Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F:3.5-6.3 EZ

I'm looking for a new camera system, something for family vacations or road trips. I want something smaller and lighter than my Nikon D5100, but also interchangeable lenses. To me, that means one of the compact system interchangeable lens (ILC aka mirror-less) cameras such as the Sony NEX system, the Fujifilm X system, or the micro-four-thirds system. I tend to hang on to my tech longer than most of my friends. I bought a Nikon D40 in 2006 and didn't upgrade until 2013 when I purchased a used D5100 on eBay. I want a compact system that will suffice for just as long. I could buy a point-n-shoot, but I would miss choosing lenses, control aperture and shutter speed, etc. I think in the back of my mind, I'm not committed to the DSLR format. In five years, I've bought only three lenses, and none are so expensive that I couldn't dump the system and start over.

Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1160 sec | ISO 200 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

Over the summer I rented the Fujifilm X-E1 and last week I borrowed my friend's Olympus PEN EP-3.

I like both cameras, but each had faults. The Fujifilm X-E1 had a slow (electronic viewfinder) and auto-focus (AF), and the Olympus PEN EP-3 had no EVF. The Fujifilm X-E1, however, convinced me that the CSC format could produce excellent results. I also loved the retro film camera look and feel of some of the cameras.

Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 500 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

Before my friend offered to loan me his EP-3 I had ordered a rental, the Olympus OM-D EM-5, from Lensrentals along with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. I had the weekend to try what is considered the high-end Olympus line. Of course, Olympus announced an update to the EM-5, the Olympus OM-D EM-1, so I was testing out the deprecated technology.

Friday 12 November, 2021 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 1600 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F8

This article isn't a review1. It's more my thought and impressions on the Olympus OM-D EM-5. The camera is about the same size as the EP-3. The EVF worked better than I expected. The EVF in the Fujifilm X-E1 felt quite slow and couldn't keep up with the fast movement of the camera for tracking running kids, flying birds etc. The Olympus OM-D EM-5 tracked well. I didn't notice any lag. Setting the camera up was quite easy. It's quite light. Battery life isn't quite up to the level I expected. It's a lot worse than the Nikon. After just one day of shooting about 100 images, the battery was exhausted. I can easily get three to four full days of shooting out of my Nikon D5100's battery. Perhaps the EM-1 is better.

The images below give you a decent idea of what to expect from the EM-5. Since the D5100 has an APS-C sensor with a 1.5 crop factor and the EM-5 has a micro four-thirds sensor with a crop factor of 2.0, I used my AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 G lens. To create a near similar comparison, I set the 12-50 mm lens to 26mm. This means that both cameras were shooting at the 35mm equivalent of 52mm. Both cameras were set to ISO 200 and f/8 in aperture priority mode. I couldn't see much of a difference between these two images (other than the slightly different crop). The Olympus OM-D EM-5 pictures seem to have more contrast, and the colours are more vivid, but these may be some settings that I overlooked or the slightly different aperture. The EM-5 felt tiny in my hand. I missed having a grip to hold the camera one-handed.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 | Saturday 19 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1100 sec | ISO 200 | M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F:3.5-6.3 EZ | F5.6

The Nikon with the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G at f/6.3.

20 October 2013 – Nikon D5100 + AF-S Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8 G @ f/6.3, ISO 200

The Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 is a macro lens. I shot the spider at f/10 to provide enough DOF to capture the spider in focus. Once turned on, the lens locks in at 43mm. It's straightforward to use, and I love the results.

Given that Sony, Fuji and Olympus announced new cameras and lenses this month, I have many choices. PhotoPlus Expo is coming up, and I may have an opportunity to try out the new Sony A7, the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and the Fuji X-E2. I am very excited about the X-E2. Early reports are that Fuji has fixed the problems exhibited by the X-E1. If so, then my decision will be even harder. The results from these CSC cameras makes me wonder if I can replace my DSLR altogether.

