What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
rsmithgi Senior Member • Posts: 2,315
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

Helen wrote:

Auf Reisen wrote:

So, there is a lot of talk about the EM-5-III being "plasticky". I think this rumour got started when 43rumors reported some hearsay about some photographer saying that the body feels more plasticky.

The spec set for the EM-5 III says magnesium alloy. The top plate seems to be made of polycarbonate - but so was the top-plate of the EM 5 II, as you can clearly see here:

(via Robin Wong)

Unfortunately, you have some misapprehensions here. My E-M5 Mark II very definitely, absolutely, no doubt about it, has a magnesium alloy top plate (and base plate). Anybody else who has one will confirm that (unless they're mistaken - I'm THAT sure of this!). For example, Olympus specification pages (often the source of specs elsewhere) tend to be written by marketing staff who are sadly not infallible. They happily claimed the E-PL6 had 3-axis IBIS on their US pages when it in fact had the previous 2-axis type.

The E-M5 Mark III had numerous leaks hinting (and sometimes hinting strongly) that the top plate would be polycarbonate, and its design very strongly suggests that it is, due to the large number of sharp steps and creases (probably as somebody else suggested, to add strength - also, that amount of sharp detail is a bit challenging to cast in magnesium alloy). Whether it feels "plasticky" will have to wait until we lay hands on it, but the only OM-D so far made that way and available for sale already actually feels rather good, despite the polycarbonate covers.

In fact, almost all modern cameras seem to have a top-plate out of some kind of polycarbonate. See, eg. here:

Actually, the EOS R has a metal top plate - except for the curved "lid" of the EVF housing, which is polycarbonate. The temperature differential is what I find to be the most reliable indicator. I believe that the EOS RP is all-polycarbonate on top.

Or here:

The E-M1 Mark II is actually mag alloy for the entire top plate, base plate, front and rear panels too. Some of the metal-topped cameras might have polycarbonate panels under the front leatherette - that can be hard to tell (the E-M5 Mark II has a polycarbonate rear panel) but the E-M1 and E-M1 Mark II are very much mag alloy (there are so-called "in the white" views of them here and there - exploded views of unpainted bodywork parts.

The only exception I am aware of seems to be the EM-10 II, which has some combination of metal and polycarbonate on the top plate. The pseudo-prism is "plastic", the actual top plate is metal, and the surroundings of the top plate are polycarbonate again.

In fact, that's the E-M10 Mark III, the one I referred to obliquely above, which feels nicer than people might assume its polycarbonate panels would allow. The central top brushed metal "islands" are either metal or plated with metal, but the rest of the top plate housing and the flash housing (the faux prism) are polycarbonate. With the E-M10 Mark II you referenced, which appears to have the same brushed metal "islands" on the top plate, these are in one part with the rest of the top plate (not including the flash housing of course) which, uniquely for an OM-D, is anodised aluminium alloy. The flash housing/faux prism is polycarbonate, but is covered by an anodised alloy cap (as it was too on the original E-M10, though painted metal not anodised, to match the rest of the top plate which was painted metal, so quite possibly magnesium alloy like the E-M5 and E-M1 lines, though some reviews suggested it was aluminium alloy). (Edit: I see you own the E-M10 Mark II - pop up the flash and look carefully - you can see the metal cap's edges, which are absent on the E-M10 Mark III, incidentally. Let the camera get cool and feel the temperature of the top plate against a known plastic part on a lens if you have a plastic-barrelled lens handy. It is MUCH colder than the plastic).

I absolutely agree that metal feels nicer and definitely looks nicer when scratches eventually happen but it doesn't look there are actually any cameras on the market right now that actually have a fully metal top plate.

I agree with your sentiments above and don't have a huge preference either way myself, but there are plenty of fully metal top plates on current cameras - a lot of top end DSLRs, the aforementioned Olympus models, the Panasonic G9, the Nikon Z6/Z6, the Sony A7 models (even the original A7 which had a polycarbonate front and base was metal for the entire one-piece top plate, and the A7R was metal on the front as well). There are lots, I'm afraid. Sony erroneously claimed in early publicity that their A6000 was magnesium - it isn't, it's all polycarbonate on the outside (their previous NEX-6 had a magnesium top plate and polycarbonate elsewhere). The subsequent A6300, A6400, A6500 and A6600 are all predominantly magnesium, especially the top housings, except for the panel on the flash housing (except the A6600, which doesn't have a flash) but the A6100 is polycarbonate. Fuji's X-H1 and X-T3/2/1 definitely have mag alloy tops and plenty of other external panels too, and the X-T30/20/10 line has a mag alloy top plate and base plate, with a polycarbonate flash housing/faux prism (no metal capping on that). I strongly suspect their middle section under the leatherette is polycarbonate on that smaller line. The X-T100 is aluminium alloy on the top plate, with a plastic flash housing clad in aluminium alloy, but a polycarbonate front and back half and those two parts also form the base.

Sorry to be so forthright (I'm not usually!) and long-winded (which I usually am - sorry, everyone!) but this is something I've looked into quite deeply over quite a long period.

So overall, this seems to be a well-placed BS campaign which is readily picked up by the trolls who are grasping for straws to have something to complain about.

Not so sure about that. I will wait to be absolutely sure about the E-M5 Mark III when I handle one (I do want one, polycarbonate top housing or not) but I'm sure about the others. Mind you, if there is any sneaky hybrid construction of actual outer metal layers over polycarbonate in some cases, which I suppose there might be sometimes, I couldn't tell without dismantling though. But I'm referring to what appears and feels to be solid metal, anyway.

Wow. That's a lot of good information and well stated.

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