do to old raw images. It's quite a revelation.

The Goldilocks camera for me would be a Leica M11, but priced at $2500.

So it does exist, I just have to wait about 7-10 years.

Mike,
I have a soft spot for OM cameras from film days.
Your Goldilocks is an excellent choice, particularly with this pancake zoom lens:
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ Lens

Back in the day, photo magazines had occasional articles about how a 35mm negative, from a slow to medium speed film and an appropriate developer, could rival a medium format negative. Or, how one could obtain results similar to a 4x5 with a medium format camera.

The more things change…

I have a very narrow and admittedly silly requirement list - mostly boiling down to will it work at Disney and in Moab/Yellowstone/Outside, but also school plays and scout events?

Fuji is really good at most of that, M4/3 at a lot as well, but when it gets really dark, FF cameras still eke out an advantage. And with the Z series being compact CAMERAS, they won out for me. Big lenses, yes, but wow do they make me smile. And the 40 and converted M glass make for a compact option as needed.

My Z6 and 20 1.8 went on a wick lantern lit cave tour and got usable, beautiful results - not black cat in coal mine, but literal cave pictures:) My X-H1 would not have been able to match that.

I did consider M43 for long photos, but cost won out - the surprisingly good nikkor 200-500 is less expensive than the smaller format equivalents.

Funny, I keep on asking my daughter if she's using the EM1 II I gave her, hoping she'll say no, take it back, but no luck. Sensor wise, they punch above their weight, and it's dead easy to get sharp shots almost all the time. Plus it's pretty much the perfect system for people who like deep depth of field shots, sharp front to back. But if I were looking at getting into M43 today, I'd just buy used, a G9, or and EM1 version 2 or 3. Save the OM1 for the serious bird shooters. We are kind of in the golden age of used cameras.

Having recently dipped into the Nikon Z I would say that the Olympus stuff remains a lot smaller in practice than the Nikon stuff because the lenses are so much smaller. My Z6II with the 24-70/F4 is noticeably bigger than my OMD E-M1 Mark 2 with the 12-100/F4. Most of the difference is in the barrel of the lenses, with the Nikon being a lot larger ... but the Olympus lens has a lot more range. So there you go.

What I miss using the OMD is sensor performance and the tracking AF that the Nikon does so well. I don't use tracking AF much, but gave up even trying with my OMD. I imagine maybe the OM-1 is a bit better, but I have not seen any indication that it is in general (outside of bird tracking or face tracking). The general subject tracking on the Nikon is miraculously good and I really like using it. I just wish the lenses were smaller.

An addendum to my previous thought: I imagine people might tell me "well, just use the Nikon prime lenses, they will be smaller" or something to that effect.

To which I would reply: the Olympus primes are *even smaller* ... and using primes misses the point. The E-M1 wit the 12-100 will get 99% of all the pictures you will ever want to take. It's amazingly sharp and flexible lens in an amazingly tiny package.

So that was my real point. As good as the Nikon stuff is there is nothing close to that useful *and* that small in the Nikon Z line.

For me the full frame Nikon (I have a Z6) is the Goldilocks camera.

For a lot of my work I need to lock down my exposure and focus. For the latter I find that manual focus lenses work and modern AF lenses do not. And mirrorless allows me to magnify the image and check focus. So for my job yesterday I used a Nikkor 50 1.4 AIS. I have found AF quite unreliable in these situations.

And as a walk around camera it works pretty well, nice in hand and the kit lens is wonderfully competent, a revelation after the Sony A7.

Full frame mirrorless is great with legacy lenses as long as you don't need acceptable image quality off center with lenses wider than 50mm and don't mind that focus is slow or inaccurate stopped down past f4.

I shot extensively with both Mk I and II versions of the Olympus E-M5 and loved how portable the camera was compared to my D800. But, when I look back at the images, I always wish I had just taken the D800 with me and got over the larger size back then. Better color depth, resolution, etc.

YMMV, of course.

I’d likely feel the same way if I had shot a lot of 35 mm film pre-digital because it was easier to deal with than the medium format camera I left at home.

I should add that the continuous AF of the OM-1 is head and shoulders above any previous Olympus and on par with my R5. I ditched my Canon 600mm f/4 and switched to the Olympus 150-400mm for bird photography. There is just no comparison with previous Olympus models.

Also, and largely I think as a consequence of the sensor size it's designed for, the Olympus 40-150/2.8 is an amazing lens. Also it's amazingly cheap for that class of optic. The do-all zoom for a generation now has been the 70-200/2.8, and I found when first shooting APS that extending that out to 300 was a big win—and this lens extends it out to 300 (FOV-equivalent) full-time.

