May 5, 2012

My OM-D E-M5 Experience

Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8
Updated with video samples and more observations.

My Olympus OM-D E-M5 finally arrived after a long wait. I pre-ordered on Feb 20 and it arrived on May 2. My first impressions...  let me just say it was well worth the wait. I have been holding off posting photos because I have been busy testing the camera and configuring it to my taste. I do this with any new camera, I like to get the settings right, customize it to my shooting style and also get familiarized with where I can find the settings I most often use.

I have to take this of course. The E-P1 is missing here since I used it to take this photo
with my new MMF-3 adapter and a borrowed Zuiko 50mm f/2 Macro ED.

Ok, so let's cut to the chase. I'll start with the quirks first but I must say that this is not a review. There are plenty of reviews out there about the E-M5. I'm simply posting my opinion about it and what I think about the camera based on my style.
  • The small buttons need some getting used to. With the E-P1 I was able to adjust quickly. I'm not saying I don't like it but it's taking more time to get adjusted with. And for a person with big hands and fat fingers it would most likely be an issue.
  • The OLED screen has that green hue/tint when you are not directly looking at it. It's only apparent if you're looking at it from an angle.
  • C-AF is indeed slow. The speed is acceptable for movie mode but for action it is slow and will hunt. I believe this camera is not designed for action anyway. And from what I've read Contrast Detect AF is not for this type and Phase Detect AF is still better for action.
  • The eye sensor on the EVF is a bit sensitive. Yesterday when I was trying to shoot from the hip and use the tilt screen the LCD went off even though the camera was at least 4 inches away from my body.
  • The menus could get confusing and some options are buried. But I'm glad there's a description now which helps for sure.
  • No ISO 100 or even better ISO 50.

All of the above are minor things for me. After all is there a thing like the "perfect" camera. Here are the things I like so far:
  • The faster AF is definitely great. And it works even if it's dark. It's slow though for the 4/3 lens I used which is the Zuiko 50mm f/2 Macro. I'm not sure if it's a general consensus that any 4/3 lens will be slow on the M4/3 body due to the difference in design (Phase detect vs contrast detect lenses). I was told by a flickr contact that some 4/3 lenses were optimized for Live View so it might  work better on those lenses.
  • It produces really sharp results with the lenses I have (Pana-Leica 25mm f/1.4, M. Zuiko 12mm f/2 and 45mm f/1.8). In fact it is so sharp that I've heard some are even turning it down to -1 or -2 from the default of 0.
  • Solid build. It's like a mini pro DSLR and it's cute that way. 
  • Live Bulb/Time is a joy! I so like this feature.
  • High ISO performance. In my opinion it beats the 5D Mark II. See examples below.
  • I'm also quite pleased with the improved DR but I think 5D Mark II with the 24x36mm sensor is still better. I would like to do some HDR tests in the near future and see how much detail a software like Photomatix can pull out of the images.
  • I like the overall size. I actually thought it is going to be a bit bigger. Not sure why I thought of that despite the numerous images posted in comparison to its rivals. Anyway, it is only a tad taller than the E-P1 and that is due to the EVF. I'm also planning on getting the grip so that will make it slightly bigger for sure.
  • Weather sealing is a bonus for me. I like to shoot in the rain although I don't go all out. I still use an umbrella as I don't have any intentions of getting soaked including my gear. I have to say though that it's a lot more convenient to shoot with a smallish camera like this when it's raining. Imagine this, left hand is holding the umbrella and right hand is the only hand for holding, setting and taking the shot. Now do that with a DSLR on a rainy photo walk for about 1 hour.
  • The IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) works really well. I tried it with stills and video and it's very good. Below are some video sample tests.
  • I like the shutter sound. It's quiet too.
Ok, enough said. I think there's nothing really new about all of the above but perhaps not a lot know about the Live Bulb or the other option called Live Time. They are pretty much the same, with live bulb the long exposure is started when the shutter button is depressed and it stops when the shutter is released. With live time the long exposure starts when the button is depressed and released and you will have to stop it by pressing the shutter button again.

Here are some examples:

High ISO
Leaving alone
ISO 3200
Long Exposure
The Blue

Nikon FE


Demb Flip-it

Refreshingly wet

What is this dog thinking?

Some video samples in HD with IBIS on and off. Please don't forget to click HD to view the video in HD mode.



That's it. Thanks for dropping by! 


  1. nice blog Eugene .. Like it!

    Actually I'm still in dilemma between OMD EM5 or X-Pro1

    1. Thanks Arman! Both are good, I think it will boil down to what you like and not like in a camera. I don't have an X-Pro1 so I can't compare. IQ I heard is better, you can visit Steve Huff's site as he compared the 2 including the NEX-7. I think he likes the E-M5 most.

  2. Great and very detail analysis for EM5!! Good job :-)

  3. I just "jumped" onto EM5 !!! Been reviewing camera bags i can carry it with me everyday to work. Just to ask you, any thoughts !!! i still and love my 5 year old Lowepro which is now holding my D7000... I like the retrospective 5

    1. I'm a fan of the crumpler bags and that's what I use. I think bags are totally dependent on your preference and budget. Some are really nice but expensive and some are just useful and comfortable but cheap.