In my previous post, I compared my experience shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera to my previous mirrorless camera, the Fuji X100S.
Several readers expressed an interest in seeing some side-by-side photos to compare image quality.
So I took a stroll around my neighborhood and took identical shots of various objects with the two cameras for comparison. I set both cameras to full auto, which is not the way I normally shoot, but I wanted to test “intelligence” of the camera in choosing what it thought were the best settings for each shot.
I tried to keep the field of view approximately the same in each photo, but it’s not 100% accurate, because the two camera sensors have different sizes and different aspect ratios, so it was a matter of me eyeballing the content of the frame.
As expected, the Fuji usually wins in terms of sharpness, because its prime 23mm f/2 lens is one of the best on the market, and my kit 12-50mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens on the Olympus can’t really hope to beat a great prime.
But what struck me most is just how good the Olympus kit zoom lens is. For most day-to-day photo purposes, its quality is more than adequate, and after being resized for the web you would usually not even notice the difference between the two cameras.
Pixel peepers trying to get that last razor-sharp bit of quality will still usually prefer the Fuji.
You can clearly see a sharpness difference favoring the Fuji in some cases, but in one shot the Olympus was sharper, probably because the stabilization helped me hold it more steady. This is not to be overlooked, especially in low-light photography. The sharpness of the lens is not the only factor that makes for sharp photos.
The Fuji also has an ISO advantage in low light because its f/2 lens is simply much faster than the Olympus f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. This sometimes forces the Olympus to use a higher ISO in identical conditions, leading to more grain.
If I bought a faster lens for the Olympus, this factor would be equalized and the Fuji would no longer have this advantage.
The bottom line for me in this test: Because the Fuji is world-renowned for its image quality, I expected to see more of a difference, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Olympus with its inexpensive kit lens performed. A better lens on the Olympus would close the gap even further.
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[By the way, my friend Sebastian Michaels just bought a Fuji X100S this week, and he has been absolutely raving about it. I get four or five emails every day from him about how much he loves it! Here’s a sample: “Good gravy, the ISO on this camera! You weren’t kidding when they said it performed beautifully in low light. And I love how intuitive and how readily accessible the functions are. Reviewing images (and with one touch being able to zoom in on the point of focus), erasing images, changing WB (and even quickly setting a custom white balance or toggling through the Kelvin settings), adjusting the AF location — it’s all an absolute delight!” Sebastian also recommended these two accessories for the Fuji:
As you can see, Sebastian is really into this camera!]