Have the Pen-F as well. Moved from a camera with the flip-down screen, which I really liked for shooting from the waist. Still don't particularly like the flip-out screen except for, as mentioned previously by others, shooting vertical, especially low angle. (Admittedly, the Pen-F has a decent EVF, which I use all the time, so shooting at waist level is less of an attraction.)

But, why can't they make them so they do both? Really? It's just one more hinge point.

Time to put an Android phone into OM-1

We are in the personal choice zone here, so my needs will be different to yours and others.

I bought into M43 when the excellent EM5i appeared. At the time it gave me a lot of advantages over my then aging D300 kit. My subjects are mostly hiking in our Apennines, family and pets and Architectural photography in old, dark Italian monuments.

When the EM5 was getting long in the tooth, I compared the EM1.iii + 12-100 to the the Z7 with the 24-200 for hiking and travel and the 24-70 and 14-30 for architecture where tripods are not allowed. I run a D850 / shift lens set up for tripod based Architectural photography.

I found that the weight difference between the EM1 and the Z7 set ups I had in mind were very small. So cost being less of a factor with my camera choice, as I was able to trade in a lot of duplicate gear, because I can use my Nikon D850 F mount lenses on the Z.

The results I get with the Z7 (and D850) are on another planet compared to what I was getting with the EM5. I need to take a little more care hand holding at low shutter speeds, but tonal transitions and what I can recover from shadow areas is far superior to what can be achieved with the M4/3 sensor. This is important to me for my hand held architectural photography. Hiking landscapes are much nicer too.

When I am out and about doing casual travel with my family the Z7/24-200 are no more of a burden than my old EM5 set up or the Olympus set up I considered. The 24-200 is a brilliant travel lens.

Mention must be made of another little camera I have. The LX100 fits in my pocket for those occasions where I need something small for family events like my sons graduation pictures. This is the perfect M43 camera for me.

Lastly it must be said that a huge shadow hangs over the future of Olympus/OM M43. Due to the time it takes to develop a new camera, we can be sure that the OM1 was an Olympus project. Not much else has appeared since the take over and reading about the nature of the company that took over the Olympus camera division, I wonder if it is not just a winding up operation. M43 seems to be even less popular than it was before Olympus bailed out, as FF cameras are becoming more "affordable", especially on the SH market.



I agree with Merle about that double-hinged display for the Pen-F, that would be close to my dream camera... maybe a tilt-up EVF like on the Pany would be cool as well. I'm often close to the ground, photographing neighbours' cats (since "ours" died last year, she was my favourite "model"). I rarely use portrait orientation these days, even with humans - maybe a format question, and although [micro] four thirds is better in that regard than the larger ones, I'd prefer something even more old school for that, like 4:5 or even 6:7... adding all these to the menu systems also shouldn't be asking too much, that's software only... (and I think I've read somewhere that some Nikons do have 4:5 or 5:4 or something like that).

But overall, happy with my (thin metal) E-M10 Mk2, as is my wife with her E-M5 Mk2.

I have a Nikon Z7 and Olympus EM-1 Mk3 along with the Olympus 12-100mm zoom. That lens pretty much stays on my camera all the time. It is a Goldilocks lens, sharp, f/4 all the way, image stabilization combined with the camera, and the zoom range. This setup meets 90% of my shooting needs. The Nikon is better at the high ISO's. The Nikon is superior on paper but I am not disappointed when I take the Olympus. I must add I photograph mostly nature and I like the increased depth of field. The Olympus prime lenses are very good, maybe not as good as the Nikon Z primes but they are less expensive and I cannot tell the difference in the results unless I am pixel peeping.
When I combine it all together micro 4/3 is the Goldilocks for my purposes.

Why renounce on one axis in a movable screen? Like many others I also shoot in vertical format, where a simple up and down screen is rather useless. Add to this the aspect of screen protection by turning it inwards. The perfect solution was in the high end Sony alpha cameras, 77 and 99, but sadly what Sony giveth, Sony taketh away.

I respectfully disagree. At the mid-range focal lengths you are talking about a full frame mirrorless camera like my Nikon Z7 can be configured to be almost as small and light (with for example the 24-120/4 or a couple of the f/1.8 primes) with dramatically better image quality. So what if micro four thirds is better than 35mm film? Cameras like the Z7 rival 4x5 inch film at a fraction of the size/weight with massively increased versatility. They are not even much more expensive than the micro four thirds cameras and lenses you have mentioned. If you ask me (and you did) full frame mirrorless is the sweet spot right now.

