Thursday, May 26, 2016

Using the Olympus E-5 as an E-M1 substitute

I've been using Olympus equipment since 1990.  It always felt like the best combination of technologies came together.

I bought a couple of the early Olympus digital cameras and wasn't incredibly happy.  They worked but the time just wasn't right.  When I bought the E-1 in April 2004, nothing else felt right or seemed to produce the right photos, especially the Nikon and Canon alternatives in the price range.  I was annoyed about the 4:3 ratio that Olympus chose, but that mimicked 6x4.5 format cameras and I understood that.  It just didn't make sense to people using 3:2 ratio film.  Kodak may have been instrumental in pushing the shape, as they were in shaping Medium Format digital sensors.

I finally added the E-5 in 2011.  It wasn't the quantum leap forward I had hoped.  It seemed more like the Nikon D300 from 2007, instead of a body introduced in 2010.  It was better than the E-1 but not what I was hoping.  It worked better in so many ways but as I've already mentioned, it felt like a body from 2007.

Later, in 2012, I bought a Panasonic GH3 and 35-100mm f/2.8 lens.  It was somewhat better in lower light, with very good AF functionality down to EV -3 and later EV -4.  The ISO sensitivity seemed better but I suspect that the numbers weren't as accurate.

While waiting for the GH4 to replace it, I traded the GH3 for the E-M1.  I'd already used the E-M1 and it was better than okay, but didn't seem a replacement for the E-5, even though Olympus said that it was.

I've tried it with Four-Thirds lenses on occasion and stop fairly quickly.  It is more likely a easy way to re-use current components than to be a replacement for the E-5.  The size and the functionality is not oriented toward Four-Thirds equipment.  Having phase detect pixels was more a patch than a solution.

Yesterday, I wanted to photograph a graduation for a friend.  I brought the ZD 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 which was my most-used lens.  I tried it with the E-M1 and this resulted in a lot of frustration.  It hunted and hunted and hunted.  I'd had more success with the E-M1 previously, and also with the GH4.  I retrieved my E-5 and it worked quite well.  So much for the E-M1's world's fastest AF--that doesn't apply to adapted lenses.  The E-5's predecessor was another with "world's fastest AF", but these things fade quickly, don't they?

75+ yards, not bad but dynamic range could be better

At the graduation, the E-5 was heavier but wonderful.  Sure, the older technology isn't quite as able to provide great photos I've been getting from newer sensors but getting the shot was important, especially from almost the other end of the football field, the 25 yard line.

I'm pleased to use the correct tool for the job.  Using equipment to advantage always helps.  It's just too bad we can't have a 16MP Sony sensor put into the E-5 to get the best of both worlds.