Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Olympus' GH3 workalike coming?

I've wondered for the longest time why Olympus doesn't give their professional model the newest and best of everything.  After the E-1, it took 4 years for a replacement and the company's more budget-conscious models got an 8 MP Kodak CCD, a 7.5 MP LiveMOS (NMOS, I believe) sensor from Panasonic, and then a 10 MP Kodak CCD.  Eventually, in 2007, the E-3 got a 10 MP LiveMOS sensor.  Not long after that the E-30 got a 12 MP LiveMOS sensor, and in 2010, the E-5 got that same sensor.  Odd, isn't it?

A buddy in Singapore was telling me that files from the E-3 needed more manipulation to reach the look that Olympus gave us with the E-1.  When I bought the E-5 body, I noticed the same, even if it took supposedly less work, they didn't come from the body nicely.

I've been noticing with Capture One 7 Pro that the fixups help the E-5 photo files much more than the E-1's files.  It could be many aspects of the photos but could just be that more time has passed.  My E-5 files come out looking about as good as those of the E-1, thankfully.  The Phase One people have worked some sort of photographic magic with their new imaging engine because the old engine wasn't so good.

If you've been reading my blog entries, you'll know that I'm thrilled (and sometimes, annoyed) with the Panasonic GH3.  What really bothers me is that Olympus didn't bother with their own model.  They could be trying to salvage the E-5's sales or they just don't agree with the shape and believe that the fanatics will turn against them.  Certainly, a lot of people were upset with the GH3, even though it's a good tool for professionals--with adjustments.

The GH3 has a funky white balance issue and I know that I can set it and remember to set it each time I start to photograph something different, but I'm so depending on Olympus' auto white balance to pick a great number.  By the way, the E-5 is nowhere near as good as the E-1's AWB, but I say that about just about anything.  :-D

I'm looking to the E-5 replacement to fix everything for me.  Yes, I'm delusional--hopefully, not.

An E-M6 could have a great sensor, and it doesn't have to be a higher resolution than the one used by the E-M5 and GH3.  It doesn't have to shoot video or have Live View, although I know it will.  I'm really looking for a great stills camera body.  Image quality and equipment balance are my main points.  I want to attach my overly big, overly heavy 35-100mm lens and not feel as though it's going to slip out of my hands.  i.e., give it a big grip, and while that's available, give it a big battery.

Even more so, make it a great tool that I can use without taking my eyes off the scene.  An LCD display would be great, but not to the exclusion of dials and buttons.  An articulating display is great but if it takes up valuable button space, make it smaller.  I use the Super Control Panel on the E-5 to make some quick adjustments because they're all in one place.  Panasonic's Quick Menu isn't as helpful, but as I become more familiar, it may be good for me.

What bothers me about the GH3 is that Panasonic obviously consulted with professionals on what they wanted--they just didn't implement the body as though it was to be used by professionals.  I can pick up the E-5 easily and the E-1 more easily and just shoot, but I have to think about using the GH3.  It could be just time and acclimation (or brand) but I think there is more to it, such as the settings as shipped.

I hope that Olympus comes to my rescue but once again, 2010 to 2013 is a long time to wait and the E-5 was only so-so by the time they delivered it, as was the E-3.  We want a home run, not a single.  (I was supposed to photograph a baseball game today but it was cancelled.)

Update 2013.09.15: There has been some time to digest the information about the Olympus E-M1.  It is as close as Olympus will come to a GH3 type of camera.  Video is not their priority and they don't want to upset Panasonic who are very important in micro Four-Thirds.  Olympus have put out a great new camera body, which of course, is especially good for stills.

It's obviously to me that Olympus have got their micro Four-Thirds act together.  I'm not pleased with their Four-Thirds action but it happened.  I'm hoping that the GH3 replacement will take better photos because it really is a well-designed camera body.  (Yes, I was finally acclimated to it.)  If Olympus had just modified the GH3 body with the E-M1 bits, it would have had a great camera all round, so hopefully, Panasonic will take us to a similar point with the GH5.

I had a few hours with the E-M1 and it felt like a great body for micro Four-Thirds lenses.  It was uncomfortable for me with Four-Thirds lenses, as the grip was angular, rather than rounded like the E-5 or GH3 bodies' grips.  The photos were good.

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