Thanks to the folks at Olympus, I get to test the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and OM-D E-M1X.
Both are called “micro four-third” sensor cameras. That means the sensor is 17.4 mm on the long side by 13.0 mm on the short side. Contrast this with a “full sensor camera” that has a sensor that is 35mm on the long side by 24mm on the short side. (Notice the sensor is the same size as a 35mm piece of film.)
The advantage of a “micro four-thirds” sensor is things appear closer.
The Canon Rebel T6i has a “cropped” sensor, or 22.3 mm by 14.9 mm, so the same object appears farther away.
The Canon 5D Mark IV is a “full frame” camera with a sensor 35mm x 24mm. Objects appear much farther away.
I took each photo above from the same place. Each camera had a 300mm lens with a 1.4x tele-extender. That means I was using a 420mm lens for each photo but the subject was more or less magnified based on the sensor size.
The Olympus “four-thirds” sensor would mean a bird would be larger in my photo. The “four-thirds” sensor would mean I might not have to crop as much since the subject would already be bigger in the photo.
It’s inevitable that a mirrorless camera is in my future. I shot with Nikon film cameras for 15 years. Then I moved to Canon for digital SLRs and have been happy for 16 years. Will I make a brand shift when I go to mirrorless?
The nice folks at Olympus were kind enough to send me an OM-D E-M1 Mark II to test. (Thanks to Gary Farber at Hunt’s Camera & Video for your help!) This camera retails at $1,699 with a 20.4 megapixel sensor and 15 frames per second shooting. Check, check, and check on price, file size, and shooting speed.
There were some other features that were intriguing. The camera can shoot 60 frames per second is silent mode which would be amazing for birds. It has in-camera focus stacking and in-camera time lapse. Both of these are important to me.
I’ve used the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for a week and here are my initial impressions. (Check back tomorrow for more.)
Weight — Let’s get that out of the way first. I thought there would be more difference.
4.9 lbs OM-D E-M1 Mark II with 300mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter
4.9 lbs Canon 5D Mark IV with 300mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter
6-inches wide by 3-inches deep on the Canon 5D Mark IV
5-inches wide by 3.25-inches deep on the Canon Rebel T6i
Set-up — I wasn’t looking forward to this step. I’ve taught photography for 25-years and know Canon and Nikon cameras well. The Canon R was intuitive right out of the box. Sony, Olympus, and Fuji tend to put things in different places and call them by different names.
The OM-D E-M1 forced me to go to the user’s manual. I was able to get the camera set to my liking with the help of the manual. Dials and Fn buttons have to do double duty since the camera body is smaller.
Once I got the camera set-up to my liking, the features I needed were easy to reach and adjust. ISO, exposure adjustment, focus points were at my finger tips and I could shoot.
But — What about the picture quality? So far, I’m impressed.
Check back tomorrow for more about this camera and the OM-D M1X. Once again, thanks to Gary Farber at Hunt’s Photo & Video for your help with this loaner.
Question from a reader: I was taking photos yesterday of my daughter at a gymnastics event. A red light in the bottom right corner on my Canon Rebel kept flashing. Once I saw the word “BUSY” in the viewfinder. What was I doing wrong?
The red flashing light on your camera shows that the camera is accessing the memory card.
It’s normal to see a red light when the camera takes a photo. (Nikon users see a green light.) The light should quickly go on-and-off if all is well.
During a rapid burst of photos, the red light will flash as long as the camera is moving the photos to the memory card. The camera has a memory buffer of 6-9 photos. It’s holding those in memory and waiting to move them photos to the card.
If you take 10 photos in a row, the camera moves some to the card and then some to the buffer. Those in the buffer wait in line until it’s time for them to move to the card.
You’ll see BUSY in the viewfinder if you take too many photos and the buffer fills. The camera won’t take any more photos until the buffer clears out and has room to store another photo.
You’re likely to see the flashing red light and BUSY in the viewfinder if you held the shutter button down and took a lot of photos. Those photos need to process out of the buffer and through to the card.
Solution — get a memory card that records faster. How fast? That depends on the camera. A 20MB camera that takes 7 fps (frames per second) is going to record 140MB worth of photos per second. A card that records 64MB per second can record roughly three frames a second. The other four frames are going to sit in memory. That means you have three frames recording to the card while four photos are waiting in buffer. That’s usually okay since the buffer will clear in a second or two.
This card records 150MB/s. That’s seven photos per second using a 20MB camera.
This card records 45MB/s. That’s two photos per second using a 20MB camera.
The card on the left records 150MB/s. That’s seven photos per second using a camera with a 20MB file. This is almost more card than the Rebel needs. Someone who shoots sport or action regularly might need this, though.
The card on the right records 45MB/s. That’s two photos per second using the same camera. Too slow for someone photographing sports or action.