Olympus OMD EM-5 vs Fujifilm XE-1 | Compact Interchangeable Lens Systems

I thought it would be interesting to have an informal Olympus OMD EM-5 vs Fujifilm XE-1 discussion, simply because both of these cameras are fantastic but may appeal to different users for different reasons. It could be argued that both these machines are too different to warrant comparison, but you’d be surprised by how many people have contacted me asking for a summary of features and benefits, simple because they can’t decide which of the two might suit them best. I’ve only recently taken delivery of them both so this represents my initial impressions only. I will also say that I’m not particularly interested in wading through technical data and charts, what matters to me is real life performance in the conditions under which I shoot, with the optics I use. For that reason this report should generally be regarded as unscientific. We know the difference good glass makes and so the lenses placed on each camera for the purpose of this test are optically similar in quality. Autofocus speeds are dependent on factors such as whether or not a zoom or prime lens is being used, the chosen aperture, and focal length (in other words, longer zooms with smaller maximum apertures tend to be a little slower to focus than fast aperture wide to tele zooms). Let me preface this blog post by stating that this is not an equipment review, what I have to say here (and elsewhere on my blog) is nothing more than my opinion based on my own particular preferences and shooting style. I need equipment which will perform to professional standards in a wide range of scenarios. Your needs, wants, and likes may be different.

Edit: I’ve just read a disparaging comment on a well known photography forum where a reader is expressing some disgust that I’ve failed to provide a spectrum of full resolution images and a range of comparative ISO tests. As I have said, that is not the purpose of this post. If I ever get the chance to retire I may well do some formal testing but until then this is my business site and I need to engage my readers in a particular way. If you’re looking for large samples with in depth comparisons and data then I advise that you seek out the leading review sites or better still make an effort to visit a store and spend a little time testing your chosen camera before making your purchase (that’s what I do)  – it’s always far more helpful to assess your own images rather than somebody else’s.

As I mentioned in my last blog post (which can be seen here:  OMD EM-5, Object of Desire choosing cameras can be a minefield. We’re tempted to read everything we see on the Internet and this is where things can go a little pear shaped. I advise sticking to the mainstream review sites and to take user reviews as little more than points of interest, unless the reviewer has established credibility within their profession. In fact the majority of comments seem to be drawn from people who have never used the equipment under discussion and still others may be novices whose images are unlikely to demonstrate the best capabilities of the camera. Not to mention loss of quality when photographs are uploaded poorly or viewed on uncalibrated monitors. In short, to determine if a camera or lens suits you the only course of action is to either try it out in the store, rent it first, or simply bite the bullet and buy it.

Why do I need both the OMD and the XE1? Because I’m a full-time portrait photographer who, after a few years of intensive graft, now has RSI and damage to the nerves in my hands and a fair amount of arthritis in my neck, fingers, and back. What fun. What I describe is actually quite common in my profession, particularly if you’re female. I simply can’t carry big kit all the time anymore, and now that the top manufacturers have brought us some truly amazing compact systems we can confidently scale down our equipment. That’s not to say that I’m not keeping a couple of good DSLRs – these are invaluable when it comes to photographing fast moving targets such as wildlife, sports, pets, and active children. The tracking focus currently available on compact rangefinder style systems isn’t up to professional standards yet in my opinion. Both the OMD and the XE-1 differ in characteristics and behaviour, not to mention performance. Based on my own particular requirements the pros and cons most relevant to me (you might differ) are as follows:

Olympus OMD EM-5


  • Fast snappy autofocus even in dim conditions
  • A wonderful array of Micro 4/3 lenses including fast primes and fast zooms
  • A very high level of in-camera customisation
  • Highly efficient IBIS ( in body image stabilisation) which allows me to shoot handheld as low as 1/8 of a second in static scenes
  • A superb electronic viewfinder
  • Quiet operation, the shutter sound is quite soft
  • Weather proofing (I’m often out in damp conditions here in the UK)
  • This camera is beautiful to look at and the silver lenses look lush
  • Excellent lowlight capability
  • Excellent overall image quality
  • Tiltable rear screen and touch sensitive controls – perfect for street shooting
  • Micro 4/3 sensor size renders wider depth of field, meaning you can shoot at a very wide aperture and still maintain more of your chosen scene in focus


  • Micro 4/3 sensor size renders wider depth of field, meaning it’s harder to render an out of focus background (for the commentators who are thinking I’m confused, I am repeating this for a reason –  this point may be either a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it – you will need to invest in fast lenses to gain very shallow DOF on the Oly, though it should be noted that the difference in DOF between u4/3 and APS-C is only around 0.75 of a stop)
  • The buttons are rather small potentially making operation fiddly if you have large hands

Fujifilm XE-1


  • This camera is about purity and superlative image quality
  • Best in class ISO performance, produces clean images at ISO 6400 (however there is some evidence that the ISO values are inflated)
  • Beautiful retro looks and excellent build quality
  • EVF much better than previous X Series cameras


  • Not weather sealed
  • Shutter sound is a little louder than expected, don’t expect this camera to be as stealthy as the X-100 (which has a leaf shutter)
  • X-sync speed only 1/180 (versus 1/250 on the OMD)
  • Tripod screw is located too close to the battery compartment, meaning the fittings of my slingshot straps foul the battery hatch making it fiddly and time-consuming when a battery change is needed
  • EVF dims a little in bright light and exhibits some lag
  • Limited lens selection at present
  • Aperture ring on 18-55 lens seems quite loose and easily knocked
  • Currently no option to set minimum shutter speed when using Auto ISO
  • Autofocus slower than expected given this is a second generation X system
  • Incomplete RAW support

So as you can see, the cameras are very different beasts and the OMD’s rather longer list of ‘pros’ reflects its additional feature set and user options, rather than any failings on the part of the Fuji. In many ways it’s quite difficult to compare the two, because they’re both so different and quite unique. The XE1 trades very much on its image quality whereas the OMD is more about speed, performance, and fun. That’s not to say that the OMD’s image quality isn’t truly excellent, it is, and I was surprised by how good it is – it’s well up to pro standards for most applications. But there are some right old pixel peepers out there who will find fault wherever they can. Given I do this for a living I need to be pretty fussy, and I shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting good results out of whatever equipment I have in my hands at the time. I say this because I really don’t want to end up in a situation which has cropped up in the past – where a new camera owner has complained that the output from his camera does not match what I post here on my blog, with a little abuse thrown in for good measure (hence fewer equipment based articles this year than intended). We’ve had this conversation a dozen times now,  getting high quality pictures is dependent on where the user sits on his or her technical and creative learning curve, and of course some experience in post-processing is mandatory (all images require a little bit of polish, and sometimes the smallest and most subtle adjustments will help to finish off a photograph and bring it more in line with what our eyes saw at the time). For that reason don’t be too hard on yourself, or your equipment, if your output fails to match mine or those of other professionals.

Time for some Olympus OMD EM-5 and Fujifilm XE-1 pictures I think. The key thing with comparisons like this is to try and standardize your settings as far as possible and use comparable quality glass. I’ve seen too many comparison shots where the OMD has been paired with a lacklustre kit lens when played off against an XP1/XE1 with an expensive prime, which makes the whole thing rather unfair and rather pointless. The photographs have all been taken as JPEGs, because JPEGs always form the basis of my initial tests and secondly because RAW support for the Fuji’s X Trans sensor is still not as good as it should be. The first stage is to set up the in camera JPEG parameters. I like my JPEGs to be fairly neutral and I like to turn down in-camera noise reduction (this helps to avoid the smearing of details at higher ISO levels). This produces a slightly flat looking file which is my preferred starting point. I’ve also left the white balance set to Auto so that you can see how both cameras interpret the colour temperature of the scene (this can be adjusted to taste in both cameras with hue and tint controls). Lens-wise the OMD wore the Leica DG Summilux 25 f1.4 and the Fuji the Fujinon 18-55 f2.8-f4. You may be wondering why there are many more images from the OMD that the Fuji, that’s because I’m still waiting on a spare battery and so I restricted the number of images captured on the XE-1. More detailed and more varied images will of course appear here on the Blog over the coming months, but for now I’ve chosen a very bright contrasty sunny day and a few shots taken indoors in subdued light of Charles the snake (the first OMD snake image is at 4000 ISO and the second at ISO 5000 with just a small amount of noise reduction in Lightroom). In terms of post-production, all files have received my standard curve adjustment and a slight boost to vibrance. I do not do capture sharpening on JPEGs.

Olympus OMD Images

Fujifilm XE-1 Images

So how do I feel about my new cameras? Well I’m delighted with both of them, but for different reasons. I was more or less able to predict how the XE1 would perform based on my ownership and love for my existing X cameras and my familiarity with the brand. But the OMD was something of a revelation, I really didn’t expect a micro 4/3 camera to produce images which were often difficult to distinguish from those of the Fuji, even in low light. There really is very little between them. Fuji grain is quite fine and the images are very smooth, but you really only notice that at pixel peeping level or in very large prints, if at all. The native auto white balance of the Fuji is slightly cooler than that of the OMD in bright daylight (and vice versa indoors or under artificial lighting) but both do well and can be tweaked to taste in-camera. I would say that white balance accuracy is one of the strong points of the Fuji X cameras. Much is said of the beauty of Fuji colours and also of the pleasing colour rendition from the OMD. Again, I like both equally and they can be adjusted to suit you, or in my case to match each other on occasions when I’m shooting both cameras together. It should be mentioned that many OMD images floating about the Internet have a rather orange tinge to them – that is easily managed in camera and can be turned down to suit your needs. Overall I found the image quality of both cameras to be quite close in most scenarios, with the Fuji having a small advantage at very high ISO levels. The Fuji applies less aggressive sharpening at standard in-camera settings than the OMD and I will be reducing the in-camera sharpening on the Olympus from now on. The default noise reduction on the Fuji appears less aggressive than that of the Olympus. Dynamic range is a strength of Fuji X cameras and has historically been a weakness of Micro 4/3 sensors – but not any more – even pushing up the in-camera contrast on the OMD and shooting in harsh sunlight revealed no particular weaknesses.

