Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2 lens - thoughts on the NEX-7 samples.

Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

Much as I like the E-P3, and indeed the images it produces, it is, like the other Pens I've used, somewhat frustrating.

I don't know why, but all the m4/3 cameras I've used have this slight shutter delay. For landscape shots it doesn't usually matter, but yesterday I was shooting in a wind and it took several attempts to get my subject in focus and in the frame. 

Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

Olympus make these claims about the speed of the AF on the E-P3, but that is somewhat redundant if the shutter doesn't fire the instant the lens is in focus. The AF on the E-P3 is also made more problematic in that unlike the Panasonic G3 with its wonderful pinpoint focus feature, the Olympus does tend to ignore very small target areas. I've tried using one point focus, and even though it seems the focus is locked on, the camera still focuses on the background, much of the time. So much so that I often end up using manual focus.

Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

The camera also echos the current trend and has a touchscreen. The E-P3 is supposed to be better than most but its still nowhere near as good as it should be, if its to be really useful. Sometimes it works fine but often it doesn't. Since I can never be sure if its going to work or not, I rarely use it. 

These are small things maybe, but in a marketplace where the differences in image quality between cameras are really quite small, its how the camera works for what you do that starts to become really important. 

I'd love to be able to combine the best features of all the mirrorless cameras I use into one. Separately they have wonderful features. The Sony NEX-C3 has a lovely positive shutter and the focus peaking feature. The Panasonic G3 has pinpoint AF and the built in EVF and the Olympus E-P3 has a really good OLED screen and great in-body IS for video.

None of these cameras comes anywhere close to the all-round handling and speed of a D7000, for example. Its not as though these mirrorless cameras are incapable of including the features that would make a really good handling small DSLR alternative. They have just about everything you would need, spread out between them. I wonder if the manufacturers obsession with the gadgetry and who and what they THINK is the market for these cameras, blinds them to the possibilities of the real market capture they could get with a camera that really did handle as well and be as feature rich as a good DSLR.

Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

Olympus E-P3 12mm f/2

Its not as though they have a successful DSLR business to protect, like Canon and Nikon.
Which brings me on to the Sony NEX-7. 

Sony, in many ways, are making it up as they go along. They often come up with things which are not the way they have been done in the past. Their three camera announcements, a77, a65 and NEX-7, all feature their new monster APS-C sensor. The three models then give you three alternative ways to utilise that sensor, depending on what you need and the kind of photography you engage in. Thats the way it should be. To use the excellent 24MP full-frame sensor in the Nikon D3X, you have one alternative, which is to buy the very expensive heavy and bulky camera that its in. Its therefore nice that Sony offer three distinct alternatives.

So what of the samples from the sensor? Certainly at low ISO's it is very good indeed. The results look just like their current 16MP sensor, only scaled up. There are a few raw images from the A77 around and I've had a look at them, using Rawker to process them, and again they are very impressive. I'm presuming that the NEX-7 files will be virtually the same. 

I was quite amazed at how good Dpreview's jpgs. taken with the 18-55mm kit zoom were. Nice and sharp with superb resolution. High ISO is slightly different. Not up to the standard of the 16MP sensor, but still very useable up to ISO 3200 from what I've seen. All very encouraging. 

I'm currently in the (usual) situation of too many cameras, including some I bought for testing only, but seem to still be around. I am going to wait for my NEX-7 to arrive to decide what to keep. I have the feeling that if its as good as everything seems to indicate, then a quite radical shakeup of my gear will be in order. (So whats new!!) 

For too long I've been using more cameras than I would like because nothing gives me enough of I what I want in one body. An obvious example of this is the amazingly good image quality of m4/3, but with the problem that its not a camera I would use in low light. Another is that the Nikon D7000 has virtually everything I want in a camera, but is still bulky and heavy and has bulky and heavy lenses. The lack of in-body IS and touchscreen in the NEX-7 are not that important to me, in the case of no touchscreen I see that as a positive advantage.

In the light of what I was talking about with the E-P3, its going to be interesting to see how the NEX-7 handles, and while I've little doubts that the image quality will be everything I want, how it works for me will be very important. 

Only another 2 months to wait!