Monday, 22 April 2013

Re Balance

In the past few days I had a chance to play with two currently very popular - and very different - compact system cameras of the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) variety.

The first one was Olympus Pen E-PM1, a small sensor and small body entry level camera. The other was the top of the range - and a lot of people say top of its class - Olympus OM-D E-M5, pictured to your left.

The lenses I used were the 14-42mm and 40-150mm ones that come as part of the kit you can see if you follow the E-MP1 link above.

I am not going to talk about image quality here. This is just fine and as expected for E-MP1, and excellent to superb for E-M5. Also, there's plenty of reviews for both if you search a bit (I recommend the views of the good people from DP Review).

What is of most interest to me here is validating - or not, as the case may be - of the conclusions from my previous post. In short, if you can't be bothered to read a bit more of this post, E-MP1 totally and utterly validates all the complaints I had about the wrong balance of compact system cameras paired with anything but pancake primes.

On the other hand, we have the OM-D E-M5. Now, here we have an entirely different kettle of fish...

For one, the silver version, for me, has that same tactile, sensual - heck, I'll say it: sexy - feel as Fujifilm X100. Only, the E-M5 is a bit smaller, and a bit lighter - or at least feels like it is. But crucially, I found this not to be a problem, even with the long 40-150mm zoom lens. In other words, I experienced none of the frustration of the camera feeling wrong in my hand with either 14-42mm or 40-150mm lenses.

The E-MP1, however, felt so weird with both of these lenses - and especially with 40-150mm one when fully extended, that the experience was almost funny. I mean, the body of the E-MP1 feels not considerably larger than, say, the body of my once favourite pocketable Sony DSC-T100. Putting a very long lens on something this size well and truly feels just wrong. Plus, one most definitely has the urge to use the lens as a carrying handle for the lot, which borders on ridiculous.

So, dear reader, beware the small compact! If you can, try it out first and with the longest lens you plan to use attached (you may actually be quite fine if you only ever or almost all of the time plan to use a pancake prime). There is a very true piece of advice I read recently, I think here: the best camera for you is the one you will actually want to use.

Which brings us back to the OM-D - and my next post...