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They Call Me Mr. Olympus Now


Dallas

Yesterday I took delivery of a few more items to round off my Olympus camera system. I got an unmissable deal on a Zuiko 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lens, which is a Super High Grade lens that was made for the Four Thirds system. I also got another FL-600R flash and I couldn't not get the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 based on all the rave reviews it has received.

When I got the 7-14mm f/4 out of the box I was amazed at the size and weight of it. It's a monster! Mounted to the E-M1 via the MMF-2 adapter it really looks the business. But, it's most certainly not something I will be taking around with me everywhere on casual shooting, because it is a DSLR lens and I'll only be using it for specific jobs where I need an extreme wide angle lens. It totally defeats the purpose of a small and lightweight system, BUT, it underlines the versatility of the now seemingly invincible system that Olympus has built up. Being able to use the 4/3rds lenses effectively on the E-M1 shows how it can be both big and menacing as well as small and discreet.

My OM-D bodies came about with my desire to be evolutionary with my camera gear. There is the E-M5 which was the tipping point for me to abandon the technologically stagnant Nikon 135 DSLR system in favour of the rapidly accelerating micro four thirds system, plus now the E-M1 has further affirmed that my decision was a good one. It is the most advanced camera I have ever used, capable of producing outstanding images under application of a visual and daring mind. The cameras are letting me go much further than I ever did with my Nikon system because they have instilled in me a confidence to shoot that I never had before. It's funny, I remember thinking when I first got the revolutionary Nikon D700 that it was all the camera I ever needed, and it was for a long time, but then taking it around just became a chore that outweighed my desire to go shooting with it. The OM-D cameras beg to go out and they're such easy-going dates that denying them leaves me feeling guilty.

My lens line up currently looks like this:

Olympus 7-14mm f/4 - bought for professional architecture and design commissions

Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 - bought for travel and where landscapes are my priority

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO - general purpose pro zoom for events and more

Olympus 45mm f/1.8 - low light portraiture lens

Olympus 75mm f/1.8 - low light lens for audience and stage work, as well as some portraits

Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II - super zoom range for casual telephoto needs

Samyang 7.5mm fisheye - the coolest vision bending tool I have!

Panasonic 14-45mm f/3.5-4.5 - redundant, but useful to keep as a spare general purpose lens

Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit - for macros and small product photography

On the way still for evaluation is another 4/3rds lens in the form of the very highly rated Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. Hope to have that later this week. If it's as good as the reviews I've read suggest then it will become my go-to safari lens, mainly because of the relatively small size and fast aperture. Having f/3.5 at an effective 400mm field of view will prove very useful on safari.

I'm also obviously waiting for the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8, but that will only arrive in the second half of this year. With all this glass there is literally nothing I can't do photographically. My aim over the rest of the month is to head out with different items each day and begin writing some in-depth-real-photographer-based reviews for those of you who are considering the m43 system. I'm hoping for some big surf to come through one of these days so I can properly put the E-M1's AF tracking to the test. Right now the Indian ocean looks a little lake-like, so that plan is on hold for the moment.

As mentioned upfront I also have a second FL-600R flash which I will now begin putting to the test using the Olympus wireless flash system. I do find the Oly flash system very confusing, so I am making it my aim to set up some core shooting situations for it and to make proper notes on how to derive the best results. That will actually form the basis of my first e-book, which I will be publishing right here on Fotozones sometime this year.

It's going to be a great year to discover just how far I can take this micro four thirds system, so keep checking the site for new articles and reviews. If you make use of an RSS reader there are a few feeds you can subscribe to by clicking the little orange icon on the top right of the page. If you don't know how to use RSS just pop me a line - I'll show you how I use it in MyYahoo to keep track of several photography related websites.

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The 7-14mm f/4 totally dwarfs the tiny little 45mm f/1.8!

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However - and this is a small point - many members of N*K*N*G**R might not be pleased by your characterisation of the Nikon 135 DSLR system as "technologically stagnant". Perhaps "technologically mature", might ruffle fewer feathers?

 

Crikey, I called it "redundant" the other day ;) .

 

That Oly 7-14 also looks suspiciously like a Sigma 8-16 APS-C lens I had during 2011-12. I sincerely hope that it performs better than the Sigma did - it was just about the worst performing lens in the corners that I ever used.

 

Of course I don't expect that the Olympus lens is either actually related to it or performs as badly, just the physical visual similarity struck me.

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Well, I sat on the D700 for 5 years waiting for Nikon to make improvements to their camera range that were something I could use. They didn't. All they ever did was re-arrange buttons and put more pixels on the sensor. Nothing ever really changed after the D700 that made me want to buy more Nikon products. I don't want to upset Nikon users, but let's be honest with ourselves; apart from video what's new with the DSLR since the D3 came out with its high ISO performance? Not a helluva lot. No wifi, no GPS, no focus peaking, no improved product QC (in fact they've gone backwards in that department considering the D800 and D600 debacles). 

 

Meanwhile, if you look at the way the m43 system has evolved and continues to improve around the actual needs of photographers wanting to make images, the term 'stagnant' with reference to DSLR's of all brands seems entirely appropriate. Nikon in particular had a golden opportunity to make something unique out of the Df by perhaps turning it into their first real mirrorless camera, compatible with their entire range of lenses. Instead they fired off what we call a Product Life Cycle Extension in marketing. Same thing, different face. Not a single new feature to it. In fact they took features out (video) put a ludicrous price tag on it and stuck it in the market. 

 

Nah, that's not what I want to be associated with. I'm happy with my decision and my renewed interest in photography is evidence of that. 

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Dallas, could you comment on why you opted for the 43-system Zuiko 7-14 instead of the m43 7-14 from Panasonic?

 

Did you compare the 12-40 to the 43-system Zuiko 12-60?

Edited by bjornthun

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I do not question your decision. I made the same decision in moving to Fuji.

I agree with you about the Nikon df. I finally got to examine one yesterday and was not impressed.

I wonder why it didn't have built-in Bluetooth and WiFi. It would have made connectivity and remote control so much easier. Same for GPS.

Edited by bjornthun

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Dallas, wow, you've currently got 10 lenses for this system and are eagerly awaiting your 11th and 12th lens.

 

Why so many lenses?   Do having that many lenses reduce the portability and lightness of your bag?

 

 

Dave

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Dallas, could you comment on why you opted for the 43-system Zuiko 7-14 instead of the m43 7-14 from Panasonic?

 

Did you compare the 12-40 to the 43-system Zuiko 12-60?

 

As I have mentioned before, Panasonic don't have representation in South Africa for their products. Getting their lenses here is nigh impossible. I got the ones I do own form a dealer that was clearing them out of their stock. I'd have loved to get their 7-14mm which is a lot smaller than the one I have, but it wasn't something I could do. None of the US online stores will ship them here. 

