olympus omd em-5 micro four third digital camera
 
[H]ere are some findings, thoughts and reflexions on having an OMD for 9 months. As you will see our Facebook status is “It’s complicated”
 

I usually never get exited about new cameras, I usually look and move one. One exception for this was the Olympus OMD. I had the original Olympus PEN E-P1 and had a pretty much bad experience with it. I did not like the IQ at all beyond a certain ISO and changing the settings was awkward. When Olympus made its pre launch campaign, I jumped on the boat and actually preordered it.
Why the OMD attracted me
I use to be a DSLR guy, until I discovered mirrorless cameras, how small and compact they are yet with great quality. The OMD was going to be my DSLR replacement for more commercial work.
 
– 9fps
I jumped when I saw this, I only knew of DSLRs having this kind of speed, and most of them tipped beyond the 1G price point.
 
– Ultra fast AF
Finally a camera that could keep up with rapidly changing situations
 
– Integrated EVF
Those came optional on most mirrorless cameras
 
– Double dials
For me, a serious camera must have the double dials, one for shutter speed and the other for aperture
 
– Double battery grip
One of the big reasons I jumped on the OMD was because of the grip. When doing a wedding or something, one battery will not last you, two or even 3 batteries are necessary. The OMD was the only mirrorless camera that had a battery grip and was a huge factor in me buying the OMD. I must say that if I knew the price, I might have held off the purchase.
 
– 1080p video
I don’t do video, but having such capability is always useful.
 
 
 
9 months later and loving it
What I really love about the OMD is what I hoped the Samsung NX was: A small DSLR. I think this ad says it all:
 
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqoLaNVOqUU
 
The OMD has the looks, the specs and everything else to compete in the big boys league. I bought it to be a DSLR replacement (Had a Pentax K20D) and it sure does the job very well, I don’t break a sweat at events knowing that I have good, sharp glass, killer AF and good low light IQ. It successfully bridges the gap between the traditional mirrorless cameras (average – good enough ISO, AF and FPS) with higher end DLSRs (High FPS, GreatISO performance, Fast AF, Double battery, etc). For me and my purposes (speaking of commercial stuff) it makes DSLRs obsolete.
 
It doesn’t matter if the body has good specs, if there is no good glass in front of it, the output will suck. What I really like with the whole m43 system is the low cost of good prime lenses. I come from a background of the lens lust inducing Pentax Limited lenses, and I love sharp lenses. Each “Limited” lens would circle around at least $600, and with that money you can get (albeit used) an Olympus 45 1.8 and a Panasonic 20mm 1.7 for m43. These lenses are small and sharp, couple with the high AF of the OMD it’s wining theme.
 
I love this camera, it is small and packs a huge punch, it has great Image Quality and is able to do some serious work.
 
 
 
 
In 9 months we fought a couple of times
But as I love the OMD, I also hate it. The first thing that gets in the way of my love is the interface, I believed it would grow on me but no. The slippery grip still feels weird, and the optional grip should have been included in the entry price. I am still not used to the mushy buttons and even less the on-off switch. But this is more than an aesthetic problem for me, I still do not TRUST the camera like I should. So far the interface still gets in the way of my vision, making me sometimes miss my focus or steal my attention too long. Sometimes I focus directly on the ye only to find out later in Lightrrom that the ears are in focus. Sometimes in Single servo mode, I focus and recompose, only to find later that my focus changed. I know this is a reliable camera but it still does not want to open up to me!
 
One thing I found, it is that when your battery is running extremely low, something weird happens. The camera does not turn off, you can actually take pictures but these will have a sort of solarisation effect on them. I like this because you can squeeze some shots on extra low battery but do not like it because it might create nasty surprises when reviewing.
 
One gripe I have is with some of the m43 lenses. I love / hate them too. They are absolutely GREAT lenses, but geez some of the are wimpy and plastic looking! This has a psychological effect on me that they are toy lenses. I can’t take my 45mm 1.8 seriously because of this! Of course this has nothing to do with Image Quality but I creates a barrier for me to fully trust the camera. Just compare the 45mm 1.8 with the 40mm 1.4 Voightlander lens and you will understand what I mean.
 
 
 
Counseling
The OMD is an absoletely great camera, and I know we can do good together, but it will take time. Until I can learn to bypass the interface and know the inner workings of the camera I will not trust it enough to fully love it. I know this camera has the potential, it has the “stuff”, but these are only available to those who take the time to master it like any other camera. For some reason I feel like the OMD is here to stay, as in even if an OMD2 was to come out, it will still have a great following. I love my OMD and will work on compensating for the shortcomings because this camera is worth mastering.
 
 
 

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9 Comments

  1. It’s a camera I was eager to pre-order just like you, but I handled one in a store and was appaled by the build, feel, mushy buttons. Then I had a couple of earlier Oly m4/3 bodies, and the interface turned my reluctance into hate. Add to that the holier-than-thou attitude of E-M5 owners over the web and I was running screaming to the Sony NEX. Which has more than a quirk of its own, but focus peaking coupled with APS-C DOF goodness that I couldn’t live without even if I decided to. So I’m fighting a 5N instead of fighting an E-M5. To each their own fight, lol.

    1. Holier-than-thou attitude, I wonder why this is so? Is it because they think themselves superior because they have a top of the line camera?
      I must say that I was tempted into selling the OMD for a NEX7, but could not do it. Not enough lens selection and no double battery (need it for weddings, etc). I miss the focus peaking a lot, it made me feel sure that things are in focus. If only Sony could polish it’s lens lineup…..

  2. lol on the plasticy 45
    im CONSTANTLY checking the front ring to make sure its not loose
    its been loose…. ONCE…. i check it several times each time i take it out to use it tho… paranoia! lol

    1. You need to do it if you don’t want ruined photos!I’m lusting on the hood for it, so it looks more serious lol

  3. I’ve had the OM-D for a year. It’s fast, and, as long as I have things preset, it’s OK. It’s the nightmare UI that drives me nuts! I venture in meekly and tweek a couple of things and then jump out! It has been helpful for street work, though. The Ricoh GR V looks pretty interesting…

  4. Great article! I just got an omd em5 2 weeks ago. Unfortuanatly for me, I feel the 12-50 kit lens has ruined the experience and I’m returning it.

  5. Love hate here too. Sometimes it works great, but then the interface just BACKSTABS you. This is getting ridiculous. Only yesterday was I taking pictures during a landing, then the airplane tipped to the left and I saw a breathtaking view. I wanted to record it, I hit record and it started recording, and was way too dark. I missed that view, and the only way of getting it back is buying a $500 ticket again and spending 8 hours in the air, ad 1 night abroad. I’d rather have paid more and gotten another camera – mind you I have the bargain E-PM2. What went wrong? I’ve spent the last month “studying” this camera inside out, did I mess up somewhere? After doing some tests to reproduce the problem, it turns out this is what happened: I had my Movie mode set to M with iso 3200, and slowest shutter and maximum aperture. This is usually what I do at night – auto exposure for movies does not seem to work great at night. Then at some point I switched to Photo P mode, and set the ISO to AUTO. When I pressed the quick movie record button on the camera, it started recording in 200 ISO, although I had set it to 3200 ISO previously. Movie and photo share the ISO setting (not great) so when you change the ISO in any mode it affects both movie and photo settings. Therefore ISO was set to AUTO. However, AUTO is not available in movie M, so the camera simply selected ISO 200 instead!
    That’s just crappy software, and it’s not the first time that I come to this conclusion. I really want to get a Panasonic now. I just can’t afford another camera now.

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