12 February 2017

a two-horse race.. and a winner

It appears that for a similar amount of money I could pick one of two µ43 cameras: the Lumix GX7 or Olympus EM5 'classic'. Which to choose?

Neither is a poor choice in any circumstance. Their common  strengths are many: lenses, battery life, two control dials, tilting touch-screens, decent e-viewfinders and many control options. In-body IS debuts in the Lumix line with the GX7, and it's less sophisticated than the EM5 - yet it works really well* in some tests.

However, the differences can drive one nuts! Many websites have comparison pages between these two. Quite convenient to have websites to consult, but each user must decide what is most important to their shooting style:
  • weather seals? choose the EM5
  • more sophisticated 5-axis stabilization = EM5*
  • longer and more versatile time exposures? definitely EM5!
  • feature set and imaging pipeline that matches my wife's GM1 = GX7
  • stabilized video with any lens= EM5; lens-IS only (but touchscreen AF) with GX7
  • WiFi, NFC, tilt EVF = GX7
  • focus peaking, also GX7
  • best implementation of touchscreen that I've tried = any Lumix, ergo GX7
  • Menu system and phraseology that gives me fewer headaches? GX7 for sure
Having tried both Lumix and Olympus in several forms I find that I'm partial to the Panasonic method of setting up a camera and taking pictures. Even with the cool live-bulb feature, I let go of my previous EM5. The ability to touch the screen for AF in videos is quite handy to me and I'd miss that; the WiFi is handy now and then but it isn't enough to sway me to GX7 by itself - same with the tilting EVF, which I don't doubt I would use but I cannot say it's a Big Deal.

Yes the ending has now been written. 
I found two very nice used bodies for the same price - and I chose the GX7.

I really wanted weather seals and would like to explore the Olympus live-bulb capabilities, but for 98% of what I do the GX7 feels like the better choice for me. I felt the same way once about the Pentax K-3ii and its Pixel Shift abilities.. but in the end the other controls for everyday shooting just weren't a great fit, and when a budget crises took it away (just like the EM5) I found I missed it less than I expected. I'd love to live in a world where I did not have to spend money to learn which camera is the Right One, but that isn't the case.

image from comparison page at
* it should be noted that one website tested both and found to its surprise that the 2-axis stabilization on the GX7 often worked better!