So which camera do I prefer? That’s quite a difficult question, both are capable of producing outstanding images. After all, most people do judge cameras according to the finer points of the pictures they produce, often at the expense of overall performance. But as a professional photographer performance is key to me. And it’s the latter where the Olympus really excels, probably because it’s been designed to act like a small DSLR, whereas the Fuji X cameras are about simplicity and creative expression. A few weeks ago I created a blog post entitled “Fujifilm XE-1 – Will it Be Love?” and in response to that I can say “a fondness”. In the room with the snake the Fuji struggled to lock focus at times and the slight lag of the EVF added to my frustrations. However the OMD nailed the shots easily (despite having a cheap and slow zoom on at the time). And of course the OMD is not only faster but is also weather proofed which is a great bonus for outdoor users. So whilst I greatly admire the XE1 for its outstanding images, classic looks and wonderful build quality, it’s rather like a luxury saloon car – pleasurable to handle providing you’re not in too much of a hurry. The OMD on the other hand is a bit like a highly specc’d modern sports car – a little sharper around the edges but your journey will be fast and memorable. From that statement alone you will see that the two cameras are not really comparable and are likely to appeal to different consumers (or folk who enjoy having both) and that is very much the point of this article. I can see my infatuation with the OMD continuing and thus far it is the camera I reach for the most, I simply love it. But I hope the Fuji will also have place in my kitbag (when a firmware upgrade sorts out the weak autofocus performance and if Adobe can produce decent RAW conversion algorithms then the XE1 will be a winner). So far the XE1 is limiting in too many scenarios to be much more than my recreational camera. I cannot help feeling that Fuji are producing cameras which in some ways are wonderfully innovative but which are not quite ready for the marketplace – a little risky given that other manufacturers are now developing high performing compact systems. I will also say that in my opinion Fuji trade very much on styling and nostalgia, often at the expense of performance, in the belief that many customers will overlook a poor feature set. No doubt some will, but many will not.

A few people have asked “why are you posting loads of mundane landscape pictures when you’re a portrait photographer?” – that’s because I always begin camera testing with landscapes, buildings, streets scenes and low light scenes before I move on to people. The reason is that the “mundane” shots give me a great deal of useful information about a camera’s performance, such as how it handles different kinds of light, different colour temperatures, whether I will see banding in blue skies, and how well the autofocus system works in different conditions. I’ll be doing some portraits in the New Year.

You can see some of the first OMD images here on my pet and animal blog:  OMD Initial Tests

Further OMD and XE-1 shots: OMD and XE-1 at Hampton Court

The argument for mirrorless: OMD vs Canon 5D MkIII Field Testing

XE-1 Images: Fujifilm XE1 at the Natural History Museum

OMD: Olympus OMD EM-5 at Petworth Park

XE1 vs OMD Questions and Answers: CSC Q and A

XE1 Travel Images: Fujifilm XE1 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Olympus OMD for Portraiture: OMD Portraits

UPDATE 16/01/2013:  I have decided to sell my XE1. Unfortunately I have not been able to incorporate this camera into my professional kit bag as I had hoped, simply because it is not well suited to the work that I do. Location portraiture is not always static and often my subjects will be walking towards the camera or placed indoors, and focus speed and accuracy has proved a significant issue at times, which can be frustrating and risky if I’m shooting for a client. Further testing has also revealed that I personally don’t like X Trans output, particularly for portraiture which is the mainstay of what I do – skin is rendered badly and given that I often have to print at large sizes the rendering of details is also poor at times, depending on the subject. With respect to RAW output, following a detailed discussion with one of the Fuji heads I can also report that over the coming months we can expect Adobe to introduce improvements to its X Trans RAW algorithms. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy my X100 and my X10 as I have done for some time now. But the OMD is proving a real winner and is performing very well indeed in all the conditions I am throwing at it – I’m fantastically impressed with the IQ, the speed, and of course the incredible u4/3 lens lineup, many of which are proving to be on par with some of my Canon L glass. There will be plenty of OMD related blog posts coming up.

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  • Alan (bl0at3r) - November 19, 2012 - 6:22 am

    This is a super post Lindsay – clearly both cameras perform well in your very skilled hands. It is all about the photographer at the end of the day. Love the images you have produced out of both cameras. For me the OM-D wins but purely on lens availability and interchangeability with the rest of the micro four thirds gear.

  • Lindsay - November 19, 2012 - 9:14 am

    Great to have your input Alan! The OMD wins for me too, the combination of image quality and performance is very hard to beat and the camera will do everything I ask of it.

  • Sam - November 19, 2012 - 5:40 pm

    Interesting read and proper shots to match. You know what you’re about.

    I have the X-E1. I’d read ‘reviews’ before and after getting it. Most of them liked to tell you about camera functions and design and IQ, but when I thought it through it seemed they were a bit slim on how well it handled in the real world. Sometimes I wonder if these folk are just a little too keen to get something out there on the back of a hot new release that hasn’t quite hit the shelves yet!

    Anyway, I appreciate your common sense approach. Actually useful. I’m not convinced about the focussing speed of the Fuji. Time will tell. I’ve been putting EF-lenses on it, which is interesting, and can look silly.


    Definitely worth reading your post. Thanks.

  • Lindsay - November 19, 2012 - 5:51 pm

    Hi Sam, many thanks indeed for commenting. I agree with the points you raise regarding functionality. Fuji are in many ways great innovators, but often at the expense of performance. The hype was such that I expected the autofocus speed with the new zoom lens to be better than it is, which is something of a letdown. There are niggles which surely could and should have been addressed prior to the camera hitting the marketplace, and perhaps some of these points can be addressed with firmware. But that will not do anything for the lens aperture ring (not firm enough) or the location of the tripod mount, both of which are irritations at times. As you say time will tell as to whether or not I will warm to the camera as much as I’d hoped. But right now the OMD is the one I am reaching for the most.

  • Mag D - November 23, 2012 - 11:42 am

    Brilliant write-up. Very informative and extremely helpful. As a professional photographer you have tried and used the absolute best, made a lot of comments, actually put photography in to a perspective which we ‘not so pro.’ can understand and put into practise. Your photos are fantastic, trees, lakes, flowers, all look so beautiful…. snake… not so lovable but brilliantly photographed. Thank you Lindsay.

  • Lindsay - November 23, 2012 - 11:45 am

    Thank you Mag D. I’m sure you would have liked Charles the snake if you had met him, he’s really very sweet. (-:

  • Audrey - November 24, 2012 - 1:42 am

    Thank you for this review. I’m actually on the fence about the X-E1. I have an X100 that I love so much, but have some trouble focusing on my 3 and 1 year old kids. Do you think the OM-D would be better at shooting active kids or should I get a dslr instead ? I’m not keen on that, since it’s bigger and heavier.

  • Lindsay - November 24, 2012 - 9:58 am

    Hi Audrey. It’s impossible to determine if a camera will suit any given individual and I never make recommendations on this basis. The best thing to do is go to a store and try one. The OMD is faster at focussing than the X100 but a DSLR will be better in that regard.

  • Rick - December 6, 2012 - 3:47 am

    I also have the OM-D along with a few great lenses and currently considering the XE-1 based on my fondness of the old fuji films I used to shoot with. Mainly the velvia and provia emulsions. Is there any way to emulate those from the OM-D? Since you use the OM-D more often what purpose does the XE-1 serve for you these days?

  • Lindsay - December 6, 2012 - 8:58 am

    Rick, the OMD is abundantly customizable and the tone and colour can be adjusted in-camera to suit. It’s a question of playing around until you find the settings you like best. However I personally prefer more neutral output, making any changes later in post-production. In that respect it’s quite easy to emulate the films you mention. As a full time professional it’s important I have at least two high quality mirrorless systems – I’m still new to the XE1 and I will attempt to build a relationship with it over the next few months. If the limitations remain a concern it will be replaced with something different.

  • […] image courtesy: lindsaydobsonphotography.com […]

  • Andy - December 11, 2012 - 11:48 am

    Hi Lindsey

    That was a great write up. It’s quite refreshing to read some real world use views on gear as opposed to having to trudge through a spec war! Lovely images too from both cameras. I myself have just bought an X-E1 and it is certainly a quirky little thing. I agree with your sentiments about the autofocus speed which can be frustrating. For me though, the amazing image quality and beautifully tactile nature of the camera makes it so fun and rewarding to use. One quirk I’d like to get your thoughts on…don’t you wish that AF point selection button was on the other side?!?

