Sunday, September 15, 2013

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review: Shooting with Zuiko Digital Four Thirds Lenses

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!! Three out of four sessions are now FULL. Hurry up and register now! 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 3 of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 review. If you have not done so, please go to Part 1 here (click) and Part 2 here (click)

When Olympus first stepped into the world of Digital SLR, Olympus designed a whole new set of digital lenses for their Four Thirds system, and have produced some of the most respectable lenses, most notably the bright zoom lenses. Olympus has a family of amazing Zuiko Digital lenses, all high performing with great optics. However, as Olympus moved into the Micro Four Thirds world, one major drawback was the inability to utilize the older Four Thirds lenses to their maximum potential, most notably with painfully slow autofocus. This has been a huge complain from many users, and many Four Thirds users have kept their beloved Zuiko Digital lenses, waiting patiently for the day to come that they can finally use them on newer, updated camera body from Olympus. I am one of the group, waiting all this while. And the wait is finally over!

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 has new on-chip Phase Detect AF system that enabled efficient focusing with older Four Thirds lenses. It does seem like Olympus has finally solved the problem and optimized the use with older Four Thirds lenses, consequently bridging the gap between the two family systems, Micro Four Thirds and Four Thirds system. Olympus has been rather smart with their lens roadmap planning and release. The Four Thirds lenses designed for earlier DSLR range cover most zoom needs, having professional lenses (High Grade and Super High Grade) such as bright zooms Zuiko Digital lenses 14-35mm F2 SWD, 35-100mm F2, 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD and 90-250mm F2.8. Knowing this, and realizing the fact that sooner or later Olympus can successfully allow full use of these lenses on Micro Four Thirds system one day (without problems with focusing speed), they have not released bright zooms for their Micro Four Thirds line (until the recent M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO), and have specifically been producing bright prime lenses instead, such as M.Zuiko lenses 12mm F2, 45mm F1.8 and 75mm F1.8. The Micro Four Thirds newer lenses releases did not overlap the offerings from the older Four Thirds lens line, instead, they both complement each other very well. One lacked bright zoom, and the other lacked fast primes. It does not take a genius to discover what the E-M1 can do: bringing together the best of both worlds. Now Olympus has quite a large base of lenses to offer, and the original Four Thirds lenses (both High Grade and Super High Grade) were all rated professional lenses, and fully weather-sealed. 



Me out shooting with friends, and showing off the E-M1. 
Photo credit: Nick Wade 

E-M1 surrounded by Zuiko Digital Four Thirds lenses. I am sure you know what lens is what lens. 



We know Olympus has claimed the new technology of on-chip Phase Detect AF system built onto the image sensor, but how well does it perform? In this particular blog review of the E-M1, I will explore exactly just that: autofocus performance of Four Thirds lenses on E-M1. To do so, I shall carry out tests with the following lenses:
1) ZD 7-14mm F4
2) ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD
3) ZD 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 II
4) ZD 50mm F2 macro
5) ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD 
6) ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non-SWD)

I know it is extremely difficult to put down in words now to describe the autofocus performance of the lenses, especially different lens has different characteristics, and obviously would focus with different speed and efficiency. Some would hunt more than the other, and some are more silent (SWD lenses). To demonstrate the focusing speed of the selected tested lenses, I have recorded short video clips of each lenses while AF was in action. For zoom lenses, I recorded both at wide end and telephoto end to show the difference in speed at varying focal lengths. Do bear in mind the lighting condition in the room was not ideal, and can be considered dim. 

View the following video to roughly gauge the performance of single-click Autofocus for the selected lenses. 

FOUR THIRDS LENSES AF SPEED TESTS



EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY

When Olympus announced that E-M1 will enable faster focusing speed with older Four Thirds lenses, I am very sure many reacted with varying expectations. Everyone expected the focusing to be faster. The question is, how fast?

Those who have familiarized themselves with the superb AF speed (fastest in the world) of Micro Four Thirds system and may not have a history of using the Four Thirds DSLR system previously, may expect the new E-M1 to be able to bring the focusing speed with older Four Thirds DSLR system as close as possible to what they are currently experiencing with the Micro Four Thirds system. This is quite a fair expectation, but with one problem: the older Four Thirds DSLR lenses were running on a completely different system (Phase Detect AF), and even at their fastest and most efficient focusing, being mounted on the DSLR E-5 (which I am very familiar with), still falls behind the Micro Four Thirds' focusing speed. No Four Thirds lens previously had anything that can focus as fast as whatever the newer Micro Four Thirds lenses can do! I personally would love to have the older lenses miraculously perform as well as the Micro Four Thirds lenses in terms of AF speed, but let's face the reality: I have just established that it is not practical in any logical sense. 