 

Dallas, wow, you've currently got 10 lenses for this system and are eagerly awaiting your 11th and 12th lens.

 

Why so many lenses?   Do having that many lenses reduce the portability and lightness of your bag?

 

 

Dave

 

No, I have 9 lenses and am expecting one more, for evaluation purposes. I sold the 45-175mm Panasonic lens when I got the Oly 75-300mm. 

 

With the exception of the 7-14mm Oly, I can get 7 of those lenses into my tiny ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag, PLUS both cameras! I can slip the E-M5 sans lens into the front flap of that bag, but I don't like to do that because it isn't really designed to store cameras safely in there. I can also take out the 45/2.8 Pan/Leica and stick in one of the FL-600R flash units instead which would give me an incredibly versatile system in a very small bag.

 

A ThinkTank Retrospective 7 is on its way to me, which will allow me to pack both cameras with lenses attached. Still small, still light, but with more options. 

 

I see the 4/3rds lenses as specialist items that I would only use on jobs that I need them. The 50-200mm would probably only be a safari lens. I have options now to go big or small with the same cameras that I didn't have with Nikon. 

 

So ideally on the Ultimate Big 5 Safari I would pack the following:

 

Bodies: EM-1 & E-M5

Lenses: 50-200mm, 12-40mm, 9-18mm (or maybe the bigger lens)

 

If I am going on a road trip or a hike where I don't want to be carrying a lot of stuff I would most likely take the E-M1, 9-18mm, 12-40mm and 75-300mm. I think those lenses would be perfect for the Namibia landscape safaris, with a bit of wildlife thrown in. 

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No need to apologise. :) I am very happy that Olympus is well represented here via Tudortech though. Great company to deal with. 

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I wonder why it didn't have built-in Bluetooth and WiFi. It would have made connectivity and remote control so much easier. Same for GPS.

My friend pro photog (Nikon user) told me that Nikon DSLR (at least the higher-end models) are so well electro-magnetically shielded that even they can operate in an Aegis ship. I've read a report of a pro photog (Canon user) that his 1D derivative (maybe MkIII) stopped working when he was shooting in a computer data center on assignment. When he went out of the machine room, it started to work again.

If Nikon DSLR is so well electro-magnetically shielded, the "built-in" wifi, Bluetooth or GPS wouldn't be able to communicate properly with the devices outside the camera.  The electro-magnetic shield and the built-in radio-related devices should contradict each other.

I used to be frustrated by the fact that all these functions can only be added by the attachments which destroy the ergonomics of the camera. But now that I realize how the use of wifi slows me down (it takes too much time to establish the conection with the smart phone or iPod Touch I use) and how much power the wifi rips off from the battery after using otherwise nice Sony NEX-5R, I don't really like to have these wireless device built in the camera. The GPS can be exceptional: the built-in flash on the pentaprism could be replaced with the GPS unit under the plastic, non-shielded cover. The shielded part of the camera can start from the bottom of the GPS unit and above the pentaprism.

Edited by Akira

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The little I've tried my 50-200 SWD, the lens is sharp, and I'm expecting it to perform well. We have hardly had any good weather day after new year, so I still only have preliminary views on the lens. With a weight of only one kilogram (or two pounds) it is very handy for what's on offer and doesn't feel heavy at all.

M. Reichman on LuLa mentioned a kit consting of the E-M1, the Zuiko 7-14/4, the 12-60 SWD and the 50-200 SWD, praising the quality of the kit.

On photozone.de they find that the Zuiko 7-14 has less distortion than the Panny 7-14, though both are good lenses. I suppose that the Zuiko 7-14 needed to have less distortion also, since the lens was designed for an optical finder.

Personally, I only need a 7-14 and a 12-40 or a 12-60 to be able to say good-bye to some Nikon zooms. The great advantage of m43 will be portability. Maybe in the end it's the lenses for mirrorless systems that will kill the DSLRs and not the features of the camera bodies alone. If so, we're just about to see the onslaught of mirrorless.

Dallas, do a thought experiment for youself and compare the weight of your current setup to what a corresponding Nikon setup would weigh. I did, for myself and it's a huge difference if you're going to carry the gear for some distance.

Akira, I don't know what an Aegis ship is, except that it's a navy class of vessels. Still, Nikon could provide Bluetooth, Wifi and GPS connectivity, which is something that I would prefer to the horrible 10-pin plug (though I felt very PRO when I used this plug on my D300) or a flaky USB cable.

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I was actually going to touch on that in this article, Bjorn. Next time. :)

Akira, I think that's a bit of a stretch on Nikon's part to obfuscate the real reason they don't make an advanced camera. Protection from electromagnetism? What percentage of the world's photographers are using Nikon's inside heavy EM fields? If that was a necessary "fearure" for a DSLR to have I am sure they would have found a way to bring out a model with it and charge more. My theory is that they have lost the plot when it comes to advancing photography and are clinging to past strengths that are fast becoming redundant. Such as OVF and large sensors.

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Dallas, the shielding is a critical matter in the digital era for camera, audio system or computing devices.  Now that video capability is incorporated into camera, the handling of the audio signal should make the matter more challenging.  Admitting the shielding against the electro-magnetic field from Aegis ship should be overkill for most of the people, so long as the highest-end cameras like D-1-digit models are designed for "professional" applications in the true sense of the word, the feature should not be redundant.  Nikon cameras has been historically used by the Japan Self-Diffence forces.  The shield should help a lot in the space station, too.

 

I'm not going to speak too much for Nikon because I'm not at all obligated to do so, but Nikon isn't necessarily clinging to past strengths.  Remember the NIkon is one of the first companies who released an Android-operated P&S camera with the "integrated" wifi.

 

I was one of the earliest adapters of the mirrorless system among the members at NG by purchasing Panasonic G1.  One of the major reasons for my switch from Nikon to Panasonic at that time was that I decided that the EVF on G1 was satisfactorily functional, even though the image was quite a bit pixcelated in today's standard.  However, one of the dicisive reason for my switch back to the Nikon system is not that I became nostalgic about the good old (D)SLR style, but that the brightness of EVF was simply unbearable, regardless of its image quality, even if I set the brightness to the minimum.  I also cherish the smooth and beautiful tonal gradation of NEF files processed on CNX2.  A cuple of weeks ago, I purchased Coolpix P7700 with the articulating (not tilting) LCD and without EVF, which is my ideal feature in regard to any "viewfinder".

 

In this regard, I also love the design of Sony NEX-5 series which offers the size of a P&S camera but an APS-C size sensor.  I used two of them for an assignment in Germany last September, and they worked just admirably along with the much critisized 16/2.8 pancake and Ai Nikkor 50/1.8 via Novoflex adapter.  I sold the system only because they felt a little too flimsy, comsumed too much battery, and one of the genuine chargers I used was too slow to fill the batteries.  Otherwise I may return to an NEX-5 derivative one day.

