Monday, January 23, 2012

Waiting for the Next Big Thing

There's been considerable speculation about the next camera allegedly to come from Olympus, the OM-D. You've seen little "peeks" of it on the rumor site, I've seen them, and while I find that they certainly pique my interest in this new camera coming from Olympus, they've now started to raise even more questions about what Olympus is planning to introduce the first week of February.

E-P2 vs. OM-4T

Although I've taken photos of the E-P2 next to the OM-4T in the past, I've not gone to the trouble to make them look as accurately together before now. While it looks like the E-P2 and OM-4T bodies are essentially the same size, they aren't. First off, if you butt the bodies bottom-plate to bottom-plate, the E-P2's length is a good half-inch shorter than the OM-4T. The overall body depth is the same. Secondly, the OM-4T has a large mirror box; the E-P2 doesn't.

Another interesting feature are the lens sizes. I deliberately photographed the M.Zuiko 45mm with the Zuiko OM 50mm to show just how much smaller the 45mm is. On the one hand the 45mm at 1:1.8 is 2/3rds stop slower than the 50mm 1:1.4. On the other hand the 45mm is considerably smaller and lighter than the 50mm. By the time the OM 50mm is mounted on the E-P2 with its adapters, the whole assemblage dwarfs the 45mm. And the 45mm is very fast to autofocus on the E-P2, which the OM 50mm can't. Finally, the 45mm is noticeably sharper at the center than the 50mm, especially wide open. While I certainly got a lot of fun out of using the 50mm, I've "seen the light" with the 45mm, and for me there's no going back.

OM-4T Top Deck View

I've seen the two small images of the OM-D controls on what is the shutter button side of the OM-D. When I compare those images with the OM-4T, well, there's really no comparison. The OM-4T is still a masterpiece of minimal ergonomics. The OM-4T still maintains the original OM-1's placement of the shutter speed selection ring around the lens mount. The ASA selection dial was moved from the shutter button side of the camera underneath the rewind button while given an exposure compensation control concentric and overlaying the ASA dial. The right side was then taken up with the metering controls. I loved the layout and the responsiveness of the OM-4/4T series.

Which begs the question in my mind. People who've seen the OM-D say it reminds them of the OM-4. I'm going to reserve judgement until it's finally released, but from what I've seen so far the OM-D will look like the OM-4T the way my E-P2 looks like the original film Pen, which is to say, only very generally.

The OM-D certainly won't have the mirror box, and it certainly won't have the control layout. They say the OM-D will have two dials on the top deck, one on each side. It will be very interesting to see how those controls are programmed and what it is they do. I do know this; unless I'm very, very mistaken, the OM-D won't have a shutter speed ring around the lens mount, which is a distinctive hallmark of the OM film series.

Which is not to say I'm not interested in the OM-D. I most certainly am. I will more than likely do something I've never done with any camera, and that's put in a pre-order for the OM-D before I've even had a change to hold one in my hands. I've been waiting for Olympus to produce this style of camera for the µ4/3rds series since the release of the E-P1. If it comes in the same general size and weight of the OM-4T, it will still be far smaller and lighter than my E-1 and E-3.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that Olympus is finally going to produce a camera that honors the legacy of the OM series, even though most of us realize it will be an OM in style only, but probably have a lot more in common with the current Pens and DSLR's.

    I'm just happy it will have weather sealing and and an EVF, two features I very much appreciate. A tilt-screen would be the icing on the cake.

    But I have a few concerns as well:

    1. Olympus has not done anywhere near as good as job as Panasonic with video, and I hope they really ramp up it for the OM-D.

    2. Phase detect focusing -- I'd like to see that brought back to help better focus legacy 4/3 lenses.

    3. Lack of micro 4/3 weather sealed lenses: right now, I'm only aware of the 12-50mm. I'd love to see a lot more choices available.

    Still, none of those concerns are deal killers, just things I'd personally like to have.


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