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Olympus E-M5 Mark II - love and hate at first sight


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So close yet so far away.

Micro Four Thirds needs to go high end if it is to remain a serious prospect for stills.

I know people who wonder why ANYONE would shoot stills on anything other than full frame.

Well you have lenses to compensate for that, on APS-C - the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is one. The Fuji 56mm F1.2 and 35mm F1.4 too.

On Micro Four Thirds you have noise problems above 3200 and difficulties getting closer to the full frame look.

This was fine when the prices were low (GH2), or video spectacular (GH4) but when Olympus is serving up 2011 vintage E-M5 image quality in 2015 you do start to wonder whether it is all worth the effort any more.

It's not like we have a lack of alternatives!!

What I think will happen is that the high end mirrorless market will go to the A7, the X-T1, etc.

I am sure the lower end consumer stills market will still love the E-M5 II but Micro Four Thirds need to also compete in that high end mirrorless market as well and it is losing the battle there.

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I think for stills the benefit of m4/3 are really lens quality/size/weight coupled with good enough image quality.  I can see why many want full frame, and it may well end up that m4/3 becomes irrelevant but I like that I can carry my E-M1, 12-40, 40-150 and teleconverter in a small shoulder bag all day without any issues.  This might not be important for some, and if you are after the best possible image quality or the full frame aesthetic you might look elsewhere, but it works for me.

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Yes size is a clear benefit but the X-T1 with 35mm F1.4 is barely any bigger than the E-M5 Mark II with Panasonic 25mm F1.4.

Sony have done a pretty good miniaturisation of their FE lenses too. The A7S with 50mm F1.8 is pretty tiny. The zooms may be slow but they still give you a shallower depth of field and better low light performance on the A7S than a faster F2.8 zoom on the Olympus.

I am big Micro Four Thirds fan but starting to doubt it vs the competition a bit.

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So close yet so far away.

Micro Four Thirds needs to go high end if it is to remain a serious prospect for stills.

I know people who wonder why ANYONE would shoot stills on anything other than full frame.

Well you have lenses to compensate for that, on APS-C - the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is one. The Fuji 56mm F1.2 and 35mm F1.4 too.

On Micro Four Thirds you have noise problems above 3200 and difficulties getting closer to the full frame look.

This was fine when the prices were low (GH2), or video spectacular (GH4) but when Olympus is serving up 2011 vintage E-M5 image quality in 2015 you do start to wonder whether it is all worth the effort any more.

It's not like we have a lack of alternatives!!

What I think will happen is that the high end mirrorless market will go to the A7, the X-T1, etc.

I am sure the lower end consumer stills market will still love the E-M5 II but Micro Four Thirds need to also compete in that high end mirrorless market as well and it is losing the battle there.

​I shoot stills, and m4/3 is fine if you don't take it beyond its performance envelope, which is actually fairly large. I think being a snob on FF for stills is no different being a snob on LF back in the days when Oskar Barnack came up with the Leica I in the 1920s. I remember reading about how people would disparage Barnack's idea in similar terms people harp on companies not using "full-frame" sensors in all their cameras because they "too small" for serious work.

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You see my dilemma...

x-t1-vs-e-m5-2.thumb.jpg.a2c7b94a9eee9d9

​Presumably this is a stills setup, as Fuji is pretty much bottom of the barrel (and then some) for video.

http://***URL removed***/previews/olympus-om-d-e-m5-ii/5

I'm sure they're good for stills, but they'll probably never be competitive for video.

And, in your comparison you're not taking the totality of the lenses and their sizes into consideration. For instance, what else compares size-wise to the GM5 + 20mm f/1.7? And what other system has the same collection of lenses as MFT?

 

1.thumb.JPG.01f0ae30bee888263cc819e35312

What other system has a manufacturer delivering the kind of video quality Panasonic is routinely? For that matter, if IBIS is your thing, what other system is doing it anywhere near Olympus?
 

I simply don't see any other choice for myself. Samsung just isn't anywhere near as well developed as MFT for video, with only a couple cameras now and a pretty limited lens choice that I don't believe is as good as optically as MFT. Sony is in the same boat with a single very expensive 4K cam (that doesn't record internally) and a much more limited lens selection. Fuji isn't even on my radar, and I doubt they ever will be.

And finally, we haven't yet seen the end game wrt to sensor development. If MFT were to get a sensor like that on the RX100 III, scaled up to MFT size (i.e. double the size), you're going to see massively improved performance from the system. We have yet to get that type of quality sensor or, for that matter, BSI. At that point you'll be seeing stills performance that's pretty much good enough for any purpose.

FWIW, I'd like to see Olympus combine their IBIS with Panasonic video quality. But I'm not convinced it's possible.

