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I've been looking forward to reading this and it doesn't disappoint at all. An excellent review from a practical perspective that will assist many a person who's on the verge of buying this little piece of magic.

I agree with almost everything you've written and love the detailed observations - especially the one about the slight ticking of the Panasonic lens. Now I know it's not just me!

I say almost everything because of two small points. I stuck at using the rear dial and am grateful I did. Yes, it's bloody awkward to use at first but I do like to be able to access a couple of extra features rapidly. The other point relates to the tiltable monitor - I love it! I was at a buskers festival recently and couldn't get anywhere near the front of the crowds - I'm a polite Brit who feels uncomfortable barging his way through (!!) - so all I did was tilt the screen and use the touch facility to take the shot. All of a sudden I had a perspective that was 2.5 metres high. Ok, it's not the best thing to do but it works when needed.

I head to Valencia tomorrow for a long weekend of Calatrava and - though I can't quite believe I'm saying this - my Canon 5d Mark II is staying at home. Indeed, I even sold one of its lenses last week to fund the purchase of the 75mm.

What's happening to me? Perhaps I need to see a doctor :-)

Thanks again, Gianni, for a super review that confirms the choice I made and will help many others facing a similar decision.

nice review, i agree with all. Two tipps. For someone who needs a rugged combination the 12-50 is useful, second: buy the olympus e-p11 eyecup which fits much stronger and is very useful to prevent light from the sides. nicely xebastyan.

Thank you for investing the time and effort in this review. I prefer to read reviews by someone who is an excellent photographer, as opposed to someone obsessed by numbers, measurements, charts, and graphics.

Your review is especially impressive because, at least to the best of my knowledge, your native tongue is Italian. Your mastery of English is amazing, and I say this as someone who has been a professional writer for more than 30 years.

All that said, I am very annoyed with you. Up until your review I was able to keep all thoughts of the OM-D hidden away in the dark recesses of my brain. Now they have burst to the surface. My only remedy is to keep reading all of the negatives you pointed out until the fever cools down.

as a newcomer to MFT from FF Canon, you deserve the honor of the first comment to this post.
Thank you for your appreciation. And thank you for contradicting my opinions about the 4-way controller and tiltable monitor.
Regarding the first, I admire your patience.
As far as the latter is concerned, you know how snobbish I can be about the tools I use, no matter they are bicycles, motorcycles, computers, audio equipment or cameras.
I count on your forgiveness... ;-)

thank you for your suggestions that I'm more than happy to share with PhotoGraphia readers.
I'll certainly resort to the Oly 12-50mm whenever I'll need a rugged combo.
As for the E-P11 eyecup, I just ordered mine on Ebay.


the delay in posting this review demonstrates that, no matter the result, this is far from being an effortless task for me. In this respect I can't help recalling your recent post on Shutterfinger about what running a blog entails: http://shutterfinger.typepad.com/shutterfinger/2012/09/why-its-been-quiet.html
On the other hand sharing my passion with other photographers is the best way I know to thoroughly reflect about it and to fuel it in the meantime.

I'm so pleased you appreciate my writing. Italian is actually my mother tongue and my English is completely self-taught. I'm a professional writer as well (I'm involved in film and TV programs localization - in short: dialogue translation into Italian and voice dubbing) so I'm perfectly aware of how important words are, especially when they are addressed to a vast audience. It's a subtle process, one that requires expertise and responsibility.

As for the Olympus OM-D, knowing your soft spot for the film-era mechanical Pentaxes, I suggest you avoid even holding one for a minute at your dealer's counter. Unless you are ready to hand him your credit card the next minute.

Hi Gianni
Great to read your review.
I have written in the past about similarities on my photographic journey to yours.
Last spring I sold my Leica equipment and pre-ordered an OMD, I also bought the 12/25/45 and an Pany 100-300.
I am trying to stop myself buying the 75 as I love the Zeiss 135/1.8 on my A900, it is a delicious focal length and the 150 at 1.8 on M43 is very appealing.
I loved files from all the OLY cameras I have had-E10/20, EP1/2/3 EPL3 and now the OMD, they are the most film like of any digital files and Olympus colour is great.
Steve Huff writes that Olympus sprinkle their Sony sensors and digital files with pixey dust and I think he is right and some of the dust also brushes against the glass used in their lenses.
When I bought my OMD I got a free battery grip and if you buy an OMD in the UK between October 15 and December you get a 45 free.
All the best


Excellent review and much in line with my feelings, I do use the 4 way controller having assigned 2 of the buttons to ISO and single shot/continuous which I find useful and have gotten used to it.