I'm still using the original E-M1 primarily at bicycle races and for birding. To listen to the interweb, that model has a useless auto-focus system. I presume they mean in comparison to top of line Canikons that sell for 3 and 4 times the price. I've never had a significant problem with it, miss the occasional shot maybe but that's all. I've shot mountain bike races in deep forests at 3200 ISO, sure there's noise but so what. The new models have 20 mpix, but I was ok with 16 mpix. There may be a small percentage of pros who need what the more expensive machines give them, no doubt, but there seem to be many who manage to make a living with m4/3s too. People worry way too much.

My problem with your analysis, Mike, is that (as far as I know) you haven't had the opportunity to actually shoot with the digital OM-1, so this is at best a thought experiment. If my recollection is correct (and my memory ain't what it used to be), back a few years you did have an opportunity to shoot with the latest Olympus m43 uber-camera and despite how great it looked on paper, you did not like it at all--you just couldn't "bond" with the camera as a photograph making tool. Ergonomics, menus, and general feel of the camera didn't work for you and you sent it back in favor of the Panasonic which you did bond with. I had exactly the same reaction to the camera, it felt like it had been designed by engineers who rarely used cameras to make photographs. Like you, I think that making camera decisions based on specs and internet perusing is a number of steps from reality. Because of this the Fuji X cameras remain my Goldilocks cameras and I have owned m43, Sony FF, and Fuji.

Let me just second and third others' comments. I'm prone to agreeing heartily to your post because I understand olympus colors and rendering, prefer 4x5 cropping (so 2x3 is wasted on me), and I prefer lots of depth of field.

I've used the first em5 with a panny 20 and oly 45, quite happily, since that camera first came out. That kit is so carry-able. It showcases the size advantages of m43rds in spades for carry-around and travel snapping when you want large print image quality and excellent lens rendering.

I think, though, the om-1 is *too* capable for those two lenses, and so doesn't quite replace my em5 kit yet, for me. For that upgrade to happen, they should offer a 45mm f1.4 that shares sizing and design goals of their new 20mm. (I can easily carry around the 12-45mm f4 in a pocket, and it is similarly sized.) With this 20 + 45, I'd be real pleased to make an om-1 upgrade, and then have a slightly larger, well-balanced, and much more capable kit. And it would still really showcase the many advantages it has over FF. The camerasize comparisons would be noticeable vs Nikon Z, and more things would be equivalent in the comparison.

It's remarkable that the proposed Goldilocks camera turns out to be one brand's flagship. I would have guessed that a perfectly normal, boring mid-range camera with a mid-sized (APS-C, maybe M4/3) sensor, mid-sized price and a perfectly sufficient feature set would have made the cut.
Seeing the number of comments, it looks like you managed to stir the honeypot a bit though :-).

Thanks, Mike, for this and for your previous Goldilocks post. I enjoyed your thought experiment. However, you answered a question that I'd never ask.

I'm not interested in discovering the happy medium between two well-chosen extremes, but in answering "What's the best compromise for me?" I don't need prints beyond 16x24 or 16x20 inches, using prints at that size from old drum scanned Mamiya 7 frames as my benchmark. My 42mp Sony works quite well for that purpose, with the 25mm Zeiss Loxia standing in for my favorite Mamiya lens, the 50mm. However, I've used Topaz Gigapixel enough to make me think that APS-C could suffice for those occasional prints and might be handier in general. I happen to prefer small, manual focus lenses (my longest lens is the little Zeiss ZM 85/4 Tele-Tessar), so there's not much to be gained even if little to lose by swapping formats. So, I'm good with my Sony for photo-centric adventures along with an APS-C pocket camera for more everyday fun.

That featured comment about enlargements to 10x17 feet brought to mind some B&W panoramic printed as murals on the side of buildings. The camera used? A Kodak single use panoramic that was reloaded with B&W film. The plastic 2 element 25mm lens was up to the task. For the intended viewing distance the resolution was amazing.
Even though this is no doubt a serious upgrade to my 2014 EM10, at my age GAS has gone into complete remission (only wish it had done so sooner). The EM10 was obtained a couple of years ago for $210 and is still a wonder for my modest picture requirements.

"I'm also very unhappy with Panasonic, for abandoning the GX8 instead of making a GX8 Mark II."

