The Newly Announced Olympus OM-D EM-5
Photo courtesy of Olympus
And boy does it look great. I don’t mean to hijack this site and turn it into another photography blog. But there really is some exciting stuff going on in photography gear that pertains to hiking and climbing. Specifically, Olympus Imaging is releasing it’s retro-styled OM-D EM-5 (yes it’s a dumb name. It should have just been the OM-D5 or OM-5D or whatever…), which is housed within a rugged magnesium alloy chassis and is dust and splash sealed. It’s also tiny and relatively light compared to a trad DSLR.
Currently I shoot with both the Nikon D7000 and the Lumix G3. They are both excellent tools. See story below, A Sea Change in Photography Gear. I Hope Its Everything I Wish For.”
As noted, the D7000 is rugged but rather large and heavy. The Lumix G3 is very small and light but it is not built for abuse and harsh environments. The G3 also lacks a decent set of buttons and dials to quickly make camera adjustments.
Just weeks after I wrote the article below rumors started appearing regarding a new higher-end Micro 4/3rds mount camera from Olympus; the OM-D. The OM series started in the 70s with beautifully built and tiny 35mm film cameras. At the time they were a revolution in diminutive size, high quality, and style. Olympus now appears to want to leverage that reminiscent and nostalgic love of the OM series and resurrect it in a new digital line of 4/3rds cameras. That new line will be called the OM-D line. The EM-5 would seem to be but the first camera in that line.
The New OM-D EM-5 has the “Retro-Nostalgia” Great looks of its Pedigree OM Lineage
Photo courtesy of Olympus
The EM-5 as mentioned is built on a magnesium alloy chassis. This is de rigor today for any camera that is expected to be used by “serious” amateurs and pros. Mag alloy is light and very strong. Olympus has also water and dust sealed the camera thus giving it even more of a beefy constitution for field use in the often rugged environs of 14,000 feet.
The Magnesium Alloy Chassis of the Olympus OM-D EM-5
Photo courtesy of http://gakuranman.com
There are several other things that make this camera a real “shooter’s” camera. The addition of dedicated dials, buttons, and programmable functions. These controls give the photographer rapid direct access to manipulate camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and my personal favorite, exposure compensation. Programmable functions help to customize the tool to the particular photographer. All these add up to, hopefully, make this camera much less “fiddly” and more responsive in use. There are not many things as frustrating to a photographer as having to futz around with a bunch of menus, buttons, and sequences just to set something like exposure compensation. By using dedicated dials the photographer can directly interact with the camera quickly and positively.
So, in closing it appears that after years of market testing, technical improvements, and competition that there will soon (April release) be a rugged, well built and highly specified mirrorless camera. It is small. It is light and built to take a bit of abuse. You know…like you get when climbing a 14er.
I’ve preordered my EM-5 from Amazon. I should be able to directly mount my existing Lumix 4/3 to Micro 4/3rds adapter and Olympus 14-54 lens. I can’t wait. More later after I get the camera and do a little testing. But I think I know what I will be carrying into the hills this climbing season!