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Author Topic: A great E-M5 review  (Read 12536 times)
Pete Berry
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« on: June 11, 2012, 02:14:26 PM »
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Thanks, Michael, for your excellent, practical take on the E-M5, which has suddenly made my GH2 rather obsolete! The tabla rasa interface seems daunting to my aging brain, but the improved sensor DR and hi-ISO dynamics, live shadow/highlight "blinkies" with adjustable thresholds, MagLev 5-axis IBIS, enormous JPG DR using "auto-gradation", and electronic level all are conspiring to push me into upgrading. The GH2's RAW resolution seems to be the its only competitive stills feature now, aside from its fine array of hard controls.

One little innaccuracy, though: the superb Oly 4/3 50-200/2.8-3.5 becomes an f/4.0-5.0 with the EC-14 1.4x TC. And 5.6-7.1 with the 2x, which is still a very usable combination, even wide open.

Although I do all my printing from RAW, the JPG quality of the E-M5 is very appealing - esp. the huge possible in-camera DR, and even curves tweaking! Below is a comparison of the E-M5 in "auto-gradation" mode with the Panny GH2 and GX1, showing the straight highlight tone "curve" choice to the top (with iDR on low, but essentially the same on high). And for kicks, the D800 in extra-high ADL mode with it's rather curious curve, and a total of only 1/3 EV more DR than the Oly. How much more RAW DR is available would be interesting.

Pete
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2012, 02:31:10 PM »
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I also noticed that the dynamic range comes dangerously close to matching the D800 at base ISO.  I am having a hard time not getting one of these little cameras. I am currently using a 7D, and in many ways this OMD is dangerously close to eclipsing the 7D in some basic IQ attributes (dynamic range and high ISO noise in particular)

Last fall I got a Pen E-PL3 with the 12mm and the 45mm prime lenses, and it is really quite amazing what you can get out of these cameras when you work carefully.  The most problematic critique of that generation of Pen cameras was that the dynamic range was pretty inferior.

If I do get one, I may pass on the zoom and stick with primes for the MFT camera. I am not sure I could switch over to a EVF for all my work. Wildlife and bird photography with an EVF would be nearly impossible.

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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 10:12:39 AM »
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Several stores in both Canada and the US now have extra batteries. I received mine two weeks ago from B&H.

Dave S
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fike
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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 12:23:36 PM »
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I am also interested to hear that it has a "weak" anti-alias filter.  I guess that is why it seems to out-resolve other cameras of similar resolutions.  I am thinking this could be a great landscape camera.  Doing some pixel peeping on DPReview's sample shot, it is amazing how well it holds up against a 7D or 5DII.  I think it slightly exceeds the 7D resolution and comes close to the 5DII at base ISOs and isn't as far behind a 5DIII as you would expect.  I tried comparing to the now legendary D800, but that is a pretty unfair contest. I suppose the OM-D would do better if they tested with one of the good primes, but the same could be said of the kit lens on almost any SLR.

The only thing that really bothers me about this cam is the permanent dependence on an EVF. There are bright conditions in which I have a hard enough time dealing with an optical viewfinder, much less an EVF. 
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Pete Berry
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 01:14:22 PM »
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If I do get one, I may pass on the zoom and stick with primes for the MFT camera. I am not sure I could switch over to a EVF for all my work. Wildlife and bird photography with an EVF would be nearly impossible.



A little more difficult, possibly, with EVF - particularly with back-lit subjects in a confused background, as I found with the attached Little Green heron (at 100%) on dense lily pads recently. But it was very difficult to see with naked eye also. Some highlights blown that the E-M5 probably would have spared. Over-brightness of the EVF is NOT a problem, as it compensates for both ultra-high and low light situations in its full-time metered live view. You can blow it out in Man. mode, of course. 

BIF work, though, is much more reliable with PD-AF DSLR's, although I've caught a rather manic Peregrine Falcon guarding it's nest using the GH2 with the lightning-fast S-AF of the Panny 100-300.

