Do you own E-M5 and GH2?

Started Apr 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Re: Do you own E-M5 and GH2?
In reply to Condor, Apr 22, 2012

[Oops, wrote this before I read the OP's detailed specifications for the test images he wanted, but am going to post it anyway in case anyone is interested in the HANDLING differences between the two cameras...]

I've owned a GH2 since they came out, and just got an E-M 5 today.

I've had good results with the GH2 (good enough that I recently sold my entire Nikon D300 outfit) but I also wanted wireless TTL flash and in-body stabilization to help with use of my collection of strange old legacy lenses. I doubt if Panasonic ever will have either in-body stabilization (because they think in-lens is better) or wireless TTL (for patent reasons, I suspect) so I added the E-M 5 specifically for those capabilities. I figured that in the long term, I'd wind up using the GH2 mostly for video and do most of my still shooting with the E-M 5, but now I'm not so sure.

Admittedly, all I've been able to do with the E-M 5 so far is charge the battery and spend an afternoon and evening working my way through the manual. I'm sure it will start to seem a bit more fluid once I've gotten more practice with it.

But during my initial handling of the E-M 5, the one thought that kept striking me over and over was, "Wow, the GH2 is really a well-thought-out camera," which is not exactly what I had hoped I'd be thinking after spending US$ 1,000 on something newer.

Random collection of reactions and impressions of the E-M 5 in contrast to the GH2:

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The GH2 is almost completely silent except when actually taking pictured. The E-M 5's IS system whirs softly but continuously during use, even when IS isn't active; Olympus says it has to keep running to keep the sensor centered.

-- On the other hand, the E-M 5's shutter noise seems much quieter and less obtrusive than the GH2's higher-pitched, slightly "sneezy" noise.

-- The GH2 body feels a bit plasticky, but it stays cool while in use. The E-M 5 gets significantly warm, especially on the handgrip side (where the battery is.) It's not enough to be painful, but enough to be a bit annoying during a long shooting session -- do I really need to have my camera giving me sweaty palms? Of course, during the winter months this probably will make it my favorite camera ever (built-in hand warmers!) and I'm hoping that the accessory handgrip will help by providing more distance between my hand and the battery.

-- Comparing the EVFs, the E-M 5's is smoother and more "photographic" looking, but the GH2's seems to give a more sharply detailed view of the subject.

-- For magnified manual focusing, the GH2's controls are better -- one quick push of the click wheel, vs. two button presses on the E-M 5. But the E-M 5's ability to stabilize the magnified image is a big advantage.

-- I thought I would like the E-M 5's dual control dials better than the GH2's single dial, but I don't. The GH2's rubberized thumbwheel is better located and easier to turn; making it "clickable" so it can be used to set shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation in succession was a stroke of Panasonic genius. The E-M 5's wheels are harder to reach and harder to turn, especially when you're trying to hold down a function button at the same time (which is necessary for some operations.)

-- Likewise, both cameras have programmable buttons, but the GH2 is easier to manage because it has dedicated, labelled buttons for common functions such as ISO and white balance, as well as the slick little concentric knob clusters for choosing AF and drive modes. The E-M 5 lets you assign these functions to generic buttons, but you have to remember which button does what. Fortunately, the touch screen system in the E-M 5 is easy to use and gives quick access to all the major functions; it seems a bit more positive than the GH2's touch screen, although the GH2's works reasonably well.

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm too down on the E-M 5. I did think briefly about taking it back because of the heating issue, but have decided to keep it, and am sure the accessory handgrip and more familiarity will help me be more comfortable with it. And of course I haven't addressed image quality -- and won't be able to, really, until Adobe updates Lightroom to handle the E-M 5's raw files. But I'm confident that it will be at least as the GH2, and that's really all I need.

When I sold my Nikon system, I had pretty much made up my mind that my next camera would be either the E-M 5 or the Fuji X-Pro 1, which I tried extensively at a dealer before I made my decision. Having taken most of my best film-era pictures with rangefinder cameras such as the Canon VI-T and 7s, I loved the fact that the X-Pro has an optical finder -- but its apparent viewing distance is so close that I just plain couldn't see through it sharply with the glasses I normally wear when photographing, and dinking around with eyepiece correction lenses didn't seem like something you ought to have to do on a US$ 1700 camera.

Besides, staying with Micro 4/3 just seemed to make better sense, given that I already have several good lenses -- and the forthcoming 75/1.8 Olympus should be a fabulous addition for the performing-arts photography I do. So buying the E-M 5 as a way to get IBIS and wireless flash was absolutely the logical choice. I just don't LOVE using the thing in the way that I had hoped I would.

If you DON'T have a bunch of legacy lenses that would benefit from IBIS, and don't care about wireless TTL flash, the GH2 still seems like a really persuasive alternative to the E-M 5, especially if video is an important part of your plans.

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