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Here is a quick test I did indoors today hopefully out doors tomorrow.  Will give some insight to quality and focus performance will get outside to do more tomorrow.  The Panasonic GH2 is hacked with the Sanity settings and the camera is set to Smooth contrast -2, saturation -2, sharpness -2, noise reduction -2.  The settings for the Olympus were contrast -2, sharpness +1, saturation -2 noise reduction off.  They need to let you turn them down more.  The ISO was 800 on both cameras and exposure was set identically.  For my hand held test I used the Panasonic 14-140 set to 40 on the panasonic for image stabilization.  The olympus had the olympus 12-40 set to 40.  Once I put it on the slider I used the Olympus 12-40 on both.  If you like the slider check it out at salamanderslider.com !

My take aways so far

I sucked at hand holding :)
The focus tracking issue was a unhappy surprise
moire shows up more than I like to cope with
Olympus settings are so saturated they need more than -2 reduction

I also discovered that you can use the front dial to adjust fstop after you pop out the touchscreen menu.  That being said if you try to switch to viewfinder it turns off so it can do it but it is incredibly stupid.

I thought Andrew was a bit harsh but maybe like me he had really high hopes and what they have presented is a huge disappointment so much so you want to go slap the guys at Olympus.
 

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Andrew, I really believe that with sensor advances in the future, the mft size will be more than sufficent for stills and video high quality, plus the very obvious benefits of size.  It's just a matter of being patient, the gap in quality between aps-c, FF and mft will drive development of better mft sized sensors, maybe the GX8 will bring something new, sensor wise to the table.  If this happens in the near future, older sensors like Em5m2's will look dated before their time.

I agree completely. One of MFT's advantages is that it lives, by necessity, on the bleeding edge. They don't use 3-5 year old sensors because they can't afford to. As it is, Panasonic and Olympus' image quality is within a stone's throw of APS-C, but offers a better selection of lenses--almost all of which are excellent by f/2.8, and many of which are excellent by f/2.


http://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-GX7-review-Closing-the-gap-between-APS-C-mirrorless-rivals/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-GX7-Versus-Olympus-PEN-E-P5-Versus-Sony-NEX-6-Results-are-close

Andrew, you say MFT has a hard time achieving "the full frame look." What if I don't want the full frame look? There's nothing inherent to photographic 35mm/VistaVision that makes it the best sensor size for video. My style focuses heavily on subjects' relationship to their background and composing with more than one plane of depth. Unless I'm going for something intimate or a detail shot, I like to stick with f2.8 (if not f/4) on MFT. This provides just enough separation to focus the eye without flattening my carefully scouted locations and (hopefully) interesting set dressing into blurry, 2-dimensional mush. I also like to light my interiors and shape the light in my exteriors, which makes low light much less of a priority. Plus, I hate bad focus pulling in movies. It screams "amateurish" as much as micro jitters. At f/2.8-f/4 on MFT, me or my focus puller (if I have one) have a much better chance to nail it.

With that in mind, full frame holds no advantage for me. If I'm shooting my GX7 at ISO 800 and f/4, I'd have to shoot an A7S or whatever at ISO 3200, rendering DR and noise virtually identical, but with the added advantage of Panasonic's color science (which is really good once you learn your way around it) and great tonality. Add to that the small, wonderful Olympus primes and the cinematic as hell Voigtlanders, and you have a recipe for great imagery.

If you enjoy the look, that's awesome! I look forward to seeing your work with it. :) But I get perturbed sometimes when full framers dismiss other aesthetics as somehow inferior to their chosen sensor size.

Cheers!

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I really wasn't expecting the focus tracking that I found.  The list of the things I'm forgiving for this camera to get the stabilization is getting a little to long.  

I don't like the extra crop I do aircraft and boat interiors sometimes and I can't afford to give up my field of view.  
Not being able to change fstop with the dials falls into the just plain stupid and hopefully they can and will fix.
Moire is showing up more than I expected.
I need to spend another $129 to get Headphone connection $279 to get Headphone and battery life that gets it close to GH4 money.
If the video continuous focus is that bad compared to GH2 what am I missing in a GH4.
The xtras that I already passed up by not going with GH4 4K, slow motion.
I should add that IBIS may not be as good as I want it to be when it's good it's real good but when it burps it ruins what your doing.  I speculate it maybe why John Brawley used an additional gimbal making curiosity?

Now that being said my EM5 mkii and 12-40 put me back $1700 got a good deal.  A GH4 with 12-35 would cost about $600 more!  I love the 12-40 it's a better lens but without any stabilization hard to justify if I go Panasonic.  Which in the end makes me just a little mad Olympus did not do better.  I think video is a huge part of what's good about M4/3 cameras and Olympus is dropping the ball ignoring it.  I'm not giving up yet got a couple more weeks to make up my mind and really hope Olympus does something amazing to make what they can better.
 

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 I speculate it maybe why John Brawley used an additional gimbal making curiosity?
 

​I used a gimbal because IBIS doesn't replace a gimbal (or dolly or steadicam) for doing long continuous tracking shots. Nothing will.  And I had longer tracking shots I wanted to do in difficult terrain...over water etc, where you can't really lay tracks (and I dind't have a grip).

