19 octobre 2018

Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 (GX7 Mark III): la synthèse de la continuité / The summation of recurrent ideas

(Please note that the english version follow the french text)

La synthèse de la continuité

Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 est un incompris pour certains photoblogistes qui anticipait lors de sa présentation la reproduction d'un nouveau modèle Lumix "à la GX8" sur-vitaminé! En fait l'ancien Lumix GX8 était plutôt une sorte d'anomalie dans l'univers jusque là connu de la série GX par la plus grande dimension de son boitier  particulièrement si on le comparait à son prédécesseur, le GX7. Ce qui fut confirmé par Panasonic même dans la dénomination nippone du modèle GX85 / GX80 répondant au nom de GX7 Mark II sur le marché japonais. Et le Panasonic GX9 retrouve maintenant un format de boitier plus compact et discret.

On peut parler de véritable synthèse des différentes caractéristiques propres aux modèles GX antérieurs et récents à partir du GX7. Certes l'abandon de la caractéristique unique de la protection accrue contre les intempéries du GX8 (mais qui était absente de tous les autres anciens GX il faut dire) est peut-être l'élément le plus choquant, j'en conviens personnellement. Mais une fois avalée cette pilule un peu amère, le Panasonic Lumix GX9 reste un appareil tout à fait épatant sans être clinquant cependant. Son apparence modeste, une signature récurrence des designs de Panasonic pour la série Lumix, est un atout sérieux pour le ou la photographe urbain(e), le ou la voyagiste ou encore la photographie spontanée de tout genre.

Le capteur MFT de 20 méga-pixels est maintenant un produit éprouvé sous plusieurs déclinaisons tant chez Panasonic qu'Olympus. La qualité d'image reconnue de ce capteur lui confère un rendement supérieur et son traitement post-prise de vues est très bien maitrisé. La colorimétrie embarquée est plaisante et tout à fait para-métrable au goût des utilisateurs s'ils le souhaitent. Les options monochromes noir & blanc sont riches et facilement accessibles de l'interface car comme à l'accoutumé, le Lumix GX9 est d'ailleurs presqu'entièrement configurable au choix de son ou sa propriétaire. Il n'y a aucun doute à être en mesure de produire des fichiers d'images tout à fait utilisables et détaillées pour le tirage d'art sur du papier d'impression spécialisé.

La tenue en main est celle d'un compact avec viseur décentré (à la rangefinder) qui est la résultante d'un compromis entre le petit format du boitier et l'accessibilité aux fonctionnalités du boitier. À ce propos il est inutile d'entamer un débat d'où il ressort que le choix logique du photographe d'action ou sportif serait plutôt un Lumix à viseur centré à la (D)SLR comme les G85 / G80, G9 ou GH5! C'est donc dans l'ordre des choses que la préhension du Lumix GX9 apparaisse minimaliste pour les tenants du design de type SLR. Il y a toujours un apprentissage à considérer dans la manipulation un boitier compact et le Lumix GX9 n'échappe à cette règle (Rappelons toutefois que le GX8 était une exception à cette règle compte tenu des dimensions accrues du boitier). L'étude de la poignée optionnelle DMW-HGR2 est intéressante mais rend l'accès au compartiment de la carte mémoire et de la pile plus difficile, un remodelage plus pratique serait bienvenue.

Le viseur électronique (EVF) du Panasonic Lumix GX9 reprend essentiellement les caractéristiques techniques de celui utilisé dans le modèle Lumix GX85 / GX80 avec cependant l'option du pivotement vers le haut comme chez les précédents Lumix GX7 et GX8. Cet option d'orientation peut simuler adéquatement les anciens viseurs-poitrines offerts pour certains modèles d'appareils reflex argentiques professionnels.  Ce viseur électronique génère une bonne qualité d'image avec un biais typique un peu contrasté pour un sujet au soleil à contre-jour. Son relief d'oeil est bien pour un usage à l'oeil nu mais peut paraitre étriqué pour un porteur de lunettes correctrices (dont je suis...). L'écran-arrière ACL est également orientable vers le haut et le bas ce qui lui confère un avantage indéniable en reprographie, photo-macrographie et proxi-photographie. Les différentes touches et rondelles d'opération sont aisément accessibles mais compte tenu de leur proximité le risque de mise en route involontaire est plus élevé que pour un appareil de plus grandes dimensions. L'interface est classiquement celui élaboré par Panasonic pour ses appareils photo numériques.

