Saturday, June 16, 2012

OM-D vs 5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark II with 100mm f2.8 macro lens
Well once again I've fallen into a bit of a lapse with the blog and I certainly apologize.  I think if you've been reading this for any period of time you probably know that in the summer months I get really busy and the blog effort falls off a bit.  I promise though to do my best this summer for you.  I have plans to do a proper review of the OM-D EM-5 and the E5 from Olympus as well as my Panasonic TS4 point and shoot.  Also I believe that a friend and I will be doing a video review of the Nikon D4.

This whole past week I've been away at a Jerry Ghionis workshop in Vancouver so I'm tired and full with excitement and information.  For those of you that don't know or have never met Jerry or his beautiful wife Melissa I would highly recommend you carve out the time and money to learn from them.  I've taken several workshops in my time, but none have helped me as an artist or as a business person like this one has.  Not even close.  You can get a lot of the raw information on the Ice Society, but having your ass to the fire in person and up close and personal is an experience that will change you, I promise.

And for any of you out there that may think this is just 'Rockstar' photographer love, then get past it, and get over it.  This man has done more to bring quality to our industry while remaining a nice guy than most anyone I've ever known.  If you are a wedding photographer, find the money.  Go to one of these workshops.  Enough said.

While at the workshop I had the opportunity to play with a Canon 5D Mark III as a couple of the students have them (Jerry has switched to Nikon and uses a D3s).  Just for giggles one night we compared it in real time in a dark hotel room to the Olympus OM-D EM-5.  We strapped the 50mm f1.2 lens on the Canon and the 20mm f1.7 lens on the Olympus so with the crop the 40mm equivalent was at least in the ballpark.

My first impression hand-holding the Canon was that the build was much improved over the 5D Mark II.  The feel in the hands was really high quality like the Canon 7D or Olympus E5.  The focusing was really good too.  I did miss focus on about half of the shots but I'd like to think that could have been the 50mm f1.2 which I've never had good luck with.  I did notice that the 50mm lens focused faster than the one I used last year on my Mark II.  I'm not sure if this was a better copy of the lens or due to the camera.  I've never really been that impressed with that lens for the price it commands, but that's probably not what you're interested in.

We cranked both cameras up to ISO 3200 at f4 in aperture priority mode.  The Olympus chose 1/25 of a second exposure and the 5D 1/30.  Everything was hand held which likely helped the Olympus out a lot as you can see the image is sharper and it has the benefit of image stabilization which the Canon doesn't with that lens on.  The Canon file was brighter and I think the Olympus ISO ratings are a bit off, it was probably at a true ISO 2500 or so (Olympus is cheating a bit on it's ISO #'s).  As far as noise goes both files were noisy and both were well within the range of what I think I could clean up and deliver to a client for a small print or reception/indoor wedding ceremony image.

Both camera's missed white balance slightly and I did a quick correction on that if not perfect.  The most shocking thing for me was just how close the OM-D kept up with a $3700 body with a full frame sensor.  You can purchase 3.5 OM-D cameras for the cost of one Mark III.  The OM-D also focused faster and more accurately.

Now just in case you think I'm a hopeless Olympus fan boy (and I admit a very big fondness for Olympus), I'll probably end up buying the Canon 5D Mark III.  I've been tempted on several occasions to jump over to Nikon for what I think are superior image quality sensors, but the loss of my lens investment is daunting.  The 5D Mark III fixes a few of my major gripes with the Mark II.  The focusing, adding two card slots and better build quality.  I just think I'll wait for them to drop the price.  I don't see the image quality as monumentally better than the Mark II so really whats the rush?

My quick, rough conclusion is of course that the 5D Mark III is a better camera than the OM-D, but the really scary thing is that it's close.  Too close.  Don't believe me if you wish.  I understand.

And no, Jerry did not pick up the 5D Mark III or the OM-D and try them or offer comments.  He does not appear to be a gear nut, he just uses what works and gives him the best quality.

ISO 3200 OM-D with Olympus four thirds 35mm macro at f3.5 1/13 of a second
Before I run, I wanted to mention that I picked up my MMF-3 adaptor today from the store which allows me to use my four thirds lenses on the OM-D.  I didn't know that it allows for autofocus, but it does which was a pleasant surprise.  It is admittedly slow to focus at least with the one lens I've tried and in low light, but heck, it's cool it even does it.  The adaptor is even weather sealed, so I'm eager to throw my 35-100mm f2.0 lens on it and get things wet.

Thanks again for reading this blog.  I hope you've all had as rewarding of a week as I have.


Tiberius said...

Thanks for the time posting this. It is very interesting to see how close they come. I am no pro photographer so I do not make any (major) income from taking pics. I currently own a Canon 40D and I am very tempted to buy a 5DMK2 as the prices dropped. But the OMD-E5 is even more tempting due to its size.



Anonymous said...

It's always nice to read experiences of another OM-D user. We all know that the Olympus OM-D is not a full frame camera and therefore can't deliver the same image quality. Especially in low light high ISO situations, the smaller micro 4/3 sensor can't keep up with the big boys. However, in many circumstances it does deliver surprisingly good image quality that is indistinguishable from most larger sensor camera's. the images are beautifully detailed and punchy. Another thing I really love is the sensor 4:3 ratio. I've come to dislike the 3:2 ratio, because it's just not the way I see things. Too wide for my taste and when i shoot in portrait mode, I always feel the image is too tall. It just doesn't feel as harmonious as the 4:3 ratio. I sold all of my full frame stuff and now I can just take a 16mp camera with an 24-70mm f/2.8 equivalent lens in a small bag with me everywhere. Without breaking my back or neck. That's just great. I also looked at the Fuji APSC camera's, but although the images have almost no noise at higher ISO's, they do look a little soft and some detail is lost due to behind the screen noise reduction.

Neil Gaudet said...


Thanks for the comment. I've actually used a 40D and thought it was Canon's last good crop sensor camera. Just my opinion though. I'm actually selling my 5D Mk ii right now as I picked up the Mk iii. Both have excellent sensors, the mark iii just is a better camera body. I would say though that for most users the Mark ii is till fine.


I completely agree with everything you've said. I find myself leaving my big cameras at home when I'm photographing for enjoyment and for the most part just don't miss them. Thanks for dropping by the blog!

Anonymous said...

"We all know that the Olympus OM-D is not a full frame camera and therefore can't deliver the same image quality"

But ISO 800 micro 4/3 equals ISO 3200 in FF since you compose a picture with DOF and shuttertime as image creating criteria right....

Well at 1/250 of second a micro 4/3 at 2.8 will have the DOF as a FF at 5.6, right?

Well in order to stay at a 1/250 the FF will have to go up 2 stops in ISO as it went down 2 stops in aperture....right?

Well then you should compare 3200 iso for a FF with 800 iso for a micro 4/3 right?

Now check the Canon's DxO rating versus the OM-D's.....and guess what. The OM-D is okay till ISO 800, but in fact with the Canon ISO 2800 is allready problem territory.....

Now of course this does not help if you are shooting wide open at night and alien Blonze Grath asks to be brought to the president....but I know of now photographer who willingly lets the max aperture of the lens dictate the way his image looks in any other situation :-).

Greets, Ed.