"I don't know exactly what I will do if Panasonic doesn't update the GX8s with a similar small body,", John Camp

I find this mystifying. I had a GX7, which I quite liked. I shot it beside an Oly E-M5 II. Absolute toss-up for IBIS, IQ, etc. I skipped the GX8 because it offered nothing new of importance to me, yet was bigger and slightly heavier; I suspect a factor in it's lack of success. (Note that the GX80/85 was sold in Japan as GX7 II - "Yes, we heard you, and are back to the smaller size you liked!")

What about the GX9, guys? It's smaller, lighter and more capable than the GX8, with the same, rangefinder-like form factor. I have three of them, and swanned around Ireland, Bhutan, southern Utah, New England and Calif. with two around my neck and often a third clipped to my belt. Simply excellent cameras.

GX7 - 123 x 71 x 55 mm

GX8 - 133 x 78 x 63 mm

GX9 - 124 x 72 x 47 mm

E-M1 III - 134 x 91 x 69 mm

OM-1 - 135 x 92 x 73 mm

Take the depth stat. with a grain of salt as it's all about grip depth.

Yes, it appears Panny may have left the GX series behind as they did with the GM bodies, and that's sad if true. But the GX9 is still a better, smaller, lighter camera than the GX8.

I now seem to be transitioning back to Oly/OMS, but that's about the Oly 100-400 and computational functions that mean little to many folks. (And supporting OMS, in hopes they succeed.) As I haul out the OM-1 and Oly 100-400, I miss form factor, size and weight of the GX9 and PL100-400 but, it's all about the results.

I have had "tiers" of cameras. Film in a Fuji 6x9 + 35mm and digital mostly the now antique EM5 mkI which still has great results. Specially with the Panasonic 35-100 2.8. With that tele it is lovely in most conditions and the smaller sensor has advantages.

m43 does have a certain balance to it and I started using less because of an RX100IV.
20MP is for days and under some conditions the jpegs have a nice crunchy sharpness almost akin to film medium format.

Won't get this OM1 any time soon as for my amateur use all of the aforementioned cameras are good enough -- 2012 tech basically. And in the day and age of expensive living and inflation, that budget gets me to places and experiences instead of gear.
Also film, but have been much more limited and selective lately. Fast paced life grants me limited darkroom time nowadays.

Ironically I do get comments that a compact camera seems very passé compared to phones (27 yo here). I do wish I had an iPhone 13 but won't shell the grand+ it costs. If computational power made it to the cameras (eg night modes), it would be interesting.

Well, that's pleasing! The OM-1 is my current Goldilocks camera, although I wish it had the form factor, size, weight and sensible power switch location of a Panny GX9.

A big problem with it is that they aren't available. It took a long time for my pre-order to arrive, and and weeks longer for the free second battery to arrive. OM Systems claims supply chain problems for the lack of availability. Whatever the reasons, it is, at the moment, a phantom option for those who don't already have one.

The truth is, if it weren't for the Oly sale of their camera business, it would be an E-M1 IV. It's an evolutionary improvement, not a new breakthrough. OM's talk of revolution in sensor is, to my mind and experience, overstated. Yes, it has about one stop more DR. More important, it's better at higher ISOs, but not spectacularly so. I've upped my ISO cap from 1600 to 3200.

Hand Held HR is a big deal, but not without user participation in post. The OM HR JPEGs aren't very good, clumsily over processed. Topaz Denoise and Sharpen AI bring the Raw files up to the impressive thing it should be.

The sensor system is a lot faster, which positively impacts things like ProCapture, Focus Stacking/Bracketing, etc. Added subject ID focus modes are good; Bird Focus is big for me.

It even supports ProCapL with the PanaLeica 100-400, which its predecessors didn't. Unfortunately, the Oly 100-400 is slightly optically better at the long end, and has matching tele-converters (And yes, the 1.4 x is optically better than uprezzed without it.)

Menu system is much improved, and there are other scattered improvements. But, for Mike's criteria for Goldilocks status, on everything but New! Shiny!, the E-M1 III should score the same.

". . .cost of the OM-1 body alone." For the cost conscious, a new E-M1 III is $1,600, $600 less than the OM-1, at B&H, and readily available. If one doesn't need Starry Sky AF and ND emulation, a used E-M1 II is much cheaper. For the kind of photography many do, there's no practical difference. Yup, my current second camera is an E-M1 II; I know whereof I speak.

(Oh yeah, the OM-1 has a better EVF. I am so VF agnostic that I don't notice, but others will no doubt be thrilled.)

