5 Reasons to buy the Fujfilm XT4

Olympus’ recent announcement that they were selling their camera business gave me the final push (which I’d been considering anyway) to sell off the last of my Micro 43 gear and switch to one system.

I am planning to get back to much more photography than I have been able to over the last few years now that my daughter is growing up.

As you probably know I have the chance to test out all the latest gear quite regularly from all the main manufacturers.

In the end I made the move to Fuji. I have been a Fuji user on and off since 2013 with the X-Pro1 and have used all their models since. However the XT4 has finally banished any last remaining issue that I had with the Fuji XT3.

The inclusion of IBIS was a big one for me as well as a few other important upgrades that I go through in my latest Youtube video.

Speaking of Youtube, now that I have more free time I will be dedicating quite a lot of it this year to producing content on there. Not only will I include reviews of all the current kit that I am using but I will also delve more into the how and why of photography, take trips (once this pandemic finally leaves us) and vlog about my various phtoographic exploits. I hope you will join me there.




Panasonic GX9 vs Olympus OMD EM5 III vs Fuji XT30

In this post I’m going to compare the Panasonic GX9 vs Olympus OMD EM5 III vs Fuji Xt30. As you probably know, I’ve shot Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji cameras for years now, going back to the the Panasonic G3, EM5 and X Pro1. I want a compact and lightweight camera that I can use mainly with prime lenses for some projects that I have planned in the Philippines later in the year. The project will be documentary and involve lots of candid portraits as well as some street photography. I plan to use whichever camera I choose with a (35mm equivalent focal lengths) 50mm and 85 ish mm prime lenses as those are my preferred focal lengths for the kind of shooting that I have planned. On the Panasonic and Olympus I shot the Pana-Leica 25mm 1.4,Olympus 45mm 1.2 and Sigma 56mm 1.4 while on the Fuji I paired it with the 35mm 1.4. I had planned on using the 56mm 1.2 as well but in the end couldn’t get hold of one in time for my testing but the AF performance is pretty much on par with the Fuji 35mm lens and having owned the 56mm previously I know how it performs.


Firstly let me say that all the specs are available online so I’m not going to go through them all here. I’ll just talk about those that mattered to me for the project that I have planned. Those being image quality, AF, handling and performance.

While the GX9 and EM5 III uses a 20mp Micro 43 sensor the Fuji XT30 makes use of the larger 26mp APS-C sensor found in the XT3 so it should be a no brainer that the image coming out of the Fuji is better and it performs better when pushing your ISO higher. The thing is that when reading forums on the internet they would lead you to believe that the difference is night and day and this simply is not the case. Yes the Fuji is slightly better once you get up to 3200+ ISO but the differences wont be enough to make or break an image. For me the more interesting question was about the colour each camera produced and I was particularly interested in the Acros black and white profile of the XT30 as a lot of my project will be shot in black and white. Quite frankly I chose the XT30 as one of the most affordable ways to get the Acros profile.  In my opinion the image quality produced by all the cameras is good enough for what I had in mind.


Fuji are heralded within the media for being excellent for portraits, skin tones and the Acros profile and in a lot of situations I know why. I love the organic look of the colours coming off the X-Trans sensor and under the right lighting conditions the Acros profile produces some beautiful black and white images. However sometimes the colours can feel just a little flat while the Panasonic and Olympus in my opinion actually produce more pleasing colours more of the time. I am a big fan of the colours that both Panasonic and Olympus cameras put out SOOC. For me they win when shooting colour images but the Fuji does well for black and white work. This is why I bought an XT 30 just for this project. However I like the Fuji and Panasonic black and white rendering equally and it really depends upon the subject and light as to which is better in a given situation.

In terms of handling all the cameras are small, lightweight and discreet. They are quick in use and it is easy to quickly change settings on them. I prefer that the Olympus has a separate door for memory cards and I still prefer the PASM system employed by virtually every camera manufacturer rather than the separate dials for shutter speed employed by Fuji. (note the XT30 has a shutter speed dial which when using most Fuji lenses combines with the Aperture ring to give control over exposure). The XT30 does not have and ISO dial unlike its big brother the XT3.

All the cameras feel well built although I’d have to give the nod to the GX9 and Em5III (although I have heard issues reported around the strength of the tripod plate on the EM5II) as they just feel a little higher quality finish and of course the Em5III is weather sealed.

I had fully expected to love the little Fuji XT30 but there were 2 major issues for me once I had a little time with the camera. Firstly, I wanted to shoot the 35mm 1.4 and 56mm 1.2 for my project and quite frankly the AF motors on these lenses still proved to be pretty poor. I had hoped that with the latest generation of camera bodies the AF when using these lenses would have improved but unfortunately (and this is no fault of the XT30’s) it hasn’t. Now I know that a lot of Fuji users love these lenses and in terms of their image quality, yes they are gems but the problem I had while testing the gear out (on not very trying subjects) was that it took multiple shot to get perfect focus. No, it wasn’t a bad copy of the lens, this is exactly how I remember my previous version being as well. I guess it is my own fault for hoping for an improvement that simply can’t be provided by a newer camera. These lenses desperately need updating and I really hope Fuji is working on this as their more modern lenses perform much faster. However it is these lenses that I particularly wanted to use. I’m not interested in the f/2 primes as I’m giving up some of the benefits of that APS-C sensor when shooting with them. In all honesty I like the ergonomics and handling of the EM5 III the most, so unless the XT30 is going to give me tangible benefits (which it would if these lenses auto focussed quickly enough) over it then I’m not going to choose it. The EM5 III is simply more fun and gives me more confidence that I can nail the focus every time.


Fuji Acros ISO 4000

While the Fuji XT-30 does offer slightly improved High ISO performance the differences are minimal and I’d still place my limit of acceptable IQ for portraits at ISO 3200, exactly the same as the Micro 43 cameras.

Olympus EM5III Monochrome + Green filter , ISO 2000
GX9 , L Monochrome Pofile, ISO 200

The second major issue (and one which even had me and my wife spend and evening trying to figure out) was the Fuji App to transfer images to your mobile device. I have used this app before, along with the ones form every other major camera manufacturer (except Canon). The best ones are from Olympus and Panasonic, Sony’s is fine too and Nikon’s although temperamental usually works. Well this Fuji App is a complete and utter bag of S**t. I spent hours trying to get it to connect to my phone, my wifes phone, my tablet and in the end gave up. When I’m out in the middle of nowhere taking photos and I want to quickly transfer some images then this is a big no no for Fuji. I didn’t previously have this issue when I owned the XT2 so I can only assume that the updated app is either useless, has compatibility issues or it’s the XT30’s fault. Either way in the end no matter how beautiful the Acros black and white images were, far too many were out of focus and when they were in focus the app made viewing them on my mobile device impossible. The Fuji is sadly out of the race and has been sent back.. As you saw in my Olympus OMD EM5 III Review this camera does everything that 90% of people will need it to do with no fuss. It makes photography easy and fun and dare I say it, quite cool too.


