EM5, XE1, XP1, 12-35, 60, 20, PL45... omg...
6 months ago
Got away from the kids today and went to Pro Photo Supply out here in Portland, Oregon; my most favoritest store ever. Spent a good 2 hrs talking with the sales guy about cameras and trying out various models and combinations of lens/bodies. Stop reading now if you don't care about non-scientific reviews from an average everyday person that happens to take photos regularly as a hobby and nothing more.
First and foremost, I finally got my hands on a 20mm (didn't buy it just quite yet). If anyone recalls, I have the PL25 on my G3 about 90% of the time but have lately felt that the size combination of the body and lens has become cumbersome so I've been thinking of selling the combo for an EM5/20mm (still have 14mm/oly45mm as well). Anyways... in camera review of about 20 or so shots in various apertures and various distances. The only difference worth debating over between the 20mm and the PL25 IQ is focal length. The PL25's bokeh is a little more pleasant when shooting wide open but only if you are looking for it, I wouldn't be able to look at just one image and say, "that's definitely the PL25." Color rendition on my G3 was surprisingly indistinguishable. Concerning sharpness, my opinion, at least on my PL25 and this 20mm, is that the PL25 is marginally sharper in the center but with more fall off in the corners. If you can picture a graph of sharpness from one edge to the other, the PL25 is like the top half of an egg shell whereas the 20mm is like a breast implant (sorry, no better analogy popped in my head). In either case, the differences are really negligible. What the PL25 has the 20 doesn't is almost instant AF. The 20m isn't as bad as I thought it would have been but noticeable nonetheless. I walked around with the 20 and took some snapshots on the move, with a little more deliberation than what I'm used to with the PL25, I was still able to capture useable images. What the 20 has that the PL25 doesn't is compactness and lightweight. And the difference between weight/size of the 20mm vs the PL25 is rather HUGE. With the PL25, you immediately feel the the front heaviness of the body and lens. With the 20, all you feel is your camera's weight. I will note though, the EM5 with the grip and PL25 felt like a premium setup. That OEM grip makes a world of a difference in ergonomics. I only tried out the horizontal grip, apparently the vertical grip got damaged was no longer available to "try". So to sum this up, the only real difference to consider for IQ is the FL. The PL25 does have a noticeable AF speed edge but the 20mm has a huge size/weight advantage.
I tried out the 75/1.8 and I utterly regret that. I'm not going to repeat everything that's been said about this lens because it's all true. Phenomenal is the only word to describe it. From the build quality, the surprisingly small form (it looks much larger on the internet than it does in person), and the ridiculous amount of subject/background isolation (a good thing). Another thing to note, I was able to get surprisingly close to subjects for great head shots, I can actually see myself using this indoors rather than just outdoors. I simply regret "trying" this lens out because it really is all I can think about now.
After the 75/1.8, I think I screwed up expectations of lenses because immediately after, I tried the 12-35/2.8. It was so underwhelming IQ wise, I think I took like 3 shots with it. f2.8 is just too slow for this range for my taste. I'm not going to mention worth, or w/e because it really is the only option we have for a fast weather sealed zoom.
I also compared a bunch of shots between the Oly60 and PL45. I'm not experienced in macro at all and I found that both lenses are capable of much better images than I could ever make with either of them. What little differences in macro IQ are so extremely negligible to my eye that I would simply pick whichever one I could get my hands on for cheaper. One other thing to note though, the Oly60 is rather phallic in form, it's much narrower than I thought with sort of a mushroom tip... o_O. I know some people think I'm ridiculous, but camera aesthetics matter to me. I would actually pick the PL45 simply because it looks physically more pleasing. But of course, the Oly60 is cheaper and does come weathersealed.
Lastly, I played with both, the XE1 and XPRO1. Something about the XE1's silver body and the way it felt in my hands made me think that it was of cheap quality... again, this may be skewed by the 75/1.8 which again, is PHENOMENAL! There's also a lot of noise (audible noise) going on in the lens (35/1.4) while focusing. One thing I loved though, was the XPRO1's hybrid viewfinder. OMG, if M43 would adopt this technology, I'd be on it like flies on shi... Unfortunately, the XPRO1 and XE1 both seem to be a little slow to respond. I didn't pin it down exactly, but after handling the EM5, it's like having the most well behaved child replaced with a deaf delinquent. But I must admit... the images are awesome. After all that I played with today, it was like shooting with 20mm/1.7 with frustration added in the mix but rendering images like that of the 75mm/1.8.
Oh, and as a bonus if anyone is close by, they have a GH2 w/ 14-140 for $750, a PL45 for $500, and a 14-42X for $275... all 2nd hand.
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