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Yet another 'EM1 from a 4/3 perspective' look.

Started Jan 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Yet another 'EM1 from a 4/3 perspective' look.
Jan 1, 2014

I made the mistake of walking into my local favorite camera store, and they had an EM1 in stock, and I tried it with my better 4/3 lenses, and the rest is history, as is my bank balance. Darn camera stores, that's temptation that we shouldn't have to face.

Thought I would share some first impressions, from a long time 4/3 owner.

First, let's get to the best part: AF with HG and SHG lenses. Yes, it's vastly superior to ZD on the EM5, superior to my E3 for that matter: a bit quicker, a lot more accurate, seems to lock exactly where you want it to. Old Faithful, my 50-200 Mk1, came to life on the EM1, surprisingly quick. Every so often, it would balk and do the 50M thing: rack through it's entire range, but for the most part, it was as quick or slightly quicker than it was on the E3, and always very accurate. Have not had a chance to try C-AF or tracking - it's winter where I live, and not much in the woods is moving around. The 7-14 struggled a bit to get lock on blue sky, though it locked quickly with more solid subjects. 8FE worked just fine. 14-54 was very quick. 35-100 was quick and very accurate. 50M didn't seem to hunt as much as it did on the E3. One big surprise was the PL25... it AF'd okay on the EM5, though it tended to clatter a bit as it sought lock. On the EM1, it is both very quick and silent. 70-300 did very well, too. My ยต43 45 1.8 is very, very quick to get lock, fast enough that you might think AF was never triggered.

Handling? With the deep grip, the handling is decent. Not fantastic, but quite useable - the deep right hand grip makes all the difference. Wasn't like trying to use HG or SHG on a little Pen body, where handling was just about hopeless. Definitely an improvement over the EM5 and it's somewhat shallow grip, which was good. This is excellent.

Interesting discovery - I was starting to think the IBIS on the EM1 was a bit less effective than the EM5 when it blew one at 300mm that I thought it should have frozen (300mm at 1/80 handheld, which is pushing things a bit), until I found that IBIS was, by default, in Auto mode. I put it in two axis mode, same as I have the EM5 set to, and no more blown 300mm shots.

The VF... Very clear, very detailed, and handles movement and transitions smoother than the EM5. It's not that much larger than the EM5 EVF, but it's definitely clearer and more detailed. The review feature I like to call 'instant chimp' kicks in without the bit of flicker one would see on the EM5. Lag? I couldn't see any. Blackout while shooting? No more than the E3.

As compared to the E3's big OVF... you'd be splitting hairs over detail. The EM1's EVF is very close in detail, definitely brighter, and is more functional in a lot of ways. If you object to this EVF, you're hard to please, and I'd be willing to wager you won't object when the light gets dim and it brightens up.

Size... a bit smaller than E620 size, and thinner except for the grip portion. Small, but not tiny, and definitely not a tiny VF. The buttons are larger than the EM5, so that EM5 shortcoming has been addressed. I didn't get the grip, they didn't have one, so your pinky is left flapping loose, but it's not the end of the world.

I would liken the EM1 to the E1 in that it has that same 'everything right where it should be' nature to it, and feels almost as good in the hand, though obviously it's more complex to operate. Except, of course, the power switch, which is in an awkward location, but nothing you can't live with. Buttons feel good, thumbwheels feel good and are placed well. Setting the VF mode can be a bit confusing, only because there are so many modes it can be set to.

Overall, I'm delighted. It's the 'goldilocks' camera - it's 'just right'. Not too large, not too small. Not too heavy, not too light. And quite a powerhouse in that small package. Other than the power switch, and that's minor, there's nothing not to like about it. And, best of all, it works very well with HG, SHG and 4/3 PL glass. Handles well, focuses well, and the new sensor really benefits from HG/SHG detail.

Good enough to be an E5 replacement? That's for the individual to decide, but I think so. It loses some grip but not enough to affect useability, and doesn't have the OVF, but it has a lot of other benefits, including a fairly rosy future. It's already getting 'camera of the year' from several respected people, all of whom seem to be saying what I saw: it's a well designed, complete photographic tool. Olympus really sweated the details on this one.

The only regret I have is that I couldn't swing the 12-40 lens as well - it is very small, amazingly small.

Just one quick shot to show... I fired a bunch of RAWs with the full ZD suite, only to find out that the latest LR 4.4 doesn't support EM1 RAW's. So here's a quick JPEG. This is Nigel the puppy, no longer a puppy, shot in an overcast evening with the ZD 35-100.

Olympus E-3 Olympus E-5 Olympus E-620 Olympus E-M1
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