OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??

Started Apr 23, 2012 | Discussions
millsart
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OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
Apr 23, 2012

Got my OM-D (black 14-42 kit) this morning and have been playing with it this afternoon. I may be alone in this but two thing that have really struck me are 1) its got some fantastic features and 2) it just feels awful in my hand

The touch screen to select the AF point is brilliant (and I loved this on my EP-3), the VF works nicely, the camera has all the dials and customization you could hope for, it does make a whiling/hum noise, it focuses very, very fast even in very low light (impressive!), the IBIS works wonders, IQ is the best I've seen for a m4/3 camera (GH2 RAW seems about on par though, at least with EM-5 jpegs) and last but not least, the camera feels awful in my hand.

Yes, it feels awful in my hand! Its a surprisingly heavy camera for its size and at least for my hands, what I'd consider normal for the average man, nothing really falls where I'd like.

Its got plenty of dials and buttons but they are hard to access. I can't reach the top dial without taking my thumb off the thumby grip, and you really need that to hold the camera stable. Likewise the tiny little buttons like the Fn1 and Play button are so small and soft I find I have to use just the nail of my left hand index finger to really trigger them.

The big LCD is beautiful but its resulted in a very cluttered small area for the buttons on the right side of the camera. Granted weather sealing the buttons is a tradeoff, but they just don't have a very good feel and are all way to small. Maybe its just the size of my hands but I find that I've got to use my thumbnail to avoid hitting the wrong one.

Also, the right strap lug is in a really awkward spot, and with the strap is made worse. Really gets in the way of the shutter/dials.

On top of that, while I do love the flip out LCD, it makes it really hard to hold the camera, at least using it at waist level again the body with the thumb on the shutter.

With my NEX5n it was very easy to hold in this manner, with the EM-5 and its lack of front grip to wrap your fingers around I just don't have much of a hold on the camera.

I think the $300 accessory grip option, minus the vertical battery part is really going to be a must have.

Make no mistakes, it takes some really nice images, well exposed, in focus, is very responsive etc, so there is a lot to like about this camera.

For me at least, there is also a lot not to like in terms of its overall handling though. I'd dare to say that its simply too small for its design.

I thought the GH2 handled very nicely, and my EP3 just felt fantastic in my hand. The NEX5n while an unusual shape also really did work well even though its so small as well.

Between the very heavy (for its size) weight and small overall size, in addition to packing so many buttons/dials onto it, it just feels like I'm going to drop it very easily. Wrist strap is a must, and perhaps the grip will help handling.

I'm both very pleased and honestly a bit disappointed in this camera so far.

Anyone else finding they just don't like how the camera ? From as soon as I pulled it from the box it just felt "wrong" in my hand. Still though, so much to like about it.....

Olympus PEN E-P3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Sony Alpha NEX-5N
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Just Having Fun
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Then get the grip
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

Then get the grip. People claim it makes handling very good.

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OdzBodkinz
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Re: OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

Well, I have been using my extensively over the weekend, and I couldn't be happier with the ergonomics (and the customizability). I do wish the screen was fully articulated and could fold around to protect itself like my G3.

At one point in the weekend, I had used up the whole Oly battery, and without a spare, I was forced to use the G3 again. I never minded using the Panny for as long as I owned it, but it felt wrong in my hands after the delight that the EM5 is.

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Tim in upstate NY
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Return it
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

. . . There's nothing that can be done about the E-M5's handling qualities other than using the vertical grip. Sounds like it's not the right camera for you.

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millsart
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Hopefully grips will start shipping before return window is up
In reply to Tim in upstate NY, Apr 23, 2012

A grip can sometimes make a huge difference. On the EP-3 for example using a lens like the 40-150 was night and day with just the fairly minor thicker rubber add on grip. Gives you just enough same to hook a couple of fingers and get the needed leverage.

At the same time, its an issue of how likely are you to really need to adjust the buttons while out shooting. Again, I think it comes own to each persons hands, but if you've got bigger hands, the little soft buttons are going to be very difficult short of using a thumb nail to press.

In fairness, EM-5 isn't the only camera to have this issue.

It tough though as it otherwise does so much right. The OOC Jpegs are really beautiful and capture an impressive dynamic range and great resolution.

They look as good as my Fuji X100, and thats really saying a lot...

IQ aside, the overall features such as the touch to select AF point, IBIS etc really make this a winning package too. At the same time though, if someone just doesn't feel good when shooting it, will you really want to take the camera out ?

Its like some motorcycles. They may be fantastic performers but if the riding position, location of the clutch and shifter pegs etc just doesn't fall into the right spot for a given body type, what do you do ?

