Camera Choice – Part 2

If you have not read part 1 of this blog post, you can read this here.

In my previous post I had chosen a short list of 2 cameras as follows and like I suggested towards the end of the post I have had to expand the shortlist, the new list is as follows:

  • Panasonic Lumix GH3 (4-3rds)
  • Fuji X-Pro1 (APS)
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 (4-3rds)

So why has the Olympus been added? Just like my initial impressions of the GH3, I ignored this camera too. I wasn’t taken by its “Old School SLR”,”OM-esque” style and from what (little) I had read would be too small. I also wasn’t sure about some of the choices made by Olympus during the design of this camera.


What’s to like?
In some ways this camera is more geared towards the professional photographer, it (like the Canon EOS cameras) has a fully featured optical wireless flash system that can be controlled by the camera. It’s does not seem to have the issues with the viewfinder that can affect the GH3 and it also has in-body (5-axis) image stabilisation (IBIS). They also have a dedicated accessory port that can take all of the released devices (like the Macro light, Microphone Adapter and Bluetooth adapter). With the 2-part battery-grip you can add just the grip or add the battery compartment too so keeping the size down. It’s also lighter and smaller than the GH3 and due to its size and SLR (as opposed to D-SLR) looks its less intimidating when you are taking candid photographs. Like the GH3 it is also weather sealed.
OM-D EM-5 Rear ISO

What’s not to like?
Whilst the camera does have HD video it is not as extensive as the GH3. It does not have a headphone port and the GH3 has better microphone connectivity by having a 3.5mm jack on the camera and not by using an accessory port device that uses the hot-shoe. Additionally there is little to no control of the audio levels on the OM-D. Whilst the OM-D does have an adjustable-angle touch-screen (like the Sony NEX cameras) it is not as versatile as the GH3’s flip-out screen. The GH3 has well thought out Wi-Fi connectivity to Smart-phones and tablet devices (in fact I have found some practical real-world usage scenarios for this). Whilst the OM-D is lighter, it is only 45g lighter and this rises to 135g lighter when both the OM-D and the GH3 have their battery grips fitted. Finally, the OM-D has less buttons and controls than the GH3 so will require more menu-diving. Some people have also complained that the Olympus menu system is not very good and the wording is a little ambiguous in certain areas.
Olympus HLD-6 Battery Grip
What about the styling of the camera? While at first I wasn’t enamoured with the camera, it has since grown on me to the point where it is no longer an issue; in fact, I actually like the looks of the camera now.

Lumix GH3-Front

As stated in the previous post I recently had use of a GH3 + 12-35mm lens over last weekend and you can see some of the results in my most recent Swan Nest update post here. My initial impressions were not great, this was much bigger than I expected and not as light as I was expecting although this was still phenomenally much lighter than the 5D+24-105mm lens – around 1kg lighter, if the 35-100mm lens was fitted to the GH3 (and the corresponding 70-200mm lens fitted to the 5D-III) then the difference in weight would raise to almost 1.9 kilos (1.88kg).

The camera was responsive and allowed short bursts of shooting that would keep writing to the memory card for a number of seconds, but the buffer cleared quickly enough to allow more photos to be taken.

At times I didn’t like the grip it suffered from what I call 4th finger syndrome. This is a common problem that I have with Nikon cameras mostly. The 4th finger does not quite fit on the grip and can hang beneath the camera; this can cause cramp in the hand. Fortunately the GH3 has a battery grip that can be added so this should stop this happening.

Olympus HLD-6 Battery Grip-2

The viewfinder was much better than I was expecting after hearing some horror stories on the forums; if you shifted your eye slightly right or left of dead centre you could see what the negative responses were about. This was only present when the exposure scale was on screen when the exposure was being adjusted (program shift in Auto, and Aperture or Shutter speed in their respective Priority modes for example).

The other features of the camera were very good, I liked the dedicated ISO button and the configurability of the camera; the flip-out screen was very usable and helped in capturing some of the shots I took – this was a refreshing MAJOR improvement over using a DSLR with lethargic AF speed when not using the viewfinder.

Lumix GH3-Top

The GH3 has Wi-Fi and at first I was not sure of what use this would be, that was until I watched the following videos by David Thorpe:

Tethering A Panasonic GH3 Via WiFi To iPad and Android Using The Lumix Link App:

Geotagging With The Panasonic GH3 And A Mobile Phone:

So in summary even though this wasn’t perfect in every area that I tested it I believe that it has the right feature set to allow me to do what I need to; remember that I said that camera choice is all about compromise! I very nearly chose the OM-D and the only reasons for not were the lack of full video & audio control as well as the Wi-Fi features. I do see an OM-D (or maybe its replacement) on the horizon once I have the full complement of lenses that I want, in fact I may decide to purchase this camera when I decide to invest in some of the excellent OM prime lenses as this will give me IBIS with them.

Lumix GH3-Back

In my previous post I mentioned Will Crockett’s Discover Mirror-less site, he has a number of guest bloggers who regularly contribute to his site, these are all pro photographers and one of them loves their OM-D, he is called: Giulio Sciorio and has his own site called “Small Camera, Big Picture” you can get to it here.

Interestingly Giulio has also purchased a Lumix GH3 too as this camera is better for his paid work over the OM-D.

One of the things I didn’t know about the Panasonic and Olympus flash systems is that they are the same and they allow wireless (only optical today) off camera flash. I watched one of Giulio’s videos about the Olympus FL600R wireless flash. I was also not aware that the flash could be controlled from the screen of the OM-D camera (like Canon’s). I’m not sure if this applies to the GH3 or not, however the video can be found here:

I mentioned earlier that the audio capability of the GH3 is very good so I looked at the various microphones out there and Panasonic do one called the DMW-MS2E, this is a stereo shotgun model that takes its power directly from the camera. It only supports the GH3 at the moment but I suspect that it will also work with the Lumix G6 which has just been announced as this now has a Microphone socket (the G5 only had an on-board stereo mic). Unfortunately this camera is not available until June or July (depending on which lens is purchased with the camera).

Lumix DMW-MS2

So what I am going to get, the list in no particular order (apart from the first three items) is as follows:

    Bodies and accessories:

  • Panasonic Lumix GH3 camera body
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH3 Battery Grip for GH3
  • Panasonic DMW-BLF19 Battery Pack
  • Panasonic DMW-MS2E Stereo Shotgun Microphone
  • Panasonic DMW-FL360LE Flashgun
  • Additional Sandisk 16GB 95Mb/s SDHC memory card (x2)

  • Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 LUMIX G X Vario ASPH Power OIS lens
  • Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 LUMIX G X VARIO POWER O.I.S. lens
  • Panasonic 100-300mm f4.0-5.6 LUMIX G Vario Lens
  • Panasonic 7-14mm f4 LUMIX G Vario lens
  • Panasonic 25mm f1.4 Leica DG lens
  • Panasonic 45mm f2.8 Macro Leica D Vario Or Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro (the Olympus lens gives 1:1 and is better optically than the Panasonic One)
  • Olympus 12mm f2.0 Black (too expensive but I would like this one)
  • Olympus 17mm f1.8 Black (when available)
  • Olympus 45mm f1.8 Black (when available) – this is a very good value lens and is a no-brainer
  • Olympus 75mm f1.8 Black (not sure about this one)

My next post (on this topic) about this will be about what I have purchased and what is next on the list; I will also update the “My Gear” page too.

NOTE: This post contains 3x embedded YouTube videos, sometimes they don’t load first-time. Simply refresh the page to see them.