For me, the Goldilocks camera is smaller than the OM-1. I use a pair of E-M10 Mark II cameras right now (the 45 on one and the 17 on the other, with the 9-18 zoom and the 75 in my bag, just in case), and they are plenty big enough and do everything I need. If someone gave me the OM-1, I'd try it out, but the odds are that I'd just sell it and use the profit to take my smaller, cheaper cameras somewhere interesting. (Needless to say, the same applies to the APS-C, FF, and MF cameras, with my vacations becoming increasingly interesting and luxurious.)

Once again proving the adage, it is in the eye of the beholder...

I have a Fuji XT-1 and have handled (though never owned) an Olympus. The problem is, while I like the light weight, I find both to be too small and fiddly for my tastes. And that menu system. Oy.

You don't need another camera. Your X-H1 is just as capable as the OM-1.

Trust me, I've shot motor racing with the previous-gen, TOTL OM-D EM-1X, which was the functional equivalent of the Canon 1D-series, and my X-H1 is just a capable for shooting motorsports as the E-M1X. If the X-H1 meets my requirements, it will more than meet yours.

As you know first-hand, the X-H1 files in particular, have a really nice image quality☨ that's reminiscent of the MF Fujis.

Plus, you already have a bunch of XF-mount Fujinon lenses. As Thom Hogan says, "the cameras come and go, but the lenses stay". Invest for the lens portfolio.

Trust me when I say that...getting another camera is not going to make your photography better. That comes from seeing better, and understanding composition, tonality, and Light, Gesture, and Color*

Instead, put that money towards a week at the Grand Tetons. You'll find it much more rewarding, and the memories will last a lifetime.

* – wonderful and essential photography book by Jay Maisel. Get it. Read it.

☨ - I attribute this, in part, to the very tight optical tolerances the X-H1 was manufactured to for use with the Fujinon XF200 mm f/2 telephoto.

-Stephen, your friendly devil's advocate

[I didn't say *I* was looking for another camera...and actually, I don't use the X-H1 much. I mostly use the X-T1. I am kinda thinking about getting another one of those. --Mike]

I have been using the OM-1 for some time, I pre-ordered it and got mine very early. I did skip the EM1 Mk III. At high ISO the noise is still there, but its quality is completetly diferent than in earlier Olympus FT and MFT cameras. I find it much less distracting, more film-like. I would like to read your opinion on this once you get a chance to use an OM-1, or at least study some photographs. For me, this removes much of the compromise incurred by the smaller sensor. Maybe Ctein would know if this can be explained by the image sensor architecture, which has individual detectors in the array in clusters of four per color channel. I think your asessment of the OM-1 is correct, I would only add that the OM-1 + 2x converter + 300 mm f:4 allows hand-held shooting at 1200 mm equivalent even in windy weather, and this kit is not a burden to carry for hours at a time.

@ Moose. I skipped the GX9 for the same reason you skipped the GX8 -- not enough improvement for the money. I don't have a problem continuing with my two GX8s, except that they're getting old. They'd even be a bit old if they were 1990s Nikon Fs. What I want is a GX8 (or GX9) with the new 24mp sensor that's in the GH6 with the rest of the 2020s updates. I'd like to get there before my GX8s get any funkier.

I use My beloved OM1 from the 1970s with TX400 film which after developed I "scan" with a Pentax 645D + 120 f4 Takumar superb macro lens with extension ring mounted on the arm of a Leica Valoy enlarger from the 1930s and print on an Epson 7600 from 2002 with piezography Special Edition inks. Results from this setup are truly beautiful. The good (and ironic) thing about film is it looks good printed at any size. Big, huge, or small. Grain is beautiful. Digital artifacts are not.

As one who's already invested in m4/3 (plus legacy 4/3 lenses from the Oly E-system) the OM1 is a welcome advancement that wrings even more out of a decent lens collection.

It does allow me to do things I had not done previously (in some cases because of added features I simply felt compelled to try). My familiar subjects are well served by the many improvements.

The menu redesign was called for--the previous setup was fine for earlier cameras with far fewer settings but groaned under the weight of Oly's vast feature and option landscape.

Rumor mill has a smaller "OM5" model to follow this year, for those wishing for the new sensor and subject tracking in a smaller form. One hopes it also shares a metal chassis, unlike the fragile E-M5iii, which it presumably succeeds.

Cautiously hopeful that OM Digital has this designing and building cameras and lenses thing figured out. I truly do not want the bother and expense of learning another system.