IBIS on the E-M5MKII is very very good and absolutely trumps optical based stabilising systems. But on those very wide and longer shots where I was making really big moves, it would help a lot but it doesn't replace using the right tool for the job.

IBIS is very very good for hand held.  It's so good that sometimes you can get away with using it for tracking shots that might have the feel and look of a dolly or steadicam.

Interestingly, I found that the IBIS helped the gimbal shots because it took out some of the coarser up and down movements that Gimbals can't smooth out.

JB

 

 

 

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Hi John thanks for chiming in.  I went and read your blog so that all makes sense I'm just conflicted on the trade offs.  I do have one question you mentioned the IS in mode one having an additional crop, was the camera different in release 0.9?  As is now it seems the crop is the same all the time I wish I could turn it off and not get the crop on those occasions when I need the full field of view.

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Well, I make a living doing video production.  I'm not the most accomplished, but I get by.

You're verbose about your opinion, but I can't quite comprehend the level of angst you have about a camera you never plan to purchase. The perceived threat that a particular stabization feature will interfere with sensor development?  Well, okay, I do hear you saying that...but I don't quite get it.  Feel free to rant though if it helps. 

​My problem is that some things are subjective and debatable, such as your preference Olympus jpeg colors or Panasonic jpeg colors, etc. Here, I don't believe there's a right or wrong. It's just an opinion.

When some people are trying to say that the E-M5 II matches up to Panasonic cameras (even the 5 year old GH2) for video detail, well, that's not a matter of opinion. I think that's either some kind of visual impairment or some kind of propaganda, because it should be clear to anyone with a normally functioning visual system that this camera doesn't match up to ANY recent Panasonic camera.

What these people are doing is simply taking away from what Panasonic has accomplished on the video front by trying to make everything equal (oh, of course, except for Olympus having IBIS, which makes them better :rolleyes: ).

It reminds me of some schools now where everyone gets an award for participation, regardless of how poorly they perform. How does this benefit anyone? What possible motivation is there to continue to produce quality video when you can produce complete sh1t quality and get this ridiculous praise.

I guess what I have a problem with is that it's so ridiculously clear to me watching video from Panasonic and Olympus which one kicks the other's butt.

I guess you have a problem with the fact that I'm seeing blatantly wrong statements and I feel I should say something about it. Because I don't believe what I'm saying about Olympus' video quality really falls to the level of opinion. I believe it to be objectively poor compared to Panasonic's standard, and I believe the people trying to equate the two are objectively wrong. It's not like I'm getting into some argument about who's jpeg color science is better and getting into a shouting argument stating that Panasonic's is better.

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Camcorders do have great stabilisation and can be a great choice for many people, but many choose a larger sensor ILC so they have changeable lenses and DOF control because as you know, this helps create a more 'cinematic' image.  So if you don't want shallow depth of field then yes, I'd recommend a camcorder but many people usually want the option of having this, so a camcorder is off the table.  

I have both panasonic and olympus camera's and I'm sorry to say that IBIS is far far superior to panasonic lens stabilisation, but if you're happy with OIS and it suits your needs then thats great.  For me, I usually find myself grabbing my E-M1 despite the limitations as I find the IBIS to be worth it.  

Anyway everyone can make their own decision as to whats most important to them, and for many a GH4/NX1 might be a better choice  All I'm saying is that having good stabilisation in body on all my lenses (including my contax zeiss lenses)  without extra rigging/equipment has value to me and I imagine to others as well, and although I don't know for sure how many this is, I suspect its not only a small percentage.  And while, I'd prefer not to have to compromise on resolution, thats the world where in at the moment. 

​Very true. Moreover, not only there is a limited number of stabilized lenses but these are also slow. I can shoot under dim light with an T/0.95 stabilized! 

Looking at the following video it reminds me the days that I tried to make handheld footage from my D800 +VR watchable with the warp stabilizer. Imagine trying to follow children around... 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBlfBelTLwU

Now if an A7s II with a better sensor stabilization than the A7II comes, I might stop using my E-M5ii. 

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​I guess you have a problem with the fact that I'm seeing blatantly wrong statements and I feel I should say something about it. 

Yeah. I guess that kind if it, really. It's the internet. It's all mostly wrong statements. Saying something in response and expressing an opinion is one thing, but no need to get overly worked up about it, IMHO. 

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Yeah. I guess that kind if it, really. It's the internet. It's all mostly wrong statements. Saying something in response and expressing an opinion is one thing, but no need to get overly worked up about it, IMHO. 

​Well, now it's you and John Brawley that think I'm worked up, but I think you're mistaking being incredibly thorough and detailed with emotion. I'm not being emotional at all with any of my posts. I'm a little aggressive, but I don't believe I've had any emotions whatsoever with anything I've said here. Just stating the facts as I see them. :angry:

Clearly my writing style stands out here (as it usually does everywhere I go), but I can't help that. Chalk it up to my stratospherically high IQ. :D

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