  • Lindsay - December 11, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    Hi Andy, lovely to hear from you and I’m pleased to hear you’re enjoying your XE1. It is certainly a unique and quite characterful camera, beautiful to look at in my opinion and I am impressed with the build quality. Indeed some of the quirks can be frustrating and I had hoped for better given this is the latest Fujifilm offering – it seems previous user complaints have not been addressed, which is a little disappointing. I hadn’t really thought about the autofocus point selection button …. I’ll make myself more aware of that next time I’m out. One advantage I have is that being female I have small fingers and I don’t encounter some of the handling issues which men may suffer from. That’s one area where the OMD might frustrate male photographers, it has very small buttons.

  • SD - December 12, 2012 - 12:31 am

    Hi Lindsay… Thank you for the post. I find it quiet surprising that you thought OMD is even comparable to the X-E1.

    I owned the OMD for 30 days before eventually returning it. I had not even tested or got my hands on the X-E1 to do any real comparisons, but other than the amazing video quality and the zippy AF, I thought the OMD was just not good enough (mind you, I am used to using a 5DMarkii). Furthermore, as an architect and avid designer, the look and feel of the OMD was a BIG disappointment. I know that sounds strange to most, but when you compare this digital version to the old OM film cameras, it is downright ugly. Bottomline, a fast camera with so-so image quality (kit 12-50mm lens) and a BIG dunce cap!! Bye bye OMD.

    I waited patiently for another 2 months before finally getting a copy of the X-E1. Within the first 24hrs, I was blown away by the image quality. Pardon my french, but I do not give a rats ass about anything else… a camera is for taking great pictures. Granted the AF is not perfect, but this is the first camera I have owned in 15 years of photography that I am willing to sleep with. Not to mention the STUNNING looks… you may say that the Bauhaus masters may have designed it. Leica has something to worry about,

    Sorry Lindsey, but the OMD is for the amateur photographers. A true purist like myself (and anyone who enjoyes the fine things in life will pick the Fuji). As far as I am concerned, there is NO COMPARISON with the NEX-5N, NEX-6, NEX-7 or that OMD.

  • SD - December 12, 2012 - 12:42 am

    Oh and one more thing… You may have been using the XE-1 with one of the ‘older’ 18, 35 or 60mm lenses with relatively slower AF. I started my X-E1 experience with a fantastic 18-55mm kit lens from Fuji. I cannot remember the last time a kit lens that shipped with any camera I ordered that was this sharp and fast. Suggest you give it a try. The images are a far cry from the mediocre grainy IQ from the Olympus kit lenses.

    I am looking forward to the Fuji roadmap for more fantastic lenses.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 8:29 am

    Dear SD, many thanks for commenting, you have perfectly highlighted several of the points I have been at pains to raise in my article. Firstly, I have stated that the two cameras are not really comparable (since the OMD is more like a miniaturized DSLR in handling and performance) and are likely to appeal to different people for different reasons. Secondly, I do keep encouraging readers to consider ergonomics because the feel of any given camera may be entirely wrong for them as was the case for you. Perhaps my most important point is the fact that such decisions are quite personal and what will suit me may not suit the next customer – it is a case of prioritising one’s individual needs and preferences. It would be a dull world indeed if we all thought in the same way. I find the IQ of the OMD to be excellent and of course the XE1 is also exceptional. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what cameras I use, or which tools the next person prefers – what matters more is that you find the camera you are most happy with. Regards, Lindsay.

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 8:32 am

    SD, as stated in my article I use the XE1 with the Fujinon 18-55 zoom, which is optically excellent and very good value when purchased as a kit. I do not use the Oly kit zoom.

  • Nat - December 12, 2012 - 11:15 am

    I am still struggling to decide which compact system will suit me. I did try the XE1 in the shop but (unsurprisingly) the autofocus was slower than expected which would limit me in many everyday situations. I think the problem is that people expected the X system to evolve, and the XE1 is not a step forward, it appears to be a slightly smaller version of the XP1 without the optical viewfinder but with the same niggles I’ve read about on forums. Given the way the XP1 prices seem to be falling it’s hard for me to see where the XE1 fits in. I don’t have the budget for an OMD and fast zoom so it looks like I will need to consider other options! Lindsay I can see why you bought the XE1, it is beautiful but it is not for me.

  • SD - December 12, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Lindsay… You are spot on about each person has a different take on the feel for what is right/wrong for them. I guess you can clearly see I am biased towards the X-E1. I never got a chance to try some of the other MFT zoom and prime lens offerings from Oly, Panny or even Leica for the OMD. I wish I did. But thats all history now. I will stay with the X-E1 unless Fuji decided to explode into the scene with a full frame compact camera.

    Keep up the good work and keep posting photos. Thank you for keeping an open mind to my comments:)

  • Lindsay - December 12, 2012 - 5:45 pm

    Hi SD – great to hear from you! Nothing wrong with being biased in favour of the XE1, it’s a beautiful piece of kit and I’m looking forward to working with mine more over the coming weeks, particularly where portraits are concerned. I was sceptical at first when I was sent the OMD, but when I tried it I was amazed at how far Micro 4/3 has come – the OMD is great for my animal and wildlife work. I am fortunate in being able to own both the OMD and XE1 and benefiting from the best points of each.

  • RH - December 14, 2012 - 1:58 am

    Lindasy, as you said lenses matter a lot in what you get out of a camera. To me the draw of the XE-1 includes lenses like 35mm 1.4 which seems stellar from what I have seen so far. And then they have the 56mm 1.4 coming up, which should be great for portraits. If you have the 35mm 1.4 then it would be interesting to know how XE-1 w that lens compares with E-M5 + 25mm 1.4 in your opinion

  • Tripod Jose - December 14, 2012 - 6:31 am

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together. It was clear, concise, and engaging.

  • Lindsay - December 14, 2012 - 10:24 am

    Hi RH, I will not be getting the Fuji 35mm since I have that focal length covered by my OMD primes. I agree the Fujinon 35mm is optically wonderful, but on the occasion I tried it the autofocus was too slow for this particular setup to fit in with my shooting patterns. I tend to shoot the EM-5 with the PL25 Summilux f1.4 and the 45 f1.8 which are both amazing lenses. The Fujinon 18-55 zoom is excellent in my opinion and gives me the flexibility I need at times, it is also a little faster to focus than the Fuji primes.

  • Lindsay - December 14, 2012 - 10:24 am

    Thank you Jose, you are very welcome. I should be adding further posts concerning people photography and some dedicated street stuff in the new year.

  • Eric - December 20, 2012 - 1:11 am

    Hi Lindsay,

    Just a quick thanks for your write up and intelligent approach in your articles comparing these two cameras which I’m also considering. As my daily camera is an M9 so I’m naturally attracted to the image quality of the fuji, and I think the tonality in some of your fuji shots is nicer than the comparable Oly shots for whatever reason and with the proviso that I’m looking at them on the web with an iPad. Despite that I realised from what you wrote that the Oly would be a better camera for me because it *isn’t* similar to my Leica. Image quality is only one of the important qualities of a camera and sometimes I find that concentrating too much on image quality makes me and perhaps others a bit one dimensional in approach, to wit, some of the great Daido Moriyama and William Klein images at the Tate modern right now which are fluid, loose and exciting though usually not sharp, frequently purposely blurry and in Moriyama’s case shot with a cheap point and shoot.
    I realised, living in London that a camera I don’t mind taking out into the rain brings a whole new dimension of possibility for my work and the Oly is the cam for that. Similarly, It’s been years since I had a camera with a swivel LCD and that too wouldsfor me be an added dimension.
    Seeking the ultimate in sharpness and tonality as desirable as they are, are also a slippery slope. As good as the Fuji is, a Leica is likely a bit better in those terms though clearly pricey. As good as a Leica M9 is, the Leica S2 clearly outshines the M9 though with tradeoffs of even more cost and weight. then there’s MF film and digital cameras and those of course pale in comparison to an 8×10 which in most cases is a terrible burden to carry around though some have done just that.
    Of course those are my issues and clearly other people will have other issues that will make the Fuji more desirable. Horses for courses. Thanks again for the considerable time and effort you’ve put into this question which I suspect is on the minds of many.

  • Lindsay - December 20, 2012 - 9:35 am

    Hi Eric, the photographic world is obsessed with pixel peeping often with no real-world rationale. The IQ of the XE1 and the OMD are both excellent, so good that differences are minimal and more about character than anything. With that in mind the purchasing criteria becomes either personal or performance-related. The former being the look and styling of the Fuji X cameras and the latter assuming more significance for professional users. In that regard, the OMD is the more useful camera for me, but as a long standing X user the XE1 with zoom is an affordable backup and travel camera. As you say, understanding your own needs and preferences is key.

  • Steve Solomon - December 23, 2012 - 4:39 am

    Season’s Greetings, Lindsay!
    First let me thank you for an insightful, detailed review and comparison of the Fuji X-E1 and Olympus OM-D EM-5. I currently shoot a Pentax K-5 for landscape, nature, and product stock images, and am considering these very cameras as a “travel” system! My dilemma is this: If you view my images, you can see that I am a “sharpness” fanatic, and want to capture every detail in my images, especially my product shots and those images that will be printed large (20×30 or so). Have you printed these systems, and if so, which do you think would retain the most detail at those enlargements? I have read stellar reviews of some Olympus primes, such as the Oly 60mm Macro, the 45mm, and the 75mm. Thank you very much!