However I already own the Panasonic GX9 and a GH5 so is the Olympus at approximatley £1000 twice as good as the Panasonic GX9 which can be had for under £500 (as of early 2020)?


In the Olympus’ favour it has slightly better IBIS, is weather sealed, has a better viewfinder and offers Hi Res mode as well as the useful long exposure modes such as Live Bulb and Live view. In the Panasonic’s favour for me is the fact that it uses the same menu system and has the same colour profile as my existing GH5 and so using the two together would be a more seemless experience and mean my lazy ass doesn’t have to memorise two menu systems. It is of course half the price.


When I wrote my Olympus EM5III review it was before the Coronoavirus Pandemic had really hit the UK hard. Money and business was quite good and I could afford the additional cost of the EM5III over the GX9. However as I sit here writing this (early April) the UK economy has basically shut down, business has dried up and I am now putting a much higher priority on bang for buck to ensure that I get the most out of any investment that I make in to a camera or system. This puts cost way higher up my list of priorities than would previously have been the case and I’m sure like many photographers out there I am now really asking myself the question, do I honestly need these extra features and are they really going to make a difference to my work and earning potential.


For me, in the end it comes down to the image I can produce. Yes it is nice to have the better viewfinder but the one in the GX9 does not hinder me from getting the shot. I also quite like the tilt mechanism on it. Yes, hi res mode would be nice to have and I can see myself using it quite a lot for landscapes but the projects that I have lined up will be fine with 20mp of resolution. Am I going to suddenly start doing a lot of long exposure photography to make use of live bulb and live view…..If I’m bluntly honest with myself then no, that just isn’t going to happen.

Does my camera need to be weather sealed? Well a lot of us like to kid ourselves that a certain specification is an absolute must. I hear people all the time saying that weather sealing is absolutely essential. I don’t buy it for the most part. I used to live in the Outer hebrides, a place where the weather could not be more challenging to a photographer. My cameras back then didn’t offer top notch weather sealing and you know what I did when the heavens opened… I popped my camera back in my camera bag and waited for the torrential wind blasted downpour to pass. Just before and just after the storm is the best time to photograph anyway not during it. Even if the cameras were weather sealed like a tank the front element of the lens woud be covered in rain and ruin any image. The philippinnes, just like the Outer Hebrides is prone to sudden torrential downpours but for the subjects that I plan on shooting it is irrelevant as I doubt many portrait subjects will be willing to stand out in the rain while I photograph them. Long story short, weather sealing is nice to have but not essential for me.


Both the GX9 and EM5 III have fast enough AF speed for my needs. Yes the Olympus may be a little better at tracking thanks to its phase detect Af points but it doesn’t make a difference for what I shoot as the GX9 is quick to focus and has decent face and eye detect AF.


The crux of the matter comes down to which camera offers the features that I need in the cheapest package and this is where the GX9 delivers in spades. IMO it is probably the best value camera in the photographic universe at the moment.

In terms of output it is virtually identical to the Olympus EM5 III however it actually bests it in my opinion in one area that is vital to my project. The black and white profiles of the latest generation of Panasonic cameras and in particular L Monochrome D is just about my favourite black and white profile of any camera.


Despite wanting the Fuji XT30’s black and white output the |fuji sytem currently has too many compromises to work for me (Slow AF, No IBIS, Poor Wifi App, No PASM). Despite quite liking a lot of the EM5III features I don’t really need them. My Panasonic GX9 takes beautiful black and white images (particularly in the L Mono and L Mono D profile) and offers everything that I need in a small lightweight package. It doesn’t hurt that it looks beautiful too. So I’ll be using it alongside my GH5 for my projects this year.




Olympus OMD EM5 III Review

Today I am going to share my Olympus OMD EM5 III review with you.

I have been waiting for what seems like an age for the release of the Olympus OMD EM5 mark III camera. As an avid Olympus user over the years I have been fortunate enough to try out all of their top tier cameras since the original EM5 right through to the EM1X. I used the EM5 II as my main camera for around a year and you can see my review of that here 

Yet somehow while I was caught up in our recent house move from the Philippines to the UK I missed the official release. It was only when I got back to the UK and had time to settle that I picked up that the third iteration of the Olympus EM5 had been announced, released and was on sale. The orignal EM5 was the camera that lured me away from shooting DSLR’s for my professional work way back in 2012. The competition has come a long way since then with Sony flooding the market with 35mm sensor sized options and Fuji providing attractive APS-C options.

I had high hopes that the OMD EM5 III would bring together everything I love about mirrorless cameras, small form factor, beautiful design, advanced features. ease of shooting and hopefully, an upgraded sensor.

On reading the specs there are two ways to look at it… We didn’t get a brand new sensor from Olympus as some had hoped but we did get the excellent one out of the EM1 II. This along with phase detect auto focus, improved image stabilisation, OLED viewfinder, 4k video and that beautiful form factor and design was enough to have me clicking the buy now button and ordering one to test.

For this Olympus OMD EM5 III review I have purchased the camera myself and will be using it in depth to see if the EM5 III is worth the money and can compete in todays even more competitive market place.

Olympus OMD EM5 III Review – Handling

The new layout on the Olympus OMD EM5 III

The Olympus EM5 and mark II had a metal construction which gave them a really substantial feel in the hand. Yes they were tiny but they felt well built and easily capable of surviving the daily scrapes our gear sometimes has to deal with. The new Olympus EM5 III has dropped the metal construction in favour of a lighter poly-carbonite shell. I must admit this had me a little concerned when I first read it as I wondered if they had shifted the EM5 series further down their product lineup and were aiming it at a different, less demanding audience.

Well in all honesty I prefer the feel of the mark III over my original and mark II versions. It feels noticeably lighter at 414g down from the mark II at 469g. It also feels a little smaller but it is actually more comfortable to hold thanks to a thumb rest that protrudes more from the back of the body. This allows for great purchase on the camera and I have no issues with the balance of the camera when combined with larger Olympus lenses like the 12-40mm Pro. There is an optional grip which would be welcome if using the pro telephoto lenses although I note that a full battery grip is no longer going to be offered as an optional accessory. I presume because Olympus wants you to purchase an EM1 series body if you require this functionality. I can understand that and although I would like the option of a battery grip I, like most other buyers probably value the light weight and compact nature of the EM5 bodies more.

When I did my Olympus OMD EM5 III unboxing video I was so interested in the feel of the camera that I didn’t even initially notice some standout changes that Olympus has made to the body of this EM5 III. I’ll go over these now in this Olympus EM5 III review.