Now that we have established that the Four Thirds lenses, even at their most efficient state, will not outdo the faster, newer and more technologically advanced AF system in the Micro Four Thirds lenses, what should we really be expecting?

For me, I personally, desperately WANT the focusing speed of the Four Thirds lenses, especially my beloved ZD 50mm F2 macro lens to be just as fast as my DSLR E-5. I would not ask for more, because honestly, the focusing speed with the DSLR E-5 was very reliable, fast and accurate. I have little to complain about the focusing system and it has served me well for over three years now. 

Looking at Olympus DSLR E-5, it has 11 point AF, and each point has TWIN CROSS sensor, meaning FOUR lines of phase detect sensor were installed in each point to maximize the focusing potential. Looking at the specifications of the new Phase Detect in E-M1, it was not the same, and rather completely different. It has 37 selectable points, which covered quite a large area of the frame. Now here is the main difference, the AF points are NOT Twin Cross, in fact, they were not Cross points at all. Again, knowing these facts, to expect the autofocusing performance to match DSLR E-5, was starting to look more and more difficult to happen. Like all of you, I still want to believe in the best. 

You see, before I go on and report my findings on the focusing speed, it is extremely crucial for me to establish this set of understanding: set realistic expectations. Yes we want the fastest speed possible, and we already have amazing Micro Four Thirds lenses for that. The older Four Thirds lenses are here and Olympus has created a new autofocus system to make them work more efficiently. 


Oh and a few people made some noise saying they do not see any low ISO shooting image samples in my blog reviews. I was only at my Part 2 of 5 in my past entry, I can only guess patience are rare these days. I had to TEST multiple lenses, with different shooting sessions, so this blog entry took a lot MORE effort and time than usual. You may find quite a number of low ISO images in this entry, and for full resolution, please go to the download section at the end of this blog entry. 

OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 50mm F2 MACRO 
(my super FAVOURITE lens)

ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/1600sec, F2, ISO200

ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/100sec, F2, ISO200

ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/500sec, F2, ISO200

100% crop from previous image 

ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/160sec, F2, ISO200


ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/250sec, F2.8, ISO200


ZD 50mm F2 Macro, 1/250sec, F2, ISO200


ACTUAL FOCUSING SPEED WITH FOUR THIRDS LENSES

I am not going to lie, and I will be honest here, the focusing speed of Four Thirds lenses on the E-M1 is NOT as fast as how they are on DSLR E-5, E-3 or E-30. It may not have fulfilled my expectations, but in all seriousness, the focusing speed was FAR from disappointing. In comparison to previous focusing on any micro Four Thirds camera, the focusing speed on E-M1 has increased by quite a far leap, and is now very fast and reliable. For some lenses, the focusing speed was very close to the DSLR E-5.

The fastest focusing lens out of the series tested was undoubtedly the ZD 14-35mm f2 SWD lens. At both 14mm wide and at 35mm end, shooting wide open at F2, the lens delivered fast focusing, almost instantaneously, responding well to the touch AF mechanism. Focusing was not only fast, but very accurate. In fact, the ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 SWD also focuses very fast, and noticeably faster than ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 non-SWD. For some reasons, I do believe the SWD silent wave drive motor worked more effectively with the new AF system. The non-SWD lenses, such as the ZD 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 and 50mm F2 lenses were still performing very well, but lacks the smooth, silent and quick focusing of the SWD lenses. 

The in room test with controlled setup was one way to determine the performance of the lenses on E-M1, but real world testing on the field may be a completely different thing altogether. Controlled results may give us some comparison and indicative values to judge and make initial evaluations, but ultimately it was how well the lenses or cameras do in real life shooting circumstances that truly matter. Therefore, I have brought the Four Thirds lenses out for multiple shooting sessions to adequately test the AF speed under real shooting strains and tortures. 

I started with my favourite ZD 50mm F2 macro lens. I brought this lens to my favourite street hunting ground in Pudu Wet Market. This favourite lens of mine did not disappoint, in fact it performed adequately fast shot after shot, and the accuracy was not an issue. You have no idea how happy I was being able to use the 50mm f2 macro lens on the E-M1, with such fast focusing speed, and making my usual images I always do with the lens, for the blog review here. There is just something different about the image rendering from this lens, the bokeh a bit more beautiful, and the micro contrast appearing more "real" and images just "popped". Now the E-M1 has breathed life to the lens, and the 50mm F2's unique characteristics can be brought into the the latest camera with upgraded imaging capabilities: results = AWESOMENESS!


OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 non-SWD

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 76mm, 1/500sec, F2.8, ISO2000

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 50mm, 1/500sec, F2.8, ISO200

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 200mm, 1/500sec, F3.5, ISO640

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 104mm, 1/200sec, F2.9, ISO1000

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 104mm, 1/500sec, F2.9, ISO1250

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 158mm, 1/400sec, F3.2, ISO1600

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 200mm, 1/400sec, F3.5, ISO320

ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 88mm, 1/400sec, F2.8, ISO4000

Micro Four Thirds have some of the finest prime lenses, and this has won the hearts of many micro Four Thirds system user. However, the demand for fast zoom lenses is always there, especially for professional use where the convenience of zoom can make or break the shot, and having a high quality, bright zoom lens will allow the use of zoom lens without much compromise in quality in comparison to prime lenses, and still allowing some flexibility when it comes depth of field control and shooting in low light conditions. Yes, Panasonic did release the 35-100mm f2.8 lens, but that was hardly a long enough lens. How about longer reach, a bright telephoto zoom lens, such as the High Grade Olympus ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 comes in mind. Oh wait, we can use that lens on the E-M1 now! Just because of the improved autofocus system inside the E-M1, the usable range of lenses has expanded, and now conveniently we have a powerful bright long zoom lens. 

To test the aotofocus performance of the ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 (non SWD, my own lens), I went to the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. At the time of shooting, my left wrist was hurting (strained from carrying grocery bags) hence I just used fast shutter speed to freeze my own hand shaking, in case you wonder why the shutter speed were all set so high.

The focusing for ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at the Bird Park worked very well. Initially I could feel that it was not as fast as it was on the E-5, maybe because I did make a mental note to compare. After 15 minutes or longer shooting time kicked in, I actually forgot about the difference in speed, and shooting away, getting shots after shots, and I realized that the focusing speed was fast enough for what I needed to shoot. I have never wished the speed was faster. Another point worth noting, is that the lens focused THROUGH the grills and cages very well. It did not hesitate and ran to the nearest subject, in fact the AF point which was set to the bird nailed it down, almost all the time. There was small occasion when the AF hit the grill/cage, but as I quickly recomposed, it went to the correct subject immediately. 

You have no idea how amazing it felt being able to shoot with a long, bright zoom lens with a Micro Four Thirds system! This was one VERY important lens missing from the Micro Four Thirds line, and having this lens opened a whole level of possibilities. Of course the SWD version will focus faster, but I am happy with what the E-M1 can do with my own non-SWD version of the ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5

I intended to test out the Continuous AF with my ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 lens, unfortunately it rained cats and dogs just before the bird show at 3pm (they have flying eagles making rounds at the amphitheatre). It rained so long that after waiting for an hour for the rain to stop I gave up waiting. The weekend shoot has been cruel to me, it rained at almost every outing I had.

OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-35mm F2 SWD 

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 29mm, 1/1600sec, F2, ISO200

me in action, shooting the next photo. 
Photo Credit: John Ragai

ZD 14-35mm F2 at 35mm SWD, 1/160sec, F2, ISO200

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 28mm, 1/200sec, F4, ISO200

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 35mm, 1/320sec, F3.5, ISO200

100% crop from previous image

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 30mm, 1/100sec, F6.3, ISO200

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 27mm, 1/60sec, F4, ISO400

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 35mm, 1/200sec, F2, ISO200

ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD at 35mm, 1/100sec, F2, ISO200


I admit, I have never used the ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD lens before, not even on my DSLR E-5, hence I shall not make any conclusions regarding speed comparison with E-5. It is easy to just compare side by side but only with extensive shooting, knowing both the lens and how the lens work with a camera, can I give a proper evaluation. 

The ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD was the best amongst all lenses tested. In fact, it performed very well even when used for Continuous AF shooting. It was not as efficient as the new M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens, but as you can see from the following set of samples, it tracked the guy in red walking towards me. 

This ZD 14-35mm F2 is quite a beast on its own. The image sharpness was out of the world! If there was a lens sharper than the ZD 50mm F2 macro lens, this ZD 14-35mm F2 lens was it. 

I received quite a criticism regarding my continuous focusing tests, since my images appeared sharp "throughout the entire screen". So in the following set, the subject is in focus and you can CLEARLY see the background was out of focus. For better viewing, as usual, go to the download section for large resolution files. 

CONTINUOUS AF TEST WITH ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD LENS




USAGE OF THE BATTERY GRIP HLD-7

The E-M1 itself can handle ALL Micro Four Thirds lenses on its own without the additional grip, but for my shooting with Four Thirds lenses, I have put on the HLD-7 battery grip at all times. Knowing the lenses I was handling were extra large in size, and being on the heavier side of things, I knew they will not balance the camera very well, and may cause discomfort when shooting for longer hours. That was when the HLD-7 came to rescue. The extra weight and balance was much welcomed to counter-balance larger and heavier lenses such as the ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD and ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 lenses. The grip itself comes with dual dials and two function shortcut buttons, which were fully customizable for quick access to important controls (I set mine to ISO setting and AE lock). If you use the E-M1 for only Micro Four Thirds lenses, then the HLD-7 battery grip is not really necessary. If you are using the older Four Thirds lenses, I strongly recommend having the HLD-7 for added balance and comfort of handling. 


