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Old 14th September 2010
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Olympus R.I.P?

At last the long wait is over and we now know the specs of the much anticipated E-5, but is it good or bad news? There certainly seems to be a fair amount of gloom, despondency and disappointment on the forum today. Bearing in mind that this camera will almost certainly not be enough to attract new users in their droves and the main market must surely come from existing users upgrading, has Olympus dropped the ball? Were we all expecting too much? The whole situation is rather confusing and it seems that the E-System community is in turmoil, to the extent that it is hard to make an objective evaluation. Maybe it would be better to wait until the dust settles, but nevertheless here goes.

First, I think we need to view this upgrade within the wider context of DSLR development in general. I do spend some time on more general forums to get a feel of what users of other systems are thinking. There seems to be a growing acceptance by users of high end Canons and Nikons that the days of massive upgrades are over, with future improvements being incremental and evolutionary. The market for DSLRs is for the first time approaching maturity and that fact will affect all platforms and formats.

It is possible to attempt an improvement too far. For it's pro and semi-pro range Nikon has so far, with one notable and very expensive exception, settled on 12mp as being perfectly adequate. Canon, on the other hand, has gone as far as 18mp on a cropped sensor. Amongst the Canon community there is widespread praise for the construction, durability, focusing speed and accuracy, frame rate and general speed of operation of the 7D. Many, however, are less than enthusiastic about its high ISO performance and I have heard grumblings about the new 60D having 18mp with some considering that Canon may have fallen into the megapixel race trap at the expense of overall image quality. I must admit that it seems a little odd to me to put that many pixels into a consumer camera of that class. That level of resolution demands 'L' Series glass but I'm sure the majority of owners will opt for the standard 18-55mm which simply isn't good enough.

The headline news that the E-5 is “only” 12mp is no doubt a disappointment for many, particularly in the wake of speculation about a Panasonic 16mp sensor. However, in practical terms the difference between 12 and 16mp is so negligible that it can be discounted. More important is maximising resolution from those pixels and improving high ISO noise. A year ago I seem to remember we were all raving about the new Pen sensor and processor combination. People were saying “Oh, if only I could have this in an E-3!” Well, now we have, only with what should be an even better processor and better refined AA filter.

I'm excited! We can confidently anticipate significantly better resolution and sharpness at all ISO sensitivities. We should realistically find a 2 stop improvement over the E-3 at high ISO. Just think, ISO 6400 as good as ISO 1600 on the E-3! To me, that feels like Christmas and although it might only be seen as an incremental improvement I would say it is one hell of an increment!

A bigger screen with better resolution, I seem to remember this was on many wish lists and Olympus have taken note. 720 HD video is not cutting edge but it's more than adequate for most users and certainly makes the E-5 competitive in this respect. We don't know about the autofocus system yet but as it was listed as part of the new specs I read between the lines that there may well be an improvement.

Other significant improvements or new features, from my point of view, include a digital level, SD instead of XD card slot, two extra custom modes and 7 step auto bracketing. These were all commonly requested extra features or improvements and so far I don't think that Olympus has been given enough credit for providing these. Remember, these are a whole raft of improvements on what was already an excellent camera!

I do think that we are also taking for granted some real advantages of the E-System that still hold true; effective dust removal, in-body IS, articulated screen still rare on a pro spec body, unrivalled lens quality at every price point and, in the case of the E-5, quality of construction and weather sealing that matches or exceeds the very best of the competition at any price.

Looking at the total package I am impressed and more than happy, feeling that Olympus has achieved the best that could realistically be hoped for at this stage. My only quibble is the suggested price, which seems to be based more on what was current at the time of the E-3 release than on present market trends. Hopefully the street price will be a little more realistic and fall even further once early adopters have made their purchases.

The fact that the response has so far been lukewarm at best is, I think, indicative of the very real damage that rumour sites can do. Sure, all the speculation and anticipation can be rather fun, but it can unrealistically raise expectations. People who would no doubt have otherwise been perfectly happy with the E-5 sensor have been wowed by reports of 15 or 16mp with improved ISO. There were rumours of a big new innovation previously unseen in a DSLR, which of course has not happened. We even had some utter rubbish about a full frame sensor which is the very anathema of the Four Thirds principle! All this unnecessarily raises hope and expectations and is bound to lead to disappointment, however good the actual product is. That is my issue with the Rumor site.

But what of the future? Is the E-5 the ultimate we can expect or is it just a stop gap? Will the E-System wither and die, neglected in favour of Micro Four Thirds, or will it continue to be improved and developed?

