Thursday, September 12, 2013

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review: Image Sharpness, Handling and Continuous Autofocus with Tracking

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Touch and Try Session, Kuala Lumpur (21 and 22 September 2013)
 If you happen to be in Kuala Lumpur, you have a chance to touch and try the Olympus OM-D E-M1 in a coming event on 21st and 22nd September!! First come first serve basis, so hurry up and register. I will be there, and hope to see some of you beautiful people there!

More information on Micro Four Thirds system here: http://www.olympusimage.com.my/products/dslr/em1/

Important Notes:
1) I am an employee of Olympus Malaysia. I am reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 from a photography enthusaist’s point of view. I was given the liberty to perform the gear review as usual. 
2) This is a user experience based review.
3) The insect macro images were shot in RAW and converted directly to JPEG Large Fine via Olympus Viewer 3 (provided by Olympus Malaysia). The Continuous AF test images were shot directly with JPEG Large Fine, and presented straight out of camera. 
4) General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5) No post-processing applied to the images. All images were as good as straight out of camera, with minimal cropping for better presentation.

This is Part 2 of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 review. If you have not done so, please go to Part 1 here (click). 

In the previous blog review I have tested the E-M1 by pushing its limit in high ISO shooting, and the NEW 16MP Live MOS image sensor performed above my expectations. Image quality is not only crucial when it comes to low light performance, and I believe low ISO shooting is equally, if not more important. Now that Olympus has removed the anti-aliasing filter, we are expecting the image to show some improvements, especially in fine details capture with their new "fine detail processing 2". 

In order to test the image sharpness of the new image sensor, I have decided to do something that I have always done: insect macro shooting. Concurrently, I shall also discuss the handling of the camera, since macro shooting poses great challenge to handle and balance the camera, steadying the shots with extreme magnification. 

Right after macro shooting, we shall explore the capabilities of the Continuous Autofocus with Tracking of the E-M1. 

INSECT MACRO SHOOTING: IMAGE SHARPNESS TEST

MACRO GEAR SETUP

Before we go on further, allow me to explain the techniques on how I shot some of the extreme magnification images. For general shooting where extreme magnification is not required, I used standard AutoFocus to lock my subjects. Do bear in mind that the following technique is only employed for high magnification images more than 0.5x magnification on the Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens. 

Gear Setup

Body: Olympus OM-D E-M1, with the bundled flash attached, and switched ON all the time
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens
Flash: Olympus FL-50R flash



My execution on macro shooting:

1) Olympus E-M1 with 60mm macro lens was held single-handedly by my right hand

2) External flash, FL-50R was held by my left hand, with wireless TTL mode activated and ready to fire.

3) I used the DIY made "Shoebox Flash Bouncer (click for more details)" on the flash head all the time. The direction of the bounced flash was aimed at the subject mostly from the side, slightly above their head level.

4) General camera settings: Shutter Speed from 1/80sec to 1/125 sec (to capture a little bit of ambient light, if possible for a more natural look), Aperture from F/5.6-F/14 (to control and maximize depth of field required), ISO 200-400 

5) Manual Focus, with the lens set to the amount of magnification required (for magnification of 0.5x or higher). I rocked myself back and forth until the zone of focus-interest was seen clear/sharp on my viewfinder, and I fired the shutter button.

Enough technicalities, lets see some results!

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro: ISO320, 1/60sec, F8, 

100% Crop from previous image

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens, ISO200, 1/100sec, F7.1

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO200, 1/80sec, F7.1

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO200, 1/60sec, F4, 

Looking at the 100% crop of the dragonfly's eye (first and second images), there is a significant improvement in terms of overall per pixel sharpness captured. I was blown away by the sheer amount of fine details captured, especially the revelation of the magnified compound eye. Older cameras like Olympus E-5 and E-M5 can both produce excellent macro images, as I have demonstrated many times in my previous reviews with those cameras, but even by looking at the photographs shown in this entry the image sharpness on the E-M1 has shown improvement by quite a far margin. The E-M1 images just appear richer and more full of fine details. 

