I don’t do many reviews, and I most certainly wouldn’t even call this a review, but merely a glance at how I use this camera, as well as the OM-D, E-M5. I have both. For all intents and purposes, they are ‘nearly’ the same camera, based on what they can do. The big differences are (in my opinion based on what is important to me):
1. Ergonomics – how it feels in my hand.
2. Control placement.
3. Weather sealing.
This is not a review because I will make no attempt to cover anything that is not of use to me on a normal shoot. The first thing that I did, for example, when getting the camera was to turn off a lot of bells and whistles, in particular AF help, beeps, facial recognition, etc.
I purchased the E-M5 earlier this year. My first shot with it, according to the EXIF data, was January 4th, 2013. Throughout the year, I’ve taken 4,200 shots, or so. I’ve taken it to Mexico, twice, and have found that it is the perfect travel camera for me. It is lightweight, auto focus is extremely fast and accurate, and the low-light capabilities are excellent. The highest ISO that I’ve shot with was 12,800 and the pictures were fine and perfectly useful, but that, of course, is a totally subjective statement. It’s simply amazing to me that I can even do this, especially when I remember my film days and having to push to 800 and hope. I’ve not shot at 25,600 just yet, but I may indeed get there.
I received the E-M1 about 3 weeks ago and have shot only 300 or so shots with it. It’s been pretty rainy in these parts, but that’s a good thing. I wanted a camera that I could take out in the rain, dust, fog, snow, sand, or whatever, and this suits the bill just fine.
Some may disagree, but the E-M1 is the nearly the exact same camera as the E-M5, but weather sealed, better placement of the controls, and a bit heftier and easy to grip. The grip alone is worth the upgrade to me. Now, I don’t feel like I could drop the camera with a simple bump … that never happened with the E-M5, but I always felt that it could so I was always very careful and would wear the camera around my neck, tourist mode, even though I’d rather have it in my hand at my side.
Size and weight:
The E-M1 is slightly larger than the E-M5, and I mean slightly, only a few millimeters wider. The control knobs have been moved, enlarged, and placed in very familiar places, similar to how my Nikon is laid out. Now, instead of being on the left, the mode knob is on the right and is a bit higher, more prominent, and within easy reach of my thumb. Formerly, it was on the left side, which is where the power switch is located … which, by the way, is very easy to operate with gloves on. In fact, the whole camera is easy to work with gloves with the large, protruding controls. As far as I can tell, they weigh pretty close the same amount, lens mounted. There’s not much difference; both are easy to carry around nearly all day without one becoming fatigued.
Ergonomics and other:
This was the big plus. I only wanted two other things from the great travel camera that the E-M5 turned out to be:
1. A better grip. My hands are kind of large, and fingers rather long. My hands sort of swallowed the E-M5. Olympus most certainly have made up for that shortcoming with the E-M1. The grip/feel of the camera has been greatly improved. It fits almost perfectly in hand. Not quite as well as the Nikon D700 or D300, but pretty close. Those cameras are much larger and heavier.
2. Weather sealing: I don’t only go outside to shoot when the weather is fair. I love to take my camera to the beach, even on windy days with sand blowing and I really love fog! So, I wanted something a little more.
No complaints here, at all. The files are pretty sharp, right out of the camera, needing only a little bit of sharpening for my tastes. Olympus decided to remove the AA (Anti-aliasing) filter, which is a good thing, but, honestly, I can’t see much of a difference between the files from the E-M5 and E-M1 and, any differences that I do see, I could put that down to my own imagination or perhaps the processing of the file by Lightroom.
Wi-Fi: Total fluff, but cool.
They’ve added some cool stuff like Wi-Fi that allows you control the camera with your iPhone as well as download images from the camera, to the phone, so you can post them on your favorite sharing site; however, this works only if you are using JPEG, or Raw + JPEG. I tried the Wi-Fi and, while it is a cool feature, I didn’t find it particularly useful for the kind of photography that I do.
I have a number of trips planned for next year, some of them quite cool. How many of them I’ll get to do, who knows, as plans tend to change without warning. At any rate, for sure the E-M1 will be by my side, recording those events. It didn’t make it in time to make the trip to Mexico at the end of October, but there will certainly be other opportunities for that.