Link to my Albums in DPRev, several of which are birding with GH1&2, using Oly 50-200/2.8-3.5 w/ EC-20 2x for 800mm EFL (GH1, MF only), and more recently GH2 w/100-300 handheld, as well as MF with 480mm true apo f/6 scope on tripod:

http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/2779399177/albums

Pete
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 01:19:28 PM by Pete Berry » Logged
Pete Berry
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 02:04:15 PM »
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I am also interested to hear that it has a "weak" anti-alias filter.  I guess that is why it seems to out-resolve other cameras of similar resolutions.  I am thinking this could be a great landscape camera.  Doing some pixel peeping on DPReview's sample shot, it is amazing how well it holds up against a 7D or 5DII.  I think it slightly exceeds the 7D resolution and comes close to the 5DII at base ISOs and isn't as far behind a 5DIII as you would expect.  I tried comparing to the now legendary D800, but that is a pretty unfair contest. I suppose the OM-D would do better if they tested with one of the good primes, but the same could be said of the kit lens on almost any SLR.


Back when DPRev was quantitating both JPG and RAW res., the 12mp GH1 was a revolution in per-pixel sharpness, eclipsing every FF and crop sensor of less than 18mp -even the 16mp 1.3X crop 1D-IV - and  barely surpassed by the 18mp 7D. PopPhoto is the only measurer now AFAIK, but the 16mp GH2 takes it a step further, passing the D700 handily, and within a gnat's eyelash of the 18mp M-9, which has no A-A filter. I've not seen any results for the E-M5, but comparing it in DPRev's widget, the RAW images are very close, with possibly a little edge to the GH2 in finest feather detail - certainly insignificant in printing. Except at ISOs above 3200, I think it's safe to say that the E-M5's overall performance is the equal of anything out there 18mp or lower, with the exception of C-AF tracking ability in high-speed action work.

The lens DPRev uses for all it's m4/3 (with adapter) and 4/3 camera tests is the remarkably sharp and flat-field Oly 4/3 Zuiko 50mm/2.0 macro lens, which certainly contributes to GH series and E-M5's high resolution. Unfortunatley, focus is very slow on the m4/3 bodies, pretty much limiting it's use.

Pete
« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 02:15:18 PM by Pete Berry » Logged
OldRoy
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 04:23:31 AM »
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Hi Pete
I took a look at your bird pix as I'm interested in getting the Panasonic 100-300. I already have the OM-D which is delightful. Birding is just a casual interest but previously I've been using my D700/Sigma 150-500. Carrying around a rig like this on a hike where I might see something interesting is just a torment which I'm less and less inclined to endure. The Sigma lens isn't too great either, it might as well be a fixed F8, but I've got used to it and it can produce acceptable results if you keep the shutter speed up; the OS is pretty useless. The D700 AF of course, is excellent. So my thinking is to trade in the Sigma lens for the Panasonic 100-300. The Oly 150-300 seems to be marginally better (not everyone agrees, unsurprisingly) and a bit lighter, but also slower and much more expensive.

Since buying the OM-D a few weeks ago I've regularly been fantasising about dumping all my Nikon gear. The range of MFT lenses available makes it almost possible to directly substitute for everything except the 2.8 zooms. With the exception of the 14-24, substituting these for F4 equivalents isn't inconceivable. I do quite a lot of VR pano work (D700/16mm AIS) and Samyang now have a 7.5/3.5 MFT lens which makes yet another of my reasons for keeping the Nikon gear less compelling.

I'd be interested to hear more of your overall impressions of using the 100-300.

Roy


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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2012, 12:10:57 PM »
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The article was interesting and worth a read. I've openly never supported 4/3 or micro 4/3 because I feel the DOF situation is a disadvantage too far (APS-C an acceptable compromise) I also don't think it looks a lot like an OM camera either..but start to tire of the "retro camera theme" too from various makers. Retro is there for a reason (good handling), not just to aid marketing and look good.

I would also point out the lack of on-board flash is a disadvantage (not for the flash but the wireless trigger ability) UK price is also terrible at £1000 odd body only which is the same as a pro level DSLR. It just doesn't add up to me. But it is nice to see an improved sensor.