These are questions that do need to be answered and I am hoping that at least some of the answers come at Photokina. I think that some of the hints that we've had from Olympus over the past year do point towards an eventual merge of Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view. From my perspective I find it exciting and give it a cautious welcome. Why cautious? Well, it does need to be done properly and very much depends on waiting until EVF technology is as good as an optical finder. Then it needs to be incorporated into a body very similar to the E-3/E-5 with the same sort of size and quality of construction. The operation of the existing E-System lens range needs to be as effective on such a camera as it is on the existing conventional bodies. Providing that can be achieved I think the future is very bright and exciting indeed. Bring it on!

In the meantime, I think that the E-5 is a wonderful camera that I would love to own. In some respects it will never perform quite as well as rivals from other manufacturers but that has always been the case with the E-System. On the other hand it maintains the advantages of the E-System, of which there are many and which attracted me to Olympus in the first place. I probably won't be getting one, at least not in the near future, but that is due purely to my financial situation and is no reflection on the camera. In fact if I had £1500 to spare I'd be on the phone today to place an advance order!
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

I agree with John.

I bought into the E system because Oly had no legacy AF film camera users to worry about and could design the system from scratch for the digital age. The classic example of that is the dust removal system. Dust is not an issue for most of us: the Arctic Butterfly sensor brush belonging to my club is in constant demand by users of other makes.

Another example - IS in the camera, not the lens so that even third-party MF lenses can benefit from it. Let's face it, the only reason Canikon still do it in the lenses is because of their film heritage, where it was the only way you could.

The digital SLR is on borrowed time. As soon as really good electronic eye level finders are developed, the whole mirror/prism thing will be obsolete. And Oly will be at the front of the movement. The merging of 4/3 and micro 4/3 sounds very exciting.

Until then, our E-3s, E-30s and the rest will go on being excellent photographic tools with fantastic glassware. Let's face it, the utterly obsolescent E-1 is still an excellent tool within its limitations - see http://www.flickr.com/groups/e-1 for proof!

There is a saying that the contributions to a good photo are 5% from the camera body, 25% from the lens and 70% from the light and the photographer - or something like that - I am sure someone can put me right!
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

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Originally Posted by steverh View Post
There is a saying that the contributions to a good photo are 5% from the camera body, 25% from the lens and 70% from the light and the photographer - or something like that - I am sure someone can put me right!
Photography is all about the light: the human eye to see it, the ability of the camera and lens to capture it, the techincal skill of the brain to process it... and the artistic ability of the photographer to pull all of this together.
me. Sept 2010

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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Well if it's RIP then I think it'll be a very unquite grave.

Actually I can see many commentators happily celebrating at the wake, telling us that they told you so; and poor thing the strain of trying to be 'professional' was just too much of an Olympian effort, we all saw it coming, very sad.

As they slowly slump to the floor (or for the sake of Ian, bounce off the walls in a frantic sugar induced soft drink high) there will be a hammering at the coffin lid. Perceptions will be splintered. Back from beyond the grave, Olympus will stand tall.

Because the SLR is an exhausted concept, there is no intrinsic merit is having a mirror flapping about in the optical path, it was just an ingenious solution to the technical problem of giving a through lens viewfinder. It had drawbacks, weight was added to the camera, size and complexity; the image had to be composed with the aperture opened to provide enough light, then the photographer took a guess at the actual dof.

What's surprising is that the SLR has remained the solution for so long.

So where does this put Olympus. Well they've signalled strongly that they will move to EVF. They have a reputation for producing high quality solutions to problems, they have a history of producing very well made products. And there is a commitment to providing compatibility with the existing glass.

If Olympus is convinced that it can drive forward the evf and focussing system to equal/exceed the OVF then I suspect they can. And in a reasonable time frame. Their engineers will know all the well rehearsed arguments as to why it can't be done, so they will have a clearly defined set of objectives to work to.

If it needs a bigger body to handle the longer glass (and keep in mind that the Sigma 135-400 is quite comfortable on the Pen's), well a slightly extended battery holder (and think of all the battery space that will give) is really not going to tax the engineers capabilities.


So where does it leave the E-5. A well proven sensor, in camera engine that is a development on one that has already shown its capabilities. It will be well made, it will be durable. Sounds like a pretty good combination. We just need some pictures/stats to demonstrate this.

Of course we'd have liked more, or course we'd have liked a killer camera that would have everyone envying us. But the paradigm shift isn't going to be an SLR camera, Olympus isn't aiming to be last king of the DSLR kingdom.

Olympus has set its eyes onto a new land, it seems to be wanting to beat a broad enough path to it so that we all can carry our legacy SLR lenses along the way.

I think we have a lot to hope for.