 

One thing I don't like for sure personally (yes, only personally) is the idea of retro-design for digital cameras in any type, which is why I haven't look at Olympus system or Fuji X system.  I don't like the design of Nikon Df either.

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I don't think the X-Pro, X-E1 or their ilk are "retro" just because they happen to share the control layout and somewhat look like traditional cameras, more that the form factor is actually a sound design and works. The X-100, on the other hand is most definitely worthy of the "retro" label - it is deliberately designed and finished (right down to the stippled silver finish) to look like a 111-series Leica, no getting away from that.

 

Internally, though, in all respects, the cameras, even the X-100, bear no resemblance to any old cameras at all, unlike the Leica M, which still doggedly sticks to the true rangefinder workings, which the Fuji simply does not, and with the X-Trans sensor they even diverge from most modern digital cameras as well. That's not retro, that's innovative.

 

Just because some of the "knowledgeable" "review" sites choose to label these cameras as "retro" does not make it so, rather confirms to me that they really don't have much of a clue as to what they're talking about most of the time.

 

The Df is designed to look like an FM2 from the 1980's, uses the internals from two older existing digital cameras, and offers virtually zero innovations otherwise, even retrograding further by omitting video capability, but adding functionality for a defunct line of manual focus lenses from last century. That's truly "retro" in my book.

Edited by Alan

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I don't think the X-Pro, X-E1 or their ilk are "retro" just because they happen to share the control layout and somewhat look like traditional cameras, more that the form factor is actually a sound design and works. The X-100, on the other hand is most definitely worthy of the "retro" label - it is deliberately designed and finished (right down to the stippled silver finish) to look like a 111-series Leica, no getting away from that.

 

Internally, though, in all respects, the cameras, even the X-100, bear no resemblance to any old cameras at all, unlike the Leica M, which still doggedly sticks to the true rangefinder workings, which the Fuji simply does not, and with the X-Trans sensor they even diverge from most modern digital cameras as well. That's not retro, that's innovative.

 

Just because some of the "knowledgeable" "review" sites choose to label these cameras as "retro" does not make it so, rather confirms to me that they really don't have much of a clue as to what they're talking about most of the time.

 

The Df is designed to look like an FM2 from the 1980's, uses the internals from two older existing digital cameras, and offers virtually zero innovations otherwise, even retrograding further by omitting video capability, but adding functionality for a defunct line of manual focus lenses from last century. That's truly "retro" in my book.

 

Well, X-E1/2 or the finderless M1/A1 may not be that much of a retro design, but they still carry the "flavor" to me.  The Olympus E-M1 does look much less retro.

 

However, I would still have to say that the design of the initial X-Pro1 was to attract photographers who are fed up with the "modern" DSLR design.  The optical viefinder is tender to the eyesight, but the finder frame that can compensate the parallax only stepwise appears to be the victim of retro-design concept.  Also, the lenses (especially the wideangles) could have offered a little shorter closest focus distance, if it were not for the optical viewfinder of X-Pro1 which is not good at framing closer subjects.  The cosmetics (chrome covers, classically crincled leatherette) are definitely retro.

 

I believe that both SLR and rangefinder style design is hugely influenced by the film transport which is non-existent in the digital cameras.  I won't deny that the photoraphers including me are accustomed to the traditional holding style of the SLR- or rangefinder-style cameras.  Rather it makes a lot of sense, especially if you have to hold the lens/camera combo solidly (especially with longer lenses).  But I also liked the handking of the swivel design of Coolpix 950/995/4500.  I used two Coolpix 4500s for an assignment (report of Musikmesse in Frankfurt) and they functioned marvellously and enabled me to shoot in various angles which would have been impossible with the retro (or to put it mildly, traditional) designs.

 

I think earlier digital cameras are more aggressive trying to find the camera design that takes full advantage of the digital camera that are free from the film transport and reflex mirror.

 

If someone goes to retro design, I would love to see a square format Hasselblad 500 series design with the "live-view" LCD on top which eliminates the need of a reflex mirror and the sideways reversed finder image.

Edited by Akira

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Well, if Olympus can put wifi into the E-M1 and not suffer any issues with video or general camera use, what's the story at Nikon? 

 

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on this or belabour the point that I made about Nikon not making any real advances in their cameras since 2007. They are the ones losing customers to their competitors, so unless they fix that it will hurt them.

 

I have been comparing some Google Analytics stats between Fotozones and Nikongear over the past few weeks. Very interesting to see the hits on this site growing compared to a nearly 10 year old brand specific website. NG is still quite far ahead in terms of the audience size, but FZ is rapidly approaching 50% of that traffic. Despite what some industry watchdogs are saying there is a LOT of interest in mirrorless cameras out there right now. I reckon by the end of this year the move to mirrorless will begin to build up unassailable critical mass and the big names are going to be caught shuffling their feet trying to react to this revolution. 

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I noticed that my long post here on the Sigma DP Merrills "Initial Impressions" has been referred to on a couple of other forums with links back to the thread on FZ. That's a first for anything I've written that I know of, which means there is probably a lot of interest in the workings of things mirrorless that isn't being answered in the "review" places by the usual suspects. I couldn't see that happening with anything written at my primitive level concerning DSLRs, for instance, given the vast repository of stuff concerning them ion the web.

 

Obviously I don't need any convincing on the future, for me I've found the right cameras for my immediate future, and am enjoying photography again.

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Well, if Olympus can put wifi into the E-M1 and not suffer any issues with video or general camera use, what's the story at Nikon?

 

I'm not sure if E-M1 can withstand the attack of electro-magnetic noise as much as Nikon, but we should agree that the discussion is futile.  I believe that what's important is that we (you, Alan and me) have settled on the system we like.  So, let's move on.

 

I congratulate on the increased access to FZ.  Currently I don't own any mirrorless camera (well, P7700 IS mirrorless...) and cannot contribute anyhing for the content other than the technical discussion.  But who knows about the future?  ;)

Edited by Akira

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Alan, that approach is fundamental to the principles of this site. It's my aim to help those who are interested in photography to break down this paradigm that the only way you can create excellent pictures is through the use of a DSLR with a gazillion pixels in it. The way I intend doing this is to show by example what can be done with the micro four thirds system and a few good lenses.

 

I've chosen m43 because of the maturity of the system. The lenses are there and the bodies are there, so I won't experience the kind of gaps that your Fuji system currently has in this regard. That's not to say that Fuji (or Sony) aren't on the way to filling those gaps, I simply prefer to have everything available immediately because patience is not a strong point of mine. :) 

 

Other members of the site can help me to spread the word by using the social media "share" links found at the bottom of each post or article. Social media plays a huge part in spreading the word, so please help out if you can. 

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Well, if Olympus can put wifi into the E-M1 and not suffer any issues with video or general camera use, what's the story at Nikon? 

