Saturday, 8 December 2012

Olympus OM-D and Olympus 12-50mm First Impressions Review

Not an early adopter as I was with the Olympus E-P1 and E-P3, I have finally managed to get around to buying an Olympus OM-D E-P5 with the 12-50mm zoom. I was originally going to get the body only but the price difference between the body and 12-50mm kit price wasn't great, so thought it may be useful to have a weather-proof lens.

Initial impressions were mixed but it didn't take long to realise that good things do come in small packages and the benefits of the OM-D are quite deceptive.

The fold out LCD is brilliant and I love the EVF - nice, large and bright. It is taking a little while to get use to the controls. I like the positive nature of the on-off switch, but I am less warm about the location of the switch. I guess I have to get use to it. The size and location of the playback and Fn1 buttons is poor but I will get use to it. The lack of labelling on the control buttons is odd but understandable - I have reassigned most of the buttons to suit my needs anyway. In general the controls are more positive than on the E-P1 and E-P3 and the off-set location of the two control wheels took a little while to get use to. Overall-  a lovely body and great to use.

The 12-50mm lens was a real surprise. It has had some poor reviews and I am less than excited about the f/6.3 aperture at the wrong end. The lens cannot even manage to maintain f/3.5 at 14mm and is a poor f/5.1 at 25mm. This really isn't good enough. The lens should be a half a stop faster across the entire range.

The macro function works really well, I have no issues with sharpness or distortion and the 12mm to 50mm range is excellent. In practice, I haven't found the f/6.3 aperture to be a problem and the lens seems quite sharp and excellent for a low-cost kit zoom. Build quality of the lens is excellent other than the slightly noisy and course geared feel of the manual zoom. Other than the aperture, that is the only time I feel the lens has been built to a price. It would have been nice to have a variable speed to the power zoom, or at least two speeds. I find it a bit slow to go from one end to the other but it would be good for video work. No problems with vignetting or general image quality.

It is taking me a little while to get use to the camera. My first real play was with some low-light work and I haven't been using the Olympus E-P3 much for that as I have not been satisfied with noise control or colour balance for long exposures. Neither are a problem for the OM-D. In fact, low light performance seems better than my Nikon D90 in all respects other than one and that is hot and stuck pixels for long exposures. It isn't bad, but forgetting that when left on sequential shooting, the Olympus doesn't apply dark-frame noise control, there is a little bit of an issue there but it isn't bad. While I never have to bother about it with my Nikon D90, the Olympus E-P1 and E-P3 would result is totally unusable images with the E-P3 slightly worse (in when it became an issue). I was shooting 30 and 40 second images and all were usable. I would be having serious problems at 8 seconds with the E-P3 without the dark-frame noise reduction.

Overall, this is a winner of a camera. Now for some foul weather to test the weather sealing!

Here are some pics...

12mm 1/60s, f/7.1 and ISO1250 (a mistake as I left the camera on auto ISO)

12mm 8 seconds, f/16, ISO200 with a 4-stop (ND16) ND filter. Looks like there is a reflection off the ND filter in that one.

14mm 30 seconds, f/16 and ISO200 with a 1-stop (ND2) filter.

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