Olympus OM-D

One step forward

My OM-D set is now sold (only 45-200mm will be left for my wife’s use) and Sony RX100 has arrived. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to use it yet but it feels nice, small, and capable camera. Of course it is just a point-and-shoot compact but when you open the files in Lightroom you are not so sure anymore. They really are at the level of Micro Four Thirds maybe even more. Quite stunning for so small camera and sensor (even if the sensor is very big in P&S world).

Now I am waiting for Fuji X100S to ship. When I will get it I think I am all set up. I think the best approach in the future may be an upgrade path (i.e. future upgrades of RX100 and X100S) not to change camera systems and models all the time.

Here are just two snapshots with RX100.

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My head is full of Xs

I am now selling my OM-D set. It is a great camera but it is not giving me the user experience I would like to have.

I have few options in my mind for a new camera. Or maybe cameras. Once again all have X in their model names. 🙂 At the moment I am very much into Fuji X100S. It should have quite fast AF, nice sensor, beautiful viewfinders, in-camera ND filter, and it feels substantial in hand. After selling my OM-D I would have enough money to buy X100S and a capable zoom compact, like Sony RX100. I have been very amazed of the ice shots my Flickr friend Richard had been shooting with it. Together these two cameras would be just under 2000 euros.

Then there is Sony RX1. I have been quite tempted on it since it was introduced. The lack of any kind of a viewfinder and user reports about slowish AF in dim light are now against the purchase.

Let’s see what happens.

Here is one X100 shot from last summer. Just to tease myself.

Am I a Fuji guy after all?

Why those Fuji shots (taken with X100 and X-Pro1) have to have that special character!? Oh, why?! It has to be the sensor, at least with X-Pro1. The shots are almost magical sometimes. Olympus OM-D produces very, very good shots. But not magical ones. I really can’t describe this very clearly but with Fuji shots there is a special feeling, special mood.

Another thing I like with X100 and X-Pro1 is the manual controls. I really love to control aperture straight from the lens and shutter speed by turning its control wheel on the camera. Old school and so rewarding. Very rewarding for the user experience.

Even though I was not using optical viewfinder that often it brings lots of that special mood in your photography.

Hmmm…

Low angle fun

Olympus OM-D has two great features for low angle shooting. First of all it has a tilting LCD screen which is very handy when shooting low or high angle shots. Secondly, you can trigger the shutter by using LCD screen’s touch function. Just touch the subject you want to focus on in the screen and the camera triggers the shutter immediately. There is also an option to only select a focus point by touching. In that case you trigger the shutter in normal way by pushing the shutter button.

I took the shot below using these nice features. The camera was on the floor beside me and I used the touch screen to trigger the shutter. Tiitus didn’t even know that I was taking some photos. Really fantastic!

Simplifying

It seems that life is never simple enough. At least when it comes to camera gear. I am now using m4/3 system (Olympus OM-D and several prime lenses) as my camera system. It is very fantastic camera but I still feel something is missing from the user experience. Or should I say I’m having too much stuff for the proper user experience. I highly recommend to read Jesse’s blog. He is a fellow photographer and blogger pondering the same kind of things and now he has found a solution which seems to work for him.

I have some fantastic m4/3 lenses (e.g. M.ZUIKO 45/1.8 and 75/1.8). But I’m still frustrated every time when I have to change lenses. I am never just picking the camera up and shooting. It seems I really need a camera which liberates me from this. Something simple and beautiful. It does not have to be a all round system. I do not need that kind of a camera. I need a camera which will make think. But after I have picked the camera up. At the moment I am thinking too much for the right lens choices before I am even touching the camera.

Maybe Fuji X100S would be that kind of a camera? A liberating one. When browsing through my Flickr set for X100 shots I realized how versatile that beauty really is. From great close-ups to nice landscapes. And everything in between. Just with that 35mm focal length.

Another tempting option would be Sony RX1 but it is really expensive. Should I say fortunately very expensive because I have said in many blog posts that full frame is not my thing.

Well I know some people will say that I will be missing longer focal lengths if I choose X100S. That may well be true. Solution for that would be a zoom lens camera like Sony RX100. But then I would be frustrated in zooming back and forth. It is similar thing for the user experience as is the lens changing thing. For longer focal length maybe the new Sigma DP3M (with a 75mm equivalent lens) would be an option. I know, I know. I just sold my DP2M. But anyways. Just a suggestion for myself. Check out these DP3M sample photos.

Summarizing this it seems that I would like to simplify my camera gear through most complicated ponderings. Nothing new in that actually. Still looking to the future open-minded as Herkko does in the shot below.