 

Just realized that the new Nikon D5300 has built-in wifi and GPS.

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I'm not sure if E-M1 can withstand the attack of electro-magnetic noise as much as Nikon, but we should agree that the discussion is futile.  I believe that what's important is that we (you, Alan and me) have settled on the system we like.  So, let's move on.

 

I congratulate on the increased access to FZ.  Currently I don't own any mirrorless camera (well, P7700 IS mirrorless...) and cannot contribute anyhing for the content other than the technical discussion.  But who knows about the future?  ;)

 

Akira, this is not necessarily a news that you would welcome but it would be a major item for me if Nikon adopted this.  Canon is rumored to introduce a new camera body (APS-C) with a dual viewfinder, both optical and electronic.

 

http://www.canonrumors.com/2014/01/hybrid-viewfinder-coming-to-canon-dslrs-cr1/

 

Personally, there is nothing in Fotozone that precludes any discussion on "mirrored" cameras such as Canon or Nikon's dSLRs so do not feel in any way impeded by this.  It is the image that ultimately matters, not what we used to capture this.

Edited by Larry

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Larry, I'm not either brand specific or particular about the mirror, so long as everybody can find the system that works well for him/her.

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No need to apologise. :) I am very happy that Olympus is well represented here via Tudortech though. Great company to deal with.

I found out that the Norwegian magazine Fotografi has tested the Olympus 7-14 against the Panasonic 7-14, and the Olympus lens was the winner. In fact the Zuiko 7-14 is beaten only by the Nikon 14-14/2.8 lens.

The basis for their testing is both optical bench and actual photography with the lenses they test.

Edited by bjornthun

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Home life has been very disrupted with my eldest son moving out last week and going to Cape Town permanently. :( But I am hoping to get out and shoot with my new lenses this weekend. I'll be getting the 50-200mm for evaluation tomorrow, so I have no fewer than 4 new lenses to put through their paces. 

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Just realized that the new Nikon D5300 has built-in wifi and GPS.

 

Begs the question: if they can put it in a lowly consumer body, what's the reason for not putting it in pro bodies? 

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Begs the question: if they can put it in a lowly consumer body, what's the reason for not putting it in pro bodies? 

 

The outer cover for the consumer bodies are made of plastic, wheras that of the higher-end models are of magnesium alloy which may block the wireless communication.

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      Not much in it, dimension wise, is there? 
       
      So we now have a giant MFT camera that feels like a Nikon D5. Why didn’t they do what Panasonic has done and make a bigger sensor too? Good question. Why stick with MFT sensors if you want to attract the sports and wildlife shooters of the world? This is where the concept of MFT begins to make sense. The main advantage to be had when shooting this small format as opposed to 35mm is that MFT lenses are comparatively diminutive. For example, on my safari I packed in the Olympus 300/4.0 PRO as well as my older 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD and a third un-gripped body with the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. I also had the Pan/Leica 8-18mm lens in my bag because I wanted to make some photos of the lodge while I was there. Those items I took as a carry on in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage roller and while the bag was not exactly light once my laptop and other peripherals were in it (about 15kg total), had I wanted a similar focal range shooting a 35mm system, I would have had to pack a 600mm f/4.0, 200-400mm f/4.0 and a regular camera with professional wide angle and ultra-zoom lenses. There is no way you could take that as a carry on with 35mm, so you’d have to bring a hard case and pay for the extra baggage. You then also have the added stress of wondering if your precious gear will make it to its destination. Having been in this exact situation many times before moving across to MFT from Nikon 35mm I know exactly what the challenges of travelling with large lenses and heavy gear are.
       

      This is the gear I took on the safari in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage.
       
      Conversely travelling with MFT is easy. Even with the giant E-M1X body, the space and weight savings of the incredible Olympus PRO and Panasonic/Leica lenses is a Godsend. Also consider the not-so-insignificant overhead of having to bring along a support system for your big 35mm glass because I doubt you’re going to want to hand hold a 600/4.0 lens if you’re going on a photography trip where such a lens is wanted. You’ll also need to pack a monopod and probably a gimbal head too. MFT systems like Olympus don’t require any support other than your hand, even when shooting the 300mm f/4 PRO. The IBIS and lens IS combine incredibly well.
       
      Given its considerable girth, for the E-M1X to make sense as a photographic tool that is intended to win over 35mm users it also needs to have some other things going for it. It will need to have seriously fast and accurate auto-focus, plus it will need to offer decent image quality in low light. This is where things get interesting. Read on!
       
       
      Auto Focus
       
      I’m not a back-button focus photographer. I can understand the principle behind this method and I have tried it a few times, but I have been using single point AF-S for so long that trying to change that deeply ingrained behaviour is really hard for me. I’ve also never set up any of the cameras I have ever owned to work in AF-C mode with any degree of success, so I tend to stab at the shutter button rapidly to keep slow moving things in focus (it’s very rarely that I will find myself photographing fast moving subjects). This method has worked for me for quite a long time now. So when I started reading the autofocus section in the E-M1X manual (which itself is a gargantuan 680-odd pages long in just English alone!) I was staggered by the array of setup options for the AF system of the E-M1X. I simply didn’t have enough time before my safari to comprehend all the options it offers, let alone try them out in practical situations.
       
      As mentioned I always set up AF to use a single point in AF-S mode and I recompose once I see the green dot. I don’t use the grouped points, so for me learning something as sophisticated as the AF system on the E-M1X is going to require a specific set of applications, which currently I don’t have in my work. For people who shoot birds in flight, aviation, motorsport and fast action sports such as soccer, ice-hockey and the like, this is probably going to be a winner, especially since they have built in subject recognition for certain things like cars, trains and planes. Apparently these subjects will be added to in firmware as they build up better data on new ones. I can imagine that leopard detection might be a thing in the future.
       
      One feature that I didn’t try but thought was interesting is the Len Focus Range. This setup allows you to define the distances that the AF system should work in. It basically allows you to tell the camera not to focus on objects that are a certain distance away from you. For example, if you are shooting a sport like boxing or ice hockey, you could set this up to avoid focusing on the ropes and/or plexiglass between you and what you’re trying to shoot. Some lenses will have these limits built in, but with the E-M1X you can specify exactly how many metres you want to work within.
       
      Another thing I liked about the X is that you can assign the Home position for the single AF point to be in a different position when shooting in the portrait orientation. This is really handy for events when I find myself having to shift the AF point between shooting people at a podium and then switching to the audience in landscape orientation. Very nice feature.
       
      What I can tell you about the AF system as I used it, is that it’s reassuringly lightning quick and accurate for the wildlife subjects I was photographing. There’s no hunting unless you miss a contrast point, like all cameras I have ever tried. Focus is almost instantaneous, even when subjects are not so close.
       
