Dilemma: A99 vs new Olympus E-M1

Started Sep 4, 2013 | Discussions thread
EarthQuake Senior Member • Posts: 2,594
Re: Dilemma: A99 vs new Olympus E-M1

Kwick1 wrote:

Okay, before you start saying "Apples and Oranges", I know they are. My problem is that there's a twist at the end.

I used to love the a900 - probably the best ergonomics of any camera I've handled. And I absolutely love Zeiss glass.

The a99 looks to be a great update. Yes, a few drawbacks like the battery life, but the dynamic range and color rendition is especially appealing (among other things). As I said the Zeiss glass is also huge - I'd be buying the 24-70, 85/1.4 and the 70-300G for wildlife (yes, I know not Zeiss, just G, but I don't want the weight of the 70-400).

Total weight for all that? Just under 7 lbs, not including extra batteries.

So then I read the leaks about the upcoming Olympus E-M1, which is supposedly being announced on Sept 10th. Micro 4/3rds has come a long way, but still not FF quality. But the question I keep asking is "What's good enough" for me?

With high-end m 4/3 glass (their new Olympus "Pro" 2.8 24-80 equiv lens, the Panny 35-100 2.8 and the Panny/Leica 25/1.4). Yeah, not Zeiss, but pretty damn good.

Total weight for all that? Estimated 2.9 lbs. Big difference.

Normally I'd wait and try them both, but here's the twist: I'm leaving on a trip on Oct 25th.

If I go for the new E-M1, I'd need to pre-order it the instant it's announced - and even then I don't know the exact delivery date.

I know the a99 is better quality, but that weight difference is huge, especially considering that I travel a LOT and mainly use my gear then.

Yes, I know this post is rambling, and I don't think there's a definite answer - basically this post is therapy to help me vent and decide before the Sept 10th launch date.

Oh, I can't afford both. Wish I could!

I'm in the same boat. I currently have an A900 (and a580) with some very good lenses (Sigma 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 24-70/2.8 HSM, 70-200/2.8 HSM). The A900 and lenses produce excellent shots, but the weight is somewhere over 10 pounds if I want to carry the whole kit somewhere. Taking it in vacation is totally out of the question and even for paid work it is a pain in the back.

I also have an OMD EM-5, and the 25/1.4, 45/1.8, 7-14/4, and 100-300 (getting the 12/2 or 17/1.8 soon as well). This is my travel kit, I take it places I would never dream of taking the a900. However, referring to it as a travel kit is really selling it short. The lenses are awesome and all very usable wide open. The sensor performance is very close to the A900, close enough that while processing the raws there isn't really a real world difference (very close to the A580, all 3 cameras are close in terms of noise and DR in real use). At high ISO I personally find the grain of the OMD to be less objectionable than the A900, where you get large splotchy grain over ISO 1600.

The A99 is a step up in DR, but not much of a gain in high ISO, maybe a stop over the OMD EM-5? It will be interesting to see if the E-M1 has a better sensor. The big, obvious difference is the DOF difference. Basically, for the amount of subject isolation you get on FF with 2.8 zooms, you need to use fast primes on M43rds. If you can live with the 2 stop DOF difference and small difference in sensor performance, M43 is a much more convenient system to carry around.

Me? I'm going to buy the E-M1 as soon as it is out, with the 12-40/2.8 kit, and likely sell my FF gear off it is a significant improvement over the E-M5, which has some stuff that really bother me, like the inability to set a small focus square. Most people would probably say focus tracking is a big lack of the M43 cameras, but honestly, once you've used the fast focusing primes like the 17/1.8, 25/1.4 and 45/1.8, its less of an issue, as these lenses focus in S-AF mode way faster than pretty much anything you'll get on a DSLR, certainly much faster than my 1.4 Sigma primes.

If the E-M1 doesn't live up to expectations, I will keep the M43 kit for travel and pick up an A99 for more serious work, but I would really like to consolidate down to one system as I do not do paid work very often.

Also, if you think you'll be able to get an E-M1 by the end of October you're going to be very disappointed. There is no chance of that, it was many many months after EM-5 was announced that it was available in stores, and many more months until you could find it reliably in stock. Before Christmas may even be pushing it for the E-M1, if you need an M43 camera before the end of Oct, I would pick up an E-M5 or GX7 in the meantime.

Btw my travel kit of OMD+7-14+25+45 weighs in at 1041G (I usually only take the 100-300 if I'm doing wildlife stuff), which is less than the A900 plus any A mount lens that I own, and lens than the Sigma 70-200/2.8 alone. Even if I added the 35-100 as well, it would still weigh only slightly more than the Sigma 70-200 alone, and of course less than the 70-200+a900.

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