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. These include element protection, a high-res electronic viewfinder and advanced five-axis image stabilisation.
The photo-fiend snaps into action with a 16Mp CMOS sensor, geared up for low-light shots through a high-end ISO setting of 25600.
On the rear you'll find a 3in 610,000-dot tiltable OLED touchscreen to accompany the 1.44Mp electronic viewfinder.
Olympus claims the E-M5 features the fastest auto-focus of the current crop of any interchangeable lens cameras.
Its burst capture performance is pretty nifty too, notching up 9fps at a fixed focus, dropping to 4.2fps with continuous autofocus enabled.
The magnesium alloy body is equipped with dust- and splashproof sealing, as is the electronic flash set to accompany the camera upon launch. The E-M5 also captures HD video at 1080i.
The Olympus E-M5 will be available in black and silver this April for a recommended price of $1000 (£629).
The outlay rises if you'd like a lens thrown in.
For the M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R lens, customers will have to fork out $100 more.
Alternatively, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens knocks it up to a total of $1300 (£818).
For full tech specs, check out the Olympus E-M5 website. ®
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.
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.
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.