For my final tests, I have decided to bring the ZD 7-14mm F4 lens for shooting around KL and the KLCC Twin Towers (as seen in Part 1 of my review, and I shall not repeat the images here). In addition to that, I have also went to shoot the Fireworks Competition at Putrajaya, and made some wide angle shots. AGAIN, it was RAINING heavily. I am starting to think the photography god (if there is such a thing) is starting to punish me for some sins I have committed. The rain happens so frequently and coincided with my shooting sessions again, and again, it was starting to get depressing. The camera and lenses may be weather sealed but I am clearly not!

OLYMPUS ZUIKO DIGITAL 7-14mm F4 lens

ZD 7-14mm F4 at 7mm, 15sec, F11, ISO200 (needed the umbrella to shield the lens from being blotched by rain water!)

ZD 7-14mm F4 at 12mm, 20sec, F13, ISO200

ZD 7-14mm F4 at 12mm, 20sec, F13, ISO200

ZD 7-14mm F4 at 12mm, 20sec, F13, ISO200

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 street images only, obviously the compilation of images grid would be insanely huge for full resolution) for your download as follows:

E-M1 HIGH RESOLUTION SAMPLE IMAGES HERE

DOWNLOAD 5

This review series is far from over, and I have still quite a huge ground to cover. Coming up next would be comparison between the new E-M1 against the highly sucessful E-M5. What has been improved, and by how much? Has the disadvantages and issues with the E-M5 been addressed and fixed in the E-M1? Are the improvements and new features on the E-M1 worth upgrading over the E-M5? In fact, this particular direct comparison between the two cameras was the highest voted camera review item priority based on the quick poll conducted on my Facebook Page. That will come in the next blog review 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).  

85 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm going to admit that reading the EM-1 reviews and seeing all the pictures, I am trying hard to resist getting the EM-1. Haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carmen, your E-PL5 itself is an amazing camera!

      Delete
    2. Ya...I am d one sure drooling over EM1 T.T oh mai the 14-35mm f2 godness

      Delete
  2. Hi Robin,
    Thank you for sharing these awesome images and great information on what those great lens can do on the new OMD-E-M1.
    I love the feel of ZD 14-35mm F2 SWD on E-M1 and it really fit with E-M1. Down side, it's really costly. Let it be my dream lens. In my hand, OMD-E-M5 is very good but the new E-M1 is awesome. It has the DSLR feeling in your hand and it's tough like a tank. It's good for man. I do not like rubber feel and E-M1 fit me well.
    Upgrade?
    Let me overused my E-M5 for at least 100k images then I will think of upgrade. E-M1 is very tempting and I will surely grab it when the time come.
    Thank you for the tips that you have given on the lens. Thank you for the walk.
    May you have a great weekend.
    John Ragai

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey John,
      It was a pleasure to finally meet you in person. Thank you for the photo you took of me shooting at the bus stop. That was a nicely taken photograph.
      Do not worry about upgrades. I seldom would push anyone to upgrade or change gear unless there is an absolute necessity. Your E-M5 is still a great camera on it's own.

      Delete
  3. Oooh, I know you, and you have already started work in the direction I expected. Gordon Laing of CameraLabs.com and I was just talking about AF speeds of E-M1 vs E-5 on DSLR lenses.
    https://plus.google.com/103519655975029093996/posts/5yHZ899SgVi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So what was the conclusion you guys came up with? Sorry I deactivated my google plus.

      Delete
    2. You are ahead of us. Gordon will commence his formal tests soon and was interested to hear feedback from anyone.

      For myself, I remember Brandon's E3 performance well. I brought my 7-14 to the Melbourne Digital Show to fit on the E-M1. I found the 7-14 focussed comfortably and the multiple AF points were actually better than my E-620 meagre AF points. The 7-14 has a large depth of field and but still needs a touch of AF - with the E-620, it can't figure out where to place focus because the large field of view at 10 to 30 ft there are so many different areas to pick on. The E-M1 was competent indoors at f/4 max aperture all the time - there was no lack of confidence choosing a focus and getting to it.

      Later on in the night, I was using the E-PM2 with the 7-14 in evening light. Cannot AF lah, refused to let me click until I waved the camera and this is buildings, no movement.

      The 50-200 SWD, indoors in exhibition lighting, confident focus on people. However, in certain incidents, it would misjudge and need to refocus once or twice but easily acceptable. The focus behaviour was smooth and cruising, efficient. The E-3 and 50-200 SWD was quite different - it would always focus very fast, you can hear the "thud, thud" of the focus hit - the E-M1 does not feel like that but it feels good enough. Would be interesting to see it in sports.

