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back to article Olympus goes retro with µFT snapper

Olympus extended its array of Micro Four Thirds cameras today, launching the E-M5, a retro-style snapper based on the classic design of the company's OM range of 35mm SLRs. The E-M5 is the first model in the firm's new OM-D collection and adds a number of features as yet unseen in the company's other Micro Four Thirds cameras. …

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Not so evil...

I like that, but then, I'm getting on a bit...

It's pricey, but, what isn't?

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Pint

Hi rez viewfinder tends to push prices up...

I think this camera's concept is good, I guess they looked at what people are saying about Sony's Nex 7, and decided to offer a cheaper alternative.

Of course, an M4/3 sensor is not really an alternative to an APC sensor, and I can't tell if the overall package ends up being any smaller than Sony's Nex 7 package, but its certainly cheaper.

Just why did they wanna make this look like an old clunker from granpa's attic?

As far as retro goes, the only useful part of that are manual controls... the rest is kinda ...retarded? Are there really that many people who want a camera that looks like 1987? Does this help against theft, cause it looks like its a worthless old 35mm antique? Do they want to coax 80 year olds into buying a digital camera that will confuse the hell out of them?

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That looks interesting. I might consider this as a second micro-four-thirds body, but I'm puzzled. What's in the bit that looks like a pentaprism housing? It's got an electronic viewfinder, I hope it's not saddled with a moving mirror. This is the 21st century and i don't need no steenking shutter delay.

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Ru
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Decoration

Look at the rear view; the hump is way bigger than it needs to be. Seems a lot like some unnecessarily OM styling.

There will be no mirror, because uFT wants a very short lens-to-sensor distance. And as for "i don't need no steenking shutter delay"... have you used any decent modern dSLRs? They're vastly faster than mirrorless systems like this new camera because they can use sensible phase change autofocus instead of glacially slow contrast detection. Even the cheapest dSLR will still beat the shiniest compact to take a shot because of how quickly it can focus; the mirror delay is miniscule in comparison.

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Boffin

Accessory port

Olympus stuck an accessory port on top of the electronic viewfinder.

The autofocus in current mirrorless cameras is approaching the speed of dSLRs, they are slower but not by very much. Where they do fail is that they are not very good at tracking focus changes if the target object is moving directly towards/away from the camera.

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Coat

@Ru

I'm aware of the differences in autofocus speed between phase and contrast detection systems.

I was only referring to the shutter delay. I.e. if I've already prefocused, then I want the shutter to open when I press the release, not after a wait for the mirror to get out of the way.

Thanks to your comment, I now see that DSLRs are getting shutter lags under 40ms, which is good*, but I don't want the bulk of an slr. (* better than the 70ms of my M4/3.)

As there's no mirror in this Olympus, then all is forgiven. Never having used a standard 4/3 camera, I'd forgotten that there's no room for a mirror in any micro 4/3 camera.

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Mirror Lag vs Shutter Lag - take your pic... [sic]

In a "traditional" SLR you press the shutter release and the mirror has to move out of the way before the shutter opens to take the shot.

In a mirror-less system you press the shutter release and... because the shutter was open to enable the live view or EVF to function, the shutter first has to CLOSE before it can be re-opened to take the shot with the correct shutter exposure.

i.e. in both systems there is no "instant photo" and in both systems there is a physical shock involved (although I suppose the mirror-shock could be greater than the shutter-close-shock).

Now, it isn't the same camera, but if you look at this high-speed video of the mirror/shutter action on a Nikon D3, you will see that it takes about the same amount of time for the mirror to swing out of the way as it does for the shutter to open (or close) (about the same time, not precisely).

http://regex.info/blog/2008-09-04/925

There are advantages to a mirror-less system (lower mechanical wear, fewer opportunities for mechanical faliure, reduced vibration/shock) but mirror-lag is way, way , WAY down the list to the extent of probably not even worth mentioning.

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Who's to say that the hump doesn't contain some of the "brains" of the beast... those circuits have to go somewhere, right ? And if you need to protect those circuits from the elements as part of your element-sealing feature, then that hump could provide some natural physical shelter if it is part of the cast of the body top.

Even if that is not the case, since they deliberately set out to ape the OM range, then any OM-styling is of course the goal, not "unnecessary" but actually part of the brief. :)

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The Viewfinder

The hump is certainly housing the viewfinder screen, and probably a prism to go with it. This is how they do it in the add-on viewfinders for the Pen series. And even with contrast auto focus, the Pens are really fast.. I picked up an E-PM1 as a second camera last year. Pretty nice...

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Olympus has a ton of old, unsold OM bodies sitting around, so they shoehorned their M4/3 electronics into it, added the viewfinder to explain away the weird hump, and called it retro..

Sure is ugly though,

like 70's architecture

with its lack of flair

still marring our cities.

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TRT
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Looks good from the front, but the back is pretty grotty.

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Coat

"geared up for low-light shots" ... "OM-D"...

Optical Manoeuvres in the Dark?

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MGJ

An OM you say; will the shutter stick open like on every OM10 I've ever owned or known about? 'Magnetised oil' was the usual excuse.

If it has the colour reproduction of my mju300, good luck to them in getting any sales whatsoever.

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OM series

Don't know much about the cheap OM models (OM-10.. OM-40). But my OM-1 from the 70s, and the OM-4 I bought in Japan in 1986, are both alive and well. These cameras just keep going, even if film isn't a regular thing for me these days. I would be impressed if Olympus is building this new "OM" as well.

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Coat

Rename it OM-G and I'll buy two

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Looks pretty handy

But I'm not a fan of the retro styling.

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The hump is necessary

For the electronic viewfinder and accessory port. Personally, I find the rangefinder style a more pleasing aesthetic but it isn't as practical for those of us who prefer to shoot with our left eye glued to the viewfinder.

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Blimee..

You could buy a "real" camera for that money... And from a manufacturer who will still be trading in two years time...

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It IS a real camera...

Seriously, what about it is not "real" ?

The lack of an optical viewfinder ?

I was in that camp until I started using my live-view screen for focussing macro shots and fine tuning the focus when using manual lenses. I've since come to appreciate the benefits that a live-view screen can bring to the shooting party.

My own personal problem with mirror-less cameras to this point has been the lack of an eye-level viewfinder - live-view screens are good for close-ups and creative shooting positions (above the head, around a corner. from ground level etc), but when shooting tele the lack of physical stability in an arm-length grip is a severe handicap.

The OM-D provides the best of both worlds, PLUS the 5-axis image stabilisation which no in-lens IS solution can hope to match (in terms of capability/ if not effectiveness - only time and usage will tell whether the 5-axis IBIS actually works in practice as well as it should in theory).

The Canikon crowd scoffed at LiveView when Olympus INNOVATED it into SLR's... they were too busy topping each other for MegaPixel bragging rights. Now they are playing catch-up in a sector that Olympus basically invented.

The same could very well be true of the OM-D... When Olympus created the 4/3 format they did so from first principles, unencumbered by 35mm film era SLR baggage. By doggedly dragging their 35mm legacy with them, Canikon have hamstring themselves in terms of being able to deliver truly innovate new products into the digital SLR market... all we have from those two is a feature-list war.

The OM-D is arguably the ultimate evolution of the "pure digital" SLR approach, and could prove to be a winner.

As for questions about the viability of Olympus as a business... their financial troubles were all on paper and amounted to "cooked books", but the basic financials of the firm were and are sound.

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