Thursday, 19 September 2013

Why You Should Buy Olympus" Awesome New Camera

Olympus recently rolled out its top-of-the-line OM-D E-M1 camera, the latest iteration of the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless SLR. It appears as though Olympus is going to pursue this direction and leave the large DSLR camera scene altogether.

After playing with the E-M1 I feel the need to enlighten you all because Olympus lacks serious marketing chops. Case in point: the xD-Picture Card. What was that all about?

The hot ticket on this camera is the five-axis sensor stabilization system. As far as I know, Minolta was the first company to use image stabilization via the sensor. I still keep an old Minolta around to make short, super-stabilized videos. This one however, may top them all.

When Olympus demonstrated the camera, it was put on a wildly vibrating pad, and streamed video to a monitor. There was no jitter or movement whatsoever. It was rock solid.

This was as good as any steady-cam lash-up I’ve ever seen. I immediately thought about getting one, strapping it to the roof of my car, and driving around to document the area for future generations. The video would be so stable it would look as if I was driving on rails.

Best of all, this stabilization feature means you don’t have to buy expensive, battery-draining IS lenses. With a Micro Four Thirds system I can get adapter mounts for virtually every sort of lens brand, put it on the E-M1, and have an image stabilized shot.

The other impressive thing about Olympus cameras are the smaller flash units that seem to have twice the flash power of anything else out there. But the company decided not to include a built-in flash this time. What a shame.

The direct competitor to Olympus’ line of Micros Four Thirds is Panasonic’s Lumix line. Generally Panasonic’s models one-up the Olympus ones; sometimes with a minor feature, sometimes a major one. The Four Thirds lens sets are fully compatible as are the adapters for other lenses.

That said, Panasonic has only just added sensor stabilization with its newest GX7 model, although it’s not the five-axis version you find in the E-M1.

As the competition heats up between Olympus and Panasonic in the mirrorless segment of the market, you have to wonder about the future of the Four Thirds imager. The imager first appeared in 2003 on the Olympus E-1. It quickly evolved through the E-5 but morphed into the Micro Four Third camera in 2008. In this case Panasonic got the jump on Olympus and has mostly led, but Olympus dominated with the sensor shifter until the GX7.

The key to its continued success has been its compactness. But the public likes the idea of bigger sensors. You read it on all the forums?”the Four Thirds image sensor is too small,” they say. “The APS sensor is bigger and better. The best is full frame!” I remember talking to camera companies 10 years ago about 35mm full frame and they asserted the full frame was unnecessary. If that’s true, then why do all the photographers crave full frame?

Anyway, the Micro Four Thirds uses the same sensor but smaller lenses with a closer focus point. It’s a nice system that is not horribly bulky but still produces professional results at a reasonable price.

Yes, if you are a professional with unlimited resources, by all means spend $5,000 on the newest Canon full-frame rig. Only those people should have that sort of gear anyway, along with billionaire posers.

This new Olympus is an excellent camera with some fascinating new lenses and features. As far as the mirrorless SLR’s are concerned, no one but Panasonic and Olympus is making anything decent. And if someone has a competitive product, it doesn’t have the five-axis stabilizer. That is the true selling point.

Why You Should Buy Olympus" Awesome New Camera

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