There is something about the Truepic 7 image processing engine that comes with the Fine Detail Processing 2 technology (that was quite a mouthful) that did some optimization to the images. Olympus JPEG files are known to have plenty of sharpening artefacts, appearing like coarse noise which can get rather intrusive of the image was viewed at larger magnifications. DPReview has recommended the best setting to either set the noise filter to "Low" or "Off" and turn down the sharpness setting to "-2" in order to minimize the sharpening artefacts caused by the JPEG compression. As you can see in all the photographs in this blog entry, they are all almost virtually free of sharpening artefacts, and surely this was a good news. My settings were set to default sharpness "0" and noise filter OFF. It is great to see finally Olympus has solved one of the issues highlighted by the users. 

The Fine Detail Processing 2 allows compensation of image sharpness independently with different lenses mounted on E-M1. Some lenses will surely be sharper than others, eg the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens is known to be much sharper than the M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens. Therefore, applying a universal sharpening level (on conventional JPEG processing) on all images will render the already sharp image produced by the super sharp M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens to be over-sharpened, thus the sharpening artefacts. Now with the new Fine Detail Processing 2 that takes into consideration which lens was being used, it will recognize each lens individually and apply sharpening levels accordingly, which was quite a neat trick if you ask me. It was surely all on software and programming level, but the result you get from Olympus JPEG engine, is an optimized output.

The lens profile correction is not only limited to adaptive sharpening for different lenses, but it also corrects chromatic aberration, compensates for loss of resolution due to diffraction (shooting at higher F-number) and correction of distortion. As you can observe from all the images shown here, they were all almost virtually all corrected from any lens imperfections. This auto-correction capability only works for Olympus Zuiko and M.Zuiko digital lenses. 

Another important item worth discussing is Moiré pattern suppression. The E-M1 has excluded the anti-aliasing filter, resulting in extremely sharp images but also caused high susceptibility to Moiré pattern issues, especially in textured subjects. Olympus applies correction on the Moiré pattern issues at the software level, via their new Truepic 7 image processing engine. Interestingly I have not encountered any Moire pattern in any of my photographs taken with E-M1 until now. I shall do further testing to verify this. 


M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO200, 1/80sec, F5.6, 

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO 200, 1/80sec, F6.3, wireless flash fired

100% crop from previous image

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO400, 1/80sec, F8

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO 200, 1/40sec, F5.6

CAMERA HANDLING

Shooting macro is extremely challenging for me, especially with the method of using one hand holding the camera with lens, and another holding the external flash unit, which I used throughout the whole macro shooting session. I was also provided with the Olympus HLD-7 battery grip, which I decided not to use for this shoot, as I prioritized the smaller size and less weight setup. I shall discuss the handling and use of the HLD-7 battery grip in the next review entry, when I use larger and heavier Zuiko Digital Four Thirds lenses, such as the 50-200mm F2.8-3.5. 

I particularly like the beefier hand grip that provided substantially much steadier and reassuring right hand holding on the camera. As I hold the camera it felt very solid, and confident. This is expected from Olympus professional build quality, similar even to E-5. The camera has significant weight on itself, so coupling with larger lenses such as M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 is no longer a problem, unlike the previous E-M5 that I have recommended to be used with a landscape/horizontal grip for better stability. The E-M1 appeared, and felt on hand to be better built, and tankier than the E-M5. 

Handling with M.Zuiko lenses, the combination felt balanced, and comfortable to use. For many people E-M5 may be too small, especially for men with larger hands. I do not have large hands, but I do appreciate the extra space to grip the camera more comfortably. The largest lens I have used on the E-M1 without the aid of the HLD-7 battery grip was the Zuiko Digital 7-14mm F4 lens, and if you can kindly refer to my Part 1 review, I have no problem with this combination and managed to even pull off some very slow shutter speed shooting, down to 2 seconds, successfully again, and again. I have full size image samples to back-up my claim!

I shot the whole session at the Butterfly Park Kuala Lumpur for about 3 hours, and I did not feel any strain on my wrists or arms. The balanced handling and comfort of use allowed me to hold the camera and lens single-handedly for long hours. The camera by itself, though is larger and heavier than E-M5, is still rather manageable. But I did get cramps and sores on my legs and even my butt due to crouching and bending my body in awkward positions to get to some of the insects hiding in the most inauspicious locations. 

When you need to use larger and heavier lenses, the addition of HLD-7 will add much needed counter-weight and balance. 

