Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Started Mar 17, 2013 | Discussions
pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
1

Would really appreciate some advice on what is becoming an incredibly frustrating decision.
I currently have an EOS 20D and a ton of lenses, but have hardly used it in years - due mainly to
a) the weight and bulk, and
b) the crop factor.
I considered a 5D or 6D for a long time because of the full frame sensor, but realized that it would make issue b) even worse.  I'm therefore absolutely convinced I should sell my Canon gear and am now looking at these mirrorless systems.
I've been deliberating over the choice of the OM-D E-M5 vs. X-E1 for ages.  I see strong arguments for and against both cameras/systems on these forums.
Here are what I'm coming up against as my main pros and cons of each:
X-E1 Pros:
.  Great image quality, large sensor, the "creamy film-like feel" of the images.
.  Low light performance (but given the low-light focussing issues, does this detract?)
X-E1 Cons:
.  No environmental sealing,
.  The fully "old school" controls (having to manually turn the aperture ring on the lens barrel and the click dial for shutter speed).  I find it a little cumbersome.
.  No in-body IS, only in some lenses
.  Very limited video options (no shutter speed setting etc)
.  Lack of filters and effects (this is less important)

OM-D E-M5 Pros:
.  Environmental sealing,
.  In-body IS,
.  Easy access to dials and other adjustments with one finger while using viewfinder (i.e. good ergonomics)
.  Highly customizable including menus/dials,
.  Wider range of lenses (although many aren't of high quality)
.  Slightly more video options (over the X-E1, although still not really great)
.  "Live Time" function (I do a lot of low light photography and long exposures)
OM-D E-M5 Cons:
.  Lower IQ and smaller sensor than X-E1
.  More noise in low-light shots
.  Video limitations (no 24fps option for example)
With regard to my shooting preferences, I have 2 main areas:
1. A lot of low-light and night photography using long exposures.

As well as urban street scenes (dark alleyways etc.) I often shoot bulb exposures of a few minutes or more in forests or mountains at night, using ambient light only.
The X-E1 seems to have less noise and better low light performance, but I wonder if the IS of the OM-D can balance the equation.
To be honest I rarely shoot above 400 ISO anyway - I don't need to get sharper shots at 12,800 to freeze motion for example. I'd rather use a longer exposure at lower ISO.
In this regard, the OM-D's Live Time function looks quite brilliant.
2. Shallow DOF shots with soft bokeh.  Including night shots.
The X-E1seems far better based on samples I've seen.  I've not seen a single sample from the OM-D with very narrow DOF and beautiful bokeh.  
But perhaps this could be compensated by the choice of lens on the OM-D?
Any comments from photographers on the above points would be gratefully appreciated.

Canon EOS 20D Canon EOS 5D Canon EOS 6D Fujifilm X-E1 Olympus OM-D E-M5
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Joachim Gerstl
Joachim Gerstl Veteran Member • Posts: 7,929
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
2

Hi,

If you want to have nice Bokeh and shallow DOF a M43 camera is not what you want. I have the X-Pro 1 with the 14, 18 and 35mm lens. I especially like that with the fast primes it is a substitute for a full frame camera if traveling light is important.

The 14mm I use in manual focus ( zone method ) about 90% of the time.

But if you really find an aperture ring and shutter dial cumbersome I recommend to get a Sony NEX.

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Jordan Norris
Jordan Norris Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Sensor size and all that goes with that is what made up my mind. Of course pop the fastest possible lenses on Micro 4/3's and you can get some great results... but the facts don't lie. It's same reason I dream of being able to afford a future or current(Leica) full frame compact system camera.

A decent camera that is with me always, is much better than precision tool that I leave at home.

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Jordan Norris
Jordan Norris Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

. The fully "old school" controls (having to manually turn the aperture ring on the lens barrel and the click dial for shutter speed). I find it a little cumbersome.--

Have you tried this in practice? I used(and still use from time to time) Nikon and Canon DSLRs for over 5years. Going to the manual-esque control styling of the XE-1 is probably my #3 most valuable feature about the camera... here's my top 5* features mostly in order-

#1a. Size; I take it everywhere now

#2. IQ/Sensor;

#3. Manual-Esque/Feel On Camera Controls

#4. Paired with the fuji 35mm f/1.4... basically gives me my (affordable) version of the Leica M with 50mm Summicron

#5. Mirrorless system gives me a plethora of manual lens options; DX taking slightly less of a hit on DOF & FOV

#1b. It just looks great... I actually enjoy pulling it out of my bag, whereas my DSLR was very shy and made others the same.