Ride something uncomfortable because of how fast it ?

Not sure I know the answer yet, but I think as of know, I really need to find the grip accessory before coming to a decision to keep or return

Tim in upstate NY wrote:

. . . There's nothing that can be done about the E-M5's handling qualities other than using the vertical grip. Sounds like it's not the right camera for you.

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Oly500Enew
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Sure seems like an improvement over any of the EPX
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

I for one am looking forward to the dials and touchscreen options. EP1 has perfectly good IQ and the same small cramped buttons, but I can live with it. I just hate not having a VF. The EM5 looks like an improvement in every way possible over the other Oly M43rds cameras. Its not going to handle like the E1, E30, but I already know that. I can't wait to get one. If you don' want it I'll take it
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kmendel
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Re: Return it
In reply to Tim in upstate NY, Apr 23, 2012

I got the battery grip and it definitely made the E-M5 easier to hold especially for folks with larger hands. My plan is to use the vertical grip at all times, and then add the portrait portion for longer shoots where a second battery is needed.

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DougRight
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Re: OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

The battery grip transforms the EM5 from tolerable to wonderful. The shame is that it costs $300 - for that you get both a horizontal and vertical grips - but most people really only want to horizontal. Too bad they're not sold separately.

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Ulfric M Douglas
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horrible handling
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

Good post millsart

millsart wrote:

... it just feels awful in my hand
...and last but not least, the camera feels awful in my hand.

Yes, it feels awful in my hand! Its a surprisingly heavy camera for its size and at least for my hands, what I'd consider normal for the average man, nothing really falls where I'd like.

Its got plenty of dials and buttons but they are hard to access. I can't reach the top dial without taking my thumb off the thumby grip, and you really need that to hold the camera stable. Likewise the tiny little buttons like the Fn1 and Play button are so small and soft I find I have to use just the nail of my left hand index finger to really trigger them.

... weather sealing the buttons is a tradeoff, but they just don't have a very good feel and are all way to small. Maybe its just the size of my hands but I find that I've got to use my thumbnail to avoid hitting the wrong one.

Also, the right strap lug is in a really awkward spot, and with the strap is made worse. Really gets in the way of the shutter/dials.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Music to my ears.
Any excuse NOT to buy the thing when it actually appears in my local shop...

Since the e-P3 will likely be my next purchase do you have a similar list of gripes to clarify my expectations?
Seriously, yes please.

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millsart
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EP3 felt great, just not the best IQ for a rather high price
In reply to Ulfric M Douglas, Apr 23, 2012

EP3 just feels wonderful in hand, and the back vertical little wheel I found felt perfectly under my thumb.

Only downsides to the camera are that the 12 meg sensor is a bit dated, and also the IBIS system isn't near what the EM-5 can do, plus you need the add on EVF, though the LCD isn't too bad unless in very bright sun.

Its a good camera overall, only thing is that its kind of expensive for what you get. I paid $899 for mine new, and thats a lot of money for what is basically the same sensor as the EPL3 etc.

You can get those cameras for $400 something, or even the EPl2 which again has about the same IQ for $250 I think...

EM-5 certainly packs the performance features and has some great bang for the buck, but as I said, I don't find it feels very good in hand

Cheers

Ulfric M Douglas wrote:
Good post millsart

millsart wrote:

... it just feels awful in my hand
...and last but not least, the camera feels awful in my hand.

Yes, it feels awful in my hand! Its a surprisingly heavy camera for its size and at least for my hands, what I'd consider normal for the average man, nothing really falls where I'd like.

Its got plenty of dials and buttons but they are hard to access. I can't reach the top dial without taking my thumb off the thumby grip, and you really need that to hold the camera stable. Likewise the tiny little buttons like the Fn1 and Play button are so small and soft I find I have to use just the nail of my left hand index finger to really trigger them.

... weather sealing the buttons is a tradeoff, but they just don't have a very good feel and are all way to small. Maybe its just the size of my hands but I find that I've got to use my thumbnail to avoid hitting the wrong one.

Also, the right strap lug is in a really awkward spot, and with the strap is made worse. Really gets in the way of the shutter/dials.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Music to my ears.
Any excuse NOT to buy the thing when it actually appears in my local shop...

Since the e-P3 will likely be my next purchase do you have a similar list of gripes to clarify my expectations?
Seriously, yes please.

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snapper1967
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Re: EP3 felt great, just not the best IQ for a rather high price
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

I'm waiting for the grip. I agree, not the best feeling camera in hand as is. My nex7 just feels right to hold. Again, grip should make all the difference. I'm somewhat miffed I have to pay ANOTHER $300 though. Oh well, it's only money.
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millsart
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NEX was pretty smart in small camera design
In reply to snapper1967, Apr 23, 2012

I had a NEX5n but didn't really care for the lens selection (or lack there off rather)

I find while very small, it handled nicely though, because I think Sony was smart and didn't try to make it look like a camera, at least in a traditional sense.

