Thursday, 5 December 2013

And we're live

Cliffs and River
E-M5, ZD 15-54 II

So I’m just shy of 5600 shots on the clock with the E-M5. Overall I still like it, although I don’t have the level of bonding I had with the NEX-7, nor am I likely to. The NEX-7 was all about love, except when it was hate (mainly the issues with no remote release, the almost unusable tripod foot and the annoying inability to disable auto-magnification for focusing without also disabling manual magnification). The main annoyances  with the E-M5 remain the poor location of buttons, particularly the Fn1 button and the annoyance of having to remove the horizontal grip to replace the battery. annoyances vs hates, as the issues don’t get in my face while shooting. I may have to get the RRS grip though, as it doesn’t block the battery compartment.

The E-M1 continues to look like a significant upgrade for me. IQ is essentially the same as the E-M5, aside from gaining the ISO 100 setting, which looks to essentially remove the base ISO noise, at the cost of a noticeable drop in DR, which is a tradeoff I can live with. But the greatly improved EVF, AF becoming usable with 4/3rds lenses and integrated grip are really big wins, as is the improved button layout. That said, I can’t help but think that just replacing my ZD 14-54 II with the new 12-40 would be a bigger win for half the cost. I’d get rid of my only 4/3rds lens, negating the AF issue and the price difference could get me either the 60 Macro or most of the 75/1.8’s cost. I could then consider upgrading to the E-M1 when the price inevitably drops in a year or two, while investing in my lens kit. Right now my real needs in terms of a kit are simple, I need a macro and an ultra-wide and would like a wide prime and a fast portrait lens, A high quality normal zoom with weather-sealing and usable AF is high on the list as well.

Speaking of lens kits, I’ve added the original Sigma 19/2.8 and 30/2.8 primes after finding a pair of open box items for a very low price. I haven’t had much time to shoot with them, but in quick play I am liking the 19 as a wide normal. Time will tell how I eventually find them. Right now I’m thinking of them as a set for the E-PM1, while the Leica 25 will live on the E-M5, but on the other hand I do like having a wide normal for everyday usage and with the E-PM1’s poor performance above ISO 400 it’s a lot less usable for after-work shooting until spring. I really do wish there was a 16MP version of the E-PM1 body (the E-PM2 lacks the really nice build of the E-PM1). I dunno, may have to consider the GM1 or a GX1 as an alternative at some point in the future.

As to the E-PM1, I love its base ISO performance, well I love the colour, it is somewhat lacking in DR and you don’t have anything like the processing malleability of the E-M5’s files, in fact my standard preset for post actually destroys E-PM1 files as it lifts the shadows far too much, bring all sorts of noise up to viewable levels. But I am liking the results if I process for the files rather than using my E-M5 oriented presets. And the pocketability is a big win, a GX1 or E-P5 would be marginal for this use. That said, I can’t help but think an E-P5 would be a fun everyday camera, with the same IS and sensor as the E-M5, a footprint that’s enough smaller and also being able to share the E-M5’s batteries. I don’t really see myself keeping the E-PM1 longterm, it fundamentally has too many limitations to be anything more than an occasional ultra-light carry camera.

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