    Les inspirateurs
Lumix GX85 / GX80 / GX7 Mark II
Il est évident qu'à plusieurs points de vue le Lumix GX85 / GX80 a servi d'inspiration et de moule créatif pour le Lumix GX9. Cette parenté n'est pas pour autant réductrice si on considère que le GX85 / GX80 constituait comme un retour à l'esprit original sous-jacent du Lumix GX7 par ses dimensions et son flash intégré. Sur le terrain ces deux qualités sont spécialement appréciées par l'utilisateur discret, spontané et flexible.
Lumix GX7 original
Avec l'usage on peut apprécier également la présence d'un sélecteur de type de mise au point bien accessible, de la roulette des coefficients de correction d'exposition, du bouton d'activation de mémorisation d'exposition et de l'option du menu rapide (Quick Menu) entre
autres touches-fonctions. Le flash intégré permet de déboucher les ombres pour des sujets peu distancés. Il peut servir aussi d'unité de commande dans une combinaison de multi-flashes sans-fil.

Comme à l'accoutumée je ne traiterai pas des fonctionnalisés propres à un usage vidéo.

Avec le format plus réduit du Panasonic Lumix GX9 le choix de l'optique approprié tant par son utilité propre et sa capacité à se marier physiquement au boitier revet une importance incontournable. Le manufacturier propose d'emblée l'objectif-zoom trans-standard Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS, un choix judicieux de par sa versatilité, son faible poids (210g) et son tarif coupé. Évidemment toute autre optique au choix du photographe reste la prérogative de celui-ci. Le Lumix GX9 s'harmonise très bien d'un objectif à focale fixe et les résultats obtenus avec cette combinaison sont souvent supérieurs à la moyenne et à ceux offerts par les objectifs-zoom sauf exception. Avec ses dimensions compactes Panasonic pourrait nous proposer une combinaison appareil-objectif qui combinerait le Lumix GX9 avec le diminutif Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega OIS à l'exemple de son prédécesseur le Lumix GX85. Pourquoi le 12-60mm a été préféré? Peut-être en vertu de son design optique plus récent, sa stabilisation plus efficace (Power versus Mega) et sa plus grande amplitude de distances focales. Il se peut que l'exigence du capteur de 20MP soit un peu trop élevé pour l'ancien 12-32mm. À titre de comparaison personnelle j'ai brièvement équipé le Lumix GX9 de l'objectif G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega Vario sans observer une chute spectaculaire de la qualité des images obtenues par rapport au 12-60mm. Peut-être ma copie du 12-32mm est exceptionnellement fabriquée!

Je m'en voudrais de ne pas vous suggérer quelques accessoires d'appoint comme une pile-accu supplémentaire (ou plus) indispensable pour l'usage prolongé de ce type d'appareil, un flash externe qui évite de taxer indument l'alimentation de l'appareil si vous avez une propension à utiliser fréquemment cet éclairage d'appoint et peut-être une poignée optionnelle si vous utilisez des objectifs de plus grandes dimensions et de poids plus élevé.

Comme la plupart des appareils photo numérique à viseur décentré, le Panasonic Lumix GX9 est beaucoup moins intimidant que ses collègues à viseur centré de type (D)SLR. Cette caractéristique rend beaucoup plus aisé la cohabitation du sujet avec son photographe. Même en cette ère d'égo-portraits en toute occasion le contact entre l'auteur et son sujet reste complexe et exige toujours d'une relation de confiance minimale. Le Lumix GX9 répond bien à cette exigence de discrétion et de compétence demandée. Si vous l'associez avec un objectif "toute éventualité" comme les Lumix G 20mm ou 25mm F1.7 ou encore comme le petit téléobjectif Lumix G 42.5mm F1.7 Mega OIS, vous serez en mesure de réaliser de superbes images et de maintenir la spontanéité de votre sujet principal.

Le Panasonic Lumix GX9 n'est peut-être un appareil de poche mais c'est assurément un compact qui répond bien à la définition originale de faible encombrement du format MFT. En tout comme en particulier il s'avère un appareil photo numérique traditionnel compétent, versatile et complet. Plus encore c'est certainement un compagnon idéal mais discret pour la photographie au quotidien qui encourage l'impulsion créatrice de son utilisateur.

