In defense of the E-5

Started Feb 4, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Tony Hall
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In defense of the E-5
Feb 4, 2011

The other thread was full, but I wanted to add my two cents. I actually chose to switch to Olympus over other brands when the E-5 came out, a decision that dpreview evidently cannot recommend. It's a decision that I still stick to because I'm not committed and could switch if you could show me a better rig for the money.

First, I think the inferior ISO performance is a little overstated for a couple of reasons.

  • Let's say the 7D has a one stop advantage while the newer K-5 and D7000 have a two stop advantage. The Zuiko zooms are generally about a stop faster than their APS-C equivalents. So, that gives the newest, state of the art cameras a one stop advantage and the 7D no advantage.

  • Nikon and Canon do not have IS built in, which means loosing light for shutter speed in some situations. Let's call that a disadvantage for Canon.

Lens choices for Canon APS-C suck IMO. Most of your lens choices are big bulky lenses designed for full frame. Other than that, you get a handful of overpriced, mediocre lenses that barely outperform the kit lens. I had the 17-55mm IS and it can't touch the 12-60 Zuiko, yet it costs $300 more. What lens can you buy for Nikon or Canon that's the same quality and range as the 12-60mm, for $800?

And what about the fact that Canon's EF-S lenses are dust magnets? Zuiko lenses are weather and dust proof. Not to mention the bodies have superior dust removal. These are the kinds of features that you need in professional gear people or you're going to end up with dusty, broken junk after you've used the stuff for a while.

Also, I think the high price thing is a bit over stated. Sure, the E-5 body is high, but look at the price of the overall package. For the same quality level, Olympus lenses and accessories are generally less expensive than Canon and Nikon.

Autofocus on the E-5 has been frustrating sometimes (in very low light), but not as much as my Canons that I had. I had a 7D with focus problems. It seems I could never get a sharp picture with the thing and I even had a 5DII and T2i and XSI and it seemed that the cameras could not nail the focus. With the E-5, it's usually a bit slower to focus and fails to focus sometimes, but it is more accurate than the Canons I've had. I also like the 11 autofocus points as opposed to the 9 Canon.

I guess I'd rather the camera be honest and not lock focus (like the E-5) than pretend that it did (like a Canon) and give me an out of focus picture.

Then of course is jpeg output. I've found that the tweakability of the E-5 is superior to any other camera I've tried. Not only do jpegs look great at default settings, but by tweaking them I seem to always be able to get the look I want right out of the camera.

And build quality. I've tried the cheap body route. I tried to use a Rebel at a pro gig and the dial stopped working on me (the first time I ever used it for work). I'm confident that the E-5 will not let me down. What other $1700 body is weather proof and built like a tank?

I'm not married to any brand, so I don't defend the E-5 out of brand loyalty. So what other professional-level camera/lens/flash package beats the E-5/12-60mm/50-200mm/50mm/FL 50 for the price?

I tried the 60D in a store and it felt nice and fast, but I doubt the AF accuracy is there like on the Oly. Plus, to match the E-5 and 12-60mm and FL 50, you're looking at almost the same price without the professional build and customization abilities of the E-5.

If I wasn't worried about build quality and was just buying a camera for personal use, I'd probably be looking at a Sony system (I have an A55).

So how am I wrong? Is ISO performance EVERYTHING? What professional quality gear beats Oly for the price?
--

Tony

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