Since I posted my first batch of photos taken with the brand new Olympus OM-D EM-10, I’ve had more time to study the camera and to take some additional photos. I must say, as much as I enjoy having the IBIS and the flexibility which the larger m4/3 sensor and the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8 provide in terms of low light performance and DOF control, almost equally I hate the color rendition, seemingly random auto white balance and “dark” metering of the E-M10. The Nikon V1 with the Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8 (you can read my review of the lens here) still have some advantages which make the setup very fun to use. For example, the V1 has extremely precise metering and Auto WB, vastly superior to the both systems the E-M10 employs. I find that with the latter I’m constantly correcting exposure by +0.3-0.7 stops to get the result I’m used to with the V1. And even then, some work in Lightroom is needed to make the highlights “roll off” as smoothly as with the V1. The reason for this is no doubt the fact that the E-M10, while having greater dynamic range overall, has less highlight headroom and a steeper curve in the highlight region (but more shadow headroom) than the V1, thus underexposing constantly to protect those highlights.
The V1 is also much more predictable and “true to life” in terms of color rendition and Auto WB. Once you figure out what the camera is doing under different lighting conditions, you can apply corrections for artificial light sources blindfolded. It’s that predictable and “stable”. In daylight and in the shadows, V1’s Auto WB is perfect – no correction needed. With the E-M10, I feel that there is always a surprise around the corner. Sometimes the Auto WB nails it, other times the shadows have a magenta and yet other times they have a green color shift. It’s like there are separate Auto WB algorithms for different parts of the image, which work out of sync. It’s very strange. And the worst thing is, you can’t just use the normal Lighroom tools for WB to get rid of these shifts, you have to use sliders for individual colors or for shadow colors to fix it. It is a lot of work and no fun at all.
One more annoyance with the E-M10 is the blurred live view in both the EVF and the rear screen. I know that fans of the m4/3 system are not going to like this, but Nikon V1’s live view feed is considerably better. Firstly, it looks like the E-M10 is constantly applying some sort of NR to its live view feed, it is simply far less sharp than what the V1 is showing in its EVF and LCD. Secondly, the IBIS doesn’t only have its advantages, every time the system activates (when half-pressing the shutter button) the screen jumps. N1’s lens stabilizers (like in the 10-30mm I have) do not behave in this annoying fashion. The live feed on the V1 is smooth and sharp no matter the activity state the stabilizer is in. And lastly, while the V1’s live feed doesn’t show you the exact exposure (it is close but not 100%), the color, WB and contrast reproduction is spot on. At least that’s my experience. With the E-M10 and its live view feed, you get pretty exact feedback on exposure, but the colors, WB and contrast are not even close to what you see when you look at the images on your computer.
One last thing I would like to say, before I leave you to the images I’ve taken with the E-M10: the Olympus may not be as fun and carefree as the V1, it is however undoubtedly much more capable, especially under low light. I tried to make anything above ISO3200 work with the V1, but it was futile. The 1” sensor just isn’t built for such low amounts of light. With the E-M10 I have no problem going past ISO3200. ISO6400 still looks usable, maybe even 8000 and 12800, but I still haven’t taken any images which would warrant putting in more work to do some clever denoising. Add to the better sensor the IBIS and the 2/3 of a stop more light, which the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 gives me compared to the 18.5mm f/1.8, and the difference in low light performance is more than just “nice”, it is substantial! DOF control is a similar matter. With the E-M10 and the Panasonic you have an almost two stops advantage when trying to achieve nice bokeh.
If you are interested, you can view more photos taken with the mentioned equipment by visiting my Flickr sets. Here are the individual links: OM-D E-M10, Panasonic 25mm f/1.4, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, Nikon V1, Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8.
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