Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Say Hello To My Newest Olympus Family Member

 

This tiny cute E-PL5 has just joined my Olympus MFT family. I have always wanted a backup MFT with great image quality for those times when I need to use two cameras at the same time, or for when I am in the mood to take just a tiny camera and one sharp prime for a stroll.

 

 

After I got the E-M1, I thought about getting something small with the same image quality. In the Olympus world, there are the E-PL5 and the E-PM2 which have the exact same class-leading sensor in the E-M5. In the Panasonic world, I thought about the GM1 and the GX7. I didn't want to spend more than $300 for a used one. This immediately put almost all of them out of my reach, although I considered the GX7 too large for a backup body.

 

 

Until one day, I found the E-PL5 you see here on eBay listed for $250, sold by a Japanese camera shop (I have immense respect for Japanese & Malaysian camera users/shops). It looked like new and had all accessories, manuals and original box. The seller even included a picture for the shutter count which showed ~ 7200 shutter actuations. I bought it after thinking it over for two days. And just like magic, I received the same item that I saw in the pictures from a far-far-away land (this is my first ever purchase from eBay).

 

The camera is in an extremely good condition, and if it was re-packed carefully, it could've been easily sold as a new item. The pictures shown here are not doing it justice, I took very quick snaps with me E-M1 and 12-40 in JPEG mode without any special lighting (overhead room lights) or post processing whatsoever.

 

 

Here are some quick impressions about the camera:

  • The thing is incredibly tiny, I didn't imagine that the minuscule 45 1.8 would look normally sized on any camera body. The Panaleica 25 1.4 looks positively large on the camera, and it is easily dwarfed by something like the 12-40 2.8.
  • There is no viewfinder. Of course I knew that when I bought the camera, and I thought that since I use my E-M1 a lot using the back LCD, then it would be a piece of cake. But for some reason, the experience is totally different (not in a good way), maybe because of the size, maybe the small grip, but definitely because it doesn't have the same 5-axis IBIS as the E-M1, the first lens I tested it with was the 45 1.8, and the view in the LCD was all shaky and not stabilized. The camera has IBIS, but I still have to check the settings, maybe it was not active during framing and only when taking a shot.
  • The screen is small, and has a strange 16:9 aspect ratio. It also has lower resolution (half that of modern cameras) but I didn't notice that. The aspect ratio is the thing I noticed most. Shooting at 4:3 or even 3:2 (my standard ratio), there are black bars at the sides, which when added to the small size of the screen makes the experience less than optimal. So I switched to 16:9 full-time to fill the screen, and I have the full 16MP RAW file back in Lightroom if I need to change the crop.
  • The camera is surprisingly solid and hefty.
  • The grip can be better. I ordered the larger MCG-2 grip.
  • I thought one control dial would be cumbersome, but since 95% of my shooting is in Aperture priority, it is not a problem. I have customized two of the function buttons to Exposure Compensation and ISO.
  • Same brilliant E-M5 sensor, skin tones, colors, and JPEGs.
  • No WiFi. I admit that I have been enjoying the E-M1 JPEGs lately (2500px, Fine), even at very high ISOs, that I am shooting that way a lot, and sharing pictures via WiFi to my iPad or phone. All the pictures here are taken the same way. To solve that, I got an Eye-Fi card.

 

These were some quick impressions, nothing special. Some of the above points might seem like cons, but actually I already knew most of them beforehand, so I am just recapping them here. I will be posting more impressions as I start using the camera.

 

For future posts, expect a lot of gear talk. I have been on a purchase spree since I learned how to use eBay effectively. Oh, and I sold my RX100 and ordered a new replacement compact. Stay tuned. ;-)

 

Image taken with my Lumia 930 @ ISO 800, no processing whatsoever