As much as I do love this camera, I find myself absolutely frustrated with it in certain situations. While the squeaky wheel is normally the most annoying, it is also the one that gets the grease. Let us become a loud enough wheel so that Olympus may take notice and deliver some updates to make this camera all it can be.
I’m sure that there are many of us that are absolutely fine with the camera as is, tired of listening to those of us frustrated with certain things continuing to go on and on about how this or that really should be this way or that way. Feel free to skip over this one. I know, I too am tired of it though, which is why I’m hoping to gain a consensus on the most common shortcomings. I’ve been shooting with the OM-D E-M5 for 4-5 months now, and this is taking into consideration the newer v 1.1 (and since vanished v 1.2) firmware update released over the summer, which, as far as I can tell, really only benefited those shooting underwater…
Here are issues that I’d like to see resolved in a future firmware update, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
1) (Abnormal) High ISO banding. Yes, it seems it is really only an issue (consistently) with the much beloved Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens at or above ISO 6400, but it is an issue and one that has been well documented ever since I’ve owned the camera. Please fix it. If it is a lens firmware issue, get on the phone with Panasonic, I’m sure you have their number, and have them fix it.
2) Sleep Mode. Okay, there are two separate issues, the first of which seems to have been addressed in the v 1.1 update being the sleeping beauty freeze which necessitated a full battery pull to get the camera awake again (wait, I just had it happen again when using the Panaleica 25mm f/1.4 lens…). The camera freezes up after going to sleep in powersave mode and nothing wakes it up short of pulling the battery out. The second sleep mode issue is I find that I need to turn the camera off and then on again any time the camera goes to sleep, then wait for it to power up as opposed to just “waking up” from sleep mode with a shutter press. Some may like this as they won’t unintentionally turn the camera on with a button press while in a pocket I guess, but every camera I’ve owned wakes at the touch of the shutter button which has me shooting (nearly) immediately (as opposed to 3-5 seconds which, let’s be honest is a lifetime if you’re wanting to capture a quick moment), and I want to be able to do this with the OM-D E-M5. Please give us this option. *** One update here, I have switched the “Auto Power Off” in the Cust D menu (yeah, three screens in all the way down to the bottom, there you go…) to “OFF” while I used to have it set to 30min, and it has remedied some of my issues. The camera doesn’t seem to go entirely narcoleptic as it has in the past, most noticeably the freeze issues that I came across within a few minutes of the camera going to sleep after one minute of inactivity (set to save battery), necessitating an ON/OFF switch, and I’ve not yet had to pull the battery either… Still too soon to say just how it may or may not affect my already preciously short battery life though.
3) This leads me to Battery Life. While not necessarily a firmware update candidate, there may possibly be things we can do to further power save. I’ve switched almost everything I can off, with minimal review settings, IS off and still gone through a battery in under 200 shots. Many do not seem to have this problem which leads me to believe that Oly had a quality control issue with some of their batteries. This should be remedied by determining which run (by way of feedback and serial number) and you should send anyone with this issue a new battery, let alone make new ones available to purchase. That said, if you’re going to sell subpar batteries, at least have the decency to do so at a realistic price. I spent over a grand on a camera that won’t last a full day of shooting on a battery charge. I’ve heard that it may be the charger, that’s fine, send those of us with this problem a new charger. This is silly, make this right and fix it.
4) Button/Screen Lock. There are certain inevitabilities with cameras this small, and cramped buttons with big hands are going to produce certain issues. Would it be so hard to include a quick toggle, or option to lock buttons, perhaps with one of the Cfn buttons disabling them from being pressed by a nose, or fingers while shooting? Not a huge issue for me so far, but one that seems like it would help make others out there very happy. Might I suggest something like pressing the INFO button for three seconds to “lock” buttons and the touch interface with only the shutter, wheels and custom function buttons being usable, and then a three second press of the INFO button to unlock the buttons? To remind us that it is locked, perhaps when one of the locked buttons was pushed, a prompt on the screen could tell us “Depress the INFO button for 3 seconds to unlock screen and buttons”. Something like this would be a handy option.
5) Menus. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly what to say other than you have the second craziest menus I’ve ever seen OM-D E-M5 (the first were the original NEX menus, those things were ridiculous). I hear just as many people defending them as berating them. Surely there can be a middle ground. Perhaps it isn’t realistic to change them on an existing camera, and I have started to memorize where certain things live, kinda, but damn.
6) Histograms in playback. I really appreciate the live view histogram integration with the green area providing the levels within the focus area, but I don’t normally have time to pay attention to the histogram while still paying attention to my subjects. For landscape or static subjects, it’s wonderful but if I’m staring at the histogram, I’m not paying attention to the image which is a problem if decisiveness is necessary, so I choose to review the histogram after the shot is taken. Have you seen your playback histograms? They are, and I’m being as gracious as I can be here, the absolute worst histograms I’ve ever seen. Black (or dark charcoal) on black with blocky, jagged color makes it very hard to determine where values fall and even more difficult in sun or bright light. They make the original Atari graphics seem like three dimensional virtual reality dreamscapes by comparison. Fix’em. Might I suggest moving the capture info (as seen on the right in the shot above) to where the current histograms are (I know I shot in RAW and don’t particularly need to review the format or file name, but I do want to see the info captured in the image in question), and utilize the real estate for better, less blocky (more accurate and readable) histograms? Thanks.
