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Thread: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

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    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    A question for those who have owned both: In practical shooting terms, how much better and faster is the E-M1 over the E-M5? I'm having a hard time getting a handle on the practical differences. I'm most interested in the viewfinder lag, focusing (especially in lower light), and general handling.

    Another consideration is standard 4/3 lenses. I still have my original 14-54 f/2.8-3.5, and the original 40-150 f/3.5-4.5. Neither have the later optimization for contrast autofocus. How well would these lenses work on an E-M1?

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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Klein View Post
    A question for those who have owned both: In practical shooting terms, how much better and faster is the E-M1 over the E-M5? I'm having a hard time getting a handle on the practical differences. I'm most interested in the viewfinder lag, focusing (especially in lower light), and general handling.

    Another consideration is standard 4/3 lenses. I still have my original 14-54 f/2.8-3.5, and the original 40-150 f/3.5-4.5. Neither have the later optimization for contrast autofocus. How well would these lenses work on an E-M1?
    Saying "which is better?" has so many assumptions in it that it's difficult to say anything with credibility without driving into the details. These are two rather different cameras, although they're from the same family and share a lot of design points.

    For me, one huge difference is that the E-M5 controls are too cramped and the camera feels too small. I tried one when they came out and it didn't appeal to me because of that. Never got any further with it.

    The E-M1 model is subtly a bit larger, with larger buttons and controls, a solid grip, lots more customization capability, improved image stabilization, and a higher performance viewfinder.

    There's no great difference in potential resolution or dynamic range of the imaging system, the two cameras are very close on those scores. The E-M1, however, contains lens correction information for all the Olympus FT lenses in its JPEG rendering engine.

    The E-M1 sensor has on-chip PDAF sensors which allow FourThirds SLR lenses to focus about as well as they did with my E-5, on average, where on the E-M5 they are very slow and laggy to use with AF. (The E-M1 and E-5 focus behavior is different in many ways, so it's not quite true that all FT lenses focus as well as they do on the E-5 in all situations, but on average—the way I use a camera—they're very comparable.) This model was specifically designed as the SLR to EVF model line bridge camera at the pro level in Olympus' range, so it works darn well with Olympus professional grade HG and SHG lenses.

    A lot of people who have no FT lenses and prefer the more compact camera think the E-M5 is 'better' ... People like me who have a small but very nice collection of FT lenses, and want the more spacious control layout, and customizability, etc, feel the E-M1 is a vast improvement.

    In the end, they're both such good cameras I urge you to go to a store that has both with a few of your lenses and try them out.

    G

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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    When I was shooting the two, I appreciated the E-m's built in grip which made handling so much better in my opinion (granted I never tried the E-M5 with the optional grip), plus the buttons felt much better than the E-M5's smushed buttons. The improved EVF made manual focusing easier (though it still suffers from the focus peaking lag). Otherwise AF there's not much noticeable difference, but again with better MF performance maybe low light focusing is easier. I haven't tried much standard 4/3 glass but from all reports it's much better on the E-M1.

    If I had to do it again would I pay the extra money for the E-M1? Yes, but I value ergonomics maybe more than the other person. Smushy and less tactile buttons are a big turn off for me, which is why I'm considering selling my X-T1 because if the rear buttons.

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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    Godfrey's post matches my experience. I don't have any 4/3s lenses to put on the camera anymore. Focusing seems to be similar to the E-M5. Better CAF performance, but I rarely use it and can't offer a comparison. I never found the viewfinder lag to be a problem in the E-M5 and the E-M1 is supposedly better.

    As far as handling I find the E-M1 immensely better. The grip seems perfect. All the buttons and dials are placed better and the feedback is improved over the E-M5. Customizability is also improved, in particular being able to assign my modes to the dial. I would probably consider a E-M10 over the E-M5 because it has this feature and a lot of the improvements in the firmware.

    I found the changes in the E-M1 to be worth it over the E-M5 and I don't even use 43s lenses.
    Charles - flickr

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    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    I should mention that I've owned the E-M5 for over a year, plus a trio of primes (20/1.7, 25/1.4, 45/1.8) and the kit zoom from a Panny G1. I use the John Milich grip, which is a superbly machined piece of metal with no electronic extras. I'm used to the small controls even though I have large hands (the grip makes the difference), though I'd probably be happier with E-M1's ergonomics.

    Manual focus lenses I use now and then are mostly telephoto, and I focus using the electronic magnifier, to which I've dedicated a button (I find focus peaking on all cameras I've tried generally inaccurate and useless).

    So the question is whether the upgrade is worth it for me. I'm a bit bothered by the E-M5 viewfinder lag, shutter shock and need to add 1/8 second delay to mitigate it. The autofocus is usually OK, but when I speed up the viewfinder refresh to minimize the finder lag, it affects autofocus in low light. Pick your poison. Love almost everything else about it.

    I've played with the E-M1 in a camera store. It feels a bit nicer, but it's hard to get a useful comparison in a quick over-the-counter run-through.

    I've briefly played with the standard 4/3 lenses on my E-M5. While they work, the focus is a back-and-forth iterative process that takes a couple of seconds, so it's no good for anything but static subjects. My 4/3 lenses are the "Mark 1" original models. They don't have a blue stripe and have NOT been programmed for contrast autofocus and live view). Will they focus reasonably quickly on the E-M1? From what I understand, since the camera has some phase-detect capability, they should. What I don't know is if they will perform worse than the Mark II contrast detect-enabled lenses, or about the same.

    --Peter

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    Senior Member dhsimmonds's Avatar
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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    I had two E-M5's and now have two E-M1's. As soon as I handled an early M1 in a dealers Oly demo before their general release, I knew it was the camera for me.

    I like the ability to get at easy changes in menu settings without it being necessary to dive into layers of menu items and the crisper AF especially using longer lenses.

    IQ wise, there is probably not a lot in it; but for me the M1 is the nicer camera to use and that makes up most of my enjoyment of photography.
    Cheers, Dave
    www.simmondsphotography.com

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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Klein View Post
    ...
    I've briefly played with the standard 4/3 lenses on my E-M5. While they work, the focus is a back-and-forth iterative process that takes a couple of seconds, so it's no good for anything but static subjects. My 4/3 lenses are the "Mark 1" original models. They don't have a blue stripe and have NOT been programmed for contrast autofocus and live view). Will they focus reasonably quickly on the E-M1? ...
    As I said, on average the FT lenses focus on par with how they work on the E-5 DSLR, plus or minus. I have used the ZD 11-22/2.8-3.5, ZD 25/2.8, ZD 35/3.5 Macro, and ZD 50-200/2.8-3.5 on the E-M1... all but the ZD 25 are the original type, not optimized for CDAF, and I hardly use the ZD 25 since I have the Summilux-DG 25/1.4 anyway. The Summilux focuses faster than the ZD 25.

    G

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    Senior Member Peter Klein's Avatar
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    Re: E-M1 vs. E-M5, how much better?

    Thanks, everyone. Godfrey, that was the missing piece, that the original ZD lenses are just as usable as the new ones. That makes the decision easier. I'm feeling more inclined to upgrade to the E-M1 eventually. We'll see. I'll have to make another trip to the camera store with my E-M5 and try them side by side for viewfinder look and tactile "feel."

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