Olympus OM-D EM-5 and it is raining mirrorless cameras Sony A7, A7r, RX10 and Panasonic GM-1

Well just finished ten days of using the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and I have to say it has been the best experience so far, but still not quite perfect. Lensrentals.com is a great site for trying things and here are some of my initial impressions:

  • Wow, the combination of a 14-35 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8 plus a 25 f/1.4 which is my usual base kit for my old Canon 5D Mark II is really, really, really light. That’s probably the biggest win, to get professional quality fast glass in a much smaller package.
  • The EVF is actually quite decent compared with an optical viewfinder. It is obviously very bright and for framing of shots, it is actually quite good. I had it set for fast scan which meant that when moving it really wasn’t a problem. The only place where it made a difference was that I couldn’t quite figure out how to set it to not show the image preview so for fast action shooting (like trying to get a bird), it isn’t fast enough to really work well.
  • I haven’t had a chance to look at the images yet, but will update when I do. I’m going to use DxO to see how it handles things, but according to the reviews, this glass is effectively a 11MP image which compares well to the 16MP sensor.
  • Overall, the irony is that the Sony RX-100 Mark II is a 10-11 effective megapixel camera at the wide end at F/1.8, so it is pretty close to what you need. The wonderful thing is that the Sony is just so compact so in bright light, you get about the same resolution.

The negatives are:

  • Well, the reviews weren’t wrong about the setup of the menus being a bit wierd. I’m glad the Internet exists because I would never have been able to figure out how to turn on the advanced menus (the so called Gear menus).
  • The EVF switch button is really hard to use and it is in an awkward place. The EVF automatic switching never really worked well for me since we were bush walking and it was hard to just leave it on. I eventually just used the EVF for all the shots. But then the preview really didn’t work right. It would show it in the EVF and then sometime it would come on the main screen. I’m sure if I were smarter I could have figured out how to make this work.
  • The play button is really small and hard to get to.
  • Remembering what Fn2 does and the direct control wasn’t easy either. Never quite go that right. In some ways the Sony RX-100 was easier.

On the other hand, it is kind of raining ILCs right now. Here are the upcoming choices:

  • Olympus OM-D EM-1. This is just coming out and the glass definitely looks good. Even the Panasonic glass I tried was quite good.
  • Sony RX-10. This is the step up from the RX-100. It isn’t pocketable anymore, but does come with the same amazing 1″ sensor and a 28-200mm equivalent f/2.8 lense. Wow, that is some camera to have as a single unit.
  • Sony A7/A7r. Wow what specs on this bad boy. Will be interesting to see if the glass can match the sensor specs. As Photo Rumors notes they are shipping some amazing specs particularly the 36MP version for stills and the use of phase detection and 24MP means the A7 is a wonderful movie camera too. These things use the E-mount that is full frame called the FE-Mount. These are also very small, more like the size of the E-M5 than a Canon 60D:
  • Full Frame 24.3 MP resolution with 14-bit RAW recording
  • Fast Hybrid AF w/ phase-detection for DSLR-like speed
  • Fast Intelligent AF optimized for full-frame sensor
  • Fully compatible w/ Sony’s E-mount and new full-frame lenses
  • Direct access interface for fast, natural shooting control
  • High contrast 2.4-million dot OLED EVF for eye-level framing
  • Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi® or NFC
  • PC control w/ remote video capture control
  • Full HD movie at 24p/60i/60p w/uncompressed HDMI output
  • Price: $1,698.00

The Sony a7r model adds the following features without the contrast detection, so more tuned for still photography

  • Full Frame 36.3 MP resolution with 14-bit RAW recording
  • Fast Intelligent AF optimized for full-frame sensor
  • New high-speed BIONZ® X image processor
  • Sample images
  • Price: $2,298.00

The more important thing is what the lenses are and how the glass will perform, but if you can wait, it seems like a good time for all these things to get on the market and see how they Imatest. It is interesting to see how the f/4 is now the new f/2.8 given the speed of these cameras. So the interesting glass is the Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss FE 24-70mm F/4 and the 70-200mm f/4. The missing lenses are a very wide 12mm or so wide zoom. Sony did it: A7 and A7r are the first modern full frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras | Photo Rumors:

  • Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4.0 OSS
  • Sony G 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
  • Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8
  • Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8
  • Zeiss FE 70-200mm f/4.0 OSS (coming early 2014)

Finally, on the m43 front, the OM-D E-M1 looks like it is a great product but still need to see the actually effective resolution but it should be very good.

Panasonic has announced the GM1 which is about the size of an RX100 but is interchangeable in terms of lenses! With the shipping 12-32, it isn’t pocketable, but with a pancake lense, it would fit. You should get the same image quality (11MP effective) as on the other 16MP class M43. So your choice is the RX100 which zooms slightly more or the Panasonic which is interchangeable and if you got m43, a good pocket camera. Pretty neat stuff!