  • Lindsay - December 23, 2012 - 9:56 am

    Hi Steve, I’m always slightly concerned when I hear ‘sharpness’ being placed at the top of the list – remember that sharpness and detail are two different things. I personally don’t like overly sharp images (I always turn down the sharpness a little in camera when shooting JPEG) but I do expect to record good levels of detail which is down to careful focusing, control of DOF and of course high quality optics (the Micro 4/3 primes are superb in this regard). Normally wjere detail is the concern we would shoot RAW but at the current time that is not a particularly good option for X Trans. I haven’t yet made any large prints but given that I have very large prints on my wall made from sensors which are several years old I would expect modern technology to be more than capable. When I compare the Fuji and the Oly at 100% they both looked excellent and the OMD has no obvious failings. At the end of the day you may have a preference for one output over the other, but only you can answer that. Obviously the XE1 is better suited to more static captures since the autofocus is noticeably slower than that of the Oly.

  • Steve Solomon - December 23, 2012 - 5:05 pm

    Hi Lindsay.
    Thank you for your reply! Yes, I do realize that “sharpness” and “detail” are two different things, but as they most definitely are “related”, I simply chose the word “sharpness” as my general descriptive criterion. (I could have easily said “detail” instead, but you get the idea.) Having used large format view cameras in the ’70s, long before I got into digital, I think I know sharpness (“detail”) when I see it. In fact, it’s from that era that I even became aware of Fujifilm, since they make superb lenses for large format cameras, along with Nikon, Schneider and Rodenstock. Shooting small products for catalogs, my 4×5 chromes were extremely sharp and full of detail, so, that is why I strive to get the most detail I can from my equipment. However, I do realize that the larger one enlarges an image, the more one loses detail, which is the main reason of my hesitation on the OM-D (4/3 sensor being somewhat smaller than the Fuji’s APS-C sensor). But I do need a “Travel” system, which places importance on system size and weight, but NOT to sacrifice overall image quality. That’s my conundrum! I want high quality (at least as good as my current Pentax images), but also a compact system suitable for travel, hiking, etc. Thanks again, Lindsay. BTW, your images are quite beautiful!

  • Lindsay - December 23, 2012 - 5:52 pm

    Hi Steve, I think it’s true to say that prior to this year it was quite difficult to find a system which combined high quality with compact size. The Fuji X cameras and the OMD were game changes in that respect. I remember a few years ago buying my first Micro 4/3 camera, I liked it a lot, but there were some failings and I got rid of it. The OMD excites me greatly because it really is like having a very small DSLR in my hands. I appreciate you come from a large format background and therefore you will have specific quality benchmarks, so I would say that if you are happy with your current APSC output then you should be quite happy with the OMD, given how far Micro 4/3 has progressed of late. If you can get to a decent camera store then it would be worth having a play and viewing some images on the computer, though I will say that the “out-of-the-box” settings of the OMD may not be to your tastes – the camera does need some setting up initially. It is a difficult choice, but if you need weather sealing and a great lens lineup then the OMD ticks all the boxes. If you don’t need speed or ruggedness then the XE1 might be a better purchase. For me, performance is as important as IQ, which is why I tend to use the OMD the most.

  • Nate - December 29, 2012 - 7:00 pm

    For me, my Nikon D90 was too big, too obtrusive, and image quality just wasn’t up to snuff. I was leaning towards the D600, then held one, and decided it wasn’t addressing many of my issues with the D90. I considered a Leica M9, but ultimately couldn’t justify the cost.

    Then I read about the XE-1…and saw sample images, and cropped images, and was totally blown away by the superb image quality, the bokeh, the true artistic nature of the images it produced, and that was enough to sway me.

    Also, Olympus has a horrible corporate record, with many of their executives being prosecuted for altering their publicly available information. I dislike the company as a whole, so the OM-D would have to mow my lawn for me to give them the business.

    Plus, Fujifilm just seems hungrier to me. They’re pushing the envelope with the XPro-1 and XE-1 more than most companies who are using micro 4/3 seem to be. If I was buying a camera for video, then I might consider something else. However, any camera should be a camera first, video recording device second. If I want video, I’ll drop 2 or 3 hundred on a camcorder or flip if its that much of an issue,

    Weather sealing is a great selling feature when you live in a country where it constantly drizzles. For most people though, I think weather sealing on their camera is like four wheel drive on an Acura SUV- something you’d rarely, if ever, actually use. However, I’d love for someone to take the XE-1 into that environment and use it as they’d use the OMD to demonstrate how different the two really are.

    As far as the sample images you took….some of the detail in the hands of the snake handler, are, to me, characteristic of why someone would buy the XE-1. If you want Image quality reminiscent of a Leica M9 at 1/8th the price, I would say get the XE-1.

  • Lindsay - December 29, 2012 - 8:34 pm

    Hi Nate, Fuji IQ is lovely and I have three X cameras in my bag. But there are certain performance attributes which may be crucial to some photographers and that is where the OMD shines. Ultimately it comes down to the kind of work you do. The IQ of the two is very close in real world situations.

  • James Grant - December 30, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Thanks so much for your comparisons on these great cameras. I really enjoyed your style of writing. I just bought the OMD E-M5 and at the time of purchase, handled the EX-1 which I thought was a really very nice camera. I chose the E-M5 because I needed a fast auto focus camera for capturing my three young boys and our pets. It’s going to make a fantastic camera for my fast moving family:).

  • Marek - December 31, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    Hi Lindsay,

    I simply love your websistes. I’v found them just now and you’ve done an excelent job. I am also considering the oly omd an fuji xe1. Is fuji has a really so slow AF ? I mean is it possible to capture runnig child or dog ?
    I am not shooting sport a lot but sometimes i need to capture some running children or animnals.
    Thank you for your feedback.

  • Lindsay - December 31, 2012 - 2:27 pm

    Hi Marek, thank you for the kind words. For running children and animals a DSLR will probably be the best tool. The Fuji would not really be suitable (in my opinion), the Oly would be better however the tracking focus of most CSC systems is still not very good.

  • Marek - December 31, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    thanks for your quick response. Its a shame, because I really like the fuji one.

  • Paul Crouse - January 3, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    Hi Lindsay,

    Thank you for your intelligent write up. I am glad I found someone who knows what they are talking about.

    I am former photojournalist who is getting back into the photo business after many years of away.

    I recently bought a complete Nikon kit and now dread picking up the heavy bag. I am seriously thinking about switching to either of these camera systems.

    I am curious to know if you have you had any experience with the flash systems? Amongst other things, I do location portraits and events and I am looking for an efficient, light weight system that won’t burn-out after quickly.

    I will take deeper dive into your website soon.

    Thank you in advance.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

  • Lindsay - January 3, 2013 - 1:23 pm

    Hi Paul, from what I’ve heard many photojournalists are downscaling to compact systems which are obviously less obtrusive and will enable you to move around with a greater degree of comfort. Such equipment does of course need to perform reliably in the field and the more recent high specification systems are quite rugged in build and some are also weather sealed (such as the OMD). Micro 4/3 systems also benefit from an exceptional array of lens options which tend to have superb optics and lightweight construction. When it comes to flash I rarely use a dedicated flash system which tends to be expensive and also I am not particularly interested in TTL, preferring manual control. For that reason I tend to trigger my flashguns using inexpensive radio triggers which are not specific to any camera brand and will trigger virtually any flashguns. Obviously if you intend to use your flash on camera as you are probably likely to do in your work then the dedicated flash for your camera would be best (the built in flash on many systems will also act as commander should you wish to get the main flash off-camera). I always advise getting to a camera store to have a play since ergonomics also form a large part of the buying decision, particularly if the equipment will be in your hands often.

  • Francesco - January 6, 2013 - 5:29 pm

    You are a very good photography. I like your style. Can’t wait to receive my X-E1.

  • Wei - January 6, 2013 - 5:31 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    I want to say thank you for the great review. I own both em5 and xe1 as well. 🙂
    The IQ of em5 is good enough for me (i used in to take snapshot). It does feel like a small dslr. I sometimes don’t know how Oly build such a great camera in such a small body. Well, i have to say the image comes from the em5 is good for what it is, but it is not as good as XE1 IMHO. The performance of em5 may like a small dslr but the IQ is not. When i know i need IQ, i can take XE1 and leave my dslr at home without hesitation, i can’t say the same thing for em5. As you have mentioned, it has 0.75 stop advantage, i think it is huge (It means more when you use zoom lens) and WB is much much better compared to em5. And, yes, em5 is faster… but i have to say in my particle use, if i can’t focus something with XE1, em5 can’t do it 9 out of 10. I will keep both of the camera since they are so different. But if i can only keep one, i will have to say XE-1. By the end of the day, camera is used to take image. I keep the one which i think will produce the better image. At this point, i still can’t get ridof my dslr… 🙁