It felt good either holding it normally or even wrapping your hand under it and using your thumb on the shutter and shooting from the hip.

EM-5, certainly looks cool, but trying to not only keep the traditional SLR style but scaling in down, plus, trying to add on things like a LCD really get to the point where it becomes a sacrifice to ergonomics.

I have a OM-4 and it feels great, but thats because it doesnt' need little buttons and all the rest that a modern digital camera needs

snapper1967 wrote:

I'm waiting for the grip. I agree, not the best feeling camera in hand as is. My nex7 just feels right to hold. Again, grip should make all the difference. I'm somewhat miffed I have to pay ANOTHER $300 though. Oh well, it's only money.
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Travis
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Re: OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

millsart wrote:

Yes, it feels awful in my hand! Its a surprisingly heavy camera for its size and at least for my hands, what I'd consider normal for the average man, nothing really falls where I'd like.

The camera definitely has some weight, but I think this is a good thing. I normally have an easier time holding steady a camera with some weight as opposed to light and plasticy cameras. The button arrangement does feel cramped because of the large LCD, but I think it's a good tradeoff.

Also, the right strap lug is in a really awkward spot, and with the strap is made worse. Really gets in the way of the shutter/dials.

Definitely check out some of the alternative strapping options available... I agree that the lug is annoying.

On top of that, while I do love the flip out LCD, it makes it really hard to hold the camera, at least using it at waist level again the body with the thumb on the shutter.

I'm loving the LCD, especially the ability to rotate it for waist-level shots. I like it much better than the Panasonic LCD's that need to be swiveled outward and then rotated, which is cumbersome and conspicuous.

I think the $300 accessory grip option, minus the vertical battery part is really going to be a must have.

Yeah, it's too bad you couldn't just buy the horizontal portion of the grip separately. Perhaps a 3rd party option will become available for such a thing?

For me at least, there is also a lot not to like in terms of its overall handling though. I'd dare to say that its simply too small for its design.

As with any camera, it takes some getting used to, but if it doesn't feel comfortable to you, then you might not want to keep it. After all, if it's no fun to use, then it doesn't matter how many features it has or how good the image quality is. I'm perfectly comfortable with it already after just a few short days. The tradeoff is important for me because I prefer the compactness, which is a huge strength of m43. I am tempted by the grip, but it somewhat defeats the purpose of having such a small system camera. If there's any inkling of frustration with its compactness, I just try to remember how cumbersome it was carrying around big old DSLR's with their huge bodies and lenses... then I appreciate m43!

Travis
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kenw
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Turn both dials from the front...
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

I understand what you are saying at one level. Smaller cameras are a bit harder to use and a bit cramped in places. Here are the compromises I've found that make things a bit better (coming from a GH2 myself):

  • The "rear" dial (or "main" dial as the manual calls it) is actually difficult to use your thumb on as you point out. The "front" dial (or "sub" dial as the manual calls it) I find to be excellent and akin to the front dial of my GH2. I find the "rear" dial is actually easier to turn with your index finger from the front. With this in mind I've used the extensive customization to put my "primary" control in each mode on the "front" dial and the "secondary" control on the "rear" dial although I adjust both from the front.

  • The Fn1 and Play buttons are a bit awkward. I actually don't find an issue with the play though as I usually hit it with the camera away from me for LCD viewing and in that case it really isn't a problem. The Fn1 is hard to hit when using the EVF.

  • On the other hand, I've got two programmable buttons right on the top (record and Fn2) which is a joy compared to the GH2 which has that stupid record button permanently assigned and when you are really unlucky takes you out of stills at just the wrong time when bumped. I hate that.

  • I find the programmable arrow buttons fairly easy to reach with my thumb when using the EVF and this is similar to the GH2 (though of course a bit easier with the GH2 and its pronounced grip).

  • I was over joyed when the GH2 finally supported intelligently moving AF from half press to the AEL button. I am even more excited that with the E-M5 I can assign that to Fn2 which is even more convenient. I am absolutely ecstatic that I can assign record to switch to MF mode and back. This configuration is for me at least far, far better than what I can do with the GH2 - and I was pretty happy with the GH2. Workflow with focus is just so easy and seamless now on the E-M5.

