be careful before you buy that new camera

OM-D E-M5 dressed out in all its finery
The last month or so has been thick with camera announcements. First there were the bodies, such as the Olympus E-P5, the Leica X Vario, a trio of Pentaxs, the Android-based Samsung NX, Sony's refresh to their RX1 (RX1R) and RX100 (RX100M2), the Fujifilm X-M1, and today, the Canon 70D. And then there were the lens and firmware update announcments. But the real eye-catchers for me have been the E-P5 kit (body + 1.8/17mm + VF-4 EVF) at the start and the Canon 70D. In particular the 70D for its video capabilities.

Why the 70D? Engadget is one of the few sites that has two videos using the 70D, one that was used to shoot the short "Handmade", and the second to shoot the making of the short. The second is very interesting as it shows how the film maker used the touch screen to pick the focus points int the movie, and when a point was chosen, the 70D smoothly changed focus without the the in-and-out focus flicker dance that takes place with every other still-camera-that-also-shoots-video-in-live-mode on the market. If Canon is to be believed then Canon has truly innovated with the 70D's sensor.

The 70D sensor appears to be on the same level of innovation as the sensor in the E-M5 and the E-P5, but not quite the same type of innovation. I purchased the E-M5 because of its sensor's nearly two stop increase in exposure range as well as the innovative five-axis in-body image stabilization. It's the same reason I'm also considering the E-P5, along with the E-P5's lower ISO (down to 100) and higher shutter speed (to 1/8000 sec), and the very high resolution VF-4 (2MP, double the VF-2).

After seeing how the 70D operates, and how you can simply pick the focus point in video by touch on the rear display and have it locked on and tracking without any wavering, I have to really stop and think if I perhaps should get the 70D over the E-P5. And it's a shame, really, as there's really nothing wrong with the E-M5, at least as far as stills are concerned. And I noticed that the majority of "Handmade" scenes had the 70D firmly mounted on something, rather than hand-held. Which makes me question is this the way the "pros" do it, or is it because the in-lens image stabilization may not be all it's cracked up to be?

If I could be camera king for a day, I would take the 70D sensor, properly shaped, and mount it on the Olympus IBIS framework in an Olympus body. And add in the necessary firmware to allow for touch-to-focus during filming. I'm pretty sure Olympus could add it to both the E-M5 and the E-P5 via firmware, since it's already there for stills. And touch-to-focus as well as touch-to-expose is lightning fast and accurate on the E-M5, as I'm sure it will be on the E-P5. The last four photos used touch-to-expose after framing, not the old and obsolete focus-and-recompose dance.

In the meantime I carry my E-M5 (and the Panasonic GX1) around with me and continue to make personal photographs. I'm beginning to shoot personal videos as well. Perhaps I'll reach a point where I can post something without too much embarrassment. In the mean time I'll keep my wallet closed, at least until September, and see how the 70D shakes out in the hands of independent users.

Update 3 July

Found this on Ken Rockwell's web site. I go slumming over there for the same reasons I slow down near car wrecks, because I just can't look away. He's got a small section up on the 70D, and if you bother to click on the link to read the Great Man's Thoughts, you'll come across this rather interesting paragraph:
The 70D is of course a great camera, just as is the 7D, but I don't know that this new AF hocus-pocus is really any different than older systems. How many times have you heard Canon tell us before that some new camera, like the T4i, suddenly had video AF that was perfect, and then the next new camera, like this 70D, suddenly tells us that its AF is the best and that everything before was garbage. We heard the same story when the T4i came out, too. Fool me once...
This is from the former Nikon fanboy who dropped Nikon when the D800 and D4 were introduced and went whole-hog with the latest from Canon, the 5DMK3. Who am I to quibble with an expert in these matters?
The low overcast light on this bit of greenery caught my eye on the way home. Florida has had considerable rain lately, and the land, where it isn't being developed, is a riot of green. All taken with the E-M5 and Panasonic Leica 25mm, post processed in LR5 and Color Efex Pro 4.


  1. I'm pretty interested in the 70D myself. Looks like some interesting upgrades.


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