  • Gene Rosenfeld - January 6, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    I have found your comments about the xe1 and the Em5 to be balanced and insightful. I enjoy taking photographs on trips of people in markets, bazaars and in temples as well as interiors of buildings like churches. I also take candid pictures of my grandson outdoors and indoors. I really thought the Em5 was an outstanding camera because of its: viewfinder, quick focusing, low light ability, image quality and image stabilization. I purchased the Em5 (with a Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens for lowlight photos). I returned the camera and lens when I learned that the m. zuiko 12-50 3.5-6.3 kit lens was very slow and of less than acceptable image quality. I was considering the zuiko (not an m zuiko) 12-60 2.8-4 (which is out of my price league), but when I spoke to Olympus they said that the autofocus system was not compatible with the Em5 focusing system. My question is do I go with the em5 with the panasonic 20mm 1.4 and the m zuiko 14-150 4-5.6 (which is reviewed as good but not great in terms of image quality) or the xe1 and its kit lens 18-55 2.8-4 which has received very good reviews. Because of the kind of photos I take, I feel I must have a camera in the range of about a 14-50 zoom. If this is a reasonable question – I would really appreciate your thoughts. (I tried an xe1 in store and the focusing was quicker than the refresh rate. But your experience losing photo opportunities with the xe1 in real world shooting concerns me). Gene

  • Lindsay - January 7, 2013 - 9:34 am

    Hi Wei, we all have different preferences of course and every opinion is valid. For my part, I have found the image quality of the OMD to be as good as or a bit better than any of the APSC DSLRs I own, however this does raise a point I have made about personal preference and personal tastes being important. Different sensors often have different characteristics and rather than being “better” I think it’s probably more useful to think of them as being “different”. And of course we all have different needs – as a professional I need kit which will meet my basic performance standards and unfortunately the XE1 does not given the autofocus and more importantly the current lack of mainstream RAW support. Capture One 7.02 beta does address this but established photographers are very unlikely to completely change a long-standing workflow simply for the pleasure of processing Fuji images. However, if Fuji are about to bring out new cameras with X Trans technology (as is rumoured) then logically that would indicate that mainstream support would be forthcoming. But I did make that assumption when I purchased the XE1 and I was proved wrong! Abandoning professional arguments for a moment, if I had to state my personal preference for image quality then without a doubt I would say my Fuji X100 produces the most pleasing photographs I have ever seen.

  • Lindsay - January 7, 2013 - 9:45 am

    Hi Gene, the XE1 can make for a nice travel camera where your subjects are slow or static and if you don’t need mainstream efficient RAW support. It will be less useful for pictures of children unless they are very still. The OMD however performs in pretty much every situation I have thrown it into and the images are consistently excellent, as are the Fuji JPEGs. However picking up on Wei’s point, there is also a degree of personal preference when it comes to the images and the ergonomics. When comparing cameras it’s so important that they are compared with comparable glass (and I’m wondering which lens Wei had on his OMD, if it was the kit lens then I’m not surprised he was not particularly pleased by the level of detail he was seen in the pictures). I’m afraid I cannot advise you on what to purchase other than to reinforce the argument for good glass and of course ensure that whichever camera you choose meets your performance criteria. I use the PL25 f1.4 and the (cheap and wonderful) Pana 45f1.8 for general stuff on the OMD and portraiture, with fantastic results. There is of course the 12-35 f2.8 but this is very expensive (but it is a very good lens). For me, and my needs, the XE1 is not really useful enough for my professional work because I cannot afford to lose shots if the autofocus fails to perform and I do need RAW on many occasions. There are also other niggles with the XE1 But they may not affect you. Part of the problem is that the OMD with a decent lens lineup does work out quite expensive, but you do get an excellent system for the money. I will not be investing in any more Fuji cameras until they have sorted out some of the more enduring complaints which were carried over into the XE1. Fuji have a tendency to introduce technology which is not always quite ready for the marketplace! Whilst innovative, this is starting to alienate some customers.

  • Brandon - January 20, 2013 - 5:35 pm

    Interesting. I really thought on release the XE-1 might be the camera for me, but there just seem too many ‘not quiets’ to justify the spend.

    If there’s an Olympus with a form factor I like, with the internals of the OMD-EM5, I might jump that way.

    I’m surprised you integrate so many cameras into your life, I can’t imagine how you keep on top of it. After years of buying everything I could, a stable of bodies and lenses, I’ve sold it all. I now have two lenses, only ever use one of them, and one body. I’m just trying to nail every nuance of that one prime with that one camera. I’m not even close.

  • Lindsay - January 20, 2013 - 5:58 pm

    Brandon, I’m often fond of saying that a hobbyist should simply by what he or she likes but a professional needs to buy the right tools for the job. I have comparatively few cameras compared to some professionals, the core of my kit consists of my 5D MkIII bodies and L lenses, and my OMD and lenses. Professionals will obviously have more equipment than amateurs and in addition we must have backups of pretty much everything. For personal work I use either the OMD or the Fuji X100/X10. I no longer have the XE1.

  • John Nicholson - January 21, 2013 - 10:39 pm

    Have just come across your website and find the way you discuss equipment really helpful. Has finally helped me to see that it is the OMD and not the XE which will best meet my requirements.
    But I wish you could find a way of doing side-by-side presnetations of the comparable images. It just isn’t possible to whiz back and forwards and remeber what you have seen. I suppose I could open you up twice in my browzer…..
    But thanks.

  • Lindsay - January 22, 2013 - 9:23 am

    Hi John, because this is not a review site we don’t really do side-by-side comparisons and in fact such comparisons are not particularly helpful to the viewer. We show reference images, because the site is aesthetic in purpose, but at the end of the day the images I produce reflect my experience and workflow. This may not be representative of the output from the next person. Therefore my advice is always the same – visit a camera store if you can, and try the camera. Of course in doing this you don’t really get a chance to set up the camera as you normally would, but you will get a general idea of the most important things and that is feel and ergonomics, and performance factors such as features and speed. There is no doubt that both cameras produce exceptional IQ (the caveat being the skill set of the operator) and as I keep saying IQ is simply not a factor when it comes to comparing these machines. They are both excellent, but they are a little different and this is where personal preferences come to play. Getting obsessed with pixel peeping will not make anyone a better photographer and is in many ways counter-productive when ultimately the question purchasers should be asking themselves is whether or not the performance of the machine measures up to its intended purposes, and how the skill and experience of the photographer will influence the end result. When both cameras arrived here at our office my perception that the Fuji would produce noticeably better image quality was unfounded and in fact the widespread notion that the Fuji is capable of cleaner images at high ISO is also under dispute given that the XE1 ISO ratings are somewhat inflated.

  • Les - January 23, 2013 - 11:49 pm

    Great review Lindsay. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I am stuck in my decision. RAW support by Adobe is an issue for me with respect to getting the Fuji as I do HDR photography. It seems they now have it: http://www.adobe.com/ca/products/photoshop/extend.html


    Sad to see you sold the Fuji!

  • Lindsay - January 24, 2013 - 10:03 am

    Hi Les, Adobe offers the ability to convert the Fuji RAW files but the processing algorithms are currently limited. Having had a detailed talk with heads at Fuji a couple of weeks ago I can confirm that we can expect to see “an improvement” in the relevant algorithms over the coming months. I was not sad to see the XE1 go since it was fundamentally unsuited to my purposes and my decision to buy it, and then sell it, was purely a business one rather than a personal one (I already have two X cameras for personal use). I’m sure that over time Fuji will address all of the issues that many current X camera owners are experiencing, however I have no plans to purchase anymore of these cameras until there is a greater body of feedback on any new introduction. I say this because Fuji have a history of making outlandish marketing claims which are often responsible for the early adoption of the cameras in question, often leading to frustrated customers.

  • Les - January 24, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    Thanks again Lindsay for your thoughtful reply. You must be a detail oriented person! What a dilemma!!!! I simply love the look and feel of the Fuji. It harkens back to my youth when I had the aperture setting on the lens (where it belongs). It is so much like the M9 (which I cannot afford)….. I already have a M43 (Panasonic DMC-GX1). So the addition of a camera with a different sensor to my stable makes sense. However, I can use my current set of M43 lenses on the Olympus. But they are such an unstable company….. Oh dear. What to do.. what to do….

    Perhaps if I stick with JPG until they update the firmware or whatnot? It’s easier to purchase a car!

  • Lindsay - January 24, 2013 - 2:16 pm

    Hi Les, I love your comment, it did make me smile. You’re absolutely right in that some purchases can be a nightmare. Less so for me, because the XE1 was bought for light professional use it’s a simple matter of ensuring that the thing meets the relevant performance parameters (which it did not). As a work tool, how it looks and the emotions it provokes has no bearing at all. But when it comes to a camera for personal use the whole thing goes haywire, because we want to enjoy using it after all and it’s an added bonus if it looks good. I can fully appreciate why many are drawn to the look and feel of the X cameras, and that was very much part of my decision to keep two of them for my own personal use – I do emit a sigh of pleasure whenever I look at my X10 and my X100. Handling wise, although the XE1 feels very good in a tactile sense, and the buttons are easy to operate, it is not well balanced with the zoom lens attached. The OMD balances fantastically well with pretty much any lens I put on it, however I am of course speaking from the perspective of my professional needs and the fact that I will often have it in my hands for quite long periods. Of course none of this is helping you make your decision, but if your heart leans towards the Fuji, and if you don’t need to work quickly, and if you don’t need RAW support then the Fuji might suit you very well. However if you were drawn towards the M9 then I would heartily recommend the current X100.