Firstly, the control dial is now on the right hand side freeing up space for dedicated buttons to select the shutter mode (single, burst, Timer etc) and another that by default switches the LCD display from showing a live display or the Olympus Super Control panel. Damn, no single handed switching the camera on then.. A quick play around in the menus and I found my trusty option to use the function lever to turn the camera on and off, problem solved.

Another addition that I’m happy to see is a dedicated ISO button just to the right of the thumb rest. It’s not ideally position with my thumb (at least) having to stretch slightly to reach it but it works and its there, so again I’m pretty happy.

For any existing Olympus users the handling will be very familiar and now more in line with that found on the EM1 series bodies which will offer better continuity when switching between bodies. I can envisage people (myself included) using the EM5 III when they want to be lightweight and discreet (think street photography, candid portraits, family outings, long treks etc) and the EM1 series body with larger lenses for more serious work.

The Olympus EM5 III still has a 3 inch fully articulating screen (unchanged from the previous model) and it does its job more than adequately for my needs. Yes there are larger screens with more resolution available but is it really needed? In my eyes not really. Yes, more is often a good thing but this screen shows me the information I need quickly and clearly.

One change on the EM5 III that I do really appreciate is the new 2.36 million dot EVF. Although the magnification has decreased slightly (0.69x ) it is a vast improvement over the old model and provides a clear rich image. Yes higher resolution EVF’s are available on more expensive models from other brands but while these are nice I honestly don’t see them as essential as long as they are good enough to clearly frame your shots. One thing to note for those among us that wear glasses is the 27mm eye point.

Overall the handling of the Olympus OMD EM5 Mark 3 is almost exactly what I want in a small mirrorless body. Its buttons offer good tactile feedback (no more squidgy buttons here) and the front and rear control dials are the best in the business offering just the right amount of resistance to feel solid and assured in use.


I now do quite a lot of video both in my work and for my Youtube channels and I’m pleased to see that Olympus kept the mic input on the EM5 III. This along with the ability to record in 4K at 24 and 30 FPS, as well as 120 FPS in 1080 make it a pretty good option for casual video.

Having looked at the video quality produced by the EM5 III I would be quite happy using it for my Youtube channels. Combined with the excellent IBIS as well as vastly improved video AF I found it easy to get good results straight out of camera.

The colours are beautiful as I would expect from Olympus and I believe it would be more than capable of putting together very nice looking travel videos and vlogs, aided by that fully articulating screen.

I currently use a GH5 for video work which as we all know has a plethora of options but for less demanding users I believe the EM5 III will be more than good enough in terms of output quality, colour and usability as long as you don’t need 4k60 which is sadly missing.

The only issue I would mention is that the headline bit rate of 237mbps is only available for cinema 4k (including fast motion up to 8x speed) and then drops down to 102mbps for 4k at 24,25 and 30 FPS.

If slow motion is your thing the EM5 III can shoot at up to 120FPS in 1080 but the bit rates drop off significantly from the numbers above which could cause quality issues, particularly if you may grade the footage. The 120 FPS high speed option shot and re-timed in camera only offers 26 MBPS.

The highest bit rate when shooting in IPB is 52 MBPS for 1080 , regardless whether the frame rate is 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60. You can shoot 24, 25 and 30 FPS footage in All Intra at 102Mbps.

Sample video will be available once I upload my Video review to Youtube.

Auto focus

Olympus have put the sensor (including Phase detection AF) from the EM1 II into the EM5 III and it really does show. Now let me just clarify one thing, I am not a sports shooter. I hate firing away like a madman in the hope that if I spray enough bullets I’ll hit the target. Not to mention I don’t have the will to go through thousands of pictures just to find the one good one. So I have not tested the EM5 III AF for sports or birds in flight which are arguably the most demanding tasks for an auto focus system.

However I have shot a variety of subjects from portraits to my 3 year old daughter tearing around on her bike.

Single AF, S-AF in Olympus’ language is as fast as the fastest cameras out there. If you can’t get in focus shots with this camera then I’m afraid it’s not me, it’s you says the EM5 III. The focus is snappy, assured and never skips a beat. That’s to be expected these days although some do better than others and of the cameras I have used Olympus is easily up there with the best for single AF.

The interesting thing with the EM5 III is that it now has phase detect AF for the first time so in theory its continuous AF and tracking modes should be vastly improved over its predecessor. In short yes they are.

Shooting multiple portraits of my wife using eye AF and C-AF the camera locks on to her face and eyes and nails the focus almost every time. It is also doing a better job of following the subjects face even when they are not face on to the camera.

I also tested out the tracking AF using my daughter riding her push bike. The results were pretty impressive, especially when compared with previous generations of the EM5.

With the subject riding straight towards me at a jogging pace the camera picked up focus immediately and followed her through until she filled the frame and exited to the side. The last couple of images were out of focus but 80% of the remaining series were all perfectly sharp with 15% being acceptably so and just 5% being unusable.

When tracking a subject across the screen the results are better still. In fact they were all perfectly sharp.

So for normal use photographing people, kids, pets, the Olympus EM5 III is more than up to the job in terms of AF. The only issue and one I would like to see improved in a firmware update is that when several faces are in the scene I couldn’t find a way to select which face to focus on. The AF is also very usable for video and certainly better than my GH5.

Olympus OMD EM5 III Review – Image Quality

I will add a few test shots below for those of you who want to compare ISO in a more controlled manner but for the most part I find that the biggest test for a sensor in terms of high ISO performance is capturing skin tones. The smooth skin of a models face really does show up issues when using higher ISO’s and this is something that the EM5 II had started to fall significantly behind with compared to the competition.

100% Crop , 1/125/ f/1.2, ISO 1250 shot with the Olympus 45mm 1.2 Pro lens
1/125 f/1.6, ISO 2000

Of course a Micro 43 sensor does have an inherent disadvantage in low light performance due to its smaller size compared with APS-C and 35mm. However whenever I have tested this I am always surprised just how close to APS-C it gets. Don’t get me wrong if you want and need killer low light performance then you need a larger sensor but I am yet to produce an image at ISO 3200 or above on any camera which I would consider a true keeper. If an image is that important then I am generally shooting at lower ISO or controlling the light. I understand that some people (documentary photographers, nightlife and wedding photographers etc) do genuinely need the best possible high ISO performance but for the rest of us, is a very usable ISO 6400 not enough? If it is dark enough to need ISO 12800 or more then I honestly doubt the image is going to be that good anyway. I know I will get some angry responses and justifications to that last comment but for how and what I want to shoot I rarely go above ISO 1600 and if it’s a landscape I’m at base ISO anyway.

1/400, f/1.2, ISO 200

With that said I am pretty happy with the high ISO performance of the Olympus OMD EM5 III. ISO 3200 is very good and 6400 looks very usable too. I would even say it is a little better than my EM1 II at high ISO as the 12800 shot below doesn’t fall apart as badly on the EM5 III as it has on my previous Olympus cameras. The magenta cast that the EM1 II sometimes suffered with at high ISO’s is also no longer present on the EM5 III. Below I shot an image in near darkness as I prefer to test ISO performance like this rather than shooting in daylight and raising the ISO for the sake of it.