      In summary, I don’t think that anybody coming from 35mm will be disappointed with the AF capability of the E-M1X. If anything they might be pleasantly surprised given the sheer array of options available to control how the system works.
       
       

      Wildebeest in the misty morning, no problem with auto focus here in spite of the grass
       

      Using my "repeated stabbing" AF technique I managed to get a moderately sharp image, but I reckon had I used the camera's AF-S mode here the shot would have been better. 
       
       
      Speed
       
      One of the biggest advances Olympus made with this camera is the CPU speed. This is a very fast camera in terms of how quickly it processes and reads off data from the sensor. It’s so fast that you can do sensor shift high resolution images handheld. I didn’t really try this out properly, plus Lightroom can’t read the resulting .ORI files so the handful of shots I did take with this mode active, I have to process in Olympus Workspace, which I am completely new to. Sorry! As such I can’t formulate an opinion right now on how useful it is based on such a small sample of images, but what I can say is that on stationary subjects I think it can work quite well. I’d love to try it out in studio doing product photography, but I think there might be some issues syncing it with studio strobes.
       
      Getting back to the intended sports user of this camera, there is the not-so-insignificant Pro Capture mode to consider as a lure for the photographers who want to simplify their lives and get great action every time. Basically with the mode active the camera writes continuously to the buffer while you are holding the shutter button halfway down. As soon as your critical capture moment arrives you trip the shutter and the camera will record whatever it has currently in the buffer to the card(s). This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel really, especially if you have the patience to sit with your finger on the trigger waiting for a bird to take flight. You can’t miss the shot. Unless you’re like me and you get tired of waiting and the bird chuckles at you as you put down the camera just before it flies away.
       

      I'll settle for stationary birds
       
      On the subject of Pro Capture, this mode is set by changing the drive mode in Super Control Panel (SCP). However, the thing is you may (like me) forget to switch this back to a regular drive mode after failing to record the wretched lilac breasted roller taking off, and then at your next sighting you will end up with dozens of images of a stationary buffalo. Or worse still, you’ll be wanting to shoot a sequence of something happening, but after you accidentally trigger Pro Capture you will have to wait for the camera to write its buffer onto your card. If you have a not-so-fast card like me this could be a few seconds, followed by several more trying to remember where to switch off the Pro Capture mode. Ideally I’d love to be able to have Pro Capture activate by holding down a custom function button together with the shutter button. A Fn button on the PRO lenses would be an ideal setup for this pretty cool feature. While I had the E-M1X I couldn’t see a way of being able to assign that particular feature to any of the custom function buttons, so hopefully Olympus’ engineers will read this criticism and work out a way of doing it in future firmware upgrades. I did manage to set up a quick switch between normal and Pro Capture by using the Custom Modes, but that requires remembering to change modes between sightings. Duh.
       
      Regarding Custom Modes there are four of these that are assignable to the PASM dial, so if your memory is better than mine you can set up each custom mode for a different type of shooting simply by changing the mode. However, you’re going to have to have a Gary Kasparov like mind because the sheer number of custom settings on a camera like the E-M1X is mind-boggling. There are pages and pages and more pages of custom settings in the menus and if you’re not used to the way Olympus does menus, you’re either going to go stir crazy or require a lot of patience (and batteries) to get the better of it all. It’s not insurmountable though and experienced Olympus users will probably be able to set up their custom modes quite easily after a few weeks with the camera in the field.
       
      One thing I really liked about the X is that there is a Custom Menu area where you can save up to 5 pages of menu items that you regularly need to access. Storing an item in there is as simple as pressing the Record video button while the item is selected in the menu. That’s a very big plus for me and goes a long way towards personalising the Olympus menu system.
       
       
      Stabilisation
       
      The IBIS and lens IS combine in the E-M1X to create an extraordinary amount of stabilisation. I was using the 300/4.0 PRO on this body almost exclusively for the duration of our 7 days in Sabi Sabi and occasionally I would shoot birds sitting on nearby branches. When I do my focus and recompose technique the subject does what I can only describe as a “moonwalk” glide from one part of the frame to the other. There is absolutely no camera shake at all handheld, which when you consider that you are using a 4.1˚ angle of view is bonkers! Olympus claim a 6 stop advantage in handheld photography and I have no doubt that this is true. Given my sloppy technique this is yet another Godsend to make my images look much better than they should.
       

       

      Stabilisation with long lenses is incredible.
       
       
      Battery
       
      Battery life was pretty decent. The camera comes with two batteries and typically I only exhausted about 50% of the one each day. Granted I don’t shoot as much as everybody else. On this safari I took a total of 1726 images with the E-M1X, averaging 288 per day. So, assuming I were to exhaust both batteries in a day I would be able to shoot over 1000 frames before having to recharge them.
       
      However, it is also possible to charge the camera via USB-C, so if you did get trigger happy enough to shoot that many in a day on safari, you could recharge from a  power bank between sightings. Or just buy more batteries.
       

       
       
      Low Light
       
      Right, this is where the rubber hits the road as far as getting 35mm power-users interested in switching to MFT. I’ll say it at the outset, I was disappointed in the low light performance of the E-M1X sensor.
       
      For starters, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to set Auto-ISO to go above 6400 on the X. None of the expanded ranges are available when using the auto mode while shooting RAW, which I think is just silly. This is how I shoot these days. I always use Auto-ISO. On the original E-M1 I sometimes let this go as high as 12800 and while the images may appear grainy they have a certain film-like charm to them. You can’t do that on the X. You have to set ISO 12800 or above manually.
       
      As far as graininess goes, 6400 on the E-M1X is very grainy and there is also a major loss of colour fidelity. To be honest I was expecting much better performance from the sensor at high ISO, so for me this is a deal breaker. Since the camera is intended to compete against the likes of the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series (where higher ISO is a forte), it sadly falls well short in this area.
       
      Having said that, I think that if you buy this camera and invest some time in learning how to deal with the grain and colour issues in post production you could probably get some very good results.
       

      Shot at ISO 6400, you can see the grain in the background, plus there has been a general loss of colour saturation.
       

      But then in good light you'll get rewarded.
       

      Gorgeous colours from the Olympus. No adjustments in post.
       
       
      Cool Things I Liked
       
      The sound of the mechanical shutter is really soft. It’s a lot quieter than my old E-M1 and if you are in the business of shooting in quiet places (churches, meetings, etc) you may not even have to switch to electronic shutter and risk the rolling effects thereof. It’s nice and quiet.
       
      I really appreciated the built in GPS and weather sensor on the E-M1X. This camera will tell you what the barometric pressure, altitude and ambient temperature was on every shot you take. I wish Lightroom would pick up those EXIF fields, alas you have to use the Olympus Workspace software to read them.
       