Tous mes remerciements à Panasonic Canada et à Yannick pour leur support et le prêt de ce nouveau modèle Lumix GX9.

P.s. Pas de panique!
On ne peut pas s'empêcher de spéculer des intentions d'autrui et de ce que nous réserve l'avenir. Ainsi il y a cette rumeur de l'abandon de produire des appareils MFT à objectifs interchangeables
dont le tarif serait d'entrée et de moyenne gamme par Panasonic pour sa série Lumix. Bien sûr une telle perspective n'est pas souhaitable et le maintien de modèles plus abordables comme dans les séries GX et G nous garantie l'apport renouvelé de nouveaux adeptes du format. Mais il existe cette réalité d'un marché pour l'appareil photo numérique traditionnel en plein resserrement qui contribue à une psychose de l'extinction de l'espèce par la disparition des marques et fabricants certes toujours possible mais pas seulement lié à ce seul facteur. L'industrie de l'équipement photographique comme toute autre du domaine technologique a connu et connaitra toujours des évolutions et des mutations profondes de temps en temps, c'est écrit dans le ciel de notre monde matérialiste. Mais aujourd'hui ne diffère pas fondamentalement d'hier et qui put vraiment "prédire" l'avenir! - DM



The summation of recurrent ideas

Handholding a camera can be a very deceptive experience and can give you that you think you have finally found one of the best photo device you ever have tried. Certainly it was my own impression regarding the late Panasonic Lumix GX8 which was a bigger package compared to the previous Lumix GX7 but was doted with a more secure grip and a new and more definite image sensor (20MP vs 16MP). So memories on the Lumix GX8 were pleasant especially if you compare with the Lumix GX85 (GX7 Mark II) smaller version and its reduced dimension and its less interesting image captor (again 16MP).

Many previous users of Lumix GX8 and even GX7 (Mark I) were badly surprised Panasonic have chosen to recycle the GX85 design concept to their newest GX9. Many early reviewers (if not almost all) were badly astonished by this choice from the manufacturer. So the Lumix GX9 (named elsewhere GX7 Mark III) has disappear from the reviewers radar on a fast pace. In my book on the search for compactness it  is a pity to simply ignore that new model Lumix GX9. If you consider the very nature of the M4/3 sensor format the Lumix GX9 rightly respond to that mandate in size and weight.

The Panasonic Lumix GX9 is a compact ILC in MFT sensor format as we were trilled to discover in the early years of that format. The conceptual idea to produce a very small photo device along with the appropriated lenses was without contest a very critical success although not so good commercially. But in some ways it has survived mainly with higher end models like the Lumix GX7 and GX8 or the Olympus Pen-F.  The Lumix GX9 is not obviously a SLR type camera with a centered viewfinder since it mimiques the "rangefinder" style with an off-center electronic viewfinder (EVF).  The swivel EVF option to the upper position allows the photographer to experiment a kind of chest level position that will give a more equilibrated point of view in helping to preserve the lateral and vertical straight lines. In some ways it refers to the older waist level viewfinders of the film era.

The Lumix GX9 is a compact camera but it has in own surprising weight that give more stability induced by the inertie phenomena. That can annoying for those who are looking for a very light pocket photo device which is not the case with the GX9. Furthermore in associating the Lumix GX9 with the Lumix G Vario 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power OIS lens (a good optic in many ways) the combined package is relatively large in dimensions and partly destroy the compactness idea. For very discrete street or urban photography many will prefer to use a smaller lens such as the Lumix G 20mm F1.7 or the 25mm F1.7 or even the G Vario 12-32mm Mega OIS.

As usual Panasonic have designed a very classic interface presentation with almost all the function buttons and dials located on the right upper deck and rear side of the camera leaving main control on the right hand, your left palm hand serving as a stand under the taking lens and giving you a natural option to control your focusing ring and zoom cal range if available. Direct autofocus lever selector is a very handy feature as for the AE/AF locking button. Separate exposure correction dial is also a very appreciated option but the reel is located a bit far on the right upper edge of the camera body to an easy thumb control. Multi-fonction front and rear dials make easy selection of basic parameters such s shutter speed and aperture depending which exposure program you have chosen. The Panasonic Lumix GX9 offers you an infinity of configuration variations that allow a very deep personalization of the camera.