Nick
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Well now, this upgrade is just about what I expected, I can't see what more we could have wanted. Video, well if that's what you want surely a customised video camera is the answer! I have an EP 2, I have never felt the need to use the video aspect of it, but what I have found is that for 85% of the time this is now my camera of choice, Its lighter and does most things just as well as my E3, I don't care for it if wanting to photograph moving objects-trains etc and I don't think it would be ideal for sporting subjects.
The new E5 has addressed its biggest failing (in my opinion) the screen definition, which to me, that was the E 3s biggest fault. as for the price, well the E3 was over a thousand when it came out, then it went into the £900 s and hasn't really dropped that much yet. The quality at higher iso s seems to have been upgraded which it did need but then so has the EP 2, I believe it to be much better than the E3. Will I be buying one, very doubtful, why would I need to. One thing though I will not be changing to Canikons where there is a new model (so called) every other week and lets face it, our lenses are better than theirs.
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yorky View Post
Well now, this upgrade is just about what I expected, I can't see what more we could have wanted. Video, well if that's what you want surely a customised video camera is the answer! I have an EP 2, I have never felt the need to use the video aspect of it, but what I have found is that for 85% of the time this is now my camera of choice, Its lighter and does most things just as well as my E3, I don't care for it if wanting to photograph moving objects-trains etc and I don't think it would be ideal for sporting subjects.
The new E5 has addressed its biggest failing (in my opinion) the screen definition, which to me, that was the E 3s biggest fault. as for the price, well the E3 was over a thousand when it came out, then it went into the £900 s and hasn't really dropped that much yet. The quality at higher iso s seems to have been upgraded which it did need but then so has the EP 2, I believe it to be much better than the E3. Will I be buying one, very doubtful, why would I need to. One thing though I will not be changing to Canikons where there is a new model (so called) every other week and lets face it, our lenses are better than theirs.
I agree - I'm, using Pens a lot and at Photokina I will only take a Pen E-P2 with the 14-150 and 9-18.

But if you want to use big heavy lenses, and in inclement weather or dusty conditions, a bigger, sturdier, and sealed camera is what you need. The question is, will Micro Four Thirds evolve in that direction? In the mean time, the E-5 doesn't look so bad.

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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Not as company, but for our type of photography using this type of kit quite possibly in the long term

The simple fact is that there are a lot of people out there who like the SLR format camera and don't want a pen format. Other companies see this and have solidified marketshare and continue to develop in the SLR format.

I like many of the things in this new camera, size and cost being the 2 items I'm not keen on, and I would like to continue to use a system that is frankly better than I am.

I see quotes on forums that there will always be a body to take our lenses and I really hope so, but I just don't like using the rear screen to take a picture and holding the camera in front of me, and evf have an awful long way to go to be as good as even my E-500's viewfinder

So in summary I hope not.. time will tell

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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

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Originally Posted by shenstone View Post
but I just don't like using the rear screen to take a picture and holding the camera in front of me
+1 on that comment. If Olympus move to having EVF on all their models they will lose me as a customer. On rare occasions I will use the screen for critical focusing on macro subjects (with seven times zoom) but otherwise I much prefer an optical viewfinder. If Olympus want to expend some R'n'D effort they could make the optical viewfinder bigger, brighter and cover 100% of the image area. EVF will just consume the battery faster.
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Temple-Fry View Post
Well if it's RIP then I think it'll be a very unquite grave.

Actually I can see many commentators happily celebrating at the wake, telling us that they told you so; and poor thing the strain of trying to be 'professional' was just too much of an Olympian effort, we all saw it coming, very sad.

As they slowly slump to the floor (or for the sake of Ian, bounce off the walls in a frantic sugar induced soft drink high) there will be a hammering at the coffin lid. Perceptions will be splintered. Back from beyond the grave, Olympus will stand tall.

Because the SLR is an exhausted concept, there is no intrinsic merit is having a mirror flapping about in the optical path, it was just an ingenious solution to the technical problem of giving a through lens viewfinder. It had drawbacks, weight was added to the camera, size and complexity; the image had to be composed with the aperture opened to provide enough light, then the photographer took a guess at the actual dof.

What's surprising is that the SLR has remained the solution for so long.

So where does this put Olympus. Well they've signalled strongly that they will move to EVF. They have a reputation for producing high quality solutions to problems, they have a history of producing very well made products. And there is a commitment to providing compatibility with the existing glass.

If Olympus is convinced that it can drive forward the evf and focussing system to equal/exceed the OVF then I suspect they can. And in a reasonable time frame. Their engineers will know all the well rehearsed arguments as to why it can't be done, so they will have a clearly defined set of objectives to work to.

If it needs a bigger body to handle the longer glass (and keep in mind that the Sigma 135-400 is quite comfortable on the Pen's), well a slightly extended battery holder (and think of all the battery space that will give) is really not going to tax the engineers capabilities.


So where does it leave the E-5. A well proven sensor, in camera engine that is a development on one that has already shown its capabilities. It will be well made, it will be durable. Sounds like a pretty good combination. We just need some pictures/stats to demonstrate this.