Friday 18 October, 2013 | Olympus E-M5 | 1125 sec | ISO 1600 | OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 | F6.3

  1. Robin Wong has written about the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm F3.5-6.3. ?

Olympus PEN E-P3 + M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8

This is not a review. I don't know how to review cameras, and I won't pretend to. What follows is my impression of the Olympus PEN EP-3 and an assortment of µ 43 lenses loaned to me by Chris Boraski. I mentioned to Chris that I would be renting the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and 12-50mm lens, and he offered to loan me his kit to compare. I want a small but capable camera to take on vacations. The Nikon is just too big and intimidating for my family to manage. As a result, I'm rarely on family vacation photos. Because the M-5 seems to be considered the most popular of the µ 43 cameras, I wanted to compare it with the Fujifilm X-E1 that I rented while on vacation earlier this year.

My first impression is that the EP-3's autofocus exhibited none of the delays I experienced with the Fujifilm X-E1. I had read a bit online that compact systems cameras (aka. mirror-less) suffer from auto-focus issues. In the case of the Fujifilm X-E1, that's true, but with the EP-3, I didn't notice any difference in how the autofocus worked compared to my D5100.

Many camera gearheads talk sensor size as though it was the main thing that matters when choosing a camera. There is this STUPID snobbery about "full frame" sensors ( 35mm ) that just infuriates me. 35mm format sensors are smaller than medium format sensors, so does that mean DSLRs produce shitting images? Of course not! My Nikon D5100 has an APS-C sized sensor, and I am happy with the results. The sensor in the µ 43 format is small than APS-C, but that does not seem to have affected the quality of the images.

It took me a minute or two to familiarize myself with the camera menus. I didn't read the manual. Most of my shooting was done in aperture priority mode. Unlike the Fujifilm X camera on the EP-3, the controls for ISO, apertures, and shutter speed are done via the menu and a small thumbwheel on the camera's back. I prefer the "manual" knobs on the Fujifilm X cameras.

One of the challenges I have with the EP-3 is the lack of a viewfinder. I'm 46 years old. Without reading glasses, it is challenging to read the labels on … almost everything. To me, Using an LCD to verify focus is frustrating. To see the tiny print on the LCD, I either have to carry around a pair of reading glasses or hold the LCD at a distance from my body. This makes it very difficult to reduce camera shake when shooting handheld. Any camera I buy will need a viewfinder. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1, Fujifilm X-E1 and Olympus OM-D EM-1 have either optical or electronic viewfinders.

The µ4/3 format has a crop factor of 2 compared to the APS-C sensor in my D5100. This means, simply, that a 45mm lens on a µ 43 camera will produce a similar view as a 90mm lens on a DSLR1. This also means the lenses for µ 43 cameras can be tiny compared to DSLR lenses.

Monday 14 October, 2013 | Olympus PEN E-P3 | 180 sec | ISO 200 | M.Zuiko 45mmF1.8 | F1.8

Chris lent me an Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8, his Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f/2.8 Lens, his Panasonic Lumix 14mm f/2.5 G Aspherical Lens, and his Olympus M ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 wide-angle zoom.

He also loaned me a Canon 135 mm lens with a µ 43 adapter. Manual focusing with the Canon 135mm was too challenging using the LCD alone. I may have to budget for all new lenses. Using my Nikkor lenses with an adapter would be frustrating.

I haven't spent much time with the lenses, but the 45mm (90mm in 35mm equivalent) is my favourite. If I choose to buy a µ 43 system, this lens will be on my shortlist. It's an excellent prime for portraits. The bokeh at 1.8 and 2.8 was pleasing.

I'm not a street photographer, so the 14 and 17mm lenses (28mm and 34mm at 35mm equivalent) are less appealing. I didn't use them at all. The 9-18mm (18-36mm at 35mm equivalent) lens isn't the widest µ 43 lens but does a good job for landscape photography. It's still wider than the AF-S Nikkor 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 VR (27-82mm at 35mm equivalent) lens that I use for most of my landscape photography with my D5100. The Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 is the widest µ 43 lens. Sigma makes an 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens for APS-C sized sensors that provide 12-24mm coverage in the 35mm equivalent.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. The OM-D M5 will arrive on Friday, and I'll get a chance to try the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 ED M.Zuiko EZ lens and camera. My expectations are high after using the PEN EP-3.