       
      A Couple Of Nit Picks
       
      There are a couple of things that I didn’t like, most notably there is no loop for a grip strap in the base of the camera so you would have to put a plate onto there to accommodate one (I used the Peak Design Clutch with its little plate). That seems like a daft omission to me because the moment you have to put a plate on the grip you lose the comfort of shooting with it in portrait mode.
       
      I was also a bit disappointed with the EVF. The refresh rate and colour was all good, but it just seemed to lack a bit of bite. The EVF on my old original E-M1 seems sharper to my eyes, which is a little weird. I did try adjusting the diopter a few times, but it didn’t seem to improve things. It could have been a contrast setting in the menus that I missed?
       
      The one thing I really don’t like (and I have expressed my dislike of this before) is the flip out LCD screen. This is something video producers want, but as a stills photographer I truly don’t want this as it’s a very weak point of the camera just waiting to snap off in the right circumstances. I much prefer the tilting screen of the original OM-D’s. Olympus should make it an option for this kind of premium camera: which type of LCD screen would you prefer, Mr. Customer?
       
       
      Conclusion
       
      I wish that I could have kept the camera for just a little bit longer as there are many other areas I would have liked to explore its performance in, especially my daily bread and butter work of property and product photography. Alas, they are in short supply around here so it had to go back post haste.
       
      My overall impression is that it is quite an impressive machine. It offers the photographer a lot of very cool features, excellent customisability and ergonomics. It is a specialist camera, however, and as such I think that the intended market for it is going to be a hard nut for Olympus to crack, especially given its lack of high ISO performance, which is something the sports photographers demand.
       
      If you’re a day shooter or you shoot action in well lit arenas then the advances this machine brings in terms of auto-focus and customisability, plus the sheer plethora of outstanding MFT lenses available for the system makes it a very attractive option, especially for those who travel a lot for photography. You get the ruggedness, heft and weather proofing of a pro body and the lightness and compactness of much smaller lenses.
       
      For me personally I would love one, after all I got more keepers on this most recent safari than in all the 10 years of safaris preceding it, but… there is the matter of that not-so-insignificant $3000 price tag to consider. With the recent firmware upgrade to the E-M1 Mk II now bringing its feature set closer to that of the X, it is going to be much harder for Olympus to pitch this camera at the wider market and existing MFT users with that price tag. If it were closer to $2000 I might be a lot more interested in buying one.
       
      My final advice? If you want the very best camera that MFT can currently offer you for stability, video features, ruggedness, crazy feature set and customisability, get the E-M1X. If you are expecting par performance with a 35mm pro camera for low light, rather save $1500, wait for the sensor technology to improve and get the E-M1 Mk II for now.

      View full article
    • By Dallas
      Olympus South Africa very kindly loaned me an E-M1X for my recent Photo Safari to Sabi Sabi and while I only had a few days before leaving on the trip to become accustomed to the camera, I did manage to produce some great images (by my standards) while using it in conjunction with the Olympus 300mm f/4.0 PRO.
       
      The first thing that struck me about this camera when taking it out of the box is the sheer size of it. It is huge. If you’ve been using Micro Four Thirds bodies to get away from the bulk of traditional DSLR’s then you will not want this camera. I was quite shocked at its size initially, especially when compared to my gripped E-M1 (original) which I have been shooting since 2014. The Nikon D5 is only 15mm bigger in terms of depth, height and width all around, so for a small sensor camera to be so close in size to a flagship 35mm camera begs some serious questioning of the makers.
       

      Side-by-side view of the E-M1X and the original E-M1 with its grip
       
      So why did Olympus make this camera so big? When you begin handling it the answer falls into place. It’s designed for sports and action photographers who are used to the speed and heft of cameras like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series. That’s the user market Olympus are targeting with this machine. It feels substantial in the hands and the ergonomics are such that if you’re used to a bigger camera, moving across to the E-M1X will be much easier for you to adapt to, especially since the Olympus is so highly customisable that you could easily set it up to pretty much emulate the ergonomics of your big DSLR. Well, maybe not the Canons which often require simultaneous button presses to activate certain things, but most certainly it would be easy for a Nikon shooter to make the change.
       

      Not much in it, dimension wise, is there? 
       
      So we now have a giant MFT camera that feels like a Nikon D5. Why didn’t they do what Panasonic has done and make a bigger sensor too? Good question. Why stick with MFT sensors if you want to attract the sports and wildlife shooters of the world? This is where the concept of MFT begins to make sense. The main advantage to be had when shooting this small format as opposed to 35mm is that MFT lenses are comparatively diminutive. For example, on my safari I packed in the Olympus 300/4.0 PRO as well as my older 50-200/2.8-3.5 SWD and a third un-gripped body with the Olympus 12-100/4.0 PRO. I also had the Pan/Leica 8-18mm lens in my bag because I wanted to make some photos of the lodge while I was there. Those items I took as a carry on in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage roller and while the bag was not exactly light once my laptop and other peripherals were in it (about 15kg total), had I wanted a similar focal range shooting a 35mm system, I would have had to pack a 600mm f/4.0, 200-400mm f/4.0 and a regular camera with professional wide angle and ultra-zoom lenses. There is no way you could take that as a carry on with 35mm, so you’d have to bring a hard case and pay for the extra baggage. You then also have the added stress of wondering if your precious gear will make it to its destination. Having been in this exact situation many times before moving across to MFT from Nikon 35mm I know exactly what the challenges of travelling with large lenses and heavy gear are.
       

      This is the gear I took on the safari in the ThinkTank Airport Advantage.
       
      Conversely travelling with MFT is easy. Even with the giant E-M1X body, the space and weight savings of the incredible Olympus PRO and Panasonic/Leica lenses is a Godsend. Also consider the not-so-insignificant overhead of having to bring along a support system for your big 35mm glass because I doubt you’re going to want to hand hold a 600/4.0 lens if you’re going on a photography trip where such a lens is wanted. You’ll also need to pack a monopod and probably a gimbal head too. MFT systems like Olympus don’t require any support other than your hand, even when shooting the 300mm f/4 PRO. The IBIS and lens IS combine incredibly well.
       
      Given its considerable girth, for the E-M1X to make sense as a photographic tool that is intended to win over 35mm users it also needs to have some other things going for it. It will need to have seriously fast and accurate auto-focus, plus it will need to offer decent image quality in low light. This is where things get interesting. Read on!
       
       
      Auto Focus
       
      I’m not a back-button focus photographer. I can understand the principle behind this method and I have tried it a few times, but I have been using single point AF-S for so long that trying to change that deeply ingrained behaviour is really hard for me. I’ve also never set up any of the cameras I have ever owned to work in AF-C mode with any degree of success, so I tend to stab at the shutter button rapidly to keep slow moving things in focus (it’s very rarely that I will find myself photographing fast moving subjects). This method has worked for me for quite a long time now. So when I started reading the autofocus section in the E-M1X manual (which itself is a gargantuan 680-odd pages long in just English alone!) I was staggered by the array of setup options for the AF system of the E-M1X. I simply didn’t have enough time before my safari to comprehend all the options it offers, let alone try them out in practical situations.
       
