11.04.2016

Vital news of the day....the Pricing of the Olympus EM-1 mark2. Cavernous Yawn....


I have to laugh. So many of the photo blogs are twisting themselves up in knots. They love the Olympus EM1-2 but can't seem to get over the price. Some commenters are sure that one month's rent is the inflection point that will cause enough pain to camera buyers to make them consider the EM1-2 unattainable. Others remind the flock that only a few years ago a decent digital camera (Nikon's 12 megapixel, cropped frame APS-C, D2Xs) weighed in a $5995. Three times what the much more capable EM1-2 will set them back. One blog savant asked the readers if $2,000 was a fair and reasonable price for the camera and instantly generated a couple dozen responses. It's obviously an issue for some.

I don't know what all the hysteria is about. My favorite camera right now is a bridge camera with a fixed lens and a much smaller sensor and it's been priced around $1600 on Amazon and B&H for the last few weeks. It's not like high end camera aficianados are the same demographic that subsists on food stamps and the kindness of strangers...

To put it into context the Olympus EP-2, with a finder, debuted at $1380 back in 2010. Every aspect of the EM-1-2 has been vastly improved on the new model.

I got all caught up in the excitement and controversy of this new "outrageously" priced, Olympus flagship camera and was ready to call my contact at Olympus to request a review copy when I came across this ancient image (above) in my files. It's a photograph of Belinda sitting in the Clarksville Cafe at least thirty years ago. It was photographed using an ancient Tamron 28-70mm f3.3 to 3.4 Adaptall zoom (very much manual focus) on an equally ancient Canon F1 (not the new style...) body. The image was burned onto Ektachrome 100 slide film.  It's handheld. The light levels were low. There was no matrix metering. No focus confirmation. The only "image stabilization" was alcohol.

But the photograph is as good as I would expect from any current camera; maybe better. As Jimmy Hendrix once told an aspiring musician. "You don't need any more pedals you just need more practice." 

I'm never opposed to buying new cameras but I am mystified by the idea that the value of a camera can be correlated to its sensor size, or even the size of the camera itself. For decades the smaller Leicas were always more expensive than the bigger Canon and Nikon cameras. And, of course, it's hard enough to get one's mind around the $1,000 price tag of the tiny, new Sony RX100-V...

If you can't afford to spend $2,000 on a camera then you probably should not buy the Olympus EM-1-2. If you can afford it but you don't need to replace your existing camera (or system) you might want to pay down your mortgage or pay off some other debt. If you know you need what that camera can offer AND you can afford to buy it then off you go. You are the only one who can ferret out the right decision for your situation and your usage. I will say this though, if all my images came out as well as the one above I'd be happy with whatever camera I happened to be shooting at the time.

Maybe the real sound investment is to buy more shooting opportunities....

Can you believe it? It's been over six months since I bought a new camera. Or a used camera. Amazing...  Almost as if I was in camera rehab.






18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. It's weird how sensor size must equate to price in the minds of some.

Imagine an exact camera like the nikon d5 but with an m43 sensor. that camera must cost 1/4 the price, right? maybe some who buy into a smaller sensors have size envy they just can't get over...

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

I've have over the years tested many single malt "stabilizers", but irrespective of price, it almost always gave me the shakes the next morning after prolonged shooting sessions. A single shot OK - alas... I probably wouldn't survive even one day of todays digital kilo-images shoots, if I had to rely on this, ancient "stabilizer" approach.

But I got inspired to try the old ways. Placed solidly in my sofa. Cheers.

Kurt Friis Hansen said...

I've have over the years tested many single malt "stabilizers", but irrespective of price, it almost always gave me the shakes the next morning after prolonged shooting sessions. A single shot OK - alas... I probably wouldn't survive even one day of todays digital kilo-images shoots, if I had to rely on this, ancient "stabilizer" approach.

But I got inspired to try the old ways. Placed solidly in my sofa. Cheers.

Butch said...

The Jimi quote was very welcome. I wear out keyboards with my daily, relentless writing and editing schedule. Should bite a wood chip and take a commercial job and get the Nikon Dl 24-500. And carry it everywhere. That's what I did in the nineties when I took a ton of very decent pictures. And me not even a visual person. I could recite the WordStar 2.4 manual back in 1985 but could NOT ever get comfortable with Photoshop.

Anonymous said...

I guess that is why the huge gas guzzling suv's by GM and Ford sell as well as they do. Cheaper per pound compared to a small but sophisticated Honda or Toyota. Why buy a m4/3 when for the same money a larger sensor camera can be had. Price per pound again.

Anders said...

Do you mean "Jimi Hendrix" (born James Marshall Hendrix).
I have never heard or read that quote from Jimi Hendrix before, are you sure he said that?

Regarding the Olympus, I'm sure most people are upset about the price due to the mediocre images in the review on Dpreview which simply makes it impossible to justify the price. Add a zoom lens and it is $3000 or more. Robing Wong and Ming Theins reviews are a completely different story with some really great images, but those guys usually get great images even out of mobile phones.

Ron Zack said...

In defense of those who wanted a cheaper E-M1.2, I think a lot of Olympus users really want that new PDAF 20mp sensor and the bigger battery, as those two changes ALONE would make a lot of Olympus users very happy. But seeing how much it's going to set them back just to get a camera that can finally compete with a Canon 70D, well, they are a bit upset. All of a sudden all those Sony/Nikon/Canon mirrorless and DSLR's with 24mp APS sensors and PDAF focusing, that can be had for around an even grand, are starting to look really good.