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OP pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Jordan Norris wrote:

A decent camera that is with me always, is much better than precision tool that I leave at home.

Absolutely.  This is exactly why I'm moving away from DSLR.  Technical purity would be lovely with a 10x8 view camera, but nowadays if it's not easy to carry it doesn't get used.

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Joachim Gerstl wrote:

If you want to have nice Bokeh and shallow DOF a M43 camera is not what you want.

This is a big concern I have. Is that simply because of the available lenses' widest apertures or is it a function of the system itself?

But if you really find an aperture ring and shutter dial cumbersome I recommend to get a Sony NEX.

I have been shooting since the mid '70s and used to always use fully manual everything.  But since the advent of the digital age, I've simply gotten used to the speed of access via small wheels under the thumb rather than turning a lens barrel or a horizontal click-dial. I now prefer it.

Jordan Norris wrote:

. The fully "old school" controls (having to manually turn the aperture ring on the lens barrel and the click dial for shutter speed). I find it a little cumbersome.--

Have you tried this in practice? I used(and still use from time to time) Nikon and Canon DSLRs for over 5years. Going to the manual-esque control styling of the XE-1 is probably my #3 most valuable feature about the camera...

I absolutely love the form of the X-E1 too, but I think for me it's mainly as a design feature and aesthetic coolness rather than a quick and functional tool to use.

#4. Paired with the fuji 35mm f/1.4... basically gives me my (affordable) version of the Leica M with 50mm Summicron

#5. Mirrorless system gives me a plethora of manual lens options; DX taking slightly less of a hit on DOF & FOV

What about with the kit zoom?  Do you recommend the primes all the way?

Finally, my concern about noise? For long exposure night shooting, samples I've seen seem to show cleaner shadows on the X-E1 over the Olympus. But if I simply use longer exposures at lower ISO, do people feel that the E-M5 will still have major noise problems in darker shadow areas compared to the Fuji?

gustabod Senior Member • Posts: 1,462
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
3

It will depend on what you feel more at home with. I own and OM-D and an X-pro1. I recently shot a village fair using both (Xpro-1 with 19 and 35 lenses and OM-D mainly with the oly 75 1.8).

People seemed less intimidated by the Xpro1, but I found it more intuitive to shoot the OM-D and it's slr like handling and fast AF. You can get the OOF effects with some of the fast primes from oly and panny/leica.

In the right light the fuji sensor is superb, but the OM-D's is not far behind. If you are used to an slr you may find it more challenging to shoot with the fuji and your approach to seeing and composing will have to adapt. If you are happy with the slr approach but are doing this just to lessen the bulk and weight I suggest you consider the OM-D.

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Juergen_B New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
1

Hi,

I have both cameras, the X-E1 with the 18-55mm zoom lens and the OM-D with 12mm, 45mm and 75mm prime lenses.

Both are exceptional cameras.

The bokeh argument w.r.t. Micro-Four-Thirds is certainly a topic if you are using shorter focal lengths. However, even the 45mm draws a beautiful bokeh:

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 45mm f/1.8

I personally like the X-E1 because of its "Leica-M" like style. Plus, if you want to use Leica-M, Voigtländer or Zeiss ZM-lenses, the X-E1 is to be preferred because of "smaller" crop-factor, i.e. the 35mm becomes roughly a 50mm FF f.o.v. equivalent on the X-E1 rather than a 70mm FF f.o.v. equivalent on the OM-D.

I hope this helps!

Best regards

Jürgen

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OP pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

gustabod wrote:

People seemed less intimidated by the Xpro1, but I found it more intuitive to shoot the OM-D and it's slr like handling and fast AF.

In the right light the fuji sensor is superb, but the OM-D's is not far behind....If you ..are doing this just to lessen the bulk and weight I suggest you consider the OM-D.

