My First Step Into a Brand-New (Micro Four Thirds) World
Thursday 28 June 2012 — Category: Equipment
I ended yesterday’s article about my camera quandary by saying that I was going to visit the Pro Photo Supply camera store in Portland today, in order to — hopefully — solve my photographic-equipment dilemma. I just got back, and I've got some exciting news to report!
Pro Photo Supply is an awesome place with tons of inventory — definitely worth the 90-minute drive to get there. And there are plenty of knowledgeable salesmen to answer all your questions and demonstrate the equipment. Talk about being a kid in a candy shop! One could easily rack up huge credit card charges in a place like that!
I spent most of my hour-and-a-half at the store hands-on with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera, trying out quite a few of the Micro Four Thirds (µ4/3) lenses that work with it. I have to say, this is a really wonderful machine. Once you hold it in your hands for only a short amount of time, you can feel the waves of gadget lust washing over you!
As you can see from the images to the right, Olympus has given this camera a classic, older-style “retro” look, which ends up reminding me a lot of my first SLR which I bought while in junior high school — the Pentax Spotmatic F. These two photos are properly scaled to each other, so you can easily see that the µ4/3 E-M5 is significantly smaller than the traditionally-sized Spotmatic F. In fact, the E-M5 weighs one-third less than the Spotmatic F (15 oz. vs. 21 oz.) and is a whopping 60% smaller! It doesn’t look that much smaller from the front, yet, in addition to having a smaller width and height, the E-M5 is slightly less than half as thick, which accounts for a large part of the size and weight reduction.
While at the camera store, I also checked out a few models from Panasonic’s Lumix G series of µ4/3 cameras, as well as the Canon PowerShot SX40 HS “superzoom” bridge camera. But none of these cameras had the combination of features and quality which come together in the E-M5.
After being wowed by this alluring camera — and talking to the salesman about the pros and cons of my three possible solutions — I was starting to come to the conclusion that the µ4/3 E-M5 was probably the way I should go. But because it’s such a big step to commit to a new camera system — was well as quite a bit of money — I was still hesitating and doubting. In order to collect my thoughts, I explored the camera-bag aisles for a while.
At this point, the choices had been narrowed down to two: either a “vacation” 18-250mm lens for my existing Sony α77 camera, or else the Olympus E-M5 camera and system of lenses. It didn’t take too long to realize that, because high-quality images are an integral part of my photographic pursuit, simply adding a cheap “vacation” lens to my current camera was going to fall far short and end up bringing a lot of disappointment. Going the Micro Four Thirds route was definitely the way to go!
Even though is was now clear which path to take, the enormity of the decision continued to hold me back. Then I realized that now that I had reached a conclusion, there was no longer any reason to hesitate. So I marched right up to the cash register to order my camera. Order? Not buy? That’s right! This is such a hot camera, that it’s out of stock everywhere and not selling for a discount anywhere. The salesman told me that I should get my new camera in about a month. Gosh! A whole month!
I also had to decide if I wanted to buy the camera with the old-style silver and black finish, or the all-black version. When I first saw photos of this retro-looking camera a couple of months ago, I didn’t really care for that style. Black is my favorite color, and almost everything I buy in every area of life is black. But one of the appeals of this camera, for me, is how it looks so similar to my first SLR which I purchased over 35 years ago. OK, I guess that’s a sentimental reason, but it still counts for something. I wouldn’t buy the camera for that reason alone, but in the end I did decide that the retro look was nice, so that’s what I ordered.
Because I have no obligation to actually purchase the E-M5 Pro Photo Supply ordered for me — I pay for it only when I pick it up, and they can easily sell it to someone else if I don’t want it — as soon as I got home I placed a no-obligation order for it on Amazon.com. They are selling it for the same price, with a one-to-three-month-backorder wait. It will be interesting to see which store is able to provide the camera first!
I’m sure I’ll be writing a LOT more about this camera once I have started using it and have seen what it can really do. For now I've got my work cut out for me to put together a lens kit. I've already researched all the available lenses from Olympus and Panasonic, and put all the details in a spreadsheet. I’m pretty clear on what I want, so it’s just a matter of figuring out where’s the best place to buy, and then make my purchases. Hopefully by the end of July everything will be coming together. I just hate to waste the nice weather in July by not going on any photo hikes until my new camera comes — the non-rainy season is short enough in Oregon as it is. Bummer! Once again, you can’t have it all!
30 June 2012 — Special Update: Today, just two days after writing the above article, I was looking at the page on Amazon.com where I bought this camera, and to my astonishment, I saw that a third-party vendor had it available, in stock! I just couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t available shortly before noon, but shortly after noon it was! I also saw that they were charging an extra $100. I had just been thinking again this morning that a lot of good weather is going to pass me by in July while I wait for my new camera to arrive. In light of this, it seemed worth paying the extra money in help get me out of that bind. The camera should be arriving by the end of next week or the week after. Hurray!!!
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