What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

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Auf Reisen Contributing Member • Posts: 673
What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
10

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)

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

Or here:

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.

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.

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.

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,487
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
9

pretty much sums it up. All the other companies are real worried about Olympus. Hense all the sales reps trolling the m43 forums.

Don

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Wu Jiaqiu
Wu Jiaqiu Forum Pro • Posts: 25,467
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
7

Donald B wrote:

pretty much sums it up. All the other companies are real worried about Olympus. Hense all the sales reps trolling the m43 forums.

Don

just give me a nod when you're looking for a new vacuum cleaner....*wink wink*

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Donald B
Donald B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,487
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
5

Wu Jiaqiu wrote:

Donald B wrote:

pretty much sums it up. All the other companies are real worried about Olympus. Hense all the sales reps trolling the m43 forums.

Don

just give me a nod when you're looking for a new vacuum cleaner....*wink wink*

The biggest laugh Ive had all week is where DpR in their review of the em53 had a page stating that the new em53 was upgraded with a uhs2 card slot over the em52. i nearly wet myself with laughter. They have no idea as well.

Don

DPR quote : "Another welcome update is the inclusion of a UHS-II card slot,"

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peter ny Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
2

In his review, Robin Wong says the entire body is polycarbonate, which disagrees with the specs DPR has posted. I couldn't find any information about body materials on the Olympus site.

OP Auf Reisen Contributing Member • Posts: 673
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

peter ny wrote:

In his review, Robin Wong says the entire body is polycarbonate, which disagrees with the specs DPR has posted. I couldn't find any information about body materials on the Olympus site.

Wex says it's magnesium alloy as well.

https://www.wexphotovideo.com/olympus-om-d-e-m5-mark-iii-digital-camera-body-black-1719279/

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peter ny Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

Interesting. I hope they're right.

peter ny Regular Member • Posts: 232
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
7

For what it's worth, this is from the Imaging Resource review.

"The weight is somewhat similar, but the E-M5 III is actually a bit lighter than the predecessor. The E-M5 Mark III incorporates more polycarbonate plastic into its construction than the Mark II, which utilized more mag-alloy. (However, the exact specifics on how the two body constructions differ was not specified by Olympus.) Despite the change in its construction, the E-M5 III maintains Olympus' hallmark weather-sealing performance, with robust dust, moisture and freeze resistance. In hand, however, I'd be hard-pressed to tell much difference between a fully metal-chassis camera and this hybrid polycarbonate build (other than perhaps a temperature difference in a metal surface compared to plastic); the E-M5 III is incredibly well-built and sturdy."

Helen
Helen Veteran Member • Posts: 7,028
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
20

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.

Helen
Helen Veteran Member • Posts: 7,028
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
2

Donald B wrote:

pretty much sums it up. All the other companies are real worried about Olympus. Hense all the sales reps trolling the m43 forums.

Don

But you don't believe your two Olys are polycarbonate as the OP implies, surely? (They're not, honest!).

A_Mist
A_Mist Regular Member • Posts: 312
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
2

Olympus visionary Peter Forsgård says here (2:16) that ”it feels a little plastic-like, but that’s because it’s made of plastic”
https://youtu.be/RaUwjEZbiok

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OP Auf Reisen Contributing Member • Posts: 673
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

I stand corrected! Thank you for your in-depth reply.

I was checking my EM10-II top plate and compared the brushed metal "islands" against the painted polycarbonate parts and assumed that similar-looking surfaces on other cameras were of the same material.

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Helen
Helen Veteran Member • Posts: 7,028
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
4

Auf Reisen wrote:

I stand corrected! Thank you for your in-depth reply.

I was checking my EM10-II top plate and compared the brushed metal "islands" against the painted polycarbonate parts and assumed that similar-looking surfaces on other cameras were of the same material.

You're welcome - thanks for taking it so well.  I suspect my middle initials ought to be "OCD" but I seem to make a habit of being a mine of trivial information and sometimes it even comes in useful to someone.  Mostly it probably doesn't, but I try... 

cba_melbourne Senior Member • Posts: 1,802
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
6

Auf Reisen wrote:

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.

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.

You see, in the past Olympus was very proud in releasing pictures of the metal chassis and metal top covers of their cameras. They did that for good reason, because they know metal means superior quality and durability as well as look and feel. It does cost more, to manufacture an all metal chassis that is strong yet lightweight.

