Monday, February 6, 2012

The Olympus OM-D Is Not Enough

The shape of Olympus' line-up for the next year is pretty much solidified and after more hype than it likely deserved, Olympus has delivered more than it has in the past, but not nearly enough to make up for its past failures.

First, the good. The autofocus on the new camera has been tweaked to play nice with Olympus' Zuiko lenses, which means that autofocus on darlings like the 12-60mm and 50-200mm will finally be better than total crap. Autofocus on new lenses should be excellent, which is an oft-overlooked element of camera discussion. Granted, that's because camera companies frequently tout "improved autofocus" as code for "we actually haven't done anything to the camera."

Olympus at least showed that they weren't lying when the E-P3 released with autofocus that actually was better than any mirrorless camera on the market. That gives them a little more credibility. But the rest of the specs are woefully inadequate for the premium price that they are asking.

As with autofocus, a camera can be made in the details. But aside from the autofocus and weather-sealing, the OM-D is lacking specs that cameras that cost half the price have. Cameras in the same price range have details that devastate the OM-D. Details like a high-resolution viewfinder as in the Sony NEX-7, excellent ISO performance like the Sony NEX-5n and Samsung NX200, goodies out the ass like the Nikon D7000 and Sony A77, or world-beating video performance like the Panasonic GH2.

In both details and performance, the OM-D is handily beaten by almost every competitor on the market. If only I could bring myself to hate it, I'd feel much better.

Unfortunately, that weather-sealing is absolutely unique. No other camera in the price range has it. Truly, I can't think of many cameras below $2,000 that have it aside from the Nikon D300s and the Canon EOS 7D. That one feature goes a long way towards making me want this camera. I've been using a Panasonic GF1 since its release, and the lack of weather-sealing has been an issue more than once. But am I willing expend over $1,000 to get a camera that will function identically save for the sealing? No!

I am already invested in the system, and I need much more to get me excited. This camera isn't a complete disappointment, but it's not exciting either.

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