The viewfinder will give a good preview (but seems to be a bit too constraty) and the back screen definition is fine and will give you a nice appreciation of the scene and a good preview of the final image result. I didn't feel handicapped compare to a classic optical viewfinder. No lag impression are generated by panning the subject. It is true to say that EVF have come a long way their first technical interpretation a few years ago. They are now reliable tools for the photographer.

In  the camera body the small electronic flash is a fine addition to perform fill-in flash on the spot. Mixing available daylight and flash burst can be done with confidence once you master the different options of memorizing the ambiant and flash light exposures. As usual for that GX series you can add an external compact flash light in order to get greater output and have an independant battery flash power.

Taking pictures with the Panasonic Lumix GX9 is an easy task. The camera can stay on hand and be ready on the spot if necessary. You just have to remind you that the Lumix GX9 is not weather protected. In comparaison with the previous Lumix GX8 it is surely a deception. So you have to think  about securing the camera under fairly adverses picture taking conditions.  Is this point could be addressed in the next GX one digit itineration of the model? It has to be seen in the future.

The best definition that can suit the Panasonic Lumix GX9 is its summation of recurrent ideas that we have already seen on the previous GX Lumixes. Cost considerations forced Panasonic to drop beloved features like the weather sealing and may be a larger body size for a better handling. But this model is available at a price level similar today of the previous GX7 which was a very successful model in the recent past. For a reason of my now I have not found that the Lumix GX9 is such a strong departure from the GX85 but you have to consider its improved image sensor (20MP vs 16MP) but other than that the two models are similar in many ways.

Finally I have noticed that since a few months there is a kind of Panasonic Lumix GX9 renaissance partly du of the very early negative reviews which is funny and demonstrate the lack of distanciation of the more instant reviewers. Like they said: "Moderation have always better taste"

22 septembre 2018

Que reste-t-il de nos amours?



Que reste-t-il de nos amours
Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours
Une photo, vieille photo
De ma jeunesse
Que reste-t-il des billets doux
Des mois d'avril, des rendez-vous
Un souvenir qui me poursuit
Sans cesse

- Chanson de Charles Trenet composée par Léo Chauliac


J'entends cet air indémodable repris par plusieurs artistes à différentes époques depuis sa première sortie en 1942-43. Car en ces jours bouleversants où plusieurs manufacturiers d'équipement photographique non seulement ne flirtent plus avec le format numérique 24 X 36mm dans la catégorie des appareils dite 'sans mirroir" mais s'y engagent carrément, tous les passionnés d'appareils plus compact (dont je suis) se désolent de cette apparente trahison au profit du profit!

Bien sûr à court et moyen terme, i.e. de cinq à dix ans, il y a une certaine continuité à prévoir pour les tenants des formats APS-C, M4/3 et même 1" mais serait-ce suffisant si l'effort des fabricants se consacrent surtout ailleurs? Heureusement les nouvelles et le passé récent nous rassurent tout de même. 

Pour un et Panasonic et Olympus continuent de présenter des nouveaux produits, appareils et objectifs, dans le format MFT. Idem pour Fujifilm dans le format APS-C. Mieux encore Nikon et Canon promettent de faire de même dans ce dernier format (APS-C). Et donc il y a lieu d'espérer car les appareils photo numériques compacts ou plus compacts recueillent toujours la préférence de beaucoup de photographes. Leurs principes de base sont connus: légèreté, faible encombrement, prix modéré, allure discrète et bonne qualité de fichier de l'image enregistrée. Et pour le moment les appareils et les objectifs de format 24 X 36mm peinent toujours à offrir cette combinaison de critères incontournables.

Alors il faut (absolument!) garder la foi envers cette philosophie du plus compact numérique de qualité supérieure surtout vis-à-vis les "phone-photo" qui sont aujourd'hui les "instamatics" numériques de notre société mais dont la finesse d'image reste inférieure à un véritable appareil numérique dédié à la photographie.

Que reste-t-il de nos amours? disait la rengaine, encore beaucoup de beaux jours pour nous les passionnés de la photo portable, discrète et universelle.

05 septembre 2018

When compactness is no more the flavor of the month (year, decade...) ?


I must confess that I was not thrill at all with the advanced announcement of the Nikon and Canon mirrorless 35mm digital cameras-lenses systems. I had a strong concern about the will of these manufacturers to offer real compact mirrorless system. And I was not the only one with that fear of incomprehension from them to the very basis concept regarding mirrorless design.

