Robin Wong: New Olympus OM-D E-M1 at high ISOs

All I can say is: WOW, OMG.

I never thought that m4/3 system could be so good at high ISOs. And do check out that handheld shot with a 1.6 sec shutter speed. It really gives you idea how good the 5-axis IS is in this camera. And it works with every lens. Just stunning.

Robin Wong’s blog post is here.

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!

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.


One-camera approach

I have almost all time owned two or three cameras. I do not, however, have time to use all of them effectively and I am all the time pondering which one to take with me if I am going to a trip or a photo walk. Now that I have found a fantastic camera, Olympus OM-D, I have decided to have it and m4/3 system as my sole camera.

I have never had been so pleased on a camera as I am now. Perfect DoF, bokeh, and sharpness in one small package. Somebody has stated that “Save for camera bodies, spend for lenses”. Or something like that it was. I think I am going to do that way. Micro four thirds system has lots of fantastic lenses. I am very much into prime lenses as some of my readers may know. I have 20/1.7, 30/2.8, and 45/1.8 primes for m4/3 at the moment. All those are very nice small primes. But something is missing.

When I had Canon system (APS-C and FF) I had a lens which I really loved. That lens was the most difficult thing to give up when I changed to Fuji that time. The lens was Canon 200/2.8 L. I am quite much into longer focal lengths. Not so much into wide ones. For m4/3 system there is fortunately a savior for my longing for 200 mm. It is the Olympus 75/1.8. It is 150mm equivalent in 35mm format so not quite 200mm but it is the longest prime in m4/3 system. I have seen only highly praising reviews about it. It is quite expensive (829 €) but it seems to be a fantastic piece of metal and glass. Now that I sold my Sigma DP2M I will use that money to by this lens. I know I need a longer prime and here it is.

I suppose that in one year time (maybe earlier) there will be next version of OM-D camera body. I will save for that. By then I will have fantastic lenses for m4/3 system.


I am now back to Micro Four Thirds. I bought Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Olympus M.ZUIKO 45/1.8 and Sigma 30/2.8 lenses. In addition, I have my old Panasonic lenses, 20/1.7 and 45-200 zoom. That's quite a cool set!

First impression with OM-D was that it is small! Smaller than I really thought of. But that's a good thing. Of course it feels small after D600.

Then the absolutely best thing. The autofocus is blazingly fast! I mean DSLR-fast. No, actually it is faster than that in real use. At least so in my hands and that's of course what really counts here. I had time to test OM-D yesterday only with 45/1.8 lens but at least with it I can truly say that this camera has the fastest AF I have ever used. Period.

Also IQ seems to be top notch. 45/1.8 is very sharp wide open. Very, very nice. Also noise seems to be very controllable at least up to ISO 3200, maybe up to 6400. That's a very good achievement for m4/3 sensor. That together with fast lenses which provide just perfect DoF wide open, and the best image stabilization system I have ever encountered, I really think OM-D and m4/3 system is deserving those praises all over the photography web pages.

And by the way, I just sold my Sigma DP2 Merrill. 🙂 I thought that it would be difficult to sell but…



I still wanted to have more versatility in my camera set and ordered Micro Four Thirds system, namely Olympus OM-D. I have had m4/3 camera before (Olympus E-P1) so this is not a new world to me.

I have been somehow suffering between image sharpness and DoF control lately. I have had full frame cameras, APS-C sensor ones, and m4/3 stuff. Even if FF is of course nice I feel after my latest trip to FF (earlier I had FF too) that I am not in the level of those beasts as a photographer. I have heard so much positive things on Olympus OM-D that I decided to go with it. Enough-shallow DoF wide open and I still can get the whole face of a person sharp in shots, and this all without using extremely high ISO.

Micro four thirds system has also some very good lenses available. I ordered OM-D with Oly 45/1.8 and Sigma 30/2.8 lenses. I have (or actually my wife has – hopefully she will borrow the lenses to me!) still PAnasonic 20/1.7 and 45-200 zoom lenses for MFT system. I ordered that cheap Sigma 30/2.8 because there are praising reviews of it and it is basically the same lens that my Sigma DP2 Merrill has. It will be interesting to see how this lens performs as a 60mm equivalent (45mm with DP2M) with OM-D.

So, I will decide about getting Fuji X100S later, maybe in coming summer. Then we will know more about it and there will be many reviews in the web.

There is an X in the model name

I was very fast with my actions to get a zoom compact. I have had Olympus XZ-2 for few hours now. Here are some reasons why I decided to have it to complement my Sigma DP2 Merrill and Fuji X100S (which I am going to buy when it will be in the stores).

I read Robin Wong's great four-part review on XZ-2 and was quite much sold after it.

XZ-2 has a great fast lens (f/1.8-2.5).

It seems to have a decent ISO performance up to 1600-3200.

I really like tilting LCD. Have been wanting that for a long time.

Nicely customizable. Fn1 and Fn2 buttons plus great hybrid control ring (having stepped and smooth modes) on the lens.

Built-in ND filter. Nice to have if you want to shoot wide open in bright lighting conditions.

Good resolution but not so huge file size. I have other cameras (with bigger sensors) for superb resolution.

So those were reasons why I decided to have the XZ-2. I may later on write a short mini review of it.