Ever since the first stocks of the E-M5 started showing up at various cities around the world about three weeks ago, owners have been raving about the camera. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any discernable pattern on which store got the camera first. Big stores like Amazon are just starting to fulfill their orders right now – which explains why there are just seven reviews of the camera at the moment of writing now, barely a few more than the two reviews I saw 3 days ago.To be fair, I was really torn between this and Sony’s NEX-7, the fact that I’d have to invest in a new camera system notwithstanding if I’d gone for the latter. There was a gadget site – Techradar– which posted up its review of the E-M5 a fortnight ago – and they thought very well of it but funnily docked off points for pretty trivial things in my opinion. More controversially though was that the site reported that the E-M5 had better dynamic range than the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and NEX-7. That bought about howls of disbelief from owners of the X-Pro 1 and NEX-7s. Even the Olympus fans waiting for this camera were skeptical. Sort of fun to read about the resulting huge arguments and debates over whether Techradar had seriously messed up its testing methodology.
In any case; the clincher for me came when my favorite camera review site – DPReview – posted up their completed review a day ago, and gave it a solid thumbs-up. I made my decision there and then to buy the unit. The technical specifications have been well-reported in many hobbyist reviews already, but it’s still worth noting the couple of key ones that were the most important or interesting for me:
Magnesium alloy body with extensive weather sealing. There’s a video done by DigitalRev that has the reviewer emptying a bottle of water on the camera. Nope, I’m not going to try that, but I’ll have no fears bringing this camera right up next to a waterfall; I squirmed for my E-PL1 when shooting Niagara Falls 2 years ago!
In-Body 5-axis image stabilization. This one’s interesting, as it’s a revolutionary design that ‘floats’ the sensor using magnetic fields. To be fair, given the fact that the lens I use most on my micro-4/3s cameras is already the very fast 20mm f1.7 and that the shutter speeds I use to take Hannah’s pictures is typically 1/90s and faster, image stabilization at this point doesn’t bring as much as it could. At least maybe until I pick up a 300mm lens and start shooting birds.=)
Full HD recording. Hooray! Tried it out, and while it’s not quite up to the quality of our Panasonic TM700, it’s still pretty good.=)
Macro recording with the 12-50mm. I can finally do macro photography again after having sold away my Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens a year ago.=)
Many of the camera’s best features are all good too; like the lightning fast AF, touchscreen-capable AF (makes keeping Hannah off-centered in my pictures so much easier), tiltable screen, and the two customizable twin dials. And best of all, the system’s light enough for me to actually enjoy carrying the camera around.=)
On the downside; the weather-sealed 12-50mm kit lens is a little long in physical dimensions, and its f6.3 @ 50mm means shooting in low-light at that focal length is going to be a little more challenging than usual. Also, while the E-M5 is going to be my favorite traveling companion for casual photography now, the D7000 is still a lot more versatile – plus that I still love my two 35mm and 50mm f1.8 primes for it, not to mention that the D7000 + 70-200mm f2.8 is still going to let me do the low-light concert performance photography that I think will be coming our way soon when Hannah goes to kindergarten.
Couple of pictures of the E-M5 next.=)That wraps it up. In the coming weeks, there’ll be photos of our girl using this new camera.=)