One of the few complains about E-M5 was the tiny buttons, with placements being too cramped on the camera. Now that the new E-M1 is slightly larger, the extra space has allowed the buttons to be made larger, and being placed not too closely to each other. Some have also complained about the rubbery feel, and difficult to press (requires more force to push down) buttons on the previous E-M5. The reason for this was due to the weather sealing mechanism, and the E-M1 has the same difficult to press buttons characteristics. Since there is more space between buttons, and the size of the buttons is bigger, I find it a lot easier to use the buttons now. 

M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro, ISO 200, 1/100sec, F5.6

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO200, 1/100sec, F7.1

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO320, 1/80sec, F5.6

M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro, ISO200, 1/80sec, F6.3

100% crop from previous image. 


CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS WITH 3D TRACKING

I was the first person in the world to provide the feedback during the E-M5 review that the E-M5 did not perform very well in continuous autofocus, and subsequently many other reviewers have come to the similar conclusion. Now, I am sure there are many E-M1 reviews being published out there already, but I hope I am among the first few to tell you that the E-M1 now has much better continuous AF and can track fast moving subjects with ease, with very high success rates. I know, I know, it is a little difficult to believe, just like my claim on 1-2 seconds slow shutter speed hand-holding claims for the 5-Axis IS effectiveness but I do have lots of photographs to prove this point. 

We all know that Phase Detect AF system performs better than Contrast Detect AF when it comes to continuous AF shooting. For single AF shooting, Olympus Micro Four Thirds system has accomplished and still maintained the record for having the world's fastest autofocus. Anyone who has tried Olympus newer cameras such as OM-D E-M5 and the PEN E-P5 would surely agree with the incredible single AF speed, even professional photographers who use top of line DSLRs such as Nikon D4 or Canon 1Dx can testify to this. However, when it comes to continuous focusing the Contrast Detect AF falls far behind the capabilities of Phase Detect AF system. 


Focusing areas layout: Left using Phase Detect AF for Four Thirds DSLR Lenses
Right using Contrast Detect AF for Micro Four Thirds DSLR Lenses

For continuous focusing with Micro Four Thirds (M.Zuiko) lenses, BOTH Phase Detect AF and Contrast Detect AF are used to optimized object tracking. 

The Phase Detect AF pixels were built on chip directly onto the image sensor itself, alongside photo-pixels, allocated discretely in the form of zigzag lines to ensure accurate distance measurement. Note the arrangement of left and right channels.


 For the missing photo pixels, data was interpolated by extracting adjacent surrounding pixels. 


One of the practical solution to address this shortcoming of continuous AF in Micro Four Thirds system was to include Phase Detect AF system in it. Olympus has come up with their own solution of building the Phase Detect AF onto the image sensor itself. This solution actually kills two birds with one stone: it allows faster focusing with the older Four Thirds DSLR lenses that all relied on Phase Detect AF system to work optimally, and as expected, the inclusion of Phase Detect AF will significantly improve the continuous AF ability of the camera. To make this happen, while shooting in Continuous AF mode, the Phase Detect AF will work hand in hand together with Contrast Detect AF to optimize subject tracking while in motion, and we will see how well this performs in real life shooting conditions. 

To test the Continuous AF, for this session I used the new Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, testing from the wide end (12mm) all the way to the telephoto end (40mm). I set the camera to burst mode, and the camera can accomplish 6.5 frames per second when used with Continuous AF shooting mode. I then set the camera to Shutter Priority, taking control of the shutter speed. For panning subjects, I used shutter speed of 1/20-1/40sec, and to completely freeze the moving object, I used higher shutter speed of 1/400-1/500sec. Please note that the 5 Axis Image Stabilization was turned off automatically when the burst sequential shooting was engaged (you can disable this setting within the menu). 

Before I make any claims, please take note that I seldom make use of Continuous autofocus function, and have always relied on single autofocus shooting only. Most of my photography subjects do not require me to use continuous focusing. I may not be the best person to give you recommendations and conclusions, and my tests were done based on my own limited knowledge and experience in executing continuous shooting on the field. 


CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS TEST SET 1





I have displayed a full set of my burst shooting of this motorcycle rider and his daughter passing by. I understand that the image size has been reduced and may not be useful to judge if the images were in perfect focus or not, thus I provided larger image size for download at the end of this blog entry. The reason why I chose this set was obvious, the focus was locked on the little girl's face. As the motorcycle passed me by, the girl's face was temporarily blocked by the motorcycle's side mirror. As this happened, the Continuous Autofocus on the E-M1 still managed to accurately tracked the girl's face, when it was blocked, and followed through after that. This is a series of more than 20 images but I cut it down to 18 for ease of display, and I was shooting in burst mode for about 4 seconds. 

