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A few quick thoughts on the new OM-D E-M1

[Image credit: Olympus Corp.]

This is hardly new news, but I wanted to share a few quick thoughts on the newly announced Olympus OM-D E-M1. The short version is: I won’t be buying one. So there, if that’s all you were wondering, you can move on to the next post.

If you’re looking for a few more details, however, I’m happy to provide them. Again, the short view is: I don’t think it offers enough new or improved features and/or performance to be an economical, worthwhile upgrade for me. That said, I’m thrilled to see that Olympus released it – and it’s currently Amazon’s 2nd highest-selling compact systems camera. So clearly people are excited about it. Which is great!

The really good news is that Olympus is still investing in the m4:3 system and is actively coming up with improvements and technology that lets them make better cameras. And just as important, as shown by the Amazon numbers, is that people are buying. All of which is good for m4:3 in general.

But for me, it just didn’t come together this time, and I’ll address a few reasons why:

  • on-sensor PDAF: very cool tech and a definite boon to folks who want to use PDAF lenses. I prefer to stik with the m4:3 native lenses, however, to maintain the size benefits. If I wanted to use full-side DSLR lenses, I could have stayed with Canon
  • WiFi built-in: I’m not going to lie, I see this as a gimmick feature. Not something I care about, at least until it reaches the level where it’ll talk to the computer (Lightroom?) and take the place of a tethered cable. My understanding is that, right now, it’s more of a “shoot the images to your cell phone” thing
  • larger hand grip: I thought that the E-M5’s lack of a true hand grip would be an issue, especially since I have large hands. But it hasn’t been and I’m at the point now where I doubt I’ll ever buy the Olympus grip, and have thus far resisted buying the third-party “dumb” grips
  • 5-axis IS: oh wait, the E-M5 has that already…

I say that last one a little tongue-in-cheek, but at the same time I’m making the point that about half of the E-M1’s “features” are things that the E-M5 already does, and does well. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that in my mind, the E-M1 is really an E-M5 for folks who want to use regular 4/3 lenses with less hassle. And again, I don’t.

Glad they made it, glad it’s selling well, but don’t want one. I’ll wait and see what the E-M5’s direct replacement looks like (assuming the rumors are true and there will be such a camera coming).

[Image credit: Olympus Corp.]

Now what I am excited about (tentatively) is the 12-40mm f/2.8 m4:3 lens that was released with the E-M1. I’ve held off buying the Lumix 12-35mm knowing that Olympus was coming out with their own. And based on what I know so far, I think my vote will go to the Oly. Of course, I’d like to wait until there’s some more user data and feedback on the lens, but assuming it’s as good as it’s supposed to be, I’d like to get one. Although to be fair, I won’t be buying it new – I’ll wait until some barely used ones hit the market at a good price.

Brent Pennington

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1 Comment to A few quick thoughts on the new OM-D E-M1

  1. December 8, 2013 at 14:54

    Rest assured…the OLY 12-40mm is at the top of the food chain for m4:3 glass. Just took delivery of mine and so far there isn’t a single thing to complain about. Though I wished it was an internal zoom.


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