It has been months since I last blogged. Something tells me until life changes it won’t pick up much. The 17/1.8 has settled in as one of my main go to lenses. I love it, but I wish it was sharper. Not terrible, not wonderful either. I love the FoV, the focusing speed, focus ring, Bokeh and the aperture (though f/1.4 wouldn’t be terrible…)
I recently traded up my OM-D E-M5 for a used OM-D E-M5 MkII. I kicked myself for awhile jumping on one, then it arrived and over the last few weeks (actually almost immediately) I went from kicking myself and regretting parting with the money to loving the thing and thinking I got an immense bargain. Pretty much every feature I was looking forward to ended up being “worth while”. At least on a pixel peeping level, the lack of AA filter and/processing engine improvements is noticeable, especially on the 17/1.8, but all of the lenses. The 17/1.8 is more noticeable on pictures before and after the upgrade and some of the others are more noticeable only in the handful of side-by-side pictures I took on both bodies so I could compare exactly the same shot between the two bodies. The new anti-shock feature is also very apparent with some lenses and some shutter speeds. I didn’t notice shutter shock much…until I got the 17/1.8 and it was extensively prone to shutter shock in the 1/10-1/30s range. No more. Between all of these, the 17/1.8 is like a new lens. Still at the bottom of my collection of really excellent primes (12/2, 25/1.4, 45/1.8, 60 2.8 and that 17/1.8), but it is simply last among very good to great lenses, instead of being a very distant finisher. Not something I am concerned about with image quality at anything at 13×19 print size…which is pretty much never for me (what does get printed is about 80% 8×10 and 15% 5×7 with the rare few larger).
High ISO noise (1600 and higher) is slightly improved. I’d call it 1/3rd of a stop better luminance noise improvement and about 2/3rds of a stop of chroma noise improvement at ISO6400 and higher. The lower levels of ISO1600-3200 all show some improvement, it just isn’t much. ISO800 and below is pretty much a wash. Previously I’d do almost anything I could to max out at ISO3200. ISO6400 was only if there was no way to get the shot otherwise and ISO12800 was B&W only (but it was fine for that, just very grainy). Now, well, ISO25,600 still isn’t really usable, even with B&W, but ISO12800 can actually be used in color, but super iffy for that. ISO6400 is fine and I don’t feel as much need to push ridiculous shutter speeds to maintain ISO5000 or less.
On the shutter speeds, that extra stop for 1/8000s over 1/4000s is really nice. As is the better IBIS, which I definitely notice. I could generally manage 3 stops of extra handholding with ease and 4 stops with care. Now, 4 stops with ease and 5 stops with care is perfectly doable. The video stabilization is also very nice on the new body as are the full 1080p; not so nice on 16GB SD cards, time to get 32GB cards :-(.
I have still not tried the new composition functions or the high resolution mode, but I look forward to trying them at some point.
I don’t use all of the fancy new buttons and the mode selection switch, but I do use some of them (having a dedicated DoF preview button is nice). The only User Interface “issue” I am still mastering is having the WB and the ISO on the same button as I frequently accidently switch the WB with the front dial instead of the ISO like I intend (and switch which dial does which also means that the directional arrows then control WB instead of ISO). I’ll get used to it eventually and my prior tendencies are getting better.
I do love the fully rotatable screen. Annoying to just flip it up/down, you have to pull it out and rotate it around so much, but I’ll take it for the extra range of motion in the screen.
Wifi is also really nice. I don’t always need a camera remote, but when I do, having the ability to do it through my phone is super nice (and this Thanksgiving I don’t have to spend 30+ seconds per picture for the family pictures. 12s timer, plus running back to reset it, getting everyone to look back at the camera, etc.).
Oh, and that EVF. I don’t really notice a resolution change (I think it is roughly the same DPI as the old one), but I do notice smoother motion in the EVF as well as it being MUCH bigger with, seemingly better eye relief. Much better eye cup. The rear LCD so far seems to have a bit better contrast display and is sharper. Some have complained about the switch from OLED to LCD, but I think that the LCD on the MkII is better overall than the OLED was on the MkI.
Overall, other than a nit or two, I have zero REAL complaints about the new E-M5 model.