Not only was the tracking of motion moving from right to left of the frame, but the motorcycle was physically further away from me at the first frame and came closer and closer toward me, and moved away from me again exiting the left of the frame. The tracking worked effective in all these tested directions. 

I have never successfully achieved this with any Micro Four Thirds cameras before, and even when I was using my own DSLR E-5, it would struggle especially when something came in front of the subject and blocked the line of sight. 

I have a few more sets to show, and yes, I also provide larger size of the image set compilations for you to download in the later part of this blog. 


CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS TEST SET 2




The Continuous Autofocus works very, very efficiently and managed to track the subject in motion. I do have some failures, I admit I seldom shoot with Continuous Autofocus, and I do make mistakes which should be taken into account for the failures. The reason for my failed shots was my inability to lock focus properly on the subject at the first frame, consequently resulting in failed tracking on all subsequent shots. 

What if I shoot more than 40 shots all at one go? The beautiful thing about this new professional grade OM-D E-M1 is the extra large sized buffer built into the camera for longer duration of continuous burst shooting. It is rated that with a sufficiently fast memory card, you can get away with at least 41 RAW shotson Single AF  (10 Frames per second burst) and 50 RAW shots on Continuous AF (6.5 frames per second burst) with the in camera buffer before the camera slows down. This is a crucial for professional photographers who needed the extra safe margin to have more shots when shooting in burst mode. 


CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS TEST SET 3






I have taken a set of more than 50 shots for this particular series which corresponded to about 7-8 seconds long shooting and I got almost all images sharp. There were a few misses in the series, but overall the hit rate was still very impressive. Please download the larger files at the download section and see ALL the 36 shots shown here individually, they were all in focus! Note that all these images were taken with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens, at 40mm (zoomed to the tele-photo end), at widest aperture F2.8. If you magnify the images, you can evidently notice that the background was soft (out of focus) and the rollerblader was in focus, shot after shot. 

I understand that some of you may not trust the images being displayed here, since they have been reduced in resolution, and obviously compressed to a certain degree. It is difficult to judge the image quality with so much size reduction, hence as usual, for your pixel-peeping pleasures, I have compiled selected images in high resolution (full resolution for insect macro images only, obviously the compilation of 9 images grid would be insanely huge for full resolution) for your download as follows:

E-M1 HIGH RESOLUTION SAMPLE IMAGES HERE

DOWNLOAD 3

DOWNLOAD 4


Coming up next, Part 3: Shooting with Four Thirds Zuiko Digital Lenses

In my coming Part 3 review, I make use of the highly admired Zuiko Digital lenses from the DSLR E-System. Now Olympus has Dual Fast AF and on-chip Phase Detect AF, we are expecting improvements in the autofocusing with Zuiko Digital lenses. I am still shooting and compiling sufficient content, and please do give me a bit more time because I am testing quite a few lenses for this blog entry.

___________________________________________________
For those of you in Malaysia, you can PRE-ORDER the new amazing Olympus OM-D E-M1 from  Olympus' Online Store here (click).


Please support me by "liking" my FACEBOOK PAGE (click).

You may also read my FULL user experience review blog entries of other Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses at Gear Review Page here (click).  

94 comments:

  1. Nice....Tahnk you for your reviews...
    Can you please do a continuous AF test with the 50-200 on a person/model or motorcycle walking-jogging/running towards the camera? I am thinking that this test is the one that will convince a lot of DSLR owners to either get the EM1 or look to other brands.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stan de la cruz,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      As I have mentioned, the tests on performance with Four Thirds DSLR lenses will be performed on the next coming blog entry.

      Delete
    2. Thank you in advance and more power to you. I would also like for you to test or at the least comment on battery life using 4/3 lenses (with and without the grip).

      Delete
  2. Another nice job, Robin. In the past I have pretty much bought what I wanted for gear. This may be the first time I want something that is a bit over my price range. On the other hand, this is what I get for simultaneously investing in two systems: Oly and Sony NEX.

    I own both the Oly 60mm m43 and the 50mm F2. I am curious how the 50 performs on the EM1?? As you know a 100mm-equiv with F2 is hard to beat. On the EM5 it is very slow and noisy... How is it on the EM1?

    Regards, Peter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words!

