OM-D E-M5 vs E-5 (build quality)

Started May 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
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philosomatographer
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OM-D E-M5 vs E-5 (build quality)
May 13, 2013

Hi all,

As somebody with a pretty hefty investment into SHG lenses, and an almost daily user of the E-5, I am - as many of you surely are - naturally inclined towards an interest in the OM-D body as a means of getting the best possible out of our lenses, until Olympus offers a "professional" solution.

I've tinkered with the OM-D before, but this past weekend, I borrowed an E-M5 for an extended period of time, to get a very good feel for it, and it'a handling with the larger four thirds lenses, etc.

First of all, the additional battery grip is indispensible - it makes the little OM-D most pleasant to hold.

Secondly, the electronic viewfinder has a couple of very compelling aspects that make up for the loss of "definition" and "naturality" when compared to the big glass prism of the E-5. Most profound is the ability to "see" the true depth of field - something that the Lumi-Micron matte screen in the E-5 precludes. It's quite something to be able to really see the shallow depth of field of the f/2.0 lenses in the viewfinder. Together with the handy automatic focus-assist magnification, it's a wonderful compositional experience for static subjects, one I could get used to. If the next-generation of Olympus' EVF is anywhere near as good as Sony's brilliant EVF in the Nex-7/A99, I could live with it. A stabilised view when looking through a telephoto lens also fondly reminds of my Canon EF days

What shocked me most of all, upon picking up my E-5 again, is the dramatic build quality difference between the two. It's not subtle - it's absolutely evident. I'm not only talking of "superficial" measures such as heft/weight, but every aspect of operation - from the buttons to the articulating screen - feels industrial-grade by comparison the E-M5's flimsy, wobbly little dials and buttons. If you think an E-M5 is built "well", you have never used a properly-built camera before. It's a pity that Olympus resurrected the spirit of the professional-grade OM series in this decidedly cheapened camera.

Build quality is not everything, but the lacking build of the E-M5 is a sure indication that this is squarely a middle-range camera (and at the price - how could it otherwise?) and that we are - one hopes - still to see a much more substantial professional model.

There is a school of thought that digital cameras are inherently disposable - but I disagree. The E-5 produces 1m-wide prints that easily put most other systems to shame for detail/contrast, and this will not change for as long as the camera works. There are E-1's that have been in service for 10 years or so, and there is no reasong to believe that the tank of an E-5 can't do the same.

Ironically, I am very interested in acquiring an OM-D in anyway, to serve my "static" needs. The SHG lenses do not even break a sweat at any aperture on the better, 16MP sensor, which means the extra resolution and lower noise can be great for certain subjects. The autofocusing (MMF-3 adaptor) is abysmally-slow and inaccurate, but the manual focusing is excellent.

 philosomatographer's gear list:philosomatographer's gear list
Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm 1:4.0
Olympus E-1 Olympus E-5 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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