I still have no confidence in Olympus as a company not because of scandal (yes that damaged it beyond repair to me), but original OM users got left in the cold, normal 4/3 is essentially a one camera peace meal offering and a dead end, which is exactly as I predicted a number of years ago. I'm not slating micro 4/3 for the sake of it, but I can't see how it's going to challenge APS-C in the long run. It can do ok I think with the Pen models and I completely get folks buying a good deal blowout micro 4/3 body, yes very much better than tiny sensor compact. The OM-D on the other hand seems a little odd in the overall picture, yes micro 4/3 did need a higher end camera..but let's not kid ourselves this is a revival for 4/3, more a side step and with much talk about a FF Nikon bomb dropping very soon, we could at last be looking at a FF rampage at a more reasonable price.

If that does happen, it won't be a nice place to be for the smaller formats.
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Pete Berry
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2012, 01:01:29 PM »
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Hi Pete
I took a look at your bird pix as I'm interested in getting the Panasonic 100-300. I already have the OM-D which is delightful. Birding is just a casual interest but previously I've been using my D700/Sigma 150-500. Carrying around a rig like this on a hike where I might see something interesting is just a torment which I'm less and less inclined to endure. The Sigma lens isn't too great either, it might as well be a fixed F8, but I've got used to it and it can produce acceptable results if you keep the shutter speed up; the OS is pretty useless. The D700 AF of course, is excellent. So my thinking is to trade in the Sigma lens for the Panasonic 100-300. The Oly 150-300 seems to be marginally better (not everyone agrees, unsurprisingly) and a bit lighter, but also slower and much more expensive.

Since buying the OM-D a few weeks ago I've regularly been fantasising about dumping all my Nikon gear. The range of MFT lenses available makes it almost possible to directly substitute for everything except the 2.8 zooms. With the exception of the 14-24, substituting these for F4 equivalents isn't inconceivable. I do quite a lot of VR pano work (D700/16mm AIS) and Samyang now have a 7.5/3.5 MFT lens which makes yet another of my reasons for keeping the Nikon gear less compelling.

I'd be interested to hear more of your overall impressions of using the 100-300.

Roy




While the Panny 100-300 is not a great lens by any measure, it's the best compromise at the moment of price, performance, size/weight, and super-fast S-AF. The negatives include unimpressive build with rather ratchety zoom action of plastic sticking on plastic, a bit soft at 300/5.6, but sharpening up nicely by f/8, and not great OIS. To get consistent results, a tripod (which I detest!) or shooting above 1/500th - needed also to stop twitchy bird motion - preferably higher. It's quite sharp in the 100-250 range, even wide open. I would expect the E-M5's vaunted MagLev IBIS to stabilize it more than it's OIS on my GH2. And I can carry the slightly over 2# GH2/100-300 all day and hardly notice it on a BlackRapid cross chest strap. Ultimate IQ should handily trump your Nikon rig with substantially more pixels on the target at 600mm EFL and 16mp.

Pete
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peterpix
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2012, 09:40:48 PM »
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Since Pete brought up the GH2 with the 100-300, here's a recent handheld shot of oystercatchers, a few godwits, and a couple of stilts from a New Zealand trip. Looks pretty fine printed on 17 x 22.
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Peter Randall
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 04:18:19 AM »
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I'm not sure the bird pics you are showing are doing much to convince me that this can be a viable wildlife setup.  The images just don't seem to me that sharp and bright.  The best ones I see the night herons.  Peter, the oystercatchers look slightly oversharpened to me, particularly apparent in the grasses behind the slightly too contrasty birds.

Here is one I think is acceptably sharp, and it was taken with a 50D and 100-400 lens which is not considered the sharpest tele zoom out there.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailpixie/4323354821/in/set-72157623834758040/lightbox/

I still think the OM-D EM-5 looks like a fabulous travel camera, but to me it doesn't yet look like a fabulous wildlife camera.  What I am really trying to figure out is how well it would work as a landscape and panoramic stitching camera.
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« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2012, 08:31:34 AM »
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it's interesting that I have almost the same set-up as Michael for the same uses.   The D800 twins for big and the OMD for travel.  I am in the middle of selling off my Nikon DX gear because the OMD is so good at the same job with a much smaller footprint.   I am in Mexico for the next week and love walking around with the OMD but prefer the 14-140 as my go to zoom.  A little faster than the 12-50 and a much bigger range.  Balances better with the grip.   Sorry Michael, I love those art filters and probably overplay with them and I have always believed that Olympus had great JPEGs ( although I shoot RAW)
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ned
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2012, 09:36:19 AM »
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IMO for casual "wildlife" shots it's okay, as well as any other camera for that matter. The problem with the EM-5 and M4/3 in general are the slow telephoto lenses. I believe this issue will change in the future with the addition of a proper adapter for 4/3 lenses or actually making a proper micro 4/3 lens with a suitable aperture size.