Key things for me are the DR, ergonomics and image quality and at last an auto grad setting that works and extends the DR with little compromise. What would I like? a direct/customisable button for bracketing, a custom mode or 2 on the left dial (don't need iauto or video)and a hold function on the buttons (like the E5) press to engage/press to release.

One legacy lens I've enjoyed using is my OM Oly 100mm 2.8 which get pretty good results but the new m4/3 lens coming out from both Oly and Panny are superb.

I did find the large dial a bit difficult to use at factory settings until using the same set up as yourself which works beautifully.

As you say this is now a proper grown up system, the 4/3rds concept has come of age and I pick this camera up with the same affection I have for my OM4, it's a pleasure to hold and use.

Like you, I hated the 12-50 lens, mostly because the corner and edge quality was really bad at the wide angle focal lengths. And it's twice as big and heavy and three times as expensive as the other Olympus kit lens.

But that other kit lens, the 14-42mm IIR, deserves an honorable mention. It's well worth the extra $100 it costs to buy it with the camera. It's small and light and provides decent (not the best ever, but definitely decent) image quality in the 14mm to 25mm focal lengths. I find it perfectly adequate for outdoor photos when I can stop down the lens to its sharpest aperture.

Gianni -- terrific review, perfect english, both matched by your excellent images. Only one quibble: as a long-time Rolleiflex/Bronica/Hasselblad user, I couldn't have opted for the OM-5 without the tilting lcd -- I've just never been comfortable with eye-level photography. That said, I also appreciate your "square" compositions. I look forward to your next observations and images.

I'm quite sure you will end up buying the Olympus 75mm, an impressive lens which is up to the highest expectations, under both optical and build-quality points of view.
As for Leica, I'm afraid the second-hand market is being flooded by cast-off M bodies and lenses of Olympus OM-D buyers.

I totally agree with your requirements, especially the custom modes on the left dial.
And with the final sentence of your comment: when talking about this camera, "pleasure" is the word.

Half Sigma,
as a matter of fact I happened to read positive evaluations of the Olympus 14-42. Moreover it's collapsable, which adds to the compactness of the whole outfit.

thank you for your appreciation.
I occasionally used medium-format film cameras (the same brands as you) when I was a commercial pro photographer, but despite their indisputable image and build quality I never got to be in close terms with them. I perfectly understand your remark though.

Very good, Gianni, a comprehensive and user-oriented review, amazingly adapted to English language :)
In particular I have been impressed by the considerations you make on the last Micro Four Thirds generation of cameras, which is "no more in the 12 megapixel realm" and this changes many things for us.

Thank you, Gianni.

I also enjoyed reading your review with a few reservations (we all have some :-) )

Regarding the 12-50 lens which tends to be knocked at reviews...

It's a decent optic, not great but not that horrible either.
It's slow but for the overlapping focal length of the 14-42 it's much the same.
It has a few nice benefits over the standard 14-42 kit lenses:

The focal range is more useful especially at the wide end.
It's weather sealed.
Has a fixed physical size for all focal lengths which makes holding it much nicer than extendable zooms. You grab it and nothing moves while focusing etc.
The macro mode is pretty good for your casual macro shots.
The electronic zoom is much more fitted to video zooming. Not jerky etc.

It's not that big or heavy. Just marginally heavier than the 14-42 and when the 14-42 is extended and not in storage collapsible setting the length of both lenses is virtually the same and in fact the 14-42 is 'fatter' at the base and not fun to hold while shooting... Very wobbly.

As to not liking video in stills cameras... I dare to differ. I find video to be a very useful companion to still photography especially for precious memories. I have many nicely shot videos of my kids which I find invaluable.
The idea of carrying an extra dedicated video camera is cumbersome to say the least. The video quality and capabilities of the omd em5 with the stabilizer make it a very competent video camera. In a whole different league from smartphone video capturing.

I don't get the whole 'I hate video' thing. Why? It doesn't have to be tacky. It's up to you.

Other than that you're spot on on most things.

I'll add some negatives of my own:

- If you want to playback images on the evf you have disable the automatic evf/back lcd sensor and then you click once on the playback mode and then click the evf button. Very poorly done.
- the strap lugs are terribly positioned and dig into my fingers. I had them removed easily enough but the metal bolts are still a bit annoying though not as bad. I use a black rapid knockoff from eBay with a neoprene strap and a metal bolt which connects to the tripod base. Very comfortable and useful. Only annoying when I want to attach a tripod but you get a version with a tripod base as well, it's just slightly bigger at the connection.