Thanks for the comments.  I understand why the XPro1 would be less intimidating, with its classic simple looks.  The OM-D definitely looks more technological, but still far less intimidating than a bulky SLR I would think.

Yes, bulk and weight are one of my primary considerations.  I'm tending towards the OM-D, but have these few IQ reservations, especially with low light shooting and noise.

OP pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Juergen_B wrote:

The bokeh argument w.r.t. Micro-Four-Thirds is certainly a topic if you are using shorter focal lengths. However, even the 45mm draws a beautiful bokeh:

Olympus OM-D E-M5, 45mm f/1.8

...the X-E1 is to be preferred because of "smaller" crop-factor...

Definitely helps, Jurgen. Thanks.

Yes, the crop factor was an issue and a major reason for not using my 20D, but with the far shorter focal lengths of some of these Micro-Four-Thirds and X lenses this seems well compensated unless one is looking for extreme wide angles.

Lovely shot you shared - for a 45mm it's surprisingly soft.

I think I need to check out more low-light samples and then should finally be able to make a decision.

Most low-light samples I have found seem to be taken at high ISO, where the main feature they're trying to show is the low noise at high ISO. However what I'm more interested in is the dynamic range and lack of noise in shadows at low ISO long-exposure night shots, for example in a forest at night with a 10 minute exposure at ISO 200.

zenpmd Senior Member • Posts: 1,130
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
1

I currently own an X-E1 with the "kit lens" and there are certain aspects I love - the dials, the rangefinder placement of the EVF, mainly. But its AF does still cause issues despite what people say and ultimately, like the argument that size helps you take more photos cos you use it more, I maintain the same is true of AF - in social situations you need to be fast, and thats all there is to it, and its why I am about to get the OMD-E5 instead....

photo chris Regular Member • Posts: 281
Had the EM5, now have the XP1
7

The EM5 is a fantastic camera, fast focusing, IBIS is better than any lens based system IMHO and IQ is really good and its weather sealed with certain lenses. But its a small camera and even with the grip, the buttons are still very small - something I didn't like. The Fuji is much cleaner at high ISO's. If you do long exposures the "live bulb" mode on the EM5 is awesome - you can see the images as they're exposed on the LCD and stop the exposure when its properly exposed. A lot of the EM5's functions are buried in some very poorly organized menus and for me the buttons were just too small. If Olympus brings some of its faster 43 lenses to M43 and the rumored "pro" OMD I may reconsider, but for now its a great camera with cumbersome controls and menu's. Video on the EM5 is really, really good.  I tested it against the Sony a99 and the Nex5n and the EM5 was far better than the a99 - the Nex5n was the best of the 3.  You are limited to 30p, but its very, very good.

The Fuji has all the major controls right on the camera and pretty much everything needed while shooting can be accessed through the Q menu. Aperture is a snap to adjust as you hold the camera by the lens anyway, so your left hand is always on aperture controls. Shutter and exposure compensation cal easily be adjusted without moving the camera from your eye. AF point is so easy to move, you can quickly place it on your subject and skip focus/recompose. I read a lot of gripes about Fuji's AF speed and that made me nervous before the switch, but I haven't seen a dramatic difference in AF speed with the 18, 35 and 18-55mm lenses and the legendary Olympus 45/1.8. I use the 'mash the shutter' technique that's been discussed and it works really well. Video on the Fuji's is terrible since you can't adjust exposure, so its constantly changing from light to dark depending on whatever the meter focuses on.  I'll never fully commit to X mount until Fuji gives its cameras the simple capability to lock shutter speed, aperture and ISO while shooting video since I shoot a lot of video.

The larger sensor gets you one stop better DOF for equivalent apertures and there are very few large aperture AF lenses in M43 world. The 25/1.4 is awesome, but its FOV/DOF is only 50/2.8 in FF terms. The M43 zooms are good, but no great. The Panny 12-35/2.8 has the DOF of a 5.6 lens on FF, not exactly great for $1300 if bokeh and shallow DOF is your thing. The X 35/1.4 is a stunner and the upcoming 23/1.4 and 56/1.4 will have no equal in M43 land.