Mike,

I'm entirely with oyu on the simplicity thing. Modern cameras have a multiplicity of knobs sand buttons, most of which I find useless. In the peak of my career as a photographer, I was frequently shooting in refineries, chemical and powerplants. I sot with my trusty Hasselblad 500CM.NOthing there that required a battery. I shot Kodak 160NC (more detail) using the, yup, sunny 16 rule. Never failed me. I didn't have to think about all the picky details, I could concentrate of taking the photo, not pushing the right button. Film went to a service bureau, where it was processed and scanned, and all was well.

Getting old sucks, doesn't it!


Bill Pearce, not the famous one.

Ref. to Mr. Sergio Bartelsmann: I "scan" with a Pentax 645D + 120 f4 Takumar superb macro lens with extension ring mounted on the arm of a Leica Valoy enlarger ...

Mr. Bartelsmann told us that he scans 35mm black and white negatives by camera scanning, which I think is very good. However, since he is above a 1:1 scale on this, the very precise parallel alignment of the camera sensor to the film negative is extremely important and difficult. Would you care to share how you do this precise alignment?
I would be very grateful for it.

" Light, Gesture, and Color*
. . .
* – wonderful and essential photography book by Jay Maisel. Get it. Read it. "

It was my recommendation that led it to be Book o' the Week not long ago. View it!

I just watched the documentary Jay Myself. I find it a wonderful mash-up of biography of an interesting person, advice about photography, with lots of good illustrations and meditation on big life changes.

(Hi Stephen!)

In response to my previous comment about scanning film with a medium format digital camera I was asked how I dealt with the alignment of sensor plane with film plane. I made a small light table with leds inside and diffusing material inside. This box rests on 3 screws that act as legs or supports each located in the middle of a side. Only three sides have a screw. By turning each of the screws you can very precisely control the position of the light table plane. I mount the camera on an L bracket pointing down at the light table and do my best manual/visual intent of having it as perpendicular as possible to the light table plane. Then I use a film canister without a cap and rest on the camera LCD screen (which I asume is parallel to the sensor plane by design) and place my smartphone (which has totally flat back) on top of it. I use a level app in my phone and mark a zero for the camera sensor plane. I then put the same canister with the smartphone on the light table plane and turn the screws till I reach the zero values I previously marked. My lens is a true macro with a flat field, and by stopping it down to f11, I retain very good IQ and gain a little depth of field enough warrant focus all over the film plane. It is a very simple setup that works very well, is very diy-friendly, and allow you to scan a full roll of 35mm in less than 15 minutes. Image quality is very high. I actually scan into the grain itself. It is much simpler in practice than in words!

I think it depends on what you shoot and what look you are aiming for. It seems to me that you can do anything with Full Frame, but can’t with Micro 4/3s.

If I want good focus separation with a FF it is easy, even with a 35mm f1.4. A broad scene, focusing sharply on an individual, with hints of the others in the background. How do you do that with Micro 4/3? Or a 50/1.4 or 85/2 for great portraiture. A 135/1.8 for those who want the narrowest separation. It is easy to stop down for extensive depth of field as well. Of course, good long lenses are also available for those who like wildlife or sport.

Given that the size of a Sony A7rIV, a Canon or Nikon equivalent are more or less the same size as the Micro 4/3 or APS C cameras I can’t see the advantage of the latter.

Ref. Sergio Bartelsman, Camerascanning of B&W negatives.
I would like to thank Mr. Bartelsman very much for the detailed and really very original idea with the cell phone and the levelling app!
I have not read this trick anywhere else and I read a lot. Now I have to research how exactly this levelling app works, if and how much it is more accurate than the often recommended spirit levels, which in my experience are too coarse for these applications. Thanks again for your valuable help, which I'm sure will interest many who are involved in camera scanning.

"Bill Pearce, not the famous one."

You're the famous one in my world. \;~)

"Getting old sucks, doesn't it!"

Not so far . . .

Good health, and the photo gear keeps getting better.

I think I'm a couple of years ahead of you.

Ref Robert: "I think it depends on what you shoot and what look you are aiming for."

Yup

"It seems to me that you can do anything with Full Frame, but can’t with Micro 4/3s."

The reverse is true for me, for what I am aiming for. Simplest example: I just can't carry and use an 1100 mm lens for FF.

I can, and do, carry, and successfully use, an Oly 100-400 mm lens plus 1.4x teleconverter.

Another example: I shoot lots of focus bracket/stacks, to reduce focus separation.

Different Strokes . . .

{BTW, DoF is really thin out over 1000 mm eq.]

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