Revisiting the Olympus MFT System – Part 3

The other parts of the “Revisiting the Olympus MFT System” series can be found below:

The three way comparison:
As planned, I went back to the Silver Street Lincoln LCE store on the first Saturday in October and asked if I could try out the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera as well as 2 other possible contenders, the Sony A7 and the Nikon D750. Yes, yes, I know this an apples-to-oranges comparison and I shouldn’t even consider the larger A7/D750 but there is “something” about them that I really like. This would also help me decide if the size of the MFT sensor was a disadvantage or not.

Sony A7+28-70lens
This time I was dealing with the manager (Dave) and he tried to make the comparison as fair as possible, I was handed the Sony A7 with the 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS lens, the Nikon D750 with the 24-70mm f2.8 lens and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Straight away the Sony was at a disadvantage with its much slower “consumer” lens but that was the only lens the Silver Street store had; the “pro” Zeiss 24-70mm f4 lens isn’t much faster and only slightly sharper so I wasn’t too concerned about this.

There are a number of problems that I seem to have when I go and take test shots at the shop, any method goes out of the window and I forget to check the camera settings. I didn’t check if I had RAW+JPG enabled for the file format and unfortunately all three were set to JPG only and I’m not sure what quality of JPG either.

Additionally, and more importantly I didn’t ensure that they were all set to the same ISO setting; the Nikon was at ISO 100, the Sony at 200 and the OM-D at ISO at around 4000! I didn’t realise this until I checked the files – any chance of a fair comparison was out of the window.

As I was looking at the files I could see a clear winner – the Sony A7 which did surprise me, I expected the Nikon D750 to be better as it is a newer camera with the latest sensor technology, however this might be attributed to the JPG settings. The Sony files had the most “pop” and clearly stood out even over the Nikon files even though at 100% there was not much in it.

What about the Olympus OM-D E-M1?
The OM-D E-M1 however had mushy files that had a strange colour cast and were awful – this is down to the fact that the white balance was set to something strange and the ISO was way too high, the JPG quality may have been set to a lower setting too. Unfortunately it looks like the high ISO setting of the EM-1 is something to steer clear of. I shouldn’t say much more as this is clearly not fair on the E-M1, yes its sensor is smaller and won’t be as good at high ISO compared to the A7 and D750 but I didn’t expect it to be so bad.

OM-D E-M1 Top
Clearly I will have to go back and try again preferably with an AWB white balance setting as well as shooting in RAW + high quality JPG. Even more importantly I need to try a range of ISO settings from 100 and up to see where the ceiling is for me. I might even have another go with the A7 if they haven’t sold it yet.

So I went back to the shop on the following Monday only to find that they had sold their only copy of the OM-D E-M1 – damn! I was assured that a replacement would be there on Wednsday so I agreed to pop back on Thursday.

Thursday lunchtime I returned armed with an SD card only to find that it hadn’t been delivered yet, it might come later in the day. There isn’t a shortage of them so I was advised to go back on Friday.

As soon as I can get some test shots sorted out I will continue the “Revisiting the Olympus MFT posts”, this could be Saturday, Monday or even later. We’ll just have to wait and see. 😦

I will finish this post by saying that the high-ISO settings I got from the various Panasonic MFT cameras (that I have had over the years) was never an issue; the sensor in the E-M1 will be very similar so I don’t think it will be a problem in reality. However, I am determined to do some proper testing before I make any purchases.