For me the controls on the EM5 were just too small and the menus are just bang your head against the wall stupid. The Fuji is definitely a better shooting experience IMHO and IQ is better as well. ISO 3200 is just so clean, far more so than the EM5 and LR 4.4 really does a nice job with the raw conversion. Of course the Fuji jpeg's are fantastic, I've used it for portrait shoots along side my 5d3 and delivered jpeg's to paying customers. With the improvements made to the X100s and the new Zeiss lenses, the future looks bright for the X system, just add manual controls to video to the Xpro2/1s or whatever its going to be called and I'll sell my 5d3 and carry two of the new X bodies.

Daniel Lauring
Daniel Lauring Veteran Member • Posts: 9,342
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
5

I have both and if I could only choose one, it would be the OMD.

1. OMD focuses faster and in lower light.

2. There are way more lenses available for m43.

3. The OMD only loses one stop of DOF to APS-C but has lots of fast primes, and two F2.8 zooms.

4. The OMD has image stabilization built into the body making all lenses coupled to it become image stabilized. This can often make up for the stop of light it loses in high ISO and DOF.

5. The OMD has way more flexibility and options (though the menus are a bit cumbersome.)

6. The touch screen of the OMD is useful and faster for things like picking focus points and using it's fast menu (similar to the X-E1's quick menu.)

7. The tilt screen of the OMD is useful.

8. The OMD has a faster refreshing EVF.

9. The OMD is faster. Faster to focus. Faster to start. Faster to review pics.

10. The included add-on flash, with the OMD is better than the X-E1's pop up flash and there are more flash accessories available for Oly.

11. The OMD's face recognition works better and more reliably focuses on eyes.

mjl699
mjl699 Regular Member • Posts: 309
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
1

I am an ex SLR and DSLR user. Cameras include EOS 500N, EOS 3, S80, EOS 400D (spot the trend), and lately Panasonic GX1 and XP1.

The XP1 is the only camera of these to have better IQ than I could achieve with Provia and Velvia, which were my standard film choices 10 years ago. Without the hassle of storing the film in the fridge and specialist processing not typically available on the high street.

The GX1 produces good stuff (I have the 20mm F1.7 from Panasonic), but not as good as the XP1 with either the 60mm or the 35mm. The Fujinon 35mm in particular is hard to match - and F1.4 is very handy even in APS-C.

I like XP1 handling, but I like SLR handling too, so perhaps I am just not very picky. I can certainly see some liking SLR-style handling over rangefinder-style handling and vice-versa. One thing does stand out though - I have actually used M-mode on the XP1 quite a lot (sometimes setting all of A, T, ISO, & focus distance manually). It is possible to work like this on the XP1 with its "traditional" control dials whereas I could never use anything other than A- and T- modes on the Canon (D)SLRs - too fiddly.

I travel a lot for work and I carry two computers and the XP1 with two lenses in carry-on luggage. So that tells you the XP1 packs well. I could not imagine that with any of my old (D)SLRs. And when I'm out and about the XP1 is very easy to carry all day. I never get tired with it.

But, as previous contributors have observed, it has slower autofocus than the EM-5, and it does not do video, and the handling is very different from an SLR.

If you want very high IQ I recommend the XP1.

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DTwigg New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

I was torn between these same two camera models a short time ago. Fortunately my wife bought the Olympus so I got to handle it and see the results she got without buying anything. Her pictures are great, with excellent color and very sharp. However, for my medium to large hands the controls on the EM-5 are just too small and close together. Just trying to pick it up had me changing settings by bumping something with a finger. After handling one in a local camera shop I bought the Fujifilm X-E1 a few days ago. The auto focus will take some getting used to but by the time all the lenses I want are available I should have a good handle (pun intended) on using the X-E1.

Like so much in the consumer world, this is such a matter of personal choice I wouldn't begin to try an advise the OP what to do. Just passing on my experience and decision, and the reasons for it.

Dave

Tjalpics
Tjalpics Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

From the DxO review:

"With a Dynamic Range Score of 12.3 EV, the Olympus OM-D ranks 36th in our database for this criterion, outperforming its overall DxOMark score. This is simply the highest score ever achieved by a micro 4:3 sensor. As we will see below on the curves comparing the OM-D E-M5 to the Pen and to the Lumix G, the OM-D E-M5’s dynamic range is superior at all sensitivities, but continues to progress in an even more pronounced fashion at low ISO settings.

