The Olympus E-M1 looks a terrific camera - leak 'omni-shambles'


Its no real surprise that I would like the Olympus E-M1. I keep writing pieces about how this type of large mirrorless or small DSLR is the way forward. Classic looks on the outside and state of the art technology inside. Ignoring all the instant criticism from the Fuji/Sony/Samsung/Panasonic/Nikon et al shills and stooges, its getting a positive reaction elsewhere too. And why not? The OM-D E-M5 has a lot of fans and this is an obvious and welcome step forward. Its a bit like Olympus were testing the water somewhat with the first OM-D and seeing how well its gone down they have decided to jump in with both feet and are prepared to state publicly (before of course they harrassed all the people who had downloaded the video and put it on their sites) that this is a m4/3 camera for 'professionals'.

Just briefly on this whole engadget 'leak' saga. I personally have no sympathy with anyone involved in this cock-up, and cock-up I'm sure it was. Companies like these stage managed PR controlled launch events. Some freebie somewhere for all the tame reviewers and websites who seem to have a somewhat unhealthy (and uncritical) relationship with their benefactors is exactly how they like to launch cameras. It is of course totally unecessary. These are just boxes that take pictures after all. Its not the second coming. All these non-disclosure agreements and pre-arranged announcement dates are just a waste of time and money, usually sabotaged by leaks, and a pointless exercise. Apple have been doing it for years with products being announced after a period of secrecy, as if a new iPad was actually that big a deal. For me Nikon do it right. Firstly they seem to be unique amongst camera companies in that they can (mostly) keep a secret and secondly they announce a product and then say you can buy it in a weeks time. I expect Olympus to follow their usual pattern. Announce it (bit late now though) specify some date in the future when its released, then let a few trickle into shops, then a few more etc. By the time it actually happens that you can buy one the whole internet rumour machine is arguing about something else. Remember the Fuji X100s? You still can't buy one in the UK. And thats why all this nonsense is counter-productive. Yes its great to create a buzz about a camera, but success is measured by how many you sell and not by the amount of column inches you generate. Getting them into shops and warehouses and collecting money from people who want one should be the priority. Olympus aren't so great at that, neither do they seem to be much good at managing a launch either.

However, enough of that. Time to write about what they are good at, which is designing and building cameras.The grip, the screen and the EVF (based on the VF-4) are all obvious improvements. Its difficult to say what the option to get decent speed AF from 4/3 lenses will mean for me, since I currently don't have any. However if the 4/3 Panasonic Leica lenses, are still available and will now focus almost as quickly as the native m4/3 lenses that is very tempting. The OM-D E-M5 was a very good camera, but this seems to go the extra yards into pro-spec territory. There is no reason to suppose that it won't be full of options and will improve, even though marginally, on the OM-D E-M5 in terms of noise at high ISO's and AF speed. Obviously no hands-on experience yet, but it does look as if it addresses most of the issues I had with the OM-D E-M5. Most of these revolved around the grip, which while offering 3 different configurations, none of them seemed comfortable to me. Plus I was always somewhat concerned at the fragile nature of the whole mechanism, and as someone who would use each of the three options, it concerned me as to exactly how robust the whole thing was and how much putting it on and taking it off it would take. The simplification into camera and grip seems a much more sensible idea. 

So I'm eager to see what its like in reality and whether it ticks enough boxes for me. The OM-D E-M5 was close but no cigar, but this new update could mean its time to light up. Whatever the outcome its certainly welcome to see Olympus has the ambition and belief to 'professionalise' m4/3. Interesting to see if and how Panasonic respond.




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