EM-5 or EM-1? It really depends on what you want!

Started Mar 2, 2014 | User reviews thread
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photohounds Senior Member • Posts: 1,156
EM-5 or EM-1? It really depends on what you want!

Many words have been printed about this diminutive camera and you've no doubt read all the technical discussion. But what can you DO with one?

Ergonomics: Oly were always pretty good with ergonomics - more shooting, less fiddling and the EM-5 is great, given the size restraints. It is very easy to use once you note where everything is.

It is WAY ahead of the Canon, Nikon and Sony mirrorless cameras in this regard.. The "big three” marketers of camera gear, in THEIR mirrorless products, keep you mired in endless menus and that means that by the time you're ready, the shot may be GONE.

Proof of the pudding:
I shot the pictures here with the EM-5 and 45 and 75mm Zuiko lenses:


My co-shooters used Panasonic, Nikon and Canon cameras and one or two poked fun at my 'little camera' while stroking their 2.8 bazookas. One asked me where my tripod was. I answered “they are all AT HOME”! Undeterred, I shot MY set of pics using 'auto level adjust' for the EVF (I usually leave it off so you can SEE expected exposure results as you alter settings which is very useful) . Forget about EVFs from days of old .. The EVF in the EM-5, while not quite matching the one in my EM-1, soon PROVED that it leaves OVFs completely in the dust in dim light (so to speak). You soon forget it is not a glass finder ...

With the Eurobeat pics above, at the end of the night, the other 'togs and I compared pictures (I was the official bloke). The OVF shooters each had between 5 and 10 keepers from their tripod-bound behemoths to show for the night's work. A VERY low rate I silently thought. When they looked at what I had produced with the EM-5, there was stunned silence.

Guess who sold pictures and was invited back? This has repeated itself elsewhere – except the ribbing about small cameras!

See the girl operating the video camera below? I saw only a silhouette and raised the EM-5 to my eye. It saw her perfectly! In fact TAKING CHANCES in the dark is very well facilitated by the EM-5!


I've had over a hundred cameras, some as workhorses, some as working collectors items (I know, I know ..)
I'm so glad I ditched Canon and Minolta early on, they ARE/WERE good cameras, and OVF is slightly ahead for fast action rendering – speed of light, actually.

However you should try setting shooting with the TOUCH SCREEN. If set up correctly, it focusses fast on the SPOT you touched and shoots immediately – it works very well indeed – more keepers, especially for kids!

Having been shooting stage and music since the 1980s, my experience is that, OVFs of ANY quality are far less useful for fast, accurate shooting in dim light.
I don't miss that handicap – or the smell of darkroom chemicals – AT ALL.

DUST PROBLEMS in CaNikSon beasts! I'm on my 4th Oly digital camera (the EM-1). I change lenses anywhere I want, and while dust is of course POSSIBLE with any camera, I never noticed ANY dust spots on my pictures since moving to Olympus. While it probably isn't hard to do, I don't want to HAVE to learn how to CLEAN A SENSOR, I want to shoot pictures.

Touching a sensor with anything at all just isn't my cup of tea.

The EM-1 – is it worth it? It depends. I really like it, the usability, robust feel, many well-placed controls and particularly speed of set-up is better than the EM-5. However, the diminutive EM-5 set benchmarks for compact cameras. In my opinion the IQ so close you cannot always easily tell the difference – it certainly isn't worth arguing about.

As I share my 'old' EM-5 with a family member, I still have access to one. I still use this camera at times and if I needed to buy another back-up body it would be the EM-5, not another EM-1. Why? The EM-1 is a decent size compromise for a camera with PRO expectations in a size of an entry-level APSC cam, but the compactness advantage of the EM-5 is undeniable.

Compared to days of old? A FULL frame camera like the Mamiya RB67 had 4.5 TIMES the image size of the Miniature FMF (full Marketing Frame) 35mm. When familiarising myself with the EM-5, I quickly formed the belief that it outperformed this huge and much-loved 6x7 camera for IQ. On purchase of a new scanner, I bought a decent Epson scanner - one that can do up to 6x9 negatives and slides.

Once a few of my favourite shots were scanned I was astonished by HOW MUCH the EM-5 outclassed a camera with a negative almost 20 times as large. I have a few samples here ..


While the EM1 is a great camera, if you're a travel bug, the EM-5 has lost none of its shine. Coupled with say, the 12, 25 and 45 (and maybe the 14-150 if you need long range) would fill all your needs (as opposed to your desire to have the “latest and greatest”). The fixed lenses, used correctly can produce IQ equal to the best - unless you regularly print over 40x50cm (16x20”).

If you see my gear list, and have a look at my picture site, you'll see what these things are capable of. EXIF data is available for almost all shots – NOT the Mamiya RB-67 shots of course

Enjoy your photography and don't obsess about gear and its technicalities.
Photography to me, is about communicating you world view with IMAGES, not about brochures and technical discussions that waste your shooting time and dampen you enjoyment of this wonderful pursuit.

** The flip screen makes table top photography a BREEZE – and saves your back!

So there's my non-technical, in use take. The measurebators can waste their (and your time if you let them) all they want.

Technical arguments you may waste time on today will be USELESS 50 years from now. Time spent on making images however, may well be most appreciated.

Buy what enables you to make pleasing results easy and uncomplicated and forget vexatious fools who shoot rarely and argue a LOT. I'm lucky, I have one of each – problem solved.

Now, where's that 40-150/f2.8??
P.S, My ratings are on a "for what it is" basis, not on some assumed absolute, handed down from the heavens.

 photohounds's gear list:photohounds's gear list
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm F1.8 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus OM-D E-M1X +7 more
Olympus OM-D E-M5
16 megapixels • 3 screen • Four Thirds sensor
Announced: Feb 8, 2012
photohounds's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M5
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