Of course, the E-M1.2 is trying to out perform the Nikon D500 and Canon 7D Mk II, and in many ways it does. But you don't have to pay $1500 to $2000 in CaNikon land to get PDAF and a battery than will last you all day, where as in the world of micro43, the E-M1.2 is the only game in town.

So unless Olympus decides to drop that new 20mp PDAF sensor and big battery into the E-M5 Mk III, it means a lot of Oly enthusiasts, which is about 99% of their customers--not PROFESSIONALS--are going to feel like they just can't catch a break. And they would be correct to feel that way.

Just my $0.02.

Antonio Ramirez said...

What a beautiful shot! Once again, you show us that it is not the gear that matters. Plus, what a wonderful muse.

William Beebe said...

Everybody keeps talking about just the camera body, and not the entire system. The E-M1 and E-M1 Mark II enhance the entire system, and take best advantage of the lenses that can be purchased for the system, especially the newest PRO lenses. A travel system with a body (or two) and lenses to get the work done is still, by far, smaller and lighter than equivalents from Canon and Nikon, everything else being equal.

I am I going to buy one? Yes. In the right hands (and I only consider Kirk's in this group so far) work produced by any camera or system is indistinguishable from any other. It comes down to what you like to work with, and in my case, I love to work with Olympus.

Anonymous said...

The high quality built of this camera likely justifies the cost.
Top end Olympus cameras are extremely well built, better than equally priced Nikon etc.

Marc J

Peter said...

Olympus have obviously decided to develop the technical advantages that having a relatively small mirrorless sensor allows them over the competition. That now gives us: focus stacking/bracketing, hand held shots of 2+ seconds, face/eye focus, pre-chimping for exposure, high-res for still life, 15 fps focus tracking, and even keeping a bank of 14 shots before the shutter is pressed. What's not to like? And this stuff is not possible if the camera is a DSLR (or even a larger sensor mirrorless today).

I hear complaints about IQ, but I have found that that the IQ of my EM5 and FF DSLR's I have owned (like the D800E) are identical when I review my prints at the maximum size I use (13x19). If the output is the same (as it is for me), then I choose cameras using other criteria. I see an OMD1-2 in my future.

Don B said...

Anonymous said...

The high quality built of this camera likely justifies the cost.
Top end Olympus cameras are extremely well built, better than equally priced Nikon etc.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm......my E-M1 which I look after like a baby, has had it's engine replaced twice, the melted rear body material replaced once, and we have now moved on to the rear dial which functions when it feels like it. All replaced under extended warranty thank the Lord. I have missed on the famous rear screen green squiggles.
Other than that I love it, though in comparison my Canon 1D has never revisted Canon once.

Craig Yuill said...

I can't afford to purchase an E-M1 II, so I won't. That said, the camera bodies and lenses I have right now meet most of my current needs. I have no pressing need to upgrade any of my camera bodies or lenses. What would benefit me is a decent compact microphone with a dead cat (or similar) wind reducer for my outdoor video work, along with more storage.

Richard Barbour said...

Great point about how well the old gear worked for us. I sometimes look back at images I took with the ancient (for digital) 6Mpx Canon D60 (not the much later 60D) and am amazed at how nice they are. Before I got the D60 I had gone to a seminar taught by George Lepp; this was somewhere around 2002. He had just come back from an African wildlife shoot, where he had used the latest and greatest thing, the 3Mpx Canon D30. Among others, he showed a large print of a leopard in a tree, taken with the D30 and printed on one of the state-of-the-art Epson printers, that still sticks with me as a great photo.

Alex said...

"Can you believe it? It's been over six months since I bought a new camera. Or a used camera. Amazing... Almost as if I was in camera rehab."

Rehab is easy, staying clean is the problem.;)
I solve the problem by buying cheap drugs: The E-P5 new with zoom lens at € 450,- and the E-M5 second hand with 8000 klicks for € 230,-. (My upgrading usually takes place about three years after the introduction of that new body.)
That left money for a new macro Zuiko 60mm and a nice Berlebach monopod.
My photographic skills are still not up to it.

Anonymous said...

I actually like the high price of the E-M1 Mark II. It makes the Pen F at $1200 seem more affordable.

Anonymous said...

I think Ron Zack's makes a good point.

The value discussion seems to be mostly taken from the point of view of prospective buyers shooting other brands while I think a lot of people are actually vocal about the huge bump in pricing Olympus just did on a known line.

Put another way, a lot of people, I included, expected a follow-up in the same price range, which makes sense : it's a mark II. Turns out Olympus made a mark I of a new line, instead, if you look at the pricing alone. Sadly, Olympus didn't name the first E-M1 as an E-M3...

Now that's perhaps an idea : release a E-M3 with a sensible reduction in features -good luck with that :-)

Anonymous said...

I think quoting price from the past is completely irrelevant. Unless Olympus invents time machine and presents its model 10 years back, we can buy it here and now and the only reasonable approach is to compare its features against contemporary competitors.

In my opinion it is too expensive for what it is and small sensor has much to do with it (big can do the same as small, but small cannot the same as big), as have e.g. video features. Things look better though when considering price with 12-40 2.8 lens.