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.....