On the demotion of the E-M5...

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jharvey Regular Member • Posts: 149
On the demotion of the E-M5...
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I shot with an OM-1 for over 30 years (beat the hell out of that thing over the years and it STILL performs flawlessly), and when the E-M5 was released, I replaced my E-510 as soon as I could get my hands on one. I’m never an ‘early adopter’ and I didn’t care about the resolution bump (I’ve got a 20x32 inch print on my wall right now taken with the 8MP E-500 sensor), but I did like the potential of the 5-axis IBIS and I really liked the idea of getting back to the size of the OM-1 and away from the ‘bulk’ of the admittedly compact-compared-to-some-of-the-competition E-510. (In my enthusiasm, I even bought the battery holder/grips, but took them off almost immediately because I didn’t need them for a confident hold on the camera and preferred the smaller form factor - and currently only use that assembly if I plan to shoot portraits with a lot of vertical framing.)

But the E-M5 was like coming home to the OM-1 again. A small, rugged camera, as durable as anything on the market. Happy Camper.

And when the E-M1 came out, though I had no personal need for it’s additional capabilities and wasn’t attracted to its permanent grip, it’s creation made perfect sense to me, and I saw it as the digital successor to the OM-4 – so we had the E-M5 as the serious, rugged, basic but capable equivalent of the OM-1 and the E-M1 as the parallel to the higher spec-ed OM-4 - and later the E-M10 would come along to fill the OM-10 slot. (I suppose with the E-M1X being the OM-4 with motor drive and battery grip, bulk film back, etc. – the specialist setup.)

But now it seems that the E-M5 has been demoted from an OM-1/OM-4 class camera to the OM-10 end of the lineup. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the plastic shell, but I do worry about how much plastic has replaced metal internally (the tripod socket incidents being a possible indicator) and the long-term structural integrity of metal screws into plastic parts at stress points like the lens mount. (If anyone from Olympus is reading this and would like to reassure me/us that the internal body/framework is still metal, it would be appreciated.) Add other areas where the model has been downgraded with the upgrade (smaller viewfinder, no battery capable grip option and no headphone jack on the grip, software capabilities like MySets taken away), and the fact that Oly’s own web page title for the 5.3 specifically calls it a “Travel Camera” (as if it’s really not suitable for anything ‘serious’), and it would appear that Olympus is deliberately shifting this model to the lower end of the lineup. (Keeping in mind, of course, that even the E-M10 could photographically run circles around the OM-4 in all but construction, but it appears that the original compactness of the OM film cameras combined with ‘pro’ grade construction and options will no longer be offered.)

It’s a shame. Many of these changes wouldn’t affect me personally (I rarely use a tripod and I wouldn’t be buying the battery grip if one was offered, and the viewfinder might be smaller than the MK2 but it’s bigger than my MK1), but they all contribute to the bigger picture of how Olympus now sees this camera. And while there weren’t enough improvements in the mk2 upgrade to get me to buy, features like Hybrid Focus, Pro Capture, Silent Shutter, High Resolution, etc., had me seriously tempted - but if Olympus doesn’t consider it a ‘serious’ enough model for serious construction and durability anymore, my personal upgrade decision has gone from a slam dunk to a toss up at best.

Really a shame...

Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10
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