  • Les - January 24, 2013 - 2:17 pm

    As a followup… I thought I’d post this fine discussion on the Adobe Forums regarding the (abismal?) conversion to RAW in Lightroom 4. There are some good points made and may be useful for others experiencing the same “indecision” I am.


  • Les - January 24, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    I would have purchased the X100(S) right away – except for the inability to switch lenses….. Do I need more lenses? Oh boy…..

  • Lindsay - January 24, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Hi Les, I think there are a couple of difficulties at the moment with respect to RAW support for X Trans. Depending on which camp you fall into, the argument tends to surround who is most to blame for the delays. Having recently had a fairly in-depth face to face chat with two senior Fuji managers, the information retrieved did differ somewhat, perhaps understandably given that one was a technical head and one more of a logistical head. It appears that Adobe are probably reluctant to rush into throwing resources at developing X Trans algorithms given that Fuji do have a history of coming up with innovations and then abandoning them. Of course the recent new additions to the X Trans lineup suggest commitment to this technology and with that in mind I can confirm that we can expect to see “some improvement” over the coming months with respect to Lightroom 4 support. The various delays in furthering this have been put down to the time taken for Fuji to pass the relevant technical and legal documentation to Adobe and also the need for Adobe to have confidence in the project.

  • Les - January 24, 2013 - 3:07 pm

    Finding my wife was easier. You shop…. “kick the tires (tyres)”….. then adjust along the way…. The marketing hype was more realistic and believable.

  • Anurag - January 31, 2013 - 9:49 am

    Hi Linda,

    Like the article and that you’ve not gone down the route of gut instinct more than hard cold specs.

    It’s like pricing really. People initially compare the cold hard number of a price tag before purchasing rather than the potential of an object to produce the desired result.

    In reality, it’s more to it than numbers (price, ISO, DoF differences)…all matter of course but does what you use give you what you want.

    This is why this article is so ‘on point’.

    I own the OMD (3 in fact) but have never owned the Fuji. I use it for all my wedding and portrait commissions.

    I can categorically say there is more to the OMD than specs. Much, much more. The lenses for a start.

    I’ve written quite a detailed account of my experiences with the OMD and for those interested, you may also like to see the omni present Steve Huff’s review of both of these before committing.

    Again thank you for posting an honest account of your experience with the camera.

  • Lindsay - January 31, 2013 - 2:51 pm

    Hi Anurag, great wedding photography! I know quite a few wedding photographers who are now using the OMD and the excellent Micro 4/3 lenses. Given how long you’re on your feet during a typical wedding day, and the considerable strain that the weight of traditional DSLR equipment places on the body it’s a no-brainer that the OMD is becoming so popular. I read your account about using the OMD a few weeks ago, an excellent write-up which I enjoyed. Many thanks for your comment, and do stay in touch.

  • Lindsay - January 31, 2013 - 3:00 pm

    See Anurag’s excellent, balanced, and very comprehensive write up on the OMD as a wedding photography tool here: http://shutterleaf.co.uk/blog/olympus-omd-em5-for-wedding-photography-experience-with-3-micro-four-third-camera-bodies-a-review

  • Simon Downham - February 8, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    Thank you, Lindsay, for such an in depth and helpful survey!
    It has assisted me toward making my own choice between these two excellent systems.

  • Trisha - February 8, 2013 - 4:11 pm

    Great real-life comparison, thanks!

    Anybody have insight into the video performance of these cameras? I bought a DSLR that shoots video, but the focusing issues aren’t really conducive to catching my kids in action. Ideally, I would love a camera that shoots DSLR quality images and also good quality HD video…would either or both of these cameras make my dream come true? Or am I destined to keep buying bigger camera bags??

  • Lindsay - February 8, 2013 - 5:12 pm

    You’re most welcome Simon, enjoy your new camera.

  • Lindsay - February 8, 2013 - 5:15 pm

    Trisha, I’m ashamed to say that I am yet to switch on the video function on any of my cameras! Perhaps someone else here can help with your question otherwise I suspect some of the dedicated forums would be your best source of information. The process of constantly buying camera bags is something I suffer terribly from, a female photographer’s affliction perhaps!

  • Mark - February 14, 2013 - 8:46 pm


    I am in the process of deciding to buy the OMD. I currently own the Panasonic GX1 which takes admirable pictures. I have been a Nikon DX user since the D70 and currently own a D7000. I like landscape and nature (particularly bird) photography. I am told that the OMD does not have a quick autofocus like the D7000 needed for BIF (birds in flight). Have you found this to be true?

    Any accessories you recommend including the grip and a flash unit?

    Separately, since you are now focused on the M4/3 systems, I would recommend a GX1 to you as a backup body. It uses the M4/3 lens of both Olympus and Panasonic and is smaller for the walk around camera when you need it. It is what Thom Hogan (Sans Mirror blog) has in his M4/3 kit bag with the OMD.

  • Lindsay - February 15, 2013 - 2:22 pm

    Hi Mark. It’s true that mirrorless cameras do not yet have particularly good tracking focus, however the OMD’s focus is very fast in my opinion. When it comes to birds in flight, providing there is nothing else to clutter up the scene, then switching to multipoint focusing (allowing the camera to select the focus point) usually works better than trying to use the centre focus point only.

    I haven’t used the battery grip but it would certainly help to balance the camera if using something like the Fl600 flash, which I will probably purchase soon.

    I’ll definitely take a look at the GX1 – it sounds great.

  • Simon - February 16, 2013 - 4:26 pm

    Hi Lindsay,

    If you have time, I wondered if you could share some thoughts on the Fuji XPro-1 (if you have used it) and how it compares to the XE1 and your OMD system?

  • Lindsay - February 16, 2013 - 5:11 pm

    Hi Simon, I haven’t owned the XP1 though it has the same innards as the XE1. It does also benefit from a hybrid viewfinder however the EVF will not be as good as that on the XE1. As far as comparisons to the OMD go, they are such different machines – if you require strong/fast performance for the work you do then the OMD is the better tool and remains my tool of choice. Another reason why the OMD is the better choice for me is the availability of a wide range of excellent Micro 4/3 lenses.

  • Simon - February 16, 2013 - 5:28 pm

    Hi Lindsay,
    Thank you. That is really useful. I do appreciate your time and helpful comments.

  • Lindsay - February 16, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    You’re welcome Simon, good luck with your purchase.

  • stando - February 25, 2013 - 12:44 am

    Fuji considerably improved autofocus of XE1 and Xpro1 in january 2013. My AF experience with 18-55/2.8-4.0 lens is very positive now. Especially in low light and for moving subjects. According rumors next days should also Adobe provide improved RAW converter for Fuji X-trans sensor. Then these 2 largest Fuji XE1 problems would be solved or at least considerably improved.

  • Jon Allen - March 1, 2013 - 3:59 pm

    Hi Lindsay
    Thank you for a very interesting and honest post, very informative. As a Nikon and Canon user I can’t but help being amazed by the OMD to the point it is now scheduled the join my camera kit this coming spring, I have heard rumours that there could be a new version on the horizon. so I wait patiently. may here news at this years Focus show.
    Jon Allen 🙂

  • Lindsay - March 1, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    Hi Jon, the OMD amazes me too, I am so impressed by both its performance and IQ. And the lenses are just glorious! I rarely have to use my DSLRs these days.

  • Giorgio - March 13, 2013 - 6:05 pm

    Hi from Italy, Lindsay!
    I agree perfect, also if I had the EX-1 only for a few moments in my hands. Just saw in the evf, pointing rapidly here and there. It seemed a tv screen, Oly omd seems to me more like a true reflex one (although I’ve to admit that in dim light it’s not at his best). I’ve loved Fuji cameras ad films since ever, so I think I’ll love the EX-1, I’m ready… but, what a shame, I think she’s not ready… maybe tomorrow, or in a few years, who knows? I hope it.
    I’ve began my photographic trip with Pentax spf, then Nikon Ftn Photomic, finally with Nikon Fe, little and well balanced for my taste. (For pro pictures I preferred medium format or 4×5 inch cameras). I only take stills pictures, landscapes and architecture. So I don’t need motor nor autofocus. So that’s why I can’t love those bulky D reflex, even much bigger as the biggest analog 35mm reflex. If only Nikon puts on the market a Fe like DSLR camera.. only then I’ll buy it.

  • Lindsay - March 13, 2013 - 8:11 pm

    Hi Giorgio, I enjoy my Fuji cameras but I agree that the XE1 will benefit from some further evolution which will help Fuji to keep pace with some very strong competitors. It’s an exciting time for mirrorless systems, many of the leading manufacturers are likely to produce some very interesting cameras over the next year or two.

  • Giorgio - March 13, 2013 - 9:14 pm

    But, I must confess it. I have sometimes “********” wishes… ther’s a young sexy lady, dangerous X20 age. EX-1 could be her mother.. but this young lady… wow!!! I could fall in love with here… perhaps you can understand. Do you think I’m mad?

  • Lindsay - March 14, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Hi Giorgio – I hope you don’t mind the slight edit of your comment (-: I don’t think you’re mad at all – I have an X10 and I love it. The small sensor means that you can enjoy a fixed high quality fast zoom lens whilst keeping the overall size of the camera very compact – much smaller than an XE1 with the zoom. Just be aware that the image quality from the X20 is not as good as that of the X100 or XE1, particularly in low light. But if you want high performance as well as excellent image quality, and a wide choice of lenses, then the OMD is an excellent choice (but it’s expensive).