      Delete
    3. Indeed, your observations were very similar to mine. E-M1 is fast with the 4/3 lenses, but still not as fast as E-3. however, the focusing speed was good enough for most shooting needs and should not pose any problems

      Delete
  4. Hi Robin,

    Seriously considering "downsizing" from FT to MFT, body first then slowly the lens. I got the original MMF1 adapter, will it work as well as the new MMF3 on the EM1?

    Thank you for sharing these useful information, there's no opportunity for me to try-before-I-buy.

    All the best to you in your new job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using the MMF-1 you will get the exact same focusing speed as the MMF-3, because the electronic parts do not have much difference. The only thing is that the MMF-3 is weather sealed. The focusing speed was improved due to the on chip phase detect AF on the image sensor.

      Delete
    2. Thanks you! I'll keep the lost of weather seal with MMF1 in mind.

      Delete
  5. I'll probably skip the E-M1 (as I have the E-M5) and wait for the next generation because of cost and I am also supporting a NEX habit as well... but I am glad I kept my 43reg lenses!! On the other hand I wonder if the noise of the old lenses focusing (ex, 50mm F2 and 70-300 is quite noisy)will in the future become annoying because of getting used to the absolute silence of the newer m43 lenses. "Time will tell."

    I am really enjoying this series of articles. I've been checking your site a few times each day in hopes that your next part has been completed!!

    Peter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Peter. Indeed the E-M5 itself is a great camera, if I had one, I might not have pushed to upgrade that soon.
      Oh dear, I need time to take photos and write! It is crazy how much time I am putting into these things (previously I never did any comparisons). I hope people find them useful!

      Delete
    2. I know exactly how hard it to do all of this... unless one is retired *LOL* I know from my own meager blog, where I am only writing a couple of paragraphs at a time, how time consuming it is...and English is my first language!!

      Delete
    3. Hi Robin, great review once again - loved your E-5 review and the EM-1 review is superb. I had already pre-ordered. I know you are very fond of the 50mm f2.0 macro lens, but have you tried the SHG 150mm f2.0 - the best Oly lens in my view - I have the Leica D Summilux 25mm f1.4 - great lens however, the 150mm f2.0 is in a class of its own. I am looking forward to try it on my EM-1 when the camera arrives. It would be great to see what you can achieve with the 150mm. My personal list of favourite lenses is 1). SHG 150mm f2 2).SHG 14-35mm f2 3) HG 50mm f2 macro and a lens you should try is the OM 90mm f2.0 macro - jaw dropping macros (one of my Oly OM 90mm f2s macro lenses used to be part of a medical endoscope kit ! Thanks again for a great review. Regards Michael

      Delete
  6. Hi Robin! Thanks for this part of reviews! I need your professional opinion. I have E-5/14-35/35-100. Should I change only E-5 to E-M1 or change all set to new body and new line micro pro lenzes? I am semi pro and it need me for Shufferstock.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would keep the E-5!! it is such a great camera. Of course, the E-M1 offers so much more, 5 Axis Image stablization, better image quality, improved low light (high ISO) handling, etc.

      Delete
    2. Starting to get really hard to resist the call of the EM-1 now. :)

      Delete
    3. it is very tempting, is it not? hah

      Delete
  7. Wonderful photo of the boy with the glasses Robin. Mitchie (my wife Hamidah) loves it as well. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Wolfgang! that boy is a natural poser

      Delete
  8. Hi Robin,

    thanks for your great review!

    One question: the description of one shot says "ZD 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 at 640mm, 1/500sec, F3.5, ISO640". How do you archive 640mm with this lens?

    Regards,
    Johannes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mistake. Should be 64mm. Thanks and I will rectify it now,

      Delete
    2. Checked the EXIF, its at 200mm, the tele end.

      Delete
    3. That explains it :-) Thanks.

      Delete
  9. I,am very happy to see how the EM-1 works with 4/3 Lenses !


    Thanks for that Robin, I will order the EM-1..

    First I am leaving tomorrow to Florida with the E-5 + 14 150mm Leica, Zuiko 7-14mm and 50-200SWD :-)
    I Stopped the E-5 Blog, you can see my New Blog here : http://www.oldersom.nl

    Kind regards

    Rick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rick! I am glad you will get the E-M1, it is a worthy replacement for E-5.

      Delete
  10. Wow! I'm really amazed by the image quality which you nicely demonstrate with you great photos. Also, the photos shot with higher ISO is absolutely great. I think, AF speed with ZD lenses is quick enough and it's a great thing that we are able to use these fine pieces of glas in the future on brand new cameras starting with the E-M1. For me, it's getting harder and harder to resist not buying the E-M1. I'd like to have it immediately but I think I'll have to wait for next year.
    Nice work, Robin!

