Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ

Posted on Monday, 21st October 2013 2:00 PM EDT

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 being able to choose lenses and having control over 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.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 50mm , ISO 1250 , 1/125s , ƒ/8

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 50mm , ISO 1600 , 1/125s , ƒ/8

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 of 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.

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 this may be some setting 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 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 26mm , ISO 200 , 1100 s at ƒ/5.6

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.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 43mm , ISO 200 , 1250 s at ƒ/10

Given that Sony, Fuji and Olympus announced new cameras and lenses this month, I have a lot of 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.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 50mm , ISO 1600 , 1125 s at ƒ/6.3
Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ @ 12mm , ISO 1000 , 160 s at ƒ/11

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

One thought on “Olympus OM-D E-M5 + M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ”

  1. A few weeks ago I drove up the Rock Brook at the other end of town to try my hand at long exposure photography. I enjoyed the experience and I got good results with my ND filter. With the recent rains over the weekend, I thought it would be great to go back.

    To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.Elliott Erwitt

    I’ve read a lot about the “mirror-less” cameras from Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and Fuji. Over the last few years, I’ve rented the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and OM-D EM-5 Camera, the Fuji X-E1 and borrowed the Olympus PEN EP-3 Camera from a friend.
    But recently Fuji introduced the X-T1. The accolades keep pouring in. I’ve seen very little negative written about the Fuji X-T1 and the camera and the X system in general, have been well received by amateurs and professionals alike.
      X-T1  @ 10mm  , ISO 200  , 6s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    Many reviews have been written about the Fuji X-T1 by Frank Doorhof, Ken Rockwell, Photo Shelter and others so this won’t be a review. Those other reviewers will do a better job than I could. However, I want to document my experiences using the camera and one of the Fuji X lenses.
      X-T1  @ 10mm  , ISO 200  , 18s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    Almost all of my camera rentals are from lensrentals.com. The prices are reasonable — they even include an Amazon Prime typing shipping option — and they are flexible. Since my wife and I both work, I find it more convenient to have packages held at the FedEx Office Print & Ship Center near my office. I never miss a packed delivery and I can just stop by on my home in the afternoon and pick up my rental. When the equipment is ready to be returned I can easily drop it off at the same facility on my way to work in the morning.
    Because I prefer outdoor photography I chose to rent the Fuji X-T1 and Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS wide-angle lens. It is a 15-36mm f/6 in 35mm full frame format. I planned on going back to the Rock Brook for some long exposure photography. I added the Tiffen 72mm Variable ND Filter to my rental. The rental included a camera bag, the battery and charger, and the Fuji EF-X8 Shoe-Mount Flash. I did not use the Fuji EF-X8 Shoe-Mount Flash.
      X-T1  @ 10mm  , ISO 200  , 15s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    I had read that the X-T1 is well constructed and the reviews were correct. The X-T1 felt solid in my hands; like the Pentax P3 film camera, I bought in college. The camera body and dials and knobs are made of metal. My eyes were drawn to the control knobs on the top of the camera. The controls were easy to find. I did not have to hunt around in on-screen menus like I do with my Nikon. I found myself quickly changing aperture, ISO, and shutter speed while composing my shot.
    I found the focus ring on the X-T1 to be smooth. I normally don’t trust myself to manually focus on my subjects. I’ve had two eye surgeries and sometimes I feel my vision isn’t “just right”. But the ease of using the manual focus ring and the Focus Peak mode boosted my confidence. I used auto-focus only a few times during my shoot. The Digital Split Image focus mode reminds me of the split image focused on my Pentax P3 film camera but I preferred the focus peaking mode.
    While I didn’t use the auto-focus mode enough to form a strong opinion, I didn’t experience any of the expected delays bringing subjects into sharp focus. The auto-focus mode on the X-T1 feels improved over my experience with the X-E1.
      X-T1  @ 10mm  , ISO 200  , 15s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    Besides outdoor photography, I am also a fan of HDR photography. The X-T1 has several auto-bracketing functions but for HDR I use only Auto Exposure bracketing. My Nikon D5100 has AE bracketing as well but I am constantly annoyed that I have to trigger the shutter for each shot. Not with the X-T1. One press of the shutter captures 3 shots of the same scene at different exposures.
      X-T1  @ 10mm  , ISO 200  , 14s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    But where the Fuji X-T1 really blew me away was with the Camera Remote. Last year, I started using an Eye-Fi mobi card to capture and send JPG images from my Nikon D5100 to my iPad or iPhone. I could then do some slight processing before sharing the images to my blog or Facebook. It’s a form of instant photography. However, I’ve often wished I could use my iPad or iPhone to control my Nikon. The Fuji Camera Remote does that.
    The X-T1 has a built-in wireless access point. I was able with to connect my iPhone1 to the X-T1 and control every aspect of the camera. I adjust the focus, aperture, the ISO, the shutter speed, the shooting mode etc. I used the Camera Remote to set The X-T1 up for long exposure and HDR photography. With this setup, camera shake is nearly eliminated. This is important for long exposure and HDR photography. Even a breeze can ruin an image.
    I have a bird feeder set up in my backyard but my 85mm f/1.8 can’t get me close enough to the birds. I would have loved to setup up the Fuji X-T1 on a tripod with the Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS and patiently sit in my living room monitoring for some interest bird action shots. Of course, if I had known the X-T1 could do this I would have rented two lenses. The wide-angle isn’t ideal for this scenario.
    One of the cool things about the Camera Remote is that it also did wireless transfers of the photos to my iPhone or iPad. I set the X-T1 to transfer photos to my iPad so I could check that I had captured what I wanted. Some of the images were uploaded to Facebook right from the middle of the Rock Brook. How cool is that!
      X-T1  @ 24mm  , ISO 200  , 18s  , ƒ/16  by Khürt L. Williams  on 26 May, 2014 
    Another possibility is that I could attend the independence day fireworks events, capturing photos, sending them to my iPhone and sharing them quickly on Facebook or uploading to Flickr etc. Or I can shoot and download selected images to my iPad for post-processing and later share.
    It wasn’t until I came home and downloaded the images to Adobe Lightroom that I realised that the Camera Remote app used the GPS on my iPhone to embed geolocation data into each image. WTF! For me, this is a manual process in Lightroom; assuming I remember to do so.
    For me, the Fuji X-T1 is the near-perfect digital camera. I love the look and feel of the camera. The all metal body and knobs remind me of the built-to-last cameras of my youth. The focus peaking manual focus and smooth focus ring of the lenses make me feel confident that my photos will be in focus. The Camera Remote feature duplicates and surpasses the features of the Eye-Fi Mobi card and opens up new photographic possibilities for me.

    I often listen to music on my bluetooth headset when I’m out shooting. ?

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