Ken Rockwells Sony A55 review / Olympus E-5 raw files

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Ken Rockwell "Reviews" the Sony A55
http://kenrockwell.com/sony/a55.htm


"Trashes" would be a more appropriate term.  


Read his piece for the full versions of the "nuggets" below.


"Among the big deficiencies for serious photographers, any one of which is a deal-breaker, are:
1.) On-screen junk............
2.) Sony is several years behind Nikon and Canon when it comes to basic settings.........
3.) I never could find how to shift the exposure program...............
4.) The Sony A55 puts all sorts of junk files and folders all over the SD card........
5.) The images just don't look as good as I get from Canon and Nikon..........."
"The images from this Sony do have better color than what I get from the LEICA M9 but that's not saying much"
"Image quality is poor, because the A55 lacks some very important image adjustments."
"At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the pictures, and images out of this A55 don't look as good as what I get out of my Canons and Nikons."
"Cheap-feeling grip materials."


And so on.


This is obviously one of Kens "Need more hits for the site, so time to trash a camera, so I get lots of visits" posts.


Its important to remember that this is written by someone who thinks a scanned 35mm transparency is better quality than any digital image, who thinks raw files are a waste of time and who thinks the Nikon D40 was a good camera. He probably also made some of it up. I agree with virtually nothing that he wrote, but its still a good read as is his whole site. The world would be a poorer place without someone like Ken. There's too much bland, lets not offend the manufacturers, reviewing and while this "I don't like this as a concept, so I'm going looking for ways to criticise it" style of assessing a camera lacks objectivity, it more than makes for it in entertainment value. This weeks "must read" review!!


Olympus E-5 Raw files.


I put the above piece first as I'm about to do a "bit of a Ken Rockwell" myself!


I've been considering getting an Olympus E-5 for some time, as I have some wonderful 4/3 lenses and it would fit into my system well. I'm also obviously suffering from a bit of "I'm not a proper photographer if I don't have a DSLR" syndrome.


There are some jpgs and more importantly raw files available from this site:- 
Olympus ourlife russia

I worked with these and published some results here:-
/soundimageplus/2010/10/olympus-e-5-raw-files-processed-via.html These had more or less made up my mind not to get the E-5. However with the arrival of the latest Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw plug in which supports the E-5 I decided to have one final look at the raw files to see if I thought that they were any better than the conversions I did in the Olympus software.


The simple answer is that I don't. In fact I think they are worse. I would go further than that - I think they are terrible. There is one raw file in particular at ISO 800 which has pronounced luminance noise. All the images were shot with top of the range 4/3 lenses and they look exactly like images from my E-P2. For a highly-specified, supposedly "pro spec" camera, the files from this camera are very disappointing. The raw files processed in Olympus Master 2 are cleaner but with much of the detail removed and processed in Photoshop ACR are too noisy. If this is indeed the last ever 4/3 camera then its a poor way to end. Olympus have thrown everything into the body of this camera with every option you could want and a body weatherproofed for extreme conditions, only to let the whole thing down by basing it around their m4/3 sensor, which is OK but hardly likely to make professional photographers give up their Nikon and Canon systems for. 


Why the Olympus m4/3 sensor produces worse results than its Panasonic equivalent has always mystified me. I thought it was the same model. However I guess it shows that its not just the sensor alone that contributes to image quality. I certainly never use my E-P2 higher than ISO 200, as above that the results are too "grainy" for my liking. 


If the E-5 had used the Panasonic GH2 sensor then it would have been a very good camera indeed. Obviously Olympus didn't want to or couldn't use this so we get a camera that falls somewhat short of what it could have been. I can't imagine that it will sell that well. Its expensive and has an expensive range of lenses to get the best out of it. I also find it disappointing that the Olympus 4/3 lens range has to be adapted to Panasonic m4/3 cameras to show it at its best. 


You might consider that I'm being a bit harsh, and I would encourage you to take a look at the raw files yourself to make up your own mind. Olympus have always been an innovative company and they will probably bounce back with something new before too long. It really seems that they didn't (don't) know what to do with 4/3. They must be keen to do something with their 4/3 lens range, but what? I hope that they find some way to keep it alive and finally deliver a camera that does it justice.


David