      I will be testing on Zuiko Four Thirds lens performance on my coming blog entry, so please do give me some time to test and compile enough content. For now, my first impression, the 50mm F2 performs considerably well (fast, and very accurate) on the E-M1, and is way faster than on the E-M5. I shall explore further soon.

      Delete
    2. That should be a very sought-after report! My guess is a lot of folks who have the camera to review do not have the inventory of "old" Oly reg43 glass that you have. Am looking forward to your findings, Robin. Take care. Peter

      Delete
  3. This is the 1st post I see you talking like a geek when you try to explain the Phase Detect pixel kind of thing. Put that aside, I still praise your macro picture set!!Undoubtedly stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ashraf,
      I needed some diagrams to show the phase detect thing. Else it is hard to explain the black and white dot thingy!!
      Thanks for the kind words.

      Delete
  4. Seems like I have to try the EM-1 after all. I've almost never been able to get a flying bird in sharp focus with my 100-300. If I have something else at more or less the same distance that I can focus on first and then point the camera at the bird, I might have a chance, but often it just loses the bird and goes focus hunting forever. Even for static subjects the 100-300 is hard to use and I very often switch to manual focus to get sharp images.

    With shorter lenses I almost never have any problems with autofocus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey rasmus,
      I wish I can try a 100-300mm lens with the E-M1 to see if I can get anything in focus with the C-AF. Unfortunately I do not have any friends with that lens.

      Delete
    2. Hi Robin, what about the Oly 75-300?

      Delete
    3. I don't have the opportunity to try that just yet. Will do so if I can find some time. Been super busy lately.

      Delete
  5. Great writeup Robin.
    Have you had a chance to use the new 14-40 f/2.8 lens yet?
    I can't wait for your review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you mean the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens? Yes, all the continuous AF shots were taken with that lens.
      And I will dedicate a separate proper review for the 12-40mm F2.8 lens alone.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Yes, that's what I meant. Thanks!

      Delete
    4. No worries, that review for 12-40mm F2.8 will come a bit later. I cannot do too many things at one time!

      Delete
  6. This is great work! Very detailed and even though you work for Olympus, you seem to be staying away from marketing jargon. Look forward to reading about the 4/3rds lenses since I'm pretty sure I want to get the 50-200mm when I buy the EM-! in October.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey David,
      I do my best to stay true to myself, and remain as I have always been. I have dedicated tests with 50-200mm, stay tuned!

      Delete
  7. Cool, Robin.

    Seeing those macro shots made me want to go to KL Butterfly Park again.

    One thing I noticed in your macro shots was that the E-M1 managed to preserve details in the "hotspots". My E-P3 tends to blow highlights more easily, and I can't recover detail in the hotspots.

    Looking forward to the next part of your review ... seems like the most interesting Olympus reviews come out of Malaysia these days (I've also been following Ming Thein).

    Good cheer,
    S

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey newzild,
      lets go and shoot there together!
      Ming thein is an amazing guy and photographer, he has a lot to say and contribute to the photography community. glad that you are also following him.

      Delete
    2. Hey, I'd really like to do that, Robin. I really love shooting macro. I should be in KL in a couple of weeks, so I'll get in touch.

      S.

      Delete
  8. I don't usually comment on reviews, but I have to give you your due with such a great job explaining the capabilities of the E-M1.
    I had reservations about the E-M1, especially with its price but it seems to be a very capable camera that ticks all the right boxes.
    I look forward to your continuing series of reviews and hope to see a part about the E-M1's dynamic range (highlight headroom and shadow detail recovery capability perhaps?). I have no experience with the newer generation m4/3 sensors having only used an E-PL2 and a GH2 but it appears to have evolved quite significantly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey Dan,
      The camera E-M1 is surely a huge improvement over E-PL2 and GH2! Focusing has been improved in all areas and image quality has come a long way too. I am not the best person to test the dynamic range. have you read Ming Thein's review?

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no problem reading from 4 different computers, 3 from work and now one from home.

      Delete
    2. Ooph! You were one step ahead of me. :-) After I've deleted my comment only did I see your reply.
      Anyway, thanks. I'll check out if there's something wrong with my laptop's setup (I view through a large external monitor).
      Great review you have there Robin. Thanks for being neutral, truthful and frank.
      Keep up the good job!

      Delete
    3. No worries Joseph! I am known to be efficient, I was an engineer after all!

