When Olympus launched the E-M1 my first reaction was that I didn’t quite like the look of it as much as the E-M5. I thought “Olympus, what have you done, this is a confused looking camera, not sure if it’s a DSLR look or E-M5 look”.
And then I couldn’t really see enough reasons to upgrade and justify the cost.
That was back in September.
I’ve owned an E-M5 since it launched in 2012 and have been in love ever since. I actually own 2 so I have a spare.
But in January this year I decided to look at it a little closer and took the plunge selling one of my E-M5 and keeping the silver one as a spare.
First, I often shoot in broad daylight with fast lenses. I’m thinking in particular the Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 (35mm full frame equivalent) and the Pana Leica 25mm f1.4 (50mm full frame equivalent) which are my favourite street photography lenses. The E-M5 is limited to a 1/4000 shutter speed making it impossible/hard to use these to their full potential. So the 1/8000 shutter speed on the E-M1 was what first got me interested.
Then as you may know I am a big advocate of the importance of social media so sharing has to be easy. Traditionally having to transfer your photos using cables or an SD card reader from your camera to your laptop in order to post was enough to discourage even the most tenacious one. Since the EM-1 is Wi-Fi enabled you can not only use your phone as a remote (and I mean…see what the camera sees on your screen, touch the screen to shoot, etc..) but also transfer all your photos to your phone/tablet, edit on your phone/tablet instantly and without cables and share online! This proves so helpful when on the go in town or travelling. For those complaining about the screen not rotating enough, use your phone instead.
As soon as I received the camera it struck me as not actually that bad looking. I maintain the E-M5 is better looking but it’s… not that bad at all.
Then the handling is really good. The ergonomics very well thought out and the buttons where they should be without having to adopt some dodgy finger contortion like a cirque du soleil artist to reach one. Plus they aren’t squidgy anymore, hurray!
I read a review where someone commented it’s not particularly less noisy…erm…It’s a lot less noisy in my opinion.
The day after I received the camera I had a shoot in a very dark location. I took some handheld shots that I am 100% certain would not have turned out so good on the E-M5. The image stabilisation is definitely improved from what was already impressive.
Oh...and the focus peaking is really handy as I shoot with my Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f0.95 which is a manual focus lens. And I mean...handy as hell!
In terms of image quality, I’m not too sure there’s a real big difference but I’m not a pixel counter, I think if a camera allows me to take the shot I want to take, what matters is the shot at the end. At my last solo show I printed some E-M5 shots over 3 feet wide and they looked fantastic so no reason to look for an improvement on that.
It’s still early days so I’m sure more will surface but it’s a gem and I’m glad I did it.
If I had to decide on what could be improved, well there isn't much I would change. I’d suggest Olympus revisit the design. I am sure they will as this comment is not new and Olympus have listened to users in improving some aspects of the E-M5. Finally the fact its functions/buttons are so customizable mean you end up having too much choice and I find this confusing but it may just be because I’ve not got used to it yet. After all why complain of having too many options!?
I’ll keep you all posted but for now... I'm a happy shooter.