The Panasonic GX1
So, I’ve mentioned that I started off with a Panasonic GX1. Then I collected an array of lenses to cover most situations. My GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) continues of course.
Several times I’ve found myself in the checkout screen of Amazon and Cameta Cameras, ready to buy the E-PL1 for $150. Why? Because it’s cheap and I wanted a second body… It’s only $150ish for a body, after all. But… there wouldn’t be much to gain. Each time I’d logically conclude that I didn’t need it.
Then, I started looking at limiting factors of my GX1: Image stabilization and ISO performance.
While the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 is generally considered sharper than the Panasonic telephotos, I couldn’t get it because it didn’t have image stabilization. Arguing between the Panasonic 45-150, 45-175, and 45-200, I ended up getting a 45-200 used despite its larger size. I’m pretty happy with it. Its sharpness is probably on the level of the Olympus 12-50, which I realized on my recent trip to Crystal Cove. The trees and brushes just aren’t sharp enough. Back to the IS topic, I just felt really limited in lens selection. But… but that 5-axis IBIS on the OMD…….
The GX1 is very nice up to ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, it’s somewhat usable for web images (facebook). At ISO 6400, arguably barely usable for facebook even. But I find myself toting my camera to birthday parties at bars and dimly lit restaurants often. Night-outs in town require more than ISO 1600. I’d get usable photos from the GX1, but I’d get a million blurred ones or high noise too. This is even with my Pana-Leica f/1.4 lens too. And I kept reading about how ISO 6400 shots are usable for the OMD….
SO! After putting in and out of my Amazon cart several times, I pulled the trigger. (Then spent the next 3 days looking up cases and accessories but that’s a separate post). The Olympus OM-D E-M5
came to my door the next day and… WOW.
E-M5 5-Axis IBIS: It kicks in when you half press the shutter (if you adjust the settings to do that). You immediately see its effect. Let’s just say that I’ve shot photos at 200mm (400mm equivalent) for 1/4 second exposures with no blur.
E-M5 ISO Performance: EM5 ISO 5000 equates to about GX1 ISO 1600 I’d say. Maybe a tad bit worse, but somewhat comparable. I’ve set my camera to Auto ISO up to ISO 5000 and my photos are fine. Dark bars? No blurred shots, no images with unusable amounts of noise. I end up with a ton more photos.
E-M5 Color Rendering/WB: I didn’t even realize this was an issue until I started post-processing photos from my OM-D. Accurate white-balancing, much more pleasing colors, much more adjustable JPG outputs. I find OOC (out of camera) JPGs much more usable. Often, post-processing isn’t even necessary. Photos come out of this camera almost exactly the way I want them.
Conclusion? I love my new camera. I’ve named her Brandy. I’ve got her a nice $90 half-case, a wrist strap to match (just arrived!), and a nice braided shoulder strap. She’s hot.
Advantages of Panasonic: Overall, it’s a very solid camera, especially for its price. I think the controls felt a bit better than on the OM-D. The wheel to adjust settings is great, right where the thumb sits and you can press it to adjust another setting. Menu is pretty intuitive, easy to use.
Side-Effect: I want the OM-2 now. I’ll be posting about this soon, but I’m getting interested in film photography. There’s something special about film compared to digital… and I feel like it’d help with my composition – more thought into each shot.
- DSLR Killers – Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Best Mirrorless of Them All? (chasejarvis.com)
- Olympus OM-D EM-5 (Micro Four Thirds) Long Term Review (photofocus.com)
- Impressions of the Olympus OM-D, Part I (theonlinephotographer.typepad.com)
- Best mirrorless cameras for less than $1,000 (reviews.cnet.com)
- Panasonic GH3 v. Olympus OMD-EM5 – Quick Take (photofocus.com)
- What Camera Should I Buy? UPDATED VERSION – May 2013 (photofocus.com)