So there is no surprise here. There will be I'm sure no "SHOCK HORROR m43 isn't any good at high ISO settings!!!" headlines anywhere. Anyone who has used a m4/3 camera or even looked at some samples will know this anyway. Now whether they (Presumably Panasonic, since they make the sensors) will ever improve on this is difficult to know. Sure things have got better since the revolutionary G1 of a few years ago. But lets be honest, not much better. However this inability to photograph a black cat down a coal mine, hand-held with little or no noise on the final image, doesn't seem to have stopped Hassleblad, Leaf, Phase One and Leica, turning out cameras and backs that are basically unusable above ISO 800.
To be honest, I'm not sure it bothers Panasonic or Olympus much either. Yes they include these high ISO settings, but I imagine because its expected. Certainly as far as I'm concerned I'd rather they stopped at 1600, which is certainly the limit of what I'd ever use.
In the case of the OM-D, Olympus have developed a rather wonderful image stabilisation system, which works well. This can't obviously handle everything, but this is way better than anything we could do back in the days of film.
So what / who is m4/3 for?
An interesting question, and one I'm not sure even Panasonic and Olympus can answer. They do at times, and with certain products, seem to think that its for some stereotypical teenager (probably female) who wants to take pictures for their facebook page. Though why this supposed customer would look beyond their mobile phone to do this escapes me. They do however, somewhat unwillingly it seems, also think that some of the people who would want to buy into this system are "enthusiast" photographers with a sense of history. i.e. someone who might actually know what an original Pen or OM camera looked like.
I've always maintained that this is where they should aim their products. Firstly because these kinds of photographer actually "get" all the references in the camera designs and secondly because they are probably the people who have the money to buy these (relatively) expensive cameras and more importantly are prepared to go out and do just that.
I'm not going to get into a discussion of "professional" use (well not at this moment anyway) other than to say that the OM-D probably deserves to have the word "Pro" in its title a lot more that the recent Fuji, because of its generally superb handling and build quality. However, I think Olympus are right to state quite catergorically that it isn't a "Pro" camera in any sense that we as photographers would understand. This isn't however to deny that it has many features that would not be out of place on a designated "Pro" camera. It also doesn't mean that a "Pro" photographer wouldn't use it. Personally I prefer to see it as a camera that does certain things very well, and others very poorly. High ISO shooting being an obvious example of the latter.
So how am I doing so far on the objectivity front? Not too over enthusiastic I hope. In reality I love it to bits and can't keep my hands off it, but thats for me and my therapist to talk through!
There will of course be more of this coming, and I really want to get onto what I think are its real strengths, which is its usability and handling.
I would just add here the situation with the grips. I don't know what the situation is in other countries, but in the UK if you either pre-order or buy the camera before the end of April, you can then claim the two grips from Olympus at no extra cost. This actually gives a financial incentive to us "early adopters" and is actually a good deal. This morning I duly filled in my claim form and uploaded that and my proof of purchase to Olympus and am currently waiting for it to arrive. Since they only guarantee that I will have it before the end of May, I cannot say when I will be able to write about how that affects the handling. I was certainly very impressed when I used it at the Focus on Imaging show, but I would obviously like more time time with it to see how it changes the cameras "feel".