Thank you Stefano.
Most of all, with the OM-D the MFT format has entered the 12EV-dynamic-range club along with a mature signal-to-noise ratio at higher sensitivities and a wide array of impressive native lenses.
Pixel count doesn't really count anymore.

it would be nice to put together the mechanics of the 12-50 and the optics of the 14-42. Nonetheless I'd go for the Panasonic 14-45 instead (the old one with the metal-bayonet, not its younger plastic-bayonet sibling).
Video: it's a feature I simply don't like because I don't need it. I don't make videos. Ever. Therefore I don't see the point in paying a feature I'm totally uninterested in, and have the hardware and software of my stills camera overloaded by the video function (more buttons, more menu items, heavier firmware and so on).
As for the lugs, I got rid of them and fitted the camera with a beautifully aged leather Luigi strap (originally designed for Leica M bodies) which softly bends down when I hold the camera.

Ciao Gianni

Io invece sono da lingua madre inglese e ho provato d'imparare un po di Italiano :-) Grazie mille per l'articolo, molto interessante. Personalmente non sono ancora 100% convinto che la EM-5 e veramente un passo in avanti su la E-P3, o piuttosto un passo abbastanza grande per giustificare €1000. Provo di convincermi che e meglio aspettare il prossimo modello promesso compatibile con i obiettivi Four Thirds. Pero, pero...e bella :-)


congratulations for your Italian. You manage to master a language which is very far from being an easy one.
As for the leap from E-P3 towards E-M5, I can't give you my opinion as I came from the E-P2. Is there an IQ improvement? Of course there is, although the files delivered by the E-P2 were really impressive. The major difference IMHO stands in the low-light performance of the OM-D along with its excellent ergonomics.

Here we are!!
How are you?!
I'm happy you falled in love with Olympus too.

since i travel a lot and not a fan of lugging my d7000 with 18-200mm lens (many times i'm at 200mm and then swing around for a candid street shot at 24mm {for example}.. so i'm not a fan of changing lenses...
i'm thinking about buying this camera.. .but i have a question which is paramount to what lens to buy)..
to give me the same 'experience' i am having with my setup .. i dont know whether i should go with the
1) 14-140 zoom
2) 12-35 2.8 and the recently announced 35-100 2.8.

although i would prefer one lens, the 2.8 would seem to be a better choice, since i dont carry a tripod when i'm traveling and i frequently shoot dark streets or late in the day..
most of my shots are in the wider angle.. i could live with 2 lenses like that... and i guess i could crop to make up for the loss between 100mm and 140mm..
although i've been trolling the net for ideas, you seem to have the best review i;ve seen and i would respect your input.
off next week on a cruise with a stop over in rome.. have been to rome and florence several times.. just love it...
the only thing i would miss with the olympus, is that i just bought a gps for my nikon. i'm too lazy to write down every location where i'm shooting... specially on tours when we are running around all day to different towns and my wife was tired of me asking "sweetheart... where was this church ?"

thank you for following my blog.

PhotoGraphia readers should pay a visit to your 360° photography site:

thank you for your appreciation.
I understand your dilemma, which is the same I have to deal with every time I'm planning a travel abroad.
Before switching to Micro Four Thirds I have shot Nikons for a long time, and the Nikkor 18-200 has been my companion during several journeys. This is why, when I switched to the Panasonic G1, I was so impressed by the Panasonic Vario 14-140, which is definitely better than its Nikkor (first version) sibling.
Therefore I'm sure the Panasonic would give you a better IQ with the OM-D. On the other hand the OM-D requires the best available glass in order to express all its IQ potential. So, considering the outstanding quality of the 12-35 (confirmed by most reviewers) and the expected quality of the 35-100, the two-lens option appears to be a better one, with the only tradeoff of lesser portability and frequent bayonet fiddling (the occasional slight cropping won't be an issue at all in my opinion).
As for the gps I can't help you, as my kind of photography doesn't require such a feature.

A great summary, Gianni, and I hope you have better luck than I have in getting the message that many serious photographers never shoot video across to camera manufacturers. I've been trying for years, so far with no success.
If Olympus would strip out the video, Art Filters, Scene presets and other rubbish people like us never use, have a chat with Fujifilm's and Panasonic's designers and produce an E-M5 with more 'traditional' controls, I would be beating a path to their doors. But I'm not buying until I find a camera that's designed for photographers, rather than snapshooters.
It would be great to see Olympus adapt the interface in their OM film cameras to the OM-D series. What do other readers think?

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