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

Started May 13, 2013 | Discussions thread
RoelHendrickx Forum Pro • Posts: 25,805
agree on some points but not completely

philosomatographer wrote:

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.

I agree. I leave the horizontal part of the grip off only when I want the camera to be really really small (e.g. with the 45mm prime).  Otherwise it is always on.  The vertical part much less so.

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

I've gotten used to the EVF and am now totally used to, and happy with it.

Apart from what you mention, another great thing is the brightening of the image in low light situations : much easier to focus.

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.

I feel the E-M5 is not badly built for its price range.  It feels reasonably solid, especially compared to bodies that are all plastic.  The buttons feel "flimsy"mostly because they are so small.  But mine have seen a lot of use of the past years and still give the same tactile response.

OTOH, I would not feel totally confident bumping the E-M5 into walls and rocks like I do with my E-3 and E-5.

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.

I would not mind the next model to be beefed up a little.

In fact, that would probably be better for use with large heavy lenses.

And it would make a nice two-camera combo with a lighter but still solid E-M5.

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.

In the end, the camera bodies ARE dispensable, but not for everyone at the same rate.

Lenses are "forever" (more or less).

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.

I would not call AF abysmally slow.  Just not fast enough in some circumstances.

I've used a number of FT lenses on my E-M5 without many AF issues (in circumstances where speed is not essential).  The ZD70-300 gives average to OK results in good light.

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images:
my E-3 user field report from Tunisian Sahara:

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