Saturday, August 24, 2013

will he or won't he? (buy the rumored om-d e-m1)

OM-D E-M1 with MZuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO zoom lens

About a month ago I wrote a long soppy post about how I was tired of buying cameras and I wasn't gonna buy no more new cameras, no way, no how. I managed to keep that promise through the Olympus E-P5 and the Panasonic GX7.

While the E-P5 was pretty, the design of the GX7 left me cold.

And then Olympus leaked (yes, they did) the video of the E-M1 with the Zuiko Digital 12-35mm f/2 mounted on it. I looked at the blurry video and found I could resist the siren's call.

And then, over on 43rumors, there appeared these two, much much clearer, more professionally produced photos of the E-M1 with the equally rumored 12-40mm f/2.8 constant aperture zoom.

You're probably thinking "Here it comes. Here's where he falls off the wagon and makes wild claims about buying the rumored E-M1 no matter what."


I certainly like the design of the E-M1. It has an incredibly attractive chiseled look that speaks volumes about its refinement. While it does indeed remind me of the film OM bodies, it also has some echoes of the E-1, especially around the "pentaprism" hump and the grip. I find this look far, far more appealing than the Canon, Nikon and Sony melted camera shape, especially their mid-to-upper range DSLRs. It is the same chiseled look I find so appealing in the E-M5, and one very important reason I purchased the E-M5 I have. The look of a camera really does factor into its purchase, along with handling, image quality, and surrounding system.

The 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom lens boosts the overall appeal even further. That lens is equivalent, in field of view, to a 24-80mm lens on a 135mm sized DSLR. If the rumored claims about that lens' performance are true, then this will be one of those nearly-instantly legendary Olympus lenses. I hope the release of the 12-40mm PRO lens presages a new line of high-end and high-quality, environmentally sealed lenses, finally replacing the Zuiko Digital HG and SHG lens lines.

I do have, however, a major gripe about the outward design of the zoom. Once again Olympus' changed the sculpting of the zoom and focus rings as well as the coloration and coating. Back in the past all of the OM film lenses and Zuiko Digital lenses shared the same look-and-feel, the same outward design regardless of focal lengths. You knew they were Olympus lenses and they all looked like they fit in the same distinct Olympus lens family. But not these lenses. Nearly every lens looks like it came from a different maker, or should I say, different ODM lens manufacturer somewhere in China. I wish Olympus would just make up their collective mind, pick a lens casing design and stick with it.

While the E-M1 is rumored to have PDAF capabilities on the sensor itself to support the HG and SHG lenses, I've come to the conclusion that if I'm going to buy something to replace my ZD 12-60mm and 50-200mm, I'd much rather have it in true native µ4:3rds mount lenses, rather than use the MMF-3 adapter. It will, in the end, cost less money. And the newer PRO lenses will be all new designs with all new glass. Those HG and SHG lenses are getting a bit long in the tooth. If I'm going to be spending that much money (and don't kid yourself, those PRO lenses will cost) then I might as well spend it on the latest PRO lenses.

So am I going to break my "vow" and buy and E-M1? I have no earthly idea. Everything I wrote in that earlier post still stands. My two current favorite µ4:3rds cameras, the E-M5 and GX1, still work just fine. And as I wrote yesterday, I'm still learning how to get the most out of them. And to point out the obvious, the E-M1 and the new zoom are going to be quite pricey. I can easily see the combined kit hitting ~$2,500 or more. Probably more. That probable pricing is what's tamping down any desire to commit.

If I do purchase both the body and lens, then I'm going to be selling a lot of existing glass. It might be big, but if the 12-40mm is as good as rumors have it, then I will sell every prime I own from 14mm up to 45mm. There's just no reason to keep them all in the bag. And there would be no reason to budget for either the 12mm or the newer 17mm f/1.8, even if both are one to one-and-a-half stops faster.

When I had my E-3 I found I got along just fine with the 12-60mm and 50-200mm. I had the 50mm macro for those moments when I needed macro, but they came far fewer than all those moments when I needed either of those two zooms. Two µ4:3rds bodies (the E-M1 and E-M5) and two superb µ4:3rds zoom (the 12-40mm replacing the 12-60mm, and something equally good that replaces the 50-200mm) is about all I would need. And maybe the µ4:3rds 60mm macro. And I would be right back to what I had (functionally) with my E-3 system, but with a whole lot better sensor than the E-3.


Read on 43rumors that someone has already placed a pre-order for the kit (body + 12-40mm) for $2,200.

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