The Test scene how it looked to my eye.
ISO 200
ISO 200 100% Crop, ORF File Straight conversion with no noise reduction. Processed in Lightroom CC
ISO 400
ISO 400 100% Crop
ISO 800
ISO 800 , 100% Crop
ISO 1600
ISO 1600, 100% Crop
ISO 3200
ISO 3200, 100% Crop
ISO 6400
ISO 6400, 100% Crop
ISO 12800
ISO 12800, 100% Crop
ISO 25600
ISO 25600, 100% Crop

To be perfectly honest, this is the first time I have been totally happy with ISO 6400 on the Micro 43 platform. I always thought it was usable with a bit of work in post production but with the Olympus EM5 III it has now edged over into perfectly satisfactory and ISO 3200 looks very clean. Of course when shooting with the EM5 III you’re only going to need to use those higher ISO values if you need to use a faster shutter speed to stop action. Otherwise you can hand hold this camera in almost any situation thanks to the incredible in body  image stabilisation. All the test shots above were shot handheld with the 45mm Pro lens. The ISO 200 shot used a shutter speed of 1 second and was almost perfectly sharp. That would usually require a shutter speed of 1/100th to be sharp. That’s over 6 stops of image stabilisation working right there and to be honest I didn’t bother about my technique, I have so much faith in Olympus’ IBIS that I just fired away without really thinking about it. It is unlike any other IBIS system I have ever used and yes I have owned the Panasonic G9 but the EM5 III, EM1X and the EM1 II are all much better in my opinion. I know some test results put them close but that was not my personal experience.

So if people say that you need a large sensor to shoot in low light I would say it depends entirely upon what you are shooting. Yes there are scenarios where the larger sensor will be of benefit if you are shooting moving subjects and need to freeze the action but for anything else the EM5 III can shoot at ISO 200 and give you great results.

One thing I had noticed on the EM1 II and previous Olympus bodies that I have owned (so most of the higher end ones) is that the red channel was prone to becoming over saturated and clipping. I can say that this issue seems to have been resolved on the EM5 III.

The red channel no longer clips when shooting super saturated red colours such as this rose.

This is especially true if you shoot in Raw rather than JPEG as the raw files hold substantially more detail and information as you can see below.

SOOC JPEG , Natural picture profile, 100% crop shot at 1/13, f/4, ISO 200. Shot on a tripod.
Raw file with no adjustments except +25 sharpening in Lightroom CC. 1/13, f/4, ISO 200. This is the matching raw file to the above Jpeg both shot in raw + Jpeg Large Fine mode.

If you want to see all the full resolution images from this review then they are all available over on my Flickr page.

As you can see from the above image the raw files are holding substantially more detail and colour information. When I zoom in 100% on the Jpeg file here I can just see a few areas where the red channel is starting to clip slightly. However there are no such issues in the raw file. The raw file also shows more fine detail such as the veins of the petals which are not visible in the Jpeg. It should be noted that I turned in camera noise reduction down to the minimum setting but it can also be turned off altogether.

High resolution mode

The Olympus EM5 III now gives us 80mp raw files and 50mp Jpegs in high resolution mode thanks to the new 20mp sensor inside the camera.

At first glance the hi res shots show a noticeable improvement in detail but is this simply due to the larger file size?

I wanted to see how they compared with a standard raw file that was up-rezzed on my PC to match the file size of the in camera hi resolution image.

Hi Res Shot 100% crop from 80mp raw file with no adjustments.
Standard Raw file up rezzed in Adobe to match the in camera hi resolution image.

The in camera hi resolution image contains more genuine detail than the standard raw file up rezzed to match. The other main benefit that is quite obvious is that the in camera hi resolution image is giving a noise benefit too. Olympus themselves claim 2 stops improvement when using the high resolution mode. I believe this to be pretty accurate. The file is cleaner and contains more detail so if you really want to get the best output possible then it is worth using the high resolution mode. Just make sure that you take the time to ensure you are using the camera on a rock steady tripod and use a shutter delay. My first attempt to capture this hi res image resulted in softness caused by the vibrations when I pressed the shutter release. A delay of 8 seconds was sufficient to get perfectly sharp images.

I still have to test the hi resolution mode for landscapes to see if it deals with movement any better than previous generations. I’ll report back once I have thoroughly tested it.

Olympus OMD EM5 Mark 3 – Conclusion

The Olympus OMD EM5 III has been a long time coming so was it worth the wait? On the one hand if you look at the technical specifications and price some may argue that there are no standout features in such a competitive marketplace. However it is only when you actually get the camera in your hands and use it that you can appreciate all the little improvements that in the end add up to one of the best handling and performing mirror-less cameras on the market. Let’s not forget that Olympus’ IBIS is definitely still the best available.

The build quality still feels reassuringly good, the new thumb rest gives just that little more purchase to make it more comfortable to shoot with. The new EVF is crisp and clear and little additions such as the dedicated ISO button improve the handling to the point that this camera simply gets out of your way and lets you shoot. For me this is more important than an extra stop of dynamic range, a few more megapixels and being able to fire off a million shots a second. That is just the way I prefer to shoot though. I prioritise the experience when using a camera as long as it is able to give me the end results that I need.

In the last year I have heard quite a few people predicting the demise of Micro 43 and in particular Olympus, citing Sony’s A7 line as being far superior. I don’t deny that the Sony A7 series are great cameras, I have owned the A7R, A7II, A7R2, A7III and A7rIII.

While the Sony A7 series bodies are in the same size and weight bracket as the higher end Micro 43 offerings like the EM1 II and GH5 the professional grade lenses are no smaller than those on full frame DSLR’s. Yes they will get you better low light performance and more megapixels to play with and if you genuinely need those things then no doubt you will already know so.

However for the rest of us who want a fast responsive camera with good AF, a big step up in image quality from your phone, more features than pretty much any other camera on the market and a range of high quality lenses from super wide angle to super telephoto then I think the EM5 III offers that. All wrapped up in a lightweight package that you will be much more likely to carry than a bulky DSLR.. I know that I will take my Micro 43 cameras out with me on trips where I would leave the Sony cameras behind and in the end as the cliche goes, it’s the camera that you have with you that’s the best.

I get to try out a lot of cameras and I usually know which ones I would be happy to keep pretty quickly. For me the Olympus OM-D E-M5 III ticks all the boxes for what I want in a camera and I’ll be keeping mine for some time to come. In future articles on this website and videos on my Youtube channel I will be putting the EM5 III up against my Panasonic GX9 and a Fuji XT30 so be sure to check back soon for those comparisons. I’m also hoping to pick up the recently announced EM1 III and Fuji XT4 to compare those two models.