7) Custom Functions. Is there a reason that certain custom functions are available for certain Fn buttons, but not others? Seriously, this is weird that you wouldn’t have done this from the get. It also pisses me off that I have to assign ISO to one of the two customizable directional buttons, or displace my exposure lock or magnify which are much better employed in the Fn1&2 buttons so that I may keep me eye in the viewfinder when shooting and needing to use these, as regardless of the custom function assigned to the directional buttons I must first disengage the AF green box by pressing, and holding another of my Fn buttons which I have set to Focus Assist/magnify so that I’m not just pushing my green box around the screen via the directional buttons while trying to adjust my assigned custom function. I then set my ISO and have to reverse the steps to re-engage my focus point. I also don’t want to use my REC button to set my ISO because I actually need to use that to record believe it or not. PLEASE, oh PLEASE make every single custom function available and assignable to each of the four customizable buttons and honestly, give us direct access buttons to ISO, WB, AF mode and Metering like every other camera. Those settings didn’t all of a sudden become obsolete with the release of this camera :)
8) Something I’d forgotten, and thank you to John Griggs via the comments, is Focus Peaking! A very cool implementation of digital technology to help manually focus lenses. One of, if not THE major reason I originally chose the m4/3 system was for its adaptability to older “legacy” or third party optics. The MAIN reason I chose to purchase the OMD was the IBIS (in body image stabilization) which helps stabilize these legacy/3rd party lenses. Great for those with less than perfect eyesight, or anyone needing to manually focus quickly and accurately, focus peaking should be part of every mirrorless camera from here on out.
9) Speaking of Legacy lenses, how about you allow the IBIS to function in movie mode when using these legacy/3rd party lenses hmmm? Sure, serious film makers will have rigs or steady cams/gyros, but I doubt many serious film makers would choose this camera over a GH3, 5D3, etc, and for those of us who may want to use the OMD for motion video with a third party lens (I’m thinking skating or snowboarding, etc which would be great with the enviro sealing) could benefit from this feature. We have the ability to input focal length in the IS menu for still capture, why not for video? If a varifocal lens, perhaps you could provide a more simple, 2 axis IS or something… Regardless, it just seems like a really random omission. Please get this sorted, thanks. *UPDATE!!! Now with the new firmware v1.5 (click here to see a video comparison) we have this one taken care of!
10) Here’s one from Sylwiusz (in the comments) that would really make a lot of sense. A Focus Distance Scale in the viewfinder/LCD screen. He (I am assuming Sylwiusz is male, as I know very few photog ladies who enjoy nerding out to camera equipment as they normally just get out and shoot, so I’m sorry if I’ve assumed incorrectly :) ) outlines that all of this information (focus distance) is recorded in the EXIF data, meaning the camera knows how far away your subject/point of focus is. It is merely a mathematical algorithm based on focal length, focus distance, aperture and sensor size to establish a DOF/focus distance scale which could be eloquently overlaid along the bottom of the screen perhaps. Wouldn’t this be awesome? I think it would.
Just because, here are some hardware and packaging issues I feel should be looked at for future cameras…
- Please print a damn manual. I don’t want to have to tote a computer around and I’m certainly not spending $40 on ink and paper to print one. Every camera I’ve purchased has come with a printed manual. I paid a lot of money for this remarkably complex little machine, give me an effing manual so that I may figure out how to properly decipher your menus and use it as a reference if and when I come across an issue while in the field, which has happened multiple times. I guess this wouldn’t be as big an issue if the menus were more intuitive, so, whichever is easier, thanks.
- Do away with the long cord on the battery charger. Save some money by eliminating it and going the way of the flip out plug. You can use the savings to print us the manual! Everyone wins.
- Please put the tripod mount on the lens axis. That’s it.
- I like the customization, but please provide direct access buttons (not a point and shoot style quick menu) for exposure and basic operational parameters (ISO, WB, AF, Metering, et al) without having to use one of the four custom buttons to occupy them, which, let’s be honest, should be available for Custom Functions like focus assist, exposure lock, et al (not standard, exposure based crucial operational functions).
- I would greatly appreciate an integrated flash over the add on. There is enough functionality provided with the on camera (adapted in the OMD’s case) in the way of becoming a wireless TTL trigger for other Olympus flashes, but the weird design and 4 different pieces involved in putting the thing on (and having to keep track of) makes it more a bother than anything. I think a slightly less powerful pop up encased in the viewfinder hump would be a better design personally.
To any reader, before you get upset and go balistic in the comments, please understand this is largely being written with tongue firmly in cheek. It doesn’t change the fact that there are some simple things that can be done to make this already wonderful camera that much better with very minimal effort. No camera is perfect, and the OM-D E-M5 is no exception. I’d also like to see that a company which I’ve invested in, and plan to continue to do so with future camera and lens purchases, is willing to listen to their customers. It’s always nice to see. Much of what I’ve suggested here would be entirely optional to anyone shooting with this camera, and I feel would greatly benefit a majority of shooters. Rumors are saying that there is an imminent firmware upgrade for this camera and I think that is wonderful. Unfortunately though, I doubt much of my list will make it on this time around, but kudos to Olympus in offering the third firmware update since this camera was released about 5 months ago… although, that also seems to be speaking to a larger issue.
For those that may say, “then buy camera X” I say, no, I bought the OMD EM5 because of what it DOES offer (namely IBIS, enviro sealing and good high ISO performance). I’d just like to see some of these issues, which I feel are glaring oversights, remedied with a simple firmware update. This camera deserves a great amount of praise, but I do feel a couple issues being resolved will make it nearly perfect for 90% of shooting situations we’d need it for.
What would you say are the more important issues you’d like to see in a future firmware update?
Please add your frustrations with, concerns for or accolades of this camera below in the comments. Perhaps we can find someone to listen.
Cheers and happy shooting,