      As mentioned I always set up AF to use a single point in AF-S mode and I recompose once I see the green dot. I don’t use the grouped points, so for me learning something as sophisticated as the AF system on the E-M1X is going to require a specific set of applications, which currently I don’t have in my work. For people who shoot birds in flight, aviation, motorsport and fast action sports such as soccer, ice-hockey and the like, this is probably going to be a winner, especially since they have built in subject recognition for certain things like cars, trains and planes. Apparently these subjects will be added to in firmware as they build up better data on new ones. I can imagine that leopard detection might be a thing in the future.
       
      One feature that I didn’t try but thought was interesting is the Len Focus Range. This setup allows you to define the distances that the AF system should work in. It basically allows you to tell the camera not to focus on objects that are a certain distance away from you. For example, if you are shooting a sport like boxing or ice hockey, you could set this up to avoid focusing on the ropes and/or plexiglass between you and what you’re trying to shoot. Some lenses will have these limits built in, but with the E-M1X you can specify exactly how many metres you want to work within.
       
      Another thing I liked about the X is that you can assign the Home position for the single AF point to be in a different position when shooting in the portrait orientation. This is really handy for events when I find myself having to shift the AF point between shooting people at a podium and then switching to the audience in landscape orientation. Very nice feature.
       
      What I can tell you about the AF system as I used it, is that it’s reassuringly lightning quick and accurate for the wildlife subjects I was photographing. There’s no hunting unless you miss a contrast point, like all cameras I have ever tried. Focus is almost instantaneous, even when subjects are not so close.
       
      In summary, I don’t think that anybody coming from 35mm will be disappointed with the AF capability of the E-M1X. If anything they might be pleasantly surprised given the sheer array of options available to control how the system works.
       
       

      Wildebeest in the misty morning, no problem with auto focus here in spite of the grass
       

      Using my "repeated stabbing" AF technique I managed to get a moderately sharp image, but I reckon had I used the camera's AF-S mode here the shot would have been better. 
       
       
      Speed
       
      One of the biggest advances Olympus made with this camera is the CPU speed. This is a very fast camera in terms of how quickly it processes and reads off data from the sensor. It’s so fast that you can do sensor shift high resolution images handheld. I didn’t really try this out properly, plus Lightroom can’t read the resulting .ORI files so the handful of shots I did take with this mode active, I have to process in Olympus Workspace, which I am completely new to. Sorry! As such I can’t formulate an opinion right now on how useful it is based on such a small sample of images, but what I can say is that on stationary subjects I think it can work quite well. I’d love to try it out in studio doing product photography, but I think there might be some issues syncing it with studio strobes.
       
      Getting back to the intended sports user of this camera, there is the not-so-insignificant Pro Capture mode to consider as a lure for the photographers who want to simplify their lives and get great action every time. Basically with the mode active the camera writes continuously to the buffer while you are holding the shutter button halfway down. As soon as your critical capture moment arrives you trip the shutter and the camera will record whatever it has currently in the buffer to the card(s). This is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel really, especially if you have the patience to sit with your finger on the trigger waiting for a bird to take flight. You can’t miss the shot. Unless you’re like me and you get tired of waiting and the bird chuckles at you as you put down the camera just before it flies away.
       

      I'll settle for stationary birds
       
      On the subject of Pro Capture, this mode is set by changing the drive mode in Super Control Panel (SCP). However, the thing is you may (like me) forget to switch this back to a regular drive mode after failing to record the wretched lilac breasted roller taking off, and then at your next sighting you will end up with dozens of images of a stationary buffalo. Or worse still, you’ll be wanting to shoot a sequence of something happening, but after you accidentally trigger Pro Capture you will have to wait for the camera to write its buffer onto your card. If you have a not-so-fast card like me this could be a few seconds, followed by several more trying to remember where to switch off the Pro Capture mode. Ideally I’d love to be able to have Pro Capture activate by holding down a custom function button together with the shutter button. A Fn button on the PRO lenses would be an ideal setup for this pretty cool feature. While I had the E-M1X I couldn’t see a way of being able to assign that particular feature to any of the custom function buttons, so hopefully Olympus’ engineers will read this criticism and work out a way of doing it in future firmware upgrades. I did manage to set up a quick switch between normal and Pro Capture by using the Custom Modes, but that requires remembering to change modes between sightings. Duh.
       
      Regarding Custom Modes there are four of these that are assignable to the PASM dial, so if your memory is better than mine you can set up each custom mode for a different type of shooting simply by changing the mode. However, you’re going to have to have a Gary Kasparov like mind because the sheer number of custom settings on a camera like the E-M1X is mind-boggling. There are pages and pages and more pages of custom settings in the menus and if you’re not used to the way Olympus does menus, you’re either going to go stir crazy or require a lot of patience (and batteries) to get the better of it all. It’s not insurmountable though and experienced Olympus users will probably be able to set up their custom modes quite easily after a few weeks with the camera in the field.
       
      One thing I really liked about the X is that there is a Custom Menu area where you can save up to 5 pages of menu items that you regularly need to access. Storing an item in there is as simple as pressing the Record video button while the item is selected in the menu. That’s a very big plus for me and goes a long way towards personalising the Olympus menu system.
       
       
      Stabilisation
       
      The IBIS and lens IS combine in the E-M1X to create an extraordinary amount of stabilisation. I was using the 300/4.0 PRO on this body almost exclusively for the duration of our 7 days in Sabi Sabi and occasionally I would shoot birds sitting on nearby branches. When I do my focus and recompose technique the subject does what I can only describe as a “moonwalk” glide from one part of the frame to the other. There is absolutely no camera shake at all handheld, which when you consider that you are using a 4.1˚ angle of view is bonkers! Olympus claim a 6 stop advantage in handheld photography and I have no doubt that this is true. Given my sloppy technique this is yet another Godsend to make my images look much better than they should.
       

       

      Stabilisation with long lenses is incredible.
       
       
      Battery
       
      Battery life was pretty decent. The camera comes with two batteries and typically I only exhausted about 50% of the one each day. Granted I don’t shoot as much as everybody else. On this safari I took a total of 1726 images with the E-M1X, averaging 288 per day. So, assuming I were to exhaust both batteries in a day I would be able to shoot over 1000 frames before having to recharge them.
       
      However, it is also possible to charge the camera via USB-C, so if you did get trigger happy enough to shoot that many in a day on safari, you could recharge from a  power bank between sightings. Or just buy more batteries.
       

       
       
      Low Light
       
      Right, this is where the rubber hits the road as far as getting 35mm power-users interested in switching to MFT. I’ll say it at the outset, I was disappointed in the low light performance of the E-M1X sensor.
       
