A few days with the Em1 and grip with several 43rds lenses
OK, where to begin?
I am quite please with the control flexibility of the EM1, very little to complain about. I am very happy with all the button placements and the way the buttons can be set up and pressed with the fingers. I wish the LCD/EVF button was on the right side, and the power button takes me a second to find, but both pretty minor compared to what has been added and improved.
The front 2 buttons, 3 function buttons, ael/afl, switch 4 way buttons are all in the perfect spot for me.
With the missing CAF + MF missing, which is the biggest surprise, as it really is the only way I used my E5 when birding, I found that assigning the switch to mode 5, so in the up position I have CAF and the down position I have MF, works almost as well. With the switch in that mode and the AF start assigned to AEL/AFL in both MF and CAF mode, I can toggle between MF and CAF and initiate focus in both modes with that same thumb (SAF trigger in MF mode using AEL/AFL). With the focus peaking enabled at the touch of the MF ring, I have the 3 focusing modes and the AF trigger available with a thumb flick. The fact I can check to see if I am in MF/SAF mode or CAF by checking the switch position is really nice as I don't have to distract myself to verify the setting.
I hope they add CAF+MF mode back in, or a setting that enables an MF priority option.
I also found I like to have one of the front buttons set to AF home, and I use it to toggle between my AF home assignment and the previous option, so I have center point standard as my home set, and use center point small as the previous, and I use thqt button to toggle back and forth in CAF, but it appears as though a bug is preventing the use of the AF home function in MF mode (which should be enabled as I am using the back button SAf trigger, plus I might want to use the magnify functionality in my AF home position). Holding the OK button down still works to reset the AF box to center when in the AF point selection. When in manual mode the active AF box outline is also missing, but that for me is not a big deal.
I've only used this thing with my 90-250, 17.5 mm voigt, 25mm 1.4 old 43rds lens, 150 f2, and 35-100 so far, and I've only going back and forth between my e5 and em1 using my 90-250 to try and compare them directly.
So what do I think? Well firstly the EM1 is accurate, when it locks on something static, I feel confident to like 95% it is going to be in focus. The E5 I would guess my confidence would be about 75%, and that being after I recomposed if I could tell it was not in focus through he viewfinder. With lenses like the 25mm 1.4, it is miles ahead when it comes to me feeling like I am going to nail focus over the my e5, combine that with face/eye detect, and I feel confident the iris is going to be in focus, which puts me over the moon being able to shed that uncertainty. I see greatly improved accuracy with the other lenses.
Nothing sucks more then reviewing steady, colorful wildlife shots with a slightly out of focus subject. I feel like I will experience that less now with the 90-250 especially. So on accuracy with CAF and SAF, single point small or normal or 3x3 box, Em1 is well ahead my E5, which from what I've read is a similar performer to all the other e5s out there. I also have an e3 and had an l1 and e520, and the Em1 is more accurate than them all, significantly.
Now it won't be better in every situation and I am going to spend a lot more time with them both so maybe I can refine and expand on these statements soon. The horizontal line issue is real, and the em1 has trouble focusing on nearly horizontal lines, especially with a small AF box, and the e5 would do better here, but it is something you can be contentious of and mitigate, but is unfortunate the AF sensors are all aligned in the same way. If this were not the case I feel that the AF would improve considerably (maybe an em1s with a new sensor?) and look forward to it.
I did a lot of comparisons with the CAF between the e5 and em1 as well, mostly of cars driving below my balcony while it was lightly snowing. At their closest, the image of the car in the EVF would be about a foot squared, so pretty zoomed in, and the cars were moving quickly. With the E5, I would only ever have used center point or center point small AF points along with CAF, but the EM1 I found that the 3 by 3 matrix did a pretty good job, and had an advantage in circumstances over the center point options, particularly when the target lacked sharp contrast. I also found the AF lock to change the way the CAF worked in a noticeable way (can't say the same for the e5) and I was changing the lock strength and I could tell the AF was changing the way it held a target, and I was altering this setting based on the amount of snow and the results I was getting from the CAF tracking, so that is encouraging.
When I was actually shooting with CAF and the EM1 and 90-250, it out performed the e5 in my tests, but they weren't really to far apart. I found the speed the focus moved to be faster on the e5, and it may have been better at getting the initial lock (accurate or not), but when the e5 detected the target focus had changed, it generally jumped out of focus, paused, and back into focus, then out, then into focus for a split second, then out, often over-adjusting, or adjusting and locking inaccurately. With the Em1, after in hits initial focus, which in 95% of the time nailing focus, it is far more likely to stick with the target and adjust focus to a new position with accuracy and a single adjustment.
I don't have any samples shots with me to post, but I was able to focus on a car where I could see the hood in the EVF, start shooting on low sequential drive at 5 frames per second, (keeping my target in a series of stills which takes a little getting used to vs the OVF of the e5, but easy to get used to) at the closest, maybe just the door handle and a bit of the drivers side window, and then at back of the car as it was driving away. There was a tree and an electric wire in the foreground, and using the em1 in some sequences, I could nail 35 shots in focus of a car driving past, even with te tree center frame, the lock would stay with the car ( I couldn't do it all the time, but the potential to achive such great results mae me ecstatic). I certainly couldn't do this with the e5, as the buffer or the AF wouldn't allow it. I could barely get the e5 to just stay focused on the car at all sometimes.
I am going to be using both to compare and contrast, but I really don't want to, as the em1 is that much better at nailing focus and is that much more of a joy to use.
I really have to end this, I'll post more soon, and sorry if it is a bit rambly.
One last thing, the focus peaking is fantastic. People say this camera is no good for sports, but with focus peaking and the control set up I listed above, I can think of a sport I couldn't shoot (maybe tennis?) with this setup.
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