I’ll be updating this page from time to time when I have more sample images and hopefully get a chance to shoot some proper landscapes (if I ever get the time) over the coming months. I hope this Olympus OMD EM5 III review has been useful for you. Now get out and shoot.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 III Unboxing Video

I have just taken delivery of the Olympus OMD EM5 mark III to test out over the next few weeks. In the video I quickly unbox the new EM5 III and show you what comes in the box as well as take a quick look at the camera. I will be following this up with a detailed review over the next few weeks once I have had time to properly test out the new OM-D EM5 III.

Sony A7III Video Review

Here is a link to my video review of the Sony A7III camera. If you are looking for more information on the Sony A7IV then I have just posted a setup and best settings guide

I have been using the Sony A7III since it was released along with the Sony 50mm 1.8, Zeiss 55mm 1.8, Sony 85mm 1.8 and the Sony 16-35mm f/4 lenses. I’m now in the process of testing both the Panasonic G9, GX9 and Nikon Z6 cameras and will be posting reviews of them once I have had enough time to do them justice.

Sony A7R II vs Olympus OMD EM1 II Depth of Field Comparison

Sony A7R II vs Olympus OMD EM1 II Depth of Field Comparison

I just took delivery of a Sony A7R II yesterday with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens. Part of my decision to buy this combination was to supplement my Olympus OMD EM1 II with a camera with a full frame sensor as I believe Micro 4/3 and full frame compliment each other as systems very well. The idea being that the Olympus will be my everyday camera and the Sony will allow me to get more subject isolation and better low light performance when I need it.

The difference between micro 4/3 and APS-C is so negligible that I don’t see the benefit of owning both for my uses.

Anyway I thought it would be interesting to do a quick test to see the difference between the two when it comes to subject separation.

I shot both on a tripod from the exact same location. The Zeiss is a 55mm lens whereas the Olympus equates to roughly 50mm so the field of view is not exactly the same with the Zeiss being a bit narrower. The Sony was paired with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and the Olympus with the 25mm f/1.2 Pro (see my review here ).

So here are both shots wide open.

The Sony A7R II + 55mm Zeiss lens wide open
Olympus OMD EM1 ii + 25mm 1.2 Pro wide open

The Sony is definitely doing a better job of isolating the subject and that is no surprise as the 25mm 1.2 on the Olympus is roughly equivalent to a 50mm f/2.4 on full frame in terms of depth of field and field of view. Part of the difference can be put down to the longer focal length of the Zeiss lens but even then here are the things to look at that highlight the differences.


Look at the detail in the brown unit to the left of the top of the lens. The Olympus is picking up more texture and details whereas the Sony has blown most of that into smooth out of focus rendering.

Secondly the light sphere immediately left of the focus markings on the lens is much more in focus on the Olympus shot than the Sony one.

So even wide open and with a larger aperture the Olympus 25mm 1.2 can’t quite match the Sony with a 1.8 lens.

Here are  the Olympus and Sony both at f/1.8 side by side in Lightroom so you can directly compare like for like what you would get when shooting at the same apertures on different systems.

Sony (left) and Olympus (right) both at f/1.8


So as you can see the Sony definitely offers an advantage when you want to isolate your subject. Just as expected. You can of course also buy lenses with a larger aperture for the Sony system which will widen the gap further. However I have no intention of buying those lenses, not because of the price (which is expensive) but because I don’t want to imbalance the camera by putting on huge lenses that will make the whole setup incredibly front heavy.


So if you want that creamy shallow depth of field look then it’s a no brainer right? Get full frame….. Or is it.


One thing to note is that these Olympus Pro line of lenses have a trick up their sleeve that can level the playing field somewhat if you are not constrained in your shooting position.

They can focus incredibly closely.

All the shots above are taken from the closest focusing distance of the Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8. In these circumstances the full frame Sony clearly does better. However take a look below at just how close the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro can focus. The lens hood was nearly touching the subject when I too this.

The Olympus 25mm 1.2 and all the Pro lenses can focus really close.


I’m not arguing that one is better than the other here. For some things the Sony will be better and for others the Olympus. That is why I bought the Sony A7Rii to compliment, not replace my Olympus OMD EM1 ii. For example when I shoot the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro I get the light gathering of a 1.2 lens but I gain a little extra depth of field which can be useful to ensure enough of your subject is in focus. More depth of field can be an advantage at times.

The Sony will of course give me better low light performance, a little more dynamic range and the ability to print gallery sized prints with more detail but if anyone tells you that Micro 4/3 is not capable of producing shallow depth of field images then you can safely ignore them as they clearly haven’t used lenses like the 25mm 1.2(review here ), 45mm 1.2 (review coming soon) and 75mm 1.8 (review here )from Olympus.

Olympus 25mm 1.8 Review

Olympus 25mm 1.8 Review

The Olympus 25mm f/1.8 is a premium fast aperture prime lens from Olympus. It is available in either silver or black. I have the black version and have been using it on my OMD EM1 ii.

Olympus 25mm 1.8 Review – Construction and Handling

The Olympus 25mm f1.8 is constructed using high quality plastics. It feels nicely built and not cheap like Canon’s nifty 50 lens. The lens makes for a very light and compact combination even on Olympus’ larger bodes such as the OMD EM1 ii.

I have been out this morning for a Sunday stroll with this combination and it feels so light and compact that I hardly even noticed that I was carrying the camera.

Thankfully Olympus supply this lens with a lens hood although I haven’t used it much but it is certainly right and nice that Olympus saw fit to include a lens hood with this lens.

In terms of construction it feels more solid and better made than the cheaper kit zooms but it is not up to the standards of the Olympus 75mm 1.8 or the pro grade lenses but then this lens is not in the same price category coming in at under £300 on Amazon UK.

From left to right Olympus 25mm 1.8, 25mm 1.2, 75mm 1.8

Autofocus performance of this lens is nothing short of excellent. It is incredibly quick to focus and silent too. It focuses instantaneously and is very accurate. Whether the scene is front lit, back-lit or when using it in low light the auto focus performance is a s good as any lens in the system. It is noticeably quicker to focus than the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 for instance and as quick as the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro. Both of which are more expensive.

Olympus 25mm 1.8 Review – Image Quality

The Olympus 25mm 1.8 doesn’t suffer from any noticeable distortion. It is also highly resistant to lens flare, even when pointing it directly at the Sun as I did this morning.

It doesn’t suffer with CA in high contrast situations and in fact having tested it over and over again I am very impressed with the performance of this lens in every aspect.

The lens also focuses incredibly closely at 25cm. Combine this with the f/1.8 aperture and you ave the ability to really throw the background out of focus to create some nice bokeh effects.

The Olympus 25mm 1.8 focuses incredibly close.



100% crop at f/1.8
100% crop at f/2


100% crop at f/2.8

The lens is sharp wide open and doesn’t really show much improvement when stopped down further. Again the performance of this lens is excellent.