    Cheers
    Lucas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lucas,
      resistance is futile!
      Thanks for the kind words. Indeed, finally we can use the older yet still great 4/3 lenses!

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. I did not say that. And what made you think so?

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    2. you didn't say, I did! they will pack all the techology of e-m1 into e-7 body and they will increase on-sensor PDAF capabilities.

      Delete
    3. btw, great review! photos you've made are more than inspirational!

      why I think there will be e-7?

      Olympus is company that creates future, not only pointlessly predicts coming possibilities. that is why I still enjoy taking photos with my e-1,and that is why i've chosen olympus, and I will never change system! I also believe that future doesn't exist, but is there to CREATE upon best ideas! It will be whatever we made of it!

      So, on the future path it can be E-7.

      Delete
  12. Hi Robin. thanks for great review.

    I do have the Lumix Leica D Vario 14-50mm f2.8-3.5 and tried it on a demo EM1 with mmf1.

    The Af speed for that lumix 4/3 lens is very similar to the ZD14-54mm.

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  13. Hello, Robin -- You are getting a lot of play on the photo forums about your statement: "I am not going to lie, and I will be honest here, the focusing speed of Four Thirds lenses on the E-M1 is NOT as fast as how they are on DSLR E-5, E-3 or E-30."

    It was hard to be sure from your writing, so I will ask a straight-up question: Was this statement based on a side-by-side comparison under the same conditions?

    Obviously you've tested various 4/3 lenses on the E-M 1 as shown in your video, and this allows comparing their focus speed AGAINST EACH OTHER when used on the E-M 1.

    However, this does not address the question of how you compared the AF speed of the SAME lens when used on the E-M 1 and the E-5.

    Thanks in advance for any info...

    -- jw

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    1. Dear ranger,
      I do not need to compare side by side with E-5. I still actively use 4/3 lenses on my E-5 as a primary shooting gear. I shoot with E-5 every week (if not every day) and after this review with E-M1 (as I have returned the camera to Olympus Malaysia) I will continue using the E-5. Though I have other cameras such as the Sony A57, my primary and main workhorse is the E-5, which I have used for 3 years.

      Delete
  14. Robin,
    I respect your photographic skills a great deal, and believe you should in fact be an Olympus Visionary Photographer!
    There is much discussion on the various forums as to using the MMF adapters and EC14 ad 20 Tele converters together, especially to gain longer reach with the 90-250 and 300mm Zuikos, and in general with any of the heavy SHG lenses. Olympus seems to be discouraging this practice in the literature, but many have reported doing so. It is often very hard to be in constant awareness of how your gear is being handled "in the heat of the moment so to speak" This is a subject that has been avoided in the announcement discussions and evaluations.
    What is your honest opinion on doing so and does it compromise the safety of the gear?

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    1. Dear David,
      I may not comment on the usage of EC-20 and 14 unless I have tried them myself and see how they perform. I have however briefly tried the EC14 with 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 lens and it worked with no issue.
      I will see what I can do, if I can try the combinations on 90-250mm and 300mm, but like I said no promises. If I can, I shall update the info on my blog.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Robin, and sorry If I am being a bit repetitive in this reply,
      I have no real doubts as to whether or not they actually "work" with the lighter and smaller lenses or even the heavy SHGs (even though the 50-200 is not exactly small). The issue is mostly the sturdiness of the combinations with the big heavy SHG glass,(90-250, and 300mm), especially for a person using these lenses in the field doing wildlife or sports shooting with a lot of fast action happening, which is what these lenses were designed for. As I said "in the heat of the moment" and less than stellar conditions and handling involved.
      Many people are unhappy with having to use adapters in the first place, and feel that 'we' that already have big investments in SHG glass, and have been staunch Olympus supporters, have been let down by no longer having a dedicated 4/3 body and mount, and have to resort to using adapters with the OMD EM-1. According to Olympus, using just the adapters themselves, let alone adding the TCs in addition, is at best a compromise. Sorry, I don't mean to put you on the spot here, but as an engineer,I think you can understand where we are coming from.

      Delete
    3. if you are asking me to test the sturdiness and whether the combination of lenses and converters can handle well, I am not the right person to answer your questions.
      I personally have never handled such massive lenses before. I have also never used tele-converters for my shoots.

      Delete
    4. Dear David,
      It would be really helpful if you could provide me with the link or screen capture of the "Olympus discouraging the use of Four Thirds lenses on tele-convertors with adapters to the micro Four Thirds body". I tried digging around and cannot find any. If I have some information maybe I can ask around and find some useful answers.

      Delete
  15. Robin,
    Thank you for taking the time to record and post your test of the four thirds lenses!