Take the 75-300 for example which is the one I tested for birding.

*First there is the size. Even with IS set to on, these small lenses are not easy to keep still even on a tripod.
*Aperture, 6.7 at the long end is just to small. Shooting wildlife, you will be at the long end of the lens for a large percentage of the time. The problem is it is difficult to achieve focus at lower light levels which is also where you will want to live most of the time. At these lower light levels the lens/camera just doesn't like to focus quickly. I recall having to zoom out to around 150mm in order to get the thing to focus. Not good for a wildlife lens.
*Focus box size. Difficult to focus on the eye with a large focus box, even at the small setting.
*Where's the lens hood?
*Even though it is water resistant, do you really want to drag this beautiful camera around in the field? It's just not a camera you even want to set gingerly on the ground.
*Don't even think about using your 4/3 lenses for wildlife unless your subject is dead or a flamingo at the zoo. Even if you wait the ~2 seconds to autofocus it is not as accurate as it should be.

That's my take. I ended up sending the 75-300 back because of the above issues.
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John Camp
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2012, 06:12:36 PM »
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The problem with the EM-5 and M4/3 in general are the slow telephoto lenses. I believe this issue will change in the future with the addition of a proper adapter for 4/3 lenses or actually making a proper micro 4/3 lens with a suitable aperture size.

There are m4/3 adapters for almost everything, including Leica R lenses, Olympus OM and regular 4/3 lenses, and Canon, etc.

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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2012, 07:30:11 PM »
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What I mean by a proper adapter is one that will autofocus at the native speed of the originating lens. I can put my 300f2.8 4/3 lens on my OMD with an adapter but focus is too slow.

There are m4/3 adapters for almost everything, including Leica R lenses, Olympus OM and regular 4/3 lenses, and Canon, etc.


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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2012, 07:41:35 PM »
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as Michael listed in his review, there are excellent 4/3 long (and fast) lenses  that can be used with the OM-D, they're just expensive.  autofocus for action will still not be up to SLR standards so i have a tough time with the idea of spending Nikon or Canon money on long lenses (which are pretty nearly Canon and Nikon size and weight) for the OM-D.
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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2012, 05:24:30 AM »
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I really don't get the cavilling about the performance of these slow MFT long zooms. I mean, what are the alternatives for anyone who can't justify buying a DSLR systems principally configured for occasional "wildlife" use (I'm still trying to figure out why the word requires quotes...)? I mean, I've tried another "cheap" alternative  - and quotes are appropriate here, at least for for the majority of humanity, I believe. So what do we buy? A D7000, one of the Nikon super-expensive fast super-telephotos (with a TC), a gimbal head and a grotesquely overpriced Gitzo tripod? I'm not really likely to take that for a day's hiking even if I could afford such a system for occasional use. I've done my time walking 15 miles on mountain tracks loaded down with gear. Now I get time off for good behaviour.

My own motivation for taking snaps of wildlife is entertainment. A lot of people are happy to spot birds and just jot down the species, time and place. I'm not that much of a birder but it's a pleasure to collect and accumulate a visual record. In the unlikely event that one of these snaps approaches "art" (it's catching...) all well and good.

After the last few years of using a D700 and a range of lenses of different types and weights, it's  huge relief to have a well designed system that weighs so little and offers such a wide range of available lenses. As for the shallow DOF "problem" (there we go again) I'd say that lack of DOF has b*ggered up more of my snaps than an excess of the same. Like long exposures on moving water, super-shallow DOF has become a cliché even if it's a cliché that sometimes affords attractive results.

The OM-D is a really enjoyable little camera to use. I think it gives very decent results but of course it won't satisfy a lot of people. The older I get, the easier I am to please, particularly if it involves reduced weight... up to a point, anyway.