Now that we are looking at Nikon and Canon answers to an anticipated decline of their customer bases it is not surprising that they simply import the D-SLR bias into theirs new model proposals. Big, somewhat already outdated and by far expensive photo devices couple with with very traditional bazooka lenses. Is this innovation? Certainly not. Is this photo equipment interesting alternative for passionate photographers who like now to travel and shoot lightly and be less intimidating for their subjects? For sure not!

So it is a profound disappointment for many of us who like photography as a visual expression of the everyday life. And so I must salute the courage of those other manufacturers who seem to be maintain the stand of compactness of mirrorless system like Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifilm. For Nikon and Canon all hopes seem to vanish in their D-SLR profit reassignment...

01 septembre 2018

Can bravery save the APS-C and MFT formats from 24X36 digital sensor format standardization?

Source: Wikipedia
Some recent announcements less spectacular may be more significant that we think, One of those is the forecasted new Panasonic GH camera that will be offered in 35mm sensor format. That future sight is not really pleasant for the APS-C and MFT perspectives on a long term. Actually only higher price point can prevent a strong (and fatal) migration to what it seems the new (!) digital sensor size standard of 24X36mm but already Nikon have clearly stated its intention to extend their camera line-up to less expensive models as it is also intended for their lenses.

So in my view it is a turning point for the traditional photo industry. The manufacturers can produce now bigger image sensors like the 24X36mm ones with virtually unbeatable characteristics especially   for low light sensibility and reduction in noise. Versatility is another important element in a sense that you need only one type of sensor to fulfill all different tasks. Adaptability is another factor but less revenant that many thinks in fact.

In reality the development of mirrorless cameras is just beginning in that future new standard. Many advancement in terms of design and feature will appear during the next 5 or 10 years to go. Obviously development ressources will be allowed mainly in that direction. For APS-C and MFT sensor format we may now see the last efforts to raffine theirs products for players like Panasonic, Olympus or Fujifilm.

With the introduction of 24X36mm mirrorless models from Nikon, Panasonic and Canon, Olympus is becoming the last player of smaller system size and we can understand that they will inevitably move in the upper direction if they want to survive and not be too marginalized, The APS-C and MFT format recent story was (and still is for a moment) an exciting time that many of us have participeted with enthusiasm and commitment but I can see now that we will one day or another adopt the (re)new 35mm standard.

26 août 2018

Moving forward at last!

With the introduction of the new Nikon Z series, it's finally arrived! (only Canon is still missing on the 24X36mm mirrorless front). So the debate between D-SLRs and Mirrorless virtues is almost extinct for good and for most of the photographers. Everybody will now choose its now way and manufacturer as it use to be during the film era.

For sure it won't prevent the competition between manufacturer systems but it will be more technical than philosophical. I think the sensor format will be characterized by three great categories large-medium, miniature (24X36mm) and sub-miniature  (APS-C, MFT) and each of them will have its own advantages-disadvantages agenda.

The D-SLR series will maintain a fading presence for obvious economical reasons in the next decade. Now the camera device design may evolute to a new direction again. It is interesting  to observe how a simple principle of camera viewfinder can generate such an extended and fierce debate during the last years. And many people cannot conceive a simple coexistence between all the options. Or can you see in that phenomena simply a smaller temoignage of it is happening to your consumer (materialist) society.

Strangely this morning I feel relief of all these web noises...

23 août 2018

Does good ergonomics means bad esthetics?

Source; Nikon USA
With the presentation of the two long stand Nikon 24X36mm* mirrorless camera models a debate on esthetic design can be launched. In fact is ugliness better than the beauty nice looking? It seems the case for the Nikon Z series newest pair.

I wont argue about the virtues of the Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras which are the best thing that have been happened for their trusty customer base that have waited so long to get a mirrorless camera. Thanks to the nippon gods have finally answered their complaints and demands and so the diabolic Sonys of this world can be finally put in rest forever.

Now that is done the only missing part will be the introduction of the Canon 24X36mm* mirrorless counterpart. Since all these long expectations for the Nikon/Canon real answer to the mirrorless treat we can finally move to other directions or debates.

But is esthetic can be also "utilitarian" oppose to the ugliness necessity? I wonder what past renown camera designers would think about the actual monster designs we are producing since a few years. Nikon is not alone and some new models from Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic are part of the same wake of Star War photo mania device style.