Olympus 25mm 1.8 Review – Conclusion

There are now a lot of choices in the Micro 4/3 system for this focal length. I currently have 3 25mm lenses, the Pana-Leica 25mm 1.4, Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro (see my review here)  and this lens. So which one should you choose?

The performance of all 3 lenses is stellar, however the price points vary so is it worth paying more for the other the lenses.

In terms of optical performance they are all excellent. Only the Panasonic lens suffering slightly with CA. All are sharp wide open. The Olympus 25mm 1.8 is the cheapest option and if you have an Olympus camera I would recommend it if you don’t need weather-sealing and the 1.8 aperture is sufficient for your needs. It is also the lightest of the 3 lenses and makes a great walk around package even with my OMD EM1 ii. It is also small enough to carry in a pocket and light enough to sling in your camera bag as a just in case you need it lens.

Of the 3 lenses I would say it offers the best price/performance ratio and is the one I would recommend to most people. It really is a fantastic little lens and its performance is so close to the 25mm 1.2 optically that unless you really need f/1.2 or weather-sealing then it is hard to justify the additional cost of the Pro lens.

On an Olympus camera I also prefer the handling and auto focus performance to the Pana Leica 1.4.

Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro review

In this Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro review I shall go through the pros and cons of this premium lens from Olympus and weigh up whether it is worth the extra cost over other 25mm options like the Olympus 25mm 1.8 and Pana Leica 25mm 1.4 lens.

I have had this lens for a couple of months now and mainly used it in Asia for portrait and travel photos on the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark ii and Panasonic GH5. If you want to see how those two cameras compare for stills photography then head on over to my comparison here

Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro review – Specs and handling

Lens Specifications
NameOlympus 25mm ƒ/1.2 Pro M.Zuiko Digital ED
Image CircleMicro Four-Thirds
TypeStandard Prime
Focal Length25mm
35mm Equivalent50mm
Max Apertureƒ/1.2
Min Apertureƒ/16
Diaphragm Blades9 (circular)
Lens Construction19 elements in 14 groups, including 1 aspherical, 1 SED, 2 ED, 1 E-HR, and 3 HR elements
Diagonal Angle of View47 degrees
Focus DetailsHigh-speed Imager AF (MSC)
Front Element RotationNo
Zoom Systemn/a
Closest Focus30cm / 11.8 in.
Magnification Ratio0.11x / 1:9.1
Filter Size62mm
Dimensions(Length x Diameter)87mm x 70mm / 3.43 in. x 2.76 in.
Weight410g / 14.5 oz
NotesSplash and dust proof; Lens hood, lens caps and case included.


Obviously the stand out specs for this lens are the super fast 1.2 aperture along with the weather sealing.

The lens feels very well made, the same as all Olympus’ pro lenses. It is quite large by Micro 4/3 standards being around the same size as the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8. Pro. However it feels well balanced on the OMD EM1 ii and Panasonic GH5. I never felt that the size of the lens was an issue. In fact I prefer the size of this lens over something smaller like the 25mm 1.8 as it just matches up with the larger Micro 4/3 bodies better.

From left to right Olympus 25mm 1.8, 25mm 1.2, 75mm 1.8

Construction is impressive as it feels solid and well made. The focus ring is buttery smooth and allows you to easily and accurately manual focus when necessary. The lens features a clutch mechanism which you simply pull back to engage manual focus or push forward to be back in auto focus again.

The only criticism I would have is that the focus clutch mechanism is a little too easy to move so sometimes when picking it up out of my bag I knock it into manual focus by accident.

The focus clutch is nice to have but just a little too easy to move on this lens.

I can vouch for the excellent weather sealing on this lens as it withstood many Asian downpours while attached to the EM1 ii and I never had any problems at all with it.

It auto focuses quickly and accurately on the Olympus OMD EM1 ii and GH5. It is incredibly quick to focus and combined with eye detect AF makes shooting portraits a breeze.

There isn’t really a huge amount more to say on the handling of this lens. It is impressive and if you don’t mind the size then you will not be disappointed.



Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro review – Image quality

I bought this lens and was expecting great things from it as Olympus has made a big deal about the image quality and in particular the quality of the ‘feathered bokeh’. Is this all marketing hype or is this lens really something special and worthy of the price tag.

In terms of sharpness I am not particularly interested in MTF charts and DXo scores. They tell me very little. What really tells me if a lens is sharp is if it looks sharp to me when I examine my images in Lightroom.

I shot a lot of portraits with this lens and the test for me is always when looking at eyebrows and eyelashes. I want to see if they are clearly defined or not.

Lets take a look at some samples below:

25mm @f/1.2, 1/1000, ISO 200 unedited raw file
100% crop of above image

As you can see when shot wide open the Olympus 25mm 1.2 pro is incredibly sharp for a 1.2 lens. It renders the details of your subject beautifully and indeed offers some of the smoothest and creamiest bokeh I have seen. The bokeh is not busy or nervous at all and to my eye is very pleasing.

There is also a quality to the photos taken on this lens that you just do not find on many lenses. Your subject pops but because of the smooth transitions from in focus to out of focus the images feel very natural. In comparison to the Pana Leica 25mm 1.4 the images feel more organic and less digital. The Pana Leica is a lovely lens too and seems to offer more of a 3D pop to the images making your subjects  look very 3 dimensional and thus stand out from the background. However I find the rendering of the Olympus more natural and pleasing. The Pana Leica’s bokeh is a little more busy.

Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro @ f/1.2, 1/250, ISO 200
100% crop of the above image


Pana-Leica 25mm 1.4 @1.4, 1/800, ISO 200


100% crop of above image


Pana Leica 25mm 1.4 shot on the GH5 @ 1.4, 1/160, ISO 500 I find the Pana Leica just as sharp but the bokeh is a little more busy

At f/1.2 the lens is already sharp and it gets a little sharper as you stop down to 1.4 -2. I would say the Pana Leica is perhaps a little sharper wide open but both are easily sharp enough for me.

Olympus 25mm 1.2 @ 1.2, 1/60, ISO 1600 SOOC Jpeg

The Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro controls CA very well.

Olympus 25mm 1.2 @1.2, 1/800, ISO 200
100% corner crop shows CA’s are very well controlled


I didn’t experience any issues with lens flare and I was often shooting in broad daylight with strong sunshine.

Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro Review – Conclusion


So would i recommend the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro?

That is a resounding yes. It is my favourite lens and in my time in Asia with it I only took it off my EM1 ii once and I regretted it. I absolutely love this lens for the fast aperture and build quality but most of all for the superb image quality and beautiful rendering. It allows you to create images that you just cannot get with other 25mm lenses and it means that I can shoot those images in to the night while keeping my ISO to 1600 and below.

