Thursday 25 July 2019

E-M5 II - First Thoughts

Blue on Black 
E-M5 II, m.Zuiko 40-150 f4-5.6 R

1. Argh, Proprietary USB connectors and computer-based firmware updating is a terrible combination. I understand why Olympus uses an app for firmware updates, so you don't have to chase your body & lens firmware (you can update both from the app), but given my used body didn't come with the cable, and it's totally proprietary at the camera end, I can't update the firmware (and I'm on 2.1 with 4.1 as latest, with some major updates in there). And of course the cable is $30 in true camera maker style. 3rd party cable ordered from Amazon along with 2 spare batteries and a USB charger (I really do like the 2 battery+USB charge kits Amazon sells for $30CDN, had one for the X-T1 as well). Camera maker's excessive accessory markup yet again spawns a 3rd party sale. I'd pay $40 for a first-party battery, but never again will I pay $75+ for $10 worth of battery.

2. Ahh, so nice to be back to 4:3, I've never truly liked the 3:2 aspect ratio and all the Full Frame & APS-C bodies use that. 4:3 is just more comfortable to me.

3. The Sigma 19 and Oly 40-150 are little gems. The Panasonic 25mm f1.7 is merely quite good. The 25 reminds me of the Oly 17/1.8 in performance, except for less than 1/3 the cost I'm a lot more willing to accept merely good performance than I was with the 17. One thing that does amaze me is how noticeable the difference between the Sigma 19's 0.2m MFD and the Panny 25's 0.25m MFD is, despite the latter being a longer focal length. The Sigma is just much better as a close-up lens. The odd thing is the Panasonic actually has a slightly higher reproduction level (1:7.1 vs 1:7.4). It feels less close up, probably due to the difference in field of view.

4. Handling is good, not as good as the X-T1, but good enough. My main beef with the original E-M5's buttons has been solved (by replacing the 2 Fn buttons over the screen with 1 easier to find button and the mode lever). Viewfinder is close to the X-T1, but not all the way there. Same as the E-M1 finder which I did like. Handgrip is OK, the more prominent thumb rest helps offset the smaller finger grip. Lens release is back where it belongs (I never liked the Fuji/Pentax/Leica location where the DoF preview button belongs since it complicates lens changes). AF performance is good. Oly's menus suck and are WAY too complex with really poor descriptions about what it does. I still don't understand what the difference between 1 fish and 3 fish is, or even what subsystem that applies to (and yes, that's a real setting).

The touchscreen is really picky, it likes my left thumb but not my right index finger when using the Super Control Panel.

D-pad is significantly better than the X-T1's, just because you can find it by feel. Buttons on the E-M5 II are much less prone to getting unexpected setting issues than the E-M1, but you do have to watch the lever. This is marginally better than the X-T1 because only one control needs a visual check (lever vs metering switch + exp comp dial on the X-T1)

It's noticeably smaller than the X-T1, or at least feels it. Some of that is in the chunkier lenses, as both my smaller primes are wider diameter than the XF23/2, even if they are actually a tad shorter. Makes the body feel smaller in comparison.

I'm ambivalent about choosing a Flip-Twist screen over a flip-up screen. The flip-twist is good in a LOT more orientations, but flip-up is awesome for easy street shooting as it's much quicker to get into position.

I can't wait to try high-res mode. That was the key feature that had me looking at the E-M5 II over another m43 body. Having D800 class resolution for tripod work/static subjects while otherwise only needing to deal with 16MP is a great feature for somebody who shoots like I do. 90% of the time I don't need the resolution, when I do I'm on a tripod shooting static stuff. Pixel shift is perfect for this style of working.

Real BBAF is possible, the X-T1 can't really do that (it's configurability is quite limited in comparison) although like many things later Fuji's solve that, extended ISO's work in RAW (they don't on Fuji, rendering them useless), simpler access to card formating, and more flexible AF setup.

Overall, I still have a mild preference for the X-T1 as a body. Easier to setup and more obvious handling. But the E-M5II looks like it will do just fine

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