      Delete
  10. Thanks Robin. I really like your style.
    OMD EM-1 is preordered. I hope i will receive it this year.

    greetings from Austria
    gunter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey gunter,
      I am very sure you will receive it this year!

      Delete
  11. Another great user review, keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great job on the review.

    One piece in info I would love to know is if the cdaf capable 4/3rds lenses like the 70-300, 14-54 mk2 or the Panasonic 25mm can do hybrid AF or use cdaf at all with the em1.

    All the stuff from Olympus I've read says pdaf only.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Graham.
      I will test the capability of focusing with Four Thirds lenses in my coming entry. Give me some time to shoot and compile some contents. I do not have access to panasonic lenses at this moment, so that will be difficult for the Panasonic 25mm.

      Micro 4/3 lenses will use Contrast Detect for S-AF, and both Contrast detect and Phase detect for C-Af shooting.

      4/3 DSLR lenses will use phase detect for both S-Af and C-Af shooting

      Delete
  13. Thanks again for this excellent review. Your comments including the outstanding photography are probably the reason I may be getting the E-M1 sooner than later. No other reviews I have read gives me the same hands-on feeling. As a long time Oly shooter, I have been shooting for the last 18 month with the E-PL5 and one of my lenses is the 60 mm macro. I love this combination for bugs, flowers and butterflies. I have been using the autofocus, but I will try your setup. Question: how close can you get to these creatures without disturbing them? I had no such luck, even when I move in slowly, they jump or fly of before I have a chance to get really close. I used to use the E-3 with the 50-200 SWD with good results for butterflies and dragonflies.
    BTW, congratulations to your new dream job. You are the perfect match!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey john,
      Thanks for the kind words! the bugs do run away from me from time to time, but there are those that stayed still. And yes I get to do 1:1 magnification with them, so the focusing was at its closest to th lens.
      The dragonflies in Malaysia somehow are quite friendly! They allowed you to go really, really near.

      Delete
  14. great info on the EM1 and as usual wonderful macro shots..

    i am currently using the Fuji XE1 with 35mm and also the EPL5 with 17mm f1.8

    after reading your review and also Ming Thein's..
    i am really tempted to sell my fuji and fully convert to m4/3..

    any opinions on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if you ask me, I will say jump to Olympus ! (because I obviously work for Olympus)

      Delete
  15. Hi,

    thx for your review; just two questions...

    1.) You speak several times of a "new sensor". But the basic unit is just the E-M5 sensor (tweaked, e.g. by no AA-filter), right?

    2.) Could you comment on shutter shock effect (especially in comparison to E-M5)? Does the E-M1 have 1/8 s delay (just like the E-M5)? Is this delay still needed for ultimate sharpness at certain shutter speeds? Or is there some other way of removing vibrations of shutter implemented in the E-M1 design? (One of the prominent - but not spoken of - disadvantages of current mirrorless cameras concerning optimal image sharpness.)

    Thx!
    Fabrice

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Joe,
      It is a new sensor, not the one used in E-M5. And yes the AA filter is removed.
      I have not experienced any shutter shock yet for the E-M1, all my images came out alright. I did not notice any issues.

      Delete
    2. Hi, thanks for your reply.

      You probably didn't notice any shutter shock for the old E-M5 either? It only shows up for certain
      - shutter speeds and
      - lenses

      I thouroughly tested this and was quite disappointed that for certain lens/shutter speed combinations the 1/8 s delay made a SUBSTANTIAL difference concerning image sharpness...

      At least the 1/8 s delay option is still available at the new E-M1?

      Thx :)

      Delete
  16. Looks like the tripod female jack is out of line with the lens axle! Bad thing for a pro cam oly !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin, can you confirm that?

      Delete
    2. Yes the tripod famale jack is not in line with the lens axle.

      Delete
    3. disappointing news for me, as i´m doing 360° panoramic shoots. nordal point issue !

      Delete
    4. btw, robin, how is the situation with the HLD7 vertical grip mounted? femal tripod jack of HLD7 also out of lens axle?
      thx a lot!

      Delete
  17. Hi Robin Wong,
    as always a very nice job, I have to say that many of the detractors of m43 should see your work . Keep up with your great work.
    Greetings from Norway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rolando for the kind words!

