Monday, January 23, 2012

Will The Olympus OM-D Be Enough?

Olympus is gearing up to release the camera that they should have released over two years ago: the OM-D. That's not actually the name of the camera, but the name of the line of cameras, all of which will be styled like the oldie-fashioned OM cameras.

Olympus is saying that the sensor will be a new sensor which has been optimized for dynamic range. Sony has just announced a sensor that has been optimized for dynamic range. Coincidence? Hopefully not. Olympus is in desperate need of a new sensor, and one that isn't based on some ridiculous gimmick like the E-P3.

The new OM-D will require a lot more than that if it hopes to succeed at the price point it is entering. The camera will likely cost over $1,000 without a lens, and that puts it squarely against the already-legendary Sony NEX-7. For most applications, 24MP is more than necessary, and if Olympus installed a 16MP version of Sony's sensor, while the deficit would not, nor would it ever, be completely eliminated, the difference could be rendered small enough to not matter.

The camera will be weather-sealed, which is a first for mirrorless cameras. Unfortunately, the only sealed Micro 4/3 lens is the already-lampooned 12-50mm which has an aperture that drops all the way down to 6.3 when at 50mm. Again, the only thing that helps level the playing field against larger sensors is that lenses for 4/3 usually have larger apertures. APS-C sensors are about a stop better vis-a-vis noise, but if your 4/3 lens is a stop faster, that eliminates any advantages. Having a slow lens gives you the worst of both worlds.

Olympus has been a growing joke for some time and transformed from a slow-motion train wreck into a full-speed train wreck after the accounting scandal, so you'll excuse me for taking everything that they say with a grain of salt. I will officially get on board the Olympus express when they release a camera with a sensor that doesn't suck and then adapt, or release Micro 4/3 versions of, their pro-level Zuiko lenses. (An adapter exists, but the autofocus is slow as all get-out. This needs to be fixed.)

It is infuriating because I feel trapped. I have already invested a few thousand dollars into the 4/3 system and don't want to buy into Sony just yet. Owning both Micro 4/3 and Sony would be redundant, so I'm not going to just float both of them. And Micro 4/3 has some great lenses for which no other compact system has a match. Don't let me down, Oly. I know you will, but don't.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts are moderated, so it may take a day for your comment to appear.