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    Replies
    1. No worries, and I hope you find it useful!

      Delete
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  17. Robin!

    Long time no see!

    I am happy to see your views on the EM-1. I am now having to temper my camera lust as I have been using the EM-5 for only a year; and it does satisfy the majority of my photography needs.

    I am looking at the EM-1 because I have a small stock of fourthird lens - 50-200mm SWD and the 35 and 50mm f2 lens. Your pics with the 50mm are mesmerizing!

    And I DO want that 50-200mm swd to work; if it does, I don't need to ponder about the 40-150 f2.8;

    Alas must save up and save up.

    Said hi to Uncle James also.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Mark!
      E-M5 itself is a great camera, more than adequate for most of our needs!

      For now, I would say the 50-200mm SWD worked great. But that 40-150mm F2.8 may be even more compelling, smaller (hopefully), and offering constant F2.8, and better optics since it is newer.

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  18. It's good to see you looking so happy in the first pic surrounded by all those lovely lenses!

    Excellent series so far Robin. How would you rate the 14-35mm lens vs the new 12-40mm? I've heard the 12-40mm is supposed to outperform the Zuiko 12-60mm, but not really the 14-35mm. Curious on your thoughts.

    Oh, I also feel the 50mm macro was the best lens I ever owned. Maybe I'll re-purchase it to use on the E-M1.

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    Replies
    1. Hey Wataru,
      Thanks for the kind words. When I am shooting I am always happy!
      I might do a comparison with the 14-35mm later, when I make dedicated review for the 12-40mm F2.8 lens. I believe the lens should have review on its own.
      Agreed, the 50mm f2 macro is an incredible lens!

      Delete
  19. Love the review, still hoping that olympus has the guts to make a weathersealed 14-150 in the quality of the panaleica for m43, it would be a very very nice travel lens combined with either em5 or em1

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    Replies
    1. Anything is possible, if there is a demand, I am sure the lens will happen.

      Delete
  20. Hi there!

    This is review made by guy who above all loves the art of photography.

    That is why review is so positive and encouraging.

    I have red "dpreview first impressions" about e-m1 and got feeling that they think of olympus equipment as some sort of square shit for retards to chew. I will never again take that site as something relevant.

    I remember that Helmut Newton was using E-1!

    If you do all the things with love, something great always comes out of it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words. DPReview is more of a technical site providing numbers, charts and specific comparisons. My blog is different, and I explain my review from experience point of view. We use different approaches and should not be compared.

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  21. I appreciate that you take the time to test some equipment that is relevant to me and approach it in a no-nonsense manner.

    I'm still concerned about low light focusing. I have an E-1, an E-5, and a GH3 for use with several ZD lenses, namely the 14-54mm, 14-35mm, 50-200mm, and 35-100mm. In dim light, the E-1 barely auto focuses at all. The GH3 is faster with the same lenses. The E-5, of course, is the fastest, but in dimmer light, it slows drastically.

    There was no lower limit (-1 EV?) to the auto focus for the E-M1, so how is the E-M1 is low light?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure there is a limit for the focusing to work, but so far, even testing under very low light (shooting outdoor at night, the fireworks shots) the focusing on E-M1 for Four thirds lenses still worked well.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, that helps.

      I use manual focus quite a bit since I've been doing that the longest. The GH3 (and Panasonic 35-100mm) has somewhat forced me to use auto focus, so it would be great to have one camera body that does it all well. Obviously, in low light, auto focus is likely the better option.

      Delete
  22. Hi Robin, your toughts as a owner of E5, 12-60, 35-100 & 50-200SWD plus several DL.36&50. Shooting Studio (model,portret), events, sports (racing).

    Upgrade or not, think ans know the E5 is still a very good camera, but mainly want better ISO performance

    Doing a great job Robin, keep up !

    regards, Gerard

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    Replies
    1. You may get the E-M1 to complement the E-5! They worked well together.

      Delete
  23. Well, if it wasn't abundantly clear already, this camera and these lenses are capable of stunning results. Of course, your considerable talents are obvious too! Robin, this is spectacular work. Some of the pictures of the birds are among the best I've ever seen. Without a doubt, these lenses perform superbly.

    I feel a GAS attack coming up...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Andre! lets avoid GAS and lets just shoot more photos!

      Delete
  24. Phenomenal photos, Robin. I'd bet the 50mm macro street shots are enough to cause the secondary market value for that lens to double overnight.

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    1. Thanks Michael for the kind words ! That 50mm F2 macro is a great lens, I don't think I can live without it.

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  25. the 1435mm is realy amazing and seems like the 50mm F2 focus just fine for working.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed they both now can be fully utilized for micro 4/3 system!