Many customers simply perceive metal as more premium. Be it in camera bodies, in pro lenses, in watches, in jewellery.... And they like the feel of better too. To some it even makes a difference, if a dial wheel is made of solid metal with a sharp diamond knurling, or just a thin metal outer over a plastic core.

Have you already forgotten pictures like these? In many people, these did influence purchase decisions.

PEN-F top plate, before and after finishing – ©2016 Senzo

Magnesium alloy body panel of the PEN-F – ©2016 Senzo

EM1

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OP Auf Reisen Contributing Member • Posts: 673
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
2

Helen wrote:

Auf Reisen wrote:

I stand corrected! Thank you for your in-depth reply.

I was checking my EM10-II top plate and compared the brushed metal "islands" against the painted polycarbonate parts and assumed that similar-looking surfaces on other cameras were of the same material.

You're welcome - thanks for taking it so well. I suspect my middle initials ought to be "OCD" but I seem to make a habit of being a mine of trivial information and sometimes it even comes in useful to someone. Mostly it probably doesn't, but I try...

I am always happy when someone politely corrects me, especially when that someone knows more than me. Means I learn something new!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of trolls on this forum who follow the Walter Sobchak philosophy of correcting people. Thank you for being different!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGWuOAgU7jI

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Androole Senior Member • Posts: 1,450
There are tons of all-metal bodies out there!
17

Auf Reisen wrote:

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.

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.

While I don't personally care much about the presence of plastic on this E-M5 III, there are many, many cameras that are almost entirely metal, at a variety of price points.

From Panasonic:

GX7

GX8

GH5

G9

From Canon:

EOS-R

From Nikon:

Z7

From Sony:

A7R III

From Fuji:

X-T3

From Pentax, of course:

K3

And finally, from Olympus - look at those lumps!

E-M1 II

E-M1X

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Gnine Senior Member • Posts: 1,211
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
4

cba_melbourne wrote:

You see, in the past Olympus was very proud in releasing pictures of the metal chassis and metal top covers of their cameras. They did that for good reason, because they know metal means superior quality and durability as well as look and feel. It does cost more, to manufacture an all metal chassis that is strong yet lightweight.

Except that it isn't. There's a reason why the latest airliners are being made from carbon reinforced plastic. Strength to weight. Unlimited fatigue life. There's absolutely nothing wrong with modern engineering plastics, when designed and used correctly. Thermally and dimensionally stable. Superior wear resistance, and shock absorbing properties. And I think its usage is only going to increase.

rsmithgi Senior Member • Posts: 2,324
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
1

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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cba_melbourne Senior Member • Posts: 1,802
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?
3

Gnine wrote:

cba_melbourne wrote:

You see, in the past Olympus was very proud in releasing pictures of the metal chassis and metal top covers of their cameras. They did that for good reason, because they know metal means superior quality and durability as well as look and feel. It does cost more, to manufacture an all metal chassis that is strong yet lightweight.

Except that it isn't. There's a reason why the latest airliners are being made from carbon reinforced plastic. Strength to weight. Unlimited fatigue life.

But... there is a world of difference between reinforced composite plastics, and just plain injection moulded Polycarbonate.

Yoghurt jars are made of Polycarbonate. Not glass- or carbon fiber reinforced epoxy resin.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with modern engineering plastics, when designed and used correctly. Thermally and dimensionally stable. Superior wear resistance, and shock absorbing properties. And I think its usage is only going to increase.

Why do you think the better laptop computers pride themselves having a metal chasssis? Why do people buy them? Phones with one piece metal chassis... etc. Think about it.

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JaKing
JaKing Senior Member • Posts: 6,142
Re: What's all this talk about plastic bodies?

My E-30 had a polycarbonate composite body and alloy chassis, and my E-510 was mostly polycarbonate with some internal metal bits. They are 10 and 12 years old respectively, and still function perfectly.

In some ways, I prefer the E-30 build parameters, as strong composites are far tougher than metal when it comes to shock resistance. My E-510 is the only camera I have ever dropped in over 60 years. Not a mark on it. That was on the second day I owned it . Still works perfectly.

I do appreciate that both my E-M1s are built like tanks, but does it really matter for the vast majority of us? I doubt it.

BTW thanks to Helen, Chris and others who have addressed the lack of correct factual information in such detail.

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