      Delete
  18. Hi Robin, again you have done a very good job! My question to CAF: With my M5 it is impossible to get my wifes dog sharp, when it is fast running directly to me. I really hope to get my wife satisfied with the M1 in combination with my FT SWD50-200, which was without work during the last 2 years. But I kept it "in my safe", waiting for better times and a mFT camera like this M1. If you meet a dog during your tests, please try it!
    Thanks and best regards from Germany!

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    1. Hey Dirk,
      I am not sure if I can find a dog around in KL but if I can I will give it a try.

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  19. One more question:
    Does 4/3 lens + extender eg 1.4x + mmf3 work together on e-m1?

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    Replies
    1. I shall do some tests and get back to you. I will need to find an EC-14 first.

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    2. Hey Arthur,
      I have just done a test with the EC-14 on top of the MMF-3 adapter, and it worked perfectly fine on the E-M1. No issues encountered so far

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    3. thx robin!
      very good new for me, as i have an 90-250mm, and like to use it with 1,4x. 2x for wildlife shooting !
      fantastic lens, i truely love!

      sincere congrets for your work ! arthur

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  20. Robin, Thanks again for another great review. Your style of writing is refreshing and personal. It sometimes feels as though I am right there as you explain things. Glad to see you back doing what you love. And congrats also on the job with Olympus. Nice that you can do that and continue with your personal blog writing in the style you have always done.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much David for the kind words and well wishes. I think the reason I write my blog in the first place was because I had so much to say and no one to talk too! Hence the conversational style.

      Delete
  21. Hi Robin, always amazed at the micro contrast from these m4/3 Olympus cameras.
    One thing I don’t see is custom settings (C1, C2 etc) on the PASM dial. Is there a way to save regularly used settings?


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    Replies
    1. Hey Doug,
      You can set the custom settings to be assigned on one of the shortcut buttons.

      Delete
  22. Another great, detailed review with really valuable sample images. The macro shots...particularly those following the spider...are enough justification to buy the camera. Only the price disrupts the fantasy at this point; who knows what the future may bring.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Michael for the kind words.
      Indeed the price is a bit steep but it is also a professional grade camera with excellent build and weather-sealing, so it cannot be cheap either.

      Delete
  23. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your tests. Owning an E5 + 12-60 + 50-200 I really need an upgrade path, and your reviews are always useful.
    However, I must admit I don't find your CAF tests here very useful.
    For example, about the skate guy: even the far away background is in focus! You need a very fast lens wide open, and/or a long telephoto/zoom lens wide open, to test CAF accuracy. That is, very shallow DOF.
    The girl in the motorcycle shots are a bit better, but still the DOF is big (maybe 20 or 30 cm) and the girl was close (maybe 150-200cm?). So this shows more about your skills for panning (quite good!), and less about how good the CAF is...
    It would be GREAT if you can do similar tests with the 50-200 wide open at 200mm. Even better, with a teleconverter.

    Thanks for your neat work!

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    Replies
    1. If you download the image at the larger size you can clearly see the background is out of focus.

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    2. Robin: Honestly, I only see blur in the background caused by motion, not focus, because of panning.
      When you stopped panning (the guy up in the ramp), everything is (essentially) in focus, so you had several meters of DOF. Like here, where I can see fine detail in the background wall as well as in the guy's pants (certainly all the ramp has equal focus): http://luis.impa.br/photo/lixo/caf4c_Large.jpg

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    3. At 40mm tele-end, shooting with F2.8, the background is surely out of focus, and that was NOT caused by motion. I do not have to prove this to you, as you can verify on real tests. Just point a 40mm, measure the same distance to the subject as I have shot, opened to F2.8 and see for yourself the background, whether it is blur or not.

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    4. I was shooting at shutter priority, with shutter speed sufficient to freeze motion.

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  24. Hi Robin,

    I pre-ordered the camera. Have the OMD and really looking forward to the upgrade. From some of the other reviews I've already read I understand that there are so many options on the camera between menu settings and custom button settings. Since you're having so much time with the camera, is there any possibility you could put together a page on your suggested settings. It would be so helpful and lend a good start to then tweaking to my own preferences. In fact it would be invaluable. So great to see the Macro pictures. I have the lens but no place to look at the live insects like you do. A real treat. Thank you again.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Steve,
      It is difficult to list down recommended settings, because everyone has different preferences and shooting style. However I always, always state how I shoot and what settings I used to get the shot, even down to how I process my photographs (for my usual blog entries). The settings are usually situation dependant and may vary greatly.