      Delete
  26. I would be very interested in seeing test results of the EM1 with the 50-200SWD with CAF shooting birds in flight. I would also like to see the same test with a 1.4 teleconverter.

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Dear Rick,
      I am not a bird shooter, hence even if you give me the most advance camera with the best lens I would not be able to make the bird in flight shot happen. I may not be the right person to perform such a difficult test!

      Delete
  27. hi robin..once again i read ur blog in fully concentration in this review..so much info here and really thanx for all explanation and sharing..dunno wat to say now..just want to test by myself on this gear..hopefully will see you soon on this week..

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  28. Hi Robin,

    great photos... but can you put up the download in zip format instead of rar? I'd love to see some of those great 4/3 lens shots in their full glory, but hunting down something to open the rar is a real pain. At least with zip, any machine (windows, mac or gnu/linux) can open it up.

    please consider it!

    thanks,

    Peter

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  29. THKS Robin, then what about autofocus at low light condition?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It worked adequately fast and I had no issues. Even when shooting the fireworks it was all autofocus.

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  30. Thanks a lot, Robin ! Did you try EM-1 with 12-60 1:2.8-4 (great lens) ?
    Bruno

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    Replies
    1. Yes I did briefly, it worked perfectly fine. Focusing was fast and accurate. Can't say it is faster than it was on the E-5 but surely very fast

      Delete
  31. I'm a E-620 user and for sure I'll upgrade to the EM-1. I currently own ZD 50, ZD 12-60 and ZD 50-200.
    I'm very happy with the results you've got with these lens.
    My next lens will be the MZD 35 1.7 and a 7-14.
    Due price and size, I'm thinking to buy the pana 7-14. Any thoughts about the pana 7-14 compared to the ZD 7-14?
    Btw, very good review. Tks.

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  33. Hi Robin!

    Thanks a lot for your blog and for a such a detailed review of EM-1. I am a M43 newbie and have pre-ordered EM-1.

    Here is my question. I've noticed that the shots you took with Panny 7-14mm have a different from 4:3 ratio. Did you crop the pictures, or set a different AR in camera settings? I like 3:2 or 16:9 AR for landscapes, and somehow worried about not having this 3:2 AR natively on EM-1.

    Cheers!

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  34. Hi Robin,
    I still own quite a selection of old OM-system Zuiko lenses. Non Digital, and non AF. Are there any adapters to use them on the EM-1? I don't mind focussing manually. What are the major drawbacks regarding using old film lenses with the EM-1 if such an adapter exists?

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  35. Hi Robin,

    It's nice to see such wonderful photos...especially the bird park photos with 50-200 lens are amazing. I was posting in your other blog entry today about this lens. I am surprised to read this review and see that those photos are actually with a Non-SWD lens. Don't mind me bothering you again here but is there any optical and weight advantage between these lenses? Is the non-SWD version lighter and hand hold-able? Any suggestion would be of great help. I am planning to buy this lens to use with E-M1 and MMF-3 adapter.

    Thanks,
    Kala

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  36. Also, with the adapter on E-M1; is there a real speed difference between SWD version and Non-SWD version of 50-200mm lenses? The price difference between these lenses is a lot for me to ask you these many questions! :-)

    Thank you once again...

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  37. Hi Robin,

    Like many others, thanks for putting so much effort into the E-M1 review. I found it thoughtful and helpful, particularly your comments on the ED 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 (Non-SWD). So much so I decided that it was worth purchasing a used copy of the lens and a EC14 converter to use on my E-M1. This is an awesome combination! Whilst the older lens may not focus as quickly as the SWD version, or the native M43rds zooms such as the Panasonic 100-300mm, it is certainly quite usable for most non-action applications. With good telephoto technique i.e. bracing and using high shutter speeds I have managed a similar 'keeper rate' to the 100-300mm which I think is pretty impressive! Image quality certainly compares favorably at the longer end!

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  38. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for the great review, this is an excellent write up.

    I downloaded your image samples with the 4/3 lenses but I noticed the Firework shots are missing with the 7-14 lens. Would you be able to post these for download? The reason I ask is because I noticed you shot at high ISO with longer exposure (>5 seconds) and I would like to see the noise level your camera produced. It has become very apparent through other online reviews that the E-M1 has a problem with hot pixels during long exposure shots (much worse than the E-M5) and I would really like to see what kind of results you achieved during your testing.

    If you are interested in the hot pixel issue I am talking about you can check out the E-M1 review on camera labs in the noise level section, or just google E-M1 long exposure noise problem. There are forums on u43 and many other websites talking about this issue. It seems that the problem is the E-M1 sensor which is actually a Panasonic sensor instead of the Sony from the E-M5.

    I plan on converting my current 4/3 setup to u43 in the near future and would have already done so if the E-M1 didn't have this exposure issue.

    Thanks in advance.

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