Sunday, January 15, 2012

Olympus XZ1 - A farewell, and Hello, Nex 5N

                                           Finland lake in the afternoon



I bought an Olympus XZ1 last year after my good ol'  Sony P150 had exceeded 13.000 exposures and I didn't wanted to risk being in the midst of a vacation with a failing camera. Needless to say, I searched the web, browsed through forums such as DPREVIEW and then finally made the decision. At that time it was the best decision for my requirements.However, the XZ1 delivered splendid colours in OOC JPG while sometimes the camera turned fine detail in a foggy mush. Using Raw uncovered the extreme high resolution of the lens but though I used Adobe, the colors frequently were hard to get right. So you could wrestle some exceptional pictures from the camera, but it involved more work as I expected when buying a "deluxe" P&S.
The above picture is such an example I still am not entirely happy with.

 When first I encountered the Sony Nex 5, I made several test series comparing it with M43, the Oly, Sony A55 and others. It just didn't cut it in terms of resolution, sharpness, color etc. Strangely, when the 5N arrived on the market, the pictures looked so different. So I bought ANOTHER camera in that year. And boy, I haven't regretted it yet. In my experience, this camera renders JPG pictures straight OOC as I see the world with my eyes. Editing the pictures is a breeze, cropping easily possible. There is so much quality in those photos that it sort of sets you free to enjoy photography again.

The XZ1 had tickled me with the hint of playing with low DOF. Using a legacy prime 50 mm 1.7 from my old film SLR, I enjoy this even more with the 5N. So after noticing that the XZ1 continued to lay around unused (my family never warmed up to it), I gave it to my mother as birthday present. In hindsight, I guess I have learned a lot about Photoshop thanks to this camera. So farewell to you.

With the 5N, my creativity took off  I have had my first picture used by a newspaper and have created a photobook a company is willing to order in a small series. Taking the camera into my hands is a joy since the technical uncluttered design is the right thing for me. Retro camera or the most M43 aren't to my liking but I respect others who beg to differ.

This is not to say that the 5N is perfect. The usual complaints are:

Menu system: After customisation, I have no problem with that, apart from damning the Sony engineers for not being able to turnoff/on Raw file creation automatically when the user turns Auto HDR on. The Oly changed that on its own when Raw was not possible with some option and even notified you about that.
No flash socket: I built myself an optical trigger connected to a wireless Yongnuo trigger and have not much problems with that, though I think it is a shame not providing it.
Either flash or EVF usage: Strange as it seems, but I have used the flash only for very rare cases. The low light capability of the 5N coupled with a prime lens is so good that I rather use natural light instead of the flash. Except of course for strobist setup :-)
Lens quality: The kit lens, especially with camera-internal correction is quite fine compared to other lenses I compared it with. It is a little weak at 50 mm, and has a high minimum aperture there, too. But for portrait use I use my prime anyway. And the SEL50mm is already preordered :-)
Clicking: Tested one in a shop, clicked like hell with minimal movements. Ordered mine from Amazon due to its liberal return policy and it is silent as a stone.
Other stuff I noticed: With the EVF mounted, battery drain is quite noticable. But then the EVF is really great for MF focussing, sunlight scenes or to shoot things from bottom up. Though, I do not need it as much as I expected it to.

                                           Orchids in bright winter sun

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