If you can afford it and like the focal length then I can highly recommend this amazing lens. You will not be disappointed.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram where I am regularly posting photos of my travels.


You might also like to check out Robin Wongs excellent review of this lens


Olympus OMD EM1 mark II vs Panasonic GH5 for Photography

In this article I am going to compare the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs the Panasonic GH5. I own both of these top of the range Micro 4/3 cameras.

I have been using them for a few months now with a variety of different lenses and for different types of photography including landscapes, portraits and travel.

There are loads of comparisons on line that deal with the video side of things far better than I ever could as a primarily stills photographer. However despite the often stated presumption of using Olympus for stills and Panasonic for video I thought it would make an interesting comparison to see if this still holds true with these two flagship Micro 4/3 cameras.

So let’s get straight into the comparison by looking firstly at the specs and then on to ergonomics and handling.

  • Both have the latest 20mp Micro 4/3 sensors
  • Both shoot 4k video although the GH5 has many more options including super slow motion full HD at 180fps as well as higher bit rates.
  • The EM1 II has a 3 inch touch screen LCD and 2.36 million dot viewfinder
  • The GH5 has a larger 3.2 inch touch screen LCD and 3.6 million dot viewfinder
  • Both are weather sealed down to -10c
  • The Olympus can shoot at up to 60 fps with the electronic shutter and 15 FPS with the mechanical shutter
  • The GH5 shoots at 11 FPS
  • Both have in-body 5 axis image stabilisation
  • Both have a variety of shooting modes including time-lapse, HDR and focus bracketing

So let’s look a little bit beyond the specs and see what the cameras are actually like to handle.

 Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonic GH5 – Handling

First up the Panasonic GH5 is 139x98x87mm and weighs 725g with the battery in. I might note it’s the same battery as the GH4 which is great if you already own some. Compare this with its predecessor the GH4 at 133x93x84mm and with a weight of 560g with battery and you can see that the GH5 has put on a considerable amount of weight and some heft too. Where I really notice this most is in the depth of the grip. It is very comfortable but I have to be honest and say I prefer the GH4’s grip.


The Olympus OMD EM1 mark II is slightly larger than its predecessor at 134x91x69mm and lighter too at 574g but still feels svelt in comparison to the GH5.

Both cameras feel great in the hand and are very comfortable to hold, even with larger lenses attached. However the GH5 is starting to feel quite large for a Micro 4/3 body. A lot of people (myself included) use this system for its light weight and portability.

I personally prefer the size and weight of the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II. When I had both cameras on me in Asia recently I found myself gravitating towards the Olympus when given a choice. It was the one I naturally reached for out of the two. The reason is not just the size and weight but the fact that I also find the grip more comfortable. The grip on the GH5 is just a little too deep and results in your hand feeling the strain on extended use.

In terms of controls, both of these cameras are incredibly customisable. You can set them up virtually as you want. However one of the benefits of the larger body on the GH5 is more function buttons and more direct access buttons to things like ISO, white balance and exposure compensation. If you are used to the direct controls of a DSLR then the GH5 will feel more natural to you.


The Olympus takes a little more setting up initially but once you have set it up to your liking then you rarely have to delve in to the menu system during everyday shooting. The Panasonic just make sense and is very logical and intuitve in its control layout. I really can’t find fault with it. Picking it up for the first time everything was just where I would expect it to be and using it comes very naturally to me.


As for the menu systems themselves, the GH5’s menu is a little better set out and more intuitive to use thanks to a simple layout and straight forward logical ordering. The Olympus on the other hand does take a little getting used to with some odd naming of items such as noise reduction being called the noise filter etc. However once you are used to it then even the Olympus is quick and easy to navigate through. Top marks to Panasonic here though as I feel their menu system is one of the best available and having used loads of different cameras I find that everything is where I would expect it to be.

One new addition for the Panasonic GH5 is the AF joystick which has been added to the back of the camera. This allows direct access to change your AF point and it is a joy to use. Not only does it enable you to change your AF point more quickly but when clicked it also returns the AF point to home (default is centre point). Panasonic have implemented this brilliantly. There is also a switch which lets you quickly flick between AF-S, AF-C and manual focus.

The Olympus on the other hand relies on the D-Pad and while it is quick to use I do prefer the AF joystick of the GH5 and I’m sure most people would too.

Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonic GH5 – Image Stabilisation


One of the big new additions to the Panasonic GH5 over the Gh4 is in body image stabilisation. Traditionally this has always been one of the big advantages that Olympus had over Panasonic.


However now that Panasonic have added this to the GH5 it really is a great improvement. Not only does it allow you to handhold shots at much lower shutter speeds enabling you to use a lower ISO but I also find it results in a much higher keeper rate for virtually all photos that you take.

So how does the image stabilisation compare between these two models.

Olympus claims 5.5 stops of stabilisation on the EM1 Mark II and Panasonic claims 5 stops on the GH5.

In my testing I found that I could comfortably handhold the Olympus at shutter speeds as low as 1-2 seconds at 12mm and still consistently get tack sharp images. Some even claim shutter speeds as low as 10 seconds are possible but I think that is a bit hit and miss and requires propping yourself up against a wall or tree to try and minimise any movement in your body.

With the GH5 I was able to consistently get tack sharp images at 1/3 second at 12mm on the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens ( see my review of that lens here ). So while the Olympus does still hold an advantage in this area the Panasonic certainly puts up a respectable fight.

Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonci GH5 – Auto Focus, Burst rates and action

Both of these cameras are built for speed.

The Olympus boasts an incredible 60 fps burst rate  (single AF only) and 18 FPS with C-AF with the electronic shutter . These drop down to 15 FPS (S-AF) and 10 FPS (C-AF) with the mechanical shutter.

The GH5 while not as fast still offers very reasonable rates of 12 FPS (S-AF) and 9FPS (C-AF). So if you actually ignore the headline grabbing rates of the Olympus and look at the most useful option which is C-AF with the mechanical shutter there is on 1 FPS difference between the two.

So how do these two cameras handle fast action. 

I’m going to say straight up here that I am not a fast action shooter. I do portraits, landscapes and travel photography. However just in my simple testing having models walk through the scene I found that the Olympus AF system copes better and gives a higher keeper rate than the GH5. Although the GH5 has more focus points at 225 vs Olympus’ 121, the EM1 II uses a hybrid system of phase detect and contrast detect points that seem better able to keep up with movement.

Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus contrast detect system struggles a little bit more when it comes to C-AF and tracking auto focus.

Olympus also captures images at any of its high frame rates in full raw resolution. Pro capture is a feature which will pre record 14 images and constantly hold them in the buffer. Then if you start shooting you will be able to select from those pre-recorded images. It allows you to capture shots where maybe your trigger finger wasn’t quite fast enough.

Panasonic on the other hand offers 6k photo mode which allows you to continuosly record at 30fps and then extract 18mp still images from the recording but only in Jpeg format.

