OM-D compared to GH2 -- my thoughts (LONG)

Started Aug 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Bob Meyer
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OM-D compared to GH2 -- my thoughts (LONG)
Aug 11, 2012

For the past three weeks I’ve been shooting primarily with an OM-D, coupled to a Panasonic 14-45, 7-14, and a Rokinon fisheye. Previously, most of my m43 shooting has been with a GH2. While I haven’t really done a direct, side-by-side comparison, I’m plenty familiar with the GH2, and have gotten familiar enough with the OM-D to reach some judgments. Understand, though, that this is my opinion, based on how I use the cameras. You may feel differently, and that’s fine. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. If you want to argue about my opinions, I’d suggest you go yell at the mirror, because I don’t really care. I post this in the hopes it will be useful for those still trying to make up their minds whether to buy one or the other camera, and interesting for others. (And, of course, because posting one’s opinion what forums like this are all about.)

Let’s start off by looking at some of the things many people feel are the major advantages of the OM-D.

Build Quality: Yes, it a nice piece of kit. It’s surprisingly heavy for its size, and has a more robust feel than the GH2. But I think it really is more to do with feel than actual quality. I’m not convinced that, in the end, it’s significantly more robust than the GH2. Under the plastic skin, the GH2 has a metal chassis, too, and I’ve seen plastic skinned DSLRs bounce off the ground with nothing more than some scratches, and all-metal bodies come away dented. If you want to use your camera to pound tent states, you’d better use one of Nikon’s or Canon’s pro bodies, and not any m43. Advantage: Tie

“Weatherproofing”: Frankly, I’m not convinced this is much more than a marketing claim. The weatherproofing apparently is dependent on several removable, and easily lost, seals. That’s a far cry from cameras like the Nikon D3 or D4 and the Canon 1D series, or even the 7D. And even with the seals, it’s rated only IPX1, which means “Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.” It’s not even IPX2, which means “Protected against direct sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical.” So maybe a very light drizzle is safe, but maybe not a heavy fog. Don’t even think about using it in a storm, or in the surf to shoot surf boarding. This is not weatherproof. Not even close. I shoot in the rain very infrequently, and the various aftermarket solutions work well enough for me, so this isn’t a big deal either way. Advantage: OM-D, I suppose, but just barely.

Size: Yes, it’s smaller than the GH2. But with the lenses I commonly use, the effective size with lens mounted really isn’t all that different. All of my lenses (except the 20mm) protrude well beyond the grip on the GH2, so the real depth of the body/lens combo is pretty much the same. Yes, the EVF protrudes more on the GH2, but I think that’s actually an advantage, as it leaves more “nose clearance” than the OM-D’s EVF. In any case, I don’t find the OM-D enough smaller in actual use that it’s a significant benefit. If how it fits in your bag without a lens is important, then the OM-D has the advantage. That’s not important to me. In some cases, the smaller size is actually a problem for me. See “ergonomics,” below. Advantage: Tie

Sensor: Some still want to argue the point, but the sensor in the OM-D is better, in at least 2 respects, than the one in the GH2. It is less noisy at high ISO, and it does have better DR. I haven’t done a bunch of side-by-side comparisons, because I’m more interested in taking photographs than pixel peeping. Many other people have done so. But I did take one set of bracketed exposures, on each camera, of a very high contrast scene (under an overpass, in the evening, deep shadows and bright street and traffic lights). Neither could really recover the shadows without noise, and both blew the highlights. Based on what I’ve seen and read on the webz, I think the OM-d has about a 1 stop advantage in DR and high ISO noise. For the vast majority of what I shoot I have no complaints about the GH2’s noise and DR.

And I really do miss one feature of the GH2 sensor when I’m shooting with the OM-D, and that’s the multi-aspect capability. I was shooting with the 7-14 one evening, and decided I wanted a wider FOV than I was seeing in the EVF, so I switched to 16:9. Oops. On the OM-D, that doesn’t actually make the captured image wider, like it does on the GH2. I think the GH2 is a better wide angle tool because of this capability. Advantage: Tie (If the Oly had a multi-aspect sensor, I’d give it the win.)

Continued in next post ==>

 Bob Meyer's gear list:Bob Meyer's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS +12 more
Canon EOS 7D Canon EOS-1D Nikon D3 Nikon D4 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
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