Roy


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Pete Berry
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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2012, 09:35:50 PM »
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I'm not sure the bird pics you are showing are doing much to convince me that this can be a viable wildlife setup.  The images just don't seem to me that sharp and bright.  The best ones I see the night herons.  Peter, the oystercatchers look slightly oversharpened to me, particularly apparent in the grasses behind the slightly too contrasty birds.

Here is one I think is acceptably sharp, and it was taken with a 50D and 100-400 lens which is not considered the sharpest tele zoom out there.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailpixie/4323354821/in/set-72157623834758040/lightbox/

I still think the OM-D EM-5 looks like a fabulous travel camera, but to me it doesn't yet look like a fabulous wildlife camera.  What I am really trying to figure out is how well it would work as a landscape and panoramic stitching camera.

That's a very nice shot of the little raptor, Marc. You did have the significant advantage of a bright blue day with frontal lighting to brighten it up. Unfortunately all the shots in my albums linked above suffer either from back or severe side-lighting (night herons on pond with 100-300, GH2), or shadowed locations (night herons on the nest) shot at Pt. Lobos, CA, and it's coastal fog, at ISO 400, with 12mp GH1, and the Oly 4/3 50-200 plus 2x TC for 400mm/7.1. These at nominal 5.6 for f/11.2 for the DOF needed. The head ranger there, who shoots wildlife with a 5D/100-400, was quited taken with the quality of the 17x22 prints of the nesting series I donated, which hang in the docent's office.

If there's a better long tele zoom out there than the Canon 100-400, as old as it is, I'm not familiar with it - certainly surpasses Nikon's 80-400 in the tests I've seen. Except maybe the Oly 4/3 90-250/2.8 at $6000 and 7.25#, which has only the 12mp Oly 4/3 E-5 or older 10mp bodies capable of fast AF with it.  The Canon 400mm/5.6 prime I used to shoot with has a flatter field and slightly sharper center than the 100-400, but not by a great margin, and unfortunately lacks IS.

Although I enjoy nature photography, I lack the passion to do what's necessary to be great at it - studying the subjects habits and habitat, returning as often as necessary for the optimum lighting, and most importantly, getting close enough with whatever equipment you choose to fill as much of the frame as you wish with whatever equipment you have chosen. I've seen enough quality 300mm 100% crops from the GH2/100-300 to convince me that it's me, not the equipment (except when I refuse to carry a tripod), that's the limiting factor.

An excellent fast-focusing m4/3 300mm/4.0 with dedicated 1.4x TC for 420/5.6, or 400/5.6 - with OIS if Panny - would be a god-send for guys like me who would like more reach for our GH2 or E-M5. Such a lens without IS would tip the balance to the E-M5, for sure.

And short of monster FF sensor bodies, I'm convinced that the fine range of m4/3 prime and zoom quality lenses, along with the outstanding sensor qualities of the E-M5, will go head-to-head with anything out there for landscape photography.

Pete
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« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2012, 01:18:14 AM »
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Here is one I think is acceptably sharp, and it was taken with a 50D and 100-400 lens which is not considered the sharpest tele zoom out there.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailpixie/4323354821/in/set-72157623834758040/lightbox/

FWIW, the pictured raptor is a red-shouldered hawk

Mark
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« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2012, 07:44:17 AM »
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Hi folks,

Is there anyone here in a position to compare the Olympus with the Fuji X Pro1, specifically concerning image quality and fast focus? I've been using a Fuji with its three lenses since the camera came out - image quality tremendous, high ISO fantastic,  and so on but when it comes to focus the jury is still out in my case.

The issue is well documented all over the web. Telling yourself it's a quirky camera (as many do) when you've just missed a shot you should have nailed in the street is little consolation, and that's before you even think about the price you paid for the privilege. I'd very much appreciate any feedback because if I thought the Olympus came anywhere near the Fuji image quality, I'd be strongly tempted to switch. I keep hoping for a meaningful Fuji firmware update. but in my waters I feel they're joined at the hip with the focus and anyway, life is too short at my age to be hanging around for a fix that may or may not come.

Many thanks,

Seamus
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