As for Low-Light sensitivity, the OM-D E-M5’s measured 826 ISO puts it in 40th place, a very good score given the sensitive surface area of its 4:3 sensor, just slightly behind the best APS-C sensors."

No X-E1 sensor review on DxO yet.

baobob
baobob Forum Pro • Posts: 11,525
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

IMHO the big advantage of the Fuji is the top quality of OOC JPEGs just compare DPR studio shots for both cameras at 6400 ISO

BUT

developping the same studio shots RAW files with ACR 7.4 RC 6400 Iso leads to very comparable results the difficulty being to get same results with different settings 

So it means that recording ORF raw files  with the Olympus compensates the so so JPEGs in high ISO

Then it seems that DR is better with Fuji

And in JPEG the numerous settings for DR highlights and shadows get no equivalent in other brands

These are my 4 cents ...

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Timur Born
Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,769
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5
2

The 45/1.8 turns this

into this

I only handled the X-E1 at Photokina, but own the E-M5. Some things to mention:

- The EVF on the X-E1 lags even in relatively good light. The EVF of the E-M5 only lags in low light when exposure live preview is used, it can be made not to lag at the cost of getting a darker EVF image in low light.

- While the E-M5 offers eye detection as part of its face detection much too often it does not detect eyes and then focuses on the tip of the nose instead of in between the eyes. With shallow DOF this means that the eyes get out of focus. Additionally it often detects faces in objects that don't even closely resemble a face. Face detection on my Fujifilm X10 is more reliable and even detects faces from the side, but does not offer eye detection.

Just to mention it, albeit you don't seem to need it: Shallow DOF of a larger crop sensor is a disadvantage for face detection, because faces get soft enough to not be detected until the plane of focus is close enough.

- Shallow DOF of the larger sensor is a disadvantage when you need more DOF at fast apertures. But again, this likely is not a problem for your usage case.

- The buttons are really too small on the E-M5 and especially the FN1 button is placed badly. But in practice you press those buttons a lot less than when testing a camera in a shop or for the first weeks of usage. My hands are far from being delicate (I am 1.90m), but I have little to no issues handling the buttons without accidentally hitting something wrong. Still the trend of larger screens and smaller buttons is not in my interest.

- Left eye shooters may or may not prefer the center placement of the E-M5's hump. You need to get used to being in the way of your own hand trying to reach buttons and wheels. Still works well enough, especially since the eyepiece seems to be a bit farther away from the screen compared to the X-E1. Right eye shooters are still better off, not only because of more room for the hand, but because their nose and right hand block off more light from the viewfinder.

- Focusing on the E-M5 is quick for several reasons. One of them being that it tries to stay close to the last plane of focus when the frame didn't change much. Unfortunately I did not specifically test how the X-E1 handles this, but the X10 does a full focus re-hunt every time you half-press the shutter button even when your last target is still perfectly sharp in focus. This not only takes more time, but also can lead to different results when two planes are within the focus frame. If you have two planes within the focus frame of the E-M5 it tends to stay on target, which usually is an advantage. The two images above were done for testing the AF behavior, that's why there is a green box drawn in.

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OP pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Thanks for the examples - it's something I hadn't realized to that extent, and very helpful to know.

re: shooting eye, I'm a right-eye shooter so fortunately won't suffer from the lack of space so much.

OP pavinder Regular Member • Posts: 277
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Yes, ultimately it seems like a personal choice.

There's no clear winner in terms of features as both have their strengths, but with everybody's great help and input on this thread.  I realize I may lose a little IQ compared to the X-E1, but my feeling is that the OM-D will probably win me over.

Main reasons being the overall wider lens options, filters, Live Bulb and faster overall functioning, as well as environmental sealing and far better video.

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,321
Re: Leaving DSLR - pros and cons of X-E1 vs OM-D EM-5

Thanks clearly listing the pros and cons from you point of view.

Under no circumstances should you buy the Fuji

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