OMD-EM-5 vs Pentax K-5, I'm at the crossroads...

Started May 22, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Re: OMD-EM-5 vs Pentax K-5, I'm at the crossroads...
In reply to JohnBGood, May 26, 2012

There's a lot to like about the K5. It has a great sensor, and great build and controls. It also has a very good optical viewfinder. It can take great photos. Here's the salient points between it and the OMD, by my priorities:

Control wheels - Both cameras are true dual-wheel machines, but Pentax gives you better options regarding the functions that can be assigned to them. It's not as big an issue now that the OMD introduces programmable buttons, as well. When I use a PEN I find myself wishing its controls were more Pentax-like.

Viewfinder: The K5's is bigger and bright (with a bright lens). The focusing screen is not very conducive to either manual focus-or judging if the AF is correct. The CDAF of the OMD is reliable enought that you don't really have to verify focus if you are placing the AF manually, as I always do.

AF: Pentax is the gang-that-can't-shoot-straight where AF is concerned. Its phase-change scheme should offer dramatically better C-AF, but doesn't in practice. But it is far more error prone in S-AF, and you had best calibrate the focus point of all your lenses to get close to the accuracy of the OMD's contrast-detect scheme. And deal with the fact that you can only calibrate your zooms at one focal length-and they 'breathe'.

I also find Pentax's 11 AF point lame, as I place the focus point manually. The OMD's 35 zone grid is much better, and I like that the grid that appears in the VF when you are shifting the AF point. You can also bet than in 99% of the shots, the OMD will focus accurately over the zone chosen. Forget multiple frames 'just to make sure' and constant chimping to verify critical focus as I always did with my Pentaxes.

IQ: There isn't enough IQ difference between the two really count. The K5 is great in this regard, but so is the OMD. Lens quality, critical focus, and photographic skill are overwhelmingly dominant in determining the impact of the final product.

QC/Reliabilty: No question here, Pentax has none. Want to buy an (atypical in this respect) optically perfect DA*16-50 with no AF function? Given that Pentax wants $1500 for a 16-50 these days (while still only offering a miserable 1-year warranty), this is a big factor. When the obviously under-designed integrated AF scheme packs it up, they'll happily change out the dead AF motor(s) for a year, but not address the cause of the failures. After a year, you're straight into paper-weight land (which it is heavy enough to do well).

I've seen essentially no evidence of sample variation of experienced any failure with any of my m43 lenses. I did have to send back my copy of the Panasonic 14-42X due to the mechanical resonance problem DPR reported, but if you have an issue you can just return it rather than finding downsides over time (and possibly out of warranty).

I find the K5 a physically massive thing in comparison to the OMD, and although this suites my large hands well enough my bad back can't carrry around the full Pentax kit I've just sold off, mainly to a K5-owning co-worker. A collection of m43s lenses has not only a jewel-like quality, but is impressively tidy and light when accumlated in a bag. The Pentax pancakes and other primes are really nice, but I like the Panasonic 14 and 20, and Oly 12, 45, (and hopefully the upcoming 75) much better. They are better optically when taken as a group, are so much lighter and more compact, generally have quicker and quieter AF, exhibit less sample variation, and are more reliable.

Basically, the typical DSLR advantages just aren't there when that DSLR is a Pentax. If you were considering a Nikon of Canon, you could point to the better C-AF performance, auto-AF point selection logic, and choice of pro-grade zooms as largely differentiating factors. But those are the precise weaknesses of the Pentax DSLRs, to the point that they offer little advantage over the OMD even in these areas. From my viewpoint the Pentax route is left looking like a larger, heavier, more clunky, and less reliable way to achieve exactly the same thing.

 Steve_'s gear list:Steve_'s gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 ASPH Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm 1:1.8 +6 more
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