As an artist (if you concede that a photographer can be such) I will be very annoyed to use those "militarian" style of camera. But I may be completely out of  present context. So is it to "shoot" a subject than to register a visual expression of life? That's the question my friend ...


* As I usually mentioned in my previous articles the 24X36mm (miniature) image captor format is falsely presented as a "Full Frame" format. That "Full Frame" designation belong to an ancient film photographic technique that use the entire negative for printing.

21 août 2018

Five years ago Olympus introduced the first OM-D E-M1

With the new official entries of Nikon and forcoming Canon into the professional mirrorless world  in the next months (end of 2018 or beginning of 2019), many reviewers were anticipating the apparition of big camera body assorted with mammouth lenses which will contradicte the very essence of the mirrorless camera evolution. In fact the newest rumors feed by the concerned Nikon and Canon confirm this very fact.

When I have learned that Mike Johnston of the famous "The Online Photographer" web site have decided to renew with the Panasonic GX8 model I was not overlay surprised. The present "plateau" of the mirrorless evolution seem to temperate most of the recent past enthusiasm of the photo passionates on the web.  In fact the excitement is shifting from the equipment mania to the pleasure to do photography with always exciting products.

Why speaking of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (original version) in 2018? Five years after its official introduction in 2013, the OM-D E-M1 has been surpassed technically in many ways by more recent models such as the E-M5 Mark II and others Mark II versions of the E-M10 and E-M1. But productivity (or creativity) has not a direct link with the technical performances of the camera model. Proof of that has been demonstrated over times by many renowned photographers. The fact is you are better to master the use of your camera instead to exchange it for a more recent model because the learning curve of the novelty can differ you to produce satisfactory and repetitive image output.

The evolution of hardware is not a guaranty of evolution of the essence of photography as a visual art of expression. And we are not speaking of a "coming back" (like saying "things were better in the past") but more likely a choice between devices, techniques and outputs that suit our expectations. In saying that last remark I don't want to prevent also the manufacturers to poursuit their research to innovation which is always a good thing to do in my sense as long they can preserve in their line-up the models that are still in demand (that is another debate...).

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 first version was a great effort from Olympus to seduce the professional market  (or part of it) to migrate to the M4/3 or MFT image captor format. The success of their OM-D E-M5 model was so good that some very serious photographers already start to use it on a professional level  for studio purpose, wedding and photo-reportages. Sure the E-M5 was not a camera model that was initially designed to sustain the intensive work pression in those fields and Olympus wisely extended its line up to offer a more rugged device. When I saw first the E-M1 I was impress by the solid feel of the model compare to my OM-D E-M5 that I was using at that time. It remind me the same feeling I have experimented with previous film professional models such as Nikon F3 HP or Leica R4 or even Olympus OM-2.

By the MFT standards of the moment (circa 2013-2014) the Olympus OM-D E-M1 was a bigger camera compare to the previous Pen series and the original E-M5. Sure everybody has understood the technical constraints to built a "Pro" oriented model with weather seal and stronger dials and others operational mechanisms needed to do so. But the fact remains that it was a bigger photo device in dimension and heavier to hold. However direct comparaison with APS-C competitor equivalents such as the Nikon D7100 prove the compactness of the Olympus package (OM-D E-M1 body + HLD-7 vertical grip). Moreover it appears more equilibrated when you combine the E-M1 with the M.Zuiko Pro lenses as for the 12-40mm & 40-150mm F2.8 for example. On a long term it create two design tendencies between the Premium lenses and the "Pro" series which were obviously bigger by design nature. Later in 2014 Olympus has completed its OM-D offer by adding the amateur E-M10 model into its line-up (entry level - intermediate - pro).

The original E-M1 camera was an impressive step ahead from the first E-M5. Better ergonomics were certainly a good part of it as for a clearer electronic viewfinder (EVF) with more eye relief. Because of its permanent right hand grip (oppose to the optional OM-D E-M5 one) the camera body stay firmly on hand in a very confortable and secure way plus the fact you are gaining more space for the different control buttons and dials of the device. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 interface is very complete and it can be personalized at will if you care to do so. Many specific direct functionalities are already configured into the E-M1 but permutations are possible if you invest time and interest to learn from the camera. Tutorials are available over the Web to help you to master the model. No serious photo gear reviewers have really contested the ability of Olympus to design and produce a "pro" camera. Since the venue of the OM camera series back in the nineteen-seventies they had developed a more compact signature alongside with electronic innovations and the actual OM-D series inherit a lot of that thinking.