If I’m honest I find the implementation of Panasonic’s 6k photo mode more useful than Olympus’ due to one factor. With the Olympus you have to trawl through and delete any images that you don’t want. With the Panasonic you still have to look through all the images but you can simply select the ones that you want to keep. That saves me having to constantly delete multiple photos. However I rarely find myself using either of these options as I prefer a more considered and slower paced approach to photography but I understand birders, wildlife and sports photographers would appreciate them. Basically you can choose between the Raw files of the Olympus or the Jpegs of the Panasonic.

Standard focus performance from both is excellent

When it comes down to what I use most which is S-AF in single shot mode both cameras are brilliant in good light. They lock on quickly and are incredibly accurate. When the light drops slightly the Olympus is a tad better but there really is not much in it.

One thing I did notice while testing the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro on the GH5 was that a strongly back-lit scene could throw the GH5 off and it would hunt or in some cases fail to focus altogether.


When it comes to how I use these cameras I would take both of them over a DSLR any day of the week because they  just focus much more accurately.

Let’s not forget that both offer face detection and eye detection which is so useful for portrait work. Both work well but I prefer Olympus’ implementation as it adds a square over the face and then a smaller one over whichever eye is in focus. Panasonic puts a square around the face but then has intersecting lines to show you which eye is in focus. It is not quite as intuitive as the EM1 II and on occasion the intersecting lines do not meet over an eye so I was unsure as to whether the eye was in focus or not.

Taken on the EM1 II using face detect and near side eye selection
Panasonic GH5 + 25mm f/1.4 shot using eye detect AF


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonic GH5 – Image Quality

Both cameras are using the latest Micro 4/3 20mp sensors so they should be quite evenly matched. However there has always been a notion that you use Olympus for stills and Panasonic for video but does this still hold true with the latest generation of cameras.

In terms of IQ the two cameras are virtually identical, offering sharp detailed photos. The GH5 removes the AA filter but in practise I have not noticed this to offer any tangible benefit. Both cameras seem to resolve the same level of detail.

One area where there is a slight difference is that the Olympus offers an extended ISO setting of 64 compared to that of 100 with the GH5. This does allow the EM1 II to give incredibly clean results with none of the noise that used to be present at base ISO in clear skies. This is a big improvement for me personally with my landscape work.

Look how clean those shadows are at ISO 64 on the EM1 Mark II

In terms of high ISO performance the two cameras are very evenly matched offering very usable files even at 3200 ISO and even 6400 ISO if the photos are just for web use or small prints.

Panasonic GH5 + Pana Leica 25mm f/1.4

At up to 800 ISO images are very clean and retain detail. At 1600 ISO you can see a slight loss of detail but no noise. At 3200 ISO there is further loss of detail and some noise creeping in to the images. At 6400 ISO details become smeared and noise is quite visible.

One thing that I have seen is that the Panasonic GH5 seems to handle colour noise a little better than the Olympus EM1 II at higher ISO settings. At 3200 the Olympus sometimes shows some ugly colour noise in skin tones whereas the Panasonic doesn’t. This is in the Jpeg files but not present in the raw files so if you shoot raw then it is nothing to be concerned about. If you shoot jpeg it is worth being aware of.

The colours on the GH5 have been improved quite a lot and I particularly like their natural profile for almost all types of imagery. The L Mono setting also gives very nice high contrast black and white shots. The natural profile on the Olympus is still the one I go to for most images and of course you can tweak the black and white profile in both the highlights, shadows and mid-tones to get it exactly as you wish.

Dynamic range of the two cameras is essentially identical.


I’ll be adding some high ISO examples soon. Having just gone through all my photo from these two cameras I realised that I don’t have good test shots to share because I was using the Olympus 25mm 1.2 (see my review here )and Pana Leica 25mm 1.4 a lot of the time and that allowed me to keep my ISO to 1600 or below at all times while in Asia.

GH5 + Pana Leica 25mm f/1.4
EM1 ii + 25mm 1.2
EM1 ii + 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro


Olympus does have a trick up its sleeve to best the GH5 for stills imagery in the form of the Hi Res mode. This combines 8 images in camera using sensor shift technology to give one hi resolution image.

I have found that this worked better in the EM1 Mark II than on my old EM5 II. It deals with movement better. For instance it is usable for running water now. However movement in trees and grass etc can still leave issues in your images that means this mode is only really fully usable for things like product photography. Let’s hope Olympus can improve Hi Res mode further as it has so much potential.

To use Hi Res mode you have to have the camera locked down on a sturdy tripod. I use the Manfrotto 055 XPRO3 which is absolutely rock solid.

You also need to be using very sharp lenses to really take advantage of this and resolve all the detail.

Another area where the Olympus EM1 II has an advantage is in night photography. Live view, live boost and live composite really are very useful as they allow you to see the image on the LCD screen as it is being created. It gives you a live preview as the exposure is taking place so you know exactly when you have the correct exposure and can stop at the perfect time.


Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonic GH5 – Conclusion


So which camera is the better one for stills photography?

If you are not going to take advantage of Hi Res mode, Live view, Live bulb and Live composite then at £1699 compared with £1849 the GH5 is surely the logical choice with its better viewfinder, LCD and far better video features. It definitely offers the better value and can keep up with the Olympus EM1 Mark II for general photography use.

However having said all that I still prefer the Olympus EM1 II and here is why.

I prefer the handling of the Olympus. I use Micro 4/3 to keep the size and weight of my kit small and light. The Panasonic GH5 is just a little too large for my liking and I prefer the grip on the Olympus which is more comfortable to hold all day long.

The GH5 does have good ergonomics and I particularly like the AF joystick and direct access to ISO via a dedicated button but I am quite happy using the D-pad to move AF points on the EM1 II and I can assign almost any button on the EM1 II to give me quick access to ISO. In all honesty if I am shooting in situations where the ISO needs changing quickly then I will have either camera set to auto ISO and set a maximum ISO and minimum shutter. If I want to set the ISO manually such as when shooting landscapes then quick access is not so vital and a quick press of the OK button and I am in to Olympus’ Super Control panel.

I find the auto focus on the Olympus just a touch more reliable in low light and I prefer their implementation of face detect AF. These two things can and did make the difference between me getting a candid shot of my daughter and not.


Lastly and this is a very subjective thing but I find the Olympus OMD EM1 II to be a beautiful camera and the finish in my opinion feels higher quality and more refined. It just works so well. In fact I would say that ergonomically it is the best camera that I have ever used and in the end this factor more than specs make me want to pick it up and take it with me everywhere.


So which one should you chose?

My brain finds it hard to recommend the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II vs Panasonic GH5 at this time but my heart would chose the Olympus each and every time. However I will be keeping both as they are two of the best cameras available right now and whichever one you choose I’m sure you will be delighted.



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