  • Kimberly Lengel - March 14, 2013 - 5:52 pm

    Lindsay, Thank you for sharing your experiences with these 2 great cameras. I sadly sent my X-E1 back to Amazon yesterday. There was so much to love about it. But I also did not feel it was ready for prime time. So I’ve ordered the EM5 with the Pana/Leica 25mm lens. My husband and I are going on a trip to the Redwoods in a few weeks, so I will be wanting to get the camera set up asap. Would you be willing to share your in camera color, sharpening and noise reduction, ect settings?
    Thank you for a lovely and informative website!

  • Lindsay - March 14, 2013 - 7:26 pm

    Hi Kimberly – I’m so envious of your upcoming trip! One of the great things about the OMD is the fact that it is so customisable, so I would advise assigning various keys to your most used functions. With respect to picture settings I tend to turn the sharpness and noise reduction down a bit. The OMD JPEGs are very nice indeed and I prefer to select a muted JPEG style for a more natural and more neutral rendering. It’s really down to personal taste. You can also turn off the warming feature. A good starter guide to all of this can be found here: http://www.dpreview.com/articles/9115179666/user-guide-getting-the-most-out-of-the-olympus-e-m5

  • Kimberly - March 14, 2013 - 8:06 pm

    Thank you Linday! I was just reading that article when I saw your response. Very informative.

  • Lindsay - March 15, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    You’re welcome Kimberly, have a great trip.

  • Tom - March 24, 2013 - 3:50 am

    I have an OM-D, what is this orange tint you’re talking about?

  • Lindsay - March 25, 2013 - 5:24 pm

    Hi Tom, some users when shooting JPEG (and probably adding some saturation afterwards) have found their images to be quite warm – this is easily altered by switching off the ‘warming’ feature in the menu and adjusting the colour output to taste via the JPEG menus or colour balance sliders. I find the OMD wonderfully customizable, it can be fine tuned to suit every conceivable taste.

  • Paul - March 26, 2013 - 11:54 am

    I am joining you too Lindsay. I have an X-E1 and I am taking a hit trading it in for the OMD-E5. I didn’t click with the OMD the first time I used it, but I think thats because I wasn’t using the cute little primes. I am pretty sure I will lament the loss of the Fuji, but in everyday terms I will simply get more good shots with the OMD. I picked up a cheap GH2 to hack for video and certain features and AF speed that it has compared to the Fuji make it so easy to get great candid shots. The fact that Fuji’s own marketing says “this camera forces to to slow down” tells you everything you need to know!!! You should not be selling a camera and telling everyone “this has a crap AF system”. For portraits with a shallow DOF when travelling I missed a lot of shots as I couldnt change the AF area quick enough. Face detection is helpful in such situations. I am trading the X-E1 with the hope of actually using something like the x100s one day for my pocketable “i love” camera, and my OMD for when I need to depend on it. The weather sealing and the body stabilisation are killer features too, especially the latter for a prime user. Wish me luck – heres hoping I dont regret it! (The big concern remains the love affair I had with the OVF being rangefinder style, such a lovelyway to shoot instead of smearing your nose on the screen – I hate that!

  • Lindsay - March 26, 2013 - 12:51 pm

    Hi Paul, I have a Fuji X100 and I love it, the IQ is sensational and in fact I much prefer it to the output from the XE-1 X-Trans sensor. I have no idea why this would be the case, but my X100 is extremely accurate where autofocus is concerned, much more so than the XE-1, and I can confidently take my X100 out on professional assignments for those occasions when I need to grab a wider field of view but don’t have time to swap lenses. Unfortunately the XE1 proved much too unreliable in professional situations and as you have seen this is one of the reasons why I had to get rid of it. The OMD on the other hand has performed flawlessly in every scenario I have thrown at it and the Micro 4/3 lenses are sensational. I’ve just been away for a few days shooting editorial outdoors and fine art nudes (studio) and the OMD was a joy, particularly as I was on my feet for many hours at a time and certainly the heavy weight of a large DSLR and pro lenses would have become an issue. I will also add that the pictures are everything we had hoped for and more. For portraiture my most used lenses are the 35-100 f2.8, the 85 f1.8 and the PL25 f1.4 and the cheap but great 40-150 is also pretty handy for everything from people to nature. I find the OMD along with an X100 (not the X100s) to be a very lovable combination.

  • Paul - March 26, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    Hi Lindsay

    Does this mean you dn’t bother with the 45mm 1.8 and the 75 1.8? That 75 in particular, because of its longer focal length, really appeals on the M4/3 system because of the out of focus potential. I was going to try and avoid the Pana 25 just because of its size. I really do love the dinky Olympus lenses and given that I enjoy landscape shooting when travelling I will have to buy the 12mm. I would like Olympus to make a normal lens – but then maybe if I end up getting the x100 (which I can do locally for £350 that will sort of do even though its obviously 35 and not 50)

  • Lindsay - March 26, 2013 - 2:12 pm

    Hi Paul, lens choices can be incredibly personal and will depend not only on where one shoots but also how one works. I tend to work very quickly on location covering quite a lot of different concepts and for this reason the 75 would probably be quite limiting for me, so I didn’t buy it. I can cover the bulk of my location work (portrait, models, editorial) with the 35-100 f2.8 which is fantastically good and renders a mind-blowing level of detail. On occasion I will use the 45 if I have a little more time, or if the light is particularly low. The same goes for the PL25. Over the weekend in the studio I actually found the cheap but useful 14-42 to be a very good choice. In other words, just get whatever suits your way of working rather than worrying about what other people prefer. For me, I find the X-100 to be a wonderful machine, the IQ is magical and I would also say the focus is very accurate providing your subjects are not moving too quickly. If you can get one for £350 then that really is a bargain! It seems to be a lovely companion to the OMD.

  • Paul - March 26, 2013 - 3:55 pm

    Thank you Lindsay, I really appreciate your comments. I went and bought the x100 at lunch! 🙂 Now about to formally order the OMD, which is great as I’d really like to use the free battery grip that it comes with at the moment

  • Lindsay - March 26, 2013 - 4:00 pm

    Result! I keep my X100 and OMD side by side in a small Billingham f2.8 bag … they seem to love each other (-:

  • Paul - March 26, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    Just had a great experience from Harrisons Cameras – telling you the inside knowledge that amazon will not – the OMD is having a price drop on Friday, so if I order then, I get the body only for £900 plus the battery grip offer is still on for 2 more days… Great news!

  • Will - March 30, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    It seems like you have a lot of naysayers following your posts, which seems unfortunate. I really appreciated your honest review AND frequent follow ups, sometimes you read a review and wonder xx weeks or months later, how do you feel now about the cameras?

    I really wanted to like the XE1 but your review further makes me consider the Olympus, and I have to admit I was tempted to even pickup an E-PL3 some time ago. I think I am leaning towards the Olympus as a carry-around camera to compliment, and save myself from the Nikon D800 weight. Thanks! 🙂

  • Lindsay - March 31, 2013 - 1:08 pm

    Freeing yourself from the weight of your D800 kit might become addictive Will!

  • Paul - April 5, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    Hi again Linday. Are you able to provide some feedback on the Panasonic 35-100? Although the internet is great these days I find myself overwhelmed with the information. A lot of the response to this lens has been luck warm. For me, the only thing that seems to be slightly unacceptable is the need to stop down to f4 to really get the resolution going, when to me, the m43 format is something when stopping down really needs to be limited for portrait work due to the increased DOF as a result. This is why I can see the benefit of the 75mm 1.8 which is has excellent resolution even at 1.8. What do you think? Thanks!

  • Lindsay - April 5, 2013 - 1:33 pm

    Hi Paul, I find the 35 to 100 to be an absolutely beautiful lens for my requirements, this is a lens specifically designed with portrait photographers in mind. I agree that the Internet can be overwhelming and I would urge anybody to restrict their readings to one or two respected review sites and the comments of working professionals or advanced photographers who are actually using the equipment in question. There is a lot of nonsense out there and I frequently read comments on forums which have little basis in fact, often written by users who lack both skill and experience. The comment that you need to stop down is a case in point – this lens is beautiful wide open. Amateurs also seem to judge optics based purely on sharpness when there are also other factors which are equally important, such as colour, contrast, and the general “look” that a given lens provides. For example the highly regarded PL25 f1.4 is not a particularly “sharp” lens but it nevertheless renders beautiful smoothness and colour. As a portrait photographer those latter attributes are much more desirable than biting sharpness (which I’m not particularly keen on). I will also add that I tend to soften my portraits during postproduction. But to answer your question the 35 to 100 is very sharp and renders beautiful results. The 75 is also a wonderful lens but is not suitable for me because of the way I work and my tendency to constantly reframe and change my viewpoint. Remember that depth of field is determined by a number of factors, sensor format being but one, and one of the least important.

    You can see some recent portraits where I used to be 35 to 100 here: http://lindsaydobsonphotography.com/blog/location-portraits-hampshire/

    You can see just how narrow the depth of field can be (even though I was not particularly close to my subject) in one of the last images where one of the model’s eyes is slightly out of focus even though the focal plane has only shifted by about 5mm. It is abundantly possible to get very shallow depth of field when using Micro 4/3 cameras, but more importantly you have the advantage of being able to shoot wide open at times and gather all the light you need without worrying about your focus area being compromised too much. Having that option can be very useful at times. And in reality there is a bit less than a stop DOF between micro 4/3 and APS-C, so not very significant. By the way I also feel that the 45 f1.8 is a beautiful little lens, unbeatable for the money.