Behavin’

Just a short post about the AF speed of different lenses in m4/3 system. As I stated earlier the current generation of Olympus M.ZUIKO lenses are blazingly fast to achieve the focus. The situation is not the same with Panasonic lenses, unfortunately. My Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH lens has quite mediocre AF when used with Olympus OM-D body. Huge difference when compared to M.ZUIKOs and there is also quite much focus hunting too. The shot below was taken in reasonable indoor lighting (due my standards) with Lumix 20/1.7. M.ZUIKOs will focus instantaneously in those conditions having no hunting at all. Lumix 20/1.7 was instead hunting a lot. Not good. I am now thinking to get M.ZUIKO 17/1.8 lens to replace the Lumix. Many reviews report that the 17/1.8 has a really fast AF and has also more pleasing bokeh than 20/1.7.

My Sigma 30mm F2.8 EX DN is much faster in focusing than the Lumix 20/1.7. I think Sigma is very well acceptable even if not so fast than M.ZUIKOs. Also the focus hunting is very minimal with the Sigma. Very nice performance for so cheap lens!

All in all, some lenses are behavin', some are not.

Reasoning fulfilled?

Let’s see how my recent move to m4/3 system and Olympus OM-D has cured the problems I had with Nikon D600. I wrote about my reasoning in this blog post. Below are the questions I asked at that time and some opinions now on OM-D:

First, I was really going to suffocate in the camera menus trying to figure out endless AF possibilities and also other camera adjustments.

– Well, OM-D’s menu system is quite horrible actually. But Super Control Panel saves the situation. With OM-D I use solely single-focus AF (S-AF) so no tinkering with AF possibilities (of course if I would need continuous AF then I will have problems with OM-D). 85% happy.

Second, full frame is nice but usually I had to stop down quite much to get subjects both eyes sharp. And stopping down in low light situations means you have to use flash (which I do not like to use) or use high ISOs. It seems that APS-C sensor would be perfect for me. Nice shallow DoF but not so tricky to achieve sharp shots.

– With OM-D I achieved the above things. Very Nice. 90% happy.

Third, I hate to change lenses. I really hate that. Actually, after buying 85mm lens I was solely using it. So, it seems that I do not need an interchangeable lens camera.

– Not solved at all. m4/3 is an interchangeable lens system. I think I can live with this fact. 40% happy.

Fourth, it is a big beast. I am into smaller cameras. I really can’t understand when I will realize this. I hopefully have now realized it.

– OM-D is really small as are the lenses. 95% happy.

Mean happiness score: 77,5%

First steps in the old world

As some of you may know I have had m4/3 system before my new Olympus OM-D. I bought E-P1 almost immediately it was available in summer 2009. Fantastic image quality but not so good ISO performance or AF. Now that I am back to m4/3 system I thought to share my first impressions during the very beginning using OM-D.

First of all, OM-D is really on a different level when comparing to E-P1. And of course it should be. But that m4/3 feeling is still there. Small, lots of features, great IQ.

OM-D is very small and handy to use. Maybe even too small for some people but for me it is perfect. It is really easy to take OM-D with several lenses with you. You do not need much space and endurance to carry the whole system.

IQ seems to be top notch. I am especially happy about ISO performance. 6400 seems to be totally usable when I learn the tricks for noise reduction in Lightroom. Some people say that very little noise reduction should be used with minimal sharpening. These are the things I am testing at the moment.

That fantastic 5-axis IS increases so much the keeper number. So nice. I think my future camera bodies should always have an IS system. It is very nice to have it in the camera body because then it will be available with all lenses used.

Tilting LCD is cool to have. I use it quite a lot especially for low angle shots. Much easier to go dachshund-level than with traditional rigid screen. Touch sensitivity is also nice because you can focus and trigger the shutter by touching the screen. Quite cool for hip-level shooting using the LCD.

I already mentioned in an earlier post that AF is really fast. How fast it is depends on the lens used. Much faster with new M.ZUIKO's than older Olympus lenses or Panasonic's. But they all are in the category fast – blazingly fast with single-focus AF. All in all, I am very happy with AF performance – also in low light conditions.

Lenses. Yep, there are some superb lenses available for m4/3 system. My new M.ZUIKOs, 45/1.8 and 75/1.8 are really something. Small and very capable. 75/1.8 is metal construction and very impressive. I have to write additional post(s) about the lenses. All I say now that you can't go wrong with this system when lenses are considered.

There are also few things I do not like with OM-D. The position of the on/off switch really irritates me. It should be positioned around the shutter button. And that menu system. Just horrible. Fortunately, I do not have to visit menu often because the Super Control Panel saves the situation in 90% of cases.