Urban Landscape + Lifestyle Photography

In limbo between the Olympus OM-D and E-PL5

Olympus E-PL5

Olympus E-PL5

Photokina 2012 is in full swing and the major camera manufactures have announced their new goodies. Olympus unveiled their Pen E-PL5 and E-PM2 cameras. A steady trickle of rumors have all but revealed most of the specifications of the new line. The E-PL5 and E-PM2 have received solid updates. The most important being the adoption of the OM-D’s outstanding 16MP sensor and corresponding image processor.

I was disappointed.

I was hoping for an update to the E-P line. In a post last month called The Olympus E-P4, what I’m hoping for, I outlined my ideal next camera. It is a long-winded post but to summarize, I basically wanted a E-P3 with the OM-D E-M5 sensor. For me, the E-P3 form factor is just about perfect for a small mirrorless camera. Compact yet solid, it exudes a premium feel without showing off. It echoes just enough of a retro design that I get comments from people all the time. For me the dials and controls of the E-P3 are better than the OM-D EM-5. All they needed to do was drop in the new sensor and I would have jumped at the camera.

Olympus appears to have simplified the Pen line into two cameras. A move that I applaud. I found having 3 Pen models in the narrow price range, confusing. It’s just that I was hoping for the continuation of the E-P and the E-PM line. However, from Olympus’ point of view, I can understand why they did this. They upscaled the two Pen cameras and raised their prices. With a $350 price difference between the E-PL5 and OM-D, I think they adequately positioned the feature set and price. Don’t get me wrong, I think Olympus made some very solid updates and created two very desirable Pen cameras. As an advanced user however, I want more controls and features than the E-PL5 but don’t want the bulk and interface of the OM-D.

Many of my readers will probably say, big deal, why not get the OM-D instead. I’ve been thinking about this long and hard, but here is the problem. I use multiple Olympus Pens on the same outing. Even if I buy a new camera, I will still continue to use the E-P3. The problem is the E-P3 and the OM-D have very different physical interfaces. Switching between the two cameras will be a hassle. The ideal situation, of course, is two have two identical cameras. That way, you can switch between the two cameras mounted with different lenses and not lose a beat. That is the reason I used to carry two Olympus E-PL1s with me. And while the E-PL1s are nice cameras, I certainly like the E-P3 better. What I wanted is a E-P4 or E-P5 (the number 4 is unlucky in Japan so sometimes it is skipped) with the identical controls to pair up with my E-P3.

Now I’m stuck between the upscale OM-D E-M5 model with a different interface and the E-PL5 with fewer features. Do I go upscale and take the usability hit or do I downscale and lose a few features that I really like in my E-P3? Sorry for all this whining over a camera but I’m sure the photographers out there will understand. Dear Olympus, please just release a E-P5 with that OM-D sensor so I don’t have to make this decision. Thanks.

9 responses

  1. Rick

    (Ear to the ground) I am awaiting further rumors, but Olympus appear to have left little, if any, room between the E-PL5 and the OM-D from a marketing perspective. The differences I see between the E-PL5 and the OM-D are the integrated EVF, weather proofing (and generally more rugged construction) and 5 axis image stabilization. I already have the EVF on my E-PL2, but if you add the price of the viewfinder to the cost of the E-PL5 there really is not much difference in cost between it and the OM-D. In fact, I would call it a toss up. That alone would probably incline me towards the OM-D. Too bad it does not have focus peaking.

    The improved high ISO performance of the newer sensor would be welcome.

    The problem is whether the size of the mu4/3 system is sufficient to outweigh the performance advantages of the Sony NEX system or the Fuji X-E1 which are price competitive. That is a tougher call than whether to go with the E-PL5 or the OM-D. Of course, there is the matter the mu4/3 lenses I have.

    Fortunately, I am in no rush so there is time to see how the lens choices for the other look like.

    September 19, 2012 at 12:27 am

    • Rick I agree with you. I’m going to wait for a couple of months at least until I buy anything new. The NEX and X-E1 are not high on my radar right now because I want in body IS, which is really useful for the type of things I shoot.

      September 19, 2012 at 10:52 am

      • Rick

        Indeed, IBIS is quite useful. Unfortunately, none of the cameras offer “all of the above” features we might like and it becomes a matter of prioritizing the features/capabilities we favor most.

        Cheers

        September 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

  2. I share you pain. Fortunately (?) I’m too broke to afford another camera right now, so by the time I decide I have the money, they’ll probably have something else available. I do love the P3, though. The more I use it, the more I love it.

    September 19, 2012 at 12:59 am

    • Yeah, a new camera certainly does not qualify as a necessity. It’s just a nice to have. I’m not buying yet but I usually analyze these things months in advance to see what direction I’m heading

      September 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

  3. I’ve got 5 models on my short list for year end buying, including the new Pen and the OM-D. The one thing that is holding me back on the OM-D is lack of focus peaking as I intend to utilize several manual lenses.

    I’m just going to wait for all of the Photokina dust to settle and some of the models to get into the stores so I can handle them.

    As far as switching between the two models, that is not too much of a big deal for me. Usually when I get a new camera, I play for a day, then open up the manual. I hit up every page. On the things that are new or foreign, I deliberately use the stuff, even if I never will again in order to find the method behind the madness of usage and to become intimate with the device.

    I routinely switch between the E-PL1 and a Panasonic G10 (for infrared), or a Nikon DSLR and the G10. My feel of discomfort is minimal, and only at the beginning really. Once I get into that mental shooting zone, it really doesn’t matter what I am using.

    The two model deal can be disconcerting of course for wedding and sports shooters where intuitive reaction is key. Usually the stiff I shoot isn’t going anywhere so it’s not an issue for me.

    The new Pen and the OM-D are both fine products and there are no horrible disadvantages to having either, just small tradeoffs, It would be much easier if one of the cameras sucked ;-)

    September 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

    • Since I’m actively using 5 different cameras with different interfaces I’m really trying to not add yet another interface to deal with. It takes me a few minutes to get the hang of a camera after not using it for a while but it will certainly help if I can standardize more things so that I can concentrate on making the photograph.

      With my Olympus cameras, I’m on the street and shooting fast and switch back and forth between two (or sometimes 3) cameras, not unlike wedding or sports photography. So yes, have an identical or at least similar interface is a good thing.

      September 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

  4. Laurent

    Did you have a chance to read the (excellent) blog post from Robichaud about the OM5? http://tysonrobichaudphotography.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/olympus-om-d-e-m5-firmware-update-please/ .

    September 20, 2012 at 6:40 am

  5. CL

    I have read a few times now that Olympus will release an E-P5! I feel exactly the same way–an E-P3 with E-M5 sensor + viewfinder.

    October 14, 2012 at 12:26 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s