      For starters, it doesn’t seem possible to be able to set Auto-ISO to go above 6400 on the X. None of the expanded ranges are available when using the auto mode while shooting RAW, which I think is just silly. This is how I shoot these days. I always use Auto-ISO. On the original E-M1 I sometimes let this go as high as 12800 and while the images may appear grainy they have a certain film-like charm to them. You can’t do that on the X. You have to set ISO 12800 or above manually.
       
      As far as graininess goes, 6400 on the E-M1X is very grainy and there is also a major loss of colour fidelity. To be honest I was expecting much better performance from the sensor at high ISO, so for me this is a deal breaker. Since the camera is intended to compete against the likes of the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1D series (where higher ISO is a forte), it sadly falls well short in this area.
       
      Having said that, I think that if you buy this camera and invest some time in learning how to deal with the grain and colour issues in post production you could probably get some very good results.
       

      Shot at ISO 6400, you can see the grain in the background, plus there has been a general loss of colour saturation.
       

      But then in good light you'll get rewarded.
       

      Gorgeous colours from the Olympus. No adjustments in post.
       
       
      Cool Things I Liked
       
      The sound of the mechanical shutter is really soft. It’s a lot quieter than my old E-M1 and if you are in the business of shooting in quiet places (churches, meetings, etc) you may not even have to switch to electronic shutter and risk the rolling effects thereof. It’s nice and quiet.
       
      I really appreciated the built in GPS and weather sensor on the E-M1X. This camera will tell you what the barometric pressure, altitude and ambient temperature was on every shot you take. I wish Lightroom would pick up those EXIF fields, alas you have to use the Olympus Workspace software to read them.
       
       
      A Couple Of Nit Picks
       
      There are a couple of things that I didn’t like, most notably there is no loop for a grip strap in the base of the camera so you would have to put a plate onto there to accommodate one (I used the Peak Design Clutch with its little plate). That seems like a daft omission to me because the moment you have to put a plate on the grip you lose the comfort of shooting with it in portrait mode.
       
      I was also a bit disappointed with the EVF. The refresh rate and colour was all good, but it just seemed to lack a bit of bite. The EVF on my old original E-M1 seems sharper to my eyes, which is a little weird. I did try adjusting the diopter a few times, but it didn’t seem to improve things. It could have been a contrast setting in the menus that I missed?
       
      The one thing I really don’t like (and I have expressed my dislike of this before) is the flip out LCD screen. This is something video producers want, but as a stills photographer I truly don’t want this as it’s a very weak point of the camera just waiting to snap off in the right circumstances. I much prefer the tilting screen of the original OM-D’s. Olympus should make it an option for this kind of premium camera: which type of LCD screen would you prefer, Mr. Customer?
       
       
      Conclusion
       
      I wish that I could have kept the camera for just a little bit longer as there are many other areas I would have liked to explore its performance in, especially my daily bread and butter work of property and product photography. Alas, they are in short supply around here so it had to go back post haste.
       
      My overall impression is that it is quite an impressive machine. It offers the photographer a lot of very cool features, excellent customisability and ergonomics. It is a specialist camera, however, and as such I think that the intended market for it is going to be a hard nut for Olympus to crack, especially given its lack of high ISO performance, which is something the sports photographers demand.
       
      If you’re a day shooter or you shoot action in well lit arenas then the advances this machine brings in terms of auto-focus and customisability, plus the sheer plethora of outstanding MFT lenses available for the system makes it a very attractive option, especially for those who travel a lot for photography. You get the ruggedness, heft and weather proofing of a pro body and the lightness and compactness of much smaller lenses.
       
      For me personally I would love one, after all I got more keepers on this most recent safari than in all the 10 years of safaris preceding it, but… there is the matter of that not-so-insignificant $3000 price tag to consider. With the recent firmware upgrade to the E-M1 Mk II now bringing its feature set closer to that of the X, it is going to be much harder for Olympus to pitch this camera at the wider market and existing MFT users with that price tag. If it were closer to $2000 I might be a lot more interested in buying one.
       
      My final advice? If you want the very best camera that MFT can currently offer you for stability, video features, ruggedness, crazy feature set and customisability, get the E-M1X. If you are expecting par performance with a 35mm pro camera for low light, rather save $1500, wait for the sensor technology to improve and get the E-M1 Mk II for now.
    • By Dallas
      I just got word that Olympus has updated the firmware in the E-M1 Mk II and this sees it now getting a lot more of the features that the E-M1X has, including improved AF, expanded ISO range (down to ISO 64) as well as some other stuff that I didn't even know these cameras could do. Here's Robin Wong to run through some of the details.  
       
       
       
    • By Dallas
      Note: This thread will contain a series of entries about the Fotozones Wildlife Safari 2019, including images, impressions of the gear I used and anecdotes about the safari itself. I wrote some of it while on safari, but had to stop as my laptop just wasn't up to the task of proper editing, so I am now doing the editing at home and will add my favourite shots as I go. Please feel free to ask questions about the trip and the gear in this thread. 
       
      I've been in Johannesburg the past two days welcoming our 2019 Safarians, including @GrahamWelland, @CarreraS and @rbeesonjr. Yesterday we rented a minivan and drove about 90 minutes away from the airport hotel to the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the home of "The Lion Whisperer" (Kevin) who campaigns tirelessly against the practise of captive lion breeding and canned lion hunting. There's a lot behind the story of how he came to have all these lions in his care, as well as 4 black leopards and a small group of spotted and striped hyenas, but I won't get into that right now. 
       
      I took along the Olympus E-M1X and 12-100/4 as well as the Olympus 300/4. So far, what I am seeing I am liking. A lot. That 300mm lens is just phenomenal. So much reach and so sharp, yet in such a small package. If you're a birder using MFT or you need a lens for distant wildlife as well as some sports, this is for you. The image below was shot from behind a chainlink fence. 
       

       
      This particular lion was quite menacing and twice he charged the fence towards us, which then set off a roaring frenzy between him, his brother and a group of white lions in the next enclosure who thought he was charging them. It was incredible to hear!
       
      Today we head off on our flight to Skukuza and the first official game drive of the 2019 safari. We are all very excited to get there!
    • By Dallas
      Olympus South Africa has very kindly loaned me a new Olympus E-M1X for my safari starting next Monday, along with a 300mm f/4.0 PRO. I have to say ... this camera is way bigger than I thought it would be. It hearkens me back to my days of running around with a Nikon D2H. This is it next to my original E-M1. You can't really tell the depth of the grip from this image, but rest assured, it's considerably deeper than my camera. 
       
      I will be writing a field diary during the course of the safari and posting it here on Fotozones, so if you are thinking of getting an E-M1X I will impart all my feelings and impressions on the machine as I use it on safari.  
       

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