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  25. Would just be helpful to get a master list of recommendations to start from. Working from the manual when first receiving the camera is not the same as recommendations or educated tips from a master!

    Really appreciate all you do. I'm here in Los Angeles. Lots of insects of another kind! : )

    s

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  26. Hi Robin long time from me sorry for that!
    What a freaking quality photo's with the EM-1 !!

    Gotta trade in the E-5 :-0

    Keep up the good work man !!

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    Replies
    1. Yes lets do it, get an E-M1! I am getting one too, gotta save up some cash

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    2. Hi Robin,

      I see you still follow my old link to my blog!
      This is the new one since April this year !

      http://www.oldersom.nl

      Kind regards

      Rick who has vacation, leaving to Florida this Monday :-)

      Delete
  27. Hi Robin, great coverage of the E-M1 so far! It's so much more interesting looking at your shots, over other bloggers that mainly focus on the technical aspects of equipment. BTW - Congratulations on the new job!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks jonathan! user experience is just as important!

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  28. Love the rest of your review :) I remember helping you shoot that spider :D

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  29. Great work, Robin. I am sure many 4/3 shooters will be very happy with the numerous improvements, especially in CAF. You have very impressive results there. The macro shots are nothing short of stunning. The microcontrast, overall sharpness, details and colors are simply beautiful. And that intelligent "lens-detection" feature is very clever indeed. Oly has done it again!

    What a asset you are for this company. No amount of advertising will show the excellent qualities of this camera so clearly. And again your objective and honest review style is not only a pleasure to read but also very refreshing. Not too technical, yet clear and to-the-point. The resulting images speak for themselves. Congratulations on a another masterpiece, I can't wait to read the rest!

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    1. Thanks for the kind comments Andre! Doing my best for the remaining entries!

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  30. One more question Robin. You going to buy the new zoom that you've now used and get rid of some of your primes, or keep both?

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    1. I have not decided yet! tough choices.

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  31. Pl test 100-300 pany or 75-300 only on E m1 for Birds in flight AF test. Let us known if this cam is good for Bif and how close it comes to pro cam on performance.

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    1. I do not have access to any Panasonic lens.

      I have NEVER DONE any bird in flight test. I think even if you give me a Canon 1DX, I won't be able to make the shot happen. Technically i am not trained and equipped to perform such tests. Even if I tried to do so, my results won't prove anything. Any failures would be because of me, not the camera's fault.

      I sincerely hope you understand.

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  32. Thanks for the great reviews. I was wondering if IBIS works at full capacity in video mode. If so, can you walk and get smooth video results?

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  33. Any info on the launch date for om1?

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  34. like your explanation.. like your photo sharing.. like your review.. like your style.. like your blog.. will see you soon..

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  35. like your explanation.. like your photo sharing.. like your review.. like your style.. like your blog.. will see you soon..

    ReplyDelete
  36. like your explanation.. like your photo sharing.. like your review.. like your style.. like your blog.. will see you soon..

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Hadi for coming to our Touch and Try session!

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  37. Hey Robin, taking photos of pretty young girls does not qualify as "work". Writing gear reviews, now that's work, so... get to work!

    Thank you so much for your great OM-D reviews. I bought the EM-5 mostly based on your reviews and test pix. Looks like you (and Oly) are about to suck some more green out of my wallet. Can't wait!

    Regards,
    Steve

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement Steve! Shall work hard on my next review.

      Delete
  38. Hi Robin,
    Did you use CAF or CAF + Tr?
    The manual is not straight about the difference between these two settings.
    Regards, Erik

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  39. I wonder the photos above were good test examples of E-M1's "tracking". The subject in those photos stay at about the same place in the frame. If you pan the camera and put the subject at about the same place, all you do is just utilizing the AF-C of the body. You have to let the subject move around the frame and see how good the camera is at tracking it. Have you done that type of tracking test?

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  40. Hello Robin beautiful your photos of Kuala Lumpur at night and also in Malaysia. E-M1 incredible. I would like to have it to replace my Pentax K-5 II s which is a little heavy. And then go back to my first love - Olympus OM-1 and Zuiko 50 / 1.4 - with me 40 years ago in Kuala Lumpur. You probably were not even born. Very nice review and beautiful photos. good luck
    Vito Bruschini

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