Anyway, those are the little things I've fiddled with that helped the handling for me. Still, it is a small camera - one of the things I like about it - and as a result a bit more "crimpy" to hold than the GH2. I've got a hunch we are going to see third party grips hit the market for this camera and that might be a great option to have the best of both worlds.
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MichaelKJ
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Re: True, but
In reply to Just Having Fun, Apr 23, 2012

If the only reason someone buys the grip is to improve ergonomics to the point where he or she finds the camera usable, then the price of the camera just went up by 30%.

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DougRight
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Re: True, but
In reply to MichaelKJ, Apr 23, 2012

MichaelKJ wrote:

If the only reason someone buys the grip is to improve ergonomics to the point where he or she finds the camera usable, then the price of the camera just went up by 30%.

Very true.

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Macx
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Re: OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

Here is my thoughts on the handling so far.

I removed the clasps as one of the first things I did. They weren't compatible at all with my preferred way of holding the camera. Without making them recessed, I don't know how else Olympus could have made them, though. It's a problem that is easily fixed, though.

I use my index finger for the shutter button, the front dial, the Fn2 and the ʀᴇc button which I've mapped to ɪso. I'm very happy with those. I'm also happy that it's possible to use the rear dial with my index finger as well.

I'm not so happy about the thumb operated rear interface. The main problem is that I need to change grip to go from operating the Fn1 and the rear dial to operating the direction buttons, oᴋ and info. Ideally, they should have placed in the area below the rear dial, which is taken up by the display. As the display is 3:2 I'd much prefer a smaller and/or narrower screen in 4:3 making room for a better placement of the buttons. On the other hand, I predict I'll have much less use of the direction buttons, oᴋ and info once I've learned to set the camera up the way I want it.

The dials and buttons are responsive and a pleasure to use with the exception of the Fn1 button which is tiny and shielded by the thumb grip.

The thumb grip is very nice for handling the camera when you are transporting it, but if I need it for holding the camera while shooting, I can only reach the Fn1 button at the same time. So far any heavy lens, I think the horizontal grip is a must.

I don't find it too heavy, I like that it has some heft. My main reason for ditching larger formats is the bulk. I've had to modify my left hand grip on the camera from what I used with the ᴅsʟʀ, but except that I would prefer having the lens mount a bit more to the left, it seems fine.

So far, I'm very satisfied with the viewfinder. I'm using it with the high frame rate and it's practically lag-less even in less than ideal conditions. I've found it to flicker under certain types of fluorescent/LED lightning, though, but that disappears if you turn it back to normal frame rate. The viewfinder has very nice eye relief, and I personally think the larger eye-cup is going to be a must have to allow you to utilise this more comfortable eye relief while still using your face to stabilise the camera

The touch screen is bright and very comfortable to use. I have to learn not to accidentally activate the eye sensor when using it, but I don't find it hard to avoid the sensor, so it's just a matter of learning this. As the specs of the camera was released, I remember someone wondering why the touch screen couldn't flip to a 90° angle, but since the viewfinder protrudes from the back of the camera, a 90° angle wouldn't be very useful. As it is, I find the range of angles quite sufficient for my needs, and I prefer this system to the more elaborate flip and swivel screens.

The only thing I haven't figured out how to control directly is bracketing. It would have been nice if I could control it from the drive mode controls.

In conclusion, I find that, like with the sensor, the smaller size means that you compromise ergonomics a bit, but overall the camera handles fine and the annoyances are fairly minor. The only major annoyance so far is the Fn1-button. If the next generation OM-D had a lens mount a bit more to the left, a slightly smaller screen and the direction keys up under the rear dial, I'd have to find something else to complain about!

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Macx
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Re: Turn both dials from the front...
In reply to kenw, Apr 23, 2012

With the exception of the ease-of-use of the direction keys, I'm generally in agreement.

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Jon Schick
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Re: OM-D, fantastic features, horrible handling ??
In reply to millsart, Apr 23, 2012

Hope you manage to get used to it, as seems like a great camera.

I went to try it at Focus in Birmingham, half expecting to place a pre-order there and then.... but the handling without the optional grip didn't work for me so I reluctantly held off. I don't want to have to attach an additional horizontal grip (and reattach it every time I change battery) just to get better handling.

I'm hoping that with the GH-3, Panasonic up their game (especially in terms of perceived build quality) as there's no doubt the Olympus feels like a nicely put-together camera. Or perhaps another model in the OM-D line (likely lower down the range) may lose a few features I could probably do without, but perhaps have more of a moulded built in grip.

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Wellington100
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Re: Then get the grip
In reply to Just Having Fun, Apr 23, 2012

Just Having Fun wrote:

Then get the grip. People claim it makes handling very good.

At that point you may as well buy a Nikon, which has better ergonomics, a better sensor and better IQ
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