Wednesday, January 29, 2014

OD-D E-M10: Olympus giveth, and Olympus taketh away

The E-M10 with the new 14-42mm power zoom lens and the Automatic Opening Lens Cap.
(Credit: Lori Grunin/AFFY)
According to Olympus, its new OM-D E-M10 interchangeable-lens camera enters the product line below the E-M5. That baffles me a bit; the E-M10 is only slightly cheaper and has better specs than the E-M5 with only a few notable exceptions that seem to muddy the waters. Along with the camera, though, Olympus also announced a few notable lenses and a couple of cleverly designed accessories.
They have nearly identical bodies with some slight tweaks that decrease the E-M10's width a bit: the ports are swapped to the right side on the E-M10 and the SD card slot has moved to the battery compartment. While I don't like that location, Olympus's new ingenious two-part ergonomic grip accessory (i.e., it's not a battery grip or vertical grip, just a bigger grip) does let you snap off a section for quick access to the battery/SD card. The E-M10 also drops the E-M5's accessory port beneath the hot shoe (used for the add-on microphone) without adding a standard connector, but replaces it with a built-in flash.

Olympus debuts new lenses (pictures)

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On the upside, the E-M10 has an updated autofocus system that Olympus claims is faster than the E-M5's, built-in flash, 1080/30p video, a higher-resolution LCD and built-in Wi-Fi. The E-M10 also incorporates a newer generation of Olympus' image-processing engine, which probably gains it some improvement in photo quality, though it uses the same sensor as the E-M5. There's a new high-speed mode for the viewfinder that drops the resolution in exchange for a faster refresh rate as well. However, the E-M10 lacks the E-M5's weather sealing, and has a lesser image-stabilization system (3-axis vs. 5-axis, though it supports 5-axis during video recording). To me, the 0.5fps burst performance difference is a wash. As someone who makes product recommendations, it's just a frustrating mix to me.
  Nikon 1 V2 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor (effective resolution) 14.2MP CMOS 16.1MP Live MOS
12 bits
16.1MP Live MOS
12 bits
16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
13.2mm x 8.8mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal- length multiplier 2.7x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 160 - ISO 6400 ISO 100 (exp)/ 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 5fps (single AF, mechanical shutter); 60fps (electronic shutter)
unlimited JPEG/20 raw
(8fps with fixed focus and exposure)
17 JPEG/11 raw
(9fps with fixed focus, exposure and WB)
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder 0.47-inch TFT EVF
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
1.44m dots
100% coverage
1.01x - 1.15x/0.5 - 0.58x
1.44m dots
100% coverage
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
Autofocus 73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
81-area contrast AF 35-area contrast AF 99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity range n/a n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 30 - 1/4,000 sec (1/16,000 sec electronic).; 1/250 sec x-sync 60 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash-dependent) 60 - 1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash-dependent) 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering n/a 324 area 324 area 1,200 zones
Metering range n/a -2 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV 0 - 20 EV
Flash Yes Yes Included add-on Yes
Wireless flash Yes Yes Yes No
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Sensor shift Optical
Best video 1080/30p; 720/60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV
(22 mins)
1080/60i QuickTime MOV @ 20, 17Mbps AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24Mbps
Audio Stereo; mic input Stereo Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed 920,000 dots 3-inch tilting touch-screen
1.04 million dots
3-inch tilting touch-screen OLED
614,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless Optional
(via WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter)
Wi-Fi None Wi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating) 310 shots 320 shots 330 shots 270 shots
(with viewfinder)
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 4.7 x 3.2 x 1.8 4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Body operating weight (ounces) 11 (est) 14.0 (est) 15.1 12.3
Mfr. price $799.95 (body only) $699 (body only) $799.99 (body only) $649.99 (body only)
$899.95 (with 10-30mm lens) $799 (with 14-42mm lens) $899.99 (with 14-42mm lens) $799.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
$1,049.95 (with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses) n/a $1,099.99 (with 12-50mm lens) n/a
Ship date November 2012 March 2014 April 2012 October 2012
On the other hand, new lenses from Olympus are always unambiguously welcome. Portrait and product photographers will likely be drawn to the new 25mm f1.8; it's got a minimum focus distance of just under 10 inches and is slated to be relatively reasonably priced at $399. Olympus will also ship a much-needed power-zoom alternative to the 14-42mm kit lens (denoted "EZ") that's extremely compact. The company adds another body cap lens to the lineup, this one a 9mm f8 fisheye that should cost less than $100. And the last optic is a macro converter that halves the focus distance, but will only work with six lenses at launch (price still tbd).
In addition to the aforementioned grip, there's also a new automatic lens cap that works in conjunction with the power-zoom lens. We need more of these, manufacturer folks. Everything is slated to ship in early March.

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