The original Olympus OM-D E-M1 won't surprise the new user with its pseudo SLR architecture positioning the EVF at the same axis of the optical taking lens.So it gives you a very predictable camera especially when you are doing action photography including news, travel, urban or even sport. If you are working with a small Premium lens or a regular M.Zuiko one you may find that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is a fairly compact camera assuming you don't add the optional HLD-7 vertical grip (even if it is still more compact that many D-SLRs with vertical grip). But it is not as discrete compare to a "rangefinder" style model like those offered into the Pen series and it won't definitively fit in your pocket even the largest one.

Many features were imported from the original OM-D E-M5 to accommodate the E-M1 users. If you are familiar with the Olympus complex interface way you should be able to mastermind most of the critical operations in a rapid pace. Newcomers to Olympus OM-D products have to invest time and intellect to learn the multiple options of the camera. At first don't be confuse and rely on the short OK menu option to get to the principal parameters of the E-M1.

If you stay in the comparaison with the first Olympus OM-D E-M5 it is easy to notice the added robustness of construction of the "pro" E-M1 including, the body, the function buttons or dials. You feel more confident to use the E-M1 in adverse conditions alongside with a lens that got the same feature of resistance. On still photographic point of view, the original Olympus OM-D E-M1 can stand even today high quality standard image results. Video is another story but as usual I am not really concern since I don't produce any.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) can be qualified within the good average of today (2018) standard. It is not outstanding compare to the replacement version of the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. The eye relief is good also but on the limit for eyeglasses wearers like me to be able to see the entire picture at glance. There is a subtle light greenish viewing cast that can be detected but other than that you can rely on the EVF to get a good appreciation of your final result registered on the native picture file.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 is very fast to wake up after the camera put itself on standby which preserve your battery pack. You won't be able to totally shut down the LCD viewing screen on the back if you want to use only the EVF (with the eye detection on) because it remains a kind of very dark blue screen. Since you cannot pivot back the LCD screen like the Mark II the battery pack endurance will be affected in some way. The tilting back screen stay a nice option for retro-macro-waist level-crowd level work.

The optional HLD-7 vertical grip is an intelligent add-on for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. For people that are producing critical vertical framing like in portrait, sport, nature the accessory will give a better handling and an extended battery life (along the possibility to change the exhausted one on the grip first in a 3-pack rotation). (Small trick: by removing the battery pack from the HLD-7 grip the combo will be a bit less heavier). Finally you have to be aware that the function buttons and dials as the shutter release button may be activated inadvertently if you don't lock the grip controls.

Flash system rely on the Olympus ou dedicated third-party flashlight devices beginning with the very diminutive unit furnished with the camera that can serves as an emergency unit for fill flash or command   unit in a multi-flash arrangement. I am not really fund to use a direct flash on camera that literally kill the light ambiance and is often unpredictable. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 can deliver you very decent image results up to ISO 1600 which in my sense is mostly sufficient in many low-light situations.  For sure in that case a faster lens (with a larger maximum aperture such as F1.8-1.7-1.4-1.2) will be strongly appreciated. Since the beginning of the M4/3 format, many independent flash manufacturers have decided to extend their flash system possibilities offered for the Olympus and Panasonic cameras.

A standard lens or a transtandard zoom lens for the E-M1 is a very personal choice. On many publication you will see most of the time the combination of the E-M1 coupled with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro which is mimicking the Pro D-SLR usual kit (Body + 24-70mm F2.8 lens for the 24X36mm image sensor format. Since the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro is a bigger and relatively heavier zoom lens the HLD-7 vertical grip may be required to get a better balance between the camera body and the lens. Some reviewers have proposed more modest lenses such as the M.Zuiko 14-42mm (basic) or 12-50mm (Splash-proof) zoom lenses or a Premium lens such as a 25mm or 17mm F1.8. These optics are smaller and lighter than the Pro ones but often in a less quality construction and sometimes with less optical quality. At the end it remains that the combination of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera body with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens appears to be the most appropriate one except for the compactness factor.

Five years ago the Olympus OM-D E-M1 introduction confirmed the serious of Olympus into its involvement in MFT format. Moreover the forwarding presentation of their M.Zuiko Pro lenses has offered a complete new alternative for professionals that are looking for a serious MFT system available.