Of course we'd have liked more, or course we'd have liked a killer camera that would have everyone envying us. But the paradigm shift isn't going to be an SLR camera, Olympus isn't aiming to be last king of the DSLR kingdom.

Olympus has set its eyes onto a new land, it seems to be wanting to beat a broad enough path to it so that we all can carry our legacy SLR lenses along the way.

I think we have a lot to hope for.

Nick
Spot on, Nick, you and I think alike!
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

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Originally Posted by fitheach View Post
+1 on that comment. If Olympus move to having EVF on all their models they will lose me as a customer. On rare occasions I will use the screen for critical focusing on macro subjects (with seven times zoom) but otherwise I much prefer an optical viewfinder. If Olympus want to expend some R'n'D effort they could make the optical viewfinder bigger, brighter and cover 100% of the image area. EVF will just consume the battery faster.
On the E-3/E-5 the optical finder is already bigger, brighter and has 100% coverage. You reject the EVF solution now, based on the quality currently available, but would you still reject it in the future if EVF technology equals or surpasses the very best optical system?
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

I can only re iterate the words of Nick T-F.


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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
On the E-3/E-5 the optical finder is already bigger, brighter and has 100% coverage.
I don't have an E-3. Maybe if the E-3 owners all rush out to buy E-5s I can buy one cheap secondhand Judging by the majority comments on this forum that doesn't look likely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
You reject the EVF solution now, based on the quality currently available, but would you still reject it in the future if EVF technology equals or surpasses the very best optical system?
I reject EVF now mainly because of the process not the quality of the screen. I like looking through a viewfinder. For some things, like macro focusing, I like the liveview but I wouldn't want to have to use it all the time. I find holding the camera to my face has a stabilising effect whereas holding the camera 30cm away from me is more awkward.

However, I can see that EVF will happen as the majority of new users will have been "weaned" on that technique with compact cameras.
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

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Originally Posted by fitheach View Post
I reject EVF now mainly because of the process not the quality of the screen. I like looking through a viewfinder. For some things, like macro focusing, I like the liveview but I wouldn't want to have to use it all the time. I find holding the camera to my face has a stabilising effect whereas holding the camera 30cm away from me is more awkward.

However, I can see that EVF will happen as the majority of new users will have been "weaned" on that technique with compact cameras.
The EVFs we are all waiting for will be used at eye level, like a conventional DSLR. Some cameras have already been made with them, but the technology is not quite there yet - they still need improvements in resolution and response time. The Panasonic DMC G2 is pretty close - see http://www.photographyblog.com/revie..._dmc_g2_review

I reckon Oly must be quite close to releasing a similar camera that will take standard 4/3 lenses...
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fitheach View Post
I don't have an E-3. Maybe if the E-3 owners all rush out to buy E-5s I can buy one cheap secondhand Judging by the majority comments on this forum that doesn't look likely.



I reject EVF now mainly because of the process not the quality of the screen. I like looking through a viewfinder. For some things, like macro focusing, I like the liveview but I wouldn't want to have to use it all the time. I find holding the camera to my face has a stabilising effect whereas holding the camera 30cm away from me is more awkward.

However, I can see that EVF will happen as the majority of new users will have been "weaned" on that technique with compact cameras.
I'm talking about viewing by EVF, not rear sreen. With an EVF you hold the camera to your face and look through the eyepiece just the same as with an optical finder, only the image you see is electronic rather than optical. For me, the crux is when they can get this electronic image as good as an optical one.

Whoops, I see that Steve has already posted pretty much the same reply.
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Last edited by Zuiko; 14th September 2010 at 07:54 PM. Reason: a bit added
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Old 14th September 2010
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Re: Olympus R.I.P?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fitheach View Post

I reject EVF now mainly because of the process not the quality of the screen. I like looking through a viewfinder. For some things, like macro focusing, I like the liveview but I wouldn't want to have to use it all the time. I find holding the camera to my face has a stabilising effect whereas holding the camera 30cm away from me is more awkward.
Steveh is right, evf technology is moving on. Olympus already has the vf-2 which is perfectly good for most purposes, not yet my choice for macro/insects and wouldn't be my favourite for sports, but it's pretty close.

Getting the focus system to be as speedy/responsive and getting it to drive the SLR glass better will probably be a bigger challenge. But it's a 'known' problem so we can be confident that Olympus have ideas about how to resolve it.

I really don't think we can judge the technology until we see the camera.

The PEN series is a great testing ground for new technology before it goes into the 'professional' camera.

Lets wait and see how this all develops, it could be good.

Meanwhile there is nothing stopping us taking pictures with what we've got.

Nick
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Nick Temple-Fry

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