  • Paul - April 5, 2013 - 1:54 pm

    Lindsay – thanks so much. The comment about stopping down related purely to the resolution charts I looked at, which proves your point entirely. I am definitely a beginner, but I was doing research because of the costs involved – but the key is, as you say, having the experience to know what to pay attention to and what to ignore! I really wanna do portraits, though, and I originally came across your site due to the pet photos…in fact, I got into photography due to my desire to take photos of my rabbits!



  • Lindsay - April 5, 2013 - 2:04 pm

    You’re welcome Paul – I tend to stay away from data charts, preferring real world results instead. Some of the finest lenses I’ve used would probably score quite badly in some of the tests. And as you’ve seen, pets can be challenging subjects but hopefully your rabbits have become used to being “furry models”!

    I forgot to add this link earlier – some animal shots with the 35-100: http://lindsaydobsonphotography.com/pets/panasonic-35-100-f2-8-and-100-300-f4-5-6-olympus-omd/

  • Geoff - June 5, 2013 - 1:59 am

    Thank you Lindsay for such a well written article. I have both the OM-D and the X-E1 and love both for different reasons. Each has advantages over the other. But I really need to sell one. An incident that happened today has me leaning towards selling the OM-D. I was shooting pictures at the local park when all of a sudden the main dial came off. It appears it’s held on by adhesive. Very cheaply made. The other buttons and seem flimsy, too. It doesn’t matter how nice the camera is, if parts start falling off, I’d rather not keep it. It’s a shame such an expensive camera like the OM-D is put together so cheaply.

  • Lindsay - June 5, 2013 - 10:02 am

    Hi Geoff, I’ve never heard of things dropping off an OMD, but at the end of the day you should always stick with the camera you enjoy the most. If performance isn’t too much of a consideration then the XE1 is a very pretty camera, but it does tend to scratch quite easily (I had a leather half case on mine to help prevent this).

  • Pat Jackson - June 11, 2013 - 5:50 pm

    Thank you for your insights and truly beautiful photos. I find that my dslr lives in its bag because of its bulk. I love the look of the ex-1, but due diligence requires exploration of all options before making a decision. My hands are large, and increasingly arthritic, so your comment on button size will have me paying closer attention when I am fondling the om-d in the store.

  • Lindsay - June 11, 2013 - 7:03 pm

    Hi Pat, since I have switched to mirrorless cameras I have dreaded picking up my DSLRs! I keep them as backups and for assistants or trainees to use, the weight feels horrible (however there are occasions when a heavy camera can help with stability). I can see myself phasing out all of our DSLR inventory over the next two or three years. Small buttons are a consequence of switching to compact systems but after a couple of weeks it’s likely you will simply get used to it, and after a couple of months small buttons will probably feel normal. However you are absolutely right to handle any prospective camera in-store before taking the plunge.

  • Alpha Whiskey Photography - September 4, 2013 - 6:51 pm

    Very nice images from Sheffield Park and Garden, I presume? I have my own collection from this terrific place here:


    I have also recently acquired the OM-D and am very pleased with its output. Particularly photographing animals:



  • Lindsay - September 4, 2013 - 7:50 pm

    Sheffield Park is a lovely place for capturing autumn colour – and I agreed that the OMD with its high frame rate and fast focusing (and excellent viewfinder) makes it a good tool for animals and nature photography as well, as your images perfectly demonstrate.

  • Phil - November 7, 2013 - 12:18 am


    I’m glad I found your blog, whic is by far the ONLY one with such a professional and exceptional portraits from a compact MFT Olympus OM-D system. Other websites/blogs are full of snapshots or uninterested subjects & lighting. I carefully bookmark your blog and will surely revisit more frequently.

    I too have been a DSLR shooter (Canon 5dII) for over 3 years with lens kits: 35mm f/1.4, 28-70mm f/2.8 & 70-200mm f/2.8, 580EX, and Pocketwizard FlexTT5. After a while, I sold my short zoom. Even so, it’s still very tiring carrying that heavy bag all day particularly on a trip with young kids.

    So I’ve recently started to look into these compact MFT & APS-C mirrorless systems. After reading reviews and photos from top pros like David Hobby, Zack Arias, etc. who have begin to adopt Fuji X100s & X-Pro1, etc, I am more leaning toward with the latest X-E2 with a much improved AF system that you have suffered with X-E1. For my personal preference, I don’t like OMD although your exceptional skill as your photos show definitely freshened my view on Oly 🙂 and MFT as a whole.

    By the way, wonder if you had the latest firmware on your X-E1 & 18-55mm lens when you tested. I know that X-E1 AF is still slow but i heard a lots of positive comments. Also, Fuji has just released Ver.2.01 for X100 which promise of 20% AF speed.

    Regarding RAW support issue, as of April 18, 1013, both Aperture and Adobe Lightroom 4.4 now fully support Fuji raw file.


  • Lindsay Dobson - November 7, 2013 - 11:10 am

    Hi Phil, Thank you very much indeed for the kind words. There are in fact quite a lot of professional photographers who have adopted smaller systems, but they don’t always blog about their choices (very sensibly, given the backlash this can sometimes provoke). As you say, the weight burden of DSLR equipment is enough to blight one’s enjoyment of any outing, or perhaps rule out taking the camera entirely. Luckily there are good alternatives these days. I would say that everybody has different needs, and as a professional my needs are quite specific, which is why something like the XE1 proved totally unworkable. The autofocus was only one of many reasons why I abandoned that camera (however I find my X100 very useful indeed for situations where I need to be absolutely silent, or where I need a very high x sync speed). I will also say that Lightroom support for X Trans is still not as good as it should be, and I’m afraid I have never liked the look of X Trans output. The OMD offers me a complete system which covers everything from dynamic portraiture to wildlife, however I must stress that if you’re not dependent on a high level of performance then it becomes much easier to choose your equipment since your personal preferences will come into play a bit more.

  • Jennifer - November 14, 2013 - 9:23 pm

    Hi Lindsay, a very interesting read and review and just what I was after. a portrait photographer using both a Fuji and OMD Em5 and your reviews. I am very happy to hear you like the OMD EM5. I too have DSLRs and am a portrait photographer – although having time out at the moment- so been looking around at these new mirror less systems and I did purchase a fuji X100s for fun and travel rather than work, which I love… but found restrictive and wondered if I should move up to the Xe1 or Xpro1…. and waited for a bit to see the xe2…. I tried the Xe1 in a shop ( not upgrade done in it) and i found it very slow compared to the x100s…… so researched the OMD…. wasn’t sure about micro 4/3s but heh managed to get the one I wanted on preowned at half the price. so waiting in anticipation to try it out. Very interested in the 35-100 lens you raved about as my fav lens is a 70-200 f4 ) 2.8 is too heavy . so keen to see your hampton photos and they are lovely. how did the lights ranger lights work out for you? I will keenly look back at your blog and reviews and let you know my views on the camera when I get my hands on it. I never thought it would be an alternative to my FF DSLR, more a travel and everyday camera, but who knows it could be just what I am after…. .

  • Lindsay Dobson - November 15, 2013 - 1:38 pm

    Hi Jennifer, historically with my DSLR cameras I have usually favoured the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS – a fantastic lens but cripplingly heavy to hold. The Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 mirrors this field of view on a micro 4/3 camera and is optically superb.

    The Elinchrom Rangers are excellent and small enough to be portable. However they are expensive (I don’t own any) and it’s worth looking at the Lencarta Safari lights which have broadly the same specifications and are vastly less in price.

  • Tom Bell - November 15, 2013 - 11:37 pm

    Dear Lindsay,
    Thank you for such a helpful post. I am very much a happy amateur … mainly country and landscape as I walk on Dartmoor and on the coast. I have used Pentax … from LX onwards and love my K5 but it is still bulky. I have a Fuji X100 which is better now with Firmware 2.0 and I love it … but it is still slowish to focus …. and when you get the photo .. it can be lovely … but too often miss. I must say with a little compact XF1 and the X100 I really wanted to keep to just two makes .. Fuji and Pentax … but I was already worried about the focusing and I like the look of the EM5 which reminds me of my friends OM1 many years ago.
    Looking at your result, seeing the comments on AF speed and the fact it is Weatherproof … your blog has helped me towards mt decision … with the OMD being as low as £915.00 with the 45mm lens thrown in … with your help
    i think my decision is made. Best wishes Tom

  • Tom Bell - November 15, 2013 - 11:40 pm

    …also Linday .. the X100 I bought second hand .. and i bought the WA 28mm/F2 lens … this is beautiful … and i find the 28mm is also really useful. Well made. Good results .. and because it fixes on the end of the 35mm lens … no dust on the sensor !!

  • Lindsay Dobson - November 17, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    Hi Tom, I completely agree with what you say about the Fuji X100, I have one and I love it for the reasons you state. I also find it genuinely useful for those times when I’m using strobe in bright light and I need a high X Sync speed. But obviously a complete system will be much more versatile (although it is a luxury to own both) and given the weather here in the UK a weatherproof camera has real benefits!

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