The Rumors have begun. What can we expect from an Olympus EM-6 ( or EM-52, or EM-5pro)?

The rumors are starting to swirl like a light dusting of snow. The people who divine such things are pointing to a February announcement of a new camera from Olympus to replace the three year old EM-5. It's important to note that the EM-5 is, in many people's opinions, the prime driver of acceptance for high end micro four thirds cameras. It upped the ante in image quality, image stabilization and physical downsizing in smaller cameras aimed at professionals and advanced enthusiasts. This make the introduction of its successor seem more important to me than just another upgrade.

I know that a lot of people will point to the EM-1 as the logical successor but they are really two separate products; the EM-1 being bigger and fully equipped with chubby handgrips while the EM-5 is svelte and can be configured to taste. My hope is that they'll keep whatever the call the successor to the EM-5 equally svelte and allow users to add just the right combination of grips and extensions to personalize the camera for the customer's individual hands.

I'm expecting to see the following fixes and upgrades to the new model:

1. The eyecup. While the EP-11 (the bigger optional eyecup) fixes the "random falling off" problem of the stock eyecup it's not that great. The original eyepiece works well for me when it's on the camera. I hope Olympus has figured out how to reliably keep it in place.

2. I fully expect to see a new EVF that's as good as the one in the EM-1 and also adds more processor speed to the mix to cut down even more on any perceptible, visual delay. While they are at it they could slightly widen the entire faux pentaprism hump to make the EVF bigger and get a greater eye point stand off for people who wear glasses while shooting.

3. Since the EM-5 was introduced Sony has made much headway with the one inch sensors that we current find in the Sony RX10 and the Panasonic fz1000. I would like to see more pixel density in the EM-5. A step up to 20 megapixels while keeping the same high ISO noise performance would help ensure that users aren't as tempted to migrate to higher res options outside the brand. And we'd all welcome an increase in resolution as long as it doesn't come with any performance hits. 

4.  I don't necessarily want 4K video in the body but it would be nice to change the current codec to something like the XAVC-S codec in some of the new and firmware upgraded models, like the RX10. The new codec would go a long way to solving the less than stellar look of video from the camera and the newer processors should be able to handle the increased throughput with no problems. While some might feel like we need the addition of microphone and headphone ports I'm thinking that a new SEMA-type attachment that fits into the current accessory port (and could spill up into the hot shoe) would be the logical place for those attachments.

5.  I'm certain that whatever new sensor ends up in the EM-5x will have phase detection AF points. At least it should...

6. Finally, I'd like them to change the exterior wrapping of the camera to something thicker and rubberier. The camera is small, which is good, but I still want to keep a good grip on it. 

Push this camera out at $999 and maybe we can see Olympus profit and loss numbers at least start trending back into positive territory for their camera division.

The icing on the cake for me would be one more lens. I'd like to see a 38mm f1.4. Close to the 75mm Summilux that I enjoyed shooting with back in the Leica film days. Olympus made a manual focus 38mm f1.8 back in the days of the film Pen cameras and it was a great focal length there as well. It would nicely fill a certain hole that I keep stumbling across when I take the system out for shoot.

The rumor was mentioned on DP Review so I do give it a bit more credence than usual. I'm not sure about the February introduction but it certainly would spice up a boring time of winter and might make just the right Valentine's Day present.....


Michael Matthews said...

It must be well on the way, as Olympus is offering the EM5 at $599 on its own site. Presumably to push through existing stock, clearing the path for an update.

Anonymous said...

Can you please enlighten us as to optional foot base and grip type you have added to your beauty. What are they and do they help handling.
Thank you.

Paul said...

I'd like to see focus peaking in video, my EM10 has it for stills and it is a great aid for focusing manual lenses. For video I'd like 25 and 50p 1080. WiFi that worked with video would be nice as well.

On the stills side of things a newer sensor with a bit more resolution, a bit more DR and less noise would be the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'd guess that WiFi would be a guarantee, too. I would hope that the 50Hz, Europe-friendly 25 and 50 fps would also be included, but we'll see.

Carlo Santin said...

Kirk, loving all the articles on lighting, very enlightening :)

I'm sure the new Oly will be great and I'm equally sure it will do nothing to improve my photography. I've been shooting with nothing but a Sony RX100 for about two months now and I just love that little gem of a camera. I think I'm going to commit the rest of the winter to shooting with only that camera and we'll see how it works out. New cameras be damned.

Anonymous said...

A new sensor that is as good as or better than the one in the D7100 would be great.

Noons said...

25-50fps, please!
The rest of the world doesn't use NeverTwiceSameColour refreshes.
I'd gladly give up higher rez for higher ISO: let me shoot 16MP at 6400 without extensive NR.
A bigger evf would be icing on the cake. Focus peaking would also be nice!
I'd also like a fast way of changing the camera from single to continuous shooting. There are plenty of occasions when I'd like to grab my EM-5 and fire off a string of shots of a sudden event. It takes too long to do it via menus and even with twisting dials, it's fiddly.

Gato said...

I'll see your 20MP and raise you - I'd like to see 24MP. I'd give up half a stop of high ISO performance.

Sony may have the right idea - different chips in near identical bodies. How about two versions of the same camera - a high-res and a high ISO?

But enough of this gear talk. Let's get back to portraits, pictures, lighting and the business of photography. I can read about cameras anywhere.

Godfrey DiGiorgi said...

The E-M5 is a good body, but for my size hands I have always found the controls cramped and didn't buy one on that basis. The E-M1 suits me much more, bought one and find it terrific. I love the integral grip, and the more spacious placement of controls.

So what would a 5 upgrade be for me? Hard to say. I'm happy with 16-18 Mpixels overall, particularly at the sensitivity/DR/noise of both these bodies. More would be nice as long as there was no loss in DR or increase in noise. Viewfinder updates, responsiveness, etc ... This is where I see the possible advances. I'm no video head so what happens there isn't very visible to me.

Frankly, most of these cameras are now so competent that my wish list is obsolete. Responsiveness is the biggest thing I miss that can be improved practically.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Godfrey,

I am expecting that everyone will be playing catch-up next year if the Samsung NX1 is as responsive as the specs make it out to be. Nice to have a potential rabbit out in front of the greyhounds...

ODL Designs said...

I agree with muchof what is mentioned here... I would like to see 20mp, but 24mp would be better, same DR worse noise at 100%, but better when scaled to 16mp.

I would like a headphone out, as the Mic in is the SEMA and I have one. Better codec, and video options, but I dont really mind if it has 4k or not. I certainly wouldn't use it.

I would like to see the tethering, wifi features and some more customization of jpeg perameters. For example, we have the Tone corrector, I would like to be able to adjust the highlight and the shadows, but ALSO the mid-tones.

Aside from that, most cameras are near perfect image makers.

Kirk Tuck said...

I agree with almost everything almost everyone is agreeing with but I've got to say, even after working with four cameras that have wifi....the hell with the wifi. Get the day stuff out of the cameras and back in the phones where it belongs. putting too many blades on the swiss army knives screws them up. Same with all the unnecessary (to picture taking) faux social crap.

Bat54 said...

Hi Kirk,
Mostly I agree with you regarding the wifi, but I use it as a remote on my Fuji XT-1 and it's really nice. I can change focus points, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc. I'd miss it now if it weren't there.

Godfrey DiGiorgi said...

Hmm. The E-M1's wifi has proven useful now and again, as has the Sony A7's. But no, I wouldn't buy a camera simply to get wifi. It's a minor convenience feature I can easily do without.

The new Samsung sounds nice, but I'll wait for the others to catch up if it really is all its stated to be. I have complete lens lines for Micro-FourThirds, Leica R, and Leica M mounts ... I have no interest in buying any more lenses... :-)

Anonymous said...

Most important items on my list: better menue system from Olympus and keep the size same as the current em5

Maybe we might see a sony backlit stacked sensor? something like this: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/8165301786/sony-debuts-21mp-stacked-